Knee News

Saturday and Sunday I languished in a recliner and walked as little as possible: i.e. to the bathroom and back to the chair and then to bed. I came downstairs for the first time today to go to the orthodpedist.

When the doctor read my MRI this afternoon he saw a tear in the meniscus- confirming what "I expected." But he has altered the approach - leaning toward the "wait and see." He injected the knee - "yikes" - I was able to walk more comfortably when I left his office. A walker helps -there is an extra comfort level with four legs.

I explained that I have been invited to tell at three storytelling festivals coming up. He seemed to hear me and assured me there is time to figure this out and if there is a need to fix it with arthroscopic surgery. "You walk the same day." he says - well, a temporary reprieve from my fear of anesthesia.

Believe me, I have rearranged my list - and sitting is a high priority on every item.

Please send reikki thoughts to this knee.
Re: The Picture. We had just crossed O'Connel Bridge in Dublin when these joyous rabbits appeared - romping their way down the road. I don't remember the artist's name or whether they were a permanent installation - I am just glad we saw them.

Tuna Friday Special

My cooking leans to simple and quick. My cousin Tom Hutchins used to tease me that I was the "casserole queen." In the 1950s the Campbell Soup ads were a treasure of recipes. They sold housewives on the idea of soup-based cooking.

Give me a can of Campbell's Soup and I could make a dinner. Still can - but today I have more fancy bowls for cooking and serving them. I now know that presentation is everything.

I learned to HouseKeep from Peg Bracken - turn the lights down, flowers and a cloth on the table, and even left-overs in a pretty bowl become a feast.

In the 1950s Friday was still a "fish" day for Catholics. My mother often made this tuna casserole for supper. It was good, inexpensive, and we all liked it. This recipe is so simple that I learned how to make it when I was in Jr. High School. So I took the recipe and Mama's Friday menu solution with me when I married. Our family ate this tuna casserole regularly on Friday and even after the traditional Friday fish rule was dropped.

one small box elbow macaroni
one can cream of mushroom soup
1 or 2 small cans white albacore tuna packed in water - depends on budget and how much you like tuna
long horn yellow cheese

Cook and drain elbows according to box directions
Layer in a baking dish in this order:
Half the cooked macaroni
Half the mushroom soup
Tuna - spread across the surface of the soup
2nd half of the mushroom soup
Top with the other half of cooked macaroni

Bake 350 degrees until it bubbles
Grate a cup of yellow cheese and spread on the top, return to the over to melt.

Serve hot.

RE: The Picture - its as close as I can come to a tuna for an illustration - besides I was thinking that this time two years ago Jim and I were packing for our trip to Ireland. I took this picture the day our elderhostel bus was making the rounds on the Ring of Kerry.
and I was staring down the barrel of a significant birthday. Ahhhhh. I am looking down that same barrel again.


Frugal Tuna Recipe

Tuna salad has been a favorite of mine for summer eating ever since I was a kid. Canned Tuna is still a fairly frugal choice, and I am watching out for those as groceries and gas prices spike.

So when I was chatting with my hair stylist last week and she mentioned that instead of using mayonnaise she mixes tuna salad with feta cheese - I sat up. This sounded like an appealing combination that would be different as a surprise lunch for Jim. I knew I had tuna in the closet and feta in the refrigerator. I decided to try it out.

Using what I had available I made up this light and delicious tuna salad for lunch.

Ellouise's Tuna Salad

Toss in a bowl:

2 cans white albacore tuna packed in water - drain the tuna.
diced celery
diced green onion
diced red pepper ( could also use green or yellow pepper)
salt and pepper to taste
one sprig fresh dill chopped fine ( felt so good to pick this in our yard.)
several squeezes fresh lemon
tablespoon crumbled feta cheese - or more to taste -
feta taste can overcome the tuna

Mix and serve on a bed of lettuce or as a sandwich on your favorite bread. I like it with a side of saltine crackers.

No, you're right the picture has nothing to do with the salad.

Several years ago on a summer trip to North Carolina we stopped at a large flea market outside Asheboro - that's taps my frugal streak, right? That day I snapped photos rather than adding to my stuff. Playing around I combined these two images for a sweet memory of a hot sweltering July day in NC with our daughter and her three sons.


Knee Saga

The story of my knee goes on.
I saw an orthopedist and after x-rays and examination he said my miniscus has degraded.
It will take a simple surgical procedure to remove it.
I am not celebrating over this news.
More will be revealed.


Change of Pace

and MORE.

The story on my sore knee continues. I hobbled out of the hospital on Sunday and managed to walk around a bit Monday. Tuesday however the story took a different turn. I had to use one of the morotized scooters in the Safeway to do the grocery shopping - and by Wednesday I was on the couch. It is now my screaming knee.

Today I have an early a.m. appointment with an orthodpedics doctor! Jim rented a folding wheelchair for the occasion so I can get from the car to the examining table.

This is not fun!

When walking really hurts you learn some quick lessons.

Some of the things I have taken for granted:
1. I have taken walking, running, skipping and all forms of moving my legs for granted.
2. Even a few stair steps can be daunting when your knees aren't working.
3. You should have a bathroom on every level of your house.
4. It is hard to dress yourself when you can't lift one leg or bend one knee.
5. Even a glass of water is a major decision when you have to walk to the sink.


Little Lady Liberty

Storyteller Kate Dudding has a great story about Lady Liberty which draws you into the tale of how she was created by French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi and set on Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor in 1885. So I thought of Kate when I saw "Little Lady Liberty" in the parking lot of the Brooklyn Museum.

She has a story too - shown on the pedestal.

"Replica of Lady Liberty.
Artist Unknown Circa 1900

This 30 foot replica was commissioned about 1900 by the Russian-born auctioneer William H. Flattau to sit atop his eight-story Liberty Warehouse ( at 43 West 64th Street), then one of the highest points on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Flattau thus combined his entrepreneurial spirit with pride in the adoped country in which he had prospered.

Although squatter in proportion and less gracefully detailed than the massive original, Flattau's replica retained something of the forceful gravity of expression achieved by Bartholdi.

The sculpture is made of galvanized steel and zinc over an iron frame."


Brooklyn Walls

For more than twenty years I have collected photographs of urban graffitti and collaged walls as part of my art work. Here are a few of the Brooklyn Walls I have added to my collection. collection.


Windows on the Past

I sat on the edge of the bed in our bedroom at the Loralei looking through the blinds - studying 682 Argyle Road across the street. I observed the house as though I could watch Jim and me as we were fifty years ago. Working with life story - you open a chapter at a time.

What about when you are juggling stories? For example, Jim and I had been focusing on the 1950s in Brooklyn - now I had to switch gears.

One of the reasons I wanted to come to Brooklyn this particular week-end was so that this morning I could continue working with Elizabeth Ellis on my 1970s ERA story. Elizabeth too was staying in a home in Brooklyn, only 2 miles from Argyle Road. How great was that?

The morning was very important for the story. The workshop was a chance to tell it again to new ears, to storytellers who also had a connection to the time of the story, and to Elizabeth who listens intently and then questions the teller to lead you deeper into your own story. And to tell it again to Elizabeth, who knows and cares about the times and event of the story.

Under her questions I felt myself opening more completely to the most valuable aspects of the story. I am grateful for the grant which has funded my working with Elizabeth to craft my story. She has taught me to really appreciate the importance of respecting your listeners by paying attention to the craft of storytelling - as she does in her stories.

And, I have a renewed appreciation for the value of working a story in workshop settings, where you have the benefit of feed-back from other storytellers. Today some of the most important questions for the story came from a young newbie storyteller
who had little knowledge of the time and events of the story. Imagine - she had never heard of a WATTS line - and why should she have - in this day of cell phones and unlimitd minutes. I needed to know that.


Sunday in Brooklyn

Getting back on track:

1. The world outside Coney Island Hospital looked bright and beautiful and breathing free air felt wonderful.

2. Back on our plan, Jim and I visited the
Kings County Hospital neighborhood, remembering his days as an intern. Halfway through Jim's internship we moved to an apartment in
this house so we were closer to the hospital. We walked the city blocks noticing the changes as we sorted the memories pouring out of both of us.

