The Neighborhood Diner

Naugahyde-covered booths
and chairs in deep red color
adorned the diner interior.
Murals on the wall painted

by local artists depicted
the home town high school
team, the Bees. Baldwinsville’s
finest fare offered 24/7.

Steeped in the 50s and complete
with juke boxes at each booth
play the hits of yesteryear.
Formica table tops with baskets

filled with condiments; napkins.
Young and old and in between congregate
at this diner for food and conversation.
I spread orange marmalade on toast.

When it is crowded, we sit at the
counter just like the old
five and dime store ones.
Our attentive waitress

pours frequent refills of
delicious Paul de Lima
coffee which began making
the brew more than 100 years

ago. Today, a neighbor and
I went to the B’ville Diner
for breakfast and good company.
Prices are right; food is good.

For a brief time, we are treated
as family. We smile at the children
and share a few laughs.
Small town America at its best.



Posted in diner, juke boxes, Naugahyde, Paul de Lima coffee | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Our Private Art Collection

We count ourselves lucky to
have amassed our own private
art collection. Beginning with crayon
and paper affixed to the refrigerator

with magnets, we progressed
to kitchen cabinet spaces on
the doors. Little hands and smiles
greeted us with each new piece

in our art gallery. Lots of
kisses and hugs about such
beautiful work created
by little hands. Later we framed

some of the special pieces.
Wooden bird houses and ceramic
ones. Tiles decorated and painted.
Masks and dream catchers.

Chalk on sand paper. Hands
painted and pressed to paper
and cloth. Making paper and
forming into hearts and angels.

We have had a never-
ending art gallery in our house.
Naturally we are thrilled to
have such creative offspring.

Just imagine all the homes
lucky enough to have such art
work in their own private
galleries and spaces!

The artists no longer reside
with us and have their own lives.
We are the lucky ones to have
remembrances of them everywhere!


1995 Tom, Emily in Spreewald Fulbright year0001

Posted in art collection, artists, joy of creativity, private art gallery, remembrances | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

A Birthday Prayer


My tall, dark handsome husband
and father is a pearl of great value.
This Sunday is his birthday.
I will say a prayer of gratitude

that we met all those
many moons ago and
found each other, married
and had a family.

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May God grant him many
more moons to do his
good works on earth before
coming to take him back.


May the good Lord watch
over and keep him well and
safe for he is precious to me.
I understand the day will

come but not too soon, please.
Please grant us many more
family times together even
though we live miles apart.


Without saying a word, we
are comfortable together.
May we have many more laughs
and Scrabble games together.


May we sing together more.
May we have more time to
love one another and cherish
all the memories from

the many moons we have
spent together. It is with
you, my husband, that I have
found true joy in living.


May you continue to remain
healthy and strong and have
many more moons to share
with us. God bless you with love.


Posted in birthday prayer, my husband, scrabble games, singing together | Tagged , , , , , , | 69 Comments

Safe and Sound in Frigid Temperatures


Silence, snow and wind chills.
Schools closed, bitter temperatures,
no traffic. Dangerous wind chills
keep children indoors.


Grateful for the kindness of neighbors
and strangers who plowed our daughter’s
driveway during the blizzard. Caring
people who look out for others.


Whiteouts, blowing, drifting snows.
Lake effect predicted with
Storm totals just under one meter.
Occasional snow plow.

Warm and cozy indoors.
Wonder. Worry about my
husband’s drive home,
described as treacherous.

Grateful to be retired.
No longer have to brave
the elements. Mid afternoon with
sky and ground the same white.


Turned on Christmas lights to color
indoors and out one last time.
Hot soup for dinner.   Relax and
grateful for family and friends.




Posted in blizzard, grateful, treacherous commutes, whiteouts, wind chills | Tagged , , , | 39 Comments

Family Rituals, Traditions and Education

Nurtured in us at an early age was the love of God, family and the importance of education. We were also gifted piano lessons and practice was a given.  We never questioned any of it but simply did as we were told.  In the big scheme of life, I am slowly began to fathom the importance of having certain rituals and traditions.  When it came our turn as parents, we passed along to our children that which we also felt important.  High on the list after God and family was education which included physical education as well as learning foreign languages at an early age.  Both children played soccer, ran track and field and participated in daily gym classes at their independent school.  We selected this school because it placed great value on early foreign language learning beginning in pre-K and through 12th grade.  After returning from my first Fulbright year, we visited Manlius Pebble Hill School where our son completed placement tests in math and English and was accepted to the school.  Our daughter followed in one year.  This school encouraged students to phone teachers with questions about homework and any other issues required by their teachers.  As a public school teacher, I was in awe of the teachers at this school and the support of  other parents offered.  There was a higher percentage (25%) of diversity of students than at local public schools.  Class sizes were small and sometimes had as few as 8 in one class.  Over the years, we have reflected upon the values learned at this school.  Like we did at home, grace was said by students who sat at round tables with their teachers for lunch.  The students at MPH know how to make eye contact with adults and to shake hands.  They learn community and respect for all students.  There was also a dress code but no official uniform for classes.

