Monday, December 29, 2008

Reflect and look ahead

When I was writing this, Christmas was still a few days away.
Since my family and friends all agreed to scale back on the “material giving” portion of the holiday, I didn’t experience any of the panic or last-minute “must shop” angst that sometimes hits.
But we at The Reporter again “adopted” a family through Community Housing Services, buying presents for each of the family members, and I also helped out with a child where my daughter works.
If you’ve never participated in an “adoption” program or angel tree, I highly recommend it.
Buying for those who otherwise would have nothing on the holiday, for those who are truly in need, is much more satisfying than combing the stores for some silly little knickknack that most likely will wind up at a yard sale or thrift store.
How many grass-growing pets or singing/dancing Santas can one person use, anyway?
Yes, this holiday season — as many of us hunker down for what may be an even more challenging year ahead, economically speaking — seems to be bringing many people back to what really counts: their faith, their family and friends, helping others.
Facing our own challenges may also help us to think of those for whom the holidays are not a happy time of the year.
Perhaps they have gone through the loss of a loved one this year or are dealing with a major health crisis.
Maybe they’ve already lost their job or know that, unless a miracle occurs, that will be their fate in the new year.
Major expenses may have hit their family’s wallet this year or there may be some other crisis in their lives.
If we think more about reaching out to others, finding comfort in our spiritual beliefs and realizing that being with family and friends all are much more important than how many presents are under the tree, we may find this holiday to be the best we’ve experienced in years.
And I truly hope that people who are convinced that there is some kind of “war” on Christmas will come to their senses.
Just because more people are recognizing the diversity of this country and deciding to say “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” does not mean that the religious aspect of this holiday is in danger.
If they consider that most scholars agree that Jesus was not born in December and that many of the traditions we observe have nothing to do with Christianity, they would realize that no one can destroy what is in a person’s heart and soul simply by what greeting they extend at a store or in passing.
There are so many more important issues we should be concerned with and so much more we should be focusing on than something this silly.
How about following the Golden Rule? How about staying firm in your particular faith and living that faith? How about getting your priorities in order and following through all year long — and not just at Christmas?
By the time you read this, Christmas will have past, many presents will already be exchanged, most of us will have eaten too much and many will be focusing on New Year’s Eve plans.
But I hope you’ll take a few moments to reflect on this year, how you have lived it and how you would like to live in 2009.
Reach out to others. Mend a quarrel. Comfort someone who is hurting. Aid those who are in need. Show your love in word and deed. Live your faith.

Friday, December 26, 2008

No White Christmas

OK, we didn't have a white Christmas ... again. But it's not too late to rent "Holiday Inn" and see the movie where this great song debuted. It's a favorite holiday tradition ... corny, but wonderful.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas

If you've lived in the Philadelphia area as long as I have, surely you know "The Spirit of Christmas," that great old show that was sponsored by the telephone company and included "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and "The Greatest Story Ever Told."
The Mabel Beaton marionettes acted out the two stories, and old commercials were included.
You can still catch it on Channel 12 from time to time, and I have an old VHS taped copy.
But a few years ago I stumbled upon it on DVD and had to get it.
We always watched the show at Christmas, and for years had to rely on my old tape. We jokingly called it the "Bell Puppets," since Bell Telephone had been the sponsor.
Now we can just pop in the DVD and enjoy, which we do every year. It's part of our traditions.
So if you remember the "Bell Puppets," I hope you've discovered this DVD too.
It's a great tradition to pass on!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

May we someday enjoy the gift of peace on Earth...
Merry, merry Christmas... all good wishes to everyone, regardless of what you may celebrate.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

cat lovers can relate...

Thought you might enjoy this little video, if you're a cat person, too.
Certainly we can relate!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Helping hand

Too often it's way too easy to simply complain, complain, complain.
And during the holiday season, when we're busy and stressed, that can become even easier.
But I wanted to share a simple gesture that really touched me this week.
I took the day off on Monday, to try to catch up with some work around the house, run some errands and get ready for Christmas.
I was at a local store, my cart was filled with two 25-pound bags of bird seed plus lots of other items, and I was struggling to unload the cart into the back of my car.
Suddenly a voice said, "Here, let me help you with that; it looks heavy."
I turned to see an older gentleman who was lifting one of the bird seed bags out of the cart and into my car.
I was so taken aback, I could hardly say, "Thank you, that's so kind of you."
As he helped with the other items, he said, "Well, if we can't help each other, who will?"
I thanked him again and he said, "Oh, that's all right. Glad to help. And here, let me take your cart back, too. Now you have a happy holiday!"
I wished him a Merry Christmas, and watched as he walked away with the cart. I figured maybe he needed one anyway, but no, he returned the cart and walked into the store.
A small gesture? Not to me.
It made my day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Shop, shop, shop

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. I know I did.
My daughter and I traveled “up north” — well, just to Catawissa — to spend the day with my sister and her family.
It was great to be with family and to share the day with some of the “extended branches” that we don’t get to see too often.
We ate too much, laughed a lot and were blessed by great weather and light traffic.
But something bothered me as we drove both there and back.
It was the fact that certain stores were open on Thanksgiving.
These are store where you can shop every day of the week. Being open on a holiday is not because they serve some life-and-death function; it simply means the owners of these retail sites were hoping to make a bit more money.
Now I can appreciate that these are extremely trying times financially.
And I suppose not everyone cares about spending the holiday with family and friends.
But all I could think of was that those people unfortunate enough to work there were being deprived of something special.
And for no good reason.
Having spent my career in the newspaper business, I’ve worked my share of holidays. We’re the kind of business that produces a publication every single day of the year, rain or shine, snow or sleet.
But journalists know that going into this career choice.
And on holidays, we do run with a “skeleton” crew so that the fewest people possible have to be here. We also open it up to “volunteers” first; only after that do we assign.
You know that isn’t the case when you have a huge retail operation open.
It just makes me wonder what in the world people have to have so badly that they would even want to shop on a holiday.
I don’t know how I ever made it growing up. Way back then, everything was closed on every single holiday — and everything was closed on Sundays.
Horrors! How did we ever survive when we couldn’t go to the grocery store or a department store or mega retailer or the mall?
Wait — there were no malls when I was growing up. We were even more deprived!
Yes, somehow people planned their weeks so that the shopping was done Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, basically everyone seemed to be in church, then home for a big lunch, and then either you visited relatives or they visited you.
And holidays were the same.
They were special and everyone seemed to agree that no one — unless they were in a crucial position such as a doctor or police officer or the like — should be spending the holidays anywhere but with loved ones.
It would have been absolutely unheard of to expect someone to have to give up Thanksgiving dinner so that you could buy laundry detergent and paper towels.
Family was far too sacred.
Some may think this is a far too old-fashioned concept; that it’s much better to have the freedom to shop for non-essentials even on Thanksgiving or other holidays.
I disagree. And maybe, just maybe, this financial crisis we are mired in will spur us to realize that things are not what is important in life.
Maybe it will get us to better prioritize our lives.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Greed equals death

When you read the following Associated Press story, ask yourself if you've ever been one of those "over-eager" shoppers who plowed through a crowd to get to a bargain.
Then ask yourself if any THING is worth killing another person for, as in this Wal-Mart tragedy.
I can't imagine anything at a Wal-Mart, or any other store, that would be worth this...

By The Associated Press
Police are reviewing surveillance videos of a post-Thanksgiving shopper stampede that trampled a suburban Wal-Mart worker to death, but they acknowledge it may be difficult to bring criminal charges.

