Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Sunny Day in Willow Grove - Poem: Gardening at Twilight

Guess who these people are? Hint: From my past life.

My friend Nancy Wolen is gonna read this post. Hope you enjoy it, Nance.

Private note for Nancy and her cat Bernice: Nance, I just mailed off last year's Compass with your b'ful Mardi Gras mask on the back cover. Sent it to Friends Hospital b/c they never refer patients to us.

Our family is getting ready for Jade's wedding on Saturday at 5:30 pm in New Hope. Scott has two Armani suits he got from a friend. He got them hemmed and will look gorgeous in em. I told him he doesn't have to wear a tie but he insists.

Here's the Centre Bridge Inn in New Hope, just this side of Jersey.

Just thot of a good name for a country song: Wedding Blues.

Doc Watson died at age 89 thother day. I really dug him and enjoyed listening to to the previously recorded Fresh Air interview.

Doc Watson (1923-2012)

I particularly loved the featured Times video of Doc playing with Earl Scruggs.

Listen to it here. I love the way Earl is watching Doc's finger-picking.

Did my gardening at twilight yesterday. The weeds come in faster than the speed of light.

Photos please:

Oh, that's Scott helping Nancy across the street hang up her flag for Memorial Day.

Robin Franklin, head of community relations at the Giant Supermarket, gave me a sprig of mint to plant in the garden. It's so prolific I now make iced tea with it and gave some to Claire to make her own tea.

She was over and asked, What did you sweeten it with?

Nothing. I have diabetes and limit my sugar to: Mom's brownies, Sara McNarbour's rhubarb-strawberry pie, and memories of Royal Pudding's vanilla pudding, which is in my cupboard now awaiting attention.

The mailman just came: Large envelope reads: Ruth Deming, Your new Defenders of Wildlife calendar is enclosed.

Perfect! I was looking for a wedding gift for Jade and Matt.


Who says I am any different
from the weeds I pull
or the white-faced dianthus that
wafts its fragrance through the air

the darkening sun
lowers itself behind
the Kelly’s pool
I squint and see a blurry moon
not yet in its lonesome state
since all about the darkening hour
we feed each other with our breath

my clippers shear the hasta leaves
that block the sidewalk
I carry them accompanied by
fireflies to the backyard where I
toss them behind the shed
they too are not alone
but join the eternal rhythm
of this senseless revolving planet
we call home.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hello Abby - Life Surprises - Garden Surprises - Poem: The Last Japanese Dogwood

Abby Grasso, M.S.W.
Social Service Liaison
Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital
Fort Washington, PA

Abby and I finally met - at one of OUR favorite restaurants - Pho and Beyond, near Weinrich's Bakery, in Willow Grove. We ordered No. 38.

She and her husband and two young children live in Abington, voted by Money magazine as one of the best places to live in America. 

 Deming fils and family live in Abington. I know, she's not a baby anymore.

Abby and I had so much in common. She's a deeply spiritual woman who converted to Catholicism. I sent her the link of a Radio Times show I listened to while preparing my morning mushroom omelet about the controversy between the so-called infallible Vatican and American nuns

One of my favorite jobs ever was working at the spectacular grounds of Maryknoll Missioners in Ossining, NY, as secretary to Father John P Meehan and sexy Father V who looked like Richard Burton. 

It was no secret that he had manic-depression and when manic would record people's license plates looking for clues!!! 

I had no idea what the illness was since I wouldn't be diagnosed for another 17 years at age 38. 

Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois, who not surprisingly was recently excommunicated for his participation in the ordination of a female priest. Read his amazing Christ-following life here.

After hugging Abby g'bye, I drove away listening to the audio tape of Never Leave Me, a dystopian novel about - don't be freaked out! - cloning people in England in order to make them organ donors. Usually by the third donation, the individual was "completed."

Euphemisms abound. What we learn is the people in charge do not think of the donors as emotional individuals. Chilling!

News from my Coffeeshop Writers Group:

Donna Krause called me and was hysterical. Her husband dropped dead at age 56. "What more can happen to me?" she asked. 

The worst loss was her 15-yo daughter Mariel to meningitis. Burial is today at Wetzel and Son in Rockledge, the same place I was hired to conduct the funeral of Lester Shannon.  

Our Carly Brown is recuperating nicely in the ICU at Abington Hospital after five-hour surgery to insert a pig valve in her heart.
Carly in pink, Beatriz in black.

Donna Krause, who has no idea what will happen in nine days. Do we ever? But Donna, a Catholic convert, has strong faith which will sustain her.

I bought these lovely unidentified blue fleurs at Pennypack Trust. Behind them is a very strong plant which is either a young maple sapling or Jack's beanstalk. 

Every day I go out and unroot these 'monsters' which are on the window sill of my laundry room. My physical therapist - John Sweeney of Hatboro, PA - said "Garden no more than half an hour a day."

I also do his exercises several times a day.

John is located in the old Cheltenham Bank where I used to keep my money. I remembered the mural behind the teller's counter of historic sights in the area.

After I began gardening two weeks ago, a sciatic-like pain returned to my left leg. Not as severe, but quite terrible nonetheless.

I hide my gardening tools behind my couch from Impact Thrift in Hatboro.

Went wild clipping my teacup rose bushes.

Put a few of them on the kitchen windowsill.

This is our garden - cherry tom's, cukes, brussel sprouts, red-leaf lettuce, small cabbages.

Garden gloves for my compromised immune system from kidney transplant and next audio - bio of Cleopatra by Stacy Shiff.

Dr Karl Rickels listens to CDs in his car. I'm on p. 50 of his memoir. When he's in the mood he'll listen to Lili Marlene from WW2 days.

 After b'fast I lay on this couch and read Karl Rickels. The birds were making a racket outside and the squirrels were clattering across the wire.

Every morning when I make my omelet I go outside to cut fresh basil or oregano. Imagine my surprise when I went out to cut basil and found

A white poppy I'd planted, bot at Russell Gardens. Basil of Faulty Towers is to the left.

I told Scott I'd drive him to the train station so I could listen to Never Let Me Go. Along the way I saw lovely Japanese Dogwoods, also called Kousa Dogwood.

"Why, I'll write a poem about this," I thought to myself.


Stand strong
o tall voluminous petticoats
that reign across Davisville Road

a small crotchety house
has the novelty of your
thousands of petals

Kremp Florist
knowingly planted you
while Eddie Washington
works in the brightly lit basement
hands weaving funeral wreaths for
tomorrow’s dead he’ll never see

I see them all
lit with my headlights
on the way home from the train station
not knowing that tomorrow
my poppies will bloom.      

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Yen to Visit Hatboro, PA and other World-changing matters - Poem: The Zen of Garbage Night

Ruth Deming sets out triumphantly from her house to go to Hatboro, 10 minutes away.

Where the hell am I? And what's this wild burgundy-colored velvet sofa?

Oh no! I'm in an Edward Hopper painting.

Gosh I feel so lonesome.

Not to worry.

Schuyler of Impact Thrift is there to cheer me on. Family name. Great name. Grandfather was in the army. Oh, why didn't I listen closer to him. Always bringing up my own points.

I told Schuyler that last nite I listened to an online biography of the great German General Erwin Rommel. Beloved by his troops and the German people, but not by the other Nazis b/c he didn't come from a military background, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 in a plot to assassinate Hitler.

He was forced to take poison and then given a full military burial by the people who killed him.

Rommel claimed not to know about the concentration camps. He was unusual b/c unlike other egotistical Nazis, he was a simple man who loved his family and his children.

What got me interested in Rommel was a guest speaker I booked for New Directions on August 21. Karl E Rickels, MD, b. 1924, fought with Rommel in Italy. Here's his website at Penn.

The title of his book is A Serendipitous Life: From German POW to American Psychiatrist.