After our two had a native command of German, we prayed the German grace before meals. I was reminded of this when our daughter visited at Christmas.  Once one of the kids asked how the prayer went in English because we only prayed it in German.  After returning from living in Germany and attending German schools, our two began French classes at MPH since German was not offered.  As an educator I was unconcerned that they would forget German.  It is with them for a lifetime and only takes a few weeks of living in the country to regain fluency.  We kept it alive with praying in German and singing.  Both my husband and I attained a Ph.D. degree in our given fields, yet we only expected our two to finish college and to always do the best they could.  Our son furthered his education and has earned the highest degree in his field as well with a JD or Doctor of Jurisprudence and practices law today. Our daughter earned her BA degree in English, her paralegal certificate, a BS degree in nursing and an RN degree. She plans to further her nursing education in the future as well.

We taught our children to be tolerant individuals and to help others. Education remains high on our list of importance. As an educator of nearly fifty years, I was a role model for my students, many of whom remain in touch with me. Never underestimate the power of education and the importance of learning foreign languages, especially German. May peace be with you in 2018.


Posted in education, education in Germany & the US, foreign languages, Fulbright Teacher Exchange, rituals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Beauty of December

Softly, quietly, gently
falling snowflakes clothe
the earth in beauty.
Catching them in our

gloved hands to gaze
at their shapes is part
of the fun. Kids lean
their heads back with

open mouths to catch
the snowflakes. Building
snowmen and baking
cookies. Singing carols.

Cold, snowy weather does
not dampen our Christmas
spirits as we race about
making preparations.

Put out a plate of freshly
baked chocolate chip cookies
for Santa. And to our surprise,
only crumbs remained.

Our faith, family and friends
remind us that He is the reason
for the season as we celebrate
His birth. Christmas peace to all!



Posted in Christmas, Christmas choir, music, worship, Music Ministry, singing, Christmas Peace, Christmas Traditions, faith | Tagged , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Kösingen, Germany: Oscar Mayer’s Village

T in Koesingen 20010001

During our first Fulbright year, our son’s first grade class made several class field trips  in picturesque Kösingen, Germany, home to Oscar Mayer before he came to the U.S. It was not unusual for them to walk one mile or more while gathering and identifying leaves on trees.  One day our son came home to tell us the class went searching for Spuren or tracks left in the snow by all nature’s small creatures.  Having grown up in rural Western Massachusetts, I remember finding footprints and tracks on the snow.  I still continue to look out the windows after a new snowfall and see tracks of rabbits and squirrels.  I was not disappointed this morning when I gazed out the window to find rabbit tracks near the house where it was warmest.

How wonderful to discover such traces of life in an otherwise frosty snow-covered landscape. I imagine that most of suburbia takes no notice; however, I may be mistaken in that assumption.  It’s a marvel that creatures are out and about when mortals complain of the cold and snow and do not venture forth.  I never cease to gaze in amazement at sunsets or snow on the branches of fir trees.  In my mind’s eye, I paint pictures in my memory bank.  This season I wish all my readers everywhere greetings no matter what you celebrate.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Peace to all.

Tom 1st gr.Koesingen, Ger. Schultuete0001

Turtles theme 7th bday in Schweindorf Tom0001


Giddy first graders donned boots
and jackets to go outdoors after
the snowfall to discover and document
those footprints left behind by the

rabbits, squirrels and deer. They
documented in carefully written
journals those wonderful discoveries.
Bright-eyed and happy in the tiny

German village where Oscar Mayer
was born. Their teacher led the
field trip through the snow and
explained where the creatures

lived in the cold winter months.
Red-cheeked and happy,
the first graders returned home
after school to tell their parents.

Seeing life in a simple manner
through the eyes of children is
a wonderful way to view life.
Wishing everyone peace.



Posted in animal tracks, Christmas, customs in Germany, home of Oscar Mayer, Koesingen, tracks in the snow | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments