Saturday, February 28, 2009


My little house sits quite close to the road and the very small front yard that I have is fairly easy to keep looking presentable. My neighbors can rest peacefully in the knowledge that I will keep the grass trimmed and the front porch swept and clean.

The back yard however, is an entirely different matter. Yes, it IS a jungle. I’ve tried over the years to tame it but it’s a thankless task. I guess if I had a man handy they could use a brush-hog and get it under control ... but that’s an expensive project and it would need to be done on a regular basis.

We very seldom get snow in my area so I couldn’t resist taking the two pictures that you see here. My “jungle” looked pretty good under a soft coating of snow but it was a brief respite.

Today it’s raining and, once again, my back yard is wild and untamed. However, Spring is on the way ... the trees are starting to leaf out and the birds are having a hey-day with it all. I can’t ask for much more than that. As the old tune says ... ”the best things in life are free.”

Friday, February 20, 2009

Miserable Tykes, UK (1920's), USA (1938)

“Big John” from England, is no longer writing a blog and I miss him. I loved an entry of his entitled “A not too neat and tidy trio” where he featured the picture that you see here. I found it very amusing and I especially loved the expressions on the three little tykes.

I commented to him that it reminded me of the Staples TV commercial...the one that airs just before the start of another school year. It shows the Dad racing around the store gathering supplies for his kids. He is ecstatic because school is starting and he's singing (to the Christmas tune of “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”) and then the camera trains on the kids and, I swear, they have expressions on their faces just like the two older children in his photo. Priceless!

Now, imagine my surprise when my oldest sister, Mary, (age 80 then) sent me this photo. She’d had it framed and wrote, “Merry Christmas 2006, Joy & Peace” across the inside ! You can see that she retained a good sense of humor. I immediately thought of John’s picture and how similar they are.

I am the youngest of 5 girls and when I asked Mary where our middle sister Nancy was she said that none of us wanted to have our picture taken that day, but only Nancy was brave enough to stamp her foot and run off. She was, and is, the rebel of the family

I guess children have their miserable days just like we adults do...but somehow you don’t expect to see it in family photos. There is something very appealing about these two pictures, however. You can almost hear the big sighs and read their secret thoughts ... ”you can make us pose, but you can’t make us smile !”

Monday, February 16, 2009

“Waking Up Is Hard to Do”

Awhile back I wrote about my beloved grandfather, “Papa Lee”, and the fun we had together. The year was 1940 and I was just 7 years old but I remember clearly how he and I danced and sang all the way home after seeing the movie “The Strawberry Blond”.

I was reminded of that magical time lately when I heard Neil Sadaka being interviewed. He spoke of the joy he has found with his five year old twin granddaughters Charlotte and Amanda. They accompany their renowned granddad on his new album for children entitled “Waking Up Is Hard to Do”.

Can you imagine how much fun it would be to have a legendary pop singer and song writer as a grandfather? He has taken eleven of his hits from decades past and revised them. The tunes are the same but the words are changed to tickle a child’s fancy.

“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” (his 1962 hit), wouldn’t mean a thing to a toddler but they could certainly relate to “Waking up” being hard to do and that’s the song that Neil performed during the interview. I couldn’t help but sing along as he played and sang the words: They say that wakin’ up is hard to do
Wear a smile and don’t you be blue
Just wipe the sleep from your eyes
Instead of going back to bed
You’ve gotta stretch and face the day

Just listen to the Birdies sing
And the flowers that await the Spring
Rise and shine, your dreaming’s through.
Wakin’ up is hard to do.

Some of the other parodies on the album are “Lunch Will Keep Us Together”, echoing “Love Will Keep Us Together”, “Where the Toys Are”, a takeoff of “Where the Boys Are”, and “Dinosaur Pet”, a variation on “Calendar Girl”...(“I love, I love, I love my dinosaur pet”).

I guess it will depend on your age if you remember these tunes as well as I do, but one thing is sure. If you have small children and you play this album for them you will find yourself captivated too. Just remember that singing and dancing is definitely permitted. Who knows? Maybe your children will write a blog entry about it 70 years from now!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A small investment… for a HUGE return

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the underprivileged of the world suffering and asked myself, “what can I do to help?” I have felt powerless and overwhelmed.

Well now I have an answer...or at the very least a toe hold on the dilemma. It is called micro-financing and it allows me to help a deserving entrepreneur in the developing-world to start up his or her small business. I find it fascinating and rewarding and the non-profit organization that I found best suited to my purposes is KIVA.

KIVA services countries such as Samoa, Peru, Bolivia, Ghana, Nicaragua, Tajikistan, Mexico, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Ukraine, Benin, Viet Nam and Paraguay. They display a list of entrepreneurs in need of a a picture, a brief outline of their intended business and the amount needed to get it started.

Here’s where I come in. I decide who I want to help and I send in my $25. KIVA collects the funds and then passes them along to one of the micro-finance partners worldwide. They will distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur and may even provide training to maximize their chance of success.

In the pictures you see Saroeun from Cambodia with her husband. They requested the loan of $300 USD to purchase silk material for her weaving business. She sells her finished products to a middle man in her village who takes them to sell in Phnom Penh.

Maria was able to start her clothing business thanks to a prior KIVA loan. She has paid that loan back and is requesting a 2nd loan to expand her business which is going well. She lives in Peru and is putting her daughter through college.

Over time the entrepreneur repays the loan and when I get my money back I can re-lend to someone else in need, donate the funds or withdraw them. It seems like a win-win situation to me. From what I’ve read the delinquency rate on loan repayment is very low…much lower than what is experienced with regular commercial loans from a bank.

I live on a fixed income and am certainly in the lower income bracket here in the U.S, but I am very fortunate when compared to people world wide. It makes me feel good inside to be able to pass along part of my good luck with a small loan of $25.

If you want to feel as good as I do just Google KIVA and browse for yourself.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

My License Plate…………FRNDOFBW

My blogger friend Possum wrote recently about her dislike of “vanity license plates”. I posted a comment on her blog, telling her that I had one and that I would explain why in a future blog.
Here’s my explanation.

As many of you know I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and have been for almost 20 years. I don’t advertise that fact but I do want to be available if anyone needs my help or wants to learn more about the organization.

Bill Wilson was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the phrase, “are you, by any chance, a friend of BW?” has become the universal way to identify ourselves to other members. My license plate, “FRNDOFBW” is a shortened version and I’ve had many interesting encounters with people who have understood what it means.

Of course I get the usual horn honks and lots of upraised thumbs but I’ve also had a few unforgettable adventures. One of those was when I was on Long Island, in a tremendous bottleneck and totally lost. Traffic was moving very slowly and I noticed a big white truck that had been behind me had edged up to be parallel with my car. The driver motioned for me to roll down my window and when I did he proceeded to tell me that he was in the program and how it had changed his life. When he found out that I was lost he said, “Just get behind me and keep following. I will take you to your destination.” And he did !

Another adventure of note was when I was at a Stop sign waiting for a large vehicle on the main road to turn into the street I was on. I felt like it didn’t have enough maneuvering room so (without looking in my rear view mirror) I backed up. BAM ! I’d hit something and when I got out to look I was aghast to see that it was a Sheriff’s car. You can imagine how I felt!

The Sheriff’s deputy turned out to be a really nice guy. He had seen that I was trying to give the other driver a little more room, and, since there was no damage, he didn’t charge me with anything. “Just be sure to look in your mirror next time”, he said.

I was getting back in to my car when he added, “By the way I’m curious. What does your license plate mean?” When I told him he said that he was a great fan of AA. “I’ve seen many of the driver’s that I’ve stopped turn their lives around with the aid of that organization,” he said.

Then he proceeded to chuckle and he asked me if I’d been aware of what I hit when I backed into his car? I guess I looked bewildered because he pointed to the front grille and to the sign that was affixed to it. The placard read, “BOOZE IT & LOSE IT”

“Now you’ll have a good story to tell the next time that you go to one of those meetings”, said the deputy and I agreed. I’ve told it often and it never fails to get a big laugh.