Monday, September 28, 2009


In 1973 my family and I were living in a small town in upstate New York. We didn’t entertain like we had while living in the city but on this particular night we were having a sit-down dinner for 12 couples.

It was a snowy November evening and all of our guests had arrived, but where was my husband? He and our oldest son had gone out hunting early in the day. Now it was well past dark and still no sign of them.

I was starting to get panicky but then I heard a car door slam and knew they were home. We all went to greet them and watched as they carefully lifted Dick’s hunting jacket out of the back of the Blazer. It seemed to be heavy and it took the two of them to carry it inside.

That was when we heard the tiny yapping sounds and we realized that his jacket was full of newborn pups. There must have been 7 or 8 of them and Dick explained what has transpired.

He had noticed a pregnant dog about 4 weeks earlier and every time he went into the woods he would call to her and they became friends. About 2 weeks before our party Dick noticed that the mother would not come to his call and he assumed that she must be having, or already had, her puppies.

So it was a shock when Dick and Mark stumbled onto the body of the mother. She had most likely been killed by a ruthless hunter who saw movement in the brush and assumed that it was a deer. They were devastated and then their next thought was, “where are the pups?” They finally located them scrunched into a hollow log covered with snow and they extricated them one by one and bundled them in Dick’s jacket.

You can imagine the rest of the story. We took turns sitting on the kitchen floor, fancy dress clothes and all, cuddling the pups and feeding warm milk to them. So it became a “sit-down” dinner party after all.

And, to top it off, one of the guests was a journalist. He wrote an article that tugged at the heart strings of many readers and all of our little “orphan pups" were adopted into good homes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1961.…“The Jack Paar show “

In 1961 my husband and I lived in NY City. We had two small children and were in an apartment on the 11th floor of an old building on West 94th St.

Television was coming in to it’s own by then and we loved to watch “The Jack Paar Show” after the evening news. (This, of course, is the TV success that became “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.)

I can remember so clearly a night when I was watching alone and my husband was in the next room doing paperwork. As I recall Jack Paar was not hosting that night and there were no big name guests listed to be interviewed.

Then the temporary host introduced the next guest who was a singer with the strange name of Barbra Streisand. (I was sure that a cast member was responsible for the misspelling !) He explained that this was her TV debut and that she would be singing her interpretation of the old Tin Pan Alley standard “Happy Days Are Here Again”.

This didn’t grab me particularly since, although I liked the lilting tune, I couldn’t see how this was an appropriate song for a singer trying to break in to the “big time”.

Then Barbra walked on stage, the lights dimmed and the orchestra played very softly in the background as she started to sing. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She sang this normally upbeat song very, very slowly and each note was pure as a bell. I called to my husband and we listened, entranced, as she continued to sing and ended on a single note that seemed to go on forever. There was dead silence in the room and then the audience exploded … as did we, the two of us sitting alone in our apartment and clapping to beat the band.

I have never experienced another pop singer who impressed me as much as Barbra did that night. I was not at all surprised to read that her debut album “The Barbra Streisand Album”, released early in 1963 and including her rendition of “Happy Days” was voted Album of the Year and won three Grammy Awards.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Some of you may remember my lame attempt at growing tomatoes on my deck. I had four large containers to which I’d added the 6 teeny tomato starter plants. They grew very large and spindly and produced hardly any flowers.

I had some wonderful advice from three or four of you loyal blog friends but, in the end, just as my brother-in-law had predicted, the bottom line was that they were not receiving enough sun.

This picture of the 5 tomatoes is the sum total of my entire harvest !!

A few weeks ago I threw the whole mess out and decided to try again… this time with herbs. Now I have Greek Oregano, Mint, Rosemary and Sweet Basil growing (hopefully) in my containers.
I have an idea that they will do much better than the tomatoes!

We don’t usually receive a frost warning until sometime in December so I will be able to keep these little guys on my deck for another 3 months. It’s fun to pinch off some leaves from my very own “herb garden” to enhance my omelets, my tea, etc.

I have already designated a sunny ledge in my office where the plants can reside for the winter. Any survival hints for container herbs will be greatly appreciated !

Sunday, September 13, 2009


In 2001 I retired after working for 23 years as a Secretary in a very active Emergency Room. At first I enjoyed traveling and just plain relaxing but I soon tired of this. A stint with the Literacy Council, reading to children, did not satisfy my unrest.

Then, in 2005, I heard about a local Dr. and minister who were teaming up to start a Free Care Clinic in our County. I became very interested and signed up just as soon as they put out the call for volunteers. I’ve been with them ever since.

The first thing that surprised me was the actual NEED in our community for a Free Care Clinic. On the surface our area looks to be quite affluent and I had no idea how that masked the underlying poverty. In order for a patient to qualify for free care at the Clinic they have to prove that they are a member of the County, have no medical insurance and are living on an income that is below or just above the poverty level. Of course this cuts out all Medicare and Medicaid patients, as well as children, so the patients range from the 20’s to the mid 60’s.

These are the very people who use Emergency Rooms as their personal doctor’s offices…knowing that they are unable to pay but having no choice. This means that their charges are not written off but are absorbed in the overall hospital expense, and it’s why we, the paying public, get charged such exorbitant prices.

