Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I was walking into my bedroom when a speck of something golden caught my eye. It was right in the middle of my white closet door and it looked exactly like a drop of gold. I reached out to touch it when it suddenly took flight, circled around the room and landed up on the crown molding. I have to admit I was not only impressed, but surprised too. How often do you get to see a drop of gold fly?
I decided I needed to take a better look. I dragged a chair over and looked up to see the sun reflecting off the little creature. It's sparkle was beautiful. I climbed up on the chair and struggled to focus in on the little guy. I soon realized that my age was showing and I was going to need my reading glasses to really be able to see him. I climbed off the wobbly chair, ran to my bedside table, grabbed my glasses and climbed back up.
I came to the conclusion that he must be some type of fantastic mutant ladybug when my son Alex walked by and saw me standing on the chair, my cheek pressed against the wall, staring up at the ceiling.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
I looked down at him. “I'm looking at the most beautiful golden ladybug.” I said.
Alex looked up at the ceiling. “Where?”
I looked back up and saw it was gone. “It was right there!” I pointed to the now empty spot. “I took my eyes off of him for one second and now he's gone!” I held onto the back of the chair, my reading glasses propped on the tip of my nose, and scanned around the room.
“Do you need help getting down?” Alex held my hand as I climbed down.
“Do you see him?” I asked as I walked around the room, pulling back the drapes and checking my bedspread.
“Don't worry, I'm sure he'll come back.” Alex said. He sounded like I'd just told him I'd cornered a leprechaun that had magically disappeared.
“I'm serious!” I said. “I'll prove I'm not nuts! I'm going to look him up on the Internet!”
“Okay, you have fun doing that.” Alex said as he disappeared into him room.
I went to my computer and typed in golden ladybug. Sure enough, there it was. It turns out that it's really called a milkweed tortoise beetle, but there were a few Web sites dedicated to this gorgeous creature.
“I'm not crazy!” I called out to Alex. “Do you want to come see what a golden tortoise beetle looks like?”
“I already saw him in your room.” he called back.
“You did not!” I yelled. “He flew away before you could see him!”
“That's okay, I believe you.”
“You do not!” I got up to search my bedroom again. As I scanned the ceiling I couldn't believe that ten minutes ago I was marveling at how lucky I was to see such a rare and beautiful creature.

But now, just ten minutes later, I was crawling around on my hands and knees trying to find the creepy little bug just to prove to Alex that I wasn't nuts.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


