Thursday, December 24, 2009

He's on his way!

It's Christmas Eve... so turn on WXPN for the 24-hour extravaganza, or WMGK for nonstop Beatles music today.
Watch the old "Bell Puppets" DVD -- you know the one from the phone company that features those great marionettes.
Wrap those gifts, bake some cookies -- and be sure to leave some for Santa.
Take time to remember what Christmas really means.
Hang those stockings and share the love and joy of the holiday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

need a kitten?

It's hard to imagine that people just drop off animals at a veterinarian's parking lot, figuring that the good doctors will care for them and find them homes.
Apparently that was the case this week at the North Penn Animal Hospital, when someone decided that someone else should take care of handling the needed adoptions.
So there are several little kittens hoping for a Christmas miracle.
Add these to all of the critters at the SPCA, area rescue groups and other vet hospitals, and it's enough to make you weep.
If you have a warm spot in your heart for the kittens at the North Penn Animal Hospital in Lansdale, call (215) 855-5853 for more information.
And if you can adopt or donate to a rescue group or SPCA, please do so -- all year 'round.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

are you ready?

Ah, December has just started and already AccuWeather is warning us that we MIGHT get snow this weekend. If the storm tracks just the right way, then the flakes might fall fast and furious.
Of course, it will do just this.
The last time we got one of these warnings was in October, on the day I was headed for vacation.
It proved true.
Now, this weekend, I also have plans that involve a bit of travel.
What are the odds?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

well, surely vick deserves this...

If you're already feeling a bit ill, you may want to bypass this story from the Associated Press.
Talk about no justice!
I sure hope Vick can sleep a bit better now, knowing that he won't be out in the street. Of course, since he's not happy with the Eagles, maybe it also will entice everyone involved to send him packing.
One can only hope


A federal appeals court is backing the judge who ruled against the NFL and let quarterback Michael Vick keep more than $16 million in roster bonuses from the Atlanta Falcons.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed Judge David Doty's order saying Vick had already earned the bonuses before his dogfighting conviction, so the money wasn't subject to forfeiture.

Vick served 18 months in prison and is now with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Doty has long handled matters arising from the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. After Doty ruled in the Vick bonus case, the NFL accused him of bias and sought to end his oversight of its contract with the players union.

The appeals court says the contract should remain under Doty's oversight

goodbye to Prue

Returning from vacation is always bittersweet. You’ve been away from both the stress and tedium of “everyday” life.
Schedules have been tossed aside, pleasant surprises encountered, memories revived.
It’s a time to relax and recharge; a chance to dream and stretch your mind.
But there always seems to be that pull toward home; the point when you actually are longing for a return to the familiar.
And even as you yearn for some of the pleasantries of home, you’re already wishing that your vacation was just beginning.
My daughter and I recently returned from a week in Vermont, and our time there was truly savored.
But we knew before we even left for our trek north that when we came home we’d have some not so pleasant business to address.
This summer, as I’ve mentioned before, two cats (male and female, of course) decided to take up residence in our yard. When Gary and Wotsit, as they were dubbed, arrived, the female already was “great with child”; well, make that plural.
She actually had three “children” and two survived. One found a new home with nearby friends; the other, of course, now lives with us.
We wanted to trap the mom and have her spayed before anymore kittens appeared, but we weren’t quick enough. And somewhere along the way, Gary suddenly disappeared, despite having been a loyal husband and dad.
But Wotsit was even larger as the second birthing loomed. This time, she presented us with five kittens. Thank goodness for Stray Cat Blues, who offered to help us trap Wotsit and have her spayed, and take the kittens into its system for adoption. She would then be returned to her “feral” home.
All this was to happen the Sunday after we returned from vacation. We had become fond of the kittens, feeding them, picking them up and petting them. But we could not absorb five more kitties.
So Linda from Stray Cat arrived, we picked up the kittens and quickly snared Wotsit ... and off she went for her operation. All went successfully, and she’s now back at our house; woefully alone, but not willing to become a house cat, apparently.
And bless Linda, for putting up with Wotsit’s yowling for a few days before she could be returned after her surgery.
But all of this was even more difficult because, the day we returned from vacation, we also dealt with a much more wrenching crisis.
Prue, my daughter’s 15-year-old black cat, had been boarded at the vet while we were gone because of his medical needs.
Ever since she was given the cat when he was a kitten, he had a heart murmur. But that was never a problem. However, in recent years he was diagnosed with diabetes and an overactive thyroid.
Our lives were scheduled around his need for insulin and thyroid pills twice a day, never more than 12 hours apart. And he also had to eat a certain amount of food when receiving his insulin.
But Prue was such a sweet boy that you could never begrudge this regimen. It did, however, mean he needed to be boarded when we traveled. And he obviously had turned on his charm at the vet hospital, earning pretty much free roam and the attention of all involved.
The day we returned home, my daughter picked him up at the vet. He immediately appeared to suffer diabetic shock, but the usual treatment had no effect. Rushed back to the vet, tests revealed grave concerns.
He was kept overnight again, and the next day brought harrowing news. His chest had to be tapped; his lungs were in bad shape; his lymph system appeared to have shut down. Cancer had struck.
We were overwhelmed by the sudden onset of symptoms; it was as if he had waited for his beloved mom to return.
There was no choice but the final goodbye. It was devastating. How do you bid farewell to such a gentle soul?
It was hard to believe that in the span of just a few days, we had lost our dear Prue and had to bid adieu to our kitten family.
Vacation was most definitely over. Bittersweet can barely describe it.
Autumn, our beloved season, had brought to a close the summer of the kittens. And the life of our sweet and gentle Prue.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

here comes santa claus...

Hear those bells? Yes, Santa is on his way. Really.
Never mind that we just went trick-or-treating. Santa shows up at the Montgomery Mall this Friday night, with a parade that starts at 6 p.m.
Then he'll be holding forth, waiting for all the kiddies and their wish lists.
In this economy, you'd think his time at the mall would be shorter, not longer.
Hope the kids have been told to keep their lists realistic.
If only the people who decide when Santa shows up could do the same.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


LOVE this holiday -- eat too much candy, watch Sleepy Hallow and remember all the fun you had as a kid!!
Nothing evil... just simply enjoy!
It's a great holiday...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

vermont was great

A week's vacation in Vermont truly is heaven... and it was great to see some snow on the the top of Mount Mansfield. For a few days, the road over Smuggler's Notch even was closed... it then reopened, but will close for the winter, as it does every year. If you've never been over the notch, you MUST go... and you'll see why it can't stay open once the snow flies.
Trekking around cemeteries, visiting the Bread and Puppet Museum, strolling through Burlington, sipping the wine, relaxing at Pie in the Sky and being served a drink at the local movie theater -- yes, that's true -- is all part of the fun of Vermont.
The peace and beauty are the real reasons to go, however.
But, now it's back to work. Memories and dreams sustain, however.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

pause, view, think...

I hope you will check out Post Secret, support this important project and be kind to others...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let's not rush...

