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Thursday, December 31, 2015


I was reading the Mystic River Press calendar of events this morning and a few items caught my eye.  Along with the usual nature walks, concerts and children's library programs, there were a few interesting events listed.

The first to draw my attention was the Coloring Workshop in Charlestown, Rhode Island.  The description reads, "Enjoy a relaxing morning by exploring the trend of adult coloring."  I don't live under a rock so I do know that adult coloring books were a popular Christmas item this year, but does anyone need a workshop to relearn what they learned when they were just toddlers?  Sounds like group therapy, but  it might be fun to attend on January 2nd, just to see what kind of instruction the participants receive.  Maybe they could have a Benjamin Moore paint store employee on hand to help with colored pencil choices and a nun in her habit, banging on participants' knuckles with a ruler if they colored outside the lines.

The second item that caught my eye and gave me a chuckle was Irish Language Lessons, commencing on January 7th at the Tower Street Community Center in Westerly, Rhode Island.  I've met a lot of Irish people over the years and we also vacationed in Ireland a number of years ago.  To my recollection, most speak the King's English.  I know about Gaelic, but that's not what the event proclaims to be teaching.  The only thing I could think of was the relatives from Ireland I met who would come over to visit our neighbors, the Ward family, in Morristown, NJ.  I loved hearing their lovely accents and sharing a cup of tea.  Somehow I don't think the Irish language lessons being offered in the events calendar would include such typical Irish sayings as, "You fekking idjit!"  Too bad really because that would be a fun class to take if they did!

There were lots of notices for stargazing and lectures, but the one I would avoid at all costs now that my sons are grown is Music Together, also at the Westerly Community Center.  The description reads, "Family music classes for children ages birth to kindergarten.  Sing, play, drum, dance and create musical memories with your little one."  That one definitely sounds headache producing....a room full of infants and preschoolers singing, banging on drums and dancing around like little whirling dervishes.  I hope they provide a nice glass of wine for the mommies!

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Maureen O'Hara passed away yesterday at the age of 95.  Instantly my thoughts went to my maternal grandfather, Elmer Jacob Poorman.  Elmer, in later life known as Jack, was a huge fan of and more than a little in love with Maureen O'Hara.

I've been thinking about my grandfather a lot lately because I was contacted by a professor in England, a musicologist who is working on creating a database and website about the World War I items held at the University of Illinois and the Newberry libraries.  According to this gentleman, William Brooks, my grandfather’s song has one of the most complicated and interesting histories and I've been trying to help him fill in some of the details.  To my delight, Professor Brooks has been an invaluable resource for me in discovering more information about my grandfather.

Elmer is the fifth from the right in the top row
Elmer was born on May 18, 1890 in Fayette, New York, a small farming town in Upstate New York.  One of fifteen children (although we always believed it was eighteen), Grandpa left home in his late teens or early twenties for the big city.  After arriving in New York, he worked as a machinist while marrying and starting a family in Newark, New Jersey.  He invented a number of items and had them patented but he spent most of his spare time pursuing his true dream of writing songs.

During World War I, Elmer, a pacifist, penned the lyrics to a song entitled, "AFTER THE WAR IS OVER WILL THERE BE ANY HOME SWEET HOME", music by Joseph Woodruff.  The sheet music I have was published by the Joe Morris Music Company in New York City in 1917.  While I had numerous copies of other songs Grandpa had written, I had never seen a copy of "After the War..." until I discovered it on eBay, along with a player piano roll version.  Family lore has it that the sheet music of this song sold a quarter of a million copies before the government banned it for being unpatriotic.

Elmer tried toning the song down, retitling it to both "AFTER THE WAR IS OVER" and "AFTER THE WAR IS OVER THERE WILL BE A HOME SWEET HOME", collaborating with gentlemen named Andrew B. Sterling and Harry Andrieu,  but these versions never had the same level of success.

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a young girl in the 1950s.  On his days off from work, Grandpa would sit in a tiny room at the back of their fourth floor walk-up apartment at 619 Hunterdon Street in Newark, NJ.  There he had a tiny tabletop electric organ and a beige tweed suitcase shaped record player.  These items were totally off limits to his grandchildren.

