Our Birthday Traditions

Following in the footsteps of my parents,
we phoned our daughter first thing today
and sang Happy Birthday. She and her
friends are off on a short trip to RI.

My parents lived in Colorado
in a different time zone two hours
earlier than in Upstate NY. When I
normally left the house for teaching,

it was in the wee hours so my parents
had to be up by dawn to phone me and
sing. Fortunately, our two children live in
the same time zone. We have left

our voices on answering machines when
they are not able to answer. We also
follow another tradition my parents did
when I no longer lived at home. Enclosed

with my birthday card was a check for a
small amount depending upon the
birthday. So, if I was twenty-eight for
example, the check was written for

the amount of $28.28. And on it went year
after year. My husband switched it up
when our two needed college money. He
wrote a more generous amount of say

$228. 28 for a twenty-eight birthday.
Carrying on traditions in families is
an important way to show love
and caring for one another. I am

convinced my parents sent us and our
daughter identical green grasshoppers as
a way of hopping by for a short visit with
us – the birthday grasshopper!

Posted in birthday grasshopper, birthday traditions, card with enclosure, sing Happy Birthday | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Out of the Mouths of Babes

As a language educator, I was fascinated with young
children and their efforts to use the English language.
Certain letters were initially problematic such as the letter L.
When asked her name, our daughter would tell others

her name was EM-MAH-WEE. We thought our son’s name
would be less difficult. He told people his name was THOMA.
He couldn’t get that final S to his name for some time. The
Requests for MUK or MOK from either child elicited a smile.

I then poured milk into their cups. One days as I was
cleaning, our son declared that the BACK-Y CLEANER
was too loud! I finished cleaning and stored the
vacuum cleaner so he could play his imaginary games

with cars and trucks uninterrupted. Both children
requested certain foods for dinner too. Our daughter
requested PIS GETTI since she craved this pasta. My attempts
to get the SP sound at the beginning of spaghetti were

for naught. She mirrored the word SPINACH just fine but
quickly said she wanted PIS GETTI for dinner. After polishing
off his favorite food, hamburgers, our son declared that
he just loved HANG GUR BURS. Another smile from me.

With our daughter’s birthday fast approaching, my
husband and I recalled with fond memories their
early attempts at language acquisition. I still smile at all the
hugs and I WUV YOUs uttered to us. We are lucky parents!


Posted in children and language learning, names, words | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Have Suitcase; Will Travel

They pack me full and sit on me to close. Then
drive me to the airport and check me in. I am
stuffed with beautiful clothes and shoes. I started
my travels during my owner’s student days in Heidelberg.

The first ones could be locked with a key which
my owner kept securely along with passports. Oh
the places I traveled and things I saw! I was reliable
but sometimes arrived with dents and bruises.

In the early days, I made several overseas flights
unscathed. Newer, sleeker models arrived in
stores and soon I was retired and stored in the
basement. I had served my owners well. The

newer ones were fashioned out of colorful
fabric and were lighter to carry. Fancy sleek
wheels adorned us. We were not stuffed
as full; otherwise zippers broke and stitches came

loose. We had to remain unlocked or had
a special built in code. No lock and key. Airport
security scanned us. Sometimes we were searched.
Still, we traveled and saw many beautiful sights.

A few times, we were lost, but then reunited with our
grateful owner. Frequently we had to be replaced
after a zipper no longer functioned or stitches came
loose. Then new ones were purchased.


Before jets, we traveled in noisy turboprops. Oh, some of
the places we’ve seen: Iceland, Great Britain, Scotland, Wales,
Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein,
Monaco, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Spain, North

Africa, Gibraltar, Austria, Finland, Netherlands, Slovakia,
the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy,
Switzerland, and more. Of course, Alaska, Hawaii and the
lower 48. Then came a time to retire most of us.

After all, our owners are older and more
tired now. This morning, my companions and I
gathered once more for a short reunion in
our basement quarters. Then the movers came

and removed us to a trailer for another trip.
We hope the new owners will take us places. Or
young children will fill us with toys and play
games of make believe. We served reliably and faithfully.

The time had come to downsize our quarters. Perhaps
road trips to visit family and friends now. After several
trips to colleges, we are content to remain dormant
until the fall wedding trip when we are packed again.

Posted in airports, jet planes, packing, passports, suitcase, travel, turboprops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

A Neighborhood Stroll


Neighbors stroll by as they walk
their dogs: all sizes, colors and
shapes. Not as often we observe a cat
on a leash. Sitting in his favorite front

porch rocking chair, my husband muses
that we have our own petting zoo. A
daring rabbit hopped right up to him on
the porch recently, neither afraid of the other.


Our garden snake meanders nearby to
find shade on a hot summer day. We
continue to be entertained by birds singing.
The backyard is a source of more

entertainment as we watch the chipmunks,
and squirrels. Never a dull moment in our
neck of the woods. Sometimes a neighbor
strolls by, waves and walks into the yard

to exchange a short conversation while
I cut a fresh bouquet of zinnias to give to
her as we smile. We hear children at play in
a backyard swimming pool. Sometimes

they accept an invitation to draw some artwork
in our driveway with chalk. When they leave
behind remnants, I have been known to draw
a smiley face or two especially on trash day as

I greet the workers. It’s the neighborly thing
to do. We wave and greet neighbors who
drive by too. I think Mr. Rogers would approve.
May you enjoy nature and friends on your stroll!

Posted in cutting flowers, nature, neighborhood stroll | Tagged , , , , , , | 31 Comments

The Great American Recipe


American flag
The National Anthem
America the Beautiful
family, friends, love
hot dogs & hamburgers
apple pie
ice cream
watch fireworks

Add the first two ingredients. Salute the flag and sing the National Anthem:

The Star Spangled Banner

(The National Anthem of the United States of America)

Oh, say, can you see? By the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air.
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Add the next four ingredients and burst into song with America the Beautiful. Then add the next two ingredients, grill and serve. Pray together. Top of the meal with dessert of apple pie and ice cream. Pour and serve lemonade. After the sun goes down, watch fireworks in the night sky.

Patriots, proud and free, celebrate the birthday of our great nation. God bless the USA!


Posted in America the Beautiful, God bless the USA, July 4th celebration, The National Anthem | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Oops! With Love and Humor!


The new quarter at the university meant new
classrooms. As a German professor, I was
accustomed to welcoming students speaking in
German. With an armload of books and papers,
I entered the room, put my belongings on
the empty desk at the front of the class.

Thirty pairs of eyes gazed intently as I rattled on
in German. One brave student raised his hand
and told me this was a Spanish class. Just as
quickly as I had entered, I left – red in the face.
Quick retreat to my office. Read the computer printout
of my teaching schedule for the current quarter.

Forsooth! The Department Chair had switched my classroom
this quarter. Quickly located the new room where
my German class awaited me. Lesson learned. There
would be many life lessons in store for me. Some
happened in the kitchen. A cooking lesson learned.
We had a small vegetable garden and loved

freshly harvested garden vegetables. Green beans
in the pot on the back burner. Water in pot. Yellow
quash in the other pot, also in water. We simply
enjoyed the taste of fresh vegetables steamed.
My husband grilled meat for dinner. It was ready
to serve on plates and bring to the table.

First mouthful of squash was immediately spit out!
What had happened? What was wrong with the yellow
squash? Immediate realization and lesson learned:
never cook vegetables in soapy water! It was our
habit to put soapy water in pots and pans and clean
them after dinner. A flashback to growing up

in Colorado and family dinners. We all get interrupted
in the kitchen. The phone. A child. My mother too!
Around Thanksgiving one year, I made a face as
I tried the pumpkin pie. My sisters also made faces.
My mother then said she had forgotten to add sugar.
Why waste perfectly good pie? Just add the sugar and eat.

Another Sunday dinner my mother had served
rice with our meal. We complained that it tasted
bland. As way of explanation, our mother said
in disbelief to us: no wonder my coffee tasted
terrible! What did her coffee have to do with our
rice? It was only then that we all realized her

mix-up. She had boiled water for her instant
coffee to sip while she cooked but simply thought
her taste buds were off! We all enjoyed a good laugh.
We added salt to the rice and enjoyed our meal.
Lessons learned in life. With love and humor.
Mishaps solved. No, I have no plans to write a cookbook.

Posted in humor, life's lessons, love, teaching a new quarter, teaching German | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

An Ode to Dad


He’s a pearl of great value my mother said.
She was right. Lucky to have married him,
the father of our two children. We love him.
He’s patient and kind. He listens even
when the topic is difficult. He fixes anything.

He’s the man a mother refers her children to
with questions that have no answers. He listened
all the years I worked to “Mom and her stories.”
Strong and silent. Tall, dark and handsome. Now
with distinguished gray to show a job well done.

Deep, abiding faith and kind. A gentle person.
Playful, sense of humor and hard worker; he balances
me on life’s seesaw. Athletic, musical and good cook.
Scientist, teacher, coach, mentor, assessor,
music minister, lector are some of his titles.

The good Lord has truly blessed us with his
presence. A great partner on life’s journey.
Possesses an inner strength. We share our
faith, family and love together. A hug to
my one and only, my pearl of great value.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Wir lieben Dich!

Posted in faith, family love, Father's Day, pearl of great value | Tagged , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Time for a Nap

Gentle, chinook breezes blow
as nature’s creatures are busy.
The humans are as well. Progress
has been made on the new bird house.

Some days, long lengths of grass
for nests hang as we note a beak
or two pulling the piece inside to
fashion a nest. It is a rare kind

of lovely weather we are enjoying.
The calendar is getting full of
appointments; businesses open again.
The cedar closet is brimming.

A visitor moth lay on our window
for a couple days posing for my camera.
After long delays and waits, movers
emptied the storage space.

New chapters added to the book
of life. Shall I tackle unpacking some
of the boxes or shall I simply take
some time to relax and smell our roses?

Posted in birdhouse, chinook breezes, movers, nap, on smelling roses | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Basking in the Warmth

The decorative stones in our garden beds
are home to more than shrubs and flowers.
After several days of heat followed by rain,
the azaleas popped with radiant colors.


Our home in Sturbridge, Massachusetts,
featured a stone wall fashioned by my
father as a retaining wall. It was also
home to garter snakes who slithered about.


One morning my husband stepped on a
visitor but caught his foot in time so as
to do no harm. Both temporarily startled.
A game of hide and seek?

Our friend loves the warmth of the rocks
in the garden and on our small retaining
walls for the garden beds. Our slithering
snake friend lives under our front step.


Sometimes as I sit in one of the front porch
rockers, a snake greets us through a
slight opening in the stone; our daughter has
a green-hued visitor near the beach.

No matter the abodes, it seems that we
humans are the outsiders. Mere mortals
encroaching on their habitat. I laugh as
I observe what nature affords us.


Posted in garter snakes, lizards, snakes, stone wall, Sturbridge | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Five Brothers, One Family

As we recall this Memorial Day all the
sacrifices made, we are grateful as a
country for our liberty. We visit cemeteries,
march in parades, fly the flag, recite the
Pledge of Allegiance and sing our National
Anthem. We are grateful for all the sacrifices


made by those who served in the military.
My father and his brothers were called to
active duty in WW II. I heard the stories when
I became older how brave the five brothers
were. We are a grateful nation and say
thank you with pride and love.


From the young Brownie who carried the
heavy flag in the town parade, I learned
at a tender age to love our country, our flag,
our heritage of preserving freedom at all
costs. We learned about the Constitution and the
Bill of Rights in civics classes. We studied


our history with pride. Reflecting the past,
we teach the next generations to treasure
the gifts of freedom and liberty with pride.
Standing strong and united in love of country and
family, John, Joe, Hank, Al, Stan preserved our
precious freedom that we may live in peace.



Posted in children, education, faith, family, freedom, Memorial Day, resilience, soldiers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments