Expanding poetry

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:55 pm by admin

This evening, I finished the expansion of my poetry forum. I’ve added a new category to discuss poetry and created four new forums. The process wasn’t as complicated as I had remembered when I began a month ago, probably because I’m more familiar with them. I did make a few mistakes along the way because as I built them, I kept them hidden. It took a few tries to bring them live before I remembered that I had to “unhide” them.

Last night I had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning again. I turned in at 03:00 and was bound and determined to wake before Daniel left for work. At 06:30 I was up in that half awake state visiting the john, and I realized I just couldn’t get up in an hour so I wrote Daniel a barely legible note asking him not to wake me. I slept until 10:50 this morning. When I went outside, it was already 82 degrees. I’d lost my most productive hours so as quickly as I could, I watered Daniel’s squash garden from the pond, cleaned the filters then started to refill the pond, did a load of laundry and pulled shrimp out of the freezer for dinner. By then it was 12:15 PM. I thawed the shrimp in cold water over the next hour while I hung out the laundry, fed the fish, ate a bowl of cereal and started to water the herb garden.

I’ve never eaten Vodka sauce, but there were two jars on the pantry shelf. About six weeks ago Daniel went grocery shopping with me, one of his first outings after his last hospitalization. He wanted Vodka sauce, but then we never used it. I removed the shells from the shrimp and cooked them in a sauce pan over low heat with just the water that was on them. After they started to turn pink, I added garlic powder and sliced dried garlic, McCormick’s Italian Seasoning and some extra dried basil. When the shrimp had dried out a little, I added a half jar of the Vodka sauce and let it all simmer over a low flame for about an hour. I cooked myself some Italian green beans and we had the sauce over penne and the remainder of the green salad from yesterday. Daniel finished the last of the cornbread. Daniel said the sauce tasted like nothing he’d ever had before. I’m not sure if this was a compliment or not, but he did say that Vodka sauce is usually used with a gamey tasting meat like pork. I’ve never thought pork tasted gamey. I thought it tasted quite good but it does have that slight vomit like taste. It reminds me a little of brie. Oh well experiment over.

Just before I finished the revisions on the forum, I made spinach dip with Lipton vegetable soup mix. Daniel’s been asking for it for about a week and the last time we went shopping I picked up a few bags of frozen spinach. I sliced a can of sliced water chestnuts into sticks and added them into the dip. We’ll have this tomorrow evening.

Before I went to bed tonight, I saw a very bright light low in the southern sky. It wasn’t moving or blinking, so I know it wasn’t a plane. I wonder if it was Jupiter. I don’t think it was Sirius, as that star is seen in the winter months if I recall. I’ll have to ask my friend Christine about it. She has a telescope and has written quite a bit of poetry that involves the heavens. If I recall, her entire thread of poems for the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) thread at Poets org was on this theme. I wish you had had the opportunity to read it.

Even with the private forum operating for only two weeks now, there’s some incredible work posted there. It’s amazing to me how creative these folks are, and what’s even better is that I get to read their work for free. I can’t wait to read what’s yet to come.

Good night everyone,



Facing a blank page and moments not realized.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:45 pm by admin

I’m drawing a blank about what to write this evening. So I’m just gonna sit here and let my mind wander.
wandering …
It’s sorta (sort of) like writing poetry. Sometimes you just sit and stare at the blinking curser, like it’s doing now, blink, blink, blink.
blinking …
Every time I stop tapping at the keys, blink, blink, blink.
and blinking …
It reminds me of the twinkle of stars in the sky, or lightening bugs on a summer night, the lights on hazard barriers at construction sites, or railroad crossing gates, The fire alarms for the deaf at the hospital where I work, or the sleep mode indicator light on my laptop.

What is it about the rhythmic blinking of lights that catches our attention? I guess if they were on continuously, they’d blend in with every other form or white noise or sight. Those things that we stop noticing because they’re always there. Something needs to draw our attention to these white hidden in plain sight or sound things. But, have you ever sat quietly, just staring off into space, not space like outer space but just staring in those rare moments, when you don’t have anything to do and your mind takes advantage of this and goes off on a daydream? Something pulls you back and all of a sudden you notice a bush, or the remote on the coffee table, or the dust bunny in the corner. They’ve been there for a while but you stop noticing. Then you take note of it, catalogue it, say unconsciously, “That’s the remote”, and forget about it. We tend to do this with people too, don’t we?

For the last three mornings, I’ve left Daniel a note, asking him not to wake me because I’ve been up late, or early depending on how you view 2:00 or 3:00 AM, working on my private poetry forum. We’ve been going strong for two weeks now, and we’re expanding. I had tried to cut back on my coffee drinking after dinner, and I was successful for about two weeks, but trying to keep up with the growing forum has required me to stay up late. Then I’m so wired that I can’t fall asleep, so I spend a little time with George, you remember George don’t you? “3XCARLIN AN ORGY of GEORGE”.

Well I’ve realized the past three mornings how much I miss spending the half hour with Daniel before he leaves for work. We’re not together every minute, but I’m awake when he’s awake. I’m aware of his presence here in out home. When he leaves, I walk out onto the front porch and wait for him to drive up the driveway. He stops, we exchange a few words and then say, “I love you”, to each other. Then he pulls to the street and I watch him drive off. This is how I begin my day, every day, Monday through Friday. I’ve missed that.



What ever happened to brewing your coffee at home? Bye-bye Starbucks!

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:59 pm by admin

So Starbucks is closing down its least profitable stores worldwide. So what. What ever happened to people taking a few minutes to brew their own pot at home. At $4.00 a cup no wonder this country is in debt. Forget the escalating price of petroleum, or the drop, or the rise, or the drop … You get the picture. I thought yuppiness went out with the 90’s. I guess yuppies still need their designer paper cups. It’s just that now the yuppies have grown old and have become accustomed to being lazy, designer craving fools.

A 34.5 oz. container of Maxwell House French Roast (coffee) sold for $6.99 buy one get one free ($3.495 a container), when I last bought it three weeks ago. I bought four containers. The week before at the competing supermarket I picked up four containers at $6.99 each also B1G1. Between Daniel and I, we drink two pots of coffee each day at 6 scoops a pot. One container lasts two weeks. So 28 pots of 5 – 10 oz. mugs per pot comes to 140 mugs per $3.495 which means I spend $0.02496428571428571 per cup. Admittedly, this is only the cost of the coffee.

There’s also the cost of the electricity to heat the water which takes 8 minutes a pot at 1000 kWh = $0.02 including taxes and fees. Then there’s the price of the coffee pot from 7 years ago at Costco, $69.99 depreciated over 3 years (so now it’s free). The price of the water, it’s free seeing as I have a well, but yes there is the cost of electricity to pump the water, rental on the space in the basement for the water tank, wear and tear on the well pump (I’m giving it to myself for free as a perk), OK maybe not lets add $.02 per pot. The paper cone filter which I reuse to make two pots is $0.00495 (100 filters @ $0.99 per 100). Milk, we go through 2 gallons a week, but I mix powdered milk half and half with whole milk ($3.97 a gallon). I buy one gallon a week plus the cost of the powdered milk ($9.99 for 20 quarts or 4 pounds dry is $1.998 a gallon) plus the 7 pints of water 112 oz. to make the gallon of dried milk divided by 50 oz. per pot is 2.24 times $0.02 (the standard I chose for the cost of water) per 50 oz water is $0.0448. The cost of milk every two weeks comes to $5.968. Daniel has one bowl of cereal one morning on the weekends, but I’ll not take this into account which will make my estimated cost per coffee cup high. I drink the rest of the milk almost exclusively in coffee. Then there’s half & half for my coffee (1 quart @ $1.89) every two weeks. Is there anything else I’ve forgotten? I can’t think of anything, but I’m beginning to get a little lost.

Lets look at the cost of a cup of coffee in my house.
Costs per 2 weeks
Coffee $3.495
Water $0.56
Electricity to perk the coffee $0.56
Milk for the coffee $5.968
Half & Half for coffee $1.89
Total $7.858

Divided by 70 mugs every two weeks comes to $0.12 per cup of coffee rounded up, and remember, my estimate is high.

What the yuppies spend for two cups of coffee, I get 70.

Go figure.



Water and air.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:02 am by admin

Having your own well comes with many advantages. There’s the taste of fresh cold water, colder than many public water systems because it originates 100 feet below the ground, and it has an almost sweet flavor. The connection water lines that come from the public water company in my area run 3 feet below ground, and during the summer months it can take quite a long time of running the water before it becomes cold. There are areas in the country where I’m told the lines run only 12 inches deep. Another benefit is NO CHLORINE! It ruin’s the taste of coffee, dulls the color of your clothes, and smells. As a customer, you have no control over the amount of chlorine that is added. Having a pond, and having to perform frequent large volume water changes makes non-chlorinated water a blessing. Otherwise I’d be adding chemicals to the water with each water change which would become very costly.

There are several disadvantages also. If the power goes out, so does the well. Because we have private water, and public sewer, we pay a flat rate every three months as opposed to having the sewer bill tied to the water meter. The greatest disadvantage for us is that our water tank is the original 100 gallon tank that came with the house when it was built nearly 80 years ago. It’s galvanized steel and there is no air baffle bladder per se. The way it works is this. Every 6 months to a year, you are supposed to turn off the pump, drain the tank to empty, fill it with 20 pounds of air using an air compressor, close all the valves, and then turn on the pump which fills it to 40 pounds. The problem is that we don’t have an air compressor. So each time we had a plumber here to fix a pipe, or the last time we had to replace the pump, we’d have them fill the tank. The last time this was done was about a year and a half ago. Trouble is, over time air slowly leaks out. The baffle serves as a buffer so that the pump doesn’t have to run every time you turn on a faucet or flush the toilet. The on and off is what kills a well pump.

We talked about this and today, Daniel picked one up. After trial and error, I realized the force with which I had to press the nozzle from the pump to the Schrader valve we had installed the last time the pump was replaced was tremendous and awkward to boot, because the valve is on the back of the water tank. The nozzle on the air compressor is like one you would use to inflate the tires on your car. The compressor Daniel purchased is small with a reservoir tank about the size of a football. It is rated a 100 pounds, and it takes about 2 minutes to fill the tank from 0 to 100 pounds. After one hour of repeatedly adding air to the water tank every few minutes, remember it’s 100 gallons, and that’s a lot of space, I was getting tired. To boot, I’d reached 6 pounds of pressure. I figured there’s gotta be a better way, so I went digging in the attachments. Low and behold I found what I was looking for, an adapter that screws onto the Schrader valve. From that point it was smooth sailing. I was finished in another 30 minutes. So from now on, every 6 months of so, reconditioning the water tank air baffle will become another chore, but one far less taxing or expensive. At $250.00 an hour for a plumber, $70.00 for the compressor was a steal.



First Tomato thieves.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 9:33 pm by admin

Two and a half weeks ago our first tomatoes were reaching the peak of ripeness. The tomato plants share space in Daniel’s herb garden by the pond in the front yard. I watered the plants nearly every day and paid close attention to the soil moisture level. We have two each of three different types of plants, Better Boy, Better Girl and a dwarf tomato that is supposed to be larger than a cherry tomato but have the taste of a normal size tomato, and is supposed to bear its fruit early. All the plants went into the garden late because of Daniel’s hospitalization in the spring. It was of this last variety that the first of the summer harvest were to come, and there were three of them.

After lunch I went to the O & A Farms produce stand and picked up what I could to make a salad for dinner. I stopped at the local Giant Food store and picked up a pound of organic fresh baby greens and a head of green cabbage. These last ingredients weren’t available at the produce stand. When I returned home I washed the produce I was going to use and began to make a tossed salad with romaine and red leaf lettuce, green cabbage, baby greens, sliced cucumber, yellow zucchini, red and green bell pepper, and one half of a red onion cut into quarter inch ringed slices. Then I peeled two fresh carrots and cut them into sticks. All the ingredients were as fresh as possible, and all were prepared by hand.

I put the salad in the refrigerator and went out to check on the tomatoes. They looked perfect, but I decided to wait to pick them until just before Daniel was due to come home from work so they would be at their peak of freshness. I had boiled a half dozen eggs that morning that were sitting in a bowl in the refrigerator chilling. I would add them with the tomatoes. Then I made a balsamic vinegar dressing with extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil from the herb garden and dried oregano, marjoram, and tarragon. I put that in the frig also to chill. Then I placed a bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz on the kitchen counter to open when I finished the salad later on so it could breathe.

I had thought to pick the tomatoes the day before and add them to the last portions of a tossed salad I had made two days earlier, but I decided to wait one more day when I would be able to add them to a freshly made salad. At 5:30 that afternoon I went out to the herb garden and the tomatoes were gone. Now there’s a fence around this section of the yard because of the koi pond, and I was in and out between the house and front yard all afternoon. While I was inside, I was in the living room which overlooks the front yard from the time I had last checked on the tomatoes. I know it wasn’t a four legged creature that wandered into the yard and stole them, and I don’t think it was a bird, but I’ll never know. There is evidence of moles in the front yard, but these tomatoes were a good twelve inches off the ground, so I can’t believe the moles ate them, and besides moles eat earthworms. Who our tomato thief was I’ll never know, but I was madder than hell over it. I had one tomato left over from my last shopping trip so that’s what I had to use. I cut it up and added it along with three, quartered hard boiled eggs.

Well today when I was out at the herb garden, two of the small tomatoes I have been watching were ready to pick. I took photographs of them a few days ago when I was shooting the dragonflies by the pond, and there’s a great photo of them taken just after a rain below We were going to have leftover chili from the day before for dinner, but I wasn’t about to lose out on fresh tomatoes.

When it was dinner time I went out to the garden to pick these two tomatoes to be eaten by themselves, a mouthful each really. When I bent over the plant to pick them, the larger of the two had a bite taken out of it the size of one third of the tomato. Needless to say, a few expletives flew from my mouth. I took the tomatoes into the house, washed them off, cut around the missing segment, cut the remainder in half, and Daniel and I each ate our portion. It was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. I’m saving the other one, the smaller of the two that is the size of a cherry tomato, for later. It’s sitting on the kitchen window sill, safe. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, you’ll know I came down with some dreaded disease.

Oh, and the chili was better today than yesterday.




Web radio “Poetry Is For People” hosted by Michael C. Flanigan & Chili on a hot day.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:36 pm by admin

I’ve been listening to an online radio program titled Poetry Is For People for the last four weeks. It’s hosted by Michael C. Flanigan, a poet I had never heard of before. There was a post on the Poets org Forum a month ago about it. The program is scheduled to run for ten weeks with special programs promised. Michael Flanagan has a wonderful voice, the voice of a storyteller, and each week he talks about a different poet. There are segments in the program where he plays recordings of the poets reading their own work, and during the last half hour or so, listeners can call in to the program. The programs can be downloaded the following day. I’d recommend this series to anyone, whether you’re interested in poetry or not. It’s an hour well worth spending.

I made a huge pot of chili today. Sounds good, doesn’t it, chili on a hot day. Hmm, that could be the title of a poem or book. Both Daniel and I have been craving chili for a few weeks. The temperature was in the upper 80’s today so I plugged the 5 qt. crock pot into the outlet on the porch and let it cook for five hours on high. The trouble is, I made too much to fit in the pot. I had started soaking the beans last night, changing the water three times until 1:00 this afternoon. By the time I had assembled all the ingredients, they filled the crock pot and my soup pot as well. I had to use the stove which seems to have defeated the whole purpose of cooking outside. It’s been nearly eight months since I’ve made chili and I had forgotten just how much the beans expand with soaking. Fortunately, there was a decent breeze today, and with the exhaust fan going in the kitchen, it never got hot in there. I heated up the pot on my large burner, then moved the pot to my simmer burner and it did just fine. Yesterday, I made cornbread in the toaster oven, again out on the porch, and it came out great. I cut up some cheddar cheese for both of us, and I added a large dollop of sour cream to my serving. One nice thing about chili, it freezes fairly well, so we can always have it again months from now.



Saying goodbye to my gentle girl & “Uncle Wiggly Wings”

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:17 pm by admin

This morning I looked for fish. She was nowhere to be seen. I tried to find her on the bottom of the pond using a long handle swimming pool net but couldn’t locate her. I’m certain she’s dead.

Just after dinner my mother called to tell me that the ABC Evening News with Charles Gibson was featuring the air force pilot who began the candy drops for the children behind the Berlin Wall. He was named “Person of the Week”. His name was Hal Halvorsen. It has been sixty years this week since this pilot’s mission began. Letters to “Uncle Wiggly Wings” written by children had been accumulating in the base office because he would rock his plane before he would drop candy bars with handmade handkerchief parachutes to gentle their fall. Mom had family, which means I had family, behind the Berlin Wall as a young girl. Mom, her sister, mother and grandmother had escaped ahead of the Russians and began a new life in West Germany Mom asked me to watch the news story because it meant a lot to her as a ten year old girl on the free side of The Wall. Thank you Uncle Hal for making a difference in the lives of children.

At 9:10 tonight I went out to check the pond. My gentle girl drifted to the surface. It was dark outside so Daniel helped me net her and we buried her in his herb garden near the pond. I think that was a better place than in the pumpkin garden in the back yard.

She was a very gentle and timid koi. Each of the koi has a different personality, a few are aggressive or boisterous and others are indifferent. She ate gentle, swam gentle and never shoved any of the other fish out of the way when I would feed them. She would swim up to me to say good morning when I approached the pond, and would hover in the water for a few moments to look at me, my gentle girl. I’ll miss her.

Below is a photo taken two years ago. She is the large white fish facing to the right. She grew another four inches since then.

pond fall 2006 with gentle girl


A sad day.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:23 pm by admin

The rain ended this morning at 7:30, just as I woke to Daniel gently shaking me. I was up late last night (early this morning) reading poetry and writing critiques on the new private poetry forum I’ve started. We’re a small group, which is how I would like to keep it. I had become frustrated with the submission process for both online and print poetry journals. It’s a 50/50 split between the editors for these journals as to whether a poem is considered published or not if it has been posted on the Poets org Workshop Forum. Since I own several website domains, I decided to use the “free” software that comes as a “bonus” to the sites through my domain host. I started the forum three weeks ago and spent two weeks learning the software while I made a few test posts. Last Thursday I began to send out invitations in the hopes of forming a cohesive group that would work well together. We’ve been going strong now just over a week and I’m optimistic that some good poetry will come out of it.

I went out to the pond with my first cup of coffee in hand to check on fish. She was up and moving around slowly, but swimming upright and didn’t seem to be in any distress. This gave me hope. I spend the majority of the day between reading and critiquing poems between both poetry forums. Intermittently I checked on fish and took more photos of the pond, dragonflies and a frog.

