Please Tell Me You’re Barbara Elizabeth

Why is it that emergencies don’t happen when we are sitting at home reading or watching the news?  Almost all of my emergencies happen when I’m at work.  As did this one with my father.

At the time, probably the summer or early fall of 1994, I was working as a Program Director for a non-profit agency for adults with disabilities.  My father called me at work and told me that he was really sick.  He said he had “thrown up all over the place” and asked me to come help him clean it up.  He certainly didn’t sound chipper, but he didn’t sound desperate either.

I grabbed some gloves, the kind that nurses and doctors use, and left work.  On the way I stopped at the store and picked up some ginger ale and saltines for him.

When I arrived at his house, all the shades were drawn which I thought was strange.  It was over 80 degrees, so perhaps he wanted to keep the sun out of the house.  I was greeted by a blast of hot air when I opened the front door.  He had the heat cranked up high.

And there was no vomit anywhere.

My father was sitting in the living room and the first thing he did was ask me to check on my mother who was in the other room.  But my mother wasn’t in the other room.  My mother had died in May of 1994.  How do you respond to that?  I was totally unnerved but decided to ignore him.  I called 911 and tried to go into act-as-if-you-are-at-work-and-this-isn’t-your-father mode.  I opened the curtains, turned the air conditioning on, got out his meds and arranged them on the kitchen table for the EMT’s.

When the ambulance and police arrived, my father asked them what they were doing there and told them that they should be checking on my mother.  I pretended to go check on her instead of screaming SHE’S DEAD at him.  Then, my father refused to let anybody but me touch him.

Are you kidding me???  My dad was 6’2″ and weighed over 225 pounds.  Easily.  I’m 5’2″ if I go a little on my tippy-toes when I’m being measured.  And my father refused to let anyone but me get him out of his recliner onto the gurney.  Luckily, I know how to move people without throwing out my own back, from my job.  So I helped the EMTs get him on the gurney, and then move him up the gurney so that his head was in the right place. He was very angry and was cursing at the police and EMT guys.  I finally said “Stop it right now,” in the stern voice I use with my kids.  Amazingly, he stopped.

And he was furious that I wasn’t riding in the ambulance with him.  I followed in my car but was about 5 minutes behind the ambulance as I closed up his place.  Plus I couldn’t drive a kazillion miles an hour with sirens blazing.

When I entered the Emergency Room at the Northern Westchester Hospital, I could hear my father bellowing “BARBARA ELIZABETH YOU BETTER GET YOUR ASS IN HERE NOW!”  Good Lord.

One of the nurses turned to me and said “Please tell me you’re Barbara Elizabeth.”

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Calling All Canadians!

You have to help me out, please.  I have an embarrassing admission.  I know almost nothing about Canadian literature.

When I say “almost nothing,” I mean that literally.  How is that possible?  Growing up, in English classes, we were exposed to mountains of English literature, meaning from England.  And scores of American writers in American Lit classes.  In college, I took many English courses including a Shakespearean class.

But I have never even seen a Canadian Lit class here.  And I live in the state of New York. We border Canada, for heaven’s sake.bitmoji thinking

It’s possible, of course, that in the course of my life I have read novels by Canadian authors and didn’t realize that they were Canadian.  Which means there were no embedded clues.  I would have picked up on those.


So what do I know?  I know and love Louise Penny and                                                             her Armand Gamache series.  I love crime fiction and her books go way beyond that. They capture your heart, tear at your heart, beg you to solve the crime and empathize with the fallout.  I check my Barnes & Noble list frequently, hoping the next novel will be published soon.            Louise Penny still life


I also have read a bunch of Kathy Reich’s books.  I don’t know if those count because while they are set both in the US and in Canada, she is an American author.

Lydia Longley coverMy first introduction to Canada and books featuring Canadian life and people, boy do I sound stuffy was in 2nd grade when I read the biography of “Lydia Longley, The First American Nun.”  American as in from North America.  She was born in the US but eventually went to Canada and became a nun.  I immediately wanted to be a nun and spent 2nd grade, which was also the year of my First Holy Communion, trying to act nun-like. Unfortunately, or fortunately (I think my kids would vote for fortunately),  it didn’t stick.  I still love the book.