Nassau County police and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said no new information was available Saturday on the employee's brutal death, which rattled shoppers even as they flocked to the Valley Stream store a day later.

"It felt a little freakish," customer Ellie Berhun, 48, told the Daily News. "Some man lost his life because a VCR was on sale? Please. It's just too sad for words."

Police said the temporary worker, Jdimytai Damour, was mowed down as about 2,000 bargain-hunters surged into the store at Friday's 5 a.m. opening, leaving a metal portion of the door frame crumpled like an accordion.

Other workers were knocked to the ground as they tried to rescue Damour, and customers simply stepped over him and kept shopping even as the store announced it was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

At least four other people, including a woman eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or treatment for minor injuries. The store, about 20 miles east of Manhattan, closed for several hours but reopened Friday afternoon.

The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday because it has traditionally marked the point when a throng of shoppers pushes stores into profitability for the year.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said it added staffers and outside security workers and put up barricades to try to prepare for the crush. But police spokesman Detective Lt. Michael Fleming said Friday that security was inadequate for a scene he called "utter chaos."

Criminal charges are possible, but identifying anyone in the store's videos may prove difficult, Fleming said.

Damour, 34, came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store, Wal-Mart said.

A woman reported being trampled by overeager customers at a Wal-Mart opening Friday in Farmingdale, about 15 miles east of Valley Stream, Suffolk County police said. She suffered minor injuries but finished shopping before filling the report, police said.

Items on sale at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart included a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.

Friday, November 28, 2008


With all apologies to cattle, I have to say, the photos on the news this morning -- infamous Black Friday -- reminded me of those stampedes in old cowboy movies.
Especially in one instance, when people were storming the doors of a Wal-Mart -- yes, a Wal-Mart -- in hopes of grabbing those GREAT values being offered.
People were knocking other people over, smashing into them with their carts and pushing people aside, just to get into the store in front of a few more people.
Can there be ANYTHING in a store that's worth all this?
At other stores, people had camped out all night in the bitter cold to be the first in line.
Some stores were "smart" and opened at midnight.
What is this madness???
I've never been able to understand all this and have never braved Black Friday shopping for these reasons.
For those of you who did, I hope it was worth it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gobble, gobble

What would Thanksgiving Day be without this great turkey from the Macy's Day Parade? Now, if they would just stop featuring those STUPID Broadway show snippets.
But really, folks, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Gather with friends and family. Eat too much. Laugh. Maybe cry.
Remember loved ones absent from our sight.
Start a new tradition.
Help with the dishes.
Save room for pie.
Say a prayer. And give thanks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

refocus, give thanks

It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving.
People are busy shopping, enjoying Lansdale’s Mardi Gras Parade, figuring out their travel plans, deciding where everyone will sit at the table on Thursday and hoping that everything will go off without a hitch.
That is, if you’re among the “lucky” people this year.
We all know of the devastation around us on so many fronts.
The wars rage on and so many soldiers are still so far away from home.
People are losing their jobs, their homes, their hope.
Gasoline prices have dropped, but people bemoan the heating and electric rates that are draining their pocketbooks.
There doesn’t seem to be any decline in food prices.
Too many must hold their breath, wondering if their company will be the next to announce layoffs or, worse, close entirely.
So is there any reason to be thankful this year? Is there any reason to be hopeful, unless you’re in that small percentage whose investments haven’t evaporated, whose job isn’t in danger, whose fortunes always seem to be on the rise?
The answer is, “Of course.”
And that isn’t coming from someone who is independently wealthy or hasn’t experienced loss or is in the most secure profession in the world.
Anyone who pays attention at all to business news knows that the newspaper business is hurting. Badly.
And I’ve seen what I thought would be my retirement nest egg simply crack and drain away.
My parents are both gone and my husband has been dead for nearly five years.
I hope my major appliances will keep working and that my car won’t decide it’s simply traveled far enough.
Sounds like doom and gloom? I admit, there are days when it’s hard to find a silver lining.
But then I think of those who are so much worse off; who have lost everything in horrible storms; whose loved ones have been killed in war; who have no home, no family, no friends.
One of my friends lost her husband this summer. She’s in her 30s and he was only 40. They have a 2½-year-old son. She’s facing a future without the person with whom she had planned to spend a lifetime.
We all have similar stories.
But we all have reasons to give thanks.
I have a wonderful daughter, family and friends in my life.
I have my faith.
I have a home without a mortgage.
I have my health.
I have memories of my loved ones that continue to sustain me.
And yes, I have my crazy cats.
So as you sit down on Thursday and are tempted to complain about the results of the election or the economy or the guy who cut you off in traffic earlier that day, just stop.
Stop and remember the positives in your life.
Stop and remember all those Thanksgivings that were so happy and promised such hope; this can be another one just like those.
Stop and count your blessings.
And think of others, and how you might be able to reach out to them in the weeks ahead.
Make this a season when you truly can give thanks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Please God, close the door!

Ever notice how sometimes you just wish to heck that someone would go away ... and they won't?
Hmm. Did someone mention Sarah Palin?
This is the woman who hated the media during her campaign -- yes, her campaign; that nasty elite media and all that gotcha journalism.
So why is she talking to anyone who will listen?
AND WHY, please, fellow journalists... and some who pretend to be ... do you keep seeking her out?
Just IGNORE her!! I beg of you!
But one statement that she made during an interview with Fox News' Greta van Susteren is really scary. As if Greta isn't scary enough.
Basically, what she is apparently asking of God... sort of like what you ask from Santa, I guess.
My prayers have never ventured into the "open political doors for me," so I guess I don't get it.
I'd rather have her look for guidance to help her disabled son and her pregnant teenager ... the list goes on.
But see what you think...
During the interview, Palin refused to say whether she was planning a run for the White House in 2012, but said she would wait for a sign from God, and that she is confident God would show the way to the White House.
Here is what she said:

"Faith is a very big part of my life. And putting my life in my creator's hands - this is what I always do. I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. Even if it's cracked up a little bit, maybe I'll plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don't let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

Personally, I hope God will slam that door shut, for the good of this country!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Voting was worth the wait

Something happened to me on Tuesday when I went to vote at the firehouse where we cast our ballots in my somewhat rural township.
I had to wait in line. For 30 minutes.
Earlier my daughter had to wait in line. For an hour.
It was a wonderful sight to see.
Why wonderful, you ask? What’s so great about having to stand in line to vote?
Because, in my opinion, it showed that a lot of people actually cared about this election; they actually made the commitment to cast their ballot, no matter how long it took.
When compared to the lines in some areas of this nation, my wait was hardly worth mentioning.
But when you consider that, generally, there is no line at my polling place, no sense that people are really all that charged up about an election, Tuesday certainly was a day to remember.
I only wish that when local elections are held that the same number of people would show up.
Alas, that’s probably too much to ask.
We’ll have to wait and see.
But even I haven’t been this psyched about an election in a long time. Yes, I can still remember the first time I was eligible to vote. It was a heady time and I couldn’t wait to get into a voting booth and have my say.
I may not have the greatest track record in picking winners in presidential elections, but I do always vote.
And, unlike some people who were in line with me on Tuesday, I vote in all elections — not just the presidentials.
This election, some say, evoked strong memories of when John F. Kennedy ran for president.
That was long before I was old enough to vote, but I vaguely remember adults worrying about JFK being a Catholic and what that might mean for the nation.
I was too busy in elementary school at the time, learning how to duck and cover under my desk or in the school hallway in case someone dropped a bomb on us to give an election much thought, however.
And I can still remember being confused about all the talk of the “Cold War.” I figured, having only seen pictures of the U.S.S.R.’s snow-covered cities and tundra, that it must somehow be connected to the climate.
I just thought it was kind of neat that JFK had a young family. So much for political savvy when you’re in grade school.
Yes, Tuesday was special indeed. Both candidates fought the good fight. There were highlights and lowlights along the way, to be sure, and plenty of lessons can be learned on both sides.
But regardless of which man was your chosen candidate, it’s time to unite as a nation and back our new leader.
Those who wanted others, such as Hillary Clinton, to be the next president were able to do that after the primaries ended.
And now it’s time to do the same where Barack Obama is concerned.
This historic election will be analyzed from every angle imaginable, to be sure.
But one truth is self evident: Your vote does count.
Now, let’s see how long we can make the lines when we turn out to vote for local candidates.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


