The Great Escape

Stormy has had it with show business.

The 1600 lb. Hereford escaped a live Nativity scene in Philadelphia yesterday. Twice.

The first time, the 7 year old cow was found heading south on Interstate 95 at about 2:30 am. Police cruisers surrounded her, and she was led safely back to Old First Reformed United Church of Christ in the Old City neighborhood.

Four hours later, police were summoned again. Stormy had reached  the 4th level of a parking garage attached to the Wyndham Hotel.

The 4th level.

The comments commenced. Code Moo. The City of Udderly Love. There was some talk of a conspiracy by Chic Fil A.

My favorite image was provided on the twitter account @PhillyPolice.

You know, you start your day saying “well, being a cop is a tough job, but at least I won’t have to catch a cow today.” But, wouldn’t you know it? You’re wrangling a bovine. Then you say, “Well, at least I’ll never have to do that again….”

Today, church officials announced that Stormy had been replaced by a smaller cow named Ginger, one they believe will not be able to escape the enclosure.

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Candid Comments

Blog posts are planned, considered, edited. Comments are not, they are spontaneous.

That is where the good stuff lives.

Did you ever submit a comment, then sit back and wonder how it would be received ? Did I just say that ? Where did that come from ?

It happens to me all the time, on my own blog thread, or another person’s post.

You get a “Like” on a comment from the past, you don’t recognize your own words, do not remember what inspired them. It can be very enlightening to revisit that older post, just part of the joy of active blogging.

Courtesy. WordPress.

I chose this graphic for a specific reason, the raising of the hand. I was the kind of student who always had my hand up (sorry about that).

I wanted to be heard, and curiosity would get the best of me. I questioned/challenged everything.

The blog comments are like that for me. My hand is always in the air.

As you begin to follow more blogs, the process gets complicated. Some will honor a writer with a polite “Like”. To make a comment, you need to have read and understood the intention of the post.

I love it when that happens, both as a reader and a writer.

Just one example of many…

There was a very personal post about grief that prompted a comment from me that made me pause, an “Aha” moment.

It read, in part… “some of us built a wall at a very young age to protect ourselves from drama. I still have mine. Grief resides there, it does not need company.”

I want to thank the author of that year-old post, and express my gratitude for all the commenters who make this such a rewarding experience.

The good stuff.

******* Just found out from WordPress, this is my 500th post.



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The Gardener’s Secret

I knew he had a secret.

He had the best garden, the richest soil, and produce into late November. What was he doing differently than the rest of us ?

I walk my dog past his house daily, and had the chance to ask him, only once.

He just smiled, shrugged, as if he wasn’t sure.

And then I saw it. On the curb with the trash on a chilly December morning…

Dried Alpaca Manure – 50 lb.

They gave their all ! Getty image.

Because of its three stomachs, the alpaca converts grass and hay to energy quickly, eating less than other farm animals, producing manure that is lower in organic content. (Smells better). This allows it to improve soil texture and water-holding capacity and can be spread onto plants without burning them.

Who knew ?

My neighbor did. And now, so do I.


The alpaca is a domesticated species of its wild ancestor, the vicuña, and is similar to the llama, so closely related that they can successfully cross-breed.



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Move Over, Rose

For the 20 years since the release of the Oscar winning film Titanic, folks have been asking the same question.

If Rose had moved over, could Jack have fit onto that piece of wood and been saved from a tragic death in the icy Atlantic ?

Director James Cameron, Leo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet.

Actress Kate Winslet recently admitted “I think he could actually have fit on that bit of door.”

A conclusive test of this theory was conducted in 2012 by Discovery TV’s Mythbusters, who recreated the conditions and proved that there was indeed enough room, and the two much-loved characters would have survived the 63 minutes until the small rescue boat arrived.

I was surprised to find out that it was not actually a door, but a replica of an ornate rococo panel that hung over a door in the first class lounge aboard Titanic.

Courtesy. Maritime Museum.

It was rescued from the sea and is on exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Nova Scotia. The actual wood piece will go display in England for the first time in 2018.

When confronted with the scientific evidence of the possibility, director Cameron responded “Jack died for art, not physics.”




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If you react to certain kinds of music with goosebumps, you have a unique brain.

You may have a wider, richer range of emotions.

Photo credit. ZME Science

Those who get chills from music have structural differences in the brain, namely “a higher volume of fibers that connect their auditory cortex to the areas associated with emotional processing, which means the two areas communicate better.”

The phenomena called frisson (French for aesthetic chills) was studied by University of California’s Matthew Sachs, published this year in Oxford Academic.

“The idea being that more fibers and increased efficiency between two regions means that you have more efficient processing between them.”

Research suggests that people with this characteristic also have more active imaginations, appreciate beauty and nature, and are often more reflective and emotional.

It could be that it is not just the music itself that causes the reaction,  but a particular importance it holds to someone, or the way it reminds them of a certain time in their life.

Very high notes and key changes that elicit goosebumps are an evolutionary reaction to surprise, sounding much like crying, a signal we recognize as distress.***

In the absence of trouble, the feeling emerges as joy or pleasure, rather than worry.

Sachs now believes that his findings could be used to treat mental illnesses such as depression.

“Depression causes an inability to experience pleasure of everyday things,” he says. “You could use music with a therapist to explore feelings.”


For me, this is a perfect example. Elegant voices that sound like crying. Goosebumps.



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Scene: Thanksgiving Day. T minus 30 minutes.

The bronzed bird is resting on the counter, but you need the drippings to make the gravy.

The potatoes are boiling furiously, and you are waiting to drain some of that starchy cooking water into the pot for the gravy. (A tip you found long ago). The mashing tools are ready and waiting.

You have just rolled out the crescent rolls, which need a short time and little oven space. Good thing those candied sweet potatoes and extra casserole of stuffing are about finished.

The fresh cut green beans have been steamed, and are now in a skillet with butter and sliced almonds on the back burner.

You found out how delicious those fresh cranberries can be, and you made them the night before, while the second batch of pumpkin pies was baking. The first batch was set aside, since you forgot to add sugar to the pumpkin.

The table has been set with the “good dishes” since early in the day, so the counter tops are busy. With fresh cut flowers and candles, you are sure no one will notice that you didn’t iron that table cloth.

The guests have all arrived, the kids are dressed and ready.

The husband is collecting coats, tending to the cooler of beer and wine on the back porch that the uncles brought to the party.

You are trying to smile, and listen in on some of the family conversations going on all around you.

You’ve got this. You are a holiday hostess in full control.

Norman Rockwell. 1943

Then you look down and realize, you are still in your cooking clothes…mostly pajamas.

If I had it to do all over again, I would.

And more often.

Happy Thanksgiving !






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Ten days before Thanksgiving, we took our kids to a local turkey farm.

As we approached the fence, they rushed over to us, crying out in unison, a collective gobble, timed about every 10 seconds.

It is said that the turkey is one of the least intelligent animals. On a rainy day, if they look up to the sky, they will drown.

But I’m not so sure. It seemed like they were calling to us with a purpose, and maybe in search of an escape plan.

A few weeks later, we would be hosting our first extended family Thanksgiving since returning to the east coast, with a cast of (what seemed like) hundreds.

The turkey at the center of the feast did not come from this particular Maryland farm.

But that’s a story for another day.


Note: Just 3 years after this photo, Schramm Turkey Farm, Pasadena, Md. sold the property to Koch Developers who built 70 homes on the grounds that housed 10,000 turkeys each year.

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