Tuesday, January 31, 2012


WINTER WARMTH! It was quite wonderful to hear the radio announcers warbling about the high temperatures expected today in my area. It was even more enjoyable to bask in the balminess!
But alas for a good friend of mine who was having oral surgery today, trapped inside the surgeon's office for hours and hours! I was free to do as I pleased, waiting to drive the woozy woman home. Since it was difficult to determine the exact time she'd be ready to weave her way out to my car, I asked the doctor's receptionist to call me, and drove to a nearby shopping center to wait. It was there I hit on a great idea--I'd let the sidewalk take me where it would!

While it may not have been a walk in the woods, I did get to see some creatures in their natural habitat, busily working to feed their offspring (just as when spying on wildlife, I'm making some assumptions here, Reader Dear).

And what do you know, I even had the chance to climb a snowy mountain or two!

(Oh, calm down, Dear Reader...I only said I had the chance! I was enjoying the amiability of the weather too much to want to re-don my jacket and take off up a cold, snowy mountain!)


Sunday, January 29, 2012


NEW MOVIE, coming (very) soon to a (more-or-less) tiny screen near you, Viewer Dear:
"Get in the Front Seat, Baby Artie!"

(Reel One)

(Reel Tw0)

Because my Small Actor is in the area for
a few days, and my Little Actor was on the scene
as well, I was able to produce this movie starring both--
post-dinner, with an under-table setting.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


WHEN DID MY MOTHER get bifocals? Why, it was on a Tuesday, I believe. June the eighteenth, nineteen-sixty-eight. Glad you asked.

My sister sent me a calendar. (It was in that long, skinny box with which I tickled your curiosity). If you'd see this calendar, Dear Reader, I wouldn't even have to tell you it's old. Its body is crumbling from advanced age.

But I am young when I look at this calendar! It takes me back there, you know...

...back to the sixties and that fabulous food at the every-Friday-evening Fish Fry at a local Methodist church (There were lots of Catholics in the area; fish was on the menu at school every Friday, as well [I ate plenty of fish]). Amazing how I can still taste those flaky fried fish fillets. And oh! those hushpuppies, best the world has ever known!* [Just allow me this claim, Reader Dear; they're infused with nostalgia]). The baked beans and coleslaw were also divine.

...back to the days of many international guests. My parents were great ones for hosting, and many of the visitors were from other parts of the world. Most famously, there was Johnny Pinto, our Portuguese illegal alien (Johnny had jumped no wall, but he did jump ship [we lived near a great big harbor, you see (the world's largest)]). When this stranger walked into my dad's plumbing shop and asked for employment, Daddy brought him right on home to live with us (He was that kind of guy, my dad was.)

...back to the days when every year, for ever so long, the Noland Company-- seller of electrical and plumbing supplies--would give my dad a calendar at Christmas time, along with a Smithfield ham. Mama'd hang each new calendar on the kitchen door. She valued those over-sized pages,

where she'd jot down appointments and memorable events, such as
fish fry's, visitors, and...

"Mama got bifocals".

*Some of these deep-fried balls of cornbread are tasty,
and some not-so-much; but when these puppies are good, they are really
something to yap about!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



HERE IS A QUESTION I am pondering, Dear Reader: How many persons who are already well along in years would be able to toss out, to anyone who asked, the EXACT date upon which their mother began wearing bifocals?

Have you ever pondered this, Reader Dear? Hmmm?

I'm pondering if you ever even pondered this--"Now WHEN was it Mom started wearing bifocals?!"

Methinks you need something to ponder, Reader Dear! Can you venture a guess what is in this long, skinny box that the postman dropped off at my door today?

Go ahead. Don't be shy, Viewer Dear. Take a guess.

(Why, yes. Of course. I will show you tomorrow,
even if you don't [sob] take a stab.)

Saturday, January 21, 2012


(There is nothing in this blog post concerning a fajita OR a margarita, Reader Dear. Those words are positioned there strictly for their rhyming qualities. They do not roll off the tongue in an absolutely perfect rhyme, but it's the best I could do. I would love to hear it if you've got something better!)