OK, now that the election is over, it's time to rant about something else.
And this something started BEFORE the election -- on Halloween, to be exact.
That's why I thought it must be a joke.
But no, apparently not.
Even though it was Oct. 31, one radio station in Philly has gone to all Christmas music, all the time.
Yep, time to cover your ears and be VERY careful if you're flipping through stations on your car radio.
When I first heard this, they were touting it as a celebration of the Phils winning the World Series -- Christmas coming early and all that.
But it has persisted. Gone on and on.
It's like driving by an accident and having to look. Every so often I have to check to see if it's true, but yes, they are still playing Christmas music.
Don't get me wrong; I like holiday music. When it's much, much closer to the actual holiday!
But in October? And November?
Who the heck is in charge at this station?
Maybe it's the Grinch... this is sure to get lots of people in the mood to "steal" Christmas.....

Monday, November 3, 2008


We have followed this presidential campaign for eons now ... OK, it only SEEMS like eons... it's actually been more like about 20 months or so.
But now our time has come.
Nov. 4.
Election Day.
So get out there and VOTE! I don't want to hear any excuses ... I have a headache. The lines were long. I was afraid I'd be caught for a parking ticket. I heard I could vote by phone. I heard I should vote on Wednesday if I was a Democrat.
STUPID ... and you know it.
Tuesday is IT. THIS IS IT!
Your vote is vitally important.
Don't let anyone steal it. Don't let it go unused.
You have a right. A responsibility. A privilege.
Who cares if you have to stand in line. A wait of even a few hours is better than four years of regret.
Vote on Tuesday.
Please... I beg of you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good ol' Halloween

Oh, for the days before everyone and everything had to be “politically correct” in every imaginable way.
Including Halloween.
Way back when I was in elementary school, we had great Halloween parades and parties in school each year.
You decorated your classrooms with mostly handmade ghosts and ghouls. You chattered on about how much candy you’d be snagging when you went trick-or-treating.
And you plotted out what you would be wearing that year.
Few of us actually had elaborate, store-bought costumes. Most of us would opt for something like a hobo, and wear any old clothes we could find; or perhaps a princess, and use a fancy Sunday dress with some costume jewelry.
Or maybe you chose to be a cowboy, because flannel shirts and dungarees — note, they weren’t called jeans — were readily available.
If you were more inventive and could fashion something out of cardboard boxes, you might become a robot; less ambitious, perhaps a ghost, using an old sheet.
But no one really cared. It was just fun to pull together a costume of some sort, bring in some wickedly sugary treat your mom had baked and then parade through the school so everyone could ooohh and aaahh and giggle at their friends.
After that, everyone could dive into the treats, eat way too much and be sent home on a sugar high to the delight of their parents.
But they didn’t care, either. You just were sent outside to play to burn off the extra sugar.
Problem solved.
Today it’s not that easy.
Some people think Halloween is much more dangerous and evil than just kids begging for candy in weird outfits.
Others don’t want their kids ingesting anything that isn’t a fruit or vegetable — and let’s face it, getting a small box of raisins as your “treat” isn’t exactly what most kids have in mind.
Some schools skip the whole thing entirely, figuring it’s the easiest way to avoid any parent’s ire.
Others find “creative” ways around it, dubbing it a “costume celebration” and allowing children to dress up in whatever the “in” costume may be this year, while serving only wholesome, nutritious snacks.
I feel sorry for those kids. They miss out on the simple joys of being totally silly and indulging their sweet tooth, just because we have to overthink everything, it seems.
Our costumes may have been a lot simpler and not at all stylish, but we sure had fun.
And that was the best treat of all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Suicide help

Having lost my husband to depression and suicide nearly five years ago, I thought it was important to post this.
You may also want to check out, which is updated every Sunday.
And locally, if you have lost a loved one to suicide, you may want to check out this group, which helped me immensely:
Survivors of Suicide‚ a support group for those who have lost a loved one to suicide‚ meets at 7:30 p.m. the first and third Wednesday of each month at Pyramid Rehab Centers‚ 2705 Old Bethlehem Pike‚ Quakertown. The group is for ages 16 and older. Contact Anne and Craig Landis at (215) 536-5143.

Don't forget, if you suffer from depression, seek medical help, talk to others, don't keep it a secret.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

you betcha!

Come on, you gotta have a sense of humor!

customer service?

I had the great misfortune of having to go to the store today... you know, that huge, spanning across the continent "discount" store that everyone loves to hate.
The one that has forced all the other businesses that used to be here to close.
You get it.
I went back today because I've been TRYING to buy cat food for my many kitties. So it makes sense to buy it where it may be a little less expensive.
I've already been irritated because they stopped carrying "normal" size bags... you can either buy tiny bags or HUGE bags, which are a little difficult to handle when you have two herniated discs in your neck.
But I digress. I've been buying the big bags and learning how to handle them. But for the past two weeks or so, it's been practically impossible to find even those bags.
So today I stupidly decided to ask for the manager.
Well, on a Sunday, no managers work, of course. So customer service paged what was supposed to be an assistant, or something.
First, the walkie-talkie was going to have to be good enough. But it was a little difficult to get an answer when they were also trying to provide an answer to someone asking why they didn't have a popular toy.
In the meantime, they were trying to tell me that perhaps there had been a recall of my type of cat food. Funny, when I can buy it elsewhere.
Finally the assistant manager, or whatever she was supposed to be, deigned to show up at the customer service desk.
And she didn't know anything.
Except to tell me that they get deliveries of things every day ... they just don't know what will show up.
Believe it or not, apparently they don't take stock of what they need, what people want ... she says THEY NEVER ORDER ANYTHING. THEY AREN'T ALLOWED TO...
So, this store that cares so much, actually cares nothing at all, if she is to be believed.
They don't care that something has been out of stock for weeks.
They don't care if a customer has been asking for something.
They don't care ... whatever shows up is what they sell. And if shelves are empty for weeks, who cares.
Personally, I'd rather have no greeters and actually have the shelves stocked and cashiers at the checkouts.
And a store that will keep track of what is depleted AND ORDER IT.
What a concept!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Time to laugh

OK, everyone knows that this is just a photoshopped giggle showing the political candidates merged with "dancing with the stars" bodies, but it's Friday and we can use a laugh, can't we?
Don't read anything into this, don't get your knickers in a twist.
Just use it as a chance to forget the seriousness of everything for a few seconds and allow a laugh to escape.
It's good for the soul.

make a wish

I saw a shooting star while I was on my way to work earlier this week. Yes, the sky IS still dark while I'm motoring from Upper Salford to Lansdale.
It took me by surprise to see the bright light zip through the sky and I felt fortunate to be looking at just the right spot at just the right time.
No, this photo is NOT the star I saw, but I thought you might enjoy the photo as much as I did.
I was always told to make a wish when I saw a shooting star.
I did.
I'm not telling what the wish was, but I'll keep hoping it comes true.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

walk facing traffic!

