“Memories of Dad and my Misfits”

My dad tolerated his furry grandchildren. Those of you who read Birdsong, know he even took Snoopy into his home. He hemmed and hawed about my dogs, but he would give them pieces of table food in his kitchen…….
Once, we tried to hide the fact that I had yet another rescue in my house. My dad wasn’t one for visits, he would stop in at the door and drop something off, or pick something up…..usually my kids because he took them to and from school. We had been “hiding” our latest familv member from him, a little cairn terrier. One day, I opened the door, forgetting to put little Gingersnap in the other room. She raced to the door and started jumping on my dad………I heard the mumbles and comments. My dad knew he was a man defeated by fur…………..
He would race my dogs to the emergency clinic if one were seriously ill.  He would pay for expensive veterinary treatments.    I remember once my dad paid a very expensive bill at the vet hospital.   When I gave the receptionist the check, she said it was short by cents, it was under a dollar.   I didn’t have any money on me.   I remember that walk out to the car and  to my dad to get the change from him.   He did all this for me, and stored inside my memories are all these gestures.
When my cockatiel died, he quietly gave my daughter money and told her to go to the pet shop and bring me another one home…….I still have Chip…….
I remember he once went into a rant at a NJ toll booth operator who worked at the pace of a snail when we had my little toy poodle in the back seat……transporting him to a sophisticated vet facility when my own vet said it was the only chance for him to live…….and live he did.
My dad was one who took care of us, all of us, fleshed and furry…….and he continues in spirit to watch over all of us now.
He tried to take care of everybody……stacks and stacks of charity mail came to his house every month.   He would put a dollar in each one…..He would proudly show us pictures that children had drawn for him.   (I didn’t have the heart to tell him they were just form letters and a child had not sat down and colored one specifically for him)…….His eyes were poor, his handwriting shaky at this point.  But he continued sending his dollars to them all.   Once, he composed a letter to be sent upon his death to each of the charities he had sent donations……apologizing to all  because his dollars would no longer come.
In his lifetime, he is credited with saving the lives of others.   He was a Police Captain, he was given a citation for saving teenagers from drowning, he once ran into a building on fire and later had to be treated for exposure to hazardous chemicals……I remember the panic I felt as a kid watching him run across the street when a power line fell on a neighbor’s car in the driveway…….
When I lost my dad, I lost the one who was always there to save me……it is a horrible feeling to be an orphan, for those of us who have lost our parents now become one.  And, as we age, we become the one our children look upon to save them……….
So…….for all saviors today…….
I wish happiness.
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“Coco Not?”

Here we go again……riding the seesaw of American Heart Association recommendations for what is healthy , what is not.

The latest miracle food was coconut oil.   I have jars of it on my counter, in my pantry.   I fry in it, bake with it………add coconut butter to coffee……..

Now the limelight shines a bit dimmer from the Heart Association on its benefits.  I grew up on the wonders of margarine……that didn’t turn out so well.   Too bad we can’t take back those huge tubs that always sat on our mothers’ and our own refrigerator shelves if we are of a certain age.   And as an added benefit, we could reuse those “healthy” plastic containers to store boiling hot food……..sigh  😦

Margarine, so healthy……we all ran out and bought it, slathered it on toast in the morning…….baked with it.   We could eat it without the worry and calories of butter…………

But then, that side of the seesaw dropped and we hit the ground of reality with a thud.

So what is best, coconut oil, butter, palm oil, avocado oil……..Avocados are another miracle.   Avocados aren’t big in an Italian American household; I never tasted one growing up.  I don’t think our local neighborhood market even stocked them.

Quite frankly, I need something with avocados to “kill” the taste.   I know most say they don’t have much taste, only great creaminess………but I taste avocados and never quite warmed up to that flavor.   But I buy them and bake with them and spread them on toast, although I spread a layer of something delicious on the toast first…….  But one day, the seesaw will fall flat on an avocado and smash its creaminess in the dirt……….

For today it will be expensive avocado toast in upscale Manhattan Restaurants alongside the delicious creaminess of coconut butter swirled coffee………..

And the next day……….who knows?……….But I know one thing……we will all be taken for that new ride on the seesaw, for however long it lasts………..

Read the news article here


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“Fathers and Daughters”


I think the adage is true…….you look for your father in your husband.

Some look for the guy who always fixes things…….

If your dad could be depended on to fix that radiator hose in the middle of nowhere and get you home……..you look for that in a guy.   If your dad was the guy who stretched his arm out across your body if the car stopped short, you know the first time that guy does that…….he is the one.

Fathers always made it right……if you were given a good one.   If you needed a ride home, they were there.   If you needed money, they were there.  If you needed a home to come home to when things weren’t so great……they were there.

If you are truly lucky, you find that guy………..and he becomes the father your daughter knows is always there.   In life, radiator hoses break, hearts break as well……it is nice to know there is someone out there waiting for a chance to help mend either or both………..

My dad is gone now; sometimes he makes his presence known to me from another place.  He is still there waiting, it’s harder for him to fix things now, but I never for a moment doubt he intervenes in whatever way is spiritually possible.   Deep within my soul, I am still that little girl, wanting my dad to look at me the way he does in this old photograph……..

Happy Father’s Day to all reading this……….DSC_4293



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“They erased her life, but not her words” Remembering Anne Frank on her birthday

I have an unexplained connection to Anne Frank, ever since I was a little girl.   Last  night, while scanning through some obscure television channels, I happened upon “The Diary of Anne Frank.”   So, instead of the Tonys, I sat watching it again.   For some reason, there is compulsion to watch, to remember, it seems to come from the depths of memory or soul.   I wrote this blog a couple of years ago, but today is Anne’s birthday, a good day to share it again.

