PESTILENCE … No, the word is Pleurisy

It has stricken my dear wife with a vengeance, even rendered her to the hospital for a brief visit. An inflammation of the outer lining of the lungs, it has visited her with an egregious, hacking cough. She describes it as an Elephant resting on her chest.

There is medication, but none that weaves magic. The most welcome words that the Doctor offers are: “It will go away , eventually.”

The cough subsides briefly, then there it is back again, sounding more sickly than before. If I didn’t know better, the cough evokes the prose of Poe’s ANNABEL LEE. It is not pleasing to hear, even more discomforting.

What brings it on? Judy was battling Pneumonia in the hospital. Apparently Pleurisy is the second cousin. I’m not sure which is worse. Neither are good, but no match for a good woman. Jude is hanging in there.


My wife, Judy, is amused sometimes when we pass someone’s house and I mention that it is So & So’s old place.

Judy inquires who So & So is. Often my reply is “Grade School”, meaning that I was talking about someone whose path I crossed as much as 60 years ago in the classroom.

It then occurs to me just how dated that seems. It’s one thing to live in the old neighborhood, but I live in the only neighborhood I’ve ever had, excepting brief stints of vagrancy. My farm is my old neighborhood . I guess that credential separates me a little from most others. They flew the coop long ago.

It is very grounding to still have the names of folks from that long ago still at the tip of my tongue, even though many are not around anymore. A sense of belonging and permanence remains, if only in my fermenting mind.

The Pilot Truck Stop on I78 will always be Johnny’s to me. It always will be. Memory is a remarkable human property.

Yes, as a matter of fact, that is still So and So’s old place and I can still see him getting on the school bus every morning. Life is good.


This won’t be a long post. I don’t wish to dwell on the subject for too long. No, it’s not because I don’t love my dear sweet granddaughter. It’s just that her status today is a bit ponderous.

Maria is the youngest of six of our grandchildren and today is her birthday. Happy 17th birthday, Maria !

You see. I said it was a milestone. Maria will forever carry this banner and I further note: In the near future we’ll be celebrating her birthday when the clock begins ticking its way through another year. Can anyone slow the pace a little?


No, not really . I suppose just a bit of a lull. Indeed it’s been a while since a blog post has appeared here, but who’s tracking, anyway?

Join the throngs of others who’ve voiced their dismay with my scant number of posts recently. They’ve reached such a critical mass that I must write something!

I’ve researched this a bit. It is some sort of treacherous condition that besets old retired newspaper guys, a little known pathology we call Deadline Delirium? They say it will go away eventually, but I’ve been retired for 18 years. That damned publication schedule still has a grip on me !

But, I’ll snap out of it soon. The thought occurred to me just yesterday as I watched the hay being loaded into the loft. These bales are my “copy” anymore. The threat of rain, my only deadline. What kind fortune that these metaphors of the farm have replaced the past vexations of ad production. Life is good.


As an old newspaper guy, I was reminded this morning of what a gnarled mess the pages of a newspaper become when navigating from page to page, jump to jump.

Sad but true, it’s the way we used to get our news. Some still do. Compared to the TV or computer screen, this paper play has issues . And my former product used to torture people this way? Sorry folks for your inky fingers.

This morning the most hideous version of newsprint malfunction beset me. Upon turning the page, the paper found every possible unintended crease that had to be straightened out before the next page was attempted. The most practiced contortionist stood no chance of returning the crumpled broadsheet to its original flow.

Some day, ages hence, one can only imagine how our technology will have been eclipsed. Newspaper. What’s that? “All the news that’s fit to print” is no longer printed. Words aren’t read. They are “impressed” on our minds to the extent of our “prescribing capacity “. Reading has become a “robotic consumption”.

The role of teacher’s unions take new shape. Determining acceptable “teaching impressions” is the new foray. Huge swathes of knowledge are inculcated on the mind in a millisecond and accompanied by capacity for critical thought regarding it. Our minds have evolved to near incalculable extent.

Of course, this new capability in learning is hugely controversial. The less progressive educators aren’t yet sold, gushing concern about the yet deficient “power teaching” methods. What took us so long to fully appreciate the benefits of ultra-violet rays in education?

Surely by now, dear reader, you have arrived at the conclusion that I’m just having a little fun here. Some day I’ll learn.

Sinister Party

Alexandria Township approached its loss of innocence the other night. The Town Fathers are yet to examine the Police reports, but they won’t be pretty. A party unfolded with strange markings.

Full disclosure: I was asleep. I only know what I’ve heard or read, but even a blind pig occasionally finds an acorn. A Facebook entry implored would be partygoers to a “secret location” that apparently yielded an address in the Rapp Development.

Years ago the Rapp farm, with its magnificent views and vistas, was one of the first Alexandria farms to acquiesce to the developer’s backhoe. Like so many of us, Rapps were dairy farmers. I went to school with Rapp kids.

Meanwhile, the Facebook invitation to this party on Labor Day photographically featured an obviously naked woman sitting poolside with back to camera. The suggestion here was left fairly bare.

The Alexandria Twp. Park was utilized as a gathering point to shuttle partygoers to the Rapp location. That, in and of itself, tainted this party with a whole separate dimension. After all, in Alexandria who catches the A train to the neighborhood party? Who trashes the park while at it ?

Chances would seem ample that plenty of loose-lipped revelers are still out there praising the wonders of the party the other night, sufficient to blow the whistle on the party masterminds. They deserve a little reprimand.


Or at least the remnants of.

I would hate to have witnessed it in the peak of its fury. Last night was bad enough as it dithered up toward New England and dribbled an incidental 10 inches of rain on us in a few hours over New Jersey. Serious water!