There are plenty of movies that I could watch over and over again.
“French Kiss” with Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan is one of them.
And one of my favorite lines from that flick comes when Ryan’s ranting to Kline’s character about her ex-fiancĂ©’s new girlfriend.
The interloping woman is French, and her winning ways include saying “yes when she means no and no when she means yes.”
Ryan flips out and says that she can’t do that; that she has to be straightforward.
“Use the corresponding face for the corresponding emotion!” the frustrated, jilted Ryan seethes.
I feel her pain.
No, it has nothing to do with getting dumped by someone who has traveled to France and is swept off his feet by a pouty beauty.
It’s the whole “corresponding” issue that drives me over the edge.
It happens a lot, thanks to retailers and the way they look at the world.
Now that it’s October, and Halloween is approaching, followed by Thanksgiving in November, it’s happening again.
And this is always the most irritating occurrence.
Just when you finally get to enjoy the cooler days of autumn, feel the crunch of fallen leaves under foot, pick out the perfect pumpkin and await visits from candy-hungry ghosts and ghouls on Oct. 31, the stores must disrupt your reverie.
“Hey, it’s almost Christmas!” their displays scream.
Buy your decorations now! Look at this lifelike artificial Christmas tree! Don’t put off buying those presents; do it today!
It’s the same every year and I should just accept the inevitable.
But I love autumn.
The leaves are beautiful; the clouds take on a new persona; there’s a totally different aroma in the air; the heat and humidity are gone (well, for the most part).
Lawn-mowing is coming to an end and there’s something comforting about snuggling those delicate plants back into the house and spreading straw around those that can weather the winter.
Watching the deer and squirrels compete for the countless acorns that have fallen in our yard is an enjoyable pastime.
And autumn always spurs pleasant memories of high school football games and college activities.
So why can’t we just enjoy, say, even a month of this season without singing and wiggling Santas greeting us as we enter stores?
Why can’t we return to those halcyon days when the holiday shopping season kicked off the day after Thanksgiving, and not a moment sooner?
Why can’t we be allowed to savor the “corresponding activities for the corresponding season,” to paraphrase Meg Ryan?
Maybe we all should just pout.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I didn't think so -- at least not the two people who blew through these signs coming onto Susquehanna Avenue in Lansdale around 7 this morning.
Special thanks go to the jerk who almost rammed the driver's side of my car... nothing like near death to get that heart beating!
Come on, people. It's not that hard. S-T-O-P ON A BRIGHT RED SIGN ... come on, what does it mean? Yes, you must put your foot on the brake and bring your car to a full ... STOP!
Police shouldn't have to waste their time monitoring intersections, but it seems more and more like drivers are too stupid to figure out for themselves what they're supposed to be doing.
So perhaps stepped-up enforcement is the only answer.

Friday, October 2, 2009


OK, time for a little self-indulgence.
I'm very proud to say that my daughter has her own show at the Indian Valley Public Library in Telford during October.
The two photos you see above are "Harbinger" and "Frost," and are among the show offerings.
I'll provide some information for you, but first want to say that she has worked hard to produce these photographs -- a real labor of love. Working in black and white -- with film, not digital -- out in the "field" and in the darkroom is her passion.
And I hope some of you will take a few minutes this month to check out this show.
Yes, I'm biased. Mothers are allowed that.
But her photographs also are beautiful and thought-provoking.
And yes, I'm proud of her!

Now, here's the info:

“Here,” a collection of black-and-white photographs by Danielle Breaux of Upper Salford, is on display at the Indian Valley Public Library, 100 E. Church Ave., Telford, through Oct. 31.
Much of the work focuses on the interplay of empty spaces and light and shadow. Breaux has shot extensively in cemeteries in Pennsylvania and Vermont, as well as local environs.
Her current work is centered in the coal region of Pennsylvania. Subjects range from headstones and cemetery statuary to reverse images and quiet nooks of forgotten places.
Library hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call (215) 723-9109.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

happy ending...

... at least for this kitty..
Let's hope stories like this cease to exist.
Maybe Michael Vick could help out at shelters to make sure that happens...

The Associated Press reports:
A cat found wrapped in duct tape in a North Philadelphia yard has a new home.

Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokeswoman Liz Williamson says the gray tabby, nicknamed "Sticky" by animal welfare workers, has been adopted. Williamson says the family who took the cat wishes to remain anonymous.

The cat was found Sept. 22, wrapped neck to tail in silver duct tape. She was mildly dehydrated and had to be sedated while the tape was cut off.

Nineteen-year-old James Davis faces charges of cruelty to animals and possession of an instrument of crime in the case.

Davis is in custody awaiting a psychological evaluation. He faces up to two years in prison and a minimum $1,000 fine if convicted.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


At least there is some good news on the duct-taped cat, who fortunately also is doing well.
But police report that James Davis, 19, has admitted to taping the cat from neck to tail after he spotted it in his yard Sept 21 in Philadelphia.

He was arrested on animal cruelty charges.
The cat has been spotted by a woman, who took it to the SPCA. The animal, nicknamed Sticky by animal welfare workers, was dehydrated and had to be sedated while the tape was cut off its fur.
The owner is still being sought.

Davis faces up to two years in prison and a minimum $1,000 fine if convicted.
THAT SHOULD BE THE MINIMUM. Lots of psychological counseling also should be required.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Two nasty things today that I can't believe.
First, to the idiot motorcycle rider at about 11 a.m. Saturday heading down Route 63 in Harleysville, heading toward Lansdale.
This ... um... stupid excuse for a cyclist did this several times. Then, at a red light, passed three more, myself included, so he could squeeze in at the front of the line. He almost got hit further down the street.
This gives a bad name to all cyclists.

And then the GROSS, HORRIFIC event... Someone threw a box into our field with skinned out deer remains strewn all over the place. I called the state police, who were very quick to come out and said they'd call the Game Commission to have it removed.
But i can't help but wonder if this is an "editorial comment" from people who don't like the fact that we post our fields with No Hunting signs... seems odd that two of them were just removed this past week and thrown into the field as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

sick person!

Who in the world would do something like this to an animal? Some sick person in the Rhawnhurst section of Philadelphia, obviously. This poor cat was covered in duct tape and dumped in a yard there, according to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
A $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person who wrapped the female cat is being offered by the PSPCA.
Luckily a woman found the cat and took it to the humane society, where it was sedated and the tape removed.
Staff at the shelter have named the cat Sticky.
"This is a very very very sweet cat," George Bengal, of the PSPCA, told Fox News. "I can't imagine someone doing this to this cat. I mean, this is a domestic cat. Obviously, it was owned, it can be handled very easily."

Anyone with information on the crime should contact the SPCA's Cruelty Hotline at
(866) 601-7722.

I certainly hope someone comes forward and turns in this sicko.
And then an "appropriate" punishment should be offered.
Are you listening, Michael Vick?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

this is fall?

I feel cheated!
Today is the first FULL day of autumn and what do we get? Hot, humid weather!
No fair!! I suffered through August's hot, dank days, focusing on the promise of cool, crisp weather.
OK, Mother Nature. I'll let a few days slide. But please ... enough of the heat and humidity!

Friday, August 14, 2009

eagles -- for shame!

I can't believe how low the Eagles have stooped. Michael Vick? Are you kidding me?
How about bringing T.O. back to join him?
Vick is beyond being a low life and Eagles fans should show their outrage by staying away in droves.
The sad thing is, of course, they won't. Even sadder ... lots of people think Vick is great and the only thing that matters is winning a football game.
Maybe they would like to read this column we ran at The Reporter recently.
Or look into the eyes of a defenseless animal...


Down with dog killer Vick

Some people just cannot wait for dog killer Michael Vick to return to professional football. The only thing this inter-species sadist deserves is universal derision.

Let’s recap exactly why the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback pleaded guilty to running a dog-fighting ring, earning him 18 months in federal prison and house arrest until July 20.

Vick helped kill eight dogs and injure dozens of others. According to his federal court filings, “Vick agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts of (co-defendants Purnell) Peace, (Quanis) Phillips and himself, Vick.”

Other legal papers detail Vick’s anti-canine savagery.

In a Statement of Facts related to his Aug. 17, 2007, plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Richmond, Virginia, Vick’s co-defendant Quanis L. Phillips (a.k.a. “Q”) admitted that “In or about April 2007 ... (Purnell A.) PEACE (a.k.a. “P. Funk”), PHILLIPS and VICK executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in ‘testing’ sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging and drowning. All three participated in executing the dogs. PHILLIPS agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts of PEACE, PHILLIPS and VICK.”

The July 17, 2007, federal indictment against these three degenerates states that their dog-killing methods also included electrocution and “slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.” The indictment added that on April 25, 2007, the following items were discovered at Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennel: “...approximately 54 Pit Bull Terriers, some of which had scars and injuries, appearing to be related to dog fighting (and) a ‘rape stand,’ a device in which a female dog who is too aggressive to submit to males for breeding is strapped down with her head held in place by a restraint...”

Dogfights, dog rapes and dog executions — all in a day’s work for Michael Vick.

