Friday, April 26, 2019

CHIPPER the recycler

I felt so good when I saw this picture of Chipper and then read the article that accompanied it. I think you will enjoy it too.  

Chipper is the pup that Katie Pollak in Mesa, Arizona adopted from a shelter in 2011.  He was so lucky to have a new home in an area where they could take long hikes and they did that daily.  It soon became apparent that Chipper showed a fascination with disposable plastic bottles and that 's where the story begins.

So many dog owners would have looked at that in distaste and told him to "drop the nasty thing", but not Katie.  She took the opposite view and encouraged and rewarded him.  She realized that Chipper was teaching her how recycling works … one plastic bottle at a time.

Now Katie brings garbage bags when they walk and every day they collect the litter that thoughtless people leave in their wake.  And the really exciting thing is that she's started a Pollak's Instagram account and over 28,000 people follow their adventures every day. 

Can you imagine the impact it would make if all the avid dog owners in the world followed Chipper and Katie's example ?  

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Hitchhiking to North Carolina 1977

In the summer of 1977 my 17 yr. old son and a friend were hot and restless and looking for an adventure. They came to me with a plan and, after a lengthy discussion, I reluctantly agreed.   They had decided to hitchhike from Dutchess County, New York to Pinehurst, North Carolina … a distance of approximately 750 miles. My Husband and our younger son were already there working on a small building project and the boys couldn't wait to surprise them.

As I watched them trek down the highway the next day I wondered if I was crazy to let them go. They looked like Mutt and Jeff… my son being 6’3” and his friend barely 5’ 10”. With tears in my eyes and trepidation in my heart I drove home and waited for their call. Of course I was a nervous wreck but that call did come 4 days later and they were fine. They’d completely surprised my husband and younger son and the plan was for them to stay for the next two weeks and then they’d all drive home together. I remember being so happy that it was a tame adventure and that my fears were boundless … they were safe and sound. 

It would be years before they shared the actual facts of the trip ! 

They had a little money with them but even that was rarely spent. They concentrated on getting rides to big cities along the route.   Then they’d find the busiest hotel in the vicinity and pretend to be registered there. They’d swim in the pool, which cooled them off as well as acted as a shower and, after lounging for a bit, they’d wander to the lobby and check out the billboards. 

There was always an eating event of one sort or another listed and if not they'd check out other hotels until they found what they were looking for.  Then, with the hubris of youth, they'd wander in and eat to their heart's consent. The amazing thing was that they were never questioned, not even once.  

Then, to add insult to injury, they’d take the elevator to the top floor and bed down on the roof !! One night it rained and they settled for a deserted corridor.  So the only expense they incurred was for food and I’ll bet that wasn't much either. I'm sure they weren’t shy taking  “doggie bags” from those free dinners they attended. 

So, that’s the “rest of the story” and when I think of the “what if’s” I can only agree with the old adage … IGNORANCE IS BLISS ! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

That Crossword Obsession

Solving crossword puzzles just might be the world’s most popular pastime. Kings and ditch diggers alike put pencil to paper daily as they fill in those little squares in search of a solution.
I’ve found, in my own case, that a puzzle a day keeps the boredom at bay. That, and a good book, are my daily companions and I’d be lost without them.  My father’s favorite Sunday activity was to solve the New York Times puzzle so I grew up in this atmosphere. He considered this a family project and would include us all in his search for just the right word. It was great fun and we all celebrated when another week’s puzzle had been solved.

Recently I came across this little poem written in the 1920’s and it gave me a chuckle because I often find my head filled with these words from the crosswords that I’m working on.
“Anger, ire, temper, rage !
Era, epoch, eon, age !
Do, re, me and fa, so, la,
Egyptian sun god, Ra, Ra, Ra !”

I was bitten by the “crossword bug” a long time ago and it has only increased in intensity over the years, so I guess I will go to my grave calling out clues. How about this one? “Two small words in 6 letters, starting with T and ending with D, meaning Finale ?”

T _ _ _ _ D

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

San Miguel deAllende.......2002

It was a wintry day in February of 2002 when a friend and I left North Carolina and flew to Mexico. Casa Murphy” was our destination and we found it tucked behind tall adobe walls lushly over-run with greenery. It is a small, family oriented B&B and we found that we’d made a good choice.

Everything in San Miguel is within walking distance and it’s almost impossible to get lost, since every road eventually leads to the “El Jardin”, the central plaza. This area is surrounded with lovely shops & eatery’s located in buildings that date back to the 1600’s.
San Miguel De Allende was in danger of becoming a ghost town at the turn of the 20th century. The revival began after World War II when the returning GI’s discovered that their education grants stretched further in Mexico at the US-accredited Art Schools. San Miguel soon became a center for American and Canadian expatriates and continues to be a haven for them today.

Actually, although the town is very picturesque and has become renowned as an Art Colony, I found the surrounding towns more to my liking. The fact that San Miguel is practically overrun with non-Mexicans tarnished it a bit for me.

I enjoyed the small town of Delores Hidalgo very much. This is where the famous Talavera ceramic tiles are made. We could actually watch the artisans as they colored the tiles before they were fired. It was Valentine’s day when we were there and we were treated to a special luncheon complete with live music and gifts of paper hearts and roses from the management.
Guanajuato, the birthplace of Diego Rivera, was my favorite spot, however. It was very interesting to visit his home and to see the paintings that he produced as a young boy. They were nothing like the dense and colorful murals that brought him such fame. One room was devoted to the paintings of his tempestuous wife, Frida Kahlo and they actually had a recording of her voice. I could see why she would be a good match for Diego.
All in all it was an exciting trip but the disparity between the “haves” (the expatriates) and the “have-nots” ( the native Mexicans) bothered me a lot. It just seemed to be one more example of exploitation based on greed.

Friday, April 05, 2019

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 !