We stayed in, thank goodness, but certainly there were reports of cars floating down the road. SIL, Marianne Romano got out of work around 8:00. She never made it home from Flemington. She was a road rescue and slept in a hotel last night. Who was it who said it’s all in a day’s work?

In stark contrast, this morning it’s sunny and beautiful!


What do

Ingrid Pierson Massey, Nancy Issenman, Ingrid Taff, Judy Tucker, Bonnie James, Deirdre Ely, Brietta Ihling, Jan Stewart, Lisa Hall and Karen Taylor Broughton all have in common ?

Well, let me count the ways. For starters, lovely ladies all. They are all commonly seen on horseback. They all love to laugh. This list could get long in a hurry .

On last item: They all had lunch today at the Sky Cafe . What did they talk about ? What else. HORSES


August 1, 1963. 6:45 A.M. Daylight was only so helpful. The fog was thick as pea soup.

How is it that I should be recalling this date, 58 years ago ? We all have a memory or two that will accompany us to the hereafter. This just happens to be one of mine.

With visibility at about three feet, I had managed to muddle my way through morning chores. At the tender age of 10, it was probably my first lesson in robotics. After all, I had just fed all of the heifers and the bull without seeing them.

Dad and my brother were still in the barn finishing the milking.

Curiously, an airplane could be heard laboring up there somewhere. What was with that ? Even in my ten year old stupor, I realized that to be a problem. It was getting closer to the farm, engine at a flat-out roar.

As I finished feeding some poultry, the plane sounded scarily close to where I was standing . Oddly, it sounded near ground level. Then there was momentary ripping of metal, then a very loud explosion.

The next second… silence.

I dropped my pail, wheeled around and made a beeline through the fog. The plane had obviously crashed, not far from the house.

A bit winded, I was at woods edge. There was a hideous gathering of smoldering, gnarled metal with little plumes of smoke arising from each of them. Immediately the whole scene had a disorienting, hallucinatory quality that defied a ten-year old’s sense of anything real.

Regardless, I wasn’t familiar with the movie. I stood for the first seconds and tried to get my mind around what was in front of me. A big engine smoldered on the ground.

I took a few steps. A big red blotch was on the ground, contrasting with all of the blue shrapnel around it. What was that ? It had no definition, just red. My further stare brought me back to reality. I could see three human fingers quite plainly there on the red ground. The hallucination had just magnified.

“Pete. Pete.”

My Dad’s yell was perceptible through my bewildered daze.

“Get up to the house. Don’t come back down here.”

This kid always did what he was told. Believe me. You would understand why.

The crash precipitated a day-long litany of traffic down the lane… alarmed neighbors, a cop or two, more neighbors, aviation officials, newspaper reporters and, of course, the undertaker. No, it was not just another day on the farm.

Investigation later revealed that the doomed pilot had no association or nexus with either of the two nearby airfields . Exactly how he had come to meet his demise on our farm apparently remains an unknown .

Beyond that and 58 years, it was a sad day at Tuckaway.


What was I thinking ?

Eighteen years ago I commenced various drug therapies for my Multiple Sclerosis.

My prescribing neurologist in Philadelphia came highly recommended. His practice was the (BLANK ) Multiple Sclerosis Institute, which subtly suggested to me that he wasn’t just any Neurologist. He was an MS doctor.

Indeed, for many years he took good care of me through some difficult stages of my disease. Initially his practice was inside Temple University Hospital. Later, he moved to Graduate Hospital, then to his current location in a decidedly ratty part of Philadelphia. Nonetheless, his practice flourished.

Perhaps his location was water off a duck’s back to most of his patients . Do they really appreciate the pothole-pocked street ? Or was it the fact that the pavement was so strewn with trash that it couldn’t be seen ? Over the many years, I never engaged fellow patients in chatter about the location. I didn’t wish to insult anyone’s home turf.

In the meantime, it was in a dump of a building . Finding a parking space was a daunting task. It was never near the building , great for people in wheelchairs ! Getting inside was not smooth. On a ramp, Judy pushed from behind while I pulled the handrails with both hands. Those metal handrails, incidentally , were freezing in the winter and piping hot in the summer. You know, patient friendly .

Finally at the. top of this narrow ramp was a 90 degree turn with a heavy hinged door to negotiate the wheelchair through while holding it open. At that point, we were near home free with only a few hundred feet of hallway to stroll down to arrive at the waiting room.

There seemed a certain numbness that pervaded among patients here, an aloofness to the dismal surrounds of the place. Is this as good as it gets in Philadelphia? Has enough been done to tamp down patient’s expectations ? Surely there was a compelling reason to have driven an hour and a half to get here, and an hour and a half to get back home. But that reason was elusive.

It seems part of human nature to keep repeating the same act just because it’s the way you’ve always done it. It finally occurred to us both that that’s what we were doing with each monthly trip to Philadelphia.

What if I changed my doctor ? My treatment wouldn’t change with a new Neurologist. It would be the same check up, the same drug infused in the same veins with the same regularity.

We talked with our Neurologist in Philly about the notion of getting his prescription infused at a location closer to us. He said to do that would require another doctor. His reply was matter-of-fact, almost a bit cold. So, Doc: point taken. Yesterday I had my first infusion with my new Neurologist at, Voila, Hunterdon Medical Center.

WOW! The difference was stark. A line of leather, push-button recliners offered each patient his/her choice of spots in the room to sit. A very personable, professional nurse set up the infusion. There was no waiting time. Between her and a few “infusees” in the room, they were all having a spirited conversation.

This just didn’t happen in Philadelphia ! Here in Hunterdon, there was a vigor, a brightness in the infusion room that was welcoming. The time whizzed by. Good thing, too. Who wants to wile the day away… getting infused ?