It's a record! Thirty-one stamps on the birthday package! I've still got hundreds of antique, non-forever stamps to use up, and now the United States Postal Service is upping their rates again!

But I rushed the duly stamped box to the post office just before closing on Thursday afternoon. "When do you think it will get there?" I asked the woman who regularly admires my artwork of tiny artworks.

"Well," she said. "I gave you the Priority Mail rate, so it should get there by Monday, no later than Tuesday. It's two business days."She must have seen the hopeful look on my face.
"Is there a birthday involved?" she asked.
"Yes," I replied, "my daughter's birthday is Saturday."
I told my daughter, "I'm sending you a package, but it's going to be late!"

Kudos, however, and hurrahs, and other words of praise to the USPS! On this day of happy birthday happiness, my parcel with the record-breaking quantity of stamps arrived at its destination! My daughter told me: "Surprise! I opened the door and there was the box!"

I'm not sure what the non-profit organizations who sent me the maps had in mind (other than hoping I'd say, Gee, look at these great maps of countries I'm never going to visit! I should make a donation!) Use as a gift-wrap was not suggested, but I thought, why not?


Last week while at the Farm Show, the Little Actor (prompted by that ornery yard man of mine) gave me these instructions:

It failed to make sense to me, as it would mean the near collapse of his whole career as an actor!!

Tardy snow!

I mean, here we are, in the fifth week of winter here,
and the white stuff is just now showing up!
(Enough of it to make me put on boots for
my short trek to the mail box [where the
USPS has once again braved the elements
to bring us our mail! Kudos to
the...oops, I already said that!])
(yep, an olla podrida)

Friday, January 20, 2012

place tonight, with the sisters and brothers-in-law
and aunties and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews
(and the grandson of a cousin--whatever relationship title that is!)
of the yard man.

It's a Christmas tradition that stretches back
nearly three decades, all of us scrunched
together and singing our hearts out,
fueled by the smorgasbord of food
we've just wolfed down.

*It's always belated, traditionally belated,
supposed to be belated!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


IT WAS ANOTHER LAND-LORDING FIRST, the occurrence that prompted a phone call I received today. I hope with all my might it was the first and final all rolled into one.

I've got one particular tenant who's been unlocking the door at Apartment Fourteen for about thirteen years now, and calling the place home. He's so good about letting me know when unexpected or unseemly or problematic things go on at the apartment complex.
 "I hate to inform you, " he'll say, "but I think you've got an extra tenant. That woman living two doors over, she's got some guy going in and out a lot."

 Or, "When we had all that wind today, a really big limb came off that old tree over there beside the house. I don't think it did any damage to the roof, but it's blocking the driveway."

I'll tell you, Reader Dear, though eye-rolling and muttering nearly always ensue, I'm always grateful for these heads-ups.

"There's a whole living room suite out beside the dumpster!" was the word two days ago, on Monday morning.
"It appeared there on Friday night," my helpful tenant told me.

Now, if you suppose, Dear Reader, that this was the land-lording first to which I earlier referred, you are mistaken. I am sadly wishing that it were.

The shocking phone call came this morning. It was not from any of my tenants:
"You don't know me," the caller said, "but I am a sister of (a renter of mine), and she died."

Oh, my. It was a complete surprise! I hardly knew what to say. But after I'd hung up the phone, dressed, and was driving to the apartments, I listened to a message on my cell phone that I'd missed receiving yesterday evening. It was my tenant in Apartment Fourteen:
"You might want to get over here," he said. " There's all kinds of stuff going on--ambulance, police cars, a coroner...I think the heavy woman in the other building passed away."

Death was of natural causes, Reader Dear, which made it no less shocking, as she was younger than myself. She was always pleasant, and so grateful. "Oh, thank you. Thank you so much," she had told me on Monday when I called to inform her that finally, at long last, I'd found someone to fix her broken doorbell. "I really like my apartment, and I so appreciate having you for a landlord. You're a very good landlord," she told me. 

They were the last words she would ever say to me.
It was a land-lording first.

