Names Can Be Complicated

Mary & John Niemczura wedding 1941 gardenia corsage0001

My parents met and married in Boston, Massachusetts. My father had just graduated from Boston University, and my mother had finished nursing school and began working as a Registered Nurse. When they first met at a university dance, my father learned that my mother was from Monson which was not far from Palmer where he lived. He decided to ask my mother out on a date so he looked in the phone book.   But he looked up the wrong person.  He found a Marie Mooney living in Monson so he phoned and asked her out.  She knew my father because he had been a star football player in high school and had been in several newspaper articles.  My father was surprised and startled to see a complete stranger at the door.  I asked him what he did then.  He took Marie out to the movies.  The next day, he looked up Mary Mooney in the phone book and asked her out.  She was the right one, and the rest is history.  They dated and later married.  We’re glad he married the right one!  Names can be complicated sometimes.

It was complicated

They met in Boston
and quickly filled
their dance cards
for the evening.

Both learned they
lived in nearby towns.
Forgot her phone number
and looked her up.

He discovered he had
also forgotten her first name.
Marie or Mary Mooney?
Even though she was

a stranger to him, he took
Marie out. Phoned Mary next.
The right one.
Later married her.

Mom & Dad Niemczura CO 19860001



Posted in dating and marriage, Massachusetts, my parents, names | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Light and Shadow Play



Late afternoon sun streams through the window

and casts shadows about. The legerdemain conjures up

imaginary characters dancing about between

the light and shadows. My thoughts wander.


Interrupting the game of light, the Chinooks rustle

the leaves in the trees. These warm breezes

cheer me. Yet, I am somewhat wistful

that autumn will give way to winter’s snows.


Dazzling sunsets hypnotize. The evening skies

enrapture me as if I were painting broad brush

strokes of pink hues on a canvas. As if under a

magic spell. the chicanery delights and amuses.


All too soon, the winds cast the leaves to the ground,

blowing relentlessly and ending Autumn abruptly.

My pensiveness interrupted. I now await more

magic of light and shadows in the snowy landscapes.






Posted in Autumn, Autumn Leaves, Chinooks, extravagant autumn beauty | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Erntedankfest in a German Village

Schweindorf 1990

The Fulbright program does an incredible job connecting peoples around the world. We had learned that I was to teach English to German pupils from grades 6-10 in a Comprehensive School in Neresheim, Germany.  The school served 30 surrounding towns and villages nearby. In July our two young children, ages 3 and 6, and I flew to Germany for orientation sessions in Bonn before traveling to our assigned towns and schools for the year.  My husband remained at home and was able to visit a few times during the year.  Our village of about 300 people was called Schweindorf where we had an apartment above a restaurant owned by the Spielberger family who became our second family for the year and remain that to this very day. They had a huge farm, a barn with horses and lots of land to roam and play.

Previously I had studied in Heidelberg, Germany, for three years and had visited a few times. Bringing young children along and living there posed new challenges.  There was one church in the village which was historically Protestant.  Around the end of October, we learned about a festival to be held with services in that church.  It was called Erntedankfest which was a harvest festival giving thanks for the good harvest in the fields.  Our kindergarten-age daughter participated by bringing up some of the vegetables which were places on the altar.  Like many other customs and holidays, this one remains forever in our hearts and minds.

When my husband brought home a box filled with local vegetables harvested in nearby fields of Upstate New York, nostalgia hit, and I was reminded of that festival in our tiny German village where people gathered together to give thanks for a good harvest and to instill respect for customs and traditions.

Gasthof Hirsch Schweindorf0001

Our lives were forever changed by our experiences of living abroad and attending German schools. Our son attended a combined class of grades 1-2 in nearby Kösingen, the home of the hot dog king, Oscar Mayer.  Children in German schools take numerous field trips during the year.  These are written into the school calendar, and no work has to be made up.  What they do on the field trip is considered school for the day.  Our son still has his collection of leaves which were indentified and attached in his journals.  We still have his cursive handwritten pages and poems all in German.  We still tell one another “ich liebe Dich” or I love you at the end of conversations.   For years, my children listened to me sing in German at the beginning of our day, Guten Morgen, liebe Sonne, as well as Brahm’s Lullaby at the end, Guten Abend, Gute Nacht.

Tom 1st gr.Koesingen, Ger. Schultuete0001

Whenever we shopped in the local bakeries, butcher shops or toy stores, the children were always given free cookies and pieces of bologna or sometimes candy. They became spoiled, and we missed that when we returned home to Upstate New York the following July.  Having quickly learned the German language in Germany, our two experienced reverse culture shock at home.  Our daughter’s first language for all practical purposes was German, and now she had to speak English.  The eye exam with our pediatrician at her well check-up posed a funny problem.  The nurse showed her pictures to identify which our daughter correctly did – but in German!  I was called to the exam room and informed of a “problem” but I simply translated for the nurse and resolved the issue.  The ice cream cone picture identified with the German word Eis was understood as an ice cube by the nurse who then learned the German word!