3. Stepping out of the past briefly we enjoyed a few hours at the fine
Brooklyn Museum. We decided to focus on two exhibits: first, Judy Chicago's monumental, The Dinner Party, magnificient in this setting built especially for it. And, second, the museum's Eqyptian collection, one of the finest in the US. This was the first time Jim had seen The Dinner Party
- and a bit nostalgic for me - I had attended the opening in San Francisco in 1978.

We returned to Argyle Road to find a neighborhood spot for supper and an early evening back in our room at the Loralei - grateful, very grateful, for being there.

My head is filled with stories from Brooklyn and I know they will be popping out in the days ahead.

A Night in Coney Island

The triage nurse understood we were travelers and rushed my registration. She explained our situation to the attending doctor. He gave me the game plan. No sonogram was possible today, "We can admit you and give you blood thinners until you have your doppler in the morning - that is the safest thing." I fought back tears as I agreed to stay.
"I am so sorry, Jim. Our trip is ruined," Jim squeezed my hand. " Not ruined, changed."

It was 2 PM on a lovely sunny afternoon. They gave me a hospital gown and I settled down on the rock hard, rolling gurney that was my bed for the next twenty hours. I became "the woman who is waiting for a doppler."

Patients were moved like dice on a playing board as the space needs changed. My first spot faced the nurses station and the corridor where all the new patients were wheeled in. I was startled when two NYPD policemen wheeled in a 300 pound young man who was handcuffed to the stretcher. He shook the side rails and shouted obscenities at the top of his lungs. This was a bird's eye view of an unscripted ER - - raw life as it rolls in. Since I was going to be in the midst of this mayhew for the next twenty hours I decided to watch. I took out my journal and a pen. Holding the camera at arm'e length I took my picture.

Jim went back to Argyle Road to pick up a book and a few personal things. And get some food for both of us. The irony of the whole thing was that we came here because Jim had wanted to protect me from what he knew the big city reality of Kings County Hospital was . Now I was "the woman waiting for a doppler", pinned like a butterfly under bright, glaring lights in the midst of a choatic ER in an old, dirty and crumbling , mid-size county hospital that was operating beyond capacity with overworked and hardened staff. I am being sent here for a lesson, I thought, or - a story.

When a nurse was putting the blood pressure cuff on my right arm her cell phone rang. She dropped the cuff on my belly and answered her phone in a very melodious language. When she finished I asked what language she was speaking," tagalog. I am from the Philipines." The ER was filled with staff and patients who spoke a mix of many languages - Spanish, Russian, Polish, and others I did not recognize - which mirrored the multi-cultural complexity of the local area. As a traveler overseas I would have been charmed by the novelty of all the languages; as a uni-tongue traveler I
found myself feeling like a stranger in my home country. Is this more the real world than the one I live in?

An old woman screamed, " Help me. Help me. Please help me. I need the pan." Nothing happened. She called out again and again each time her pleas were more urgent. I asked a nurse. "Can't someone give her a bed-pan?" "Someone will get to it" she responded as she walked away - in the opposite direction. The woman cried out, "I am not crazy. I am not crazy. I can't hold it. Please help me." It was if she was calling out into a deaf world. Finally her grown son located a bedpan and helped his mother, even cleaning her afterwards. I was grateful I was able to walk to the bathroom on my own.

Smiling Shirley, an eighty year old woman whose hair was dyed a vivid carrot orange, wore her pink volunteer smock proudly. She moved slowly from gurney to gurney asking "Anything I can do for you?" She stopped and chatted with the patients and their family members - asking about you, telling you about herself. She was a ray of sunshine, kindness and caring for all the patients - - and a good friend to the staff.

Jim returned with a deli-sandwich just as a nurse handed me a brown paper bag which was the hospital supper. Inside was a sandwich - a slice of American processed cheese stuck between two pieces of dry brown bread, a small individual-size bag of animal crackers and a plastic container of apple juice.

Time moves slowly when you are trapped. Jim would not leave me alone even though he had to wait two hours to snag a vacant straight chair. By midnight he was fading so he agreed to go to the car for a nap. Fortunately the car was parked just outside the ER door. The police officer stationed at the door assured him the lighted parking lot was safe.