Monday, January 16, 2012


THOSE PREGNANT PAPER-WHITES started pushing (outward) just about a week ago.

And now they are blooming profusely. But there is more to these charmingly-clustered fragile flowers than meets the eye, Viewer Dear. And that is, to put it delicately, what meets the nose!

The first evening that the Paper Whites had started to crown, my yard man sat down to the table to eat his supper; he studied the food on the table, and he said, "What's that weird smell?!" I'd been pondering the very same question while I cooked those crab cakes for the man, and roasted the sweet potatoes. Searching for the source, I'd even eyed the recycle bin and slightly rummaged through the trash. But just at that moment I happened to glance at the Paper Whites.
I said. "It's the Paper Whites!"
"The what?"
asked the yard man.
"These flowers right here!"
I responded. "Look, they're starting to bloom!" (I was excited) "They'll be very pretty, but they stink."

And so they do!!

(Their malodorous scent so powerfully fills the kitchen, Dear Reader, every day I am determined to cast them into the outer cold. Thus far their beauty has saved them!)

Sunday, January 15, 2012


PART IV of the 96th FARM SHOW.

"Tractors? Tractors? Go see tractors?!" All through the buildings filled with roosters crowing and sheep bleating and various and sundry other animals providing entertainment and amusement, the Little Actor was begging for big equipment. Just beyond the food court, he spotted the broad array of enormous, brightly colored toys for farmers and his eyes lit up like a kid in Wonderland!

The only quandary: Which toy to climb aboard first?!

For the Little Actor, this half hour spent with the stuff of his dreams was the Grand Finale to the 96th Annual Pennsylvania State Farm Show! (He did not wish to leave, subtly demonstrated by jumping up and down and emphatically crying, "No! No! Wanna play!"

[Can you blame him, Dear Viewer? It will be nearly half a lifetime before he gets the marvelous experience of doing this all again!)

Saturday, January 14, 2012


PART III of the 96th FARM SHOW.

You want funny? You say you want funny?! Blaaaaah!!!
This sheep took the official Farm Show Prize for Humor (given out by yours truly, Viewer Dear, with a few fellow judges.)

(My) Top Award for Live Demonstration: "How I Lost My Favorite Wool Coat," also went to a sheep.

It was right there in the Ovine Hall that the yard man suddenly got hungry.

So we joined the mobs of Homo sapiens headed for the Homo sapiens-style food, grown and raised and served up by Pennsylvania Homo-sapiens farmers, those apple-growers and mushroom growers, and Porcine farmers and Bovine farmers and...well, I can't name them all, and the only ones I really care about while at the farm show are the ones who grow the Pennsylvania potatoes for those mmm-can't-help-myself-have-to-eat-three-right-off-the-bat-in-one-big-gustatorial- imprudence-of-powdered potato doughnuts! (Not surprisingly, I chose them as my Best of Show Food, and the Little Actor backed my decision. "More?" he said, after a test sample, "More! More!")

Potatoes are served up in other forms, too, of course, and I'm awed by the speed of production.
I'm awed, as well, by the number of parts to this Farm Show extravaganza posting. Come back once more, Viewer Dear, if you wish. (What garners our attention in the final phase of our visit is what the Little Actor's been begging to see since we walked in the doors of the 96th show buildings!)

Friday, January 13, 2012



Hurray for the bunnies--so soft and quiet (and longsuffering), and even their appendages are cute! Which can't quite be said of the cows, though they're mostly gentle creatures (and they've got their endearing qualities, fully realized in that mountain of whipped cream you had on your pumpkin pie last week, Reader Dear [hmm...not to mention...well, we both know there's far too many things to mention!])

Far too many animals to show you, as well!

"Oh! Look at this little horse! You're going to want one of these pretty soon!" exclaimed my yard man to the Little Actor excitedly. It was the only horse we saw at the show, since those big draft horses that the yard man favors (well, it's putting it mildly to say he "favors" them--my goodness, more accurate would be to say he owns a bunch, buys them, sells them, feeds them, breeds them, trucks them here and there, trains them to work in a pair (or three or four [or more (ever hear of a seven-horse hitch, Reader Dear?)]) the draft horses were here at the show earlier in the week, but a few days ago (the yard man explains) those equine had to go home to make room for the bovine.

