And I survived …

Yes, boys and girls, I managed to survive yet another birthday last weekend. And only a couple of the cards I received commented on my impending senility.DSC00478What I was not expecting was a surprise birthday party in my honor given my family.  I was expecting a small family gathering to celebrate all of the family birthdays that occur during the month of September … (there happen to be four of them) … and I was enlisted to make a batch of my baked mini-mostaccioli. So I got up at seven in the morning and began making twenty pounds of Italian delights. (I know that sounds strange for someone with German, Polish and French grandparents, but then my DNA analysis says my ancestry is 75% Scandinavian. Guess they might have been Italian Scandinavians.) 

When I got to my brother’s house, I noticed a line of signs running up the front walk.DSC00460


And I realized that something was up!  And once inside, it was verified when I discovered the house was full of three odd generations of my family. OMG! Would 20-pounds of Baked Mini-mostaccioli be enough? DSC00450






I did receive some very nice gifts. My two nieces made a scrapbook of my life …DSC00476



It was very impressive!  And my six-year old grand nephew Jake built me a cute little birdhouse.

DSC00474Note that he couldn’t resist adding that I’m as old as the Wizard Of Oz. I suspect that my nephew had something to do with that, too!

And the day closed with the arrival of a super-sized harvest moon.DSC00468

A special thanks to all my loving family. OMG, I just realized that I’m the official patriarch of this bunch of crazies.

Another day, another year, and 365 new wrinkles!

Yes, yesterday was that time again! And yes, I’ll admit it … I’m growing older

Back when I was born, they didn’t take photos of the new-born babies at the hospital, but I do have the CONGRATULATION CARD that my grandmother sent my mother on her first born’s arrival.Baby card

Surprisingly as a kid, I never had a birthday party that wasn’t a family party.  And the only birthday photo I have of myself was taken on my seventh birthday.7th BD

And that kid hanging on the fence wasn’t even invited to the party.

Over the years, I’ve collected a list of famous and/or infamous people who also were born on September 5. From the high-born King Louis XIV of France (aka. The Sun King), Freddie Mercury, Jesse James, Michael Keaton, Raquel Welch, Bob Newhart, Jack Daniel, George Lazenby, Dwezzil Zappa, John Cage, Carol Lawrence, Werner Herzog, Bill Mazeroski, Jack Valenti, Loudon Wainwright III, and also me. Only one person on the list was born on the same day and year as I was though

As a Virgo born on September 5th, we are known for our great organization skills and will power. Even in hectic situations that would overwhelm others, we can always find a way to bring control and order. Our skills become especially evident in group settings, where our understanding of others allows us to naturally take on the leadership role. When dealing with challenges that we find particularly important, our friends and family are amazed at our ability to do whatever necessary to get the job done. I also doubt if anyone on the list is very humble.

And yes, I am no longer thirty-nine, but to borrow a few song lyrics from Bob Merrill …

The Moon has a few new wrinkles
It shines a bit more silver now than gold
I’m stayin’ young, I’m stayin’ young
But everything around me’s growin’ old

The house has the creaks and trembles
And winter leaves her shiverin’ from cold
I’m stayin’ young, I’m stayin’ young
It’s wonderful the way I hold my own
When everything surrounding me has grown so old


This week, share a photo that says “adventure.” It could be an image of someone setting off on an epic journey, a photo you took on an adventure of your own, or something more metaphoric that represents a personal or psychological adventure. For more information go here.

Several times each week, I go past this bronze interpretation of ADVENTURE. It is the statue of King Louis IX of France  leading the Seventh Crusade in the 13th Century. Louis was a wise and just monarch, but a terrible Crusader. He was defeated in both of his Crusade attempts … but his statue really does say ADVENTURE.Louis IX



I have taken multiple photos of this statue over the years. And my attempt this week was the first time I was able to capture all of the details of the statue. The skies were extremely overcast and there was no direct sunlight.



So, it’s Labor Day!

I passed on an invitation to go to the Japanese Festival at the Botanical Garden today. Mainly because we were being threatened with dire forecasts of storms throughout the entire day. There’s nothing soggier than a Japanese maiden in a rain-soaked kimonos. So when the overnight thunderstorms failed to appear by 8:00 am, I decided to get up and cut the overgrown back lawn. I suspect that twelve-inch tall crab grass qualifies as overgrown and even over-groan. I didn’t cut it at the normal grass height since the grass was too tall for that. So when I finished cutting two hours later, the grass was cut to the normal height it is when I decide it is time to cut the lawn. So if the promised thunderstorms and /or tornadoes fail to show up today or tomorrow, I can cut it all over again!