In the afternoon fish didn’t look so good and she was swimming erratically. When I went out at 5:30 this afternoon to get the mail, I heard a loud splash. She was jumped high in the air, landing with a splash each time that sent large ripples through the pond. By the time I got to the pond, she was on her side gasping her last breaths. I took the mail into the house and returned to net her out, but she was nowhere in sight. I returned every so often to look for her, but by nightfall there was still no sight of her. I’m certain she’s dead and lying on the bottom of the pond. The water is slightly green right now so I can’t see beyond about two feet deep. I have a large section of bird control netting over the pond to keep the fish in and the blue heron out, so it’s very difficult to reach a net into the deepest part. If I don’t see any sign of her tomorrow, I’ll have to pull back the net and prod the bottom until I find her body. I can’t leave her in because she’ll start to decompose and that can affect the other fish. All evening the other fish were acting strangely. It’s like they know she’s gone. She’s one of the biggest fish in there at about twenty or so inches. I have only one other larger fish, a female who’s two feet long.

I’ll bury her in Daniel’s garden.



It’s raining, it’s fawning, and one of my koi is dying.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:50 pm by admin

Well if you couldn’t tell, it rained today, last night too. It’s still raining now. We received over an inch last night. It was cloudy early this morning, but started to clear up around 9:00. I walked out to check on Daniel’s garden to see if there was any erosion, when I found two fawns grazing beneath the large white pine in the back yard. Mom was just inside the treelike in the woods behind our property. Mom didn’t see me because the pine was blocking her view. I went back into the house to grab my camera to get a photo to use with a poem I wrote, but when Mom saw me as I walked into the grass, she flicked her tail, the way mom’s do, and the kids came-a-runnin’, or galloping, or trotting, or whatever it is you call what it is deer do. So I had to settle for shots of the flora, as I walked around the yard taking pictures of shrubs and flowers.

When I came back into the house I downloaded them. I’d taken seventy-seven pictures. I got a few good ones of a bumble bee on some thistle growing along the front bank by the road, and a few shots of our first tomatoes that aren’t quite ready to pick. I also took some close-ups of the needles on a Douglas fir and clover in bloom. There’s also a couple nice ones of some of the annual bed plants Daniel planted around the herb garden. I can’t remember what they’re called though.

Around 1:30 this afternoon I was out at the pond and noticed the dragonflies were dancing their dance. I grabbed my camera and shot thirty-one pictures of them, but none in flight. I was able to sneak up on one after trial and error. They’re skittish things and would take off from the weeping birch at the first sign of my approach. I used a limb from the tree as cover and got some great shots of one resting on a leaf as I focused through an opening in the foliage. I attempted a few shots of them joining in flight, but all you see is a blur of green as I tried to follow them through the view finder. My digital camera is too slow to respond from the moment I snap the button until the shutter responds. By the time the electronic eye focuses, they were already headed towards the sky. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Around 4:00 this afternoon a light rain started again. I fed the fish at 5:00 and right after they finished eating, one of the females started swimming strangely. She as well as all the koi in the pond were spawned there nearly ten years ago, so I’ve had them all since they were eggs. All their parents died the following late spring after an extremely hard winter that lasted two months longer than usual. I’ve been worried about her since the pond thawed this past spring. She had a bad case of carp pox, the equivalent to human cold sores. The pox look like candle wax that’s been dripped on the side of the fish. Once the water warms up, their immune systems become active and the pox go away, until the next year that is. She’s also had a orange/red blush along her flanks, but she never came close enough to the water edge for me to get a good look at it.

Until today, she’s been eating well and swimming normally. It’s almost impossible to net one of the koi in the pond without injuring them. She’s full of eggs, I mean she’s huge, and she hasn’t ever spawned. It’s possible she has an ovarian tumor also. This can happen in a female who hasn’t spawned in a few years. The females reach maturity about two years before the males, but they’re all old enough to spawn now. Perhaps the spawning goldfish are releasing too many hormones into the water, or it could be that the pond is too heavily stocked. I know that there is a hormone released by fish, that when it reaches a certain level, it will retard their spawning if the body of water isn’t large enough to support a new generation.

Well after feeding time she started swimming in spirals and jumping out of the water, then she’d dive down to the bottom. I wouldn’t see her for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. The rain stopped a few minutes after 6:00, just in time for me to put salmon and swordfish on the grill for dinner. I know, I’m grilling fish, and worried about a fish, go figure.

While the fish was cooking I returned to the pond and there she was again, looking even worse. I’ve been through this before and based on my observations over the years, I anticipate she’ll be dead within two days. I hope I’m wrong. Tomorrow will tell the story.

It’s nearly midnight and right now it’s pouring outside. Lightening is lighting up the sky and the yard. We’re currently under a flood watch. This is the kind of weather the fish love because of the insects that are knocked into the water. I’m afraid my old girl isn’t enjoying them very much.



London broil, a feast to feast upon.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 9:58 pm by admin

This morning I watered the garden a second time for Daniel. The dirt is soaking up the water like a sponge. No sign of pumpkins yet, but the weeds are beginning to poke up again. Last evening, Daniel planted several seed packages of flowers and herbs in three cedar window boxes and three large ornamental glazed flower pots he had prepared on Sunday. It rained again this evening, matter of fact, it’s still raining. We’ve two more days of rain forecast. The seeds should love that.

I forgot to write about my marinated london broil from last Friday. Yum. Daniel cooked last Monday through Wednesday and we had leftovers on Thursday, so the poor steak had to marinade an extra day. Five days it bathed in a combination of soy, ginger, brown sugar, garlic, lemon, and oil. I turned in each morning and each evening. When I removed it from the marinade it was the color of mahogany. I grilled it over a low flame for 25 minutes, turning it after 10, then again every 5. The grill grate was caramelized with a thick coating of sugar when I removed it. I placed it on a large dinner plate, it had shrunk about 25%, and let it rest for 15 minutes.

While the steak was grilling, I poured the marinade in a small pot and brought to a slow boil over my simmer burner. Once it had boiled for five minutes I stirred in a tablespoon of flour that I had mixed in less than a quarter cup of cold water and brought it to a second boil, then let it simmer over a very low flame until the meat was cut. We had this with fresh cucumber and macaroni salads I had made after lunch. I add a little yellow zucchini into my cucumber salad for color.

Daniel bought me a mandolin, made in France, back in the winter, and this was only the second opportunity I had to use it. The cucumber and zucchini was sliced so thin you could literally have read a newspaper through it. I also add one quarter of a medium size onion to the cucumber salad. The remainder of the onion goes into the macaroni salad.

We had this meal a second time on Saturday, then again on Monday. Today I finished the last of the meat mixed in with stir-fry that Daniel had made for dinner yesterday. I baked cornbread in the toaster oven out on the porch this afternoon to go with the dinner that Daniel made this evening. It was too damned hot to turn the oven on in the house so I took the toaster oven outside and sat it on a table on the porch. It worked quite well. Dinner tonight was BBQ pork, beets, and cornbread. The cornbread was sweet enough to have for dessert even without the honey we drizzled over top

Daniel owns a postage stamp machine and has an account with the Post Office. After dinner he weighed the envelope with my poetry submission and printed out the postage. I’ll mail it tomorrow.



The submission process, it’s not unlike a pumpkin patch.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 9:23 pm by admin

I’ve been going through the poems I’ve written over the past year in an attempt to select the ones I want to submit for publication. It’s a daunting process. I wrote two weeks ago about reviewing poems to read at the open mic, and how I was revising them up until 2 hours before the meeting began. Today was no different, and worse.

When you submit poems to an editor, you have to consider the journal you are submitting to, and what if any experience you have had with that editor, be it success or failure. With Rosemary Cappello, I’ve had both. I mentioned Rosemary in my July 8, 2008 post. Last year she accepted two of my poems for the 2009 edition of the Philadelphia Poets journal out of more than a dozen I submitted last year, and on the eighth I was putting the finishing touches on them. Today, I tried to select some of my newer poems to submit to her. When I reviewed my poems to read at the open mic, I chose ones that had particular meaning to me. For Rosemary, I had to choose the ones I felt would fit with her journal from the list I put together to read. It took hours. Tomorrow, I’ll go through each one and probably revise them all. After this, I’ll compose my submission letter and format the selections to fit her criteria, print them out, recheck them, probably find typos, revise them again, reprint them, and then mail them in a protected oversize envelope.

I forgot to mention yesterday that Daniel rototilled the garden before we went to his company picnic. He told me he’s always wanted a pumpkin patch. He had intended to plant a vegetable garden this past spring. In April he rototilled the ground in preparation to start planting, but two days later I had to take him to the hospital. This was his second hospitalization this year. Then again in May he rototilled the garden, and was back in the hospital 36 hours later. The first six months of this year have been tough. Late yesterday afternoon I received a weather alert for an approaching storm. When I mentioned it to Daniel, he rushed out to the garden and began planting. He wanted to get the seeds in before the ground was wet or he’d have to wait a few days. As it was, we barely got any rain at all. Tomorrow I’ll water the garden with the pond water. We’ll have pumpkins; zucchini, yellow & green; spaghetti squash, patty pan squash.

I thought about going through his pumpkin patch this fall to choose which pumpkins we’ll use to decorate the front porch and walkways, and which ones we’ll give to family and friends. Selecting the perfect pumpkin for the right spot and the right person, each with its unique qualities, size and shape, and character, not unlike selecting poems.



Coming out – or – Introductions, putting a name with a face.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 9:52 pm by admin

After fighting the losing battle with evaporation this morning, Daniel and I went to his company picnic. This was the first opportunity for me to meet his coworkers. I’ve heard it said many times, “It’s nice to put a name with a face”, but this was the first time I experienced what it meant. I’ve heard about the people he works with when he recounts his day from time to time, and I did meet two of them last year for just a few seconds when we ran in to them while eating at Wendy’s, but today held particular significance.