The first three years at the Clinic were spent in one room (approx. 20x20’) at the local Health Dept., with a corridor for a waiting room. It was incredibly short of space and the Drs., the staff and the patients literally tripped over each other.

Now we have this lovely location, complete with 4 exam rooms. At last count we have over 1800 patients who meet the stringent requirements for care. We are funded by contributions and Grants and, although some of the staff is paid, the Doctors with specialties (ENT, Heart, Orthopedic, Dental, etc.) are all volunteers. It is a dream coming true and it warms my heart to be part of it.

I can’t resist showing you “my office”. The regular staff quickly occupied the available offices so I chose the one place left where I could set up and leave my stuff…the “Electricity Room”. !!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

AH … the mysterious web !

Isn’t this amazing? It caught my eye a few mornings back when I was leaving the house and I was happy to be able to get it on film. It was about 8 AM and by the time I got home, a few hours later, it had completely vanished.

A little research told me that this was an orb web. Evidently the spider weaves this at night to catch it’s prey. After an evening of hunting the web becomes worn out and the spider removes it in the morning by eating it. Then the process starts all over again the next night.

Here is a web construction diagram that shows the intricacy of the design and how it is achieved.

The spider releases a sticky thread that is blown away with the wind to a spot where it sticks & the first bridge is formed. After this the spider constructs a loose thread and constructs a Y shaped thread. Then a frame is constructed to attach the other radii.

After all the radii are completed the spider starts to make the circular threads. The spider can span the distance between the threads the width of her legs. The web is completed with non sticky radii and sticky circular threads and the spider can rest and sit in the center of the web with her head down ... calmly awaiting her dinner !

Isn’t nature amazing?? … and beautiful, too.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Since January I’ve tried so hard to keep an open mind and to be bi-partisan, as President Obama has hoped that we could be. This has not been easy and I’ve often wondered how he can keep calm and on track as racial and political garbage is hurled his way. He is a better person than I am !

I know that there are always two sides to a story but I’ve finally had my fill. It is one thing to debate his concepts of Healthcare or Climate Control. It is an entirely different matter when he is maligned for wanting to talk to our students and to encourage them to remain in school.

The other two Presidents who gave a pep talk to our students were both Republicans (Reagan and the first Bush). Where was all the uproar then? Just what are these right wing radicals fearful of?

Could it possibly be that the color of our President’s skin is not to their liking? Heaven forbid that a black person should lead the way ! Are they so narrow minded that they don’t understand that our world is shrinking? The days of the “Wasp” (White, anglosaxon, Protestant) rule are over and we’d better get with the program or we will be left behind, as individuals and as a country.

The election of President Obama, especially by such a large majority, was the first time that I’ve felt hopeful for years. I honestly believe that he has our best interests at heart and it grieves me that the small minds of powerful men and women can curtail so many of his efforts.

Lastly I have to say that I am disgusted with the Republican party that does not distance itself from these radical right wingers. They really have become the party of “NO”. Is there no-one among them brave enough to actually take the bi-partisan road? From day one of this new administration the House and Senate Republicans have been more concerned with their egos and the next election than they have of our needs. It seems to me that they are digging their own graves. I feel sure that the populace would be more likely to back them up in the future if they would show some guts now !

The last straw for me has been the uproar of the right wing of the Republican party over President Obama’s resolve to speak to our children. The administration has actually published the content of his speech in order to quell their objections but I doubt if they can see past their hatred in order to read it.

I just pray that the large majority of our schools come to the fore and air his speech in it’s entirety this coming Tuesday.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


My last two blogs told of humorous “buscapades” experienced by my parents. In 1953 I had my own bus adventure and, although it wasn’t very funny it was really exciting for me at the time and I relate it here.

When I was between my Sophomore and Junior years in college I, and a classmate, traveled from Massachusetts to California by Greyhound bus. I will never forget that long, l-o-o-o-ng trip. Even traveling non-stop it took 4 days to get to Los Angeles.

There were many stops along the way but only one that gave us time to shower and wash our hair. Gayle and I were sorely in need of both so we headed for the ladies room as soon as the driver told us that this was a “wash up” stop. We didn’t realize that we would be charged for this privilege and we decided to “beat the system” and save 25c in the bargain. . We crowded together in one booth…vying with each other for every drop of precious water. The only problem was that the booth had a door that reached only half-way to the floor &, of course, the attendant saw our four legs and we ended up paying the full price after all.

Ours was a full bus so we were pretty much confined to our seats. I remember catching sleep at odd intervals and all of it in a sitting-up position. There were other young people aboard and we did a lot of singing and even some card playing; but, mainly we gazed at the scenery. One night I awoke after a fitful hour or two of sleep and was petrified when I looked out the window. It felt as if the road had disappeared and all I could see was the deep ravine that we were crossing…no guard rails in sight !

Of course we had no chance to exercise so that by the time we landed in Los Angeles our ankles had swollen to twice their size and we could hardly walk. We were met by my beautiful slim sister and her handsome Danish husband. They looked like an advertisement for the good life in California, as compared to us, the pasty complexioned and fat relatives from the East.

Not to worry. We were back to normal in a few days and landed a good job in a fancy restaurant overlooking the Pacific. (That’s us in our waitress garb…Gayle on the left.)