bday eve before

bday eve before

Monday, May 25, 2015


The old traded their ‘dog tag numbers’ from the war.  Little children, far removed from that time, waved flags, tried to hold them up, sometimes batted at each other with their flags, but gently.

The weather was so light, so shiny and blue-skied, the green of the trees so verdant.  Our favorite politicians gave speeches. A tenor sang America the Beautiful and we tried to join in, some remembered words better than others. 

It was the biggest crowd I’ve seen for Memorial Day in all the years I’ve gone, seems many families playing on the slides and swings on the other side of the park, decided to come over and join.  It was all ages, all colors. 

The firemen were there to show their truck and talk to the kids and to walk with us over to another monument in the park for a young firefighter from the  neighborhood felled by his job several years ago now.

We honored our dead, our veterans, our current military, the firemen and police assisting us this day and the young fireman with the beautiful face who was killed, his mother there with us this morning. 

Sometimes all we can do is join together, to give thanks, to do the right thing, to be congenial to one another, to pay our respects, to stand in attendance.

Mary Pat Kane for WISPS

Memorial Day, 2015

with thanks to the D'Amico family

Monday, June 16, 2014


Father’s Day, 2014

My house has many newspapers in it, my dad worked for a newspaper and loved it, you’d think he was the editor the way he talked about that paper, excited at each of its successes; a thick paper at Thanksgiving time could send him into swoons.

My dad sold 'want ads', the little classified ads in the back of the paper and he was real good at it.  He was a really good salesperson as he was a good listener –I’ve often felt that you don’t talk to sell, you listen.  He also used want ad shorthand all the time --- my birthday card would say love “D” for dad, my mother’s, love “O” for Ollie, he did not use apt, rms, etc. with us.  For many years though, I did real exacting steno work but I had never taken a class in shorthand.  I just always wrote in my own shorthand --- like my father.  I had never realized the correlation until lately.  Love “D”!

My father used to take me out of school, I don’t know how he managed that with the nuns, but he’d take me out of 3rd or 4th grade and we’d go on his ‘rounds’ together.  Rounds meant that he’d visit big companies who advertised with the paper.  We’d drive into the countryside around Rochester, New York and visit ‘dealerships’ --- it could be cars, trucks, tractors.  I loved the tractors myself.  I probably still had braids then and I know I had a space between my front teeth and we’d enter these huge showrooms and all these businessmen would stop what they were doing and come running, hollering out as they rushed towards us, their hands extended to my father --- “Ollie, where’ve you been?, boy is it good to see you!” and they’ be all smiles.  My father had made their day -- just by walking in the door.

It was a wonderful thing for a young girl to see ---her father making everybody happy just like that --- it’s stayed with me all my life.  Then, of course, there was always lunch and another important thing he taught me --- an attribute that has stood the test of time --- is how to find the best food.  The thing was it wasn’t necessarily in those places that ‘looked’ so nice.  It was often in some nondescript little hole in the wall and the food would be superb and, again, the personnel would often seem to know my father and welcome him back with great warmth.  Tablecloths were optional, usually missing!

I was so lucky to have known this man, “Ollie Kane,” lucky to have adopted some of his great instincts.  I wish I didn’t have so many newspapers lying around the house but to me a paper will never be on-line, or reading it on a screen.  It will always be my father’s newspaper, soft and accessible --- you can tuck it under your arm and read it at a lunch counter with a great old heavy white cup splattering coffee into the saucer.  And, later, besides recycling, you can pull out the vinegar and a few sheets of newsprint and wash your windows.  To this day, I have never figured how or why that works   ---but, it truly does.

I had a great father, it was a joy and privilege to know him --- and, fun too.

Happy Father’s Day one and all.  And, thanks Ollie Kane forever!!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

SWIM BAG --- with hope and promise for what's to come soon, mary pat

It’s all here, where it was stowed away ten months ago --- the bronze padlock with its small silver key, the old plastic soap holder with a slit of Yardley’s English lavender still in it, plus odds and ends of those tiny motel shampoos and packets of free sample conditioners my friend’s husband got us.

There's a bright fuchsia bathing cap too, some places require you to wear a cap though I hate to and broken goggles, which I found somewhere but never wear.  There is an empty soft pink container that will keep things ‘sort of’ chilled and a few plastic bags tucked in to hold a wet bathing suit.  Scents of suntan lotion and chlorine come out at me.  And in a protective bag are Benadryl pills (in case I get stung by a bee --- I hope not!).

I thrill opening the zipper of the bright blue bag and finding everything there --- waiting.  I notice that the soap holder has a rubber band around it --- it pops open without it.  In some ways, I have never really liked the blue bag that holds it all --- it bears the name of my old boyfriend’s company on its side.  The bag’s got a droopy shape to it but I can’t quite part with it.  Maybe, I can’t part with this remnant of him so I carry the blue bag back and forth to beaches and pools, wherever I can find to swim.  Today it will be our local Brooklyn pool in an adjoining neighborhood.  It’ll be my first swim of the season.

It’s summer again.  The pool finally opened.  I often wonder why someone who loves nature, plants, flowers and water so lives in a climate where I only get to enjoy outdoors such a short part of the year? 

Everything's packed up and ready to go.  The bag waited up on a shelf in the middle room all fall and winter and spring but now it’s time. 

And, but a few blocks around the corner, cool aquamarine water awaits me.  And, the magic, the silent thrill, of gliding through it.


read at Pyramid Lake to a group of women who love water.




Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Mona, the little dog I walk and love so who eats carrots like crazy and sometimes

takes them to bed with her.  How she loves spring in our neighborhood and

shows it to me.

Thought of the Day

If my pencils are sharpened, I’m a happy person. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012


          I take the Greyhound bus along the road you traveled to see me just a year ago.
          It was a long trip for such a sick man, the grandchild in the back seat with computer football game ‘beeping’ all the way.  You said --- “I thought he’d get tired of it but he never did!”
          The thermostat on my oven had broken and burned the beautiful fresh turkey but you didn’t care.
          You had come to my house, as you would say later, knowing you would probably never come again.  You loved my house which made me so happy; I did too.  The day after Thanksgiving, I found you in my kitchen with all my cupboards open wide --- just checking, making sure your daughter would never starve.

          I think of your nervousness waiting for Jim and Casey to pick you up, your normal nervousness about the weather, would it snow on your way down? --- A long trip, 7-hours at best and you a nervous driver and worse passenger always.  And, you worried whether you brought the right kind of wine (you had spent a long time asking opinions in the wine shop but, still, you worried).  We are such worriers, both of us --- wanting so to please, wanting everybody to be happy, to make it all work.  Yeah, wanting to make it work.
          In the back of Jim’s station wagon, there were so many brown paper bags full of food that it looked like you thought they didn’t have food in Philadelphia, though you were not eating much by now.

          Pumpkins lie sunken and rotting in the fields and I wonder which farm houses you might have seen just a year ago today.  But, I pray that you didn’t see the deer hanging in back yards, you who loved animals so, deer our special family bond.
          The hills are golden beige at this time of year, a bit of snow dusts the leafless trees --- a barren but beautiful landscape.

          Today I wanted to be between where I once lived with you, my only father, and where I now make my home.  I wanted to be between all the turkey dinners and fun banter of jostling tables in both cities.  I wanted to ride the route you took to my home for that one last brave time and to celebrate who you were ---
          Your generosity of spirit, your inestimable kindness and consideration, your shyness with affection --- the kind of kiss you gave me the last so many years of your life --- putting your two fingers to your lips, then, putting your fingers to my cheek. 
           I give those fingertip kisses to my friends now and tell them why and where it came from.  And, I always add --- “My Dad didn’t go in for big displays of affection but you always knew he loved you; there was no doubt, no, no doubt.”
           Thank you, Ollie Kane.  Thank you so.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Even on the bus that took forever, people were in a good mood.  The bus was detoured because of the Street Fair that most of us on the bus were trying to get to. It had been re-routed, then got caught in heavy traffic and, then, in a big rain storm.  The bus was jammed with people, whole families, lots of people without seats but no one seemed upset, maybe because we were missing the rain.
I was going to my favorite street fair of all, the Atlantic Antics, a more organic event than some with not a lot of glitzy commercial concessions.  It’s mostly a street fair of local restaurants and people who live near.  They simply come out of their homes with things from their attics and sell them on the street.  There’s lots of music, many good cooking smells and stalls and stalls of freshly baked cakes from the House of the Lord Church.
The rain had stopped, the bus had finally stopped swerving up different streets and let us out and the group surged towards the street fair.  I didn’t get very far this year but right away veered to my favorite block where there are several small cafes --- Caribbean, Middle Eastern (with the best golden lentil soup on earth!),  an eastern orthodox church with people in costume selling homemade stuffed cabbages and the French spot with the great French fries accompanied by a light peppery mustard sauce.  I hit that stand each year and this year was no different but I, somehow, found a seat behind the French concession.  Now, I could sit and watch the whole world go by.  The sun was inching out, people were smiling as if it had never rained, just a few drops still fell from the trees overhead.
To my left, musical instruments were being warmed up at the House of the Lord Church and slowly and quietly a choir came out from inside the Church and assembled on the steps.  And, when they began singing and supplicating God, I knew I was in the right place.  How could I have gotten so lucky? 
Oh, how those voices rang out..  People walking by tried to keep on walking but couldn’t --- they were drawn in, pulled in, stopped in their busy tracks and, there, in front of the church steps on the flat of the sidewalk very near me romped and moved and gestured and elicited more and more music, a young woman choir director in black sleeveless dress with high top pink sneakers on her feet and, boy, did she use those sneakers.  She moved and jumped and raised her arms and pulled out even more the joyous, ecstatic, rollicking, pleading music and it reverberated all over us --- over people alone, over couples, families with children, dogs on leashes, baby strollers.   
Last Sunday I didn’t run around the Antics Fair and check everything out (always fearing I might miss something) --- that’s what I usually do.  I had found a wonderful place to stay still.  It was tucked back in and comfortable, there was a tiny bit of white wine left in my plastic glass and a few fries packed up for ‘the road.’ 
Frenchmen plied their accents and charms at the table in front of me while next to me, to the side of the choir, a bent over woman in African head gear carefully made her way down the church steps carrying tall cakes to the waiting sales table.  It made me laugh that she had this beautiful indigo headdress on and wore navy blue crocs to accompany it!
I cried some as the ‘hallelujahs’ rang out.  This was my home; this is so where I belonged --- in a multi-cultural, multi-talented, multi-tasting world.  I had recently found out that I was being forced out of my apartment after almost 20 years and that was scary.  It’s not easy to find a clean, safe, affordable space and I would be leaving a garden, my own little church choir and shopkeepers who had become friends.  I had been priced out.
But, somehow last Sunday afternoon sitting next to the powerful choir, I knew that I’d find somewhere.  This was my city, this was our city. We all belonged here, not just the prosperous.

“Hallelujah, …”