Digital drawing of a spaceship and dark sky.
Party on the Moon

It’s always a treat to have a conversation with my granddaughter. We got gas at the local market and decided to go in for a couple of pastries. When we finished pumping, someone claimed the last parking space. I suggested driving around the block but she was a little concerned we’d miss an opportunity. I pulled off the lot and sat on a side street where we could see the cars. The guy who grabbed the last space was back out quickly and I drifted forward.

When he didn’t start backing out, I braked and said, “oh come on, buddy.”

The kid said, “He’s probably on his phone, grampop.”

Perfect observation. And relaxed, too; which I wasn’t.

Later we were stopped at a light. Through the front window we could see a camper parked under some evergreens. She said, “There’s a trailer.”

I said, “Yeah I see it. It has a plastic sheet over it. Maybe it has a hole in the roof.”

“I think they covered it just to keep bits of nature from falling on it and making it dirty.”

Parked under pine trees. Yeah, I bet you’re right. And you think about parties on the moon.

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pictures on a wall

Shortly after my granddaughter started spending time with me at 6½ weeks, I put cartoon drawings of her toys on the wall so she’d have something fun and familiar to look at. Her verbal skills grew rapidly and her toys changed, too. Now, at 4½ years, and way past Tinky Winky and Dipsy, she agreed to take most of the old drawings down and put up new ones. (She didn’t want to part with Sophey or Pout-Pout Fish, so they moved to a different wall.) She wants to fill another wall in the kitchen, too. Since her arrival, I’d hung framed pictures that her mother drew on wainscotting in the kitchen- all just two feet up- right about toddling height. Now we covered the wall above the wainscotting with her pictures and she wants to cover another wall with zoo animals. I’m loving it.

First she challenged me to draw the Nittany lion. We drew head to head, with her version winning in the end. The next afternoon she drew a regular lion. I called it an African lion but she said no- it’s a Pennsylvania lion. That’s when she arrived at the ‘zoo animal’ theme. Her elephant blew mine away, and she insisted it was an elephant, not a heffalump. She drew others without challenging me: a fantastic giraffe, a monkey “with some leaves to hold on to”, a tiger. All fun stuff, and all hanging in the kitchen.

And really, no presentation is complete without a signed self portrait of the artist as a young girl. In teddy bear pajamas, And Minnie slippers.

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heart breaker

Fell off of a stool. I was three feet away. Poor kid.

Mea culpa.

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Child with salamander in a bowl.

She was on the floor showing her mom pictures she colored in pre-school. She held a stegosaurus kind of creature and said, “See? He has all these plates on his back!”

From the sidelines I said, “He must have a restaurant.”

She said, “No, grampop; these aren’t round plates.”

Four years and just about three months. And she knows I need help. Smart kid. The photo is of a dead mudpuppy we found by the swollen creek. Didn’t have a shot of the dinosaur. Sorry.

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a political post

I’m scared of what’s to come in our country’s civil cold war.

Regardless of the outcome of the mid-term elections, a large body of Americans will have their hatred and resolve deepen. A large body of Americans will have the affirmation of a viewpoint renew confidence in their own perceptions and path. I see neither as a win.

Which is not to say I have no opinions. I do. Regardless of which side’s analysis I get I find myself wondering, “How could you possibly say that based on the information we both clearly received?”. News clips that one friend is “aghast” at, have me doubting my friend’s vision and wondering what happened to their discernment. Links to “shocking” news from other friends have me in doubt of their vision, too. Behavior from both masquerades as righteous, and obviously must feel that way. Neither is willing to accept the merit in another point-of-view since neither will look deeper than what they see justifies their contempt.

The Red and the Blue. Each has true facts that were hidden and denied by the other. Each is predicting the revelation that will finally put someone in jail. Each side has leaders who should be jailed. Each side points to major parts of our government that failed in their basic roles, acted to deceive the American public, showed extreme partisan bias. People, programs, philosophies are wrong because they’re the wrong color. The Red or the Blue.

What happened to the intelligent, the kind, the generous, the thoughtful? How is it that you can’t see? Social media’s silos of perception make us each royalty in our own tiny worlds, and it’s good to be royal. Will elections in two months save us? In two years? Have you just heard me point out what’s wrong with one political party while sadly misunderstanding yours?


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Twenty seven years of ArtsFest buttons in one place..

The Arts Fest is coming next week. Officially, it happens starting the first Wednesday following the first Monday following the Fourth of July. The first I attended was 1980. I had made it to the area on July 1, 1979, but a local friend told me it wasn’t worth the hassle to drive (from Pennsylvania Furnace) into State College for the Festival that first year. After a few years I was married and living in State College, and we longed to have a baby in a pack at the Fest. In ’86 we had a two-month-old, and I don’t think we risked burning her delicate skin in the July sun. In ’87, the three of us were on the lawn.

Festival week was crazy at the restaurant. I had Wednesday off - Children’s Day - but afternoons and evenings the rest of the week were fully staffed, and insane. Especially late. Artists and musicians celebrating. When I left the restaurant, I left in the beginning of July. I’d helped prep for the Fest, but then I was gone. A gift to myself, the opportunity to attend. By this time I was divorced, the kid was older, and I couldn’t just plunk her in a pack. She had wants of her own, and her days with me didn’t involve much Festival. Maybe some music, but certainly no strolling through the booths.

The first button, at the top above, was a buck in 1991. Pretty cheap. Now, in 2018, they’re ten bucks. Still pretty cheap, I think. They’ve gotten smaller physically over time, too. That makes sense; cut a little bit of cost as long as ushers can still easily see them on special event attendees. One thing that didn’t make sense was selling a “youth button” for a reduced fee in 2011, ’12, and ’13. (Second to last row, looking like pairs.) They weren’t even marked as child or adult. I had one of each and never knew which to wear when my kid wasn’t along. And several years, no year was printed on the button. 40th Anniversary doesn’t have a year. Lucky the 50th Anniversary did.

This year’s button, lower right, seems important for two things: The jester is a female for the first time (as was the designer) and it has a little  DOWN TOWN  sponsorship ad on it. What’s up with that?

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sister I never met

Years ago I visited Mt. Zion Cemetery in Pottstown to try, on a whim, to find the grave of Ginette Stong. She was my sister, born November 7, 1946. She died a week later, on November 14. I know there had been several disappointing miscarriages but this death — of a one-week old infant — must have been devastating for the 29 year old mother.

On the day of my visit I located the cemetery office, found it staffed, and was given these three photocopies so that I could locate Ginette’s plot. With the maps, it was easy and I had a meaningful visit. The last two times in Pottstown I couldn’t find these documents, nor could I find anyone staffing the cemetery office. I was disappointed and wandered about in the cemetery for an hour or so. Later, in a thoughtful mood, I did manage to visit the graves of a good friend’s parents and place stones on their markers. They are in the Congregation Hesed Shel Emet cemetery on Hanover Street in Pottstown.

Did you catch that I misplaced the documents twice? I’d actually found them at one point, put them in a secure place, then lost them again. Different car, different apartment, aging memory, it all adds up. Well, hopefully the internet will give me regular access via this post. Larger versions are available but these images should be enough.

The family tree information may be of interest. Ginette, (here with a completely expected misspelled last name) is in plot eight, directly next to my great-grandfather, Henry Mack in plot nine. On Ginette’s other side is Harold Leh in plot seven, the husband of my grandmother Hannah’s sister Florence. Hannah’s other sister is listed here as Ella, but I’ve seen it also as Elli. On Henry’s other side is his wife, here as Mary Mack, but I’ve seen her name also as Maria [Smith] Mack. In the one document, it’s written first as Maria, then corrected as Mary. Maybe at some point, I’ll get back to Pottstown.

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John on his '55 Harley Panhead.

My brother, John. This is a photo I took in July of 1976. John liked the image. I hadn’t seen him since 2010, then on May 8, I had a phone call from a friend of his letting me know John had been discovered dead on April 19. He was born on February 11, 1948. He left a wife, Marsha, and a daughter, Erin. A son, Bob, predeceased him.

Edit, May 28: My daughter added this:

Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, Section C-7, Row A, Site 9 id 189985729

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sense of humor gone missing

Solo, a Star Wars Movie poster with a solo cup in space.

On May 4, generally recognized as Star Wars Day, I posted this image on Twitter with a line about Disney taking humor in their comic book movies just a bit too far- beer pong?

It fell flat as most of my attempts at humor do, but this time it seemed a particularly resounding silence. Not one comment. Not a single like. Geez. I pulled it at the end of the day, sad and defeated. The knock-off wasn’t a ton of work, I did get some satisfaction from completing it, but still. I was sad and defeated.

A photo like one published in a foodie blog, of red solo cups with movie tie-in.
A few days later, a tweet from a food blog I follow showed this image and congratulated solo cups on the savvy of their movie tie-in. I’d had no idea. So I pointed out the obvious. Not funny at all. There really was a Star Wars connection with the classic red solo cups and I’m a dummy. Maybe there’ll be a barroom scene in the movie with Han throwing his ping pong ball first/

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thirtytwo and almost four

Mother and child drawn in pencil.

Wow, I love this drawing so much. “There’s mommy. I’ll put me over here. And I’ll give me pigtails. Maybe mommy, too.” The cheeks and eyelashes are an addition I’ve never seen when she does me and her. Crazy. No training that I’m aware of- purely her own.

Mother and child working on school work.

When I first showed this digital file to my granddaughter, she recognized her mom, then herself. The floor she didn’t understand. When she saw the actual printed card, she smiled and said, “That’s my mommy!” Then she recognized herself and the juicebox. This time she said, “It’s at home! See the squares?” (Meaning the pattern in the rug) Fun stuff.

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