It might be one thing if Vick were out carousing with friends on a Saturday night, drunkenly stumbled into a dogfight, and foolishly threw down a $20 bet on one dog or another. That might qualify as “a mistake,” as Vick breezily described his role in this carnage.

It is quite another thing to organize these things on one’s own property, and for profit.

Nonetheless, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstated Vick. He may practice immediately and could play by Oct. 18.

While the souls of these dead pups look down in disgust from Doggie Heaven, Vick’s apologists sing his undeserved praises.

Responding to reports that Vick faces a four-game suspension before resuming play, Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell Owens said: “The guy’s already suffered so much. And to add a four-game suspension on a two-year prison sentence, that’s ridiculous.” He later told ESPN: “The commissioner needs to go sit in jail for 23 months.”

As USA Today reported, Owens recruited other footballers to support Vick via Twitter. Their rampant errors of grammar, spelling and syntax are preserved here for posterity:

“im in support of mike vick too man,” wrote Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. “I wanna c him back in action being the human highlight file he is. Im with ya bro.”

“Never heard him complain or wine,” remarked Minnesota Viking tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. “Let the man play.”

“He did time and lost his shoe deal,” pleaded Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett. “Dear Commissioner please reinstate mike vick.”

Having completed his prison sentence, Vick is even-Steven with Uncle Sam. Now the private sector must address this man’s evil.

Vick does not deserve any prestigious position of visibility, glory, or adulation.

Any team that hires this dog killer should be boycotted by dog lovers and decent people everywhere, as should that team’s sponsors. If he ever enters an athletic venue, he should be booed off the field, out of the stadium, and beyond the parking lot.

Rather than resume his multimillion-dollar sports career, someone somewhere should hand Michael Vick a mop.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

stupid man, poor dog

Stupid people seem to abound in this area, and this morning's award goes to the guy driving the white utility/pickup truck down Allentown Road, then turning onto Wambold Road, about 6:45 a.m.
Yes, you... the one who had what looked to be a black Lab in the back of your truck. I followed you out of Elroy and the poor dog kept trying to keep his footing among the various items and boxes in the back of your truck. I couldn't tell if you had a leash tied somewhere... not that that would matter.
What do you think would happen to this poor pooch if you had to stop quickly or were in an accident?
If you don't want the dog in the truck with you, leave him at home.
Obviously the dog is a lot smarter than the human in this scenario. Too bad he couldn't drive and leave the guy in the back, sliding from side to side.

Friday, August 7, 2009

triplet fawns???

I had a pleasant surprise this morning when I looked out my bedroom window. A small fawn was slowly walking past, obviously heading to where I put seed out for the birds.
I moved to get a closer look and saw another fawn. Ah, twins, I thought. Then I saw another one. Figuring the moms must be close by, I got a different vantage point. But there was only one mom, eating the bird seed, as expected. I looked around a bit, assuming I'd see another ... but there was none.
So, could these be triplets? Or perhaps this deer was just baby-sitting for a friend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ummm... what do you think?

OK, I breastfed my daughter a million years ago. But this doll... well... the whole concept seems a bit creepy...
Here's some info:

Spanish toy manufacturer, Berjuan, has introduced Bebe Gloton, supposedly the first-ever breast-feeding doll. Translated Baby Glutton, it comes with a halter top for the doll's owner to wear. The top is adorned with two daisies, strategically placed. When the doll is near the flowers it makes sucking sounds.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

dang, I missed it!

Somehow, I forgot all about tuning in Monday night to see the return of "Jon & Kate Plus 8." Or is it "Jon cavorts, Kate fumes, kids run rampant"?
At any rate, it seems we are not going to be spared, the family still is going to get all sorts of gifts and now there is a kitchen remodeling going on in their huge home, so Kate heads off for a vacation with the kids.
Just like in real life.
In case you want to catch up, here's an Associated Press story to help you:
Reality TV mom Kate Gosselin says she feels a sense of peace after making the decision to separate from her husband, Jon.

So should fans of "Jon & Kate Plus 8," who may have fretted that this family-oriented reality show would be jeopardized by the co-stars' estrangement. For better or worse, the TLC series is as warm and fuzzy as ever, if two new episodes that aired Monday are any indication.

The episodes marked the end of a hiatus that began in June, when the Gosselins revealed to a huge audience of 10.6 million viewers their decision to split. The TLC network said then the couple needed time to "regroup," an odd word choice for partners in a broken marriage.

But having regrouped, the show is now focusing, as before, on everyday family activities with the couple's eight kids (5-year-old sextuplets and 8-year-old twins) — even if their mom and dad are "separately parenting" (another TLC term).

With a kitchen renovation project under way at the Gosselins' Pennsylvania compound, Kate fled the chaos with the kids for a beach in North Carolina. Jon stayed home to oversee the construction.

"It's kinda strange," Jon said. "We're remodeling our kitchen in the middle of our separation."

He added, "The decision to have the kids at the beach and me at home gave us a break to think about what we need to do as parents for our kids."

Then, when Kate and the youngsters returned home, Jon had taken his leave.

"This was my first official turn with the kids," Kate said. "It didn't feel very much different. It just felt more like the future."

Kate supervised a camp-out for the kids in the yard.

"This is a very, very difficult time right now," she told the camera from her interview chair, a change from the couch she and Jon had shared on the series in the past. "But my main goal is to make this transition as easy and painless ... for the kids as possible."

As co-stars of TLC's biggest hit, Jon and Kate also have been magnets for the tabloid press since their marriage began to crumble.

But "Jon & Kate" fans (and TLC) needn't worry about scandalmongering from the outside world. The show still tells its own squeaky-clean story. The show's opening still has Jon declaring, "It might be a crazy life," and Kate chiming in, "But it's our life."

On "Jon & Kate," it's almost as if nothing in life had changed.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

fond memories

“Back when I was a kid....”
That’s the phrase that makes every young person cringe. I know, I used to feel the same way in the days of my youth.
But as a boomer, I find myself saying that more and more. And I’m sure there are lots of people cringing every time I do.
Hey, at least I’m cognizant of the fact.
Really, though, I find it both fun and a bit comforting to lose myself in those days of yore every now and again.
And when the early days of August roll around, I always find myself thinking back to the years I spent in 4-H, since the annual 4-H Fair is held at this time.
This year is no exception. Montgomery County’s 4-H Fair runs Aug. 6 through Aug. 8 at the center in Skippack, and when I read the press releases they send it immediately takes me back.
Of course, “back when I was a kid,” there was no 4-H Center or pole barns or horse show rings or ... Well, you get the point.
For many years, we had our “round-up,” as it was called back then, on the grounds of the Worcester Elementary School. There were so many exhibits that some of them also had to be housed in the Farmers Union Hall at the edge of the school grounds.
Tents were put up as shelter for the large animals and as “show” areas for them. Other projects were displayed in the school.
Growing up on a small farm, I always had Jersey dairy animals, and other 4-H projects included chickens, pigs, flowers, vegetables, geology, entomology and the like.
Of course the pig round-up was held in the beginning of September at what had been the Hatfield livestock auction. Because there was no actual “ring” to show them in, cars and trucks were parked tightly together to fashion a makeshift show area.
Ah, yes, we had all the latest amenities.
But no one cared. The 4-H program was huge and it was a time when there were still lots of farms in the area. When I was in the dairy club, for example, we had three different clubs to accommodate all the members.
And when you stood in a line for the “fitting” contest with your animals — to see how well you had washed, clipped their hair, cleaned their ears and otherwise “manicured” them —it seemed to take forever for the judge to make it to your spot.
We had so much fun back then. The 4-H activities included roller skating at Menlo Park in Perkasie, hayrides, Halloween parties, trips to Penn State for competitions, late nights at district and state animal shows —and yes, a lot of work.
But it was all worth it. And it sure beat today’s obsession with computer and video games.
There’s so much I haven’t even mentioned, like the never-to-be-forgotten week in Washington, D.C., filling out “blue forms,” helping the younger kids as a teen leader, “liberating” that sign from the Farm Show building dorm that reads “No lights or alarms before 5:30 a.m.,” washing cows at 4 a.m., learning how to milk, searching for fossils at Deer Lake or coming back from a hayride and trying to explain how all that straw got stuffed down inside my clothes.
Hey, it was all good clean fun. Honest.
My days in 4-H have left me with lasting memories. I hope the “kids of today” are experiencing the same.
And don’t forget to check out the fair next week. It may just spark some memories for you, too — or prompt you to get your kids enrolled in a great program.

Friday, July 31, 2009

put down the cell phone!

This is just a "thank you" to the woman who nearly plowed into me Thursday afternoon at the corner of York and Cannon avenues in Lansdale. Yes you, the person speeding and chatting on the cell phone.
You managed to slam on the brakes when you realized I DID NOT have a stop sign and was in the intersection. But even I couldn't believe it when I saw you fly through the red light moments later at Valley Forge and Whites Road ... still on the phone!
If you don't care about yourself or other drivers, at least consider those kids you had in the back of that black SUV.
P.S. This goes for all drivers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

sad day for eagles fans

OK, I can't claim to be a true blue, er, green Eagles fan. I do usually watch the games with a bit of pleading, I don't understand football all that well and it's frustrating to see the Eagles lose.
But I always admired Jim Johnson, even with my limited gridiron knowledge.
So my sympathies go out to his family, friends and Eagles fans at his passing.
First the Phils lose Harry Kalas; now the Eagles lose Jim Johnson.
A sad day indeed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another loss...

The North Penn/Indian Valley region is losing another company -- this time it's Visteon in Worcester Township. Some people may remember it as Ford Electronics or one of its earlier presences in the community.
But, by year's end, the plant is to be shuttered and about 300 people will be out of a job.
This has been coming for some time; in fact, one story from The Reporter's files from 1995 told of 120 workers to be laid off at the Ford plant, bringing a loss of 370 jobs for the year.
In that 1995 article, it noted that the Ford plant had ranked fourth in The Reporter's Top 100 list of the area's largest employers for the year, having 2,300 workers.
Another one bites the dust. More area people without jobs.
A sad time indeed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

a moment of silence...

Ah, the tiny dog that everyone loved during its much more than 15 minutes of fame has gone on to roam in greener pastures. What a sweetie, this little dog...

According to an AP report:

Gidget the Chihuahua, the bug-eyed, big-eared star of 1990s Taco Bell commercials who was a diva on and off the screen, has died. She was 15.

Gidget suffered a massive stroke late Tuesday night at her trainer's home in Santa Clarita and had to be euthanized, said Karin McElhatton, owner of Studio Animal Services in Castaic, which owned the dog.

Although she was hard of hearing, Gidget was otherwise in good health up to the day of her death, eating well and playing with her favorite squeaky toys at the home of trainer Sue Chipperton, McElhatton said.

"She was retired. She lived like a queen, very pampered," McElhatton said.

Gidget was found at a kennel and wasn't show quality, McElhatton said; she had an undershot jaw and huge ears.

But Gidget knew she was a star, McElhatton said.

"She was a prima donna, basically. She absolutely knew when she was on camera," McElhatton said.

In a 1997 Taco Bell television commercial, Gidget was seen as a male dog who, through the magic of special effects and a voice actor, proclaims in a richly accented voice: "Yo quiero Taco Bell" — Spanish for "I want Taco Bell."

Viewers were charmed. What was supposed to be a single ad became a campaign that ran from 1997 to 2000.

The ads made the Taco Bell mascot wildly popular, although they provoked criticism from activists who accused them of promoting Hispanic stereotypes.

While other Chihuahuas had bit parts, McElhatton said it was Gidget who got the closeups and the quips (Carlos Alazraqui was the voice).

Gidget traveled first-class, opened up the New York Stock Exchange and made an appearance at Madison Square Garden, McElhatton said.

In later years, she did other acting work, appearing in a 2002 commercial for the insurance company GEICO and in the 2003 movie "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde."

She remained the object of affection after her retirement, going on hikes and beach visits with her trainer. She aged gracefully, and liked nothing more than to snooze in the sun.

"She was like a little old lady. She'd kind of gotten smaller," McElhatton said.

Gidget will be cremated, McElhatton said. Her owners had not decided on a final disposition of her remains. Taco Bell Corp. said in a statement Gidget would be missed by many. "Our deepest sympathies go out to her owners and fans," the company said.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

RIP michael

I'm not of the correct generation -- at least in my opinion -- to be a Michael Jackson fan. I like all types of music, but The Beatles reign supreme in my world.
But when my daughter was very young, she LOVED Michael Jackson. She had a "leather" jacket, she had a Michael doll, she had a Beta -- yes, Beta -- tape of "The Making of Thriller" which included "Thriller," and which we watched a million times.
The Jackson crush faded as her musical tastes evolved drastically, but there was still an admiration for much of his work.
And, besides, Weird Al had lampooned a few of his songs, so that made it even better.
So with that history, perhaps I should understand what the heck is going on right now.
I don't.
Michael Jackson's memorial service is today, but you know that won't be the end of it.
I get that there is much controversy over his death, but should that really rate him all of this?
At the risk of being killed, I have to say no.
He WAS a remarkable talent. He could sing and he could dance.
I feel sorry for him because of the lack of childhood and the misery he must have endured.
But I still don't get all of this wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I was devastated when John Lennon was murdered.
And I mourned George Harrison's death as well.
But at least dignity and respect were the hallmarks of their passing.
Not a media event that, undoubtedly, will become part of the movie/spectacular that's in the works and that will ultimately rake in even more money.
I feel sorry for Michael in many ways.
I just wish people would let him rest in peace, instead of deifying him.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Can't it just be over??

By now everyone -- unless they live under a rock in a cave in a forest that is galaxies far, far away -- know that Jon & Kate are no longer a couple. Hey, they haven't been an actual "couple" for a long time; we all know that.
Now it's official.
After they got yet another freebie for their kids on Monday ... the crooked houses that would have set them back about $20,000, if they actually would have had to pay for them ... they finally got down to what everyone had tuned in to see.
First, they were separating. Then came the somber graphic that stated that legal proceedings had begun to dissolve their marriage.
Anyone who ever glimpsed this show on an even semi-irregular basis had to see this coming.
Kate was always bossing and complaining; Jon took it and carried out her orders.
And chaos was everywhere.
Hadn't they thought about this after having twins, when Kate "talked Jon into" trying for "just one more"? Instead they got six.... and apparently a vision of dollar signs began to dance in their heads.
But please, TLC, please. Cut the cord now.
Don't air episodes showing these poor kids having to deal with their parents' divorce.
These kids have been on display basically their whole lives. They haven't ever lived a normal life.
And it is annoying that Jon and Kate have been whining about the press hounding them, when they asked for this.
But it's time for these kids to grieve in private.
Since Jon and Kate apparently didn't want to opt for any counseling, make it short and sweet.
And private.
Spare the kids, please.
Think about them at last.
They don't deserve this.
You've reaped the rewards, abundantly, for producing so many kids.
Now stop capitalizing on them and let them have some semblance of a life.
Are you listening, TLC?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hail of a trip...

Our Online Editor Chris Stanley posted this and another really cute photo on his blog in reference to that hail of a storm we had Monday afternoon.
I wish I had had a camera on my way home .... but my photo wouldn't be as cute.
How do you capture terror?
It was such a weird weather experience. First a little rain, then a downpour, then the heavens opened up with a vengeance and pelted the poor motorists, myself included, with hail.
I've never had quite that driving experience... and hope to never again.
So if you were trembling behind the wheel yesterday, know that I was, too.
Oh, and of course by the time I got close to home, there had been no precipitation of any kind...
Ah, luck.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

People are thick ... so was fog

The fog was thick this morning for quite a bit of my drive into work.
And far too many drivers were thick as well, especially the guy in the gray pickup truck coming across Route 113, near Harleysville.
It was about 6:30 this morning, and making out other vehicles at that point was a challenge.
So here comes Mr. Dimwit with, you guessed it, no lights on.
I flicked my highbeams at him, thinking perhaps he had just forgotten.
His "look" as he passed me as I was heading in the opposite direction let me know he had no intention of going to the trouble of flipping the light switch.
That, or perhaps his brain has no "on" switch.
I glanced in my rearview mirror, and, sure enough, still no lights on.
Anyone care to enlighten me on why it's so hard to follow the law?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dear Old SAHS

Did you head out to the last open house at Souderton Area High School on Saturday? As a graduate, I decided to give the place a last look.
It has changed a lot in some areas since I was a student; and it some areas, I could walk right in and attempt to follow my schedule unimpeded.
It's a bit sad to think that the Grand Old Lady will be razed so some development or another can take its place.
But it's inevitable. She's showing her age in many areas.
But it's still hard to see her go.
I wish the event would have drawn even more people, though. I didn't see anyone from my class -- at least anyone I recognized. Memorabilia was sparse.
But at least the public was allowed back in for one last visit.
So if you missed your chance to pay your respects, sorry.
There won't be another chance...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Make it go away!

Like an accident that people say they just must look at, "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" is a train wreck that tops them all.
And now, please, it's time for them to go away. Now. Not later. Now.
It would have been better if they -- and the many like them (Table for 12, Eighteen Kids and Counting) never would have "graced" the airwaves.
But Jon and Kate are especially irritating. And obviously the marriage is over and these poor kids have been in the spotlight, literally, their entire lives.
Why would you do this? The money is an obvious answer. Look how they've upgraded from desperately scraping by to living in a huge house on more than 30 acres.
Look how tan and trim Kate is. Look at Jon's hair plugs.
Look at these poor kids. What will happen to them once TLC turns off the lights and they're left to become normal kids?
A lot of damage has been done already, but let's not encourage these people any further.
Stop glorifying those who opt for raising litters of kids. That's their choice, but it shouldn't make them celebrities.
As evidenced by the Memorial Day marathon of Jon and Kate shows, leading into the present chaos, we've had too much. They've had too much.
Please spare us and maybe, just maybe, they can find some bit of peace and reconciliation.
TLC, do the right thing...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day already?

Can someone please tell me how it got to be Memorial Day Weekend already?
Somehow in the hubbub of work and worry about the economy, the “beginning” of summer has slipped up on me and slapped me in the face.
I shouldn’t be that surprised, I suppose.
Having finally gotten my lawnmower in working order — why does a tire go flat and a belt self-destruct just at the time you have to start mowing? — my yard is now somewhat under control.
Although after the rainy days of spring and the mower ailments, it was a bit harder to tackle than other years.
And my yard certainly wouldn’t be welcomed by my neighbors if I lived in town. I happen to like the way dandelions look, I would never put chemicals on my lawn, critters and birds are always welcome and whatever sort of green stuff decides to pop up is OK with me.
Being surrounded by fields means that no one else really has to look at my yard, and that’s just fine by my estimation.
Another hint also should have warned me that the cold months were past.
Two cats decided to call our outdoor area their home about a month ago and, you guessed it, one of them was a female and she just happened to be extremely pregnant.
Since they aren’t tame, you can’t get near them, but they will deign to use food and water bowls I put out for them.
Then, three weeks ago, Wotzit Cat, as we call the mom, had her kittens. First I found them under a bit of wood in our fence row and then they were gone.
I thought — make that, I hoped — that she had taken them back to wherever she had lived before.
Nope. Instead, for some reason, she moved them into our firepit in our yard ... the one that perhaps we would have fired up on Memorial Day to roast veggie dogs and make s’mores.
Now, in an effort to keep the kittens dryer than they would be under the branches that are in the firepit, a few pieces of plywood adorn the top, held up by cement blocks.
Again, I’ll never win the Neighborhood Beautification Award. Again, it’s good I have no neighbors that close.
At least Wotzit, Gary (her apparent beau) and the kittens aren’t complaining.
But kitten season should have smacked me into the realization that summer is hot on my heels.
Summer — my least-favorite season. It’s hot. It’s humid. You have to mow the lawn. People expect you to wear shorts. People wonder why you don’t have a tan.
Oh well, hot weather or not, I suppose I’ll muddle through with all the others who dislike the dog days.
And that might even include the new kittens.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Tomorrow is the primary election in Pennsylvania, and in the Montgomery County area there are plenty of candidates running for school board, township, borough, district judge and county judge nominations.
Remember how excited you were to vote in last November's election?
Well, reignite those engines and GO VOTE on Tuesday.
Local elections are extremely important, but far too often turnout is horribly low.
Buck that trend on Tuesday -- VOTE!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


If you possibly can, head to the Theater of the Seventh Sister in the Stahr Performing Arts Center in Lancaster ( for the production of "The Exonerated."
It's a moving, thought-provoking production that looks at the death penalty through true cases of people sent to death row -- who were innocent. It's hard to listen to some of these true accounts and accept that this happened in our justice system. But they did.
And it will make you take a hard look at the death penalty.
It's a great show and you can still catch it through May 3 -- check their Web site for details.
Bonus -- one of the outstanding performers is Scott Alex Miller, an ad salesperson right here at The Reporter in Lansdale.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Really, I can text and drive...

Here's a news alert that we shouldn't have to hear:
Straight from the state Senate:
"On Tuesday, April 28, the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee will vote on numerous measures, including Senate Bill 143, introduced by Senator Robert “Tommy” Tomlinson (R-6th) to prohibit the use of electronic wireless communications devices while driving. The hearing will take place at 11 a.m. in Room 461 of the Main Capitol Building."

Don't you wish this was an unnecessary hearing? Don't you wish that using a cell phone for talking or texting already was against the law?
And don't you wish drivers turned on their lights, obeyed the law and all worked together to make our roadways a safer place?
Dream on...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

oh, just enjoy

I know this basic routine all too well... only multiplied.
Enjoy... it's almost Friday

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

say it ain't so...

You had to figure it would happen... probably sooner than later.
BIg shock... Octomom is in talks for a show featuring her and her litter... perhaps all the way up until they're 18.
Even better, according to, she's applied for a trademark for the name "octomom."
No... she's not in this for the $$$.
Nadya Suleman supposedly is in talks for a television crew to film her family six times a year.
"It is official. I'm going to be doing a show, but it's not a reality show," Suleman told Life & Style magazine, adding that the series would be made by the British arm of independent production company Eyeworks.
She says the show definitely will air in Britain, and perhaps the U.S. --- we can only hope we'll be spared.
But with the likes of Jon and Kate and the Duggars, let's face it ... there's really not much hope.
And if you haven't been keeping up with the oh-so-fertile Duggars (lucky you), here's an update. Now the son and his wife are expecting (another BIG shock) and of course it was all revealed on their show ... 18 Kids and Counting. Oh, PLEASE stop counting!
And if that wasn't enough, they stooped to even lower lows by exploiting the dying grandfather, propping him up in a wheelchair for a birthday party with all the cameras rolling.
As someone who has been through hospice with a loved one, this was just unspeakable to see this poor man treated this way.
I generally never watch this show... but it was like a train wreck... I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
And with Octomom and shows like "Table for 12," I can't believe what people will do for their 15 minutes of "fame."

Monday, April 13, 2009

RIP Harry the K

Associated Press Photo

I'll be the first to admit that I am NOT a pro sports fan. But my dad loved the Phillies -- he'd watch them no matter what, hollering at the TV, but a fan nonetheless.
And between the voices of Richie Ashburn and Harry ... well, let's say I heard them for a long time through many a summer night.
My dad has been gone for more than nine years now, so I'll say his farewells...
you'll be missed, Harry..
Whitey is no doubt glad to see you, though...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy, happy


And may everyone get all the peeps, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans they could ever want!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Preserve your memories...

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy for me to let things go.
And, unfortunately, my daughter apparently inherited this gene for being a pack rat.
She at least is organized at work, she says.
At home, well, that’s a different story.
For me, there are days when my office looks reasonably well-organized; other weeks it’s tough to find the desk. The press releases, newspapers, schedules and assorted other items seem to multiply of their own accord.
But my problem of not throwing stuff out on a regular basis at home reared its head again when my hot water heater died the other week.
It was lovely.
It picked a Friday morning, as we were trying to get ready for work, to make this fatal affliction known.
It is amazing, however, just how quickly you can get out of a shower when you have nothing but cold water.
Taking that day off to have the beast replaced was out of the question, so that meant a weekend of doing without.
Thankfully, my aunt (thank you, thank you, thank you, Aunt Ruth) lives nearby and was gracious enough to “shower” her hospitality on us, so we didn’t have to shiver again.
But in moving some “valuables” away from the water-heater area so the plumber could work unencumbered, I again realized how much junk accumulates in a basement.
And I figured now was the time to tackle that problem, before anything was moved back into place.
So last weekend I started the dreaded work, arranging a pile of tools and such that my brother-in-law might want and filling several trash bags with just plain junk.
I’m not finished by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a start.
But even though I was in the discard mood, I wasn’t quite ready for the push given me by my own negligence.
Somehow, a cardboard box filled with high school and college photos, postcards, a few souvenirs and other treasures had been shoved onto a bottom shelf.
When I went to pull if off the shelf, it basically dissolved in my hands. The rising damp had done its worst.
As I sat there trying to salvage even a few items, I had to fight back the tears. I really didn’t care about anything but the photos — and a cheap ring that featured The Beatles — but few pictures could be saved.
Why had these ever been put in a cardboard box and then put in the basement, I wondered. Why had I thought they were somewhere else, safe and sound?
This has made me want to tackle the rest of the basement as quickly as I can. There’s plenty of junk that should be discarded, after all.
But there also may be other “forgottens” that still could be saved.
As I’ve learned — once again — it’s hard to let go when you’re not prepared.
Even if it’s just some old photos.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Time to spring?

Most people make resolutions at the start of the new year.
Somehow I never seem to get around to doing that. Or, if I do, they don’t last very long.
I figure I probably have plenty of people to keep me company in this regard.
Show of hands, please.
How many of you vowed at the beginning of the year to lose weight, exercise more, keep in better touch with faraway friends, eat more healthfully and keep you house sparkling clean?
OK, maybe you didn’t include everything on your list, but at least one or two, right?
Depending on your lifestyle, maybe you also threw in a promise to stop smoking or lessen the imbibing.
Hey, I’m not here to judge; I’m just guessing those might have been on some people’s “to do” lists.
Now, how many of us have kept all of our new year’s resolutions?
Show of hands, please.
What, no hands showing?
OK, how many of us have kept at least one resolution?
Probably a much better showing, but it’s a safe bet to say no one earned a perfect score.
The same sometimes crops up when Lent begins. Since Easter is still a few weeks away, that means those who decided to give something up for Lent may be battling each day to keep that promise as well.
We do this a lot to ourselves, don’t we? We carry around a “should” list that weighs more than the pounds we want to lose.
And now that spring has sprung, many of us may be doing it all over again.
You know the drill:
This year I really am going to do a thorough job of spring cleaning. No dust bunny will live to tell the tale and all those closets will be pared down and organized.
This year I will go for a long walk every day in the spring, summer and autumn. I will not only be in great shape, but I will get to know all of my neighbors along the way.
This year I will plant a huge garden, tend it every day, eat the fresh fruits (and veggies) of my labors, and learn how to can and freeze the rest so we can eat great all winter.
And, with the fresh spring season unfolding in front of me, I will be more optimistic, worry less about money and concentrate on what truly matters in life.
Whew, this is going to be one busy season.
Maybe I’d better start by taking a lesson from my cats: Everything is easier after a long nap.

Monday, March 9, 2009

in this economy???

I'm sorry, but there certainly must be better ways to spend money, in this tanking economy (excuse the pun), than to fork over tons of money to teach liquor store clerks better manners.
Trust me, I know plenty of store clerks who could use more than a refresher course in this area -- basically, every kind of store out there. But it's just not prudent to be spending state money this way.
Here's a thought: If you are employed in customer service and you don't measure up, you should no longer have a job in customer service....

But just consider this lovely little item from the Associated Press:
The state's Liquor Control Board is spending more than $173,000 to try to make workers friendlier and more well-mannered at the nearly 650 stores it operates. The board says it wants to make sure clerks are saying "hello," ''thank you" and "come again" to customers shopping for wine and spirits.

It has hired Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Solutions 21 to help coach store managers so they can instruct their 4,000 clerks on issues such as how to greet customers and where to stand. Training begins this month.

Harrisburg good-government activist Eric Epstein calls the idea "a demented interpretation of happy hour." He says it's "a sad state of affairs when you have to train people to be kind and courteous."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

beautiful aftermath

We may complain about the snow, but this photo by Reporter Chief Photographer Geoff Patton shows just how beautiful the storm can make the world.
This tiny image doesn't do it justice; be sure to check it out in Tuesday's Reporter...
This is truly fine artwork!

Monday, March 2, 2009

SNOW .... FALL.....

Online editor Chris Stanley snapped this photo today...

What better way to start March than gripped with the fear of the impending snowstorm? And what better way to greet the first Monday in March than snow, snow, snow... schools closed, accidents scattered everywhere, traffic snarled...
gotta love it, right?
Just as visions of spring began to dance in my head last week, this comes as a slap-in-the-face reminder that winter is NOT over just because March starts...
Hmmm... in like a lion... can the month please be a lamb now?
Although I love the "Snowfall" song in December, it's starting to sound a little sour.........

Friday, February 27, 2009

It's Beatles Friday!

OK, we're almost at the end of the week.
And, for a Beatles fan, there's nothing better than nonstop Beatles music....
so if you're of a like mind, check out WMGK, 102.9, today, Feb. 27...
The Beatles were voted the top band of all time in their recent poll, so today it's all Beatles, all the time!
And be sure to check out The Reporter as you're listening to the fab four!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No bridging the gaps

Upper Salford Township used to be an extremely rural township; I know, because I grew up there. When we moved there when I was 4, there were only three homes on my road and in the winter, the kids in the area would sled on the road, starting at the top of the hill where the general store stood and, if we were lucky, we could make it nearly to the Bechtel farm. We didn't have to worry about traffic -- it was basically nonexistent.
That's far from the case today. Trying to get out onto Old Skippack Pike -- oops, someone somewhere along the line renamed it to Old Skippack Road -- can be a challenge; forget about trying to get onto Sumneytown Pike unless you go to the one traffic light in the township.
But some things haven't changed -- no local police, no trash service, no public sewer or water.
And, as of late, fewer and fewer bridges.
I can understand why people are upset about this -- and cannot understand why no one will give in, cooperate and replace the bridge next to the township building.
People are upset and it's more than just an inconvenience. It's a safety issue.
Will their resolve change anything?
One can only hope.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Please seek help

In this Associated Press photo, a dying horse is comforted.

We all know these are tough economic times. And we've all heard stories about people abandoning their pets when they can no longer afford them, instead of turning them over to the SPCA or other rescue group.
Please, if you run into problems, seek help.
Don't let these poor souls, who have done nothing to deserve this fate, starve to death.
Consider this report from the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON, Pa. — Humane officials say they have found several frozen horse carcasses and more than two dozen starving horses on a western Pennsylvania farm.

Washington Area Humane Society Officer Matt Walsh says the farm's owner faces numerous animal cruelty charges. Authorities haven't identified the South Franklin farm owner, who they say abandoned the farm about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Walsh says officers have obtained a court warrant to take possession of 29 horses after getting several calls about their condition.