I remember hanging my arms around Elmer's neck and peeking over his shoulder at his opened record player.  Inside the lid he had affixed his prized possessions; three large black and white autographed studio photographs of Maureen O'Hara that he apparently had requested from her movie studio.  I even have sheet music copies of a song he wrote for her, "MAUREEN", and the first line begins with "Maureen, my sweet Maureen...".  My red-haired Irish grandmother, Margaret Mary Kenney, was totally jealous of his affinity for Ms. O'Hara, but Grandpa followed her career until his death in April of 1973.

If Grandpa were still alive I'm sure he would be drinking a boilermaker (a shot and beer) in Ms. O'Hara's honor today.  

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Dear Stephen King,

First and foremost, I'd like to say how very much I enjoyed your new book, FINDERS KEEPERS.  In this latest thriller, Bellamy is the perfect creepy fan of  John Rothstein, while Pete Saubers is portrayed as a nicely obsessive one.  Black and white hats and who will win?   Certainly not Rothstein.

What can I say about your books overall that you haven't already heard, except that I've loved almost all of them.  You were the first (and only) author I ever wrote to and that was way back in the early '80s;  just to compliment you and ask you to write faster.  I never heard back from you but I didn't expect to.   I love books and I love reading and your books are always at the top of my list.

Sometimes an author writes something that just zings to my heart and forces me to share the thought with friends.  FINDERS KEEPERS had that special paragraph that felt like it was written just for me.  To wit, "

"For readers, one of life's most electrifying discoveries is that they are readers--not just capable of doing it, but in love with it.  Hopelessly.  Head over heels.  The first book that does that is never forgotten, and each page seems to bring a fresh revelation, one that burns and exalts:  Yes!  That's how it is!  Yes!  I saw that, too!  And, of course, That's what I think!  That's what I FEEL!"  

ZING!  And I immediately knew what the book was that made me fall in love!  GOOFY MRS. GOOSE by Miriam Clark Potter.  It's also the reason I make yearly donations to the Newark Public Library.

My family never had any money, so there weren't going to be any summer camps or outings in our future.  On the first day of summer vacation from school, my brother and I took a friend's little red wagon to the branch library on Bergen Street in Newark, New Jersey.  I was about seven years' old and Bob was probably nine.  The very kind librarian told us we could each take ten books for the summer.  HA!  What did she know??!!  One of the books I borrowed was GOOFY MRS. GOOSE.  That was it!  I was hooked!  These weren't nicely colored Golden Books.  These were black and white with illustrations by the author, with more words than drawings, but Ms. Potter unlocked a whole new life for me!  One that used my imagination!  I raced through all ten books in a week, as did my brother, and off we headed to return our allotment and borrow more.

The librarian was fairly shocked that we returned so quickly, but I just had to get more of Mrs. Goose and her friends.  Three-Ducks, Mrs. Squirrel, Black Cat and Old Lady Owl, just to name a few.  Oh my, I felt like I had just discovered my new family!  A beautiful family who always helped Goofy Mrs. Goose out of her latest quandary with kindness and humor.  I could escape my own family's poverty, arguments and unhappiness and spend my time in Animaltown that summer.  And so, I was hooked on Mrs. Goose, but even more hooked on reading, and I have spent the better part of the last sixty years doing just that!

I'm now the proud owner of ten of the MRS. GOOSE series written by Ms. Potter.  They're in fair to miserable condition being library castoffs for the most part. But to me they are my prized possessions!

So, thank you, Mr. King, for reaching my heart and reminding me why I started this blog in the first place.  It's been my great pleasure to spend time with your books over the years.

Very truly yours, A Constant Reader

ISBN:  978-1501100079  
Pub. Date - June 2, 2015
448 pages
Hardcover and eBook       

Saturday, June 14, 2014

THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt

THE GOLDFINCH was great until it wasn't.

I have mixed feelings about The Goldfinch.  On one hand I loved this can't-put-it-down novel.  As with the other works by Ms. Tartt, it's  wonderfully written and a compelling read, despite a few too many madcap and drug-induced escapades by the protagonist and his Russian sidekick.  On the other, after investing my time in this 700 plus page novel, it was more than a little disappointing when the story line fell off a cliff.

When it morphed into a lecture on art history, I stopped recommending it to my friends.  Too bad, because Ms. Tartt is a fine writer, but in this case it seems like she just didn't know where or how to stop.

ISBN:  978-0316055437
Pub. Date:  October 2013
775 pages
Available in Hardcover, Paperback and eBook

Sunday, November 17, 2013


When did manufacturers and retailers come up with "classic" versus "modern" sizes for women's clothing?  And who dreamed this up anyway?  