“Well, the baby bunnies are gone.” I said sadly as I sat down at the dining room table for dinner with my husband, Steven and our two boys.
The past few weeks had been a whirlwind for me, ever since I'd discovered the bunny nest right in the middle of our front lawn.
It had been an early evening and we were about to get a huge thunderstorm. I'd just pulled into the driveway, trying to beat the storm, when I noticed a tiny baby bunny, all alone, leaned up against my front steps.
“Oh, honey!” I cried. “Where's your mother?” I looked around the yard hoping to find a frantic Mom waiting for me to go inside so she could save her baby. But no luck, she wasn't anywhere to be found.
I wasn't sure what I was going to do as the rumble of thunder got closer.
I went back to the baby, “I can't bring you in the house.” I explained to the statue like bunny. “Because if your Mom comes to look for you she won't be able to find you.” I pointed to my living room window. “But, I'll be right in that window watching to make sure she comes back before the storm hits. Okay?” We stared at each other, the bunny and I, for a few moments before I went inside and took up my post on the living room couch.
Luckily, it wasn't long before the Mommy bunny showed up in the middle of the front yard and the baby hopped over to her and climbed under her.
As I watched I could see a few more bunny heads pop out around her. She had come to feed them. I was thrilled to see everyone seemed safe and accounted for. When Mommy hopped away, a few minutes later, I went outside to where they'd been and found a ball of bunny fur tapped down in the lawn. “So there's your nest.” I said. I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it before. “Nice hiding job!” I called after her.
But once I knew where the nest was I couldn't help myself. I was checking on it morning noon and night.
Before I'd go to work I'd watch the babies hopping in the tall grass, practicing their freeze-like-a-statue skills. When I got home from work I'd check to see that the fur lid, on the nest, was in place and the babies were resting. Then when evening arrived I'd sit by my living room window watching as they'd practice hopping and clover munching. I was loving my babies bunnies.
I was also taking my responsibility of keeping them safe very seriously.
So, when our the lawn guy showed up to mow, no one in my family was surprised when I was right there positioning a plant stand over the nest so he wouldn't mow over it.
“You know, they just stay in the nest.” he said. “I mow over rabbit nests all the time.” He tried to reassure me as I taped a sign to the plant stand that said BUNNY NEST with a arrow pointing down. Just in case he forgot why there was a plant stand in the middle of the lawn.
“I'm sure that's true,” I said. “But we really can't be too careful with this litter.” I said “The Mom seems a bit nervous and high-strung.” I explained as I headed back to the house.
I'm not sure if he realized I was talking about myself but Mommy bunny and I had worked too hard to get them this far and I wasn't going to take any chances.
But now weeks had gone by I was sitting at the dinner table with my family I couldn't hold back my disappointment any longer. “I just checked the nest and they're all gone.” I said sadly.
“Wow! That was quick!” Alex said.
“I know. They only need to be in the nest a few weeks.” I explained. “Then they're weened and off to make it on their own.”
“That seems kind of harsh.” Alex said.
I shrugged my shoulders. “It's all the time they need with their Mommy.” I explained.

Alex smiled as he gave me a little pat on my back. “Lucky for you human babies stay a lot longer!” He passed me the bowl of potatoes. “By the way I finished off the last of the milk, bread and orange juice at breakfast this morning.” he gave me a big smile. “You might want to add them to your grocery list.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015



I was hoping to get an idea of what sort of paintings I wanted to buy for my home by leafing through an art catalog. That's when I noticed the painting of a child sitting next to a pretty woman on a park bench. There was something so familiar about the red hat the woman was wearing. Then it hit me. I used to own that painting! I scanned the catalog's page to find the name of the artist and there it was—Renoir! I used to own a Renoir!
My memory jogged by the catalog, I could envision that painting as it hung on my bedroom wall so many years ago. No other seven-year-old could have been as proud as I was the day I brought it home. I hung it over my bed and stared at that woman's smile for hours. I studied the way her brown hair curled under her red hat, and hoped I'd grow up to be as beautiful as she was.
I remembered clearly how I had come to own that painting: My dad and I were on one of our grocery shopping expeditions. We always used two grocery carts because we were working from a list designed to feed seven children and two adults for the week. Grocery shopping was a major chore then, and Dad and I were masters of it. I was Dad's eager student as I listened to him explain how important it was to figure out which brand of tuna was the cheapest. Dad marveled that I seemed to know instinctively which box of cereal would feed our family for the least amount of money. I can still hear him saying, “Some people go out to buy, while others go out and shop.” Then he'd look at me and smile. “We're shoppers,” he'd say, and I'd feel proud.
It was because of my bargain-hunting skills that Dad decided I was to be rewarded. The grocery stores often offered giveaway deals. The idea was to save up your register receipts and cash them in for a prize. Most months the prizes were dishes, towels, or maybe books, but that month the reward was paintings.
When dad came to the check-out line, he sent me to the crate of paintings stacked at the end of an aisle to pick out whichever one I wanted. I remember the rush of excitement I felt as I carefully sorted through the pile, taking my time to look at each painting before going on to the next. Dad was almost finished bagging our order when I spotted it—the painting I fell in love with. The woman with the red hat.
Little did I know then that my seven-year-old taste was for the work of a master. I have to laugh now that I think about how kids generally get their first glimpse of great art. A trip to the city to wander through a museum, maybe even an excursion of an exclusive gallery. Heck, others wait years to go to Europe to study great works of art. But not me. I got my first taste of culture at the A&P while my Dad bagged the family-size tub of chunky peanut butter. I don't know if this realization depresses me or shows how deeply ingrained my bargain-hunting gift truly is.

I do know one thing. Now when others reminisce, “when I was little...you could get gum for a penny,” or “candy bars were only a nickel back then,” I'm the only person I know who can say, “when I was a little girl you could get a genuine reproduction Renoir for only $75.00 worth of grocery receipts.”

Saturday, July 18, 2015


After cutting the tomato into wedges, I arranged them on a plate, grabbed the salt shaker and went outside where Steven was sitting on the porch.
“Would you like a slice?” I asked, holding the plate out to him.
“You cut up a cherry tomato?” he asked. He took the salt shaker and sprinkled it over the tiny slices. Then he scopped the slices together and popped them all in his mouth.
“I grew that myself!” I said proudly.
Steven nodded his approval while he finished chewing. “You mean it came from the poor tomato plant you never watered or touched in any way since you brought it home?”
“That’s the one!”
It had been a few weeks back that I'd gone to the garden center and brought home a half-dozen different kinds of plants. Sadly most of them hadn't made it.
“It s not like I do it on purpose.” I argued. I’d tried everything to remember to water them. I'd created gardening containers for the porch, placing them so close to the back door that I'd practically fall over them every time I went out. But it seemed I was always in such a rush coming and going that the porch containers didn't seem to be working for me.
So I tried indoor gardening. Bringing some of the pots in, I lined them along the windowsill in front of the kitchen sink, thinking I couldn’t possibly miss them while I was doing the dishes.
Well, it turns out that I don't look up much when I'm washing pots and pans. Once again, by the time I noticed that they needed water, they were so far gone that I'd dropped them in the trash with the dinner scrapes.
“But I've finally got a harvest now!” I said as I proudly looked over at the shriveled leaves on the one plant I'd left of the porch where two more cherry tomatoes were ready to be picked.
Steven walked over to the plant to take a closer look. “It's amazing that these grew at all.” he said as he touched the bone dry dirt.
“I know! I seem to have finally found the perfect plant for me! One that can take care of itself!”
Steven looked back at me. “You know these tomato plants are suppose to have dozens of tomatoes on them.”
“Of course I know that.” I answered as I lovingly touched the two that remained. “That's what makes these so special. If they can grow in these conditions they much be hearty and full of flavor.”
Steven took the salt shaker from me. “You know, I used to love going in my grandfather’s garden, picking them right off the vine and popping them in my mouth.” He reached over to pick of the the last two.
“Wait a minute!' I cried, stopping him. “I'm making a cucumber and tomato salad with those tonight!”
“That's going to be a pretty small salad.” Steven said doubtfully.

