About Me

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I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Meet Rocco

After our last cat got very sick and had to be euthanized, we swore we'd never get another pet.  Meet Rocco, who with his litter mates, was left without a mother at too young an age.



He's bounced his way into our baskets, our hearts, and onto our furniture, and mesmerizes us for hours at a time.

This past week Cheryl, a sister-blogger and friend, and I visited the National Arboratum in DC hoping to get a glance at the azaleas, rhododendrons, and lilacs.  Luckily, we're easy to please as these were really past their glory.  We did have a great walk through the beautiful woodland paths of the gardens.  We hiked through hill and dale and I realized that before my knee replacements, I would not have been able to do this.

What the NA DID have, however, are the most exquisite bonsai I've ever seen. Several date back to the 1600s.  This one is at late-comer, having begun in 1725!



The garden also featured beautiful sculpture.



I did not know that we had a National Herb Garden....


Unfortunately, the fact that their funding has been substantially cut was all too obvious.  I wanted to dive in and start weeding, particularly in the rose garden.  I wonder if they take volunteer groups?  It's still worth a visit.

I'm hoping to get to Brookside Gardens in Montgomery County during the first 'flush' of the roses.  These gardens are superbly maintained and beautiful.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pots and Plants and Dirt, Oh Yes!

 It's that wonderful time of year when I get to play up to my elbows in dirt!  I did my planning, purchased a few new pots, 



and have made one shopping trip to the nursery.  I split it up into a couple of trips because, 1) buying everything at once was becoming overwhelming; and 2) there wasn't enough room in my car.


I planted some of the purchases and will go back this week to do more.  It's currently raining and predicted to do so until Thursday, so if I don't mind getting a little wet, it's a perfect time to visit the greenhouses -- no crowds.
Meanwhile, my pots await...






We lost about 15 roses (all hybrid teas and two climbers) due to the polar vortex.  (But the stink bugs are still thriving -- go figure!) I'm not certain I want to replace them (roses NOT the stinkbugs, Bilbo!!), but I'll start looking around this week.  My shasta daisies, usually hearty, and lupines succumbed as well.   
Each year of gardening is unique; it's the beauty of it all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Calm Seas and Blue Skies

Today I spent the morning at the gym; it was a good, sweaty workout. Tonight I should  sleep soundly.  Then I conquered the task of ironing patches on our grand daughter's Daisy/Girl Scout vest.  Once those patches are on, they're REALLY on.  The troupe numbers might indicate to some I'd been drinking heavily; I wasn't.  The good news is that they're on.




Big Guy and I must have had a premonition about the severity of this winter as in August we booked a cruise to the Caribbean on Holland America's MS Nieuw Amsterdam - the same ship we traveled from Barcelona to Venice on two years ago.  We had a lovely time and really enjoyed the warmth.
We cruised out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.  What an amazingly busy port -- seven ships awaited passengers last Sunday.  But they really had it together.  From the time our taxi dropped us off to our being totally checked in was fewer than 20 minutes.  We then waited only another 20 to board the ship.

Again, we had an armed Coast Guard escort leaving port, which always gives me chills.  When they escort a ship out of port, they put their vessel between all other port traffic and the ship that's departing.  The weapon is almost bigger than the young woman standing behind it.



Folks lined up to take pictures of the ship leaving Ft. Lauderdale.


It's a magnificent sight when the mammoth cruise ships go through.  Our ship was not one of these -- we prefer the smaller ships, but it's still a neat sight to see.

We made four stops:  Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Key West -- basically cruising around Cuba -- which was within sight.  We got off the ship only twice:  once at Half Moon Cay to swim in the most beautiful water I've ever seen...


and where we could see the ship as it awaited our return.



And finally at Key West, where the temperature was almost 90° and the humidity about 83%.  We had planned to have lunch at a favorite place: Conch Republic Seafood Company, walk around, and then enjoy some Key lime pie at Kermit's, but the heat really got to me and I needed to return to the ship.  I guess my body just wasn't used to that much warmth.  



We returned home to Baltimore on Sunday, where we were met by an inch and a half of wet snow and sleet.  We've had spring temps all week though, and perennials and bulbs and starting to pop through.  Life is good.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

We've Done Something Right

When  raising children, especially when they reach teenage years, one is just never sure how they'll turn out.  There were times when my husband would have to literally pull me off my middle daughter and make sure she never walked in front of my car while I was driving.  There were times with all three, that I questioned what possessed me to want children.  I fear I was not alone.  (Those of you who raised near perfect children may want to stop here, but please stay with me as it gets better.)