I just opened a current Neiman Marcus catalog and the first item is a very expensive woman's sweater. The sizes are listed as MODERN sizes ranging from XS which is a 2 up to XXL which is a 12. When did XXL become a 12 ??? Further in the catalog is a dress with CLASSIC sizes, ranging from XS or size 2-4 up to XL which is listed as being size 14-16. 

Fast forward in the catalog to an Eileen Fisher cardigan. We all know that Eileen Fisher's clothing runs large, but they must just invent their own sizing because their XL is a size 18 even though it would probably fit you if you normally wear a size 20, but their women's plus size 1X is size 14-16???? Crazy enough for you or are their invented sizes used to make people who don't fit into their XL feel better about themselves by dropping the numerical size down in their next size up?  Well, hell, if I can fit into their XL or 18, I guess I should just move up to a plus size 1X so I'm technically wearing a smaller size at 14 - 16!

One of the really disturbing points about this new sizing is for the younger woman and her self-image.  For decades, if not centuries, women have squeezed themselves into clothing and shoes based on size.   We've all seen those shoe cartoons where the very large woman is trying to cram herself into a shoe that wouldn't fit a seven year old child!  

No one wants to wear a larger size at forty than they did at 20, even though life gets in the way, like having children.  Under the new sizing formula, someone who has traditionally worn a size 12 and a medium or large for example, will suddenly find themself just one step away from the plus size or the fat lady department (which is how I jokingly refer to it as I ride the escalator down to the basement of Bloomingdale's to shop)!  

I stopped shopping at Coldwater Creek a few years ago.  Be it a sweater or blouse or jeans, every single item they sell only fits me if I go up a size.  Excuse me, but what is up with that??  So keep your clothing, Coldwater Creek.  You're not going to make me feel worse about buying that cute little cardigan of yours!.  I'll go back to Talbot's where my size is usually still my size. 

It used to be that I could order a white shirt from Ralph Lauren or Talbot's and it would fit exactly like the one I bought last year.  Not anymore!  Although last year's shirts still fit great, with the new ones, the sleeves may be too short or the neck opening too wide.  Lauren changed their sleeve width a couple of years ago which drove me crazy!

Do the manufacturers and retailers have any real understanding of just how hard it is to know your size in their clothing???  I've reach the point where if I want to buy a sweater from J. Jill for example, I'll order the same sweater in two different sizes, fully planning to return the one that doesn't fit.  And in some case, neither fits and I have to order a size smaller!  Have to admit, that feels good for a change.

Following the new modern sizing, I'd have to wear an XXXXXL.  Pretty insulting if you ask me.  Forget the fact that women should have standardized sizes like men's clothing which is a whole nother bailiwick.  I guess the next stop for me is to order my granny panties from Omar the Tent Maker!

Friday, November 1, 2013


My husband and I had dinner with our son Robert and his wife Stacey last night.  We invited them out to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.  Congratulations to the happy couple!

During dessert, I dripped a spot of chocolate on the front of my shirt.  My white shirt, of course.  Which I had just changed into to wear to dinner.

As I was trying to blot the spot with my napkin, my son turned to me and asked, "How many white shirts do you own?"  Thinking quickly, I responded, "Thirty?"  As the three of them laughed, I found myself explaining what white shirts mean to me.  And the more I thought about it, the more eccentric I guess I am, or have become, or always was.  Or is it just a clothing rut?

When I was a young teenager my mother taught me the importance of wearing ironed clothes.  To this day, I really can't wear a shirt right out of the dryer without at least touching it up with an iron.  Even if the shirt is one hundred percent cotton and will turn into a map of wrinkles within minutes of putting it on, I have to start out with a freshly ironed shirt.  This is one of the reasons that I tidy up in the morning in my pajamas; who wants to put on a freshly ironed shirt to wash dishes???

As a teenager, I was really skinny.  In fact, I was underweight at 5' 7" tall and 108 pounds.  I could wear almost anything, and did.  But my favorite go-to outfit was a freshly ironed white oxford shirt with capris and flats.

And here I am now, fifty years later.  Not so skinny, less tall at 5'6" (sorry, not giving you the poundage!) and what's my go-to attire?  You got it....a freshly ironed white oxford shirt with capris and flats.

But let me explain!  I have those hang-around-the-house white shirts.  You know the ones; they've been
kicked around and aren't new enough to really wear to go out.  Then I have the over sized, all cotton oxfords with the button down collars and long tails, better known as boyfriend shirts.  These shirts are perfect with jeans and sneakers for a quick run to the mall or food store, or for curling up with a good book.  Add to the mix the more fitted cotton with spandex shirts.  These are great under sweaters or vests, or any time you want to "up" your style a little bit.

With the advent of wrinkle-resistant cotton, I now own shirts that you can wear all day and they don't wrinkle.  These are great to wear with your dressier slacks and a blazer, sweater or your favorite shawl.  You could go from the mall to a client dinner in one of these and pull it off.  But don't kid yourself, you still need to iron these shirts.  And they do have one problem.  The fabric is woven differently so they don't really breathe and you wouldn't want to wear one of these on a hot day even though they're one hundred percent cotton.  I also own a couple of white on white prints for a dressier look.  Paired with dress slacks they are perfect!

Last but not least, I own three-quarter sleeve white cotton shirts for summer wear as shown on the left.

Am I in a rut?  I don't know.  I do know that I own shirts in lots of other colors,including solids, plaids and stripes.  I'm even wearing a blue striped shirt in my current profile picture.

Back in 2010, I blogged about Yuka, a young hairdresser who works at Vidal Sassoon in Manhattan.  I was really delighted with her outfit.  It was cheery and fun and colorful and upbeat.  She looked young and hip and made me smile when I looked at her.  But would I dress like that?  Not a chance!  I'd feel like I was ready to work in the circus!

Look at photos of stars like Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Diane Keaton and even Taylor Swift on Google.  You'll find photo after photo of celebrities wearing the tried and true white cotton shirt.    Call it my uniform, but they're simply timeless and they work and I love them!

I lamented over one of my favorite white cotton shirts last night that had to be retired a couple of years ago. I owned a Ralph Lauren shirt that was made from the softest cotton imaginable.  After owning it for about ten years, I literally wore it to death, because one of the sleeves simply shredded when I bent my arm while wearing it.

I counted my white shirts this morning and my guesstimate was pretty close.  I do own a wealth of white cotton shirts, twenty-nine to be exact!  But they're as different as the colors of the rainbow to my eyes, despite the fact that some would simply refer to each as a white cotton shirt!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I intended to sit down at my computer and start reviewing books again this morning, following a two month hiatus.  April was a very difficult month for our family.  There were many trips to Maryland to visit my husband's sister who was severely ill.  There were also numerous trips to Connecticut to get ready for a friend's wedding.  In mid-April, my sister-in-law passed away, a sad time for everyone, and consequently I wasn't in a blogging mood.

So here I am, finally settled back in New Jersey and ready to work!  Still dressed in my nightgown with my first cup of coffee of the morning, I had just turned on my computer when my friend who works for the Mendham Township Police Department called to ask if my husband's car had been parked in the driveway overnight and if yes, had it been broken into!!??  Luckily, George hadn't left for work yet and when he checked, sure enough, his car had been ransacked.  How did they even know that?

Well, apparently we weren't the only ones hit last night.  A number of cars had been broken into and one had been stolen.  The reason that the police called us was that the detective remembered that we had installed a video security system after our home was broken into last August.  Still in my nightgown, policemen started showing up to check the backup monitoring system for our cameras.  I couldn't figure out how to even reverse the recording on the system's monitor but remembered I could access it on my cell phone.

Scrolling from midnight to this morning, up popped the culprits at approximately 4:22:23 a.m.  Two of them walking down our driveway, one going to the side of the car to open the driver's side door and one going right to the trunk to hunt for who knows what.  Pretty creepy!

This photo shows the men rifling through my husband's car.  (You can read the article on the

We soon found ourselves surrounded by three local officers, two county sheriff's officers and another sheriff's officer who is familiar with home surveillance systems.  Totally embarrassing since I had intended to also clean my office today because unfortunately it looked like IT had been ransacked.  No matter, they were soon able to download the footage of the perpetrators onto a thumb drive, and after complimenting us on the really good cameras we installed (apparently the high number of pixels will make it possible to enlarge the size of the stills when they print them, making the trespassers more easily visible), they were soon piling into their official cars and heading back to pursue their leads.

I guess I should thank the person or persons who broke into our home last year.  We would never have installed the cameras if that hadn't happened.  And if we hadn't installed the cameras, the police wouldn't have been able to know the time frame that the cars were broken into, as well as actually being able to see the people who did it.

Bravo to Mendham Township Detective Taquinto for remembering about our camera system.  And bravo to the police and sheriff's department officers who responded so quickly.  To my neighbors and friends, we live in a difficult time and there have been so many burglaries locally.  Please be aware that we don't live in Mayberry anymore.  You need to lock your doors and your car doors and do your best to keep your families safe.  Get an alarm, install outside lighting, get a dog or do whatever makes you comfortable, but please pay attention to strangers in your neighborhood and don't hesitate to call the police if something doesn't feel right.

Friday, March 22, 2013

THE GOOD COP Carter Ross Series No. 4

by Brad Parks

Carter Ross is a reporter for the Newark Eagle-Examiner.  He's been handed an assignment to investigate and write about the death of a Newark policeman.  Just as he's beginning, the death is ruled a suicide and Ross is pulled from the story.

That should have stopped him, but of course it didn't.  The more he learns about Detective Sergeant Darius Kipps, the more convinced Ross is that Kipps didn't commit suicide.  In fact, he had everything to live for.  Blocked at every turn by the police in his quest, Carter is determined to find out what really happened.

Along with his reporting duties, Ross is constantly side-stepping his boss Tina's quest to have him impregnate her.  She's decided that he's the perfect candidate to fulfill her dream of having a child before her biological clock runs down.  But while Ross is seriously interested in Tina, he's not willing to settle for just being a stud service.

Brad Parks has injected a tongue-in-cheek humor in his characters and THE GOOD COP is a hilarious pleasure to read.   It doesn't hurt that the setting is many of the New Jersey towns any New Jerseyan is familiar with!

I enjoyed THE GOOD COP so much that I've since gone back and read all the rest of the Carter Ross  series.  I'd suggest you start with an earlier one, but they're all fun to read as Ross tears up the turf in the Garden State!

ISBN 9781250005526
Pub. Date:  March 5, 2013
336 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Thursday, March 21, 2013


by Lisa Genova

Olivia Donatelli has just lost her autistic son, Anthony and Beth Ellis's marriage has fallen apart.  Unkown to each other, they both retreat to Nantucket to try to make sense of their lives and their futures; one without the son she loved deeply and the other without the husband who destroyed their marriage.

As each woman deals with her own grief and sense of loss, their paths cross only fleetingly before Beth begins writing a story in the voice of an autistic boy.  Since Olivia has worked as as editor, Beth asks her to review her book and Olivia is shocked at the content.  She's convinced that her beloved Anthony is speaking through Beth.

And that's why this book lost me.  As background, let me say that I loved Ms. Genova's previous books, STILL ALICE and LEFT NEGLECTED.  I read and reviewed both of these books, giving them high recommendations.  The author's background in neuroscience lent great credibility to both novels which is why the mystical touch in love anthony was unexpected and jarring.

Needless to say, I was really looking forward to settling down with love anthony. Not in keeping with anything Lisa Genova had previously written, Beth's full book unfolds within the story of the women's lives, in a disjointed and disruptive way.  I found myself skipping over the novel within the novel in order to even finish reading Ms. Genova's newest.  This was a very disappointing purchase, but if you haven't read the author's previous works, you should.  Each was terrific!

ISBN 978-1-4391-6468-6
Pub. Date:  September 2012
309 Pages
Hardcover and eBook

Monday, March 4, 2013


by Donald Friedman
Illustrations by J.C. Suares

YOU'RE MY DAWG, DOG is a charming collection of dog terms used in everyday language.

Mr. Friedman has infused humor and his own embellishments while providing the etymology of "dog words", referencing such luminaries as Groucho Marx, Jean Shepherd, Truman, Pat Boone, Mike Tyson, Sarah Palin and Rihanna, just to name a few.  After reading this small tome, you'll be ready for the category of dog terms on Jeopardy!

Abundantly illustrated by J.C. Suares, YOU'RE MY DAWG, DOG is witty, informative and rude at turns........a must for the dog lovers or word lovers on your gift list.

Kudos to Mr. Friedman for reminding us of the richness and wit of the English language.  Doggone it, too bad our dogs can't read!

ISBN 978-1-59962-123-4
Pub. Date: February 2013
96 pages