25 05 2016

Have you ever put something on your schedule only to wish you hadn’t? You know what I mean? It’s that casual, “Why don’t you stop in for a drink?” kind of invitation that you accept only to wonder what you were thinking when the date rolls around.

My idea of a great spring Saturday is to put on my crummiest jeans and grass-stained sneakers and head to my gardens – alone –  for a day of weeding, deadheading, and pruning my beloved flowers and trees; so when the time came to attend a birthday party for someone I barely knew, I was not in a festive mood. “We’ll put in an appearance and leave as quickly as we possibly can,” I told my husband – our usual plan.

Well, let me tell you, that was a plan that was quickly scrapped!

As it turns out, our hosts were delightful and the more we got to know them, the better we liked them. Things were going famously when Mrs. Host said, “Honey, you should serenade Paula.” Oh, no! They had the biggest, most complex hot rod of a karaoke set-up money can buy. My husband and I put on our pleasantest “listen politely” faces and prepared for the worst.

What a surprise!

Our previously quiet host was transformed when he touched that magic microphone. We were awestruck – and that’s saying something, as we had been professional musicians for years. He was not good; he was GREAT! He had range and balance and control and timing and phrasing. Wow, just wow.

In a time when most surprises are unwelcome, bad news, inconvenient, or otherwise disagreeable, this was such a moment of delight. Had these folks who barely knew us not generously invited us to their home to share in their celebration, we’d have missed out on enjoying a wonderful Filipino meal, meeting some lovely folks, and hearing a secret singing star perform just for us.

As a confirmed curmudgeon, this is a lesson I need to remember:

When some lovely people offer you their hospitality, you might not just want to say okay – say kara-okay!

p.s.  Here’s proof of my “we used to be musicians” claim – a blast from our past –  “Crippen” 1991.

Bube's 1991 b

Hank Ettel, Bass; Paula Lewis, Percussion; Ken Lewis, Guitar at Bube’s Brewery in Mt Joy, PA.

Book Covers

18 05 2016

This popped up in my Facebook feed a few days ago:

“An informal poll….WOMEN: when you see newswomen look like this, what thoughts cross your mind?”


I know what the woman who posted this was looking for in the comment section, of course; she was asking us empowered feminist warrior women to put these pretty faces and perfect bodies in their place . . .

When someone posts a photograph like this with a loaded question attached, most of us default, at least at first, to some version of “cute but dumb.” Yes, I did that, too.

Not so fast.

How hateful and narrow-minded of me.

We, who fancy ourselves as champions of equal rights for women, would not hesitate to eviscerate anyone who would post a picture of women would not qualify as classically pretty and question their ability to do their jobs based on their looks. What makes us think it’s okay to question the abilities of pretty women, just based on their looks?

I am not denying that there is a double standard with respect to newscasters’ appearance based on gender. That is not the point of this post. I simply want to share my chagrin at my initial reaction to the question posed with this image. I would hope that some of you who initially felt – as I did – that these women are not to be taken seriously because of their looks will – as I did – have a little talk with yourself about how wrong it is to judge people by their looks.

Being an old, wrinkled, smart-not-pretty woman, I know it’s hard to pass up any opportunity to put down the prom queen. She’s always had it easier because she’s pretty, right, so why not take her down a peg or two? Because it does not diminish her; it makes us uglier. Envy green doesn’t look good on anyone, so don’t drape yourself in it!







11 05 2016

Okay, what kind of practical joker would replace May with three weeks of November???

Complaining about the weather won’t change it, so I decided to stomp – er stroll – around my gardens in search of an antidote to the dull pewter mist that’s parked over my neighborhood and my attitude. As low and thick as the clouds are, surely there must be a silver lining somewhere.

Although I am still not sold on its pallor, one thing’s for sure about a sunless, shadowless, “flatmosphere” – my Nikon loves it. These are my silver linings from this afternoon,  a few of my garden lovelies whose moodier more soulful versions might just be even more beautiful than their more familiar sun-amplified standard ones.


geranium ‘Stephanie’



geranium phaeum ‘Samobar’


tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’

Even when the sun comes out – and please, let that be soon – I will see these plants, who are often outshone in the riotous party of a sunny day, with a new appreciation. When the sky is crystal blue and the sun is warm, it is easy to get lost in the whole of the day’s beauty. When it’s not so obviously lovely, when we have to look a little harder for it, we may discover beauty we’ve been missing. Be grateful for the gray; there are always silver linings.  Always.



Love Conquers All

4 05 2016

It’s been a rainy few days, gloomy weather and bad news abounding. Many of my friends and family are in a real funk, moods as dreary as the atmosphere.