Daniel came out today to his coworkers. There were a few neutral responses, but most of the people were cordial and several sat and talked with us the entire time we were there. The picnic was held at a local swim club that actually does a large part of its business renting the facility to companies and organizations for summer events. It sits on 65 acres and has a golf course, boasts the largest swimming pool in the east, and has multiple large picnic areas with pavilions and open area picnic tables. Several picnic areas share the staffed BBQ areas.

The picnic was attended by less than a third of the company employees, but most of those attending brought their families. After everyone had eaten, all but a handful went to the pool for about an hour. We remained behind and talked with those who also didn’t bring their bathing suits. Daniel and I both visited the food tables twice, selecting different entrees and sides. Folks came and went to different areas of the club, and the mingling that occured in the area the company was assigned seemed natural and amicable.

We discussed this day two weeks ago when Daniel told me he wanted to bring me to the function. It was the first event sponsored by his company in the two years he has been employed there where families were invited. Daniel writes about this in his blog, and you can read his thoughts on this in his own words. What impressed me the most was that the vice-president he works for came up to us as we entered the area to greet Daniel, meet me, and welcome us both. This says a lot.



The birds and the bees.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 7:07 pm by admin

While I was moving the sprinkler around the front yard, around the pond late this morning, a huge dragonfly with a bright white abdomen flew by. The body of this dragonfly was not as long and was broader than the blue and green varieties that visit the pond most often. Near the tips of its wings were two white dots as bright as the abdomen. It hovered over the pond and then landed on the small weeping birch tree that hangs over one end of the pond. I noticed it was alone. I haven’t seen a dragonfly with these markings in many years, not since my childhood. An hour or so later, another new dragonfly visited. This one was a vibrant iridescent green. The color reminded me of lime Jell-O that would have had a little lemon mixed in. This dragonfly was also alone and also had green pigmentation spots near the tips of its wings, just like the white one did.

Shortly after noon, I noticed the wasps that visit the pond on a daily basis were much more intent on their mission and there were more of them. At any one time there are usually five or six present on the lily pads. Today there were twelve to fifteen at a time. It’s fascinating to watch them as they land on the lily pads then crawl to the edge of the pads to take on water. You can actually see their abdomens pumping as they drink. They seemed to be having difficulty taking off. It reminded me of watching a large military cargo jet travel down a very long runway, then finally leave the ground and climb ever so slowly into the air. They were loaded down with water. I don’t know much about the aerodynamics of wasp flight, but I would guess that there isn’t much room for cargo built into their design. They barely made it over the porch roof and then flew in a slow wide ascending arc until they finally made it over the house roof. This activity kept up until nearly 6:00 PM. I’m sure the heat of the last few days has made it difficult for the hive to stay cool.

After these past few days, it is evident that the lack of rain is affecting the birds and the bees.



Losing the battle.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:16 pm by admin

Ok, this has become a mission, a battle, and I’m losing miserably. The section of lawn I’ve been watering diligently for the past two days is dry, and the grass is brittle once again. I’ve taken this war of salvation on to the front yard, around the pond, in an attempt to preserve that oasis at least.

At any one time, there are song birds, bees, wasps, butterflies, dragonflies, which have been joined by their cousins damselflies, and who knows what other members of the animal kingdom in a continuous parade to and from the pond in an effort to quench their thirsts. Even the ants are swarming.

I made the mistake of not looking where I stood this afternoon and learned quite quickly that I had entered a battle zone between red and black ants. Both colonies were in the process of destroying each other, and I became a casualty of war from both sides. I thought I had stepped on a thorn, then the sharp stinging moved rapidly to my ankles and up my legs. Soldiers from each side were on the offensive as the battle moved to me. I’m not sure if I became a new front, or an intended target, but I got the hell out of there quite rapidly. Boy oh boy do those bite marks itch.

I’m sure I’ll be recounting this war, my own earth war, not the ants, in the days to come.



Brittle grass becomes the feast of Robins.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:07 pm by admin

Our region of the state has received numerous heavy rain and thunder storms late this spring and into the summer. I receive multiple weather warning emails from a local news station, which actually are generated by the NWS (National Weather Service), whenever the storms are on their way. As I have followed the approaching storms with local weather radar on my laptop, time after time I observe the storms split apart right before they get here, and we get nothin’.

Last month on June 10, 2008, on a particularly dangerous hot day, the warnings were as ominous as the sky became that evening. 60 to 70 mph “destructive” winds clocked in storms coming from the west. Ten minutes before it hit, this was the bulletin: “This is a dangerous storm. If you are in its path, prepare immediately for damaging winds, large hail, and deadly ground to cloud lightning. Move to a shelter, preferably inside a “strong” building, but away from windows.” This storm was traveling at 52 miles an hour headed our way. Yikes! I usually pay little heed to these warnings. We’d been fooled so many times for weeks at a time, but, there was something about the sky.

I had just finished cooking chicken cacciatore for dinner in the crock pot on the front porch. Hey it was hot! We were in the middle of a heat wave, like we’re entering now, with heat indices in the low 100’s to 110. I wasn’t about to heat up the house by cooking anything. That’s why I like to grill so much, and I even grill in the dead of winter, but that’s another story.

Anyway, the trees started whipping around in circles and back and forth. I held my breath multiple times, because I was certain one was going to come down on the house. Daniel checked the weather radar and told me there was a “white” cell headed straight for us. White is the heaviest rain color indicator of the weather radar we use. I grabbed the crock-pot, a flash light, and my cell phone, and we headed for the basement with the cat in tow. Then I remembered I had left my laptop computer plugged in and turned on, so I ran back upstairs to get it.

When I got to the living room, I unplugged the laptop and noticed the sky outside was so dark I couldn’t see two properties away. Like a fool I went out onto the front porch to look. Within seconds a large round circular wall of moving air fell to the ground next door and began to move toward our house. I didn’t immediately recognize it was round because it was so wide. It extended from the street to the back of the property, about 100 yards. Then I noticed it’s rotation. It traveled to the front corner of our property, crossed the street and moved into the trees across the street, then shot straight up into the sky. At first I thought it was a band of rain, then I realized what it was. Holy shit, it was a funnel cloud! Unbeknownst to me, Daniel had come out onto the porch behind me. I never heard him or the storm door slam shut because of the roar of the wind. It wasn’t the sound of a locomotive you hear about on the news when tornados are coming. As I turned to open the door, I nearly ran into him. I yelled, “It’s a funnel cloud, down to the basement”, and pushed him into the house. On the way I grabbed my laptop and we ran to the basement. Ten minutes later it was all over. So little rain fell, there were only damp spots on the driveway. So much for discrediting the NWS.

Where was I, oh yeah, “Brittle Grass”. This morning, I continued to water the area of the back yard I started to water last evening, section by section. By around 11:00, after three hours, the pond had lowered by about 500 gallons, so I turned off the sprinkler and began to refill the pond. I walked around the side of the house to the back yard to move the sprinkler to the next section where I would pick up the watering process this evening. The grass was soft. No more crunching under my bare feet, and not only that, there were three robins digging worms. I had watered the ground enough, that the it had softened and the earthworms returned to the surface. Of course the robins flew up into the sugar maple in the back yard when I turned the back corner of the house, scolding me as they went, but I felt like I had accomplished something this morning. I prepared a feast for Robins.



Heat waves and rewrites.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:25 pm by admin

On my way home from work today, I stopped at the produce stand and picked up just under two pounds of roma tomatoes, two cucumbers for a dollar, two red onions, and a very large green bell pepper. After I arrived home and parked the car in the garage, I noticed how dry the ground was in the section of the back yard between the house and the garage. I put the groceries away and rather than drain the pond into the yard behind the garage like I had planned to do, I hooked up the sprinkler to a garden hose that I have attached to a spigot bypass in the outflow pipe from the pond pump. This allows a portion of the water to bypass the filter, and I use it to water plants and in times of little or no rain, the lawn. The pressure in this line is rather low, I’d say below 20 psi, so the range the sprinkler covers in less than half that of the garden hose. The advantage to this is the pond water is already fertilized. The disadvantage is about once an hour, I have to clean tiny pieces of algae from the sprinkler that plug up the flow. Since this water bypasses the filter, the particles aren’t trapped by it.

After about three hours, I had drained about 500 gallons. Each section of lawn was watered for about thirty minutes. As I moved the sprinkler from area to area, I could almost hear the grass sigh in relief. Fifty minutes later, the pond was refilled. When most of my neighbors can skip a week or two of grass cutting during times of little rain, I’m still cutting grass somewhere in the yard, thanks to the supplemental irrigation. I also use the pond water to irrigate the herb and vegetable garden. You should see the size of our zucchini, that is when we plant it.

You may remember my post from July 8, when I mentioned the dragonflies out at the pond. I had mentioned that I thought there might be a poem in that scene I had described. Well “The dance of dragonflies” was finished on the Tuesday the 15th. Sorry I forgot to mention it then. It’s a rhyming poem with fourteen beat lines. As I was drifting off to sleep the night before, the first few lines came to me. I got out of bed immediately, came downstairs and wrote them down, or in my case typed them into a word document. Then midmorning on the 15th, I sat down in front of the computer and finished writing the poem. At one point I closed the document without saving the changes I had recently made. This was when Mom called about the price of oil. When I returned to the computer, I opened the document and I was missing an entire strophe and several rewritten lines. Boy was I pissed. Luckily, I was able to remember most of it, but I’m certain some of the poem was lost. It turns out to have been a good thing because the poem wound up being five strophes rather than three. Having to recreate the text gave me more time to think about the poem and I was able to flesh it out a little bit. Rewrites can be a good thing.


blue dragonfly


Thermostat settings will lower inversely proportional to the increase in cost of home heating.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 8:45 pm by admin

Mom called me this morning about the price of heating oil. Her budget plan for this coming season will cost nearly $5,800.00 divided over the next eleven months. Mom’s house is twice as large as ours and she keeps the thermostat set about ten degrees higher than we do. This is going to be a significant expenditure for her.