We have been back in the U.S. for many moons now but still speak German whenever we can but especially our prayer before meals. Learning a foreign language is as important to us as brushing our teeth or learning to play a musical instrument.  We observed how tolerant and understanding of others our two became as they lived in Schweindorf, our little home away from home near the Bavarian border.  It was an exciting year for everyone.

IMG_4950Emily in Schweindorf0001


Posted in Erntedankfest, Fulbright Exchange, Fulbright to Germany, German village life, harvest festival, Schweindorf, Spielberger family | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The World of the Soul


Making figure “8” motions,

these winged messengers

delicately flit about

like angels  playing

in the garden. These

angel messengers deliver

pure joy to us. They

symbolize hope and rebirth.


They represent our life journey.

Hope, change, transformation,

these many-hued butterflies

are the world of the soul.



Photo credits to talented photographer, Sally Rose Dolak, and her lovely butterfly photos from Costa Rica where she resides and blogs.

Photo credits also to Emily Nemecek and her beautiful sunsets over the bay near Southampton, New York.

Posted in butterflies, messengers, world of the soul | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Stop, Look, Listen!


It is that wonderful season of autumn in Upstate New York. The last lingering days of summer with bright sunshine, gorgeous skies and lush gardens await the harvest.  On such days, we like to take a drive into the country to a lovely farm to table restaurant to feast on fresh vegetables prepared to perfection by the chef.


Colors abound and delight. A visit from our daughter was the icing on the cake.  Life is grand when loving family and friends come together over good food and conversation.  Can it get better than this?


Stop and enjoy fall colors. Look at the skies and gaze at the intriguing clouds.  Listen to crickets, frogs, brooks and Canada Goose formations above.


Enjoy the crisp, cool mornings and promise of another day unfolding. Remember your loved ones everywhere.  Say a prayer.  Tell them you love them.  Sing a song!

Posted in Autumn, Autumn Leaves, extravagant autumn beauty, Fall colors, farm to table restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Grow, Little Tree!


On Trees and Life

watch the storm
watch the tree

tree came down
tree crashed

crashed in the street
crashed near car

car parked
parked near power lines

lines came down
lines in the street

street poles down
street poles damaged

damaged lines
damaged poles replaced

replaced now
replaced and power

power restored
power saws

saws made logs
saws tidied up

fast forward one year
one year ago half a tree

tree did not flourish
tree rest was felled

felled tree with tears
felled but for the stump

stump is last reminder
stump a podium


podium to stand on
podium to sit on

on with the task
on with a replacement

replacement tree planted
replacement takes years


years without the shade
years of waiting

waiting for taller tree
waiting for shade

shade and sunshine
shade and water

water daily
water in the morning

morning fog
morning mist

mist the tree
mist the leaves

leaves delicate
leaves of green




Posted in nature, tree is felled, trees, white pine tree | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Morning Hours


It seems that early fall days provide beautiful sunrises and stunning sunsets. Our daughter has seen lovely ones on the beach at Southampton, New York, on Long Island.  We privately celebrate the colorful brush strokes of many hues.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic has made a roaring appearance with two hurricanes in as many weeks: Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida.  A few years ago, we gifted our two children portable storm radios which they have used in tropical storms and in hurricanes.

Now we are keeping close watch on Jose which may become a hurricane again. And it may hit Long Island.  Our daughter lived through Hurricane Sandy and two weeks without power.  By early next week, there are tropical storm conditions there which we watch with trepidation.

As a woman of faith, I went to church this morning to have a talk with our Lord and ask that he protect and watch over all those in harm’s way. Mother Nature is want to disrupt lives and wreak havoc in the blink of an eye.  We are a generous, helpful people so we try to help our neighbors in need.

The morning hours have always been my favorite time of the day. I can watch the skies, listen to the birds and watch the fullness of the apples trees and our gardens.

It is my fervent wish that the latest tropical storm/hurricane stay out in the Atlantic and not disrupt people’s lives. Here’s a short prayer for all those affected:

Let us open our hearts and pray
for those who have lost everything.

Let us offer a comforting word
to those who have no homes to return to.

Let us help the less fortunate rebuild
and donate our time and fortunes to assist.

Above all, let us be grateful and trust
in His plan for us, today and always.

Allow us to grieve and let the tears flow.
Whisper softly and recall the happy memories.

For this we are grateful today. May there
be an afterglow of smiles. May we have hope.  Amen.

IMG_4770 (2)


Posted in hurricanes, morning hours, Mother Nature, prayer for those in need, sunrises and sunsets, tropical storms | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments