Monday, July 26, 2010


I have a lot of cats. That’s not news to anyone who ever reads this column.
I fear I am becoming the “crazy cat lady” when some of you see me in public and the first thing you say is, “Oh, it’s the cat woman!”
But I have no one to blame but myself — and, perhaps, my daughter. On far too many occasions we have opened our door and our hearts to the strays that show up, often in bad weather, who simply assume that they have found their new home.
Generally, they have.
But our cats all get regular veterinary care; they’re all up to date on their shots. When my daughter ended up with two diabetic cats (who have since crossed the Rainbow Bridge and are greatly missed), our lives revolved around their medical schedules for years, so that their insulin shots were administered twice a day, on time.
All our feline friends get plenty of attention, have lots of toys and their individual personalities are greatly appreciated.
I would like to meet the people who think that all cats are aloof, however; when you have several at a time vying for a spot on your lap, that’s a little hard to believe.
And our kitties get plenty to eat — a few, I’m afraid — eat a little too well.
As I’ve said before, when I die I’d like to come back as one of my cats and enjoy that pampered lifestyle for awhile.
With all of this said, you can understand the utter horror I felt when it first was reported that a person had allowed 13 cats to die in a Whitpain townhome — and later that number was raised to 37.
Patricia Wiehler, the woman in question, recently was sentenced to four years’ probation and 400 hours of community service.
But thanks to Montgomery County President Judge Richard J. Hodgson, that sentence may change.
I certainly hope so. District Judge John Murray was totally wrong to give her such a light slap.
On Friday, Hodgson vacated that sentence and ordered Wiehler’s case be returned to Murray “for disposition in accordance with Rules of Criminal Procedure.”
It’s hard to buy Wiehler’s story, who said she had to move to help care for her ill mother. Her mother lived 25 minutes away, definitely close enough to continue to travel back to her home and care for the cats.
Or, here’s a thought: Get friends and neighbors to pitch in. If this were truly a hardship situation, contact a rescue group or the SPCA and surrender the cats.
Some group may have been willing to take them temporarily. If that couldn’t be worked out and it had to be a total turnover, at least the cats would have been cared for.
And the SPCA would have euthanized them humanely if it came to that. No starvation; no cats turning to cannibalism in a futile attempt to survive.
At her brief hearing in which she received her original “sentence,” Wiehler never even gave an excuse for the atrocity. But then, what excuse could you offer?
The emergency workers who eventually were called in to clean up the dead cats said “the images of the bones that had been picked clean were some of the most disturbing that they had seen.”
I can’t even begin to imagine how she could have done this.
Some say she must have a mental illness — how else could you harbor 37 cats and then let them starve to death? They may have a point. I certainly can’t wrap my mind around this.
Thank you, Judge Hodgson, for your action. Murray, take note: Probation and community service are not enough punishment for sentencing 37 souls to a torturous death.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Want to escape the heat?

Well, I can't really help you with that...
But here's something fun to do to pass the time.
See if it works for you... it did for me!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Maybe we'd all better just kick back and take heed to this song from my youth.
As if we haven't already sweltered enough, reports the weather for Saturday will feel like the hottest day of the summer so far from New York City to Raleigh, N.C.
That prediction is thanks to a massive surge of heat and excessive humidity.

The "Super Saturday Scorcher," according to AccuWeather, will make it feel like 105 to 115 degrees on Saturday afternoon.
So make it a "turn down day" -- no exercising, no working, no moving!
Please ... when will this all end??

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ahh, for a nap ... enjoy!

My daughter takes awesome photos, and while she clings to her film camera, she has also taken to digital.
Now that she's posting some digital photos to a secret spot, I can occasionally share a few.
Just had to share this one of our cat Puff-Bob, as she lazes in the sun.
Oh, to be a pampered house cat!
Naptime, anyone?

Monday, July 19, 2010

If only it were this easy...

You gotta love this photo snapped by our photographer Geoff Patton, as a buffalo in Franconia takes a little roll in the dust on a warm -- excuse me -- HOT summer day.
Guess her calf is taking notes for its turn.
But don't you wish that it were that easy to feel good during this record-breaking heat?
I know I do!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Take kids to a park

I know this must be a difficult premise to grasp for some people, but a municipal parking lot is NOT where you should be letting your small children play.
Trust me.
Now a municipal PARK -- that's altogether different.
In the photo you see here, kids are playing on one of the cannons at Lansdale's Memorial Park. There also is a lot of green space there, and some ballfields. There are numerous other parks in the borough as well.
Hint: The parking lot at Derstine and Susquehanna avenues in Lansdale is NOT a park.
You should not be sitting there in a lawn chair, letting little ones on tricycles motor around the cars.
Since our office windows look out to the street, I witnessed this firsthand -- plus one of the little ones race over to the curb at Derstine ... and fall partway into the street.
Eventually one of the adults noticed and came sauntering over. Another never got out of her lawn chair.
Really? You don't realize that you're at a very busy intersection, not to mention the cars coming in and out of the lot?
Perhaps you need a map to direct you to the parks. Apparently you aren't alone, judging by the number of kids I often see elsewhere in the street on Derstine, playing baseball, hockey and the like.
Survival of the fittest, I suppose.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Poor Trigger!

As a Roy Rogers fan of long ago, I was so sorry to see this story.
And some of you may know that Trigger, Roy Rogers' famous horse, has local ties, having been bought from P.K. Fisher who long ago raised topnotch horses.
I will leave out my personal family story, because it is not a happy or kind one where P.K. is concerned.
Be that as it may, I feel sorry for Trigger.
Here is the AP story for you to digest:

The smell of horses and hay permeated the marble-floored galleries at Christie's in Manhattan Friday as potential bidders previewed items including the preserved remains of movie cowboy Roy Rogers' famous horse Trigger.

The auction house is selling items from the now-closed Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Mo., next Wednesday and Thursday.

Unlike the fine furniture, paintings and jewelry that Christie's is famous for, the centerpiece of this auction is a stuffed and mounted horse rearing on its hind legs. It also will feature another type of horsepower — Rogers' 1964 Bonneville convertible adorned with collectible silver dollars, its door handles and gear shift replaced by silver-plated pistols.

The car is estimated to draw $100,000 to $150,000. Trigger is expected to fetch $100,000 to $200,000.

Other items for sale include: Rogers' and Evans' performance outfits; the preserved remains of Rogers' dog, Bullet; about 60 pairs of cowboy boots; the Rogers family dining table; and the Jeep "Nellybelle" from the Roy Rogers TV show.

Michel Bettigole, 70, a prospective buyer who attended the preview, called Rogers one of his heroes and said he grew up watching him chase down bandits on the big screen.

"But there was never any violence," he said. "He always shot the gun out of the bad guy's hand. It was good morals."

Hundreds of items will be offered for sale, many of them with estimated prices in the low hundreds. Hand-drawn music for the theme song "Happy Trails" has a pre-sale estimate of $300 to $500. So does a grouping of two Rogers' guitars.

Bettigole was skeptical about some of the estimates.

"A Roy Rogers watch that Roy Rogers wore for $400? Forget about it!" he said.

Cathy Elkies, Christie's director of iconic collections, said the estimates are based on the intrinsic values of the items, but prices could go much higher.

"What someone wants to pay for something Roy Rogers had, that's the wild card," she said.

Christie's has been overwhelmed with calls from everyone from museum representatives to Roy Rogers fans who wanted a piece of the King of the Cowboys, said Linda Kohn-Sherwood, who is helping oversee the sale. Part of Rogers' appeal was his charitable image outside the studio. He and Evans adopted several children and started a foundation for children in need.

"They were the Brad and Angelina of the time," Kohn-Sherwood said.

Near the entrance at Christie's Friday, doorman Gil Perez, 58, got to be the famous cowboy for a day. Perez wore one of Rogers' red, embroidered performance shirts and toted a Roy Rogers guitar as he welcomed visitors to the gallery. He said he got his lucky break because he was about the same size as Rogers.

"I'm so honored, because I grew up watching him," he said. "But there's no way I'm trying to imitate him, because there's only one Roy."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

shades of tubby and lulu

There may be no one else out there who remembers Little Lulu and Tubby comic books (would not fly today; not PC to call someone Tubby). But when I was growing up, I loved them.
One in particular that popped to mind today dealt with a hot summer day, when everyone in the comic book was melting -- much like we are -- except for a select few who seemed to just be cool as a cucumber.
Determined to find out why, the others finally sneaked a peak into the house where the cool ones were gathered -- and gazing at a decorated Christmas tree.
The sight of it alone was taking them back to the cold days of winter.
That prompted me to share one of my favorite winter songs, "Snowfall," accompanied by these great photos.
Maybe this will help us all to cool down.
Here's hoping!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


So, how many times do you think someone will come up to you today ... or tomorrow or the day after that ... and say, "Hot enough for ya?"
And how many times will you want to kill that person?
OK, that's a bit extreme. And we're all wishing we could be like the little girl in this photo, just slidin' on into a cool pool.
But seriously, the heat index will be over 100 today; it's humid; it's blazingly hot.
So be careful out there.
Stay hydrated. Don't be stupid and go for a jog this afternoon.
Seek out air-conditioned spots. Check on any elderly friends or relatives.
And take care of those pets!
We're all looking at our plants wilting away -- and that's the way we feel, too.
So be good to yourself. And try to be good to everyone else.
We're all sweatin' this out together.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Have a glorious Fourth!

I hope you have a wonderful day of celebration, on this, our Independence Day.
Eat too much, laugh too much and enjoy some beautiful fireworks.
And be sure to peruse The Reporter today, and soak in our special Ben Franklin Project, made possible by you, our loyal public.
Let this be just the beginning of a closer working relationship.
Become involved, let us know what concerns you in your community and guide our reporting.
E-mail -- and keep reading The Reporter and


Friday, July 2, 2010

A new 'declaration'

It used to be, in the newspaper world, that every day gave you a new chance to produce a totally new product. In today's world, as a multimedia company, we get that chance every second of the day, as we Tweet, update our Web site, post on Facebook and, yes, produce our print edition.
Every day, it seems, we "declare" a new way to deliver the news, a new intention to speed updates your way and keep you informed of the latest developments in your communities.
Last month, we made a different type of declaration -- the Ben Franklin Project.
We vowed to make the news gathering/producing process more transparent; we vowed to ask you what YOU wanted to see covered; we vowed to ask you what questions YOU wanted to have answered by officials.
We asked you to tell your stories, to share your opinions. Social media, video, our Web site, chatting at various community gatherings, distributing old-fashioned "handbills" -- we integrated as many ways as possible to have you involved in this project from the very beginning.
And you were more than happy to respond and let us know what you wanted.
Thank you!
You'll see the results in our Sunday edition -- the beginning of what we know will be an ongoing process of having you much more involved in directing our efforts.
Our July Fourth edition will be yet another new "declaration" -- the culmination of this first stage in a never-ending Ben Franklin Project of openness and listening to the community.
You wanted to share your stories of the frustration of being unemployed -- and we were happy to also produce several "video resumes" that we hope may help you get noticed by an employer.
You redirected a project on Lansdale's revitalization to focus on the troubled Center for the Performing Arts.
You shared the challenges of being an immigrant, and how the religious community becomes a new "home" for many.
You spoke out on property taxes; shared your stories of war veterans; and chimed in on the competitiveness of youth sports. You allowed us to highlight your artistic talent and opinion pieces.
You'll see all of this -- and much more from the community -- in Sunday's edition.
On July Fourth we officially "declare" our freedom from old perceptions that we are the "gatekeeper" deciding what the public wants to read. We declare that an open partnership and ongoing conversations with the public are vital.
And we want you to know how essential you are to guiding and participating in the process.
Let us know what you think of Sunday's edition. And please, continue to be our partners as we forge ahead in this effort.

Hope to hear from you; e-mail