Walking is great exercise and it's also a great way to save gasoline -- skip the car and walk where you need to go.
I love walking. But I also know that there are rules to follow ... such as WALK FACING TRAFFIC; BE SURE YOU ARE VISIBLE; BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS.
I wish more people would remember even those simple rules.
Including the person who was walking on Forty Foot Road this morning, just ready to make the turn down Welsh Road toward Lansdale -- on the wrong side of the road at about 6:40 a.m. in the dark, wearing dark clothing.
The person was lucky that no one had hit him or her yet. I hope he or she made it to his or her destination.
But I often see these, regardless of the time of day.
People are walking or jogging on the wrong side of the road, not facing traffic, headphones in place.
They can't see or hear oncoming traffic.
A disaster waiting to happen.
Please, don't give up walking. Just walk more safely!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Breathe deeply

It’s a good thing that autumn is my favorite time of year.
Because the change of seasons, the crisp nights, the spirit-lifting scents of fall and an overall feeling of comfort that it brings to me is sorely needed this year.
Let’s face it, these are the times that try men’s — and women’s — souls.
The war in Iraq staggers on and we continue to lose valiant men and women who have been sent into battle on less-than-truthful premises.
Terroristic threats always hover at our shoulders.
The dangerous, pointless name-calling and fear-mongering being espoused by some of our candidates running for the top positions in our country foment some people to a state where the unspeakable could occur.
Just watch some of those rallies where yahoos are yelling such things as “kill him” and “terrorist” when references to actions of more than 40 years ago are spewed in an effort to link a candidate, somehow, to those days — and then tell me if your blood doesn’t run a bit cold.
I don’t care how much you wink and smile; those types of attacks reveal an ugliness deep inside.
It doesn’t matter which party stoops to such levels; either should look hard into the mirror and see how despicable they’ve become.
Beyond the theatrics of the election, you have more immediate worries these days.
Will my job be there tomorrow? Can I stretch my paycheck enough to pay all of my bills? If I fall ill, will my health care actually cover all of the sky-high costs? Will I lose my home?
Is there anything left in my 401(k) and other investments that I thought one day would allow me to retire? Will there be any Social Security by the time I get there?
Forget about taking a vacation or splurging on even a small “extra.” You find yourself praying that your car keeps running, your appliances don’t give up the ghost and your home doesn’t need any major repairs.
You hold your breath when you open your utility bills and you wonder how you’ll heat your home this winter.
And, of course, the holidays are approaching.
OK, I’ve depressed everyone enough. I’ll stop.
But that brings me back to autumn.
For me, it’s that special season that’s not too hot and not bone-chillingly cold. It’s great for taking walks, sitting outside by an open fire and putting up Halloween decorations.
You can walk on one of the many area trails, drink in the beauty of the changing leaves and breathe in the spice-like air.
It’s a time that I find I can clear my mind simply by being outside and taking stock of what’s truly important.
Autumn provides a respite from the heat and humidity of a long summer and slowly preps us for short winter days.
It’s the perfect refresher, restorer and rejuvenator.
And it couldn’t come at a better time as we try to find our way through these stressful, uncertain days.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

No worries...

OK, our savings have all melted away like tiny snowflakes in winter.
Job security is a thing of the past.
The war rages on in Iraq.
Terrorism is an always-present fear.
And the presidential candidates are too busy conjuring up ghosts of the past to concentrate on REAL, specific details on how to right our country.
What to do, you ask?
How about taking a nap ... and thinking of fluffy little kitties?
Hey, it may not change anything. But it just may save your sanity.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hey mavericks!

... and Joe Sixpacks and even those who hate droppin' those G's...
For a real hoot... here is the REAL debate!

Friday, October 3, 2008

a wink and a smile

OK, all else aside in the Biden/Palin debate, and without taking any sides, can someone just tell me who she was winking at and why? If that was supposed to be winning me, as a woman, over to her side, it failed.
Maybe the men out there were impressed?
Or maybe she just has an eye infection...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Just waiting...

So tonight is the great debate. I wonder what we'll all be saying about it tomorrow?
Or will we even care, as we watch to see what the House does with the bailout bill and all of our retirement savings go into the minus hole even further.
I used to have dreams about retirement, not nightmares. Now I don't even entertain the thought of never working.
But back to the "debate."
I figure at least it will provide some entertainment tonight. As for winners ... I think there are only losers.
The American public.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Countdown to 'terror'

Yea! It's October first!
Autumn is here, it's been a bit rainy and dreary ... the perfect type of weather to start the countdown to terror!
No, not the election... that's a real terror.
I'm talking about Halloween... I love this time of year the best and Halloween is great. Although it's been getting much too commercialized in recent years.
I love it because you can dress up like anything you want, get lots of candy, there's no obligation to buy presents and the decorations are truly cool.
So let's keep it this way!
Christmas has long been ruined from its original intent...
So please, let's have this one day where we can eat too much chocolate and scare ourselves to death ...
Hmm... guess it IS the perfect prelude to the elections!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

See Sarah speak

Here it is, the Sarah Palin interview with CBS News' Katie Couric.
No comments from me; you decide what you think.

Monday, September 22, 2008


OK, if you haven't ever been to Montgomery Theater in Souderton, get there before Oct. 4, while "Reefer Madness: The Musical" is still being featured.
This is such a great production -- as they are billing it, a "Joint" production between Montgomery Theater and 11th Hour Theatre Company.
If you were fortunate enough to see that horrible 1936 anti-marijuana film, "Reefer Madness," you are in for even more of a treat at the theater when you take in this riotous parody of that old black and white cult classic.
This cast is absolutely top-notch... there is just nothing bad to say here. And understand, I'm no theater critic; I just know when I've had an absolute blast!
The tale of little Jimmy Harper and Mary Lane will have you laughing, clapping and singing along to the tune that gets stuck in your head... "Reefer Madness! Reefer Madness!"
The choreography, makeup, costumes.... oh, you just have to go enjoy this one for yourself.
Jesus is not to be missed, either. Heck, all of these performers were one toke over the line.
This little theater outdid itself by pairing up with 11th Hour... Check it out and see if you don't agree!
But please, folks, leave the little tykes at home. This is NOT a children's production.
It definitely IS a crowd-pleaser for anyone with a sense of humor.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ah, that family lore

SENECA ROCKS -- My dad and his family lived behind "the rocks" for quite some time.