I spoke to Dr Rickels on the phone and learned a little about this truly amazing man. He has three sons, one of whom teaches in Germany, another who's an endocrinologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

His wife passed away a few years ago but his housekeeper lives with him. He still drives from his home in Gladwynn and travels the country giving lectures on psychiatry.

Can't wait to meet him.

I stopped in at Gamburg's to see when my new couches will be delivered. At least another month, said  Amy.

I really dug the above chair at a fine used furniture store, Mr. Jim's. Jim, himself, died two years ago this June, said his widow. Nice people!

Walking back to my car I cut thru Moreland Towers where I saw my friend Bob Marshall basking in the sun. Little did I know that I was fenced in.

I had to squeeze thru a very narrow space in the fence and got wedged in. Had I been a mountain climber I would've had to chop off my belly with my Swiss Army Knife.

Speaking of chairs, I bought this one from Fleishman's on Easton Road:

Very comfy plus it twirls and rocks.A majorette of a chair.

One fatal flaw. Stinks of mildew. So I'm returning it. I can smell it right now and am six feet away from it.

This award-losing poet has decided to show off in case Schuyler is reading this post. I composed this poem a few minutes ago.


our mostly caucasian tribe quickens
to outrace morning and the fleet
of stern green trucks that sidle up
to our rejects and
well-gloved men
hoist them away forever.

A once whirring fan ole George gave me
when he moved away and
his wife of sixty years died from
dementia and disappointment
sits out front
I try not to look but
like his wife, the motor no longer
works.  Someone has rescued it.
Good, I shall no longer think of Elinor
and her lace curtains
when we dined in the kitchen on
tuna fish and remembrances.

Now I’ve put out the 1963 Philco radio
from the thrift store
it died a month after my purchase
I think of it as a rental
nothing lasts forever
as the garbage trucks know
cracking open the fresh
new morning of our desires.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Coffeeshop Writer's Group - Poems: Peonies are Pollinated by Ants - Finding Heaven in Amy's Beauty Salon

The usual suspects were there. Carly Brown and Beatriz Moisset.

Carly read a wonderful poem about Bucks County Designer Homes & Gardens. Quite a feat turning it into a poem. Here are some of the houses on the website.

We told Carlana she must send the poem to the Designer House folks.

Beatriz read us one of her informative nature essays called "A Healthy Garden is a Buggy Garden." As you may know, ladybugs are our friends and destroy damaging aphids.

Donna Krause read a superb poem "Chelsea's Morning" about a woman who had an abusive childhood and took refuge at Donna's house. For Chelsea's b'day, Donna mailed her the poem at her home in Boulder, Colorada.

Jovon Belcher read another installment of his crime thriller "The Call." Well-wrin and suspenseful. I said it reminded me of the movie Scott and I watched last nite "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," the last film directed by the great Sidney Lumet.

Philip Seymour Hoffman certainly didn't mean to kill anyone, but things got out of hand. Now, I spose I'll have to watch everything he's ever been in like "Doubt." Just placed an online request at my library.

Linda was late since she was making last-minute changes to her story "The Kiss that Killed."

"You're just like me," I said to her when she got there. I was 15 minutes late.

In only a couple of pages, Linda successfully weaves an intriguing murder story where the killer - a woman named Ulrike - made a terrible mistake, showing once again that crime doesn't pay.''

This morning while making b'fast, I listened to Marty Moss-Coane interview PA gov. Tom Corbett about his drastic budget cuts. A few of his legislator friends ended up in prison for helping themselves to other people's money. He made a comment about it, not realizing it quite funny.

After Marty asked him a question, he would often say, "I'm not gonna get into this...." and then would indeed. He's used to saying No, him and his Republican cronies.

Just as he doesn't realize what he's doing to education and the welfare of the poor. Marty pointed out that a study showed that welfare fraud is quite uncommon, but Corbett is spending loads of the taxpayers' money in an attempt to catch this small minority.

Someone insisted on photograffing me - even tho I know what I look like.

Lemme grab my coffee, I said.

