Monday, August 29, 2011

A walk back in time …

The last thing that Matt and I expected to see on our trip home from Beaufort, South Carolina was the ruins of a burned out church.

We were traveling along a lovely tree lined road where the trees were dripping with Spanish Moss and we almost missed it. At first glance it looked like the sort of Italian ruins that you would see in Rome.

When we stopped and walked inside it was like turning back the pages of history. This was the remains of the red-brick Sheldon Church, built in 1775.

It was burned by General Augustine Prevost's British troops in May 1779, less than 25 years after it was built. It was then rebuilt in 1826 and given the name of Sheldon Church of Prince William's Parish.

40 years later, in 1865, Sherman's 15th corps under General John Logan once more burned the church to the ground. This was considered as part of Sherman's march to the sea.

As I strolled the grounds I could hardly believe that this place had once been the scene of such devastation. Now it is a peaceful tourist spot but it‘s also a reminder of the futility of war and man’s pursuit of it. Will it never change?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Another mini-vacation…

Here is my son Matt in front of the lovely columbarium in Beaufort, South Carolina that he completed four years ago. You can tell by his grin that he’s pretty happy with the results.

We were there because the church added an additional unit and his job was to put on the finishing touches. Happily he‘d asked me to come along for the ride. You may remember that we did the same thing last April … but it was to the mountains of North Carolina that time.

The pictures show how it’s done. The mason follows a specific plan and then Matt adds the decorative “doors“ … usually in granite or marble.

Each niche is a storage area for the cremated remains and the granite doors are engraved with the particulars just like a traditional gravestone.

Matt loves this type of work and I love the fact that he takes me with him. It’s a win-win situation for us both !

Monday, August 22, 2011


A dear friend who has passed away told me how this incident changed his life. I always think of it when I remember him and thought you might enjoy it too.

He was in his twenties and his wife had left him in charge of their three year old daughter. It was close to Christmas so he thought it would be great fun to go shopping for presents with her. He could just imagine the joy that his little girl would experience when she saw the myriad of gifts that he planned to buy for her.

She was a typically active three year old and he was a bit of an absent minded professor so his wife insisted that he use a harness when they went shopping. This was a safety device that fit very much like a vest and had a strong cord attached so that she could wander only as far as he allowed. This proved to be very handy and he was able to let her meander along while he picked out presents.

But the venture wasn’t turning out like he’d imagined. She barely smiled and didn’t seem particularly interested in any of the toys that he showed her. He persevered, however, and his cart was almost overflowing with goodies when he checked out. With great care he maneuvered his little girl and the packages out to the car.

As he opened the trunk and was putting the gifts inside he felt a tug on the harness cord. He turned to see that his little child was squatting on the pavement. He forgot the packages and rushed to her side, afraid that she’d been injured in some way.

Much to his surprise she looked up at him with a radiant smile on her face and pointed to what was fascinating her. It was a single flower pushing it’s way up through a small crack in the pavement... a gift more precious to her than all the ones that he had bought !

Friday, August 19, 2011


Now this is really going back in time but when I was a little girl I remember how much my family loved to listen to the radio and we especially loved to hear Spike Jones. He and his orchestra were loud, corny and irreverent but they were also hysterical and it was a relief to laugh in those war-torn years.

Spike’s orchestra, consisting of 12 to 16 talented musicians, played practically anything that made a loud noise, including cow bells, horns and whistles. A washboard was Spike’s musical choice.

I loved the way he murdered the classics and, particularly, his version of “The William Tell Overture”. He turned this serious classic into a frantic and corny horse race entitled “Girdle in the Stretch” and featuring the horse, “Feitlebaum”, who, against all odds runs the entire race as a distant last and suddenly surges ahead to win!

For those who have not heard it, here is a sample of the words being called out as “The William Tell Overture” plays softly in the background:

“It’s a beautiful day for the race. Stu Chan is the favorite today, Assault is in there, Dog Biscuit is three to one, Safety Pin has been scratched and at twenty-to-one: … Feitlebaum.

THERE THEY GOOOOOOOOO!...Cabbage is second by a head, Banana is coming up thru the bunch... aaaand Feitlebaum …(etc., etc)

Around the turn, heading for home, it’s Stu Chan and Dog Biscuit. Girdle’s in the stretch, Mother-In-Law nagging in the rear and, OH, OH, here comes Feitlebaum and it’ll either be a photo finish or an oil painting...And THERE GOES The WINNERRRRRRR.....