August 4, 1944 ~~ Anne Frank is captured.

Today’s blog breathes life into a memory stored for nearly half a century.
It is a moment I have never forgotten; it is “written” in my heart, perhaps the reason I write today.
It is the memory of a little girl and her mother who went to the local MacDonald’s for lunch one afternoon.
This little girl had dark eyes and dark hair and shared a strong resemblance with another little girl, though not of her time.
While in MacDonald’s waiting in line, another little girl and her mother walked in. Immediately, this little girl started yelling and pointing her finger, saying “Look mommy, it’s Anne Frank.”
I remember the awkward, frozen silence between two moms and two “shaken” girls……
From that day since, every time Anne’s eyes look up at me from upon the page of a book, there is a twinge of remembrance from the little girl inside me….
Today’s blog stirs this twinge………
It is taken from an excerpt from Thomas Moore’s book, “Care of the Soul.”
In it, Moore relates the true story of a thirteen year old girl with cystic fibrosis. With the wisdom of Anne Frank, she faced the reality of her situation.
After she died, her broken hearted mother read a page from her diary. It said, “I will live the life that is given.”
Today, I aspire to live the life that is given to the best of my ability, to reach for the higher rung on the ladder.
For all of us, whether we run, walk, crawl, push a wheelchair, or tiptoe lightly across an attic floor……let us all aspire to move forward in reach of that higher rung.
Somewhere in Heaven, I like to think Annelies Marie Frank is watching over a very wise, thirteen year old Angel.
The diaries of little girls who leave too soon can bring such lessons for the living……
If you haven’t realized it by now, the little girl in MacDonald’s was me.

My son took this photo of  the Frank house in the Netherlands for me.   Somehow, I think my aspiration to write and be remembered for my words is connected to her.anne frank 2frank house


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“Coming Home”

I have read several stories in the past weeks…..soldiers coming home.   No, not from Iraq, Afghanistan, but from WWII.

DNA has been the tool to identify remains long since decomposed into dust and bone.  It’s bittersweet.   Mothers and fathers who themselves have died, will not weep at a son’s gravesite.   Perhaps some nieces and nephews who never knew the boy……just the memory told to them before the last of his generation left this earth.

I have a farmhouse in Gettysburg.   Beneath the fields, many still remain unknown.   We now have monuments to remember those who fought, each thinking his side was right.   Sadly, those monuments are being torn down.   It is my hope that history’s truths, the ugly, the heroic, the rights, the wrongs, will always be taught and those who sacrificed will all be known in this way.  They gave so much more than their names to war……every war……each death deserves recognition.

Yes, it’s nice to become known after being unknown for so long; but it really doesn’t matter to those whose remains are being transported across the sea and laid to rest in American cemeteries.  They are with those who knew them, loved them, wept for sons who never came home……they are all home now.   In Civil War times, it was known as the good death, to be surrounded by loved ones and buried in home ground.  There are still so many unknowns out there, they did not have a good death, but may they all have everlasting peace and be home with the ones they love……………dark cross


Here is the news story of one such soldier




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“Today’s Adventures~~ Shirl and Squirrel”

There’s a new kid on the block…….a feathered one.   And he means business.   You don’t mess around with bluejays.    He is quick, swooping down and carrying a whole peanut in his beak.  When I was a kid, my brother went out to put the garbage in our pail under the tree out back.   There was a bluejay nest in that tree.   My brother’s head was the target…..new kid

It’s war with those birds……I see my Oliver frightened of him…..squirrel chirping in the tree and waving his tail furiously……..upset that this “creature” is stealing his nuts.

Don’t worry Oliver, there’s more nuts waiting  …..    How can you resist a squirrel who says I love you…………  ❤sign language

Love and Light,

Shirl and Squirrel and the New Kid……..

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“Shirl and Squirrel” (The adventures of a Fairy Tale Author and her squirrel)

I have a squirrel who waits by my front door each day……..He waits until I feed him his snack.

He has eclectic tastes…….one day, it might be pears, the next apples, dried apricots and plums……
And yes desserts……..he prefers carbs…….leftover pizza crust, ciabatta rolls are a big hit, I have seen him finish off a whole one…….

Well, he is a Jersey squirrel with an Italian Jersey girl mom…….so of course, he prefers Italian………we haven’t tried cannolis yet; I am sure he would find their shells irresistible.

My squirrel gets Amazon deliveries……no joke.   My friend in Ohio shipped him a jumbo bag of peanuts, his obsession.

He calls in for take out delivery.   Twice now, my children have seen him sitting at my front door and phoned in his delivery request from their cars.    And it works, soon the fairy godmother of peanuts delivers his order………. 🙂

He sits inside my mail basket at the front door eating his lunch, it’s like his park picnic table.   I have learned to recognize him by his distinct markings;  each squirrel has his own little features.   Sometimes, his friends drop in for lunch, mostly uninvited, and this can lead to a flurry of fluffy tails at the front step.

This is his spot……like the same customers come to Patsy’s each week in NYC, their reservations lifelong.   I hope my squirrel has a long life, he has a standing reservation at my door…….always.

I have named him Squire Oliver………because he is always pleading with his cute squirrel face and beguiling little paws…….“Please, can I have some more……”

He makes his home in a comfy, dense thicket of ivy that wraps around a tree in my front yard.   He is safe from the wind, the rain, and I hope one day my little furry child finds a mate and makes me a squirrel grandma.

Stay tuned for more adventures…….

Shirl and Oliver

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