We prepay for our heating oil in July of each year in order to lock in at a lower rate. While this expenditure is significant, it has allowed us a savings of between $.50 and $0.75 a gallon on average. Even so, It’s going to cost us $1,300.00 more for the same 600 gallons of oil we bought last season. This past winter was the first time in nearly twenty years that we kept the thermostat set above 64 degrees during the day and around 60 degrees over night. I guess it’s back to sweats and flannels around the clock. It’s hard to think of this fact in the heat of July. We’re about to enter another heat wave of five consecutive days with highs above 90 degrees.

The local energy company announced two months ago the price of natural gas was increasing 50%. I can’t fathom the cost of heating for the folks in the surrounding communities who heat their homes with natural gas or have recently converted to natural gas furnaces from oil. We plan to keep the thermostat at 60 degrees during the day and 55 degrees over night. Space heaters will supplement the rooms we occupy during the day and down comforters will ensure sleeping comfort.

Daniel read me an article the other day about collecting cow farts in plastic bags attached to their butts to process the methane. I think I’ve found a use for all those plastic bags we get at the grocery store. Now where to find a few cows.



“Kosher Salami & Bologna taste much the same.”

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 5:03 pm by admin

Or so said the owner of Pumpernick’s on the phone today when I called.

(You’ll need to read yesterday’s post in order to understand what today’s post is about.)

He never gave me his name after I identified myself to him, and after I had to identify myself before my call would be put through to him by the person who answered the phone. I explained to the owner that I had eaten in his restaurant yesterday, and that I sometimes eat there several times a month. I told him what I ordered and that the sandwich was delicious, but that I ordered salami and got what I believe was bologna. I told him the meat, which I believe was bologna, tasted like a Hebrew National hot dog.

(If you don’t want to read a he said, he said, you can stop reading right now.)

He told me that his salami is cut on an angle to provide a larger slice which makes it oblong in shape, and that this could be why I may be mistaken. I told him the slices of meat on my sandwich were round not oblong and there were no dots of fat in the meat. Now, he did say he could not be 100% certain that I did not get salami, but he doubted it, and if it did happen it must have been an unintentional mistake. He also told me twice that the next time I come in, I should ask for him so he can show me how similar the two meats are, because they are packaged identically.

(At this point my spidey senses were tingling. Whenever a merchant of any kind immediately becomes defensive and tries to convince a customer that s/he is wrong, and why, rather than use good business sense and good business practice by immediately offering restitution, I begin to lose faith in the merchant and the establishment s/he represents. By the way, I was not seeking restitution. I told the owner that I genuinely enjoyed the sandwich and that I would continue to eat in his restaurant regardless, but I wanted to let him know that I believed I did not receive the sandwich I had ordered and why.)

I related to him what I saw in his deli case, that the Salami had tiny dots of fat where the Bologna didn’t, and that each log of salami was smaller in diameter than each log of bologna was in his deli case, and that I have been eating salami and bologna my entire life. He replied, “Well you really can’t tell once it’s cooked.” Dumbfounded I could only respond, “Oh really”, and no I did not state this as a question.

(At this point my spidey senses were a hummin’!)

I do have to admit that before yesterday, I had never knowingly eaten kosher salami. As of today, I do not believe I have ever eaten kosher salami, but I have eaten plenty of non-kosher salami of one kind or another be it Italian, Pennsylvania Dutch, or German, the same goes for bologna. I also love to make my own fried bologna sandwiches and fried salami sandwiches albeit Italian, Pennsylvania Dutch, or German, and no, I never mix them.

Since I’m not a kosher butcher, I must take this gentleman at his word.

Oh, by the way, the only thing I’m going to mention about food in this post is that Daniel is cooking dinner tonight.



My, “I swore I wasn’t going to write about food today!”, post, but we had lunch at Pumpernick’s.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:59 pm by admin

Ok I am breaking my own promise to myself – later.

Today, Daniel and I stopped at a local garden center/florist and picked up two bay plants, yes like the trees and herb used in soups, stews, sauces, and seafood, and to make those exorbitantly expensive holiday wreaths. Can you believe companies charge over one-hundred dollars for those things? This same florist had one on sale last Christmas for $275.00. It was over three feet in diameter. I looked at it and couldn’t imagine using that much bay in my lifetime. Sorry, back to my story.

We were on our way to the grocery store when Daniel mentioned a new coworker who just moved into a new condo. She mentioned to him that she wanted a bay plant for her kitchen, but hadn’t been able to find one. Since our three inch pot bay tree from last year died over the winter, I thought it might be a good idea to replace it, so we stopped along the way. The seven bay leaves I salvaged from it before it went “dormant”, or so I thought, had lasted the entire winter season. We were looking for two of the same small three inch pots,. They were all gone. The florist must have know we were coming because they had a dozen, two foot bay trees planted in seven inch pots for $25.00 each, only one row from the cash register. There were so many bay leaves on these trees that I thought, even if we get the smallest tree for ourselves, I’m going to be including a jar of bay leaves with every gift I give this Christmas, with plenty left over for next Christmas. Of course we spent twenty minutes going over each tree before we selected the two most handsome specimens. By this time it was 1:30 in the afternoon and we were hungry, so we diverted and drove directly to a local Jewish Deli/Restaurant called Pumpernick’s. Here’s where I’m breaking my own promise to myself.

After waiting about five minutes, we were seated in a booth and ordered just a few minutes later. We both ordered Rachel’s, Daniel’s was pastrami, and I ordered Kosher salami simply because I had never tried it. The sandwiches were delicious, smothered in coleslaw, russian dressing, melted swiss cheese and grilled to perfection, Mine was open faced, Daniel’s was stacked. Daniel tried mine and told me it tasted like bologna. I tasted a piece of the meat with nothing else on it and agreed, but then I didn’t know what Kosher salami should taste like.

We still had grocery shopping to do so, we took half our sandwiches with us, besides, we couldn’t finish them. On the way out, after paying, we passed the large deli case and sure enough, there in front of us were logs of Kosher bologna sitting right next to logs of Kosher salami, one log of each was partially sliced. There’s no way to confuse the two. I got bologna. We were in a hurry and the line to pay was 10 people deep. I decided to call the Deli owner when we got home, remember, we still had grocery shopping to do, but I was annoyed to say the least. With our leftover sandwiches in the car, we were in and out of the grocery store in 20 minutes.

After putting the sandwiches and groceries away, I started the grill to cook four pounds of chicken breasts for part of our dinners for the week, and for Daniel for lunches. While the chicken was cooking, I made a marinade for the london broil we’re going to have later in the week. It will marinade for four days, turning once every twelve hours. If anyone wants the recipe, just send me a note or post a request in comments.

While I waited for the chicken to finish, Daniel started repotting the bay trees. They were so pot bound we had to break the pots. Inside were solid balls of roots with no earth visible. Daniel selected two nice larger twelve inch pots and replanted them. During the repotting, the chicken had finished cooking and after allowing it to cool for thirty minutes in a covered bowl, I put it away in the ‘frig. I then did a load of laundry and started my two hour routine of caring for the pond and feeding the fish. By this time it was going on 8:00 and the sun was beginning to set. While I was busy with laundry and the pond, Daniel cleaned the front porch and put away a stack of flower pots that had accumulated there since last fall, along with multiple garden tools. When we came in, we ate dinner. Daniel finished his Rachel and had a salad, and I had left over’s from the end of last week to finish them up. I realized later this evening, while we were watching a movie, that I had forgotten to call Pumpernick’s. I’ll do that tomorrow. I’ll let you know how this story turns out.



A reunion of sorts.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:06 pm by admin

I spent this afternoon at a family get-together at my mother’s home in 87 degree sunny heat. Daniel couldn’t come because he had to work.

Mom’s house was closed up tight, and the two one room air conditioners on the second floor were not enough to keep up with the BTU’s being put out by my clan, which included extended family, close friends and neighbors, and coworkers and their accompaniments, even with several ceiling fans running on high. This was the first time Mom had all her kids together since this past Christmas. Let me tell you about the food!

When I arrived, the first seating had been over for more than an hour, and the second seating was about to begin. I had just enough time to move through the group shaking hands and kissing and hugging everyone hello. All the food was taken out of the ‘frig and unwrapped. The accompanying sauces, condiments, pickles, olives, chips, munchies, etc. were dispersed along with the food throughout the kitchen and dining room. Any and every flat surface available became a serving table. We had BBQ beef ribs; BBQ chicken; teriyaki marinated and baked chicken, which Mom made at 5:00 in the morning because she didn’t think she had enough food for the crowd that was coming; Mom’s world famous potato salad; shrimp salads, yes there were two different kinds; cucumber salad, cole slaw, meat and cheese platters, three kinds of bread, two kind of rolls, baked ziti with extra side sauce, cheese cake, pastries, cookies, chocolates, crumb cakes, nut breads, pumpkin bread, and a very large layer cake purchased from a local specialty cake shop.

Eating and conversation go hand in hand in my family, and I’m sure my family is not unique in this regard. I can’t remember a single family event over the course of the past fifty hears when there has been a moment when someone wasn’t eating. The “kids” caught up on each other’s lives, the “seniors” caught up on each other’s lives, and then just about everyone repeated what they had already said to the “other” group. The grandkids interrupted nearly every conversation with a demand, complaint, “watch me” request, tattletale, shriek, scream, or tearful recollection of some affront by another grandkid.

