Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My war vets article published - The Sad Tale of Yogurt - Joni Mitchell and me - Farewell Leather Pocketbook

Here's my story on two veterans from the Afghan and Iraq wars. Be sure to read the captions on the 12 photos I took.

I've had good editors and terrible editors in my 33 years of article-writing.

The Veteran's article was untouched by human hands, other than my own.

I'm a hands-on kinda gal. For years I made my own bread, until insulin-dependent diabetes - due to my antirejection meds, Prograf and Prednisone - deprived me of eating all the delicious carbs that are in bread.

I do make my own yogurt.

One heaping tablespoon of plain yogurt to a quart of milk.

Thother day, I put the milk in the top of this double boiler I fashioned

Since I had it on lo heat, I went outside to visit Scott who was setting up our new and expanded veggie garden

He hammered in four sturdy posts and attached chicken wire all around it. He got the idea for the fencing from Dan's former neighbor, Ed.

Scott is opening a gate that latches snugly with an S-hook.

Then I went over to neighbor Pat's to read him his birfday poem.

Across the street Nancy was outside picking up huge sticks in her yard. I talked to her a bit. We discussed the sorry state of our neighbor Bill, who is dying of necrosis of the liver.

I hadn't forgotten my yogurt but started walking very quickly back home.

What would I find?

A very strange sight.

The white plastic pot above had overflowed into the water below. I couldn't figure out what that meant.

Apparently, the water from below had slowly seeped into the white plastic container.

Fearing the worst, I tried to make the yogurt anyway.

Lo and behold it worked, tho it's half yogurt and half water!

When I woke up this morning, Joni Mitchell was singing "I Could Drink a Case of You" and the birds were twittering.

I turned toward the radio and listened to her beautiful pure voice when she was much younger.

It was 5:30 in the morning. In my sleep I'd been working on a two-page single-spaced story I thought was pretty good.

My childhood friend Nancy Wolen was checking it over in a high school classroom somewhere.

When I woke up, I discovered to my disapptment, that I'd never written the piece at all. There was a theme to it - some mags want a 'themed piece' - my piece was about sounds.

I came downstairs and looked up Joni on YouTube, while I was disentangling myself from the dream.

Tired ot looking at mhy old pocketbook, I decided to clean it out and give it to Impact Thrift on my way to Bux-Mont Stationers to buy new blue Hello Name Badges for tonite's meeting.

I pocketed a $20 bill I found, plus lotsa change, and lotsa good napkins to put in my glove box. There were also some nice hankies in there I put in the washing machine, including one from a lovely outfit I used to wear when I was fat and on lithium.

"Mom, you were never fat," I remembered Dan saying years ago.

When I went to pay Bev for the name badges, I handed her the twenty plus all the change in my pockets.... the total for the badges was $11.79.

I poured out exactly 79 cents from my pocket.

She was incredulous - I told her the story - and I said, Maybe there is a Higher Power.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pressure's on to write two poems / Fooled by a Coupon... Happy Birthday Patrick


Corporations and Ayn Rand be damned
Power to those that practice the
Gandhian art of boycott
You’ve seen them in Aisle Twenty
the one with the foul smell of
bread oozing preservatives
you’ve seen them in their
virgin white styrofoam package
“Eggland’s Best”
vegetarian-fed hens
and upon each egg of
these force-fed hens
you stamped your initials
in bright red dye
“E B”
egregious bastards
what must your minimum-wage earners
think as they witness this nonsense
holding their water until their mandated
by the union break comes up
I dash all the eggs on a rock outside
making a sunny-side-up in the back yard
where the birds fly free
and help themselves to the water
in the bird bath.


In another life
a man fair
with shoulderlength black hair
tinged with red from his Viking heritage
stood at the head of the table
jeweled chalice in hand
ravens perched on the rafters
and a fair maiden with Chinese eyes
sat by his side

“I make this toast,” said the lord
looking down the long table,
“to success in hunting the hart and
the hare that roam our green land
to success one day in having two fine sons
with their mother’s eyes
and the decimation of our enemies
whether snake or man.”