“Not when it's going to be mostly cucumber.” I answered, then smiled.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I had gone for a weekend visit to my sister Donna's. She lived about and hour and a half away. While I was there she had my nephew put a new navigation app on my phone. “Just try it.” she said as I looked at her in doubt.
“It's easier than the other ones.” my nephew agreed.
“I promise.” Donna added.
Now, I've been having an ongoing fight with navigation systems for years. They always make me feel as if I'm too stupid to even get out of my own neighborhood. The condescending voice telling to make a left out of my own driveway, even though I knew it was shorter to go right. Then when I went right it would actually sound angry as it tried to get me to go around the block and start again. Needless to say I ended up fighting with every app I tried and would always end up turning it off and using the written directions I'd mapped out myself.
So I reluctantly agreed I'd try this new app on my way home from my sister's.
Climbing in the car I tapped on the app and typed in my home address. A few seconds later a pleasant sounding woman said, “Okay, let's get started, shall we.”
I have to say, I was a bit surprised. I'd never had a system that made it sound like we were taking a ride together, they usually just barked orders at me.
I decided I needed to name my new friend. “Sure, Sabrina. Let's get started.”
About a mile down the road Sabrina said to turn left at the next intersection. Now my written directions said to go straight so I was hesitate to do what Sabrina was suggesting. I slowed down a bit debating what to do . Sabrina must have sensed my unease because she nicely repeated the direction.
I turned on my left turn signal. “Okay, Sabrina.” I said. “I'm going to trust you.”
Now the way Sabrina wanted to go was taking me up a very steep grade, my car straining as it tried to climb the mountain. “I'm sure you didn't know my car was older, Sabrina so this isn't really your fault but if my engine blows up I'm going to be really upset!”
A moment later Sabrina sounded an alarm. “Police car ahead.” she said. I quickly looked around and there was a police car tucked on the side of the road.
“Sabrina!” I cried. “Thank you!” Even though I wasn't speeding I was surprised she knew where they were.
Seconds later another alarm sounded. “Disabled car on side of road.” she said.
Moments later I passed a car changing a flat tire. “Sabrina, I think I finally found a navigation app I can live with!”
We drove along, Sabrina and I, enjoying the ride and each others company. That is until she wanted me to take the Turnpike instead of the Parkway.
“But I like the Parkway better.” I said as she directed me to the Turnpike exit. I ignored her and continued to the Parkway.
I was punished with bumper to bumper traffic. As I inched along for a good half hour Sabrina suggested turning onto Route 9.
I was unsure, but she'd been right so many times I needed to just trust her. So I got on Route 9.
“Exit on the right, Freehold.” she commanded.
“Freehold!” I cried. “But I want to go towards the shore!” I ignored her once again.
She then became relentless. Each intersection I was told to make the turn as she tried to get me to go back.
We argued the rest of the way home.
Each time she told me to do something I just say “No.”
As I pulled into my driveway Sabrina sweetly told me I'd reached my destination, like she had something to do with it!
Steven saw my car pull in and met me at the door. “How was your trip?” he asked.
“Sabrina is an idiot and I never want to ride with her again!” I said.
Steven looked confused as he looked at me then at my empty car.
“It's a long story.” I said taking a deep breath and giving him a kiss on the cheek.

“It always is.” he said opening the front door and taking my suitcase from me.

Friday, July 10, 2015


Steven, Alex and I have had a new routine for the past few weeks. After dinner, while I'm cleaning the kitchen, Steven and Alex set up a board game on the dining room table and the three of us spend an hour or two playing.
Now I have to admit that when this game night was first discussed I wasn’t that gung ho about the whole idea. I never thought of myself as very competitive. When I was growing up if my brothers and sisters wanted to get together to play any kind of game I was more interested in what snacks were going to be served and if I would be allowed to have a conversation with anyone while we played. Believe it or not, there were games where everyone needed total silence so they could think! Those types of games drove me crazy.
But here I was, years later, rolling the dice to see who would go first.
“Hey, are we playing high number or low number to decide who goes first?” I asked.
“Well, seeing that you just rolled a six, I'm thinking you're hoping for the high number.” Alex answered as he threw the dice.
“That would be nice.” I said as both Alex and Steven rolled a lower number.
They let me go first and I have to say it was at the particular moment that my competitive nature appeared with a vengeance. With every roll of the dice my numbers were coming up. I was building houses and cities while collecting needed cards like crazy. I admit I was having a hard time keeping the smiling down to an acceptable level.
I was in the middle of my turn when Alex looked over at Steven, “I'm going to get a piece of cake. Do you want one?” he asked.
“Sure. While you get that I'm going to go check my messages.”
“Wait a minute!” I complained. “We're in the middle of a game here!”
“We'll be back in a minute.” Alex said as he got up to get the cake.
Steven looked at the board. “You know, I really don't see how Alex or I are going to be able to win this. Why don't we just call it a game and start a new one?” he suggested.
“Are you kidding?” I couldn't believe my ears. “No one's won yet!”
“Hey, Alex! Do you see any way to win this game?” Steven called out to Alex.
“No! How about you?”
“Nope. Do you want to start a new game?”
“But no one's won this one yet.” I pointed out once again.
Steven looked confused. “You were winning the game.”
“I know I was winning, but that’s still different then being called the winner of the game.”
Steven stared at me for a moment before calling out to Alex once again.”Is it okay if we call Mom the winner of this game?”
“Sure! You win, Mom!”
“You win.” Steven said. “It was a good game. Now why don't you set up for a new game and we'll play again when we get back.”
As I cleared off the board and began to reset, that competitive part of me was starting to feel annoyed. Without finishing the game completely it wasn't feeling like a real win for me.