My dad grew up in West Virginia. In the hills of West Virginia. In a time when the economy and opportunities were even worse than they may be in certain parts of the state today.
Naturally his family didn’t live in a grand house or have the basic amenities that we enjoy today.
And apparently he knew a family that didn’t care about the appearance of their home or surrounding property.
The family’s name was Helmick. Obviously I never knew this family; never met anyone from this family.
And I’m sure there are many people with this name who are neat, meticulous individuals who take great pride in their homes, however humble they may be.
By all accounts from my dad, this particular family did not fall into that category. They didn’t pull weeds or keep the grass at a livable level; perhaps chickens roamed free; maybe there were a few too many dogs taking up residence there.
I don’t know if there were any rusted-out vehicles on cinder blocks (doubtful, because of what they would have cost back then) or upholstered furniture sitting on the porch (again, doubtful, for the same reason).
But their home must have left a lasting impression on my dad, because if he came home from a few days of driving the tractor-trailer and he wasn’t satisfied with the way the yard or our small farm looked, we’d always hear, “It looks like the Helmicks live here!”
Sometimes I wished I could travel back to the mountains and actually see their place, just to see how we measured up.
But we’d hear it a lot.
Too many weeds in the flower beds or garden: “It looks like the Helmicks live here.”
Grass that had grown a bit too tall: “It looks like the Helmicks live here.”
Toys or other debris that hadn’t been cleaned up: “It looks like the Helmicks live here.”
You get the idea.
The phrase became an inside joke in the family, still used to this day, when things have gotten a bit out of hand in the “general appearance” category.
It popped into my mind just this week, when my daughter and I took delivery of a “new” couch and chair (well, new to us).
That meant that the behemoth that she had bought used several years ago for $20, on sale! — hey, have you ever seen an 8½-foot-long couch, not a sectional? — had to make way for the “newer” residents.
It wasn’t an easy or pretty endeavor, but we finally got “old blue” out the door and off the deck.
There it sat, in the yard, like some oversized, bloated patio furniture. Well, that’s being kind.
But the night was cool and the moon and clouds were beautiful. And we were exhausted.
So we sat down on the couch (which will be heading to the trash eventually) to rest a bit and enjoy the evening.
“Now I know why people keep their old couches on the porch,” my daughter said, settling into her beloved sofa.
“Yep,” I replied. “The Helmicks will be here any minute.”

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today is Sept. 11, and we can all remember where we were seven years ago when the unthinkable occurred.
As a journalist, I was right here in the newsroom, watching in horror as the fate of the second plane was presented live on CNN, so soon after the first tragedy. And soon the other horrors evolved.
I don't need to add to what everyone is saying and thinking today, but please take time out to remember those who lost their lives that day, those who risked their lives to try to save others, those who had to persevere after losing loved ones in this tragedy.
And remember how the country rallied so valiantly in the days, weeks and months after the attack.
Count your blessings, offer thanks, offer prayers -- and hold your family tightly to you.

Allentown Road dangers

Commuting down Allentown Road was a challenge this morning.
First there was the stupid young man who decided it was a GREAT idea to motor down Allentown Road in Franconia Township on a 4-wheeler to get to the fairly new produce store along the roadway. This was shortly after 6:30 a.m., so it wasn't totally light. Traffic was busy and no, this kid didn't have lights on the 4-wheeler.
Not that that matters. It's ILLEGAL to ride these things on the road.
Here's a thought -- WALK next time.

Then, a bit further down the road, I was almost slammed into by an obviously inattentive driver in a black Xterra. Luckily, since I was stopped at the red light at Fretz Road, there is a left-turn lane there and he was able to nose over into that lane to avoid my car. I guess having my lights on AND having my brakes on wasn't enough to alert him to the stopped traffic.
At least he turned right at the intersection of Forty Foot and Allentown, where I turn left, so I didn't have to worry about him again.
Here's another thought -- wake up and pay attention to your driving. Next time there might not be an "out" for you.



we're all sick of it.
what's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? gee, could it be lipstick?
what can you put on a pig, but it's still a pig? gee, could it be lipstick?
Just ask Sarah Palin (question 1) and Barack Obama and John McCain (question 2 -- yes, they BOTH said it).
And just WHAT does any of this have to do with the important issues facing our country?
Nothing to do with the economy, the war in Iraq, the environmental problems we face, energy woes....
everyone needs to get back on message, back to the issues we need to address.
Both parties.
We don't need pitbulls, hockey moms or lipstick-wearing pigs.
So please, give these silly diversions the kiss-off ... NOW!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

hole in the head!

OK, just when you think TV can't get any worse, along comes this gem... Hole in the Head.... er... Hole in the Wall.
I could only take a few minutes of it, but apparently the goal is to contort your body into the same position as that hole coming toward you in the moving wall. If you make it, you get a point; if not, into the drink you go.
How much more mindless can TV get? I mean, even the conventions were better than this.
And to think we PAY to see this kind of junk ... cable, the dish, you name it. They charge us to become brain dead.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lighten Up

Tiny Dog Has Been Barking Nonstop For 6 Years

OK, everyone is angry because of the Souderton Area School District teachers strike.
So just to be silly, here's a video designed to make you happy, if you're a cat "parent."
Hey, maybe if both sides of the strike were locked in a room with this dog, the strike would be over sooner!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day dreams

Here it is folks, Sept. 1 ... Labor Day. And no, I'm NOT in the beautiful Vermont pictured here. I wish that I were. Heck, it would be nice to be anywhere relaxing for, oh, say about a month.
But this is the real world; the real economy. Not some "reality" TV show.
That doesn't stop me from dreaming about Vermont, or looking at photos or browsing the Internet.
I'm not complaining. I've been to Vermont many times.
And, like many of you, I'm cutting back in many areas these days.
But I hope you'll all have a great Labor Day. It's a beautiful day... get out and take a walk. Study the clouds for hidden "pictures." Eat some watermelon. Do something silly. Laugh at yourself. Be kind to someone.
Enjoy your holiday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Song sung ... um... blue?

I'm always a bit torn when a singer or group that I loved years and years ago decides to tour again.
That's how I felt when Neil Diamond announced his latest tour. I saw him a few times back in the ... well... a decade in the last century (geez, how old am I?) and I considered getting a ticket when he was in Philly.
The price of the ticket was the first red flag. Sorry, Neil, but it was too much.
And then I kept thinking how he probably could not live up to my memories of the earlier concerts.
Guess I made the right decision, after reading this story.
Perhaps you have some similar stories to tell...
Singer Neil Diamond has offered the audience of a recent concert a refund after performing with a raspy voice.
Diamond, 67, was diagnosed with acute laryngitis after the show in Ohio, Cleveland, on Monday.
The Sweet Caroline singer released a statement on his website apologising to fans, writing: "I haven't let you down before and I wont let you down now."
Fans have until 5 September to seek a refund. Diamond has also cancelled gigs in Wisconsin and Missouri this week.
Wednesday's performance in Wisconsin was rescheduled for Sept. 12, while the Missouri gig will now take place on Sept. 10, Diamond's web site also stated.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


A few weeks ago, the world was abuzz over a cat — a very LARGE cat — that had been found strolling the streets in New Jersey.
This porker, which originally was thought to be a girl and was called Princess Chunk but, blush, then was ID’d as a male, weighed in at about 44 pounds.
That’s a lot of cat.
As the story unfolded and the cat grabbed headlines and TV time far and wide — including an appearance on “Regis & Kelly” — everyone became enamored with her ... er, his ... tale.
Yes, everyone wanted this feline. In fact, the Camden County Animal Shelter fielded more than 500 applications from people around the world who wanted to open their doors to this kitty.
They apparently felt so bad that the cat — whose owner had fallen on hard times and lost her home to foreclosure and could no longer care for Chunk — had no place to call his own that they had to do something.
Naturally, being a cat person, I was glad to hear that a family had been found for Chunk.
And it also was interesting to catch a news story that detailed where Chunk was making an appearance to drum up attention for other homeless cats that needed to be adopted.
Good for him.
Because that’s where this story gives me pause.
At this shelter alone, the staffers pointed out, no one who inquired about Chunk was interested in any of the other more than 200 cats and kittens there. And it had to euthanize about 1,000 cats last year, about a third of those taken in.
That’s just one shelter.
It’s great that Chunk caught the limelight and found a home, but just ask the Montgomery County SPCA, the Kitty Cottage, Stray Cat Blues or any of the many other rescue groups around here and they’ll tell you the same thing.
They are bursting at the seams. They can’t save everyone. They do so much good, but there’s so much more to do.
These kitties may not be famous, but they deserve a forever home.
Here’s just one example, which has been running in our Classified Section, from Stray Cat Blues with a heart-tugging photo:
“Charity was removed from a disreputable hoarder/rescuer where she was physically and emotionally neglected. When she came to SCB, she was thin and underweight, dehydrated and had respiratory and eye infections. Due to lack of proper veterinary care when she had an eye infection, her eyes were ulcerated and the skin started growing onto her eyes to protect them from the ulcers.
“She must be an indoor only kitty. In spite of her tough beginnings as well as being caged since kittenhood, this girl is really amazing. She was named Charity because Charity = Love. This young lady loves everyone. She loves people and gets along well with other cats. She will make a wonderful addition to any type of household.”
Unfortunately for Charity and so many like her, hundreds of people don’t clamor to adopt her.
Think about it.
Maybe you have room in your house for a homeless critter. Perhaps you can make a donation to one of these rescue groups. Or perhaps you can volunteer in some capacity.
But don’t forget when you hear a story like Chunk’s, that there are thousands more cats and dogs and other pets who will never make the news that desperately need homes.
Perhaps you won’t have a “celebrity” added to your home, but you’ll have a loving new member of your family who forever will be grateful for a second chance at life.