There were multiple near-misses and near falls, and stumbles with exclamations of “didn’t break”, that referred to a plate, glass or bone. Thankfully there was no blood. Had there been, I as the resident healthcare professional would have been expected to “go to work”. There were several exclamations along the lines of, “OPW is here so we don’t have to worry about anyone getting hurt”, from several of the “seniors” present, some of whom were drinking concoctions stronger than the iced tea and lemonade on the tables. If you analyze this statement, you’d think I was a super hero who possessed superpowers of some kind, as if I can prevent catastrophes from occurring. Hmm, I should charge a fee for this. I wonder what my costume should look like, or what graphic should be on my cape?

There was of course the obligatory photo posing session; Mom’s kids; “the” kids which included cousins; everyone which included the grandkids and “senior” family members. Then there were the brothers photos, and “candid” photos, all of which were taken with three different cameras, owned by three different people. There were the “devil horn” photos; sneezing photos; “say cheese” photos as well as “other” words photos; the “oops I blinked” retakes; the “I had my eyes closed” retakes, and finally the “oops I moved” spoken by the “photographer” retakes, not to mention the “I gotta pee”, “I gotta change my blouse/shirt”, “I gotta comb/brush my hair” and “I gotta lose some weight” while repositioning themselves to look slimmer, delays.

The most memorable part of this visit was the brief period of time when my sister and I shared our writings with each other. We found a quiet spot in Mom’s plant room and closed the door. She read me her poetically written children’s stories, and I read her some of my poems. We were interrupted only three times, which for my family is a miracle. We’ve both become serious about writing over the past few years, and it’s nice to get feedback from a family member who can offer a critical opinion when the “writers caps” are put on.

Another memorable moment was when an aunt commented to the “kids”, “Play nice!” It’s nice to be one of the “kids” at the age of fifty, and hey I get to sit at the grown-ups table!



Asuka, a haiku in Japanese cuisine.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:02 pm by admin

After spending most of the morning and early part of the afternoon reading poetry on the poets org forum, and reading the documentation to learn about how the software that makes this blog possible works, I realized that I had forgotten to defrost some meat to cook on the grill for dinner. I don’t like to use the microwave because it tends to partially cook the meat. By this time it was 4:30. I had remembered putting aside a few restaurant coupons from a recent junk mailing I received last week. I went through the coupons, and after discussing the options with my partner, Daniel, we settled on the Asuka Japanese Restaurant in Blue Bell, PA, a relatively new business for the property it occupies. It sits about a quarter mile down the road from the produce stand for O & F Farms from Worcester, which I mentioned two days ago. This site has been home to several different unsuccessful restaurants over the past ten years or so, with the building often sitting vacant for months at a time between establishments.

The drive to Asuka took about ten minutes, and when we arrived, we were seated immediately in an exceptionally appointed Japanese dining room devoid of any other patrons. The dining room was quiet, a pleasant change from the noisy atmosphere of so many American chain restaurants. There was a sushi bar staffed by what I believe was the sushi chef and his sous-chef. Our waiter was Tim, a college student studying information technology with a concentration in security. Tim’s attention to detail, soft voice, and humble manor only added to the unhurried atmosphere which was a precursor to what was to be a most pleasant dining experience.

We ordered a bottle of chilled plum wine to start. For an appetizer, I ordered negimaki, broiled sliced rib eye wrapped with scallions in teriyaki sauce, and my entree was salmon teriyaki that included a house salad with ginger dressing, vegetables, and rice. Daniel ordered as an appetizer, seaweed salad; an entree of unadon, broiled freshwater eel on a bed of rice served with oshikno, which are pickled vegetables; miso soup; and a salmon hand roll with no wasabi from the sushi bar, which was not on the menu.

I had never sampled plum wine, but Daniel told me it was syrupy sweet but very good if served cold. To my delight, it was on the dry side, with a wonderful bouquet and delicate on the palate. I will include plum wine with any Japanese meal I order in the future if it is available.

I am always leery of small portion sizes whenever I dine in a Japanese restaurant. I don’t know why this is, because, with very few exceptions, I leave the restaurant sated. Asuka was in no way a disappointment. My salad was fresh, crisp, and delicious. I wish I knew how they made their dressing, because I scooped as much of it up as I possibly could with the lettuce and other vegetables. Had there been bread on the table, as is found is so many American restaurants, I would have cleaned the bowl. I was momentarily tempted to use my finger to scoop the remaining dressing, but thought better of this in such a fine establishment. When Tim brought my salad, I asked him for a fork. Without blinking an eye, Tim humbly apologized for not anticipating my need and returned quickly with a fork and steak knife rolled in a white linen napkin. I am quite skilled at eating with chopsticks to the point of being able to pick up single grains of rice with them, but I have yet to master eating a lettuce based salad with them. I can only hope that my request was not seen as an insult to the chef or staff of Asuka. If it was I humbly apologize.

While we waited for our appetizers, I had the opportunity to observe the sushi chef prepare Daniel’s Salmon hand role. You would have thought the chef was performing surgery, that is how intense his attention to the preparation was. I have always enjoyed the opportunity to observe a master at his craft, no matter what that craft may be. Be it carpenter, painter, mechanic, or chef, it is immediately obvious when one is in the presence of excellence. This gentleman was a true embodiment of that word.

The timing of the arrival of our appetizers was perfectly orchestrated to the moment I finished my salad. I must say that my negimaki was like nothing I have ever eaten before. There were seven pieces, perfectly portioned. The scallions were wrapped within the rib eye, that was so thinly sliced it was hard to believe that it held together. With each chew, I experienced a burst of savory and sweet with an infusion of subtle scallion as the vegetables crunched between my teeth. The flavors built layer upon layer. I wish I had a more discerning palate so that I would be able to tell you the different herbs and spices that were used. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it was exceptional. Between bites of the negimaki were a palate cleanser of tender white radish shaved into long filaments presented in a tower. How this creation managed to stand escapes me. There was also a simply stated side garnish of a single maraschino cherry. The contrast between the red and white was elegant and very pleasing to the eye.

Daniel allowed me to try his seaweed salad which is something I always enjoy. It was also delicious and again the complex layers of flavor were quite evident. I would have liked to taste a little of everything that was on the menu, with the exception of sushi or sashimi, as I don’t eat any animal raw, but time and budgetary constraints prevented this.

Once again, Tim timed the arrival of our entrees perfectly. My salmon was served on a hot iron platter cradled in a wooden base. The aroma was sensational. Aside of the salmon were steamed asparagus, carrots, and broccoli, perfectly cooked to tender crisp. The rice was served on the side in a bowl and was sprinkled with black sesame seeds. The salmon was crisp on the under surface and succulently tender on top, and the sauce was again an experience in subtle complexity. The rice was perfectly sticky and came apart in portions with ease, but stayed together well enough to be eaten with chopsticks.

Daniel’s entree was served in an ornate bento box. The eel was nestled on a bed of perfectly cooked rice and along one side rested the pickled vegetables of vibrant yellow, green, and purple hues consisting of daicon radish cucumber, and beets. I do not eat eel, so I cannot comment on it, but from Daniel’s response, his meal was as wonderful as my own.

I had been thinking of a dessert I have enjoyed in Chinese restaurants, fried bananas, which consists of banana pieces quickly folded into molten caramelized sugar then immediately immersed in iced water. The sugar coating can be heard to crackle as it quickly cools. The banana is warm and slightly soft and the sugar coating is crisp but very thin. I mentioned this and described the dessert to Tim. He asked if he could check with the chef to see if it could be duplicated. Daniel ordered a dish of mochi, a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice, molded into the shape of crescent moons that contained vanilla ice cream wrapped around a smaller portion of red bean paste, garnished with slivered strawberries and whipped heavy cream. Before I knew it, Tim returned with an elegant plate of tempura-fried banana sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and fresh whipped cream on the side, all drizzled with chocolate sauce. There was a delicate garnish of a carved lemon wedge on the plate that resembled a dragon head. The presentation was lovely. Tim was quick to state that the chef prepared the dish so that I could see the Japanese version of my request, and wanted to offer it to me as a compliment. I was floored. It was too beautiful to disturb with a fork. I sensed a subtle anxiety to please me in Tim, which would be impossible to detect had he been a typical American waiter. I felt duty-bound to sample the delicate creation, as I did not wish to offend the chef or Tim. Again, I was not disappointed. Though the taste and consistency was very different from the Chinese version, it was exceptional, and before I knew it I had consumed the entire plate.

Daniel enjoyed his dessert as much as I did but said the only part of the presentation that wasn’t to his liking was that it was served in a sundae dish. He felt the dish fragile and was afraid he might break it. Perhaps this was because the crescents had to warm a little before they could be managed with a spoon. I myself do not enjoy red bean anything, so I must rely on his discerning palate on this one. I thought the presentation was elegant.

At the completion of the meal, Tim asked if we would like anything else, but we were both comfortably sated so I asked for the check, insisting to pay for my dessert. When Tim returned with the check he told me he could not charge me for my dessert on the instructions of the chef. We were both extremely impressed by the meal and the entire experience and reflected our pleasure in the gratuity.

Suffice it to say, this was a meal I will long remember and the standard to which I will compare all future Japanese cuisine, and Tim will remain the standard to which I will compare all wait staff as well until a time when his service and attention is exceeded. I don’t think that will occur any time soon.

I am so glad I forgot to defrost the steak.

As we left, I noticed there were no other patrons present at that time, and I can only hope that this sparsity was as a result of the early hour. I would hate to think that this exceptional dining experience would be lost to the members of the community because of lack of discovery or disinterest. It is truly one of the finest meals I have had in many, many years, and far exceeds what is offered by so many of the local representatives of national chain restaurants or long standing restaurants in the area.