That's the moment when I realized I had more fun with board games when I as younger and my biggest worry was what we were having for a snack. So I decided it was time for me to get up and go into the kitchen and get a piece of cake with Alex

Sunday, July 5, 2015


I was pulling into the driveway when I noticed my husband Steven and our son Alex, were just finishing hanging the American flag I'd purchased.
“I love it!” I cried as I got out of my car. “Just in time for the fourth of July weekend!”
“You're welcome.” Steven said and smiled as he put the power drill away. “I know it's been sitting by the front door for a long time but I just couldn't find the time to put it up.” he explained. “I figured you'd want it up for this weekend.”
“It's perfect.” I said as I watched the breeze catch the ends and it began to gently wave. “This whole neighborhood reminds me of my childhood.” I said, “Everyone has a flag hung, you can smell the barbecue grills, and listen to that?” I was quiet for a moment so Steven and Alex could hear the sound of the metal bat hitting a ball.
“My childhood memory was a wooden bat hitting a ball.” Steven said. “But I hear what you're saying.”
“We used both.” Alex said looking over at Steven. “I definitely liked the metal bats better, you could hit the ball further with them.”
I had to cut them off because I wasn't finished telling my childhood memories.
“My Dad loved this time of year!” I said. “He'd be up early in the morning, put the flag out, get all of us into the car and head for the nearest parade .” I smiled just thinking about it.”The streets would be lined with hundreds of people and we'd all wave to the passing fire trucks as they blasted their sirens.”
“Wasn't I in a parade once?” Alex asked.
“When you were a cub scout.” Steven said.
Once again, before they could take the conversation in a different direction I continued my thought. “Then we'd come home and fire up the charcoal briquets.” I said. “They'd need to be doused with a huge amount of lighter fluid but once the flames went down and the coals were a shimmering white you'd have the best tasting hamburgers ever!”
Alex looked over at me. “Doesn’t charcoal, lighter fluid and burnt meat cause cancer?”
“Well, of course it does.” I said. “But we didn't know that then so, it was wonderful.”
Alex looked over at Steven who shrugged his shoulders, “Hey, there were a lot of things we didn't know about then.” Steven said.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Just like when we went out to the parade. There were no seat belts in the car, we all just piled in the back of the station wagon and considered it fun when Dad took a turn too fast and we'd roll from one side of the car to other.”
“Yeah, we thought that was pretty fun, too.” Steven agreed.
“Didn't anyone ever get hurt?” Alex asked.
“Sure.” I said. “If you hit a bump just the right way and landed against someone's knee or elbow you'd come home with a bump on your head or a cut on your lip but that wasn't like it happened every time.”
“It sounds awful!” Alex said.
“It was all part of summer outings with the family.” I said then looked over at Steven. “Remember when it got near dusk, the mosquito foggers would drive through town and you'd feel like you were running around in the clouds?” I had to laugh. “That was the best way to play hide and seek. No one could ever find you in that heavy fog!”
Alex looked horrified.
Steven shrugged his shoulders. “All part of growing up back then.” he said to him.
I smiled as I looked back at our flag. “It's that small town feel you get around here!” I gushed. “Don't you just love it!”
Alex looked at both Steven and I, “I'm thinking the flag part is nice but the rest of your memories sound crazy!”
I looked over at Steven. “I know he has a point, but I still think they were fun times.”

Steven looked at Alex and nodded in agreement. “You had to be there.”