Saturday, June 30, 2012


WOW. On the road again (that would be the road, Reader Dear, back to Berks County,
where I took that tour of shops [just last week with my sises-in-law], and now (it's Thursday) I am about to do it again! This time I've got only the tattered remains of those sheets of coupons. And I've got just a few of the brochures, tickets and doodads. But I've got two friends along!

They are perfectly happy to get the second-hand version of this tour. It's simple: We go to the shops I enjoyed the most, first time around.

For lunch, we ponder the choices, and, after a small summit meeting, decide on crepes.

(As director of this tour, I've preordained that dessert will be ice cream, of course.)

We have a lovely time, in spite of the not-so-lovely heat wave [that I hope will soon wave goodbye!] And then, just before we call it a day and head out of Berks County, someone in our party spots a fabric store!

Now you do recall, Reader Dear, that imagined three-scarf dress? (Yes, yes. For the very real mother-of-the-groom-to-be!) This friend of mine, this stitcher ("That's what you call us--Stitchers!" says she), she's part of our party.
When she comes out of this fabric store...(No, no. It wasn't on the scheduled tour [This tour director can only make a stitch in time lose nine] but at this stop, the stitcher is like a kid in a candy shop!)

...where the rest of us* have left her while we go off to a nearby nursery (where one can lay down money, carry away a thing of beauty, and that sews up the deal!)...

...she's made a purchase!
You've got yourself only one guess, Reader Dear, and there's just one clue:
It is not blue!
(Speaking of dresses,
there may be two!**)

**Speaking of two,
getting to take this tour twice was a coup!

*Just me, and the skillful friend who is driving, making the excellent U-turns (The secrets of Berks County--some of them have to do with road placement [Alas, the tour director is not such an excellent navigator])

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


IN SPITE OF HIS MORE OR LESS tragic life, I believe that Eugene O'Neill would have been euphoric today! Ditto for Johnny Unitas! Euphoric would have been the word for Eudora Welty, too, I believe! And Ullyses S. Grant! Doubtless my new European friends were euphoric today as they toured Niagra Falls!*
Even you, Reader Dear! There's a pretty good bet you yourself were euphoric!**

(It made me giddy)

*(Though it's hard to tell about the blue-sky-and-
sunshine conditions at Niagra Falls...
**...not to mention wherever you are, Reader Dear!)

Monday, June 25, 2012


SEATED AROUND THAT TABLE at the restaurant by the river, where I had made dinner reservations, I took a picture of Hubert taking a picture of me taking a picture of him taking a picture of me taking a picture of him taking a picture of me....(I've got to stop this! I want to take other photos!)

Around that table we had good food. And good conversation, though limited to English.

But the excellent laughter--that was in Dutch and German and English and French and Arabic and Luxembourgish (I think I may have even heard a smidgeon of Spanish, but I'm not sure)!

And all of us fluent in every language! How fortunate is that?!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


STILL SCRAMBLING! Up out of bed on Saturday morning to go on an escapade with my sisses-in-law (and a niece). This time we were taking part in the "Berks County's Best Kept Secrets Tour," our brown paper shopping bags filled up with a list of the thirty-five shops that were participating, doodads these shops were giving away in the high hopes that participants would choose their particular establishment as a stopping place, and coupons, and brochures, and a map, and well, just enough stuff that we spent a good bit of our time between shops rummaging through our bags. "Where is it we're headed next? Is there a coupon for the place? Are they giving anything away? Does somebody have the scissors?

Of course we couldn't visit all thirty-five businesses. Alas, we had to pick and choose.
We pored over the yellow sheet with the list, each shop enticing us to visit with flowery words:

"JUST CURIOUS Gifts and Antiques...Our 1907 Brownstone Victorian Row home has been transformed into a charming, unexpected experience GUARANTEED to delight!"
And oh boy, did it!
This was my pick-of-the-day!)

"SUNSHINE BLUE SKIES...Shopping here offers an experience for the senses. Beautiful music plays softly, while imported Italian tableware, handmade glassware, jewelry and local artwork delight the eyes. Scented candles and bath & body products are a treat to the nose. Gourmet food products & luscious candies tempt the taste buds. Plush animals beg...." (Surely you get the picture, Reader Dear!)

There was no telling what we'd find at each stop, what all we'd be treated to!

While the majority of places we visited were some kind of gift shop, we did have:
Bagels at a bagel shop.
Ice cream at an ice cream shop.
Candy at a candy shop.
is a fourth generation family owned farm nestled in the scenic hills of Berks County. The farm market feels like country sunshine and is brimming over with fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables."

In addition to this, some of the shops were serving refreshments to the tour-takers. Let's just say, Dear Reader, we didn't lack for edibles!
Nor did we lack for fun!

(I could tell you more if I weren't still scrambling, alas!)
It was late afternoon when we (somewhat reluctantly) ended our tour and returned to our meeting spot; then I scrambled home to guests!

My yard man was entertaining the European visitors with whom we'd eaten the night before! They were seated on lawn chairs in the yard and getting hungry. Is it any wonder, Dear Reader, that I scrambled to make dinner reservations?

I'll have to scramble* back tomorrow and tell you more about Earhart and Carla and Mary Jane and Pit (apologies if this is not the proper spelling [he's a linguist, after all]; it's a nickname for Pierre) and Hubert and Riener (or maybe it's Reiner, hmm, it's a German name!)

*Okay. Now I'm sick of that word.
There'll be NO scrambled eggs for me tomorrow morning!


Saturday, June 23, 2012


Yesterday evening, dashing in to center city on business just about closing time, I find the streets blocked off for a fiesta of fireworks. Folks are already congregating, and traffic is clotted. Trees are swaying in the stiff breeze that is ushering in rain! On the radio, the broadcaster is announcing a severe thunderstorm watch. The folks putting on this show, what on earth will they do?! I wonder.

A short time later, headed out of the city and inching along, the sky is an ominous gray. I think of my yard man and the little actor waiting for me at home. The minute I get there, they'll clamber into the car and we'll be off to a picnic at the home of an Amish family. Also invited are a group of visitors from various European countries. The folks hosting this picnic, what on earth will they do? I wonder.

While I can't tell you how the fireworks fanfare fared, Reader Dear, I can detail the dinner (it happened indoors!) The Yard Man, Little Actor, and I rode through torrents of rain on our half-hour journey to the home of the hosts. We saw fireworks in the sky, a very brief display, but vastly more impressive in terms of sheer magnitude than any that were set to go off in center city!

There were nineteen people around the long table at the home of Melvin and Esther, counting only those who could sit up in a chair (and, at the very least, eat one piece of jelly-bread after another, and ask for more) and not counting their six-month-old grandbaby. We all reached and helped ourselves from steaming bowls of pork, potatoes and carrots, platters of corn-on-the-cob, and dishes of tangy coleslaw, then passed a big bowlful of berryful, whipped-creamy delight. When the meal had ended and the second prayer been observed (the Amish bow their heads for a silent prayer before and after dining), I helped wash the dishes along with Carla from Germany and Mary Jane from Luxemburg, both of them fluent in English (which was marvelous for me, Reader Dear, as it meant my end of the conversation could go beyond speaking of coup d'etats, lyrics to the Beatles' Michelle, and numerals from one to one hundred.

Seated snugly on the spacious porch, I was fortunate to end up next to Mah-ri Zhan (it's my best approximation to the lovely French pronunciation) whose native language is Luxembourgish, but who is fluent in four other languages, as well. She tells me that Luxembourgish is technically called a dialect, but to the native citizens of Luxembourg, it is a language, and one near and dear to their hearts! When I press her, she speaks a bit of it for me (to present to you, Viewer Dear! [I'm in the dark as to what she said, so if you are able to translate for me, Dear Listener, I'd be ever so appreciative (I'm saying "Merci!" in advance)]).

Alas, there are so many other fascinating bits of our conversation I would tell you if only I had the time. But I'm scrambling, scrambling! I must say " √Ąddi"!*

*(It's Luxembourgish, yes!)

Thursday, June 21, 2012


"BUT THE MOTHER OF THE GROOM," protests my friend, "is supposed to wear beige and shut up!"
This friend of mine is going to be the mother of a groom. But (ahem) there was never a chance in hel... (I mean) here-comes-the-bride-until-there-go-the-blissful-newlyweds-in-a-shower-of-rice that this woman is going to keep her mouth shut! And now, neither will she wear beige! Now that I've found her a fabulous shade of blue silk scarf with which to make a dress!

You see, Reader Dear, this woman is an A-One, Top-Notch, Super-Duper seamstress. In fact, I would button-hole her as one of the best sewing persons I know! (Hmm. I was going to use the term sewer, but something didn't smell right about that word!) She's often made clothing out of scarves, and this one that I spotted in the shop where we shared the tiramisu (There's a small cafe at the store) seemed custom-made for her! But she kept zig-zagging and throwing a snag into my designs! "There's only one scarf! I'd need three to make a dress," she argued.

"Well," I said. "I'll just see if they have more!" And I marched right off to find out.

Admittedly, Dear Reader, I had my doubts about the chances of finding more scarves. This one I'd found was in a "marked-down" room. It was hanging in a Half-Off Sale!

But, oh my, it was precisely the shade of blue that made her eyes look bluer. And the pattern on the scarf was tastefully understated. And the tassels on the edges of the scarf--what a unique embellishment to work into the pattern of the dress! And, well...when a sales clerk pulled out of a drawer the last two of these scarves to be had, I told that woman (my friend, you know) that the blue silk dress was meant to be!

Can you believe it, Reader Dear? She was still hesitating, hemming (and hawing, if you will)! But aha, she did buy those scarves!

So we shall see. We shall see.

And hopefully we shall see
(that elegant blue dress on the
communicative mother of the groom!)


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I RUSH TO THE DOOR OF the ice cream shop, where a young woman is in the process of locking the door. With gestures I implore her to let us in. (Oh, just use your imagination, Dear Reader [Very well, if you must know--I clasp my hands in supplication while mouthing please please) She opens the door and I gush my thanks! Right behind me is The Yard Man. All the chairs in the ice cream shop are upended on the tables. I really don't wish to tell the kid who is waiting to dish up our ice cream that two more customers will be along shortly. "Here's what we can do," says The Yard Man. "I'll just order four different kinds, and Gabe and Jenn can choose whichever two they want."
"Yes," I say, anxiously peering out at the parking lot. "That's what we'll have to do."
The yard man starts opting just as my cell phone rings. "Hi," says Gabe. "We're here. Where are you?"
"Oh, good!" I say, relieved. "We're here in the ice cream shop."
"Well, where is the ice cream shop?"
says Gabe. "We're already here."
"The ice cream shop is right beside the restaurant. But they've locked the door to the ice cream shop. Just come on back through the restaurant!"

 "Uh. What?" Gabe sounds confused. I hear him ask Jenn, "Is there another part to this place?"
To me he says, "We're AT the ice cream shop! We're ordering our ice cream."
"Uh. What?!" I say.
"Yeah," he says. "And they're sweeping up the floor. They've closed!"

Ah, Reader Dear. Backing up affords a much better view! You've no doubt spotted the comical error: We had raced to two different ice cream shops!

So then, with their ice cream melting, Gabe and Jenn drive all the way to Oregon Dairy Store to join us.   And meanwhile The Yard Man and I take tiny bites (well, at least I do, Reader Dear!) as we sit in the dark at the outdoor picnic table on this lovely last night of spring and watch as the parking lot empties.  In spite of my nibbling, I'm finished with my ice cream, and most every car is gone from the parking lot when Gabe and Jenn arrive with their dishes of soupy ice cream.  We all have a very good laugh.
  "We very nearly got four servings of ice cream!" I tell them. "We were going to get four different kinds and let you choose. They were scooping up the second one when you called!"
"Oh!" said Jenn. "We thought of that plan, too--to get four! I thought I would choose just some basic kind."

And there you have it, Reader Dear, the small comedy of errors!
"Eight dishes of ice cream!....Oh, I wish it would have happened," I sighed. "What a good story THAT would have been!"



Tuesday, June 19, 2012


IT WAS A (SMALL) COMEDY OF ERRORS! It wasn't as comical as it could have been (which gave me only a tiny pang of disappointment, and really didn't dampen the pleasant evening one iota). But let me start at the beginning, Reader Dear, as it's ever so hard to back up with a load of comical errors, albeit small!

I listened to a phone message this morning and heard the young man who had left the message yesterday saying, "Hi, Qathy, this is Dave. I'm in the area; I'm visiting Jenn. We'd like to come see you guys if it suits you."

Dave? I thought. Dave? I should know this Dave; his voice is familiar. I listened to the message again. I hadn't a clue, but began a mental rundown of all the Daves I knew. I kept bumping up against anonymity!

It just so happened, fortunately, that an hour or so later my daughter showed up. "I got a call from Dave," I told her." I must know him, but I don't!" I pulled up the message on the phone and put the phone to her ear. She listened intently. "The voice is familiar!" she said.
She listened again. "Hmm. He sounds young."
We pondered.
I listened to Dave again.
We discussed the possibilities.
And she listened to Dave again.

And then she said, "I think maybe it's Gabe!"