I thought I'd run a picture of a stop sign today, because many of you don't seem to be familiar with them.
You know, they are those big red-and-white signs that often pop up at the most annoying locations, such as busy intersections.
And they are such a hassle when you're in a hurry.
But since, in my experience, so few people know what these signs mean, I thought I'd provide some educational material.
These signs that you blow right past every day of the week have a purpose.
They are there to ensure motorists' and pedestrians' and bicyclists' safety.
They are telling you -- not asking, not suggesting -- but ordering you to STOP.
Put on the brakes of your car. Come to a complete halt. Check every direction for other traffic or people in the area.
When it is deemed safe, you may proceed on your way.
Oh, what's the use.
Obviously you all are illiterate, color blind, self-absorbed and just plain stupid.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Obama, McCain rockin' out??

OK, Blender recently surveyed presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama to see how their musical tastes seem to run. Just what DO they have on their iPods? After all, what better way to choose the next president?
Heck, it's as good a way as any.
But my question is, since John McCain doesn't even know how to work a computer, much less the "Internets," would he really have a clue as to what an iPod is? Perhaps better to ask what's on his victrola.
Be that as it may, here are their top 10 iPod lists, and I'll let you pick the winner.
For my own two cents worth, I think Obama is trying a bit too hard to be hip; McCain, on the other hand, seems about right on.

And if you want to submit your own personal top 10 lists, be my guest...

John McCain:
1. Dancing Queen - ABBA
2. Blue Bayou - Roy Orbison
3. Take a Chance On Me - ABBA
4. If We Make It Through December - Merle Haggard
5. As Time Goes By - Dooley Wilson
6. Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
7. What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
8. I've Got You Under My Skin - Frank Sinatra
9. Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
10. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes - The Platters

Barack Obama:
1. Ready or Not - Fugees
2. What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
3. I'm On Fire - Bruce Spingsteen
4. Gimme Shelter - Rolling Stones
5. Sinnerman - Nina Simone
6. Touch the Sky - Kanye West
7. You'd Be So Easy to Love - Frank Sinatra
8. Think - Aretha Franklin
9. City of Blinding Lights - U2
10. Yes We Can -

Monday, August 18, 2008

Philadelphia Folk Fest... or, sounds of silence

I don't watch much, if any, "reality" TV, but I catch glimpses of it on one of my favorite shows, "The Soup," which features and derides clips from all sorts of shows. One clip they've shown a lot is from some reality show... and of course that term has nothing to do with reality ... where a woman who is peeved at her other housemates is up early in the morning banging pans together and screaming at them.
Apparently they kept her up the night before, and this is her revenge.
I was contemplating doing the same thing both Sunday and Monday morning, thanks to the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
And I'm wondering, should I blame the little fella pictured here?
Just kidding on that, but not about the drums he's playing.
The actual music performed at the folk fest DOES have an ending hour, regulated by the township.
But it's time to crack down on whatever the heck is going on there after hours.
Living close to the site has it ups and downs: The volunteers directing traffic act like they're actual police and that you, a dreaded "local," have no idea where you are going -- or a right to go there -- if you're anywhere near the festival.
And some of the fest-goers may act like they own the area for several days, but in reality have no clue where they are. Hint: one-lane bridge means just that.
They don't seem to mind shopping at local stores, though, despite what some of their attire says about the "locals."
Anyway, it's pleasant to sit out in the evening and listen to the music.
What is NOT pleasant is the night-long drum playing, screaming, hootin' and hollering', random trumpet-like blasts and general disturbances that just never stop.
For example, when I finally gave up and got out of bed at 4:15 this morning, the drumming was still going on.
I don't mind, really, anything else, but being a loud nuisance all night long shows absolutely no respect for anyone who lives in the area and actually has to get up and go to work.
Upper Salford needs to address this; the folk festival organizers need to address this.
Fun, music, dancing, catching up with old friends ... nothing wrong with any of it.
But how about giving us a break by, say, 1 a.m.?
Doesn't seem like too much to ask for.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

cats and lasers!

I always knew our cats... all of them! .. love the lasers... didn't know dogs did too!!
Hope you love this as much as I did!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

puppy mill horrors

For those of you who still think there are no problems with puppy mills, perhaps this story from The Associated Press might change your mind.
And are there any suggestions as to what these monsters' punishment REALLY should be???
Think about it....


Two eastern Pennsylvania kennel operators shot 80 dogs after wardens ordered some of the animals examined by veterinarians, dog law enforcement officials said.
Elmer Zimmerman, of Kutztown, shot 70 dogs after a July 24 inspection, officials of the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement said.
His brother, Ammon Zimmerman, operator of a kennel next door, shot 10 dogs, officials said.
Wardens had ordered 39 dogs checked for flea and fly bites. They also issued citations for extreme heat, insufficient bedding and floors dogs' feet could fall through.
Elmer Zimmerman told The Philadelphia Inquirer he feared the state was trying to close his kennel, and said a veterinarian recommended destroying the dogs.
"They were old, and we were hearing that they don't want kennels anymore," he said. "The best thing to do was get rid of them."
Ammon Zimmerman told a reporter the decision to destroy the dogs was "none of your business."
State law allows owners to put dogs down by shooting them, though Gov. Ed Rendell is trying to change that. He backs legislation pending in the state Legislature that would only allow veterinarians to euthanize dogs in commercial kennels.
"It's horrible, but it's legal," Jessie Smith, special deputy secretary of the dog-law bureau, said of the shootings.
"That someone would shoot 70 dogs rather than spend money to do a vet check is extremely problematic," Smith said.
Ken Brandt, lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Professional Dog Breeders' Association, said the group didn't support the operators' actions. He said there were other ways to resolve the situation, "like in a court."
The breeders could have turned the dogs over to rescue groups, said Howard Nelson, chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"Every humane society in the state would have taken those dogs," Nelson said.
The two men surrendered their kennel licenses. Elmer Zimmerman pleaded guilty to four charges of violating the dog law, Smith said.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

OK, I'm sure everyone has seen this by now, but just on the off chance that you haven't, well here it is to enjoy.
I know someone had to write this for her, but....