He quaffed the strong wine
red as blood
as the fates sang in the choirs on high.
Every wish and more was granted to
Lord Patrick, head of the Kiernan Clan.

Walked over to their blue house, up the steep hill to his front door, and Pat let me in.

I read the poem to Pat and the two kids.

Wife Sue was upstairs and later came down to say hello.

They had gone biking this a.m. on the Bike Trail by Everybody's Playground in Horsham, PA.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Demings come calling - Howdy Aunt Selma & Linda - Reading and Napping in The Quiet Room

Falling asleep during tummy  time. "Tummy Time" for Max Atticus.

Leaves and sticks at the local park

While Nicole and Max stayed home, Dan, Grace and I went on our usual walk to the crick.

I asked Grace, "So what dyou think Mommy and Max are doing now?"

"Tummy time," she answered.

Dan was skipping rocks over at the crick.

Nice ripples, I'd say, teaching Grace the word ripples.

I showed her wild flowers - purple African violets, white African violets, spring beauties.

Spring beauties. Wild flowers are also called Ephemerals. Can't believe my 67-yo brain easily remembered that word.

My loyal readers - Hello Rob! - I don't know who you other people are - SPEAK UP, PLEASE! - will remember I sent out a Birthday Packet to my Aunt Selma for her 95th birthday.

Spoke to her this morning, while walking around the outside of my yellow house, I still can't believe I'm old enuf to own my own house (this is true!) and we talked about her wonderful party.

Her daughter Linda answered the phone. I had tucked our recent Compass mag in there and Linda is in the process of reading every single article.

Silent readers: Send me your mailing address and I'll be glad to send you a copy.

Linda's husband Jack began planning the party in February. All home-cooked food at his sister's house.

Please, I entreated, put the photos on FB so I can see everyone.

Initially, Linda chastised me for creating an "inappropriate card" filled with dead people. Her mom was yelling in the background, "I love it!"

Wonderful book! Lyrical, filled with nuggets of fascinating information about art and photography (Nigerian-American author Cole is himself a photographer), and a fascinating interlude on the indestructibility of BED BUGS.

Or, in my case, sunflower seeds between the keys and my teeth.

I'll def'ly finish the book by Thursday for my book club discussion.

The other book I'm reading is

There was very little info on the jacket or innards about the book so I took a blind leap and checked it out.

Brooke Morgan, whom I know nothing about, has written a brilliant first novel, which turns out to be a chilling horror story.

Something very scary just happened in the book, so I decided this was a good time to come down and eat a delicious dinner of lentil soup, with peanuts et al for dessert.

Rest assured, I'll climb back upstairs and resume reading in the Quiet Room.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shark vacuum - asparagus salad - Fred Garber / Poem: For Walt

 Asparagus salad is made the same way as potato salad, but with lo carb count. Seasoning was mustard and mayo. Also chopped up pickles for extra zing.
 Cleaned off my winter-weary living room window sill. Eschewing fleurs, which die and make a mess - altho the forsythia were a lovely mess - I put strips of last week's New Yorker mag in the lovely vase I bot from an estate sale.
 Fothergilla, a beautiful early-blooming shrub I bot at Meadowbrook Farm.
Ah, the lilac blooming in the back yard. A sprig will definitely make its way into the house. An aroma beyond compare. Walt knew that smell too.
Hied over to Kohl's Department Store in Warminster to buy a new Shark vac. My old one broke in half for no reason at all.

For some reason, they give you a new one when your old one breaks.

The only bad thing about getting a new vac is that now I'm forced to vacuum all 23 rooms of my mansion. The dirtiest place is right here in the living room, where I take all my meals. In fact, I just dropped a sunflower seed in my laptop keys xywe ye siwba;r aawwb ri affect the typing at all!

While at Kohl's, I met Fred Garber, from the days when our morning meeting met at the Willow Grove mall. He goes there every day of the week at 8:30 a.m., talks with his friends, and walks around the mall for exercise.

Fred is on the right. Post about the mall is here.