It was hard to could sleep under the relentless lights surrounded by the intense noise. If I did drift off the elderly man next to me yanked me awake with a shout, "I need to pee." At one time I amused myself writing down "Mr. Jack's" ramblings. "What is this place? How did I get to this house? There are 40 bananas in the refrigerator. Somebody turn off the refrigerator. I don't like bananas." I don't know where he went in those moments but it was better than where he was - with people telling him to pee in his diaper when he asked for a "pee bottle."

Human misery comes in many forms - two men who had had their faces smashed by attackers - swollen lips and eyes, broken noses; elderly sundowners who were hurting in mind and body, a young man with strange heart pains whose wife sat by his bed watching , chronically and seriously ill men and women, an asthmatic woman who uses several different breathing pumps a day but cannot stop smoking, and "the woman who is waiting for the doppler."

Sometime in the middle of the night they admitted a new young woman. A nurse shoved her gurney into a spot opposite me. They had a tough time starting an IV in her arm - it took several painful tries to finally get it going. Within minutes she was calling for help. Her arm was swelling. The needle was not in a vein afterall and the fluid was running into the space under her skin. She called out several times and no one came. She looked over at me. I told her, "Scream so they will have to come." She did. Nothing happened. She started to remove the IV herself. "Scream louder - so they have to come." She raised her voice. They came. " I am done," she said and signed herself out

By 4:30 am I was beginning to feel like I had had it. I was into my 14th hour. I was not sick, just waiting for a doppler, and I was beginning to feel closed in and a bit nutty. I called Jim on the cell phone and asked him to please come back inside. "This place is crazy. Please come and sit with me for a little bit." He understood. This was the reason he had not wanted to take me to Kings County. Jim had been an intern there and he was familiar with this sort of ER. I guess this was something I was supposed to experience .

AT 8 AM when the Chief Attending Doctor conducted rounds at someone nodded toward me and told him: " this woman is waiting for a doppler." He nodded and they were moving away. "Wait!" I called out. He stopped. I explained, "I am a traveler. I came for a doppler after they closed. They want to rule out a DVT. I have been here eighteen hours. Please help me to get out of here." He looked at me with kind eyes, listening with his full attention - he heard me. "I will see that you are the first one at 9am."

And he did.

Jim stood by as the technician checked my leg veins from top to bottom and twenty minutes later the Chief Attending came smiling to my side," Good news. everything is fine. You can go." Sore leg or not, I hopped off the gurney and into my clothes.

As we walked out I turned for one last look. It was quiet at 9:30 am. That would change.

Jim and I were travelers - and we were moving on.

Thank God I could.

But I will not forget this place --

Its not a part of Brooklyn I want to see again - but I will not forget it.

I don't know yet what the lesson was - but I will not forget being here.


Time Travelers Adventure - 1

Jim and I moved to Brooklyn, New York in late June 1957. His internship at Kings County Hospital was to begin July 1. We had come to Brooklyn earlier in June to find a place to live. We were thrilled to find 682 Argyle Road because we could afford the $68 a month rent. Mrs. Geiger had advertised it as an apartment. Actually it was three rooms on the third floor with the bathroom on the second at the foot of the open stairway. There was a small back yard. She would accept a couple with a nine months old child - many places would not rent to children - and she would let me put our washing machine in her basement. Tree lined sidewalks, walking distance to neighborhood shops and the subway. There was enough that felt familiar - the old houses, tree-shaded streets and sidewalks - that I hoped it would be easier to adapt to the BIG city. We snapped it up. Our new home - 682 Argyle Road.

We have never been back. So when the Washington Post printed a review of a B&B at 667 Argyle Road in Brooklyn - it seemed a gift. We could re-visit our past. And, bring it up-to-date - I wasn't thinking about that part - but up-dating is what happens - and in our case it turned out to be a bit unexpected.

The drive up from Maryland was easy. Taking Hwy 278 through Staten Island into Brooklyn really simplified our re-enty. Not to mention having the Tom-tom GPS was added icing on the cake. We turned off Ocean Parkway at Avenue H - which became Foster Avenue - the cross street for Argyle Road. We recognized it at once. Only difference is that now it is a one way street - so we had to go around the block.

