Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April is National Poetry Month, story in Bucks County Courier Times - My prose: What Fell From the Sky

Here's the link to the story, which you can only read for 24 hours. Then you must subscribe to the Courier Times. In my opinion, $10 per month is way too high. The NY Times is $15 per month.

I usually write Guest Columns for the Doylestown-based Intelligencer. When I called Alan Kerr he told told me his readers would not be interested.

Perfect, I said, then we'll teach them to appreciate poetry.

Since I'm gonna write a story about the NAMI Walk in early May, he gave me a choice. I chose the NAMI walk and then got in touch with their sister paper, the Courier Times, headquartered in Levittown.

Guy P, editorial page editor, published it in today's paper.

After doing my back exercises and eating a delicious mushroom-onion-garlic (hah!) omelet, I picked up a copy at Burdick's News Agency in Hatboro.

Since I'm throwing away lots of my old photos, I found this one of Francis Burdick, founder of the company.

 What a handsome man! Took the photo in 1981, which is shortly after his wife died, said his daughter Sandra.

Francis BurdickLook! I found his grave on the Internet! He's buried in the Hatboro Cemetery. To process my feelings about my father's death at 59, I wrote an article about the cemetery, managed, at the time by the Yerkes family.

Here's Mr Burdick's daughter Sandra. She was very happy I brought in the photo. Next to her is Leo who helps out. He poured me a steaming hot cup of Ellis Coffee. (The principals of the company used to live across the street from my mom, but moved out due to "getting on in years.")

 Here's Carl, who's married to Sandra. It's 10:30 am, as you can see by the huge clock.

The news agency is doing okay, financially, but has had to cut back a lot, esp. on deliveries of newspapers. Oh, how we love newspapers and want to keep them in business.

Their main sellers are tobacco products.

They also have a soda fountain, yes, an old-fashioned soda fountain.

Today's kids have no idea what that is.

Hey, let's all of us geriatrics meet at the soda fountain and slurp up Root Beer Floats.

It seems like it only took a fortnight to become a geriatric.

Then I hopped in my car, like a bunny-rabbit, did a stunning U-turn, and had Mark Amos of Bux-Mont Stationers make 30 copies of the article

Mark Amos is wonderful! He special-ordered ribbon cartridges for my printer since I told him I'd rather buy from him than Staples, so I picked em up today.

While waiting for my copies, I walked around town and stopped into Gamburg's to look at couches.

Before I left home for my Hatboro adventures, I entered a piece into a CNF - creative nonfiction - contest on Hippocampus. 

BUT I didn't realize I missed the deadline, which was two days ago.

I was so mad!

You had to use their "prompt" which is the first sentence.


I immediately regretted putting it in my mouth. It had been a good fifty years since the last time I tasted it, and, oh, baby, the world was a different place back then. Dad drove a Country Squire Station Wagon and we had no idea that the emissions coughing from the exhaust would one day cause the polar ice to collapse, the sunsets burn brighter and bring us such brutally cold winters that I lined my trousers with flannel pajamas and wrapped a scarf across my face when I walked to the curb for the mail.

          That something as innocent as the gently falling snow would become nearly as toxic as radioactivity! “Dad!” I cried out to my dead father, “Look what they’re doing to our beautiful world!”

          Before logic could stop me, I brushed off a handful of snow from the railing outside my door and swept it into my mouth. Quickly it melted and I cupped my bare hand again and stuffed more into my waiting mouth. And did it again and again.

The mail truck with chains on its tires chugged up our hilly street.

Oh, well, enjoy your cream of asparagus soup made with - what? - quinoa milk beverage?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Yes! Spring is here... ready for gardening

I'd like to introduce you to one of the most beautiful - and ancient - songs about Summer. There are many versions, but here's one by the great Richard Thompson, a British guitarist and songwriter.

Listen to the song here. Don't mind the obnoxious 5-second commercials. The song is worth waiting for! If you like, also listen to his Wall of Death. Whoo-hoo!

I first learned about Thompson from a client I had at Bristol-Bensalem, named John O'Reilly. Okay to use his name as he wrote an article in one of our Compass mags.

After lunch, Scott and I went to Lowe's in Horsham. We're getting an early start on saving our peach tree.

Last year the critters ate every single inch-high peach. Scott bought mesh to place around our entire tree..... big enough to let the bees inside but not the birds and squirrels.

I also bought a japonica shrub like my mom used to have. Heavenly smell!

 Hello Japonica, goodbye dead camelia. Lordy Lordy! Why did that gorgeous flowering shrub die? Scott planted it in the back of his yard cuz he didn't think it was all dead.

Look, these dirt "life supports" the shrub is planted in are certainly not the same as the Terri Schiavo life supports.

In fact, 9 years after she died in 2005, Terri Schiava made news today in the NY Times. Her husband Michael had finally won the right to have her feeding tube removed. To this day, both her brother and her parents are bitter that she hasn't been kept alive.

Both families formed organizations for The Right to Die with Dignity and the Right to Live with Infirmity.

After Scott and I shopped at Lowe's, we went to the nearby Fresh Market on Welsh Road in Horsham.

I made Scott and me a delicious lunch.....

I baked the salmon in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.

At Fresh Market, I bought a Meyer Lemon, which you rarely find around here. See how I luv to educate my readers with definitions?
Fresh steamed asparagus with butter and lemon.
The salmon was delicious.

 Our vegetable garden. Miss Reid, my sixth grade teacher at Mercer Elementary School, and Russell Eisenman, who teaches at Pan-American University in Tejas, both pronounce it  veg-e-tab-les. Up here, we scrunch the syllables together.

At Lowe's we saw an Asian couple who got a mixture of compost and manure. I asked Seth - always get these people's names - where to find it - so Scott got 15 bags, the perfect number.