Will send this to Helen, leader of our daytime meeting, to see if she remembers Fred.

He was waiting for his wife, Nita (short for Juanita) at Kohl's. I did meet her for the first time. She's from Louisiana, tho I couldn't detect an accent.

When I mentioned our meeting is for folks w/ depression and bipolar, Nita said, "You don't have bipolar do you?"

I told them the story, that mine went away, they said the usual, oh, it's not sposed to go away, and then they said they have a friend in Allentown who's got it, she's a mom and grandmother, and does not do well at all.

She could use Helen's group!

Terrific spy action thriller I watched today at Naptime. Scott slept thru the whole thing but I was wide awake, heart beating with the suspense. Originally wrin with a male in the lead role, director Boyce wanted to change it to a female, so he got Angie on board. Wonderful cast.

And now, I've gotta think of my next brilliant move.


O bearded man from across the Delaware
a godlike man who roamed the earth
after the gods went home and left us
in chaos as big as the Civil War and all
the other butcheries that followed

How kind you were to the fallen soldiers
holding them in your arms as they sank
into the cold reaches of death
never to see their mothers
who dreaded this day
or another lilac blooming
in the door yard with the
hope of spring

Did I plant my lilac because
of you?
Because I held that book of yours
in my arms when I was seventeen
and lonely
lonely, wanting confirmation that
I was somebody, a girl no one

Half century has passed
Am I understood?
I spose so. You and I
what a pair.
I’ll have you over for tea
or spirits. Whatever you prefer.
We’ll sit on the back porch
as the lilac rises from its wintry nap
we’ll inhale the blooms
and each other.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy B'day Donna - The Days of Riesling Wine and Roses - Poem: Purdue Chicken Livers

Here's a birthday card I made today for my sister Donna. I'm always trying to pawn off my New Yorker mags on various friends but no one has time to read it.

They arrive every Thursday. And none of them contain any of my short stories or poems. Yes, yes, I realize I'm not all that good yet.

Of course when I had my first mania at age 38, I did call them up on a Saturday. Heaven knows what I would've said, but the man who answered said No one was in the office. I was totally off my rocker.

I apply Elmer's glue with a Q-Tip to stick em on the pre-painted heart.

And off it went with a 46-cent stamp.

Visited Mom today. Brought my salad to eat over there. Donna stopped over for a minute, dropping off her grandson Tyler to do some gardening for Gram.

When we left, Donna gave me this Tazo tea, which is delicious. Orange blossoms and green tea, which should keep me alive another 40 years, by which time, maybe I'll get my work published.

Also shown are dying basil leaves, newly planted yesterday. Basil and I do not do well together.

We live in a culture of drinking. I pretty much gave up all booze when I went on lithium at age 38. But recently I've had a hankering to drink a little wine.

So last night at the Willow Grove Giant I went into the adjoining wine store and Virgil, the manager, let me taste various dry wines.

I told him I have diabetes and don't want anything sweet. I bought this Riesling, which is made from grapes in the Lehigh Valley.

At least I think it's from grapes. Maybe it's from kiwi fruit.... or apples... or yams.

Afterward I looked up the carb content online..... a 5 oz glass has 6 carbs.


Sipped it upstairs in bed while I was watching Perry Mason reruns.

Quick! What's his Gal Friday's name?

Barbara Hale plays "Della Street."

Hale is still alive at 90, born in 1922, same year as my mom.

Here's one of my old poems.


Note: I gave up liquor, except for tiny sips, when I went on the drug lithium.

They are frying in the skillet
Even though in this ever diminishing household
I shall be dining alone tonight.
Never let it stop you, said my grandmother,
Who simmered her fatty marrow bones
Till the pot frothed over, then ate them
On the upstairs porch.

As the chicken livers darken toward completion
I catch a whiff of wine.
How can it be? There is none. A racial memory perhaps?

Perfection would be to pour it on - an inexpensive Paul Masson
would be lovely - straight from the bottle into the pan
Sizzling and smoking and creating a great sensation.

Is it possible that ten long years have passed
Since my drinking days came to an end?
Ten years in which I have not set foot in a
Modern serve-yourself package store, save to salvage cartons?

Never since that day
to buy
nor sniff
nor sip
nor swirl
nor heft in the crook of my arm
a bottle!

ACCEPTED by the New Yorker.
You wish, girl!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Earth Day and I Hit the Garden Running / Poem: Meditations on a Scary Movie

Our peach tree hath pink blooms from which tiny peaches will grow. Last year the deer got every single one of them. Scott hammered in four tall plastic posts and put screening all around and on the top.

Since neither birds nor deer can read signs that say "No feeding" we thot this would be best.

My big task on Earth Day was to trim the Rose Bush on the left so the mailman can get up the steps to the mail box. My whole body shook as I wielded the clippers.

Close up of Rose Bush.

 I have a monster groundcover, which I dug up with a knife, and then planted herbs where the monsters were. This is fast-growing mint.

Here's basil. Hey, the wagon wheel I got a couple years ago from John Leonard has sprouted again.

Dreadful photo. Well, you see the bleeding hearts in the background. In the foreground is a darling pot Judy Diaz gave me before she moved to her final resting place, near her kids, in Boulder. 

Now, this is fairly sickening, so I'm sure you'll wanna keep reading. Every spring I get ants on the living room window sill. I spritz them with ammonia to kill em.

Where were they going? I could never figger it out. However, I did have a plant on the window sill, a succulent, that Helene gave me when she went into the old lady's home and decided to become an old lady, and I wondered if perhaps they were residing in there.

I'm not a scientist so I had no desire to find out, but I carried the succulent outside and plopped it into Judy's pot. 


Julie Adams - then and

Julie Adams today

PS - Wouldn't you know it? I go to bed and watch Perry Mason reruns. Guess who's on trial for murder? A beautiful young woman played by Julie Adams. Filled with twists n turns, it ended that she was correctly found not guilty.

Ricou Browning

it’s only a movie
but still i jumped when
the humanlike creature
half man, half frog
swam under the daring girl
backstroking across
the black lagoon
her bathing suit glowed
white beneath the
blistering florida sun

she dazzled the creature
and i feared Kay’s bathing suit
would soon be bloodied and torn

this is what movies do
you hover near
yell softly but she’ll
never hear
of course the creature will die in the end
it matters not as our heart beats faster
and Kay will live
the only woman on an
expedition that will change
the language of science
as the eons-old monster
is birthed anew
in the black lagoon

suppose it’s true
and scary monsters
might arrive from anywhere
I look out the window now and
from a fissure in the grass
a huge webbed hand
made of latex and rubber
crawls his way out
half as big as the tree
beside him
limping toward my house

though movies are dreams made real
they bear the central role in lives like
spielberg, thalberg, polanski
Fancy! a life of play
serious business
what i am getting to
is that Kay, the bathing beauty, is still alive
and so is Ricou Browning, the “gill-man”
as he is sometimes called
unforgotten in their aging years
Julie Adams has her soft brown hair
thick and beauty-salon styled
her cheeks bear crevices of wrinkles
when she smiles for the man who's
interviewing her
I touch my own cheek
with my own style of creases
my face droops
trying to meet the grass
that some day will cover me
hers goes in
remarkable runnels
Van Gogh waterways

Ricou Browning is younger
newly entering the
demarcation line of
eighty, his hair full
eyes watching the camera
they liked the way he swam
in the suit, no one could
match him the way the weight
pressed on his chest, so the part was his
just one of the trophys on the
mantelpiece of his many careers

Will I watch it again?
Classics must be watched every
five years.
I will have entered my seventies
of the relentless escalator of life
and my heroes?
More runnels and creases
but very much alive. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Full house at Coffeeshop Writers' Group - New member Denise fits right in - Poem: Cheering Me On

Since Linda won first prize for her sci-fi short story at Montgomery County Community College Writers Contest, I said, "Linda! Buy whatever you want and I pay for it."

She presented me w/a $105 grocery bill.

Actually, she had a large coffee and a bag of almonds, which she told me she wished were salted. One of our national addictions - salt and sugar.