People think of the darnedest things when they're about to be photographed, right Bill?

When Carly left I gave her a hug and a kiss. She's going into AMH next Thursday for her pig valve operation. Call me, I said, and I'll come over.

I love visiting people at home!

As soon as my peony bush bloomed on the side of the house, I knew I must write about it and incorporate childhood memories.


Rick Collins, my gardener, cut you down, thinking you were weeds, but you came up again, didn’t you, thinking you were beautiful and deserved a chance to delight the passersby.

I cut down two of your beautiful heads, a luscious deep pink, the bundle of petals like the overgrown hair of an afro.

Are you perhaps a flowery form of gap-toothed Angela Davis?

Your new home on my windowsill pleases you.

Not a single dropped petal,
I give you front-row placement,
next to the resurrected African violet,
"never give up hope" is the motto of
the dwellers on my windowsill.

Falling asleep last night
I heard the muted conversation
peony struck up with tall rosemary

She smells me and remembers her rocking-chair childhood.
The day they painted the front porch she
was out searching for four-leaf clovers hidden in the grass.

Pasted them in her scrapbook she keeps sixty years later
filed away with her baby teeth
and naked-girl match covers gotten from the milkman
heralding her own cover girl career.      

Her tussles with Gramma Lily are rarely forgotten
‘a smart girl like you should get an abortion’ Lil said
before they took her away, not for meanness
but for wandering the streets and
forgetting who she was.

After I awake and clean away the dishes
an ant crawls on the counter. I do what I must,
but am undecided when I sit on the porch steps
and watch a licorice-black one caught in a
spider-web, twisting like a motherfucker.

Ants pollinate peonies. 


As soon as I sat in the chair at Polished Beauty Salon, right next to Wawa, on York Road in Hatboro, PA, I knew I must write a poem about the place.


dedicated to the real Amy: Kyeng Lee

Patting my thin aging hair
I step over the threshold
of another America.

Everything is white
porcelain skin of
the Korean women
who have come
for refinement
by their queen
Amy the First.

I am greeted
and given tea in a
floral cup
taken to my chair and
enrobed in capes and towels
to preserve my ageless body.

From my mirror I watch
a clique of women who
descended on our shores
famous for our opportunities

they laugh
they twitter
they trill
bowing before their queen
in silk trousers and tiny heels

Fingers massaging my hair
lull me into an angelic mood
eyes closed
I am nowhere
no cares have I

You may open eyes now, she says
I watch her black hair sway
as she wields the scissors
with the delicacy of the
attentive orchids on display,
holds my hair above my head
with reverence
and delight

A ceramic cross beams on the wall
I know for certain
I am preparing for eternity.

All of us
Christian and Jew
are getting groomed and pampered
for that special day we are taken up
a parasol descending
to lift us heavenward.

Amy makes it easy
Amy makes it natural
as natural as turning my
thin aging hair into
an auburn crown that fools
no one except my infant granddaughter
as I await my final hour.       

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Uffizi Museum from Florence comes to Doylestown

Here I am approaching the Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA, from the parking lot. I was sure I knew how to get there - but I took the wrong road. I always get Route 232 and Route 611 confused, but I got there early, so I could avoid the crowds.

I liked these shapes from their Sculpture Garden. It reminded me of the sculptures of David Smith. Such a simple name - David Smith - yet so memorable, from this artist who died tragically at 59 from injuries sustained in a car accident in Bennington, VT, where he lived and worked.

Since you weren't allowed to take pix, I snapped these from the catalog. Above is one of thousands of paintings of The Annunciation, the angels notifying Mary she'll bear Christ.

The Michener exhibit features 45 master works from the 15th through 17th centuries from the the UFFIZI Museum in Florence, Italy, one of the great museums of the world, second only to the Ruth Deming museum pictured below:

Scott just came to the screen door and yelled, Hurray up! C'mon out here.

 A mother woodchuck was leading six babies across his back lawn. (foto from the Internet) This is why we have a compost heap. It's anathema to me to throw food in the trash.

Ach! We're going far afield from Florence.

Madonna and Child by Botticelli. His real name was Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, which I never knew either and shall soon forget. Bott's most famous painting is BIRTH OF VENUS. 

The Last Supper. Many versions were painted. The above shows Judas, who will betray Christ, on the outside of the table. How does this supper compare with Machiavelli's below?

If I were gonna have my own last supper, in keeping w the Jewish tradition, I'd have nova lox with cream cheese, cucumber, tomato, and onion on a pumpernickel bagel. And a large bowl of my mom's knedlach soup (matzoh ball).

I liked this one a lot. Christ, with the sparkles around his head, has been resurrected. By whom? How does that work? Is it possible to do dis today?

Anyhoo, he's appearing before two of his disciples, telling them he's come back. 

The exhibit is superbly curated. We're given an audio box on which we listen to interesting commentary about selected works, including two tapestries. 

A well-dressed Michener employee stays in each of the five rooms of the exhibit to make sure no one touches or steals the paintings.

I talk to Kathleen and ask about the arrival of the paintings. It's pretty much hush-hush so she doesn't know all that much, BUT when the exhibit arrives from Florence, it's accompanied by ARMED GUARDS sent by the director of that august museum.

I ask Kathleen to step into a tiny room with me that features six small paintings.

I point to a small rectangular painting with prominent orange hues.

What's to keep someone from stealing this? I ask, while looking to see how it's affixed on the wall.

An alarm will go off, she says, plus there's only one exit in the museum.


No, Bubby! - Babysiting Grace Catherine Deming

Bose clock radio from Internet.

BUZZZ! Was awoken from a sound sleep at 6:15 a.m. so I could go babysit my 22-mo granddaughter, Grace. Her mom was getting her wisdom teeth pulled.

I arrived on time with my cheese-mushroom omelet. This is the very first time I've babysat Grace. Her other grandmother, Barbara, is visiting her son and dtr/law in southern CA.

The reason Grace calls her "Mom-Mom" insteada the already designated Grandma is b/c that's how Grace pronounces it.

 The four of us had b'fast together. Grace ate her delicious oatmeal with her fingers. Dan made me a cup of coffee with his now off-patent Taurig.

I asked that the cats be locked in the basement - Nudge and Doober - cuz they always try to get outside. Blank, the charcoal gray, is an old man now, even older than I am, and quite skinny as always.

Grace leads the way to the back yard which is on a slope. The lawn is dotted with toys. She got into every riding vehicle and wanted me to push her....for three seconds, before alighting.

Her favorite toy was a water toy - a double-tiered plastic basin filled with water - where Boy and Girl go swimming. You can either have them float on their backs or drown them, depending on your mood.

Grace is very strong and wanted to climb into the pool. Every time I'd tell her not to, she'd say NO, BUBBY!

I think it's the most adorable thing I've ever heard her say.

We explored the entire back yard - mint and oregano in the garden from last year - I had her smell all of em - NO, BUBBY - and I pushed her on the swing that hung from a tree, but I did not put the safety bar up on purpose, cuz I figgered I wouldn't know how to unlock it, but Grace insisted I put it on, plus she wanted to be strapped in.....she knows from experience what's sposed to be -

TWEET TWEET, she'd say, when she saw a bird. I sang When the red red robin comes bobbin along. A train came by, which she loves, and I looked at my watch - 8:15 am, when I'm usually in bed reading - and began waving, "That's Uncle Scott's train!"

Now we're back up by the house having another power struggle about something when I hear Dan calling out the window, "Hey, Mom!"

"What are you doing home!" I call.

"They took us really fast," he said.

Grace wasn't ready to go in yet, she was climbing on and off a wrought-iron chair, but I led her up the steep hill where she called, "Blue car!" which is what she calls their car.

Nicole was in bed with an ice pack.

I looked at her meds on a high-up kitchen table, stole a couple oxycontins since I'm a little short on cash and drove home.