Connected to Asuka is Gaya Korean Restaurant, its sister, owned by the same company, Han Ghang, LLC. There were several tables occupied by patrons there. I can’t wait to return and experience the same level of exceptional service while exploring a whole new cuisine.



Meeting a fellow poet and mentor.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 8:10 pm by admin

Today I had the good fortune to meet a good friend for the first time, Christine. I first met Christine Klocek-Lim last summer online at Poets org. Christine was the Administrator of the Poetry Forum, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets for three years. In August of last year, she sent me a message asking if I would like to become a Moderator for the 101 Poetry Workshop Forum. To say I was blown away would be an understatement – humbled to say the least. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided to accept.

Over the past eleven months, we have become friends and have talked about meeting for lunch, but something always came up, and we had to cancel. Christine invited me to her house, and after a tour of her home, we sat down for a lunch of tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil salad, served with a light balsamic vinegar dressing, and brewed iced tea. It was a perfect light meal for a comfortably warm summer day, and before I realized it, I had eaten three servings.

After lunch, we moved to her large covered deck overlooking her side and back yard. In large wooden barrels placed in the sun, zucchini, peas, green beans, parsley, and tomatoes grew. For the next three hours, we sat and talked about our lives, writing, poetry, and how they influenced and were influenced by each other. You can read Christine’s online poetry journal at Autumn Sky Poetry.

We both realized how similar our lives have been, and I gained a much deeper respect and admiration for her as a human being. During this time, Christine served fresh blueberries with home-made whipped cream. The blueberries were the sweetest I have ever eaten. I could have spent several more hours talking, but I had to leave at 4:30 to avoid the rush hour traffic on the major roads during my drive home.

During the hour long drive, I thought about poetry and what we talked about. I think there are a few poems brewing now, and I look forward to the time when they decide to reveal themselves to me.

Thank you, Christine, for a most pleasant visit.



A day in the life of a poet nurse.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:59 pm by admin

This morning I spent an hour on the Poets org Forum website, where I am a Moderator for the 101 Workshop Forum. I was reading new poetry while I performed a water change in the pond. The water change takes about two hours. I drain five hundred gallons from the pond over a fifteen minute period. Because I have a well that runs from an aquifer about one hundred feet below my home, I must refill the pond in two stages. I can run the garden hose for about thirty to thirty-five minutes continuously before the water pressure drops. After turning off the hose for thirty minutes or so to allow the well to refill, I finish topping off the pond in about fifteen more minutes. Unbelievably, the goldfish were spawning again this morning. Frisky little critters, aren’t they.

By the time the water change was finished, it was time to get ready for work, so I packed myself a sandwich, took a shower and headed in to the ER. It was a moderately busy day with the usual assortment of medical emergencies, but it was manageable.

On my way home from work, I had to take a detour due to road repaving and passed by the Farm Produce Stand owned and operated by O & F Farms from Worcester, PA. The stand is at 1040 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422, telephone (610) 272-9219 and lies between Union Meeting Road and Cathcart Road. The farm is located on Skippack Pike, Rt. 73 just below Rt. 363. I picked up five tomatoes at $1.49 a pound along with a large cucumber for 50 cents, a green bell pepper at 1.49 a pound and a huge head of romaine lettuce.

The moment I walked into my kitchen I started washing the produce and made a very large green salad with the lettuce and pepper along with cabbage, sweet onion, cucumber, a half a head of red leaf lettuce I still had in the refrigerator as well as a fresh tomato and mozzarella salad with thinly sliced fresh green bell pepper, basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. The smell of fresh tomatoes and peppers was too tempting to resist, and I ate an entire tomato and one quarter of the bell pepper right from the cutting board during the preparation. As anyone who loves tomatoes knows, there is nothing like the taste of a fresh garden tomato. Yum!

Dinner consisted of a half of a chicken breast shredded into a bowl of Barilla tubini with pasta sauce made from half and half tomato sauce and salsa and fresh grated parmesan cheese, a green salad and three cups of the tomato salad, and a large tumbler wine spritzer made of Yellow Tail Shiraz and homemade seltzer. Now I know some of you may shreak at the thought of ruining a good Shiraz with seltzer, but hey it’s my palate and I love it. I was stuffed and quite happily uncomfortable.

After dinner I sat on my front porch in the rocker with a glass of Tawny Port while I performed another water change on the pond, then fed the fish from the cement bench next to the waters edge. By the time the pond had refilled, it was dark outside so I retired to the living room to spend an evening with poetry from the Poets org forum and my copy of “3XCARLIN AN ORGY of GEORGE” and another new poetry book written by a member at Poets org by the name of Steve Meador “Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree”. I’m on my second read of Steve’s book. George helped me to laugh, Steve helped me to laugh, think, and reflect. Here’s my Amazon review for “Percy”:

“Steve Meador’s book “Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree” rings true on many levels. His poetry reflects the innocence of a boy growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, a time I can easily relate to. I know him only marginally from the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Forum, as our paths rarely crossed. Until this book, I had never read any of his work. I wrote the following to Steve on June 30, 2008 in private correspondence:

‘I believe we walked similar paths in our youth. So many of your “stories”, and yes they are stories written as poetry, transported me back to those years. A few of the poems leave me questioning, because I believe there are messages within the words that I have yet to realize.

I can’t help but wonder though if you have yet to realize your potential and true calling. With all humility, you are a novelist, down to your core. I would urge you to explore this and ask yourself whether you have a story to write. I believe you do, strongly.’ ”

It wasn’t a bad way to end a day, not a bad way at all. I used to dread turning fifty. Turns out, Fifty ain’t so bad!



The dance of dragonflies and goldfish

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:41 pm by admin

As I sat on my porch late this morning drinking my first cup of coffee, I watched two pale blue dragonflies perform their mating ballet as they hovered within and near the limbs of a young weeping birch that hangs over my koi/goldfish pond. It was an amazing sight. As the male approaches, the female hovers, sometimes darting away, and he must approach again. Once they are synchronized in their dance, they ascend at an amazing speed straight up into the air, so high I am unable to follow them.

I was so taken with the dance of the dragonflies, that I didn’t realize the goldfish were also spawning. Not until I stood up to return to the kitchen for a second cup did I notice the splashing that was going on in the pond. Goldfish, at least the goldfish in my pond, usually spawn at daybreak. I’ve even been awakened in the morning by the sound of water splashing as the males chase the females into the shallows, nudging them to release their eggs. Two weeks ago, I found a goldfish in the bog next to the pond who must have been pushed over the rocks during the ritual. The poor thing was flapping on its side, its gills barely covered by water.

There’s gotta be a poem in this somewhere.

This afternoon I put the finishing touches on two of my poems that have been accepted for publication by the Philadelphia Poets Journal, a print publication I had submitted some of my work to last year. The editor, Rosemary Cappello, is a wonderful woman who is very dedicated to poetry and art here in southeastern Pennsylvania. She has lived a very interesting life, and I would encourage anyone reading this post to visit her website.

This evening, just before dinner I noticed that Comcast is showing “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck as a free movie this month. If you’ve never seen it, watch it. You’ll be moved to tears and cheers. The Pearl S Buck homestead is about a thirty minute drive from my house, and I’ve never been there. I think that is going to be one of my weekend destinations before the leaves turn color this fall. Hmm, maybe there’s a poem in this as well.



Doctors and Poetry

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:47 pm by admin

I spent most of today reading and rereading all the poems I have written during the past thirteen months in an attempt to select a few to read at the open mic hosted by a local Barnes & Noble later this evening. I was quite surprised at the number I found, fifty-nine to be exact.

Fifty-nine poems completed with an average of six versions each. Hmm, does that count as three-hundred-fifty-four? There were also fifteen poems I found that I started but never finished. Several of these had only the first couple of lines written, but many had moved into the second and third strophes. I wonder what it was that made me just stop? Perhaps I had taken the poem as far as I could and then just hit a brick wall. Maybe the phone rang, and I became so distracted that I couldn’t pick the poem back up again. Perhaps I realized I was writing shite, but then why did I just not delete them. It’s funny, I don’t remember most of them.

There were three titles I remember remembering (does that make sense?) as being completed poems when I clicked on the document icon to open them. I do all my writing on the computer. To my surprise they each had only a few lines completed. I suspect that these three have been completed by my subconscious but haven’t yet bubbled up from the muck and mire where they were conceived to a place where I can grab ahold of them. Either that or the phone rang. Do these fifteen count? Three-hundred-sixty-nine, wow.

So I went through and selected only thirty-four, LOL. Now wait, of these there were twelve Haiku, two Tanka and one lonely Cinquain. Being the perfectionist that I am, I revised several of them before I printed them out.

By the time I had finished it was 3:45 PM. I had to get to my annual doctor appointment at 4:30. I jumped in the shower and was dressed and out the door with my poems and bag dinner in hand by 4:12 PM, and arrived at the doctor’s office at 4:38 PM. I wasn’t too worried about being a few minutes late because I usually sit in the waiting room for at least forty-five minutes. I took advantage of the waiting time by reading through all my poems twice, editing a few of them yet again. I was in the exam room at 5:05 PM and left the office at 6:00 PM.

The drive to Barnes & Noble took only twenty minutes, so I ate my dinner in the cafe and reread my poems twice again. This time I didn’t make any revisions. I met the lady from Barnes & Noble, Chris, and we set up the area for the open mic.

The poetry meeting began around 7:30 PM. Five of the folks who attended, out of seven, read. It was an eclectic group. The woman who organized this group, Nicole, read short stories. Another woman, Brenda, read what I would describe as a cross between inspirational speeches and sermons, but they were in poetic form. Brenda has a powerful voice. I can easily visualize her speaking from a pulpit. A young man who works at the store, Chris, read poetry.