Write it down, I said to Scott, over lunch.

I will, he said. I'll put it in my data base. (He also keeps info about his SEPTA trains in his data base for future reference of a similar problem.)

We got our rain barrel out and also hung up hummingbird feeders.

Watched a good movie today on my Red Couch, which I napped to.

20 Feet from Stardom is about "backup singers" who richly enhance main stars like Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson. Watch trailer here and then rent it from your local library.

Why spend your money? Keep it in your savings account so you can spend it on something spectacular. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bruce and I celebrate Easter - Ha Jin, Chinese author of Waiting - Scott's Pizza

Bruce helped me make our mushroom omelet for breakfast. He remembered that the last time he was here I'd make omelets smothered in cheese - oh, doesn't that sound delicious! - but I'm trying to lose weight so I've given up cheese.

He enjoyed the omelet, also made with garlic and green scallions. He had a Triscuit, which he found too salty, and a bowl of ice cream, which he found delicious!

 Ever heard of Three Twins? Now you have.  I find it delicious and akin to sherbet.

 I love having Bruce back. It's like having a well-behaved teenager of my own. He's 17, born 1996.

After breakfast we visited Dan and Family.

We did a little tai chi in the living room.

Today was a Landmark Day. Grace, who will be four in August, used the potty for the first time.

She explained to us, Mommy will still put on Pull-Ups at night, but during the day she'll wear big girl panties. She showed us a stack of em in the kitchen.

These all have patterns, she said. She was wearing solid pink, her favorite color.

When Grace spoke about using the potty, she said it with such certainty, it did seem like she'd never go back to her childish ways.

Ready to go for a walk around the block in Dan's neighborhood?

Grace, hop into the new red wagon. Here's a famous poem by Wm Carlos Wms about the same:

Pardon! The Red Wheelbarrow.....

The Red Wheelbarrow
  by William Carlos Williams   

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

The Red Wheelbarrow

  by William Carlos Williams
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15537#sthash.PzN30dwL.dpuf

Walking down the street where Barry and Claudia live. Barry gave me invaluable information. The flowers Ellen and I saw at The New Church are a variety of Vinca. 

Is there a God or what?

Claudia came outside and I asked her if she could read a piece I want to submit. She is literally the only person I can show it to due to its erotic nature.

Last night I was telling Bruce about a wonderful novel I read by the Chinese author Ha Jin, a pseudonym.

When Jin - and friends - were learning English, it was physically painful.

Here's what he says in his interview in the Paris Review.
Speaking was painful. My jaw hurt, my tongue hurt, my throat hurt. Some of my classmates took painkillers because their mouths hurt so much. It was not easy. 
 He talks about the restrictions in "the police state" of his native China.
But I also didn’t work very hard [on learning the language.] I stayed at the lowest level throughout. It was humiliating. Then, after the third year, I knew I wanted to study American literature, and in order to get into a good program I had to take a very big English test—that was the basic requirement. Once I realized I wanted to study Hemingway and Faulkner, I began to work hard on the language.
Also, we were supposed to follow instructions and avoid books written by foreign authors and old Chinese texts that had remnants of the old culture and customs. And not just books. If you sang an old movie song, someone would report you.
Ha Jin

Was the intellectual culture outside the army any more hospitable?
No. There were book burnings—I remember one bonfire in the middle of my parents’ yard. And the colleges were all closed. They were closed when I got out of the army, and they had been closed for ten years. Until I was twenty, I had never seen a public library.

At the time I knew I wanted to go to college; that was very clear. I tried to teach myself systematically but there were a lot of gaps, a lot of holes, in that kind of education. A lot of people were like me. A whole generation taught themselves.

But after the Tiananmen Square massacre, I was lost for some time. I was going through a lot of psychological torment. I was very sick. I was in a fevered state for several months. I was often mean to my family. I didn’t really laugh. When I saw my family laugh, I just said shut up. 
I love liturgical music. WRTI-FM just concluded four hours of Saint Matthew's Passion.

When I lived in San Francisco, I mailed a boxed set to my friend Iris Arenson. I wonder if she remembers. 

Bruce's "host family" will pick him up tonight. They're celebrating Easter in Maryland. Their names are Matt, Alyssa and daughter Lorelei, who's three.


Six o'clock and Bruce and I get out of the car - we visited Mom and Ellen - and enter Scott's aromatic house, smelling of Pizza.

Says Bruce: "This is the best pizza I've ever had."

Scott tops it with provolone but he also tried Goat's Cheese, which we both love.

However, the taste was too overpowering for the pizza.

Nine more minutes until Call the Midwife on PBS.

How can I bore you for nine whole minutes.


All is Lost starring Robert Redford as "Our Man." Indeed he is the only man in this film.

What a spectacular performance Redford gave as a man in his sinking yacht, then sinking raft, trying to find help in the Indian Ocean.

Incredibly suspenseful. Will he die in the end as his rations give out?

Rent it at your local library as did I. You will not regret it.

Redford, who's had no facial plastic surgery, shows you what a 77-yo man looks like and how he moves. He did most of his own stunts, said the Special Features at the end.

Virtually no dialogue, his face and body language reveal his feelings.

Read about it here.

Let's end with a poem, shall we?


In sandaled feet
I arrive at Ming’s to
read my book and
await my soup.

I read about Herodotus
traveling the wide world
wondering where it ended
which sea was the last.

Footsteps I hear behind me:
A man, voice melodious, speaks:
a trickling waterfall,
then, a woman's,
gentle as a fish swimming downstream.

I look up from my book
and listen to voices I cannot understand -
Korean -
Like Herodotus in a new land
They crossed the endless seas.