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.


Thursday, June 6, 2019

While At The Mercy of Others

Walking into the Johns Hopkins Cancer Center was both humbling and scary, but I was greeted immediately by one of their many concierges.  He took both my hands and said, "You're new here; we're going to take very good care of you."  He directed me to a registrar who confirmed my information and gave me a badge to wear.  The badge had a GPS chip in it; my doctor knew I was there and how long I would be waiting, and if I wanted to, could sit in their cafe, and the doctor's assistant would come and get me.  Amazing.

My surgery went well.  The surgeon was able to extract clear margins, and the seminal node is clear.  I'll start radiation in a couple of weeks; chemo is a remote possibility.  I'll also do hormonal suppressant therapy for five years.  Those treating me were competent and compassionate.  I am beholden to them.

I'm well.  I'm happy.  I'm blessed.

"To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier
because you lived here.
This is to have succeeded."

from ROBIN by David Itzkoff taken from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 19, 2019

Take Care Your Wishes

Notre Dame Cathedral virtually burned to the ground this week; still more immigrants seek asylum; our country 's divide grows as those corrupt and hate-filled saturate the news with anathema and their power.  Temperatures wold-wide have increased two degrees, and Mother Nature becomes more and more violent in her response.

More importantly, this is the week I was told I have breast cancer.  I saw the mammogram; I intrinsically knew it didn't look good; I saw the look on the faces of the technicians and the radiologist;  I saw they wouldn't look me in the eye,  and yet I was devastated when told.  I waited until my husband left for work, and then sobbed.  

I wonder if the fates heard me when I've frequently said I don't want to grow old.  Frailty terrifies me.  What I'm feeling now is a close second.  I'm at the mercy of others.

I mourn the loss of my normal.  I mourn that a part of my body that I love is now sick.  I see the shirts that boast, "These are fake; my real breasts tried to kill me,"  and while I appreciate the humor, I cannot join in with the laughter as something I treasure, with which I've lived for 67 years is sick and will soon  be under the knife.  And as trivial as it seems, I'm saddened by my soon-to-be bald head, and wondering if I can learn how to tie a scarf, a pretty one that makes me look as if I'm handling my illness well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


I do a lot of thinking while doing jigsaw puzzles and I complete a lot of puzzles.  My latest seedling came in the form of  -- oh hell, why don't I just get to it.

I send Christmas cards.  Not necessarily to those who send to us, but to folks I want to wish a Merry Christmas.  (Gone are the days when I kept track and sent only to those who sent greetings to us.  I send cards to those I want to let know we're thinking of them.)

What if, after all  the cards on my list were sealed, stamped, and mailed, I made a new list of all those who have slighted, somehow hurt our feelings, even cognizantly so,  (I'm not including those who've committed serious crimes, not that there are many times, if any, I've been victimized; that might not be a good idea -- for lots of reasons) and sent them cards with heartfelt greetings. 

I don't intend to make these folks feel badly, well not real badly, but it might awaken in them an epiphany.  But more than seeking a response in someone else, I think this might affect me more.  

Friday, October 26, 2018


Early voting starts here in Howard County today.  My hope was that voter turnout would be substantial.  We've got really good, ethical representation in this state, and the races here as not as controversial and heated as those of our neighbor's to the north and the south of us.  My expectations were met and then some as it was mobbed.  A hopeful sign, I think.

Our clocks turn back this weekend as well, although I wish we could just keep a national standard time all year.  My body always takes a few weeks to adjust and I really dislike it getting dark at 4:30.

Our leaves haven't changed yet, but this is beginning.  The maples have a bit of color; our nights are getting colder so this should help a bit.

Meanwhile, the inside and front step of the house look seasonal. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Changing the Issue

I am the proud (but tired) mother of two assertive daughters.  When the older of these two was a teenager, we worked hard learning not to change the issue.  We had to.  She did not suffer fools gladly and could be confrontational and very impulsive.

One time when she was announced as homecoming princess at an all-school assembly (I taught where the kids attended), a faction of the student  body who were disappointed their candidate didn't win, booed and jeered her loudly.  Melissa gave them the finger.  What those girls had done was unacceptable, but Melissa's actions (though justified) changed the issue, making it difficult to discipline those who acted wrongly in the first place. (We worked hard to practice the announcement to be again made at the homecoming football game.  Her dad and I would boo and jeer, and Melissa would smile and wave graciously.)

There are other examples, but my drift is clear.  Bad stuff happens.  People say and do socially inappropriate things.  It is our response, however, that is commensurately important.  

Anyone living through this political nightmare can see this firsthand.  The allegations are horrid.  The response to these allegations even more despicable, and have moved me to tears more than once.  Whether or not the accusations are true are no longer the issue.   What is now even more distressing is the callous, misogynistic senators’ attacks or dismissals the victim, the histrionic demeanor of the accused, and the disgusting response of a sitting president.  And as paramount as the original issue of sexual misconduct is, the greater and more distressing is now the response of those elected to represent us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Late Summer Trimmings

Here in Central Maryland, we are well into August of this very wet and sultry summer.  The good news is that everything is green, but that green may very well be algae.  

We've stopped watering our container plants, continued to fertilize, and since this is the time when plants tend to get 'leggy' and stop producing flowers, everyone got a trim.  This will encourage growth from the core.  Hopefully.

I've also pulled out all the leggy zinnias and re-planted seeds.  I'm hoping to have flowers in October.

Within the last four months, I've switched from a PC to Apple, and I'm still not able to post pictures from my iPad.  You'd think it would be easy.  It probably is, but I'm not yet able to figure it out.  Everyone keeps telling me it's intuitive, but evidently I'm not that smart.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Running Toward Danger

Today I awoke with a strong sense of loss and soon learned that a Howard County firefighter had died very early this morning in a seven-alarm blaze due to a lightning strike.  Firefighters...such a special breed of heroes.  Those who run toward danger not from it.

This loss is especially close to home as our son is a firefighter/EMT for Baltimore County.  I feel for the family of this young man and for all these heroes.

Friday, May 18, 2018


I really love including people in on all sorts of occasions.  Having come from an Italian family -- it's not an occasion until 10 or 15 others drop in.  There are so many fond memories of everyone sitting around the dining room table, the one that now graces my dining room, and the laughing and sharing and wonderfulness of it all.  We also joked that in an Italian family, if someone didn't agree with you, they obviously didn't hear you.  Thus meals were generally a little louder than in other households, but always lively and fun.

Most of our elders are gone, and so we celebrate by inviting friends and extended family to our home, or to a restaurant, or time out on the boat or visiting gardens  to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, spring,  a week without rain -- whatever.  We do so gladly, and not expecting anything in return, except maybe friendship and/ or the chance to be included in other's lives as well.  And most folks do just that.  But some, while espousing gratitude for having been included and while still remaining friends, never think to include us in whatever they celebrate.  And I wonder why.  And sometimes I feel slighted.

Will we stop including these folks?  Probably not.  But I fear I am being selfish by thinking the way I do, and perhaps presumptive.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Who Could Possibly Take Issue With Trader Joe's?

In a word:  I.

Given, Trader's is a pleasant, happy even, place to shop.  The employees are generally helpful, congenial, and engaging.  Their products are of quality -- the pizzas and flatbreads, for instance, are excellent and the pricing under Trader Joe's label, is considerably below that of other brands.

Their meats are a great buy; nuts, olive oil, cheeses excellent.  And I could go on and on singing their praises; but that's not my point, is it?

So what's the problem?

1.  The parking lots of every Trader's we've ever been in are tight and ingress/egress poorly designed.  Could it be the same firm?  Perhaps an entire firm of non-drivers?

2.  While of excellent quality, the produce is not local.  I could be wrong about this, but have asked different store personnel and they've concurred.  And while this is not a game changer for me, we do like to shop locally, particularly in our growing season.  And so we do.

3.  THE ISSUE is this:  We try a lot of their products or products they feature.  We get hooked.  We crave.  We buy.  After a few months the products disappear.  Specifically, a decaff green tea we LOVED.  The same with a lavender body wash and hand soap.  (At least I found these on the internet and can buy  in bulk).  

We weren't so lucky with their French roast, decaf coffee-- superior to many expensive brands (we've tried them all) -- rich and flavorful.  And alas, gone. (They still carry the caffeinated version, however).  And the product that prompted this rant:  Trader Joe's frozen arancini (little Italian rice balls filled with cheese).  We love them, our grand daughter loves them, everybody loves them, and they are no more.  Discontinued.  Nada.  Try buying these from Amazon!  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Why I Could Never 'Follow' The Pioneer Woman

When I began blogging  the friend who had initially lighted my interest in blogging suggested I 'follow' Ree Drummond:  The Pioneer Woman.  So I visited her blog.  I really enjoyed what I read and left a comment.  Soon after, however, I knew I would neither return to her site, nor would I ever 'follow' her (subscribe to her read feed (for those non-bloggers who may be reading this)).

Let me begin by saying her blog is well written and informative; her photos beautiful.  I believe we could even be friends.  We'd talk about her lovely, well-behaved children.  She might even laugh when I told her that I feel that sometimes children are a punishment from God.  

Ree and I have much in common as I am a pretty good cook -- actually -- I'm better than 'pretty good'.  Granted, I don't cook for as many as she does, but I have in the past.  I don't use as much garlic or hot sauce as she does, but that's okay -- to each her own!  Her cooking show is informative and entertaining; I could share a lot of my family's Italian recipes and she could tell me what a skirt steak is.

Maybe I could  help with her home-schooled kids' English lessons, since I'm still a certified English teacher.  She could teach me why cowboys don't take their hats off at the table -- I'm sure there's some good reason -- and I could tell her why as a teacher, I slow down when I see prison work crews on the highway looking for past students.  We'd have great fun.

So why won't I 'follow' her?  After I left the classroom I began blogging as a means of meeting people; connecting with others who have similar enjoyments; making friends.  Fellow bloggers understand how thrilling it is to see that someone has left a comment.  And although Ree may want to reach thousands of folks, she has different goals.  I am certain I'll never get a reply to my comment or a blog visit from her.  And that's okay.