Each of these folks read with a unique voice, and the material they read was just as varied. All of it seemed very raw, as if the work was in its early stages. Before we began the reading, while everyone was getting to know each other and catch up, I inquired whether any of the other folks attending the reading ever workshopped their writing, none of them did. I encouraged them all to find a forum online, or to join or create a group of writers who meet regularly to workshop their writing. My impression was this was a new concept for them. I hope they do, because there was great potential in what I heard.

Another gentleman, Daniel, read some of his poetry which was refined in both language and poetic form. The audience was very impressed with his work. I had two turns at the “mic,” the microphone was broken so we all sat or stood at a tall table and read aloud. Unfortunately, we had to compete with the piped in music that was playing, as one of the speakers was directly over the area where we met. I was a bit nervous during my first round when I read two medium length poems, but by the second poem I had relaxed quite a bit. Hmm, maybe that’s why my blood pressure had been up in the doctor’s office. It could also have been the three large mugs of coffee I drank between 1:00 PM and 3:45 PM.

During my second turn at the “mic”, I read two medium length poems and one very short one. I was very appreciative of the reception I received and several members commented on the imagery of my work. Anyone who knows my writing, both poetry and short stories, would understand how important this component of writing is to me. Nicole took a third turn at reading and then called for the meeting to end. I was surprised by this, but just as happy it was over because by then it was 8:45 PM. We all said good night and left.

What impressed me the most about this group was how attentive to the reader everyone was. Also, each person who read received a round of gentle applause when they had finished their turn.

When I arrived home, I sat in my rocking chair on my front porch and listened to the sound of the water from my pond in the front yard. It was very relaxing and a perfect way to end my day.



I met a singer at La-z-Boy

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:31 pm by admin

Today I stopped in for lunch at a local Uno Chicago Grill before visiting the local La-z-Boy furniture store to look for a recliner. Up until today I had no experience with either of these establishments. I thought that my dining experience could only improve after yesterday’s visit to Ruby Tuesday. Again I was seated immediately. This restaurant has no salad bar. I ordered their most basic hamburger platter cooked well done with fries on the side, a Caesar Salad with anchovies, and a glass of their “freshly” brewed unsweetened iced tea. The salad was small, the anchovies were plentiful, the burger cooked perfectly (which unfortunately made it a little dry, my fault, which I countered with ketchup and Grey Poupon), and the fries were fantastic. I did not realize they were seasoned fries but boy-o-boy was I impressed. The iced tea took two sugar packets and was tasty.

Thank you Uno Chicago Grill!

I was greeted by a salesman, a gentleman, named Michael Andrews as I walked through La-z-Boy. He was courteous, knowledgeable, and most importantly patient. He left me alone when I needed to be alone, and he checked back every so often to answer any questions I might have without being intrusive. The bottom line, he was a professional who knew how to treat a customer. He will never know how much I appreciated his demeanor. The new, and first La-z-Boy recliner arrives this Friday.

It turns out Mr. Andrews is a singer, jazz to be exact. You can catch his performance at Dante Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. on July 26, 2008 at 8:00 PM. If you’re interested, here a link to him on You Tube, An Evening with Michael Andrews.

This man can sing!


Lunch at Ruby Tuesday

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:23 pm by admin

Today I was out and about running a few errands before I stopped in to visit a local Barnes & Noble book store. There are ten of these stores within twenty-five miles of my home. This particular Barnes & Noble is the only one out of these ten that has a poetry group that meets on a monthly basis to share their poetry. I’m going to attend an open mic poetry reading Monday, July 7, 2008 in the evening. I’ll be new to the group, but I’m excited to be given the opportunity to share my poetry with some fellow poets and writers. I suffer from a bit of “stage fright” but this is supposed to be a small group so I’m hopeful I won’t freeze up, we’ll see. I wanted to get a feel for the lay of the land and spent about an hour browsing the different book sections. I bought a copy of “3XCARLIN AN ORGY of GEORGE” by George Carlin from the clearance table for $11.68 with my 10% off. I think George would have approved.

Before I drove to the book store I stopped in for lunch at a Ruby Tuesday across the street. I was seated immediately and after the waiter gave me the menu I ordered a glass of “freshly” brewed unsweetened iced tea. I decided to check out the salad bar. It was your typical salad bar with your typical offerings, but everything looked fresh so I took a plate and created my salad. When I returned to my table my “freshly” brewed unsweetened iced tea was waiting for me. I added one sugar packet, stirred until it was dissolved then tasted it, too bitter. I added another sugar packet, stirred, still too bitter. After I had added a total of four sugar packets there were no more and the tea was still too bitter.

When the waiter returned I asked for more sugar. He returned with a plate of about fifteen sugar packets. After four more sugar packets, the tea was drinkable. Now I don’t have a sweet tooth and this certainly wasn’t the “sweet tea” customarily served by restaurants in the south, not by a long shot. I literally use a pinch of sugar in a cup of coffee and I drink about one and a half pots of coffee a day. I asked the waiter how long ago the tea had been brewed and whether the tea bags were still in the container he obtained my glass from. He didn’t know. I suggested he check, as I had to add eight teaspoons of sugar to make the tea drinkable. My salad had barely any flavor and the blue cheese dressing must have literally been made just before it was put out. It tasted like sour cream and mayonnaise unless I bit into the rare chunk of blue cheese I encountered. It was a perfect match to my “fresh” iced tea. When I left, my glass was half full, no refills.

So what’s with the “freshly” brewed iced tea at Ruby Tuesday? Haven’t they heard that real blue cheese dressing contains Worcestershire Sauce and a touch of lemon juice, or that it requires the use of an electric mixer or blender?

The highlight of my day, “AN ORGY of GEORGE”.


Do I have anything to say that’s worth saying? Or what’s this blog about? An introduction.

Posted in Introduction at 12:00 pm by admin

For several years I have written poetry with a few short stories thrown in for good measure. Whether any of it is any good, I leave for the reader to decide. As I mentioned on my About page, I am a nurse, both a licensed practical nurse and a registered nurse. I entered the field of nursing by enrolling in a new experimental nursing program offered by the local community college in 1976. I had no idea how experimental it was, but I’ll get to that soon.

There were two local hospitals in the county that offered training in nursing, one was a one year practical nursing program and the other a three year diploma registered nursing program until 1975 when both hospitals closed their programs. The “county powers that be” determined that the region could not afford this shortage. Already the nursing shortage was being felt. It was left to the local community college to come up with the answer. This was their answer. One hundred students would be admitted into the same program the first year. At the conclusion of the second semester, the “top” fifty-five students would move into the RN track which would pick up in the fall, and the “bottom” forty-five students would continue on for another summer semester in the LPN track. We, the students, were told that the greatest emphasis of this decision, as long as the academic criteria for the RN track were met, was the detail and complexity of the care plans each student turned in on a weekly basis.

Now, the care plans were a preprinted form one-half the width of an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper that was mimeographed, yes, I said mimeographed (look that word up if you were born after 1978 or so) and given to the students. After the first week, my care plans were three to five pages typed in length. I spent hours on them and received high praise from my instructors on the quality of my research. Well, lo and behold, on the day the students were assigned a track, I was selected for the LPN track. At that meeting, all the students were informed that the selection decision was made solely on academic achievement. I and four of my fellow students were not told until well into the summer semester that we had qualified for the RN track. Nor were any of the LPN students (by that time there were twenty-five of us left due to overall attrition) told that five students selected for the RN track had dropped out over the summer until after we sat for our final exams the last week of August. By that time, after three straight semesters, I needed a break. I found a job at a local hospital as a practical nurse and worked there for one year on a medical-surgical floor.

After my first year of employment, I was eligible for 100% tuition reimbursement by my employer for up to three courses a semester, including supplies. Nursing courses average nine to eleven credits. They are intense on both an academic and a clinical level. For the next two years, I worked full-time as an LPN in the evening in the ICU and went to school during the day. I graduated in the spring of 1980 from the RN program and passed my three day state boards a few months later. After five years, I returned to college with the intention of receiving my baccalaureate degree in nursing. After the first semester, I realized I could not conform to the role of student nurse again. My instructors wanted their students, who were already working in the field, to forget all they knew and return to the role of subordinate student. Fortunately, today this is not the case. I interviewed with the dean of the Business program and transferred to the Health Care Administration program. For the next five years, I attended one evening class a semester and graduated cum laude.

I worked in different areas of the nursing profession for the same hospital for twenty-eight years providing direct patient care while also administering a diagnostic department for twenty of those years. During that time, I also held a part-time position at another local hospital in the Emergency Department. Several years ago, I felt I had reached a point where there was nothing more I had to offer. I had fought the good fight in an attempt to provide my patients with the best possible care I could, but there was a force much greater than myself that blocked my attempts at each turn. That force was called business. Health Care in the United States is a business, a big business, and just like every other business, the almighty dollar is the bottom line. There were too many cuts being made in budgets which trickled down to services, staffing, salary, and benefits. It was the old story of doing more with less. There’s a saying:

“We the willing
led by the unknowing
are doing the impossible
for the ungrateful
and we have done so much
for so long with so little
we are now qualified
to do anything with nothing.”

I had reached my limit of doing anything with nothing, and I was in a deficit physically, mentally, and spiritually, so I decided to make a change. I decided to start writing again. After thirty or so years of writing nurses notes, business plans, employee evaluations, and requests for equipment and supplies, I returned to poetry and stories, a love I discovered in high-school. I also work part-time and earn enough money to cover my bills.

We’ll see where all of this leads.