We pulled up in front of the Lorelei at 667 Argyle Road. Lovely and peaceful - this block of Argyle Rd looked just like it had when we lived here fifty years ago.

We looked ahead toward Foster Avenue. Those were the same tall red brick apartments with small store-front shops on the first floor. "Jim, it looks the same. Its so familiar. I recognize it all." It was like stepping back in time.

And - across the street - 682 Argyle Road.
Looking a bit different - but unmistakenly itself.

In 1957 there were white wooden posts and white wood railings and trim. With typical wooden basketweave under the porch. Jim kept saying, "The yard was bigger ." He is right. The driveway on the left is an addition which narrows the front yard.

We went into the Loralei where we met Bob, our friendly and welcoming host, and settled into our second floor room. The Loralei is beautifully restored and comfortable. Its easy to feel at home immediately. Jim and I unpacked quickly so we could get out to walk around the niehgborhood.

Jim stopped to take pictures.

We walked onto Foster Avenue. The buildings were the same with different shops - a changed multi-cultural atmosphere. I don't remember KEY Groceries but I know that's where I shopped for food. I had a blue metal Taylortot stroller for Jimmy. We walked all around this neighborhood.

Jim and I reached the Subway stop three blocks away. I stepped back to take pictures.

Once we reached the subway stop I had to find a seat. My right leg was really hurting. It was painful to put weight on it.
The pain was in the back of my knee. Jim said there was only one way to know what was wrong - have a doctor look at it. I don't believe we did this, but we stopped at one of the store front medical clinics next to the subway. An elegant elder doctor examined my leg. "I can't really rule out DVT, madam, without a doppler." Translation - DVT-deep vein thrombus. Oops. Not a good thing.
He wrote out a prescription. "This is Saturday afternoon the only place you can get a doppler is at the hospital."

My jaw dropped. "No.No. We are travelers. We just arrived."
"Madam, it is up to you. It is the only way to rule out DVT. The only way to be safe."

Jim was not smiling.
I knew that I was on my way to the hospital for the doppler.
The doctor wrote the prescription. "take this to Coney Island Hospital."
"Why not go to Kings County Hospital?" I asked. Jim shook his head. "Its too big. I don't want to take you to a big city hospital."

Coney Island Hospital was about a twenty minute drive - a straight shot down Ocean Parkway. No problem finding it with the GPS. We arrived at 2 pm - which we learned shortly was thirty minutes after the sonogram lab closed on Saturday afternoon. What no 24/7 sonogram lab? No.

The senior doctor in the Emergency Room advised - "the only way to protect you is to keep you here until tomorrow morning when the doppler teehnician will be back. Until then we will give you blood thinners and watch you."

"No. No. We are travelers." I looked around the bustling, crowded and very noisy Emergency Room where uniformed NYPD policeman stood guard at the entrance doors and one out of every two patients was screaming. " oh, no."

"You can sign out, Madam, against our advice, if that is your decision." I looked at Jim. He shrugged.

I knew the trip had just changed. I was in Brooklyn allright.

I was in Coney Island but this was not the beach!


The Loralei Calls

Argyle Road beckons.

Several years ago The Washington Post published a travel review of a B & B, the Loralei, in Brooklyn, New York. The writer described a comfortable retreat in a turn of the century Victorian house in Flatbush - near Newkirk Plaza. As I read my eyes widened. On Argyle Road. Was it really!!

In 1957 Jim interned at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn and we lived at 682 Argyle Road - in the open attic of a three story turn of the century Victorian house. Argyle Road was bordered lined with towering shade giving trees and lined with similar-looking Old Vic houses.

I have often thought about those days and wondered about the neighborhood - and wanted to visit - to see if I could step back in time to re-visit the young woman I was then. A wide-eyed, scared southern girl encountering the big city for the first time.

As I read the article I realized I could go back to Argyle Road.

Its taken several years and thanks to storytelling its happening.

When I heard that Elizabeth Ellis would be telling at a festival in Central Park this Sunday and staying with someone in Brooklyn - I had a vision. What an opportunity for some creative multi-tasking.