On one of my trips to Canada with my husband, we went to a fort and heard about a battle from the Canadian point of view.  I looked down to be sure I didn’t have on a shirt with the American flag, and considered slinking away unnoticed or screaming I’M SORRY.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to have my high school students read about history from two points of view, so I bought “Laura Secord, The Heroic Adventures of a Candian Legend” by Cheryl MacDonald.Laura SecordAnd that, ladies and gentlemen and my LGTB friends, is the extent of my knowledge of Canadian literature and authors.  Please give me recommendations of any genre and any author you enjoy.  Thank you!

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Our Obsession With Jon Snow

jon snow main pic

In 2015, it was reported that A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin, the fantasy novels that began with “A Game of Thrones” in 1995, had sold 60 million copies worldwide.  Then came the HBO series.  “Game of Thrones,” HBO’s wildly popular series based on the “A Song of Ice and Fire” epic novels, chose its title from the first book in the series.  Proof positive that the world was reading and watching.

And in the first chapter of “A Game of Thrones” we meet Jon Snow.

We learn that Jon Snow is the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark.  And in his first sentence, we learn of his kindness and sense of responsibility to his brother, Bran, as their father was about to kill a deserter from the Night’s Watch.  ” ‘Keep the pony well in hand,’ he whispered.  ‘And don’t look away.  Father will know if you do.’ ”

So starts our obsession with Jon Snow.  He was my favorite character from this sentence on.

What attracts me to him is probably what attracts everyone.  The brooding bastard who was accepted by his half-brothers Robb and Bran, adored by his half-sister Arya, insulted by his father’s ward Theon and half-sister Sansa and treated with cold disdain by Lord Stark’s wife.  And his bond with his direwolf, Ghost.

Jon Snow and ghost

We find, as the series continues, that he has a strong sense of duty and a desire to find a niche for himself in their world.  And that comes in the form of the Night’s Watch.  In joining the Night’s Watch, the band of brothers who guard the Wall against the wildlings and the Others who live north of the Wall, all men are accepted without regard to their status.  When you join, you leave your past behind you.the wall








In 2011, HBO brought us the series “Game of Thrones” and the actor Kit Harington.


Men want to be like him and women either want to sleep with him or be his mother.





Jon Snow embodies honor, duty, responsibility and humility.  He commands respect and, as most people in that position, has enemies.  He has a star-crossed love affair with Ygritte, a wildling girl, showing a vulnerability that people can relate to.  Jon Snow is an honorable character in a series of dishonorable characters.  He fights without equal for those he loves and for what is right and just.

This role is played to perfection by Kit Harington.  This is why we are obsessed with Jon Snow.

game-of-thrones-season-6-episode-9-trailer pic jon snow


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Diverting Dam

croton falls diverting dam 2

Now this is one fun dam!

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The Moment of Truth



Here are the answers that you have all been waiting for……how well have you guessed my truths and my lies?!  Here is a hint.   ZERO people got them all right!  And that includes 2 of my close relatives.

#1.  b) The lie was that my confirmation name was Elizabeth.  It is Augusta.   I DID have an imaginary friend named Deenie.  It was hard to come up with a spelling of her name as I didn’t know how to spell when she was my friend.  I am scared of thunder and lightening.  Yes.  Yes I am.

#2  English IS my first language.  So a) is the lie.  I am learning the kichwa language and I do drop the f bomb too frequently.  I’m working on that, though.  For real.

#3 c) is the lie.  I am 5’1 1/2″ but I round up to 5’2″.  I sing tenor……I can’t hit the alto high notes at all.  I have trouble hitting the tenor high notes, too, hence I probably am a baritone.  I stand with the men in the choir. Oh and I love broccoli.

#4 c) is the lie.  I do have 4 children, I did read GoT in less than 3 days so was very sleep-deprived.  Guinea pig, called cuy in kichwa and Spanish, is a delicacy in Ecuador. Also referred to as the Andean rabbit.  I have eaten it on a few occasions.  I do NOT like to see the head.  Nor do I like to see the head of fish when I eat fish, for that matter.  Cuy is good and tastes a little like chicken (no it doesn’t but people always say that about wild animals, right?)

