Author: Martha

I’m Back with Random Ramblings about Autumn

I’m back to blogging. It’s really not that I’ve forgotten that I’m Miss Wednesday Blogger for TWSS. I’ve tried to log in, but, being technologically challenged, I kept forgetting my password. Thanks to our creator, producer, and guru Jamie, I’m back online. And what a lovely morning to blog.
I love autumn! “Autumn in New York” is one of my very favorite songs, especially when I hear the old Sinatra version. OMG! I have the Sinatra station marked on my satellite radio in the Jeep! And the jazz station which is right next to the “spa music” station, and sometime it slips to that one, and, suddenly while I’m driving across the Buttonwood Street Bridge I feel like I’m in an elevator.
But back to autumn! I love the shortening of days, the appearance of pumpkins, our harvested gourd crop, the crickets chirping in midday, the crisp air, and need to wear jean and sweatshirts and to get out of flipflops and back to sneakers and loafers! I am reacquainting myself with warmer clothes, and I loved finding those corduroy slacks I’d forgotten that I’d bought on sale at the end of last season – and never wore!
“Cozy” is a very important word in my vocabulary – “safe and secure” category. My daughter seems to feel the same way about it because she often calls me and tells me she’s had a “cozy day” reading and curled up with her kitten, listening to NPR and the ocean (that’s right outside her balcony.) It’s time to light candles on our supper table, bring in wood for the fireplace and take out the crock of silk flowers that have been decorating it all summer. Time for chili, sauer kraut, pumpkin pies and muffins. It’s the time of hunkering down emotionally and waiting for the winter to arrive. (I love winter also!)
I realize that this has been a rambling blog. Random thoughts on the arrival of autumn. I think I’ll find try to find my CD with Sinatra singing that song and play it while I grade papers. (Ah, yes! One more autumn thought – I saw a maple tree on campus on Monday that had already festooned itself with wonderful red leaves. The best is yet to come!)

Honestly, I CAN Write a Short Blog – Well, at Least “Shorter.”

In five hours the limo will arrive to take us to PHL to board our nonstop Virgin America flight to San Francisco. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more eager to (a) hug our kids, and (b) leave Berks County. The heat and humidity will definitely not be the weather we’ll be getting into along the north central coast of California. Hooray!! I’m tired of the drone of fans and air conditioners. Tired of opening windows to catch the early morning breezes, then closing them before noon to turn on the A/C.
All of our time will be spent in sight of the blue Pacific!
I’m packed and ready. The pupsters are happily boarded at the Bernville Pet Spa. The mail and papers have been cancelled. Best of all,. I”m using a smaller than usual suitcase. Hoping I’ve chosen wisely the closthes I’m planning to wear. We’re ready! Hooray!
I probably won’t be blogging next Wednesday, but in two weeks I’ll tell you about our trip.

A Lab Report

Really, two Labs are a hoot! Watching Bessie and Chooch become friends, playmates, and part of the family is lots of fun. Barry and I never lack for entertainment – even when all we want is a quiet evening to read! It seems as though Chooch has been with us for years! His transition from “stray” to much-loved-pet and Bessie’s-best-bud has been, as they way, “seamless.”
Labs just want to have fun! They play constantly, and it’s apparent that Bessie makes the rules. Chooch is not any taller, but much more massive than Bessie, but she’s faster and more wirey. When they have their mock battles, he barks and growls and does lots of macho stuff, and she flies around, runs under him, jumps over him – and makes not one sound! Dogs do smile and laugh! And the expressions on these pupsters’ faces while they’re playing are all smiles! Then, as quickly as the battle begins, it ends -time to get a drink of water! Or take nap! The only sign that there was a loud conflict is that there are now toys all over the living room floor – some of the toys have had their stuffing “surgically removed” by Drs. Chooch and Bessie, so the living room looks like a January snowstorm! Since she was a puppy, when Bessie gets really excited and is having lots and lots of fun, she dances in her water dish! Hasn’t done it for years, but since she has this great new playmate, our kitchen is occasionally flooded! Amazing what we put up with because we simply enjoy the company of Labs! This morning they had a huge battle on the front porch where we were eating breakfast. At one point, they simply got too rowdy, and Barry gave them a “time out.” Truly! They both lay down and gazed up at him with “Aren’t we just the best pups ever?” looks. Lasted abount five minutes until they realized Barry was back to reading the paper.
Now they’re both napping in one of their favorite spots. The next battle will occur around 2 PM, with the evening skirmish at 7. (I’ve become completely convinced after having many Labs that they can tell time!)
If you’ve never known a Lab, find one to befriend. They make life more fun and interesting – and the bending to pick up their toys and toy stuffing, and the mopping up of water when they dance in their water dishes is really good for the waistline!