I’s corny and slapstick and wouldn’t have a chance on today’s stage, but it was great fun in the 40’s and a wonderful memory.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The many colors of a RAINBOW …

One of my old time blogger friends posted an entry a few years back entitled “A guy who never met a Jew before”. As the title suggests it described the breaking down of age old prejudices.

Whenever I think of that it brings to mind the day that I attended my first AA meeting. It was in 1989 and I was “The girl who’d never met an alcoholic”. I remember looking around the room and thinking that I had absolutely nothing in common with this strange group of humanity.

I was no longer a child and I, literally, couldn’t see where I could gain anything from these “misfits”. I had always thought of myself as a liberal, well educated and non-prejudicial person but this was taking things a bit far !

Thankfully, I had a wise Sponsor who suggested that I reach out and try to find the similarities in my fellow members, rather than the differences. She taught me to listen.

All of a sudden the world seemed to open up before me. I realized that I had been living in a vacuum…and a boring one at that. I became teachable and the more I listened and opened my heart and my ears the more I learned.

My friends today are a conglomeration of different races, and ethnicities. They range in age from 17 to 86 and not a day passes that I don’t learn something new from them. We share laughter and tears and the knowledge that we will be here for each other as we continue on our journey of sobriety.

Today I feel like I have a metaphorical rainbow that covers and protects me. It is made up of the melding of all these colorful characters ... and to think that I almost let them pass me by !

Friday, August 12, 2011

PAPA LEE’S Typewriter…1942

Some of you will remember that I wrote recently about being contacted by the man who bought my grandparents house in 1968. He mentioned that the small upstairs room off the big bedroom had been made into a nursery for his newborn.

That little room was my grandfather’s office and I remember it well. When I was nine years old my sister Peggy and I spent a month with our grandparents in Plainfield, New Jersey. We had traveled by train from Boston and it was a grand adventure for both of us.

My Grandfather (Papa) was a writer and I often sat with him in the evenings and on the weekends when he wrote in his little office on the 2nd floor. It was crowded with papers and books and all sorts of fascinating office paraphernalia and smelled of his pipe tobacco. I loved it.

It was especially exciting when Papa would allow me to peck away on his old typewriter. I had visions of writing “the” book of the century, but if read my letter you will be able to see that I had a long way to go !

Saturday, August 06, 2011


My friend Jan gave me the following list … sounds about right to me !

ARTERY … the study of painting
BACTERIA … the back door to the cafeteria
BARIUM … what doctors do when patients die
CAT SCAN ….searching for Kitty
CAUTERIZE … made eye contact with her
DILATE … to live long
ENEMA … not a friend
MORBID … a higher offer
OUTPATIENT … a patient who has fainted
PELVIS … second cousin to Elvis
SEIZURE … a Roman Emperor
TERMINAL ILLNESS … getting ill at the airport

And last but not least …

NITRATES … cheaper than day rates

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


How many of you “old timers” remember that hit record by “Tex” Williams ? It was written in 1947 by Merle Travis and is a rambling song with many stanzas but the chorus is the part that most people my age remember. It goes like this:

“Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette.
Puff, puff, puff until you smoke yourself to death.
Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait,
But you just gotta have another cigarette.”

I was just 14 at the time but I loved that song. I also loved the movies and couldn’t wait to emulate the sophisticated ladies with their long cigarette holders. Ah, the elegance of it all !

By 1955 I was out of college and on my own. Smoking was a “rite of passage” and I joined the crowd. I never did get the long holder but I felt very stylish as I puffed away.

In 1957 I caught the flu bug & was terribly ill for about 5 days. I remember that the first thing I did when I felt better was to light a cigarette. It immediately sent me into paroxysms of coughing and set back my recovery for about 2 more days. As a result I decided to quit smoking and I did. Lucky me !!

It would be approximately 40 years before any real inroads were made regarding a ban on cigarettes. It is incredulous to me when I think that it was actually condoned in the ER where I started working in 1978. Now that same Hospital is 100% smoke-free

Now it is 2011 and I know there are still die-hard (pardon the pun) smokers out there who resent the bans on smoking, but, I, for one, can breathe easier … and I hope you can too !