Thankfully, there are a few critters who are not so inclined. Glad to have a backyard full of reminders that, even in the cloudiest of times, there are silver linings.

I watched beautiful male cardinal visit one of my bird feeders, choose a particularly plump tidbit and carry it to his date, an equally pretty, if not as flashy, female, who sat patiently on the deck rail. He gently fed the seed to her, returned to the feeder and repeated the dance. He must’ve made ten trips. What a gentleman.

This afternoon, things got a little less courtly and more bawdy. The toads who live around our fish pond have been singing themselves hoarse with love songs for a few days. Today, finally, they got themselves a little afternoon delight. Good for them and thanks to them for waiting until today – the neighbor’s nine-year-old was here yesterday, avidly watching the soloists, catching and releasing a few of them. Relieved there was no amphibian sex education on my watch.

toad love 5-4-16 (8)

The bogs and the birds are not depressed by a little rain or a large news story. They are living in the moment, focusing on the good things right in front of them. I think they’re onto something. A nice dinner and some love and affection is a pretty fine idea, don’t you agree? Sing me something sweet.


Science Friction

27 04 2016

When I was little, there wasn’t a problem in my world that my mother or father could not fix, not a foe they could not vanquish, not a need they could not meet. One of the harshest lessons of growing up is to discover that they are not gods; they can and do make mistakes and there are some things they can’t repair. For a time, in that “in between,” there might arise another champion – an uncle who is strong and can lift you into the treehouse, a neighbor who bakes fancy birthday cakes – but, soon enough, they are found to also be mere mortals.

I think this might be one reason why some folks are so skeptical about Science.

Science is not perfect.

Science makes mistakes.

Hell, Science ADMITS its mistakes. Science holds up its errors and begs us to correct them.

Science is not perfect.

When we contrast this stark and scary reality with the unprovable promises of a benevolent Universe – well, Mommy! A mysterious and necessarily un-understandable force that surely must be for the ultimate good and requires no empirical proof sounds pretty damn good. We don’t have to deal with the uncertainty of Science, its self-doube, always poking at itself to try to do better.

I get it. Don’t we long for that security of innocence? Wasn’t life simpler when the bogeyman could be chased away by a flashlight sweep under the bed by Dad, when a disappointment could be mitigated with a kiss and a cookie from Mom?

Well, although I understand the charm of it, we can’t go back. There is no superhero; there is life, real life, and we are forced, as adults, to cope with all that entails.

I trust Science. I believe – and there’s a mountain range of evidence – that we are better off because of Science (and its offspring Big Medicine, Big Agriculture, and Big Pharma). This is not a comfortable position, given that there are friends I love who will disagree vehemently, but, based on the peer-reviewed and repeatable-study-gathered data, as one of my favorite fictional theoretical physicist often says, “That’s my spot.”


Right Means No Regret

20 04 2016

When I saw this meme on social media, I was not sure how to react. I was pretty sure my head wanted to explode for more than just the grammar and punctuation issues, though.


After I got over the misplaced commas, creative capitalization, and whatever those two dots and two exclamation points are, I found my brain muttering, “This is just ass-backwards.” (My brain often speaks in the vernacular of my dear old Midwestern dad.)

I have done a lot of things for people who did not appreciate my effort. Sometimes, it was because what I did was not what they needed. Sometimes, it was because they were ungrateful jerks. A lot of times, my feelings were hurt when there was not commendation for my good deed.

Wait. What?

Doing the “right thing” and expecting a reward for it is, on its face, not a right thing. The reward for doing the right thing is that I am the kind of person I want to be. I am true to my good self.

When I think back on the times I did unrequited favors – and being in my 6th decade, there’ve been plenty of instances – I may feel foolish for having allowed a wrong person to be important to me, but I never EVER regret having done the right thing. What I do regret are the times I was unkind, rude, selfish, spiteful. I regret those times when I missed or denied myself doing the right thing.

The meme is wrong. Please don’t be seduced by it just because it’s in black and white and sans serif font.  Trust me; I am old enough to know better, so I do better. If it’s a meme you want, here’s one from me.

thalia 2

Oh, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNB_RjpWnsI


Narcissism of the Nicest Variety

13 04 2016

How many times have we heard the term “narcissistic” used to describe a political candidate?  I know I’ve lost count.  There is, without question, one contestant who certainly fits the clinical definition. I would, however, as an avid (understatement) gardener, appreciate it if the media would choose another term.  Referring to the Evil Angry Orange as a narcissist is truly an unfair slight to a beautiful plant.  See for yourself.

narcissus backlit 1

Narcissus ‘Thalia’ – she’s looking toward the sun and I am on my belly, shooting close from the north side, about 6:30 p.m.

thalia 7

The angle of the sun through those iridescent petals was pretty special.



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