Elizabeth agreed, yes, she had time to continue our coaching work on my new story on Monday morning. Perfect. That left Jim and me time-traveling over the week-end. How good is that???

We have two nights reserved at the Loralei. we are going up tomorrow morning.

Stay tuned.


Sears came!
Dryer is fixed!
I have loads to do!
We are celebrating!


3BT - The Original

Clare's is the original Three Beautiful Things blog. I enjoy the way she picks out unexpected bits from her day. She shows a doorway to gratitude for the ordinary.

So I look at my day:
1. Feels good to shop at home by rescuing a couple of zipper audio tape cases that Jim is tossing out to neaten up my storytelling closet.
2. Tina at Images Hair Salon is a shampoo therapist. Her firm fingers erase stress. I say I go there to have my hair cut, permed and colored. Actually I go for one of Tina's shampoos.
3, Really enjoy blog talk with my daughter who is experimenting with her own creative writing blog.

Going for the Cigar

Our most recent Netflix movie was The Bucket List with Jack Nickolson and Morgan Freeman - an unlikely pair if there ever was one. Morgan Freeman is as elegant a man as Jack Nickolson is crude, rude and often endearing. You probably know they team up for adventure when they learn they are both facing death. They make a "bucket list" - you know - things to do before they "kick the bucket." We were touched by the movie. It sets you thinking - is there anything you really want to do before YKTB.

Maybe that was part of why we were susceptible to the tour described on the blue paper from Tri-Star Tours. Another trip with Father Larry Boadt - a trip to Egypt. March 2009. The "bucket list" was definitely not the whole story.

Jim and I are long time fans of Egyptian art, history and lore. We stand in line for art exhibits of anything "Old Kingdom", or King Tut. We have seen Eqyptian Treasures in Berlin, Venice, Washington, New York and London - it would be wonderful to see them where they belong. How about seeing them at home.

My yen for Egypt started when I was about 13 years old and read The Egyptianby Waltari. Luckily Jim and I share a fascination for that lost time. We pine for sand, sun and a look at the old Wonders.

We watch all the PBS and History Channels programs about building pyramids and warring Pharoahs and I have listened to all the adventures of Amelia Peabody, Egyptologist Extraordinaire, on recorded books.

I showed the tour description to Jim. We did not talk about it very much. We did not have to. Just let it simmer. It bubbled up again today. We talked about it. We decided. We are going. I sent the deposit and reserved our places on the tour. WOW!

We have taken two trips with Fr. Larry Boadt - to the Holy Land
and to Greece and Turkey. He is a warm, brilliantly articulate, funny man - a skilled and knowledgeable teacher - a perfect tour leader. (Jim on the Mount of Olives over-looking Jerusalem.)
Jim and I have set foot on Eqyptian soil before. You may remember I have ridden a camel in Egypt.

When we went to the Holy Land with Fr. Larry we went to St. Catherine's Monastery, across the Sinai Desert and to Mount Sinai. All wonderful and inspiring - but no Sphinx and no Pyramids.

What am I saying - close but no cigar?

Maybe so. Maybe so. Time for the whole magilla.


Honeysuckle Memories

Honeysuckle vines have made themselves at home around the pond at our PA house. I know they are wild and invasive and some folks are annoyed when they show up but I am glad to have them. They remind me of happy summer childhood days in North Carolina.

Honeysuckle was the first flower I could call by name. I know it was the only flower I could drink from, sipping their delicious nectar just like the fairies.

Their sweet smell takes me right back to a time when the air was hot and steamy as I lay on the grass - doing nothing.

Letting my mind wander.

Letting my thoughts wonder.

For those who need to know facts:
Lonicera periclymenum, known as Common Honeysuckle, European Honeysuckle or woodbine is a deciduous climber that grows up to 10 m high. It is native to much of Europe, growing as far north as southern Norway and Sweden; in Britain it is one of two native honeysuckles, the other being Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera xylosteum).

It is often found in woodland or in hedgerows or scrubland. The flowers are creamy white or yellowish, trumpet shaped and very sweet smelling. It is commonly grown as a garden plant and numerous varieties have been developed for this purpose. The plant is usually pollinated by moths or long-tongued bees and develops bright red berries. (copied from Wikipedia).