I guess I should never be surprised when yet another politician or public official admits to an "indiscretion." And yet I have to admit that the recent admission by John Edwards left me surprised and saddened.
Somehow, I wanted to believe it when he had said last year when confronted with the accusations that "I’ve been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years and, as anybody who’s been around us knows, she’s an extraordinary human being, warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known. So the story’s just false.”
But no. The too-good-to-be-true intelligent, handsome, powerful family man certainly did have feet of clay.
As he revealed last week: “In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices, and I had hoped that it would never become public.”
No kidding he hoped it would never become public. He had high political aspirations, obviously.
Never mind that his wife is again battling cancer. Never mind that a lot of people believed in him and saw him as someone who would stand true to his supposed beliefs.
Which leads me to ask, what DOES he believe in?
Most say his political career is now over. Who knows... the public has "forgiven" so many politicians for their "mistakes."
I feel very sorry for his wife and family. They now have to deal with this hurt and betrayal on top of everything else.
I guess the search for a trustworthy politician continues.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Wow! I don't know how many of you were lucky enough to catch a true American icon this past week at the Sellersville Theater, but it was an absolutely mind-blowing experience! And I hope you all actually KNOW who Pete Seeger is. Too often I mention these wonderful singer/songwriters -- Pete, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, etc. -- and am met with a blank stare.
But Pete played to a sold-out theater and he and his cohorts were terrific.
Thank you, Sellersville Theater, for this wonderful chance to see Pete.
And for those of you who missed out, my condolences,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I really felt sorry for this chunky kitty this morning, as her photo and video made it to every news media imaginable ... and now this blog.
After all, how would you like your weight and photo plastered everywhere?
But the "fluffy" feline seemed to take it all in stride
The kitty has been nicknamed "Princess Chunk" and, at 44 pounds, is a few pounds under the world record for fattest cat.
How's that for a distinction?
Anyway, she seems like such a sweet cat, and yes, she can walk despite her girth.
She was brought to the Camden County Animal Shelter in New Jersey as a stray, but is in a foster home right now because of her, well, generous size. The cages are a bit too snug for her.
If no one claims her, she'll be up for adoption. If that happens, maybe her new human can help her slim down.
And, in case you're wondering, the biggest cat came from Australia and weighed in at 46 pounds, 15 ounces.
Guess that defines the term, "fat cat."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


With the price of gasoline being what it is, I can understand that more people are looking for alternatives to driving gas-guzzling vehicles. And most people will attest that there has been an increase in motorcycle traffic.
That's fine, presuming the cyclists are willing to follow the rules of the road.
But this morning I encountered a biker who gives other bikers a bad name.
And creates safety problems, especially when traffic is heavy.
This joker first nearly created an accident at Old Skippack and Schwenksville roads in Upper Salford when he practically went through a stop sign without stopping. Then he pulled out onto Route 63 from Shelly Road in front of a fast-moving line of traffic.
But his best move before I lost sight of him?
He went through a dead red at Routes 63 and 113, making a left onto Route 113. I'm not talking about a yellow light or just as the light changed. No, he figured the red light didn't mean him.
Luckily he was the only moron at the light at that particular time.
But come on, people. There are signs all over the place asking other motorists to be on the lookout for motorcyles. Fine. No one wants anyone to get hurt.
But motorcyclists must do their part as well. Stop making our commutes even more dangerous.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Yes, Monday morning. Drivers always seem a little fuzzy after the weekend off.
But combine Monday morning and the pea-soup fog we had today -- and the idiocy of drivers who refuse to turn on their headlights and the commute is even more "interesting."
This isn't my photo, but it could have been. With so many cars driving without their lights on, it made the commute extremely dangerous.
I say it over and over and over again. Just wish these idiots would listen!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

oh, for rainy summer days

This beastly hot summer has set me reminiscing about those blissful childhoods of summer.
Of course my childhood was long before there were so many organized sports teams, actual play dates for kids, gymnastics, adventure camps...
Well, you get the idea.
Summer back then stretched out in front of you like an endless vista.
You pretty much knew that, aside from the chores that were inevitable, there weren’t going to be any rigid schedules to follow.
And if you were smart and mowed the lawn, pulled the weeds and helped pick whatever was ripe that week in the garden and got it all done in the morning, the afternoons were going to be your own.
In my case that might mean escaping for hours in the far reaches of one of our fields on my pony. My one sister and I loved to saddle up our trusty steeds and pretend to be the “Hawk Boys” or some other heroes or villains.
And our mom never had to worry that someone was going to appear out of nowhere and spirit us off.
Or perhaps we’d walk up the road to the little general store and buy a soda or some candy; and some days we’d be really fortunate and get dropped off at the pool in Harleysville for a few hours.
Of course there were books to read, animals to play with, coloring books to fill and the much-anticipated sleepovers.
Provided our work was done. And make no mistake, there was a good amount of that when you grew up on a small farm.
But I don’t remember feeling rushed or stressed out about some overwhelming schedule. Or fretting about how I was going to fit in all of my activities; after all, 4-H was basically the center of our extracurricular interests.
I imagine there were plenty of extremely hot days back then, too, just like this summer.
But when you lived in a farmhouse with those thick walls and could play outside under the trees, you didn’t seem to notice as much.
And my favorite of all were the days when you were blessed by gentle rainfall. I still savor rainy summer days, but they seem few and far between today.
But they were sweet, I know. The temperatures were cooler; perhaps you made indoor “forts” or played with paper dolls (do they even still make them?); and you just felt like you were given a vacation within a vacation.
Often we’d haul out our horses, cowboys and other small toys; create intricate towns and ranches; and, of course, convince our mom that they had to stay just where they were for days on end.
But the best part was hearing that rain, feeling those cool breezes through the old, big windows and letting your imagination transport you to some magical spot you created.
No DVDs, no Xbox games, no computers.
Those summers ran on dreams, imagination and, on lucky days, the soundtrack of summer rain.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

foxy... lady??

OK, I don't know if this is a "lady" or a guy, but I hope you all saw this great photo of a fox snapped by Reporter photographer Mark Psoras in Lower Salford.
I'm a sucker for just about any animal, but when I saw Mark's photo, I was hoping it would get as much exposure as possible... no pun intended.
And it can't hurt if it helps people to appreciate our wild friends just a bit more.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

oh, it's OK to run red lights...

This is a horrible case, but just consider what the mom's viewpoint is.
It's probably the same as a lot of local drivers, considering how they drive.
Red light? I don't have to slow down.
Stop signs? Hey, no one stops for them anymore.
Speeding? Those posted speed limits are a joke.

So read this, consider what an example you are setting, and see if you agree with the mom:

From the Associated Press:

PHILADELPHIA - A teen whose MySpace page boasts of exploits with drugs, booze and fast cars is charged with striking two teachers, one fatally, after they watched their beloved St. Louis Cardinals play in Philadelphia.
The Missouri women, friends Cindy Grassi, 43, and Sandra Wacker, 36, traveled to a different ballpark each summer to watch the Cardinals play.
They were crossing the street after a July 10 afternoon game at Citizens Bank Park when 19-year-old Joseph Genovese Jr. ran a red light and struck them, police said.
Grassi died of her injuries two days later, while Wacker remained hospitalized Friday in critical condition. She suffered permanent injuries including possible paralysis on one side, a police investigator said.
"She will be OK, but she's going to have this trauma with her the rest of her life," said Sgt. Larry Ritchie of the Accident Investigation Division.
Genovese is jailed on charges upgraded to include vehicular homicide and homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.
The teen's MySpace page brags of him driving just under 120 mph on Packer Avenue, a popular drag-racing strip blocks from the ballpark. He also writes of "BObBiN ND WeEzzZiN" in traffic and having a "NEeD 4 SPeEd????"
Police seized a computer from his bedroom on Wednesday, a day after Genovese was jailed on the charges.
"The mother thinks the whole thing is overkill," said Lt. Jim McCarrick, who served the search warrant. "She said he (Genovese) just ran a red light and got into a car accident."
Defense lawyer Louis Savino Jr. declined comment Friday on the Web postings and how they might affect the case, if at all. However, he said his client understands the gravity of the charges.

puppy mills DO exist

For all of those people who don't know why some people protest at pet stores and others work so hard to get people to adopt from shelters of buy from small, reputable breeders, here is just one example.
Read this Associated Press story, and TRY TO UNDERSTAND!!!