Moving On

I am about to “turn the page” on all that’s been happening with the Penn State issue. But since many of you know that I do bleed blue and white, I thought I needed to comment so no one would be uncomfortable to mention the subject to me.
I believe Penn State got off very easy. Ending the football program for a year or two would not have seemed unfair to me. The players whose winning records have been erased still have the education they received at Penn State. They also have learned some sad, but serious life lessons. My Penn State education and experiences, and the friends I made there had nothing to do with the football program. The education I got that taught me teaching skills is still helping me teach other students who hope to become teachers. Penn State introduced me to literature I never knew existed, to theater and drama, and music, and sorority life – with all its nonsense – did teach me “to work a room,” gave me social confidence to overcome my serious shyness. (And that shyness is still there, believe it or not.) Student teaching and teaching as a grad student on main campus assured me that teaching was what I wanted to do with my life. I met wonderful, learned, delightful scholars and great teachers who were my advisors and supervisors. And not one of them had any connections to the football program.
I have been a big fan of Joe Paterno, but sadly, no more. He stayed too long at the fair. I believe that, finally, this humble man with strong ethics actually began to believe the myths that developed about him. How sad.
But beyond all, let’s think of the boys whose lives will never be quite the same since they met Jerry Sandulsky! THEY and their families are the true victims! For them I grieve, and for all of those who allowed the abuse to conitnue I have only disgust. (And that includes our esteemd governor who, as attorney general, took 10 years to investigate the case, and didn’t do anything about it until he was safely sworn in as governor. (Joe Paterno was a huge, financial backer of Republican candidates. Was our governor afraid to prosecute the case until after he was sure of being sworn it?)
I’m glad the Penn State coach has agreed to stay on. I wish him and his team the best of luck. I am Penn State.

A Bit Early From Martha

It’s Tuesday afternoon, and I’m the “Wednesday Blogger.” However, tomorrow is a busy day for me, so I thought I’d write this now and hope everyone will understand. And, truly, I’ve not much to say today. (No smart remarks about that, please,) The heat and humidity has kept me indoors more than I care to be. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity that make breathing less than easy for those of us with asthma, so I’ve found lots of time to read, knit, and clean out some of the basement.
We’ll be going to California next month to see “the kids.” Can hardly wait. It’s always cooler along the coast in Pacifia where Meg lives – actually cold and foggy and wonderful for beach walking. Matt lives in Venice Beach – also cool. But in August, it’s filled to the gills with tourists, so we’re staying in a beach house in Cambria, CA. that Matt and Melissa have rented for our stay. Looks heavenly! Barry and I are both looking forward to the trip with GREAT anticipation!
The pups will spend that time at the “Bernville Pet Spa” where we’ve always taken our dogs for boarding. It’s a grea place, and all of our dogs always seem very excited whent they realize that’s where they’re going.
Bessie has been teaching Chooch to play. The have been having huge mock battles. He’s growly and gruff and sturdier than she, but she’s wirey, quiet, and faster. And SHE makes the rules! It’s been a lot of fun to watch this whole process as Bessie turns Chooch into the playmate she’s been wishing for ever since Buster died!
Enough about dogs.
The Shoestring Production of “8” last Friday evening was excellent! Should have been seem by many,many more people! Powerful! Important!!!!
Hope everyone watches our show on BCTC, Wednesday, 18 July at 9 PM! Let us hear from you!

Proposition 8

Barry and I are very much looking forward to the Shoestring Productions reading at the MIller Center on Friday evening. It’s called Prop 8 and deals with the issue of gay marriage and the Californina referendum that nullified the right given to gays and lesbians to marrry in that state. Lots of money and lobbying was used to pass Prop 8. The Mormon Church poured LOTS of money into assuring that the Prop was passed.
Last week I had lunch with an old friend from college. She is a lesbian. After graduation she joined the USMC and rose to the rank of captain. She was in charge of all basic education for the Quantico Marine Base until the Corps decided that her sexuality made her unfit for service. She was released with no benefits. One her last day in the Corps, a psychiatrist at the base suggested that once she was back in civilian life she should seek psychiatric therapy to “cure” her. She told the doctorlishe didn’t think that would happen! (Until much more recentlly than you would believe, homosexuality was listed as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.)
My friend is a fine woman whose life was truly upheaved by her dismissal from the USMC. She developed a severe alcohol problem that she has since overcome, but she has many health problems. She worked in a factory for many years and lives in a trailer. She’s not desitute – her factory job provided her with decent benefits, and she has many good friends. She is a strong woman who seems to have little is any bitterness about what the USMC did to her future. She is a true and loyal friend, and I am proud that after all these years, we still get to have lunch and a long chat whenever she comes to PA.
Last week I told her about the Shoestring Production that we were going to see, and she said how happy she was to see the huge progress that has been made in this country during her lifetime when it comes to rights/tolerance/understanding/acceptance of individual sexual orientation. (In my opinion, we haven’t come far enough!) But, as she said, once not too long ago, biracial marriage was illegal in many states, and in those where it wasn’t illegal, biracial couples were often not accepted, and they and their children were often treated cruelly. Many college students, I know from recent discussion, can’t believe this was ever the case. Maybe in the not too distant future gay and lesbian marriage will also be accepted without a second thought.
“And miles to go before I sleep.”

Happy Fourth of July! Thoughts on Something I Tend to Take for Granted.

Happy Fourth of July! I’m not a flag waver – that is, I tend not to wear my patriotic pride on my sleeve, much as I also believe my faith is a private matter. My mother was a badge wearing member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She’d worked long and hard to trace her ancestry back to a soldier who fought for our independence. I was proud of her, but I was not interested in becoming a DAR. Weird, I know, but public displays of religion (i.e. holding hands and saying grace in a restuarant) and patriotism rather embarrass me. (Hey! Don’t be too critical. It’s a personal choice. I don’t mind others being demonstrative, but it’s just not my “thing.”)
Am I proud to be an American? You better believe it. I rather took my citizenship for granted until me moved to Italy, and I realized how coveted my American passport was. Suddenly I wanted my three year old daughter to remember the USA. I made a tiny American flag for her bureau in the hotel in which we lived until our furniture arrived. Every morning Meg and I would salute the flag and sing “My Country, ’tis of Thee.”
Soon after we arrived in Italy, the USA landed our first astronauts on the moon. The morning it happened, some Italian men who where in the bar of the hotel where we were living, came to our room and took us down to the bar where everyone was watching the landing. (No, the rooms didn’t have their own television sets.)They made a path through the crowd for us; one man hoisted Meg up on his shoulders so she could see better. When Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the moon’s surface, those Italian men applauded and cheered. Many cried! They all shook my hand and explained to Meg how lucky she was to be an American. At that moment I felt the wildest shot of pride in America that I’d ever felt. I realized what an honor it is to be an American.
Three weeks ago, I felt a similar feeling. We were eating at a restuarant in New York City. Our waiter told us he was from Kosovo. I told him I’d just read a book abour Kosovo. “Was it about the time of the trouble?” he asked. When I said it was, he said, “It’s much better there now. Thanks to the Americans!” Wow!
I have often thought how lucky I am to have been born an American woman at this time. Women in so many parts of the world are treated badly – VERY badly. By the sheer luck of the draw, I am not one of them. I have a wonderful home, plenty of food and clothing, an education that has kept me doing what I love – teaching. I have two children 3000 miles away – whom I can visit without ever having to show my passport! I have a husband who, in retirement, is free to pursue his interests – of which, I a proud to say, I am at the top of that list. There is so much more that being an American provides. Mostly I take it for granted, but today I need to recognize what a wonderful life America has given me. I AM a proud American! Happy Birthday, United States of America! You may not be perfect, but you’re the very best that this world has to offer. Of thee, I sing (quietly, but proudly.)

A Lovely June Morning…No Major Event…But What Could be Better Than This?

Chooch is lying at my feet with an inflated dougnut around his neck. (I’ts replaced by a damnable plasitc cone at night!) Monday was his “surgery day.” He was neutered – a requirement for adoption from the Animal Rescue League and most other shelters. A good idea. We’re not sure why this didn’t happen to Chooch when he was puppy, but it’s done now. He seems to be comfortable and doesn’t hate us! Just wants cuddling…and food! Bessie was quite upset when Chooch disappeared for two days! She really pouted and didn’t want to have anything to do with us. Now that Chooch is home, Bessie’s a happy Lab again.
OK! I know I promised something beyond a discussion of our Labs this week. It’s been a lovely, almost unstructured week. As Ellen blogged, Saturday’s secret-discovering-trip was interesting. Stay tuned to our next show on 18 July at 9 PM for a film sampling of our day.
There are some days that I seem to accomplish very little. I’m a “morning person,” so if I’m going to accomplish any houswework or pursue my writing, it has to happen by noon. Yet some mornings when I wake with great resolve to do a number of chores, noon arrives, and I’ve little to show but my unfulfilled resolve. But this morning I started at 8 when Barry left for a conference in Philadelphia. It’s now barely 1 PM. and I think I’ve accomplished more this morning than I have in weeks. Cleaning, ironing, gardening, a long phone conversation with my daughter in Californina, some deep sorting and bagging of old clothes that have been accumulating in the basement – I’ve meant to get at those for….years, I think. Wow! What happened?
Actually, in addition to this lovely cool, breezy, sunny morning, I didn’t begin by checking my email and catching up with my correspondence. Usually, after the breakfast dishes are put away, I go right to the computer. It often traps me for hours. But not this morning. Didn’t even look at email until everything else was done. It really made a difference, I think. My psyche is not “housework focused”….ever! It is easily persuaded to put off chores until another day, especially when I get caught up with email and the Internet. I am planning to revise my schedule for computer time!
It really wasn’t a day to inspire a deeply thoughtful blog, but I feel very good about everything I have accomplished. Who knows what the afternoon will bring?!
We are very exctied about the forthcoming arrival of Monah Gallagher. Can hardly wait to meet her and have her meet Bessie and Chooch. Dogs! Love almost every one, but I love the big ones best!

Has the Suspense been Driving You Crazy?

I’ll end the suspense! Chooch, the Pooch, is now part of our family!Seems as though he’s been with us for years! He joined our ranks last Wednesday afternoon. Of course, at that time his name was still “Hank,” a name the Animal Rescue League gave him when he arrived as a stray. (He was microchipped and licensed. The owners were notified, but never came to pick him up! He’s been at ARL for a month.) We named him after Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz, that amazing catcher who plays for the Phillies! Good guy! Good dog!
So, if you’re not a pet person, you might wish to stop reading at this point. I understand, and I promise to be more inspiring next Wednesday. But for today – it’s all about Chooch.
He’s six years old, a lovely milk chocolate colored Labroador retriever with a distinguished gray beard. Looks like a purebred – thick, otter tail; big ruff; large chest; big “smart spot” on his forehead. Whatever he is, we love him. Bessie! Of course, it was her approval that sealed the deal! They act like an old married couple. She walks by and gives him a kiss in passing, and he sniffs…I won’t go into detail about what he sniffs! They’re dogs! She’s started to tease him the way she used to tease Buster, our big chocolate Lab who died a year a half ago, and whom we’ve all been missing – A LOT!!!
Chooch doesn’t bark, doesn’t get up on any furniture, is housebroken, sleeps in Buster’s bed next to Barry’s side of our bed. (Bessie sleeps in hers next to my side.) He loves to eat!!! Follows me all around the downstairs – and, yes, I’ve tripped on him and stepped on him several times. He’s very tolerant and just grunts! But most of all, Chooch wants to be hugged and petted – all the time if you have a free hand. When one of us sits down, he sits on the floor and leans against us and pushes our hand to be petted. He’s a living Huggable! It’s wonderful! A dog who just wants love!
He’s quite smart – as most Labs are – at least in our experience. He’s already learned to dance with me like Bessie and I dance with paws on my shoulders and wiggling to my off key crooning. He’s learning to wait before going through a door, and also before he approaches his full food dish. (That’s a REALLY hard one because he LOVES to eat, but he’s learning.) On the negative side – he would love to chase every bird, squirrel, and bunny in the neighborhood. We’re working on that, and he’s doing really well at controlling that urge. (Wish I could do as well controling my urge for ice cream!) He meets people with a wag of the tail and a smile. (Great smile!!!)
Did I mention that he weighs 83 pounds, 10 more than Bessie, and is about the same height. (Buster weighed 140 when we rescued him!)
So, there he is! Our Chooch! He’s found his “forever home,” as Meg said last week. He is our second rescued Lab, and we are believers!!!! There are a lot of animals at ARL looking for forever homes. (Meg just rescued Charlie, a charming cat with a Chaplin mustache – hence, the name!) Of course, he really chose her, just as Chooce (AKA Hank) chose Barry when he went to check out the chocolate Lab on the ARL website!
We’ve been looking for him for a year and a half. It was worth the wait!
If you’ve read this far, you must be a dog lover. Have a great week. I promise to return next week with more artsy, intellectual “stuff.” (yawn!) – am still reading LBJ’s bio!

Excuses, Labradors, and Books! How’s that for “ecclectic”?

It’s been several weeks since I blogged, and, truly, I’ve no excuse. The almost-agenda-less summer days are wonderful, and I’ve been enjoying having time to read and garden and knit – as welll as write -but I’ve found myself losing track of the days. So Wednesdays have been sliding by without reminding me to blog!
We’re considering adopting another Lab. A chocolate one – six years old – a guest at the ARL. Our big, lovely Buster died about 18 months ago, and we all (Bessie, most of all, I think) miss our gentle giant. Barry’s been looking at Lab rescue sites, and yesterday he went to see “Hank” at ARL.
Barry said he really felt a connection with Hank, so we went to see the pup last evening. He’s a good guy. Six years old, a stray with a microchip and license, but when the owners were called they didn’t come to pick him up. How can you do that?!
So today Barry’s taking Bessie to “meet and greet” Hank. She’ll make the final decision, and I must admit I’m a bit stressed about the idea of a second dog. Buster was SO my dog. Where I was, there was Buster waiting quietly for me to scratch his head or, better still, give him a treat. Hank’s a good guy! I think I could love him – I think I hope Bessie feels the same way. (ARL has been calling him “”Hank” for the month he’s been a guest there, but they don’t know what his name really is. He didn’t seem to respond especially when we called him “Hank.” I’d love to rename him “Chooch” for my favorite Phillie.
So stay tuned. When next I blog, I’ll let you know whether Bessie has taken a shine to “Hank.”
One recommendation: I’ve discovered a new Norwegian author – Jon Nesbo – my son says he’s read several of his books and enjoyed them. I’m reading “The Leopard,” a well written detective tale! There’s something about those Scandinavian writers of mysteries that I find very entertaining. (Still slogging through LBJ biography – volume 1! Good reading/well written – but there’s only so much Texas I can take at one time!)