Fast forward 15+ years.  Our children are now 38, 37, and 34.  Our son has two children: a fourteen-year old girl and a two-year old boy.  Our middle daughter has a five, soon to be six-year old, girl.  Our youngest has no children, but is up to her schnutz in horses, dogs, and cats.  Her kindness to these animals and her way with them so very pleases her father and I.

My point is that when we see Michael with his children, Melissa with her daughter, and Robyn with her responsibilities and skill with animals, we are so very proud.  

Each year Melissa throws a huge party for her daughter's birthday.  At least a hundred are invited, and very close to that hundred, if not more, attend.  She hires moon bounces, ponies, face painters all to entertain all these wee ones and often their older siblings.  She invites parents, grand parents, and extended family. 

Last year's party was a huge success. (Daughter in yellow, son in blue, and me in aqua).


Kids of all ages had fun.



This year's party in in the planning stages.  I had one question for daughter -- "Why so big?  Why so many"?  Her reply:  "When I was little I remember in regard to birthday parties, someone was always left out.  Sometimes it was me; sometimes others.  The ones left out always feel bad.  I swore that if I ever had children, no one would ever feel that way because of me."

And I guess that says it all.

Monday, March 10, 2014

And We Feared Computers Would De-Humanize Us

Well Tabor at One Day At A Time and Mage at Postcards have really gotten a lot of us thinking about why we write our blogs.  Me, too.  I began writing KATHY'S PEACE a few years ago because of the nudging, prodding, okay, downright harangue of one Cheryl at MyLadeda.  At the time I did it because of the novelty, now that I've left my classroom and all my wonderful colleagues, it's an important connection to me; a reminder that I'm not alone.

I don't post as many of you do - on a daily basis.  I wait until I have something to share.  And I must admit when I log on and see "comment awaiting moderation" I am overjoyed!  Pathetic, huh?  But it's true.  I wish I attracted more comments, but the ones I do get are profound and heartfelt, and I'm thankful.

Both Tabor and Mage have brought into question the effect their -- I guess all of our blogs --  have on others.  I think these talented scribes might sometimes overlook the fact that a kind word, an interesting photo, a crafted phrase have the effect of ripples on a pond.  Their pasts, their posts continue to change us all.  And more than this, we've all made friends -- people we would have never met.  Amazing...


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

They Weren't the Best of Times

In 1966 I was a sophomore entering public school for the first time.  My world had always been one of uniforms and standing before we spoke to our teachers - mostly nuns - and quiet submission at the fear of a tarnished 'permanent record'.

The vast majority of the Class of 1969 of Upper Darby High School, my alma mater and the inspiration for Tina Fey's (she, too, is an alum) Mean Girls, had been together since elementary school; friendships had been long formed and alliances recognized.  Enter an interloper -- one who wanted to belong...badly.

So in addition to ubiquitous cliques, one of the traditions at UDHS were  'sororities'.  (These were held outside of school and allegedly non-sanctioned by the school board). Candidates attended teas, were looked over by the sisters of these long existing clubs, and eventually chosen or denied entrance in the sorority of her choice. Most girls chose three, hopeful they'd get into one. 

I chose one:  TOT, attended the tea, spoke to the members, and tried not to appear too desperate.  Evidently, I did not make an impression, or if I did, it was not the impression I had hoped.  And then spent the next three years suffering the rejection.

Not to be misunderstood, I had a few friends, and was active in choir, chorus and clubs, but spent much of my high school years feeling alone and always on the outside.  I graduated from one of the largest high schools in Pennsylvania with a very clear understanding of how students can become and feel dis-enfranchised.  


Saturday, February 15, 2014

And It's Snowing -- Again

I swear I do not know how our friends in Manitoba get out of bed each morning.  They have snow from October to May and lots of it.  When I awoke this morning and saw the stuff coming down I wanted to grab my iPad , connect to Facebook, and stay in bed.  It was just yesterday that we were dealing with this...





I think I will celebrate the day by showering, washing my hair, and fixing myself up.  Husband is celebrating by trying to run a few errands.  We have 4 wheel drive, but let's face it, the only benefit of having 4 wheel drive is getting stuck farther from home.