UPPER OXFORD - Authorities plan to file charges on Monday against an Amish kennel owner, after seizing 23 sick and disfigured dogs, which were reportedly crammed into cages Thursday inside a barn with roughly 300 others.
John Blank of Upper Oxford will be charged for lack of veterinary care and neglect in the Oxford district court, according to Pennsylvania SPCA program officer Elaine Skypala.
Officials learned about the alleged conditions at Limestone Kennel after Blank surrendered nine dogs to the Main Line Animal Rescue roughly three weeks ago.
The dogs, Skypala said, had numerous health issues, prompting the shelter to contact the PSPCA.
Next, officials sent an undercover officer into the kennel.
Blank sold the officer a 3-week-old puppy that was nearly dead for $300, Skypala said.
The puppy died a day later due to dehydration, emaciation and hypothermia, she said.
The sale was enough for authorities to obtain a search warrant, she said.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

those were the days

Yes, these are the boys who really rocked.... just wish they were all still here and they could have closed Shea Stadium!!

joel's not worthy

Thank goodness Paul McCartney showed up ... although even that wasn't enough, in my estimation.
But at least The Beatles were represented during what was advertised as the last concert at Shea Stadium in New York -- featuring Billy Joel.
Yuck. I know there are plenty of Billy Joel fans out there, but please.
At this hallowed place where The Beatles christened its use for concerts, it doesn't seem fitting that Joel would be the final act.
Even if he did give them a nod by performing a few Beatles songs.
But then Friday night, after nearly three hours of the concert, Sir Paul showed up on stage...
Of course, always the showman, we shouldn't be surprised that Paul would HAVE to be there.
Hey, Ringo is tour right now... where was he?
Anyway, the fans went crazy, by all reports, as Paul sang “I Saw Her Standing There.”
Before he began “Let It Be,” Paul referenced The Beatles’ first concert at Shea in 1965, the year after the stadium opened.
“It’s so cool to be back here on the last night,” he said, according to published reports. “Been here a long time ago — we had a blast that night, and we’re having another one tonight.”
Thanks, Paul, for at least representing...
Having seen the lads YEARS ago in Philly, I can only say that they'll never be topped.
So sad that two of them have left us.
And if you'd like to see what the AP had to say about the rest of the concert, here is that text:.

NEW YORK (AP) — Billy Joel bid a stirring farewell to Shea Stadium on Friday during a sold-out concert that marked the final show at the same ballpark where the Beatles famously ushered in new era in rock 'n' roll four decades ago.
"Good evening, Shea Stadium. Is this cool or what?" Joel told the crowd at the New York Mets' home field, which is to be razed after the baseball season to make way for a new stadium across the street.
"They're gonna be tearing this place down, but I wanna thank you ... for letting me do the best job in the world," he said.
The show paid homage to Shea's baseball glories, with Mets highlights playing on jumbo screens during "Zanzibar." But the concert also was a mark of the stadium's place in music history.
The show came 43 years after the Beatles' legendary show at Shea Stadium — the first concert at the ballpark. The concert came at the height of Beatlemania and demonstrated the sheer power of rock 'n' roll and the Beatles: 55,000 screaming fans at a U.S. ballpark was virtually unheard-of at the time, and the show gave the Fab Four even more cachet among the Beatle-crazed American public.
The "Last Play at Shea" kicked off Wednesday with the first of two Joel shows at the ballpark, and the Beatles and baseball were on full display. Joel played three Beatles songs ("A Hard Day's Night," "Please, Please Me" and "She Loves You") during Wednesday's set, and introduced his signature "Piano Man" with "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." He also played the national anthem to start the show.
"I want to thank the Beatles for letting us use their room. Best band that ever was, best band that ever will be," Joel told fans Wednesday.
Diane Gentile saw the Beatles play at Shea in 1966 — their second visit to the stadium after the historic show a year earlier. Her recollection of that summer night 42 years ago: "Oh, my God, there are the Beatles on that stage, and here am I."
"It was unbelievable. It was exciting; you could feel the electricity. Right before the concert we were singing `Happy Anniversary' to John because his anniversary was that day," Gentile recalled.
On Friday, Gentile was back at Shea to watch Joel for what she predicted would be the best concert she'll ever see.
Joel has always strongly embraced his New York and Long Island roots, and that makes for memory-making concerts every time he plays in the city. Throngs of fans know his music so well they can pretty much take over any chorus they like.
Joel holds up his end of the bargain. He did a record 12 sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in 2006, and Wednesday's set lasted about three hours.
And as if the "Piano Man" playing the last concert at Shea wasn't thrilling enough, special on-stage guests have turned up the excitement level.
On Wednesday, Tony Bennett sang "New York State of Mind" with Joel. John Mellencamp came on stage to perform his hit "Pink Houses," and Don Henley kept with the baseball theme with his standard "Boys of Summer."
Fans were abuzz with speculation that Joel might bring on few more guests Friday — possibly one of the surviving Beatles or his old pals Paul Simon or Elton John.
"I would love it to be Paul McCartney or Ringo, for that matter," Gentile said. "A lot of people are predicting Elton John, but Paul McCartney, for me, would be just perfect."
At least one of Joel's famous fans was in the audience Friday: ex-wife Christie Brinkley. The model sat about 10 rows from the stage, and fans snapped cell-phone photos of her before the show.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's so hot...

OK, I admit it, I truly don't enjoy this nasty heat wave we've been sweltering through. In fact, the whole summer has been too hot for me.
And if you had an office like mine -- with huge windows, that don't open, on the side of the building where the afternoon sun beats down -- you might agree.
I was pleasantly surprised that we actually had a spring this year, instead of skidding from winter right into summer.
But the high temps and humidity have been hard to bear.
Sometimes in the evening when I'm watering our flowers and few veggie plants, I find myself daydreaming about crisp fall days and evenings ... and wishing we could have an extremely L-O-N-G autumn this year... say, starting NOW!
I hate the drone of air conditioners, but I'm having to put up with it just to live.
Hope you're all surviving as well!

Monday, July 14, 2008

scared yet??

These are more than scary times. The economy, the war, the environment...
You know it's bad when the only thing people can talk about is the price of gas, the price of groceries, the price of heating/cooling your home, the real estate market, the thought of losing their job, the thought of losing their savings, the thought of losing their retirement.
But it's more than just a thought. It's a reality.
I was never going to retire as a millionaire, but I did hope to retire some day. Now I'm not so sure.
The investments I have are plummeting. The cost of everything is skyrocketing. You can forget trying to sell your house if you'd like to downsize.
Scared? Yes, I admit I am.
As a widow, I don't have another income to fall back on. No, I'm not poor, but I'm far from wealthy. Middle class, at best.
I know there are many, many others who have it far, far worse.
Most of us never lived through a depression. But it may not be far off.
Can anyone help us? Can we help ourselves?