Portulaca, and Indians

I was perplexed. It was mid-May and no sign of the portulaca. I don’t know much about portulaca. For one thing, I am not quite sure if, like deer, portulaca is the same for singular and plural. It believe it is, but my wife always calls them “portulacas,” or even “portulaccis,” which I am pretty sure is incorrect. I’ll let you tell her. Portulaca is a flowering plant. We have it all along the white picket fence in front of our house. When in full bloom, it is spectacular. A vibrant display of bright, multi-colored flowers. Technically, portulaca is an… Continue Reading

A win-win, I think

I sort of like this World Series because I’ll be happy no matter which team wins. And I sort of don’t for the same reason. Typically I find myself leaning one way or the other even if my team, the St. Louis Cardinals, is not in it. But not this year. Of course, as a baseball fan, I’d like to see the Cubs win. It’s something many of us never thought we’d see in our lifetimes. But the Cubs were so darned good all season, it’s hard to think of them as underdogs any more. That tag belongs to the… Continue Reading

A tale of two mothers-in-law

Sunday is National Mother-in-law Day. I’ve had two mothers-in-law and I loved them both. The first, Dolores Smelster Sefchik, had a formal way about her but let her hair down enough around me that we remained close even after her daughter and I divorced. Our meetings, especially at Christmas time, were clandestine after that. I’d bring her a decadent box of Godiva chocolates and she’d have a merrily wrapped shirt and tie for me. I still wear some of those ties, more than 20 years later. Dolores liked Christmas, especially her holiday record albums. I cannot hear Burl Ives singing… Continue Reading

Let them eat kuchen

Dessert has its own day. I’m not kidding. It was last Friday. I heard about it on the radio on my way to the college and was surprised at how much time I spent thinking about it. Funny the things that capture one’s imagination. Don’t know about you but I did not grow up in a dessert household. Oh, Mom was always baking a cake or whipping up rice pudding or something, but we rarely ate it right after a meal. A layer cake was often Sunday evening supper. We’d eat a large meal at midday and just cake later… Continue Reading

In a way I did know Tom Fritz

People aren’t supposed to die at 54 years old the way Tom Fritz did Sunday. I did not know Tom Fritz. Did not know about his dedication to Avoca Borough, especially to its youth, until I read the many tributes to him early in the week. Did not know how active he was at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Dupont until I read his obituary. Did not know about the years he put in at Avoca Little League until my friend Paul Trzcinski told me Tom had been his coach. I did not know Tom’s wife Diane either. I… Continue Reading

Dad’s birthday

Had he lived, my dad would being celebrating his 95th birthday today, Oct. 12. Well, I suppose we all would. Wish that were the case. He passed away in 1994. When we were little Dad would tell us he was born at the same time Columbus was discovering America and we believed him. My dad was a kidder. He enjoyed making people laugh, even if it was slightly inappropriate. A farm boy with an 8th grade education and four years of fighting from island to island in the Pacific during World War II under his belt, he had little tolerance… Continue Reading

In the pink in Pittston

I mentioned here a year ago that I had never heard of Thomas Pink shirts until Mary Kay and I were standing in front of the flagship store on Jermyn Street in London in 2002. I had been dabbling in the world of major fundraising the previous two years under the tutelage of Thomas R. Robinson. Tom had just formed the group TRR & Associates. At first, he had one associate, me. Soon thereafter we were joined by the ultimate fund raiser Bobbi Steever, who now works with Bobby Tambur. Tom was, and is a fastidious dresser and since he… Continue Reading

In the ‘Thoreaus’ of a ‘new’ old book

My student was incredulous. I had just admitted I had never read “Walden.” I told him I quoted Henry David Thoreau all the time. “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” “Beware all ventures for which you need new clothes.” “The perception of beauty is a moral obligation.” And, of course: “Simplify, simplify.” I use that last one primarily when guiding students to be better writers. But the book itself? No, I had never read it. The next time I saw him the student had a copy of Walden for me. His copy. And now I’m hooked. Two things that… Continue Reading