Authorities were trying to gather hay to feed the horses on Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Older, yes. Wiser? Maybe not

Another year older, but not necessarily another year wiser.
At least that’s how I feel lately.
Heck, if I had been truly wise, wouldn’t I have seen the economic downfall about to happen and, therefore, would not have suffered the same fate as most Americans who thought they were doing the right thing by saving and investing for retirement?
If I had truly been “wiser,” wouldn’t all of my money have been hidden in a cave somewhere, safe from the market crash?
And wouldn’t I long ago have chosen a profession that was absolutely recesssion-proof?
These days, that seems to be the teaching profession, where first they make demands when a contract is up. Then, if they don’t like the offer made by the school district, they go on strike.
After that, even if nothing is settled, they do go back to work — sort of. But they refuse to do anything deemed “extra.”
And don’t forget the administrators and their huge salaries. In my humble opinion, I think it would be within reason to trim pay rates during these trying times, freeze any raises and forget any “contributions” into savings plans.
Somehow it seems that too many educators can comfortably live with the viewpoint that even if the very people who pay for their salaries and benefits — namely, the taxpayers — are losing their jobs, having their hours cut or, at the very least, not seeing any raises, they still “deserve” a huge hike in pay but, of course, no increase in what they pay for health insurance.
Obviously my birthday has not made me another year wiser, because I have to admit, I just don’t understand this mindset.
When the entire country — make that the entire world — is collapsing financially, how can a person still think that large raises are perfectly reasonable?
Or that they should be able to pick and choose what they will or won’t do as part of their job?
Educators are supposed to be professionals; these tactics are anything but.
And if they think they are the only ones who work beyond their “official” hours or are the only ones who take work home at night or are the only ones who spend their own money to provide “extras,” I have a news flash for them.
They aren’t.
Most people deserve raises, but realize that, right now, they are lucky to have jobs. So yes, our teachers deserve raises. They have a tough job that few of us would want to do. But we are not playing by the same rules, economically, that we were even a year ago.
As educators, they certainly know our nation’s history, and what sacrifices had to be made when we went through recessions and the Great Depression.
We are there again. We all must make sacrifices. We all must live in the reality of today’s economic turmoil.
It isn’t a matter of what a person deserves to earn; it’s a matter of working together to survive all of this.
And if that happens now, taxpayers most likely would remember those concessions in a positive light a few years down the road when, we hope, better times will return.
I had many teachers I highly respected when I was a student — and I had some who made me wonder why they were still allowed in the school each day.
The same may be true today, but I hope not.
When I watch the way things far too often play out in area school districts, I have to wonder, though.
And I figure that I’m not the only one who may be older, but not wiser.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Associated Press Photo

Enough said?
Just read this...

WILKES-BARRE (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman has been ordered to stand trial for marketing "gothic kittens" with ear, neck and tail piercings over the Internet.
Dog groomer Holly Crawford faced a preliminary hearing Tuesday on animal cruelty charges.
Crawford's home outside Wilkes-Barre was raided Dec. 17 after the SPCA of Luzerne County received a tip that she was marketing the animals online for hundreds of dollars.
A prosecutor says Crawford inflicted pain on the cats to make money. Her defense attorney says state law says nothing about piercing cats and docking their tails. District Judge Paul Hadzick calls it a gray area of the law that needs to be decided by a trial judge or jury.
Charges against a second defendant, William Blansett, were dropped Tuesday after Crawford admitted she was solely responsible for piercing the cats.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

happy day!

It's Valentine's Day and it's my birthday...
so here's my present to all of you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

friday the 13th!

Come on, you don't REALLY believe that hype about black cats, ladders and broken mirrors, do you?
Just look at this beautiful feline ... doesn't that despell those fears?
But, to be on the safe side, maybe you'd better not step on any sidewalk cracks, be sure to throw any spilled salt over your shoulder and be on the lookout for 4-leaf clovers.
I hope the day goes as smoothly as possible for everyone ... and don't forget, tomorrow's Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

here kitty, kitty

It's no secret that I love cats, having a "flock" of them of my own -- who somehow or other found my home and made it their own.
So I thought I would share this heart-warming story from the Associated Press for your enjoyment.
Oh, and the photo featured today is of Keegan, a cat up for adoption through Stray Cat Blues, a local cat rescue that can be reached by e-mail at or call 215-631-1851.
Or check out their web page at
Then perhaps you, too, can foster cats. Or, better yet, adopt several!


BLUE ISLAND, Ill. (AP) — Oddly, the cat woman’s reputation started with a dog.
An ornery purebred Scottish terrier, to be exact.
Tammy Gray had been volunteering at Peoples Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Tinley Park for just a few months when she learned shelter staffers wanted to put an 8-week old dog to sleep because they believed it was too mean to be adopted.
“They said he was loco,” recalled Gray, a Blue Island resident.
“I told them I used to have a Rottweiler so I could probably handle him,” she said.
Gray, 50, took the dog home and he quickly bonded with her two other dogs. Outside the confines of the shelter, the canine seemed fine. Gray also discovered that the animal had a broken tail.
“He’d come from a puppy store and someone probably closed the cage on his tail,” she speculated. “That’s why he was so mean - he was in pain.”
Within days, Gray deemed her new pet Oliver a keeper.
That was 2½ years and 110 cats ago.
Since that day in May of 2006, Gray’s home has become a veritable way station for injured cats and newborn kittens who need extra love and care until they’re capable of being adopted.
She averages about 14 kittens at a time, all of them needing round-the-clock attention. The babies need to be bottle- or syringe-fed every few hours. They need to be bathed. And, in some cases, they need to be stimulated to urinate because some don’t know how yet, Gray said.
“You have to be with them all the time,” she said. “I’ve brought them along to Fourth of July events, birthday parties and funerals.”
She’s known as that crazy cat lady to family and friends, she said. Even feral cats in the neighborhood hang out near Gray’s home. She’s had five of those neutered so she could allow them access to her porch.
PAWS pays for the foster animals’ food. Gray gets logistical help from her husband Bill. And all of the animals receive an extra dose of TLC when Gray’s grandchildren come to visit.
Gray has kept a log of all the animals she tends to, placing hearts next to the names of the cats who were especially dear to her and a cross beside the four who succumbed to fading kitten syndrome, a mysterious condition that causes kittens to simply stop eating.
Gray returns the cats to the shelter when they’re ready to be adopted. Some, she realizes, will have a harder time than others in that endeavor.
For example, three-legged Violet survived an encounter with a car engine but would likely have a difficult time finding a permanent home.
“I ended up adopting her,” Gray said.
Despite her 24-7 on-call commitment, Gray says the hardest part of fostering animals comes when she has to give them back.
“I cry a lot of times because they think I’m their mom and they look at me like, ‘Why are putting me in this cage? Why are you leaving me?’ “
But most of the cats get adopted within days of their return to the shelter.
Besides, Gray knows she can’t keep all of them. As it is, she already has six permanent cats, three dogs and four parrots - all in addition to the foster felines.
Why does she do it?
For one, she can. She has training enabling her to administer medical care. More importantly, cats simply hold a special place in her heart.
“My mother never let me have a pet when I was a child,” she offers. “There’s just something about cats — their independence — that I love.”

Monday, February 9, 2009

Calling CSI...

or Jay Leno, or Keith Olbermann...

