Thursday, February 26, 2015

1952 The amazing GRUNION RUN

One of the most memorable nights that I can remember was at a beach just north of Ventura, California. The year was 1952 and my friend Gayle and I had traveled cross country to be there. It was our summer break from college and we were determined to experience as much as was possible in that short time.

We knew nothing about a Grunion Run except that it was a rare occurrence. It was close to midnight and a feeling of tension was in the air as a group of us sat around a blazing bonfire on the sand. There was a full moon and the waves were very active but we had no idea if we would be lucky enough to see the grunion actually make their “run”.

Suddenly a great cry went up, and was heard to echo down the length of the beach: “the grunion are running”...and there they were. Thousands of small, silvery fish were riding a wave to the shore. As the wave receded back into the ocean, the grunion remained on land, the females drilling grooves into the sand as they twirled on their tails, depositing eggs. The male grunion would curve around her in order to fertilize the eggs and the spawning was accomplished before the next wave appeared to return them to the depths of the ocean. It was a sight to behold.

All bedlam broke loose as old and young alike raced for the fish, trying to catch them by hand. They were considered a great delicacy and it was a challenge to harvest them because they were on land for such a short time. The smell of fried fish soon filled the air and I realized that those bonfires were used for more than just alleviating the chill.

Observing the grunion, however, was more to our style than trying to catch them. Gayle and I watched in fascination as the show played out in front of us.. As I understand it, the southern coast of California and the Baja Peninsula are among the very few places where the grunion run so we were fortunate indeed.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


I’m almost embarrassed to post this picture of icicles dripping off my front porch roof in lieu of what the rest of the country is experiencing. However, it is a much appreciated change for my daughter and her husband who have finally arrived (complete with 2 dogs and 3 chickens) from the icy and snow packed North.

They arrived about a week after our temps were in the 50’s. Now we are enjoying (?) a spell of record breaking cold so, except for the snow, they are not very far ahead as far as weather goes. However, we have had plenty of indoor time together and “Upwords” (the Scrabble based game) has kept us entertained.

 It is usually just the three of us playing but last night little Bela decided to be the kibitzer.
She’s a little out of focus in this picture but is actually a very sharp little gal. She’s blind in one eye but that never seems to bother her. You can tell she’s perplexed and pondering over the two words AW and TI. I wonder if she’ll challenge?

(For all of you doubters they are legitimate words … albeit seldom used anywhere but in word games !)

Monday, February 16, 2015

PLUM ISLAND, Massachusetts……1937

My oldest sister Mary is gone now but she was the one who gave me the particulars surrounding this photo. I had heard family members speak of Plum Island over the years but I really don’t remember going there. Also I was confused because I couldn’t fathom how we would be able to afford the whole summer of 1937 on vaction in New England. We had very little money then with 5 girls to clothe and feed...and we lived in New Jersey, nowhere near the shoreline of Massachusetts.

However, according to Mary, our Mother suffered from severe back pains and a friend of the family offered us his cottage on the island for the summer. We girls ranged in age from 4 ½ (that was me, the youngest) to 13 years, so we would be able to care for ourselves and enable Mother to get a well deserved rest.

Our get-away was spent in a tiny cottage named “Alice”. It was one of a group of compact little wooden structures and was directly on the beach. Although we had a rudimentary kitchen there were no bathroom facilities and our community of families shared an outside shower and an outhouse.

There was a small store, a run down board walk and an open-air building where we could play games, listen to music and work on jig saw puzzles. No TV’s, cell phones, or other distractions ... just lots of sun, sand and ocean.

As I gaze again at that picture I can’t help but chuckle at the silly little girl (me) with the bottle on her head. Little did I know then that “putting the cork in the bottle” was to play a huge part in my later life. I certainly didn’t seem to be worried about it then !

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

1933… a belated VALENTINE !

If I’d been born just a few hours earlier I would have been a Valentine baby…what fun ! But, no, my birth was on the fifteenth of February, 1933, which means that this Sunday I will be the grand old age of 82. I know this to be a fact but I can’t seem to wrap my mind around it and, to be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty down about the whole thing.

I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to share this with you so I decided to stop writing and check my emails instead, and wouldn’t you know it …I got just the gift that I needed. It was in the form of a wonderful email from a 64 year old woman living in Massachusetts. She was surfing the web and somehow my entry about Norumbega Park popped up. With her permission I share part of the email that she sent to me ...

"My favorite memory of Norumbega was the little carts that were hand cranked along a track. It was at the bottom of the hill but I shinied there. You see, I caught polio in 1955 and although paralyzed initially from the neck down, I had exercised into having very strong arms to help me navigate myself on crutches. And those carts....those wonderful little carts. I got on one, fit my braced leg to hold it in and took off like there was no tomorrow. I always beat the other kids and I loved it. …you have evoked feelings, smells and memories that I will always cherish. Thank you for sharing with us.”

That was just a snippet of her lovely email but it brought me out of my “funk”. If I can give pleasure to others by just recording my memories that‘s more than enough for me !

Friday, February 06, 2015

Pancakes, anyone?

No, I’m not serving breakfast, I’m introducing you to my granddaughter’s new family member … her sweet little dwarf Holland Lop bunny they’ve named Pancakes.

They already have two LARGE dogs and two cats so this little guy won’t be lonely. I’m so glad to see that he’s caged though. I can just see the dogs tossing him up in the air or chomping on that lovely fur … mistaking him for one of those cuddly dog toys !!!

I had never heard of a Lop bunny so I did some research. Evidently this is a breed that originated in the Netherlands and was recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in 1979.  The Holland Lops are the smallest of the lop-eared rabbits so, of course, that makes them the cutest and little Pancakes is proof of that.

I also read that they can be trained and it will be fun to see what they do with him. For starters, however, she’s letting him get acclimated to his new surroundings. He is adjusting very well and seems to love showing off the “Mohawk” that Amelia fashioned from his soft fur !

Monday, February 02, 2015

1965 … East Coast Blackout

What an eerie sight it was to see New York City virtually closed this week due to dire predictions of an impending storm. It brought back a long forgotten memory.

In 1965 I was living in Dutchess County, NY, approximately 110 miles north of NY City. My husband was a free lance photographer who spent at least 3 days a week with clients in the city and that is where he was on this particular night in November.

I was preparing dinner when the lights went out and I wondered how long it would last and how much of our little town was affected. I tried to phone a neighbor but the phones were out of commission too. I figured that my car radio was probably the only way I could get any news so I bundled up the three children and some blankets and we headed out. Imagine my surprise and concern when I heard a man announce, in a shaky voice, that this was an extensive blackout, that most of New York, including the City, was without electricity and that the cause was unknown.

I tried not to panic. It was eerily black on our road but then I saw a dim light off in the distance. Whew ! I was so happy to see that until I drove up and recognized the huge barn where I knew the farmer had a backup generator for his dairy cows. Now I was really getting concerned and I wondered where my husband was. I knew he would really be worried if he got home and found the house empty so I turned back.

Happily he did arrive about two hours later and he said the City was a mad house. The blackout had struck during rush hour and people streaming out of the subways clogged up the roads and contributed to huge traffic jams. He said he was lucky to get out when he did.

Of course it was first thought to be due to foul play but it was actually caused by a power surge from a Canadian power plant … a huge part of the North-East being without electricity for 12 hours.

That was almost 50 years ago and just imagine how different the scenario would be if we’d had all the technology available today !