Labor Day never meant much to me. When I was a kid, it was always the day before I had to go back to school. Remember back then school didn’t have to start the last two weeks in August, because we didn’t have anything like SNOW DAYS. Rain or shine, sleet or snow … we didn’t get off because the school buses couldn’t run, because we didn’t have school buses — we walked to school.

It meant a lot to my father though, because he was a laborer in a steel manufacturing factory.  He made doors. I was never a laborer though. My first job was an as office boy or mail boy. Then after I got through college, I was able to work myself up to traffic director and copywriter trainee in advertising. So while I worked, I never really labored. Using your brain and being creative never did count as laboring.

My mother never really worked either. She was a house-wife which put her and other women in the same category as beasts of burden back in those olden days. She was always one to note that one Labor Day back in 1939, she did labor most of the entire day. I was born in the early hours the next day. She said she never worked so hard in her life, but I was worth it. Guess, that’s why I took care of her until she was 96.

September 4, 1939 — It was Labor Day — it was the day after the invasion of Poland and the start of World War II — it was the day my dad was going to take her to see the Wizard Of Oz at the Fox — it was the day she spent her 27th birthday at St. Louis Maternity Hospital in labor waiting for me to arrive.

Here’s to my mom …Anna Barylski 1935


It’s your turn now: for this week’s challenge, bring together two of your photos into dialogue. What do they say to each other? For more information go here!  

This is a dialogue Mother Nature has been having with us at 4:30 each day for the past several afternoons …




THE SUMMER STORM!  The Approach … the Darkening Skies … and finally the first drops of rain falling. I didn’t stick around to catch the Deluge because the lightening was coming to fast and furious. You can also see how the color of the photos changed as the storm moved in.


The Passionate Love Screams Of A Million Over Sexed Cicadas

Bet that title made you stop and read today’s entry! For the past two weeks, West Walnut Manor has been living under the threat of an excessive heat warning. What warning?  For the past week the mercury has been ranging between 95 and 100. If that isn’t high enough for you, the weather wizards have to adjust that figure and add a heat index which lets you know that even though the thermometer might read 95 … the heat really feels like it is 115.  Come on you sadist b…..ds — can’t you just let us sweat and swelter at 95?

Actually, I really shouldn’t complain, because at exactly 4:35 p.m. on the past two afternoons we have received horrendous thunder, lightening, torrential rain storms. And today’s came with a bonus addition of one-inch hail.  Yesterday, I had gone to the corner Walgreen and Mickey D’s to pick up a tube of toothpaste and a carry out Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich meal for my dinner. (No, the toothpaste wasn’t part of the dinner.)  And just as I walked out of the door, the skies opened up with a Noah-like downpour. But I was prepared, because I had brought my pop-open umbrella along with me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the pop-open thingy pop open the umbrella.

Just then two questionable young ladies ran out of the restaurant and began shouting, “Mister, mister, would you let us walk to the bus stop under your umbrella?”  

I replied, “I’m sorry, as you can see, I’m having trouble opening the umbrella.”  

“Here, let me open it,”  said the greasier one of the two as she pulled in out of my hands.

I pulled the umbrella back out of her hands and said, “I’m not going to the bus stop!”

And as I walked off into the downpour in the other direction I added, “Besides, this umbrella will only cover one person.”

As the rain soaked through my clothes, they shouted, “You just have no respect for ladies!”

“And who considered you ladies,”  I muttered to myself as the rain continued to fall and fill my mouth.

Surprisingly, I made it home  without my dinner getting totally rain-soaked. Which was something I couldn’t say about myself, I was soaked through to my underwear.  And the temperature had dropped from 95 to 72. I had to strip, towel down and put on dry clothes before I could eat.

Today was a repeat of yesterday, and thankfully I had not left the house. The added hail would have pelted me and left dents.

After today’s storm I walked out to see if there had been any hail damage. There was no damage to the house, but I had to cover my ears to protect the from the screeching of what sounded like a gazillion  cicadas. It inspired me to find  my origami folding paper.


Cicely and Silas Cicada making whoopee … and a hell of a lot of noise!


sun-wearing-sunglassesDo you realize that if we used the celsius method of measuring the temperature, it would have only been 37.778 degrees outside today.

Sunday Update! Still Full Steam Ahead For The Heatwave!


In case you’re wondering, Mlle. Renee and I are not melting away to nothing from the heat. Renee is no dumb dog and neither am I, so we’ve been staying inside with the AC. She’s been napping a lot, and I’ve been reading, writing, cleaning, cooking and occasionally napping, too. And the grass keeps growing and growing and needs a lot of mowing. But that can wait for a cooler day. There’s no way I’m going to get up a two o’clock in the morning and cut the grass!


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