Saturday, December 3, 2011

Poetry Group - Meadowbrook Farm - Pennypack Trust - and Eggplant for Dessert / Poem: A Good Death

Thank you, Beatriz, for alerting me that Meadowbrook Farm was having an open house all day until 5 pm. Scott and I took a tour.

I had taken tours that had some fascinating info about the late J. Liddon Pennock, who, with his wife Alice owned the palatial estate and 25 acres of grounds, plus the garden nursery right next door.

Front door. Scott and I dressed very warmly b/c we were gonna hike afterward at Pennypack Trust.

Hat rack in the foyer. Pennock was probably one of the best dressed men in Philadelphia. He died at age 90 in 2003.

Custom-tiled floor in the foyer. I began taking photos right away in case you weren't allowed to take pictures. Never ask, "May I take photos?" Just snap away. Each of the four rooms we toured had a different guide from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. I would've joined if the fee were $25, but it was $50.

Grace Kelly paid Liddon a visit. She didn't like the wallpaper in the foyer so he re-did the whole thing! Liddon did the floral arrangements for Trisha Nixon's wedding at the White House.

Spectacular wallpaper going up the stairs.

Here is the little room leading up to the Sun Room. Pennock had lots of lizard motifs throughout the house - and also outside. The Guide told me people called him "The Lizard."

View of the Great Outdoors from the Sun Room.

Painting of Liddon Pennock.

Can you make out Liddon talking to Julie Nixon Eisenhower?

In the center is an obelisk the Pennocks brought home from one of their many trips. I made sure I appeared in the meer, but the photo is blurry. I was afraid someone would stop me from taking the pic, but, again, each of the guides was different.

I think Bill Hess would've been proud of me. Scott said, "Don't get caught."

BTW, I had been to Meadowbrook several times before and had taken photographs, so I really knew it was okay. I think the volunteer just assumed it wasn't okay.

Roll em Ruthie:

Unsecured powder room.

Powder room decorative table.

Barely any light when I washed my hands and shaved my beard.

Lovely shot of the foyer upon leaving. Note incredible details everywhere. Liddon Pennock abhors a vacuum.

Even tho the foyer was quite small, this curio cabinet held some darling things.

Assortment of walking canes in foyer, lit up by a light bulb near floor. Pennock always drove a Datsun or Toyota, yellow and black two-tone, I believe. The man was definitely not a snob.

When I wrote a long story about him for the Intelligencer, I told him I'd bought my mom one of the cement swans in his shop. "Gee, that's really expensive," said the multi-millionaire.

As often happens, when a person gets a great idea for a story - in this case Pennock - the vibes for writing about it are circulating in the air. The week after I wrote my story, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote one, too.

Pennock's wife Alice had died recently of jaw cancer. I kept that out of my story, wanting to spare his feelings when he would read about it. The Inquirer put it in. Pennock said he liked my story better. Who really knows? I just know I really dug the guy.

Photos for the Intel article were taken by my then-buddy Stace Leichliter. People get into the darnedest businesses when they retire. I'm majorly trying to be a writer. Got lots of ideas for stories since I'm gotta one of em published on Dec. 11. You'll be the first to know, whoever you are.

Speaking of stories, the Times had a 9-minute interview with alleged child molester Sandusky. I watched the whole thing. Hours later, I read the comments posted by nearly 1,000 readers. I responded to one of the comments where the person said the interviewer did a terrible job, didn't ask tough questions.

As an interviewer myself, I replied:

I thought the Times reporter was terrific. You've gotta make the subject feel comfortable or else they won't talk at all. Jo Becker gave him plenty of room to hang himself which he did the moment he opened his lying mouth. Very sad.

Even the outside of the house is decorated. No one lives there now.

Some type of coat of arms on the chimley.

In the Meadowbrook shop there was this living wall or "bio wall." The pocket itself costs $41. If you wanna buy the one Bernie made - above - it's $100.

Beatriz wrote about this for an essay she will post online. Drexel University, she said, has the largest bio wall in North America.

Help! It's alive!!!

Statuary punctuates the walkway to the entrance of both shop and home.

Finally made it to Pennypack as it was getting dark. Note the tiny moon above.

Here's the pond where Sarah saved a turtle whose claw was caught by a fishing hook. You're not allowed to fish there. Kids sneak in at nite, I spose.

Testing out a new hat I just bought at Justa Farm Shopping Center, next door to where Donna and I brot our movies. I get cold easily so I wore two pair of pants and two shirts. I was actually sweating during the walk. When I was on the kidney-killer lithium I barely sweated at all!

Scott bot his fancy camera at Larmon Photo in Abington. Competitive prices and not part of a big chain.

You know it's getting dark when you can see lights in someone's house. This is where David Robertson and his wife Mary live. He's the exec direc of Pennypack. They live in a beautiful old house but plan to retire to Colorado. Yes, I asked.

Ciro Ileano and his buddy Salvatore, orig. from Naples, just opened another one of their pizza parlors, this one at the Pepperidge Farm shopping center in Upper Moreland. Scott and I each took home leftovers. They gave us mammoth portions.

Since our poetry group met today, I had to come up with a poem. In my Kidney Memoir I'm working on a chapter about when I learned I was dying slowly of end-stage kidney failure. I spent a couple days fantasizing my own death. Good topic, I thought, for a poem.


The doctor told me my kidneys would fail
I wanted to know when
so I could start practicing being dead
right away

Empty house
filled with things
my jar of feathers
the bird’s nest
pine cones and shells
on the windowsill

She loved nature so much
someone would mutter

The rosebush I clipped
so the mailman wouldn’t get bit
the maple I watched from the high
bathroom window
framed just so
a Van Gogh

From my bed with the cool
breeze caressing my hair
I watch the smoke from
the furnace that dispenses with
the girl that loved her
bicycle and rode no-handed
down the hilly streets
and back home to
feed her fish

Summers, she would ride to
Uncle Marvin’s
read gloomy Dostoevsky
on the porch steps
and dream of
George Gordon, Lord Byron
in love with a dead man:

The girl was finished
kidneys useless as if
raisins grew there
she was not old yet
still enjoyed snuggling with the
one she loved
he would get her ashes
as would her children

Toss the red berries on her windowsill
the feathers, the shells
the Christmas lights
into the landfill

Still she sees the moon
shining on the For Sale sign.


  1. Interesting day and good poem about what was/what might have been, but I am so glad was not what was in the cards. May she continue to see the moon for a long while.

  2. iris, thanks for taking the time to comment on sev'l of my posts. i know how busy The Coach is! both you and i need to continue poetating whether or not we get published!

  3. Yes, Bill is proud of you - especially the hats. Ooooooo - that's neat.

  4. I should add, Ruth, that I agree - I'm glad it didn't happen that way.