Linda read a wonderful poem "Coffee" in its various manifestations. It's printed at the end of this post.

Denise, a deeply religious Christian - who I knew would get along well with Martha, and also Kym - read a moving entry from her journal.

Like many of us, she has a problem with rejection. Her husband travels for business, and recently flew to a church in San Diego, where he spoke to the pastor who understood her challenges.

Speaking about challenges

Martha, in royal purple, wrote a lovely poem about her little childcare students, who suffer from autism. "Special People" had lovely lines in it.

She also wrote about the man (and his deceased brother) responsible for the Boston Bombing, starting with his parents giving him lots of love and wondering where it all went wrong.

Arlene, in the middle, and her husband Bill recently returned from New Orleans. They go every year to hear a music festival.

Arlene has a problem acknowledging how good her stories are, such as this week's "Traffic Jam." It has a terrific surprise ending about driving a Lexus automobile, whose commercials are everywhere, and are actually, in my opinion, works of art.

I told Arlene to submit it ASAP to Haggard and Halloo.

H and H traffics in strange little stories like hers!

Donna, widowed since last May, read a lovely piece on Penelope the cat, wrin from the cat's point of view. Totally fictitious, Penelope's mistress is Marissa. The cat, "sweet as a dumpling," made her debut with Marissa's friends and then excused herself to nap: "My sunbeams await."

Carly, the red-head on the right, read a story about her son Eric, which she titled "My Son, The Rock Star."

Honest writing! She and Eric both were born with a cleft palate and were operated on when they were five years old.

There are different types of cleft palate. Theirs are not visible on the outside, she said, like Stacy Keach's, but are on the roof of their mouths. The palate is one of the last things to develop in the womb. Each of them has an opening in the roof of their mouth and on up into the nose, before ending all the way up in Heaven!
"My Father's Desk" was a short piece by Beatriz. Here's the desk from a photo on Facebook. In only one page, Beatriz painted a picture of her father in Argentina, who quit his scientific job under the fascist Peron, and set up his laboratory at his own home.

Little 11-yo Beatriz was his lab assistant. She watched her dad extract beating hearts from frogs, which were kept alive for 24 hours with saline solution.

One of B's jobs was to make sure saline solution was constantly present.

No wonder she became a biologist.

Smiling Kym - we loved her hair - read a couple of Love Poems. A dedicated Facebooker, she shared an actual response she got from Sir Paul McCartney!

And, with boldness and good humor, she sent him one of her colorful digital designs, suggesting he use it on his next album.

Best to be bold!

by Linda Barrett

She has many names:
java, joe or just simply joe.
hails from many places:
Hawaii, Rwanda, Columbia, Mexico
comes from humble beans
but she’s still the same thing.
That’s Coffee

Take her black with her grainy, gravel voiced taste
makes you face the morning’s hard cold reality.
you need her to keep you going today
slaps you across the face
with her caffeine
she’s hot, dark, and strong
That’s Coffee.

She changes her personality and
dialect like a professional actress
becomes bold ballsy Italian espresso,
creamy sweet cappuccino,
French Roast
even dyes her roast Blonde
That’s Coffee

She’s the legal social butterfly drink
makes you share in other company:
polite or rude
try to sweeten her
with syrup or sugar
cream or half and half
add donuts or dessert
No matter what
she’s always the center
of attention
That’s Coffee


From my back porch
where I sit and watch for
I hear them cheering
short-skirted cheerleaders
a mile away at the high school
their legs muscular and
their round breasts haven't
yet drooped with age

I decide the girls are cheering for me
I stand up and walk to the screen
bow a little and hold out my arms
like Jesus
the cardinals, too, are chiming in

Yes, I say out loud
I've been through a lot
And show them the place
my new kidney was stitched in
And remember the last time I was
on 9/11
Nazi stormtroopers I thought would
take me away
I almost heard the crazed bee-bop
of their red sirens

I open the screen door
Hear it bang behind me
and walk into the freshness
of the new daffodil day.

BEATRIZ played for us the sound of the cardinal. They set up housekeeping in my forsythia bush.
Shhh! Listen here.

The bloody Chechen is caught in a boat (good thing the owner cheched it!) and I'm busy writing poetry while the world burns - April: The most Beautiful Word / It's Spring but I am no longer young

People say he didn't fit the profile, but indeed he did. Malcontent: Pleasant and cheerful on the outside, simmering with rage on the inside.

His brother was handcuffed and killed by the cops. Look, if you want someone to live, don't handcuff them. They can't breathe properly. The cops should be reprimanded. 

Students from Northeastern University celebrated Friday Night. He was caught on Shabbos.

My nephew Miles Greene will graduate this year from Boston University.

Photo: Sup?

My new grandson, Max Atticus, looks a little like Miles.

On Friday nite, I kept checking the Times to see if the suspect was caught. When he was I called my sister Donna, who told me she was constantly watching TV.

She told me all the details, as I watched NBC, while pedaling on my stationery bike.


Quick! Come to the window
The bird house we painted yesterday
with stars on the roof
was just inspected by a
See his tiny head through
the open door?
A spring breeze rings the
yellow moon-glowing
wind chimes
I may keel over with happiness
after the cold and colorless
Decembers of winter
Revive me with a yellow daffodil
held beneath my nose.

 Hummingbird feeder on left. One cup water, one-third of it sugar.


I hold my hip as I step outside into
the white butterflies and green grass
of spring. A golden finch nests in
the bird house I painted last year when
I was sixty six
his agility a marvel
as mine was in my San Francisco
love child years
my Russian landlord showed
me the Murphy Bed
and black-draped accountant Ed
did a number on me when I
undid the latch
Ecstasy comes and goes in the
later years, as unexpected as the
dandelion puff sailing past the
window. This morning I gave my
Buddha a fresh coat of pink paint
and watch him meditate, o glossy guru,
beneath the bird bath
his back to the painted bird house
swinging side to side
with joy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Aunt Selma Greenwold - She's 95, her mom Eva lived to 98

Assembling the parts of my home-made card in the downstairs of my house
Did the painting on the screened-in back porch - so as not to breathe in the paint fumes - tripping over the porch furniture Judy Diaz gave me before moving to Boulder. Told me when we chatted last nite that they're having blizzards - and I don't mean the Dairy Queen kind.
I went thru my trash and selected papers to write captions on. My sister Donna will be hysterical when she reads the people I remembered. 

Wanted her to come over but she was exhausted since she 'opened' at Starbucks this morning.

I forgot to include among the 'shades' my brother David Richard Greenwold until I saw his photo downstairs. Oy, I felt so sad as I pasted his name on the card.

The card is reversible with separate messages on each side. 

Am gonna wait to mail it until Scott gets up shortly. I want him to see my handiwork. 

Family will attend Selma's b'day party at her house on Silsby Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, near our childhood home. 

Her son/law Jack Fogel will cook the meal. Selma has macular degeneration, gotten late in life, but she'll enjoy herself anyway.

She has the most fantastic family. My mom wants to drive out to Cleveland to spend time there. I'm game! 

April 22, 2013

The house on Silsby Road once
rang with life
we ran up the porch steps
into a living room-dining room
filled with art and literature
a blaring TV 
everything that meant safety –
security – a million more
tomorrows – and
dark futures barely glimpsed except in
the Press and the Plain Dealer
The Cleveland Jewish News
Chevy in the drive – brisket in the oven
pop chilling on the back porch
the gods allow all this
a temporary reprieve as we glide up
the escalator of years

Selma’s a party girl
her steep flight of stairs keeps her young as
when she and Marv were married
Did he ever leave?
she can close her eyes and see him still
handsome high cheekbones
a tough fighting Magyar until he
gave up the ghost on Saint Paddy’s Day

Let the party begin
what a time to be born
the beginning of spring
O smell those daffodils and hyacinth
let them seep through these ancient walls
soft to the touch and fragrant
cozying up to the belle of the ball
Selma Bernstein Greenwold
now and forever more.