Well, Dear Reader, I listened to the message from Gabe, my nephew from Virginia who is in the area visiting his girlfriend, Jenn, and he no longer sounded like Dave!

So now come forward in time, Reader Dear (which will mean less backing up for me), to this evening. The yard man and I are taking Gabe and Jenn out to eat at a nice little Asian eatery. Jenn, we find out, is my husband's cousin's husband's cousin's daughter! We have a very nice visit while eating the Vietnamese food (very likely it wouldn't have been as enjoyable if Dave had shown up instead of Gabe!) As we're cleaning our plates of the Xoi Ga Lap Xuong and the Bun Ga Nuong, my yard man suggests that we follow up our Asian meal with ice cream at Oregon Dairy Store, a few miles away. But then we're leaving the restaurant and we're struck by the lateness of the hour; it's very nearly nine o'clock. "Oh," says my yard man, "it's possible they'll be closed!"
"We could go to Carmen and David's," says Jenn. "In the city...Of course, they might be closed, too."
says Gabe, "we could just pick one and make a run for it!" (This nephew of mine likes ice cream [hard to tell if that'd be true of Dave]).
"Yes, yes, let's do it!"
I say.
"Oregon Dairy!"
says the yard man. "Does she know how to get there?" He's talking to Gabe.
We're leaping into our respective cars, squealing tires out of the parking lot (I've embellished just a bit, Reader Dear, I confess).
I convince the yard man that taking the limited-access highway will get us there faster; he's well-accustomed to driving with a heavy foot; we pull into the nearly empty parking lot at Oregon Dairy Store just as the digital display on the clock says 9:00.
Gabe and Jenn aren't there yet, but the yard man and I scramble from the car and race for the door of the ice cream shop. "Look," says the yard man, "the OPEN sign's still lit up!" No sooner do the words leave his mouth, the neon goes black...

(Great big sigh, Reader's late. The digital display on the clock NOW says 11:47)
To be Cont'd...

Monday, June 18, 2012


I GOT THE CALLS last night-- two messages from Best Buy, one of them a computer voice and one of them a human geek, both leaving the same notice-- "Just to let you know that your laptop is repaired and ready for pickup at your earliest convenience!" Oh, it put me up on a small cloud (perhaps a Three [maybe Four, though not nearly a Nine]).  Friday afternoon I'd been informed that it could be as long as five days before they could rid my little media marvel of its freakish illness. So today, between my trip to the hardware store for copies of keys and the trip to apartment-newly-rented to get the lease signed, I made the trip to Best Buy. "Here it is!" The geek handed it over, clean and shiny and supposedly in good health!
"And you're SURE you fixed the original complaint--the reason I brought it in--that stubborn problem with picture position--not being able to rotate and save?" I asked.
"Well, here,"
he replied, and he found the photo of Scout, that little happy birthday girl (one of the photos I'd taken vertically and couldn't coax out of a lying-down position*). Just like that he set her upright and smiling.

He stood the chef on his feet, as well.

And then, as though on a reverse rampage, he set about flipping all those tables and chairs (and the folks sitting in them) into an upright position!

By the time I left that store, I was so pleased with the better position it put me in!

*(Music Friday, Viewer Dear! All of them scenes from Music Friday!)

Friday, June 15, 2012


MUSIC FRIDAY in the city. "Let's go!" I talked my Yard Man into stopping his yard work, which he'd been busily pursuing for several hours, hauling in loads of mulch, wielding the weed-whacker and the leaf-blower, saving only a skimpy pile of labor with the labor-saving devices. It was such a frabjous, fantabulous, fit-to-be-labeled PERFECT evening, it didn't take a lot of wheedling to persuade the man to drop his tools!

Judging by his chortling when we'd gotten to the city and strolled around and come upon one musical offering after another, he was more than fine with the decision. Then we came upon a tiny first-cousin once-removed (child of a first cousin, that would be, Reader Dear!) who did not seem removed at all, but gave us a sweet come-close smile and waved. "Exactly a year ago right now," said her dad,"it was almost time to start pushing her out!"
"Wow," we responded, " Happy Very First Birthday, Scout!")

The evening was rife with the kind of j'oie d' vivre that only fine weather and fine food and fine music can produce. And since the hour was getting late and we hadn't enjoyed the edible part of that trio of delights, we chose to cap off our evening with drinks and a blackberry tart and a dark chocolate something-or-other eaten under the stars.