#5 b) Unfortunately I have never been a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, which doesn’t stop me from screaming the answers at the TV.  I was going to join the Air Force after college and regret not having done so, but then I wouldn’t have my kids so good decision not to go.  And I play those 3 instruments, but none very well.


So how did you do?  A bunch of you just missed one or two.  For others, “Hi, my name is Barb and I’m an alcoholic.”  Oh oops.  Wrong post.  But some of you got most a lot wrong.

I hope you had fun!  I had a blast writing it, reading your answers, and completing them on other people’s blogs, as well.  Just make a 2 truths/1 lie post like this if you want to.  I couldn’t nominate everyone that I would have liked to, so just write one and have fun.

Thanks, guys!


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Billboards and Catholics

Did you know that no longer do people put billboards up with a bucket of glue, a brush and paper?  I kid you not. gluing a billboard

I don’t know when it became an automatic thing.  Techno-billboards.

At any rate,  almost every day I drive past a billboard in our town that “advertises” our local Roman Catholic church.  The billboard is lovely.  It shows the inside of the church with the light streaming in through the stained-glass windows, gives the name and address of the church and a message.  It states….

Catholics, Welcome Home

I’ve had mixed feelings about the Catholic Church for a long time.  I’ve written about it on this blog before.  But I have also realized that I do identify myself as a Catholic and religion and spirituality were a strong part of my upbringing and are part of what has made me, well, me.

So just about every day I see that billboard.  Just about every day.  Every day.  Just about every day.

Then it was gone.  Whaaaaaaat?  baby count dracula meMy billboard disappeared. Crazy.  I thought well, everyone went home but me.  No that’s silly.  A half mile down the road I had forgotten all about it.

Meanwhile, in another part of town…..Coming down from the library in our town towards our place is a gas station.  As I drove by it one day, I glanced up at the billboard by the gas station AND THE CHURCH’S BILLBOARD WAS THERE.

Wow.  The billboard moved.  Where the old one had been there was now a Honda advertisement.

Fast forward a few weeks and the ORIGINAL billboard was back in its CORRECT place. No more Honda advertisement.  This is when I realized that I had not seen a person, a pail, paper or a ladder.  Little miss I-know-everything-about-technology, welcome to 2016 and 21st century billboards.

So there it was, in its rightful place, where I, and others, could see it every day.

Catholics, Welcome Home

baby me

A not-so-metaphorical sign for me.  Guess what happened next?

St. Lawrence O'Toole billboard

I went home, thanks to a billboard.  I went home, feel very welcomed and my spirit is renewed.

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2 Truths, 1 Lie

I’ve been nominated by Paul to reveal 2 truths and 1 lie, five times. So if my math is correct, that’s 23 truths and 14 lies. I just copied and pasted those two sentences from Paul so no accusations of plagiarism please.  OH NO!!  Paul’s math is definitely not correct and he was being funny and I was being lazy!  That’s 10 truths and 5 lies.  Phew!

Soooooo, the way this works is that I’m going to tell you some “facts” about myself and you have to guess which one is the lie.  Please write your guesses in the comments below and don’t cheat by looking at other people’s answers because they might be wrong.  Just sayin’. Here goes….


a. I had an imaginary friend named Deenie.

b. My confirmation name is Elizabeth.

c. I’m scared of thunder and lightening.


a. English is not my first language.

b. I’m learning kichwa.

c. I say f#@% way too much.


a.  I sing tenor but am really a baritone.

b. My favorite food is broccoli.

c. I’m 5’3″ tall.


a. I have 4 children.

b. I read A Game of Thrones in less than 3 days.

c. I’ve never eaten guinea pig.


a. I took the Air Force qualifying test to become an officer in the US Air Force upon graduating from college.

b. I’ve been a contestant on Wheel of Fortune.

c. I play the piano, guitar and viola.

Okie, dokie.  Please write your answers in the comments section with the number and letter of each LIE.  I will wait a couple of days to post the answers and  you can see how well you know me.  Or what a good guesser you are.  And I get to see if the readers who know me in real life and are friends of mine will know all the answers.

Now, the last part is that I have to nominate people.  I don’t usually participate in these type of games, so if you are named below, please don’t feel obligated.  It’s fun though, and I’ll blame Paul if you disagree.

Mike at The Zen Hiker

Taylor at

Anne at

Chris at

I hope you have some fun with this and I’m waiting to see your answers!


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Beware Of The Active Driveway

What’s up with this driveway?  Obviously, a lot.  Can you tell how it slammed itself up and cracked the No Parking sign?  That’s crazy, right?  Like who would park there after seeing what happened to the sign.  Actually, if you look closely, the wooden posts don’t seem to have fared very well drivewayI wonder what happens….Maybe when the wind blows a certain way the driveway starts to undulate?  Or does it become like a Slinky and then somersault into the street?slinky

Oh!  Perhaps it rises up to trip unsuspecting pedestrians.



I would definitely stay clear.  This is a very active driveway.

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Hooked On The Hunger Games

Some books grab me and I go back to them over and over again.  And over again.  I always find something I missed the first thousand times I read it.  I’m a prolific reader and a sucker for a good dystopian novel.

When I discovered The Hunger Games, I was HOOKED.  I’ve read the trilogy at least 15 times.  Probably closer to 25.  I’m a fast reader so that’s not as impressive (or insane) as it sounds.

The Hunger Games cover

A new world, figuratively speaking, has opened up to me because my grandson has chosen The Hunger Games as one of his summer reading books.

I love to read, I teach English as a New Language and we read books in English all the time, and I teach a reading program.

My grandson has to be dragged kicking and screaming to a book and keeps turning the pages to see how much more he “has” to read.  He thought The Hunger Games was one of the easier books on his list, but now that he actually has it, “it’s too long.”

It’s a challenge to teach him skills that will improve his reading and hopefully will then nudge him towards a love of reading.  But the tricky part is doing this without him knowing that I’m doing this.  In school, it’s all out in the open.  Posters about visualization.  Practice making predictions.

But no way, when this is reading for pleasure, am I about to say, “Now we are going to learn about using text features.”

My grandson arrived at our house yesterday, book in hand, and my daughter said he has to read for X number of minutes and you have to tell me how far he got blah blah blah.  I’m not slamming my daughter; many schools assign timed reading whether the kids like it or not.  And the parents have to enforce it.  I hate that.  A learn to love reading killer.

But when she left he said to me with some excitement  “I HAVE A PREDICTION!  I think the people picked in the raffle are going to be Katniss and Gale!”

So he knows about making a prediction.  What he didn’t know was what a totalitarian government is (I don’t think he really gets what a government is), what a reaping is and he thought the raffle was a good thing where they might win something.  emoji wow

We had a discussion about what had happened so far where I tried to just make it a conversation that would be at least slightly interesting to him.  “I think it’s so cool that Katniss and Gale sneak under the electric fence to hunt.”  He asks why doesn’t everyone hunt.  I think ah hah! A sliver of interest has been shown.

We take turns reading.  I tell him it’s easier to read if when he sees a period he stops and takes a breath before continuing.

emoji shock and dreadReaping day arrives.  PRIMROSE EVERDEEN.

His eyes bug out and his mouth is wide open as he looks at me. NO WAY he says.

I get to see The Hunger Games through new eyes.  How cool is that?

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The Shoe

The last week of school I was driving to work and my line of traffic had to stop for a school bus on the other side of the road.  I looked to my left and saw something in the road.  At first glance it looked like a dead animal.  So I looked closer.  Maybe a dead rabbit or woodchuck?  Then I really looked.  This is what I saw.


Ahhhhh……..a shoe.  With a broken heel.  Not a spiky heel, a flat heel.  Like the type on a man’s shoe.  Or on women’s “flats.”  The heel wasn’t completely severed, but broken as if trauma was inflicted upon it.

The bus was still loading students, so I started to think about that shoe.  How did it get there?  Did it drop off of a garbage truck?  Doubtful.  Did someone throw it out of a car window?  But the heel looked ripped or torn.  I’ve had heels of shoes break and they all broke in an identical way.  Flats start to wear at the side or at the heel of the heel, if you know what I mean.  High heels just break off.  But not break, bend and hang like that.

It looked sinister.

I imagined a car accident and the shoe was what was left behind.  But there was no broken glass or metal at the side of the road.  Then I thought of someone running down the road.  No one runs for exercise in that kind of shoe.  But running from danger? A definite possibility.

That shoe has a story and I wish it could tell it.

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