I'm happy to say there were plenty of ovine and caprine!*

So many that I'll have to come baaaaack* tomorrow,
Viewer Dear, to show you more...

*(It's true, I confess--I looked it up, that word for the goats)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ready yourself, Dear Reader, for a cackling, mooing, cock-a-doodle-doo-ing extravaganza!

Today my yard man and I got to pick the Little Actor up at his house, load him into our car, feed him macaroni and cheese en route, and take him to the farm show. This show's been going on for ninety-six years; it's about time he attended!

Ah, Dear Viewer, the oddities of nature that are on display here! We started out with the birds.

I can't begin to show you the whole flood of photos of fascinating fowl!

Some members of our group (we met up with friends) found the turkeys (uproariously) funny with their wiggling and wagging (and shrinking) weird wattles. More than one of us was charmed by the playful ducklings.

and, oh yes...there's more to come. Clucking and bleating and honking, oh, yeah!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


POWERFUL PAPER WHITES (still pushing upward)!

I went to the mall today to get a SIM card. My little black flip-phone had been misbehaving quite badly. Now it was telling me "insert SIM card" and refusing to cooperate entirely.

When I got to the T-Mobile kiosk, there were three young males working there. One of them looked at my phone and guffawed. "Man, this phone is so old! I'll bet Jesus used this phone!"*

I was so amused, I bought a new phone.

It took more than an hour to get that phone,
but part of the time
I was car-racing.**

*"Please repeat that for the camera," I begged.
("I'm camera-shy," he said, but another guy obliged.)

**Suddenly I was in the driver's seat with no
instructions! (Yes, indeed, they handed me the controls and then watched me tear up the road!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'VE GOT THE JANUARY BLAHS. Which makes it quite a feat that this afternoon I was able to deny the denuded Christmas tree further latitude in the living room, pack up the angelic angels and the decorative decorations, count the hundreds-yea-thousands of needless needles on the floor (or, at least sweep them out the door), and then...then...take four loops at the park (in the semi-dark).

4:52 pm

5:02 pm

5:12 pm

5:22 pm

5:32 pm: My cheeks cold, my eyes straining in the dark to see if my fellow walker, the one with two dogs, is still there. She disappears into the shadows as I'm watching. Before I myself disappear, I climb into my car and drive home.

With that walk, I was able to banish the bane of the blahs ( now I'm saying hurrahs)!


Monday, January 9, 2012


IT'S A LITTLE BIT SAD, Reader Dear. Because to me, this tree looks just like one I might have glimpsed on December 9, headed for a happy home. And now....

...the car turns left, toward the local Compost Park.
I try not to think about what they do there.

It's a little bit sad.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

FAST-PACED PAPER WHITES (pushing upward)!


Friday, January 6, 2012


WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I kept a diary for several months. It was red, with a tiny lock and a tiny key. Many Wednesdays, in my private musings, here's what I'd record: "Went to school, went to piano lessons, went to Betsy's house, went to bed." It tickled my semantic fancy that I could follow through with the "went to"s all the way to donning my pajamas and climbing into bed with my little sis.

Today, Dear Reader, were I still maintaining my penciled daily log, it would read: "Went to Costco, went to park, went to First Friday, went to bed."

And today, of course, I've got illustrations to illuminate the details!

At Costco there were Amish women buying in bulk, and the Little Actor, sitting atop the case of low-sodium chicken broth, was eating blueberries in bulk.

At the park, I made four complete loops, striding briskly.
"This weather," I thought, "can't last! I'll do two loops for today, and two more for tomorrow."


At First Friday, the galleries in the city were lit up, the streets were lit up, and I lit up when entering the ice cream shop.

(Uh, Dear Viewer, still one more place to go, but
the photo illumination ends here. G'night!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I BELIEVE, DEAR READER, that chattering has slacked off since the new year began.....


Wednesday, January 4, 2012



I didn't really make any resolutions, Reader Dear. It seems so absolutely pointless**. I toyed with the idea of making a list: 1. Eat circumspectly. 1.a. No mindless eating of chocolate. 1.b. No eating to relieve boredom. 1.c. No eating (like a runaway freight train) of sweets. But as I toyed with this notion, I was also fiddling with a little cellophane bag full of chocolate-covered Ritz crackers layered with peanut butter that a generous soul had given me for Christmas. (I'd love to show you one of these fancy little concoctions [ah, yes I'd love to (alas)]!)

When the time is right for phasing out Christmas, somehow I just sense it. Yesterday, when the wind was roaring and shrieking and doing all kinds of shenanigans outside, and the bitter cold was seeping through every pore of this old house, I happened to look at the Christmas tree and it was weeping! And I noticed it was looking a bit old for the pretty little jewels that it's worn since its youth, so I removed them.

Last night I stayed up late, helping to count the votes in Iowa. Fascinating to be part of that down-home procedure! There were about eight ballots where the voter had tried to be funny (or perhaps creative): Beetle Bailey, Donald Duck (or was it Donald Trump?), Uncle Sam...goofy suggestions like that. I just pitched those on the pile for Mitt Romney**.


This morning was another cold one, but the sun shone majestically on my Paper Whites, the roots of these bulbs spreading rapidly down over the Grand Canyon rocks, the pebbles of San Juan Capistrano.

Last night it was late in the evening and sixteen degrees when a tenant called me. "We've been using space heaters to keep warm up 'til now. But we just tried turning on the furnace and it won't start. It looks like the pilot light is not lit. What shall we do?" Well, Dear Reader, I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to find myself some appropriately white paper and draw seventy-five snowflakes upon it. Every day one snowflake will melt away (I haven't decided exactly how this will transpire, but I'm dreaming already of the seventy-fifth one meeting its demise!**)

*Of Two Thousand Twelve.
**Humble apologies, Dear Reader, if you're a huge fan of resolutions.
Or Rick Santorum.
Or the one season where the word "bitter" is tossed around like a cold snowball.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


AND JUST LIKE THAT...the clock ticked past midnight, the ball dropped, and we all--all of us carousing here on the east coast of the United States of America--corralled our energy, hooked arms, breathed deeply, and took a flying leap into Two Thousand Twelve!! (Or, well...at least some of us watched the TV screen and said, "Hey, wow, it's Two Thousand Twelve!" in a slightly animated way.)

We, The Yard Man and I and all of us carousing (mildly, to be sure) in the den of our dear friends, had more to celebrate than just the fact of a brand new year. A good half of us who ate the chili and the shrimp, the hummus and the fruit salad, the fresh celery, chocolate shoo-fly pie and chocolate candy were able to chalk up another impressive win at dominoes! (Alas, no media card in my camera, which equals no photos, and the food table even more vibrant than last year!) And every last one of us got to laugh and rejoice in the gift of fabulous friendship! (Only a lucky two of us, it's true, got to say "Whoop-di-do!" and sing praises over the extent to which dear friends will sometimes stand [closely] by with a high level of helpfulness [about mid-head level, to be specific*).
It was another fine New Year's Eve. And I wish for you, Reader Dear: A HAPPY AND HEALTHY AND HARMONIOUS TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE!

Oh, I would like to detail the details, but not participating in this aid to relief of suffering were my yard man and one or two others of this group of friends. They sat at the table where the dominoes game awaited, and they shook their heads and clucked their tongues and discussed the weirdness of the situation. Of course, they also laughed. They laughed at the weirdness and they laughed at the idea of remembering the weirdness every year from here on out, whenever this group of ten meets to celebrate a coming year and be thankful for the camaraderie and closeness of good friends (where even gracious gestures such as picking up an ear syringe and assisting in the ushering out of ear wax and the ushering in of a "new ear" (uh, so to speak) is not beyond the pale!**)

**Ahhh, the relief of that "new ear" just hours before the new year, Reader Dear! (Ha, I waxed so eloquent over the wax removal that another friend stepped into line at the makeshift clinic! Can you believe it?! Weird!)