Three Beautiful Things

1. Today when I was telling stories about fathers at a local retirement home I asked the audience to tell something of their fathers. First, everyone named their father. Then it was time for memories. A ninety year old gentleman was the first man to speak. He told of his father, one of 15, who left home when there was no more room for him in the house. His father moved to London, then to the United States, became a veternarian and to sum it up, "was the finest man I have ever known." What a lovely tribute!

Reminds me of the time I asked Uncle Lewis, my dad's oldest brother, " what's you favorite memory of your father." He was silent for a few minutes - something of a rarity for Uncle Lewis who was quite a talker - then he said, "all of them Ellouise. All of them."

I don't write much about Sam Diggle - Papa Sam we called him - because I did not know him too well - and he was not a favorite of my dad's. Daddy was the "bad boy" growing up - always in trouble and that made for strained relationships with his father. So hearing Uncle Lewis say "all of them" gave me a new view of Sam Diggle -
and a wish that I had known him better. Or heard more stories about him.
Sam Diggle, circa 1944

2. I love telling stories about my father, Robert Diggle - and having people enjoy him with me. There are plenty of stories about him, believe me.
Robert Diggle, circa 1943
3. Today the skies are blue and the sun is shining. Sometimes that is enough to make my heart sing.


Still No Sears

When I watched this woman bringing in her clothes I remembered the wonderful fresh smell of clothes dried in the sun, and the challenge of grabbing the sheets down while they were flapping wildly in the wind. Wrinkles blown out of shirts and sheets alike. Before we ever heard of wrinkle-free.
Sears has still not arrived to repair our clothes dryer - and they won't until Friday.
Fortunately I dried our laundry in PA this week-end.
But not like this woman down the road. I stuffed mine into our working machine there and it tumbled them dry. I hardly noticed that they smelled faintly of BTUs and kilowats as I folded them.
Living better electrically - has spoiled me - - and the planet.


Happy Father's Day

Celebrating all Fathers.

Man Time, collage, eschoettler

A Little Something for the Guys:

On the way home from Mass in Gettysburg this morning we pulled into the parking lot of Jane's, our local grocery store in PA and behold - this beauty was parked safely off to the side.

As I walked closer to take a picture the owner walked up carrying his groceries.

"Please tell me about your car," and he did.

Its a 1954 Chevrolet tw0-door sedan that he had restored with a 1960s look. A guy named Tom Downey in Baltimore did the paint job -although the owner worked out the "flaming" design.

"Take a look at these wheels - they have the feeling of the Bat car - of the era." he told me.

Yes, he drives it. Everything under the body is new - and in perfect condition. Drives like a dream.

I asked his wife if she drove it. "No - I would be afraid to - I know how much he has tied up in the car."

One thing I can't show you - I missed getting the picture - when the door swings open and the front seats tilt forward - that back seat is cavernous. Those were the days when nobody minded riding in the back seat - in fact some people preferred it!


Life Mirrors Story

A sad loss.
In a front page obituary the Washington Post tells the story of a grand old tree that fell.
When this 200-400 year old Oak toppled during a violent storm in Barnestown, MD a few days ago it rated special attention in the Metro Section.
The tree was 104 feet tall with a trunk that was more than 24 feet in diameter. The venerable oak was due to be named the new State Tree.

As I read the article I remembered reading the Aesop's fable, Oak and the Reed in Granny Sue's newsletter recently.

As the story goes: The oak and the reed argue as to which will stand before a strong win. The oak boasts that he stands straight and tall no matter how strong the wind. The reed responds, "when the strong wind blows I bend before it so that I will stand tall when it moves on." The oak laughs. "I will not yield."

Not long after during a violent storm the winds turn fierce. The oak stands firm. The reed bends until its tip touches the earth. Next day when the winds have calmed - the oak has topppled and the reed stands straight and tall.

Post Script: my sister Kathy read the first version of this post and emailed:

"Ellouise, what's the moral? My favorite part are the morals that go with the fables?"

OK. Here goes. The first one is from a book. The second is mine - from lived experience.

The book says: Those who adapt to the times will emerge unscathed.