You gotta love stories like this. And I hope that someone picks this story to give it some national fame -- of the "dumb burglar" ilk, that is.
This guy obviously is not up on all of the strides made in crime scene investigation.
He probably just figured he was adding insult to injury by, well, defecating at the crime scene.
Seems the joke's on him!
Yes, gotta love it:

Note... the story was written by Keith Phucas, who writes for our "sister" paper, The Times Herald...
NORRISTOWN — A Norristown man was arrested for burglary after a biological analysis of feces left at a crime scene matched his DNA.
David Green, 39, has pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to 15 months to four years in prison and two years’ probation by Montgomery County Judge Thomas M. Del Ricci.
Green was implicated by burglary suspect Stephan Bates, who told Norristown police in October 2007 that Green had broken into a house on Haws Avenue a month earlier, and during the burglary, he defecated on the stairs.
Bates said the defendant admitted three other burglaries at the time.
A month after the Haws Avenue break-in, investigators found human waste inside another Norristown residence reportedly burglarized.
During the Haws Avenue break-in, the resident was asleep when Green got into her home through a kitchen window around 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2007, an affidavit states. The man went through her purse and took $155. While inside, Green ate cookies in the kitchen.
A Locust Street man filed a police report on Oct. 11, 2007, after his home was broken into while his family slept. The thief stole cash and a digital camera.
During the break-in, the resident and his daughter heard a thud on the home’s first floor around 1:30 a.m., but they didn’t get up to investigate. Then at 3:15 a.m., the daughter reportedly heard her dog “crying” and went downstairs.
On the first floor, she discovered a rear window and a door were open and a window screen was missing.
When the family was awakened, they looked around the house and found the intruder had strewn the contents of several of their purses on the kitchen counter and taken the cash.
The family also discovered the intruder had defecated in their downstairs bathroom, leaving discarded toilet paper in the trashcan that was smeared with feces, according to court records.
The human waste was collected and sent off to National Medical Services.
Two weeks later, Green was interviewed by Norristown police and gave a sample of his DNA. As well, DNA samples were taken from family members living at the Locust Street home and sent to the lab.
In March 2008, a forensic biology lab report revealed that Green was the person who had left the fecal matter inside the Locust Street house, and he was arrested, according to the criminal complaint.
Bates, who had been a fugitive for months last year, was captured at his girlfriend’s Cherry Street residence and arrested. Police believe he committed as many as 20 residential burglaries in Norristown in the past two years.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just have a litter of kids

Want to be rich and famous? Just have a litter of kids.
That seems to be the mindset these days, and you have to look no further than TV shows to have that confirmed.
Jon and Kate Plus 8....
18 Kids... and Counting...
plus numerous shows on TLC about people who have a dozen or more.
And now comes my favorite... as if we couldn't see this coming a mile away.
That wonderful woman who had octuplets ... and isn't married and lives with her parents and already has six kids ... is being pursued by the media and has been offered mega money deals.
Apparently if you can produce a litter of little ones, you're set.
How sick is that?
There is so much wrong with this story about the octuplet mom, it's hard to know where to start. Where are the doctors who facilitated this? Where are their ethics? Did no one screen this women for mental health issues?
The list continues.
Of course, if her big bucks deals fall through, the taxpayers can always support her.
What a sin. I feel SO sorry for all of her kids.
Want to read more?
Here's the AP story:

Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES — The mother of the world's longest-living octuplets is being deluged with offers for book deals, TV shows and other business proposals, but has not decided what she might do other than care for her children, her newly hired spokeswoman said Monday.
Hundreds of requests have been made since Nadya Suleman gave birth to six boys and two girls a week ago, said Joann Killeen, president of Killeen Furtney Group, a public relations company.
"She's the most sought after mom in the world right now," Killeen said. "Everyone wants to talk to her."
But Suleman, who remained hospitalized with her children Monday at Kaiser Permanente's Bellflower Medical Center, hasn't decided what she'll do next, Killeen said.
Some of the deals and requests for interviews involve offers to pay, said Killeen and her partner, Mike Furtney. They didn't reveal the amounts being offered, but Killeen noted that raising eight babies will be expensive, adding that Suleman plans to carefully review her financial opportunities.
"Right now her top priority is to be the best mom she can be to all her children," she said. "She's hired us to manage all of those opportunities."
The spokeswoman discounted some published reports that Suleman had already decided to host a television show on parenting. But she added that Suleman does want to eventually tell her story to the world.
"As soon as she's able, she will tell her story, and it's an amazing story," she said.
Suleman, a 33-year-old single mother, already had six children, ages 2 to 7 when she gave birth to her octuplets on Jan. 26.
Her babies continue to grow stronger, the hospital said in a statement Monday. It wasn't immediately known when the octuplets or their mother would be released from the hospital. At the time of the births, doctors said the babies would stay about two months.
"This has been a very good week for the babies. It is always satisfying to be able to see a baby that was born premature continue to get stronger every day," said Dr. Mandhir Gupta, a neonatologist at the hospital.
In seven other documented octuplet births, at least one of the babies died within a week. The world's first live octuplets, born in 1967 in Mexico City, all died within 14 hours.
The first set of U.S. octuplets was born to Nkem Chukwu of Texas on Dec. 20, 1998. A week later, the tiniest infant died of heart and lung failure. The surviving seven siblings celebrated their 10th birthday in December.
Suleman retained the Killeen Furtney Group to represent her last Friday. Furtney said the company, which normally handles corporate clients and crisis public relations, was referred to her by the hospital. Its clients include the Union Pacific Railroad and the California State Parks Department.
Suleman's mother told The Associated Press last week that her daughter has always loved children and had wanted to be a mother since her teens.
Suleman had all 14 of her children through in vitro fertilization, according to her mother, Angela Suleman, who is caring for the other six while her daughter is hospitalized.

Monday, February 2, 2009



Yes, it's Groundhog Day... Feb. 2... the most wonderful, screwy holiday there is.
But, here's the bad news, if you were hoping to start your tanning:

Phil's official forecast as read February 2nd, 2009 at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob:

Hear Ye Hear Ye
On Gobbler's Knob this glorious Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2009
Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators
Awoke to the call of President Bill Cooper
And greeted his handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths
After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers,
Phil proclaimed that his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were World Champions one more time
And a bright sky above me
Showed my shadow beside me.
So 6 more weeks of winter it will be.

.....Thanks, Phil... 6 more weeks of winter won't be TOO bad, as long as you don't send any ice storms our way and keep the snow to a minimum!!
Happy Winter!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow-driving idiots

Snow can be beautiful, as evidenced by this photo taken by Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.
But early this morning, few of us were thinking along those lines as we were trying to make our way over snow- and ice-covered roadways before 6 a.m., taking it very slowly and carefully.
Except for the "gentleman" who decided to tailgate me and attempt to pass a few times as I navigated Route 113 between Harleysville and Franconia.
I was extremely glad I was making a turn onto Allentown Road, so this menace could barrel his way unimpeded.
Really, folks, where are you going that you have to throw all safety to the wind, while the rest of us are simply trying to get there in one piece?
The roads were in no shape at that hour to be taking the situation lightly.
I hope this moron got where he was going without doing harm to anyone else.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tuesday ushers in hope, hard work

Where will you be when Barack Obama is sworn in as our new president on Tuesday?
If you’re like millions of Americans, you’ll either be in Washington, D.C., or glued to your television set.
The excitement over this inauguration is unlike any we’ve seen in many, many years.
And with good reason.
Our country is in crisis mode on many fronts these days: wars still rage on, service people are dying, the economy is caving in around us, our futures seem shaky at best, jobs are disappearing, businesses are closing and there are so many vital environmental problems that we face.
Many people have been gravely disappointed — well, really, disgusted — with the current administration and what has been wrought during the past eight years.
And so they are pinning their hopes on Barack Obama.
It’s almost as if they are elevating him to savior status, and that is both dangerous and unrealistic.
But the swearing in of our first African-American president, coming the day after we commemorate Martin Luther King Day, is most definitely a momentous occasion.
People have every right to be excited and filled with hope, regardless of political leanings.
We need someone who will bring this country together and lead with fairness and integrity.
We need someone with a vision of how we can once again secure our place as a leader on the world stage.
We need someone who will prioritize the issues plaguing us, work to right the state of our economy and relate to the people he serves.
Obviously, at this point, the voters have stated loudly and clearly that Barack Obama is the man who can best handle a job of this magnitude.
No, he is not a miracle worker.
No, we will not see the economy turn on a dime the day he takes office.
No, he will not be able to end the war in a week and bring peace to the world.
But he offers us hope that he will do his very best to bring America back to the status of a country that cares about its people, does not initiate war, does not torture war prisoners, creates jobs and pays down its debt.
The list, needless to say, goes on and on.
Obama will need to be surrounded by wise counsel and supported by the American people as he tackles these issues.
We’ll all be showing that support on Tuesday, as we, the American people, watch in hope while he takes the oath of office, cheer as the inaugural parade passes by and drink in the pomp and circumstance of the day’s events.
A momentous day awaits us all on Tuesday.
And years of hope — and hard work — stretch out ahead.