And we had a word with the chef, who waxed enthusiastic over this great city (in which he's been serving great food, Reader Dear, for lo, these many years), and the old, old buildings surrounding us. "Just look at this beautiful view from right here!" he exclaimed, gesturing toward the roof lines and the lovely arches and finials and moldings. "And to think, this view has existed just like this for over one hundred years!"

Ah, it was a fine evening, Music Friday in the city.
My Yard Man and I, we both highly recommend it.
(If I could put that endorsement to music, Reader Dear, and serve it up with a margarita and cheesecake, you know I would!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


THE FAMILY REUNION is over! Participants are settling back into their normal routines (with the exception of the one (teenager) who is leaving this very day for a three-week visit to India!)
A neighbor has agreed to change the locks at the old home place.
However, one of us is going back to real life a whole year older! I forgot to tell you, Dear Reader, that we had a birthday celebration while at our "Genes of a Feather Flock Together" gathering over the weekend!

There's nothing like a birthday to prompt a seafood dinner out, and a late-night mini-gala in a motel lobby with cheesecake and brownies from Wal-mart!

Happy Birthday, David! May your thirty-first year be the best one yet!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


SO THERE WE ARE (well, there we were, but let's just pretend, Reader Dear, we're still there)...eatin' chicken off the grill, takin' boat rides, playin' outdoor games, and watchin' the tide roll in (or out, as the case may be). We genetically-linked folks are relishing the sunny weather and pondering the poor soul (or souls) who squatted in the empty house of our deceased parents (or grandparents, or even great-grandparents, as the case may be) and went so far as to steal the copper pipes from the basement  furnace room [cut them right down from the ceiling, they did!] They left an empty vodka bottle and cigarette butts; they ransacked the place!)

Not all descendants are concerned. In particular, the little ones care not at all. And the ones who are upset try not to be.

We all stay away from the house as much as possible, lounging by the river, sitting around the tiki torches in the evening, hearing tales from the pilot of the boat (and his wife--these neighbors who have lived nearly all of their eighty-six years [or eighty-seven, as the case may be] near this river!) Ernie tells us how he ran out of fuel for his boat a few months ago and drifted until long after sundown. Ruth Ann tells us how she sent out the rescue squads. And then we all tell tales of olden days.

It's such a lovely evening, even if biting bugs give a few of us red welts.
Inevitably, though, the tide and time wait for no one. The weekend ebbs and it's dismantling time!

We hug our dear ones goodbye.
We hope to do this again at least one more time before the home place sells and the squatter must find another spot to drink his vodka.

Monday, June 11, 2012


IT WAS FIRST THINGS FIRST at this Family Reunion.
And erecting the tent came first!

Once that was done, we could jump right in. (Right into Ernie's boat, Reader Dear!) This genetic bunch had a neighbor man while growing up who is still the neighbor man! He has a boat and a generous urge to give rides!

Well, then there was fishing!

And that most universal of activities--eating!

My goodness, Reader Dear, as if riding the boat were not enough, we all got a chance to ride the train, as well! That well-known celebrity (my Little Actor himself) was acting as engineer! My Small Actor, too, was in attendance! His entertainment was of the Throw-the-Pinecone-to-the-Ground-and-All-Applaud sort, and it was quite a hit!

Of course, the tiny stars were mostly taking a break from acting. They were on vacation, after all! The Small Actor took time to kick back and enjoy nature; the Little Actor relished being on the near side of the camera for once!

There's more.
The tide keeps on rolling...

(to be cont'd., Dear Reader-slash-Viewer!)


Sunday, June 10, 2012


AH, DEAR READER, that whole fantastic group with whom I spent the weekend--they're the ones most closely linked to me by genes. We met beside that river we all know and love.

Several times the tide came in. And just as often, the tide went out. But I'll have to tell you more another day, when I'm no longer listening to the lapping at the shore.

Monday, June 4, 2012

SUNDAY SUMMER CONCERTS! Yesterday evening's was the first of the season, and my Little Actor was game to go!


Friday, June 1, 2012


THE TREES, he says....

they are centenarians!!
Ensuring that there is no doubt, we hear the
message twice!!

They were planted in the nineteen-twenties or thirties.
They were planted, both men tell us, as mature

The yard man shrugs. I smirk.
But neither one of us believes those trees were planted as mature trees (However could that be?! We were told when we planted our prized Copper Beech that it would grow slowly; approximately fifty years would get it to maturity. Already at its relatively young age of twenty-eight, it stretches credulity to believe it could be snatched out of the ground and re-planted elsewhere!) So we shake our heads and continue along the garden boulevard,

spying many other old and (very) mature trees.