My take on that: No matter how old you are, if you won't bend to reality - it will eventually smack you down.

If you don't believe me - ask the Barnesville Oak.

Life mirroring story.


SEARS Isn't Coming Today

Friday the 13th maybe, but this is a day Jim and I had been looking forward to for ten days.
Sears was scheduled to arrive and repair our clothes dryer. We have one of those annual contracts - you know the ones they sell you promising that if anything happens, Sears will come and fix it.

Our dryer has been broken for 12 days. Clothes are piling up.

So last night at 5:30 pm when I received the computer automated call saying that the repairman would arrive at my house between 8 am and Noon I rejoiced. Reliable, trusty Sears was coming through.

An hour later we were eating supper when the phone rang. Jim stepped up and answered the call. He listened - intently. 'The 20th. You want to reschedule to the 20th?
We have already waited 10 days."

I jumped in, "What? what? Is that Sears. They just called. They confirmed that they are coming tomorrow."

Jim raised his voice into the phone. "You called! You said you were coming. Do you know how long we have waited for you to come?"

Why can't they come, I wanted to know.

"They don't have a repairman available." Jim turned back to the phone. My cool, calm and collected husband ratcheted his voice up several notches. "WHY don't you have a repairman available - you just called and told US to be here." A valiant try in the face of corporate control.

As simple as that. Somebody stayed home or called in sick - and they don't have a back-up. Because those repairmen do not work for Sears - they are free lance contractors working as Sears - big difference.

Bottom line - we are STUCK! Until June 20th.

I hate that feeling, don't you?

The hands at your side, go ahead and shoot me feeling that comes from being at the mercy of Sears or any other part of corporate America.

My first thought - I won't take this sitting down. I am going to call a local repairman. Then I remembered. I have already paid for this service - for years. ( But not anymore)

Here is the truth.

There was a day when having a Sears Service Policy meant something.
But today -
a Sears Service Policy only works IF the contracted repairman wants to come.

Better to find a local repairman and get on a first name basis with him - or her.

And don't make an appointment on Friday 13th - that's asking for trouble.

Happy Birthday, Jim

A California boy, Jim was born in San Diego and raised in Fresno in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Thank goodness he came East to medical school or I would never have seen this, one of my favorite pictures of him.


Agents of Change: Herbs and a Book

Something has come over me.

For the past few days I have had a yen to cook. From scratch. How can that be? I gave up cooking some years ago, relying on pre-cooked foods I could pick up at the Safeway along with other short cuts to meals. As I put my recent precious dishes on the table before him, like offerings, Jim says, "Welcome back."

Why the change?

The pots of herbs we are growing on our deck started it. I really enjoy cutting the sprigs and using them to season foods.



The herbs started me cooking again.

My past few refrigerator clean-outs have been veritable creative fits.
I find myself looking for food combinations that call for my limited deck selection of dill, thyme, and parsley. Having a pot of mint on the deck means brewing and sipping tall glasses of southern tea.

But the real push to cook comes from reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

He is opening my mind to what is before my eyes but I had not seen. The food on the shelves in the super market is synthetic even though it tastes like it should be food.

Maybe I did not want to know because I was afraid - afraid I would have to cook again. But - I am my own un-doing. My friend, Anne, told me about the book. No one put a gun to my head when I saw it in the window of Kramer Books. No all on my own I walked in and asked for it. With my own free will I bought this book and I am reading in. I really urge you to do the same.

Does anyone remember the movie Soylent Green? That's the image of I have now of processed food - -

Thinking of Soylent Green sent me searching for my 1972, stained copy of the Whole Earth Cook Book. Alongside it on the bookcase was a newer "good" recipe book that was still around from my cooking days.

As I turned the pages it felt like I was handling relics of a former self. Reading the recipes brought back memories of better tasting days.

I checked what I had on hand and found left-over cooked white rice in the refrigerator. I knew we had raisins and eggs - ah, Rice Pudding. Now that is a memory. A child's comfort food.

When a search of the the cabinet yielded some lemon jello I knew I could have Tomato Aspic for supper.

Baby steps, true. But a start.

Next step - plan the meals.

Oh, my. Now I remember. I remember why I stopped cooking.