Meanwhile I'll try to stay away from the chocolate.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Light the Fires and Feed the Birds!!

It's sleeting now and the sound of snow-blowers -- neighbors helping neighbors -- fills the air.  Last night winter dumped about 14" on us as one can witness from my office window.  That's the snow piled on the sun porch roof.



Everything is closed -- including the gym (which helps delete any guilt) and I've got bacon awaiting crisping, beans soaking for soup, and bread flour just waiting to be added to yeast.  All the important things have been attended to:  I had my hair done on Tuesday, (thanks, Cheryl!!),  saw the oncologist yesterday (celebrating 12 years), and had a fantastic fried green tomato-crabcake club (well half of one) and grits at Miss Shirley's in Roland Park. And I get to have the other half today!



 Life is good.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I Remember When

I've joined the legions of elders who say things like,"I remember when it was so cold...".  The truth is I do remember when winters were substantially colder.  My dad would take me to the Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Mummer's Parade so bundled that if I'd fallen, I would not have been able to get up without assistance, and yet my little feet and face would still get numb.  I remember being able to ice skate at Landsdowne Ice and Coal -- an outdoor rink; the fire department hosing down the basketball courts on days when it was 32° or below by 4:00; and being able to skate any time from December 1st to late February on the pond in Ridley Park.  

It seems we on the East Coast/Mid Atlantic had gotten a bit spoiled by the relative temperateness of our winters.  Even three years ago, when hit by a blizzard or two, most of the day time temps were around 30s and low 40s.  

And then there's this year -- Holy Mother of Pearl!!!  Beginning in December we've experienced the longest cold spells in a very long time.  I find myself celebrating when we make it into the 20s and wanting to run naked through the streets when we hit the 'balmy' 30s!  And luckily for all that really hasn't happened.

I can tell I'm getting older.  I don't 'embrace' this weather like I used to.  Sure it's nice to light fires and snuggle for a day or two with hot tea and a good book at hand, but at this point, I don't really feel like doing ANYTHING or going anywhere.  That's why yesterday I made myself go outside and sit in the sun for a few minutes.  Then when my husband got home from meetings, we drove over to the lake across the highway, walked a little bit and sat on a bench watching the ducks, geese, and seagulls.  One would think their little tushies would get cold.  I know ours did.


The striations in the clouds indicated we would see snow today or tomorrow, but frankly, I'm just not 'feeling it'.


Today, even though they were calling for snow and it was heavily overcast and only 27°, we went back to the lake and walked for a while. And tomorrow we'll do the same and walk a little more.  Getting out really does help one's perspective.  I need to remember this.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Main Street, Columbia, Maryland

I walked around, visited Godiva and Wockenfuss taking time to smell the chocolate.  Bought a charm or two at Pandora, smiled at all I met, ran into a few friends and chatted, and signed the condolence book for the families of the lives lost there on Saturday.  A few stores are not yet opened; it was not crowded.  Some took photos of the notices of condolence on the boarded-up Zumiez Skatestore, where the shootings occurred.  There is a heavy police presence and a strong sense of sadness.

It seems the Mall personnel had been schooled in the potentiality of this happening.  As soon as shots were heard some customers chose to run, but store personnel grabbed as many Mall patrons as possible, directed them to storage spaces at the backs of the stores, and pulled down security gates. Some children were separated from their parents and other adults comforted them.   Personnel like those at the Disney Store and Cartoon Cuts actually involved the children in games:  playing bubbles and watching videos as they "sheltered in place" and waited for police to secure this very large mall and come and get them.  It took police and SWAT teams about four hours to totally secure the Mall.  They exited shoppers and workers store by store, telling the adults to cover the eyes of the children as they passed by Zumiez.

An author of an article about the shooting said, "How the shooting will define the city itself, known for its affluence and its founding in the 1960s by developer James Rouse as a planned suburban community infused with neighborly values, has yet to be determined."   

Columbia is a place that defines itself by the kindness and tolerance of its residents, not by a single incident that came from without, not within our community.  This is the same integrated community that allowed George Wallace to speak to its then 300 residents with the stated understanding that he was being allowed to speak because of the tolerance of this then nascent town.  This is the same community in which children can grow up color-blind and where all religions and backgrounds are celebrated.  This heinous act will not define us; not now; not ever.