Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What do you want on your pizza?

The neighborhood pizza place
quick decision-making
and a twenty-minute wait.

Life in the fast lane
ain’t so easy.
It tosses you up in the air
and flattens you at times.

A thin crust plain slice
with no extra toppings
is a simple solution
further expectations
and limited risk.
The ordinariness
wipes away easily.

A thick crust
loaded with
extra cheese
It’s messy
with a lot of choices
over the edge
of the paper plate
all at one time.
It’s life
at its untidiest.

A veggie pizza
with Vitamin B and C
is the must-do
for the health nut
unable to let go
once in a blue moon
and rationalize
the ups and downs
of the scale.

are in the choices
on the menu
at a pizza place.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Friday's musing

Remember the good old days-  tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches- on the Friday menu  at the school cafeteria?  

I ate a bowl of hardy tomato soup
With four saltine crackers

While balancing perilously on the edge 
of a worn brown leather couch
at the local coffee shop.
My friend and I
Greeted every other person
Bundled for the cold from head to toe
Walking in the door
Like it was home
But not really.
For my friend and I wondered
Beyond the store front window
clouding our view
with the remnants of last week’s storm
How did we end up living our years
Raising our families
Working at our careers
In this town far from our roots
That now provides us our networking,
Comfort and stability?
Perhaps, life is the richness
Of tomato soup
We mused.
A few thick chunks of tomato
Floating to the surface on ocassion
Like the worries and
problems we blend
with a loving spoon.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sunsets offer comfort during a difficult time

    Certain communities make a lasting impression. Geneseo is one of them.
    After following the account of the tragic deaths in the County News, it reminded me that I hold Geneseo close to my heart.

     The gorgeous sunsets over the Genesee Valley impacted me tremendously when I first arrived as a student. At the close of the day my homesickness was calmed, and optimism kept me plugging away at my studies throughout my freshman year.
      Even today, when I am driving away from the village, I often stop and look way out beyond the hills dotted with oak trees, and I feel my spirit lifted.
     Geneseo folks, don’t take those sunsets for granted. Especially at this time, get comfort from nearby natural beauty. It’s soothing to the soul and clears the head.
     My sympathy goes out to the families, friends, the Geneseo campus and the entire community. No, not one should be left out of love’s healing power for all have suffered.

     Just a short walk back and forth separates the college from the business district and the two populations are intertwined. It’s inevitable. Everybody knows everybody.
     Residents have posted beautiful pictures of Main Street around the fountain, as well as late night street shots on their Facebook pages.
     In my opinion, there is no downtown anywhere that has that particular charm any season of the year. Holiday tree lights. The fountain. Autumn fox hunts. Summer festivals. That’s Geneseo.
      The Geneseo Fire Department displays a loving tribute to a lost member. Driving past you will not forget.
     The flags on College Circle are flown half mast.
     Those are outward reminders of inward grief while the semester resumes, people go back to work and everyone processes what has transpired in their own way.
     Thanks to the first responders, police and all officials of the community for tireless work and public relations’ efforts.
      Geneseo will always be a part of me. I came 385 miles from Long Island to attend college, and although the campus was quite small in comparison to what it is today, it was my “home away from home” for four years.
     Frankly, at 17 years of age I had to search for Geneseo’s location on a map of New York State before sending in my college application.

      I am a proud SUNY Geneseo graduate in education, 
and later, I lived in the village for a ten-year period. Geneseo became more than the institution that I attended as a young woman. I built my first home there and my daughter was born into the community. Circumstances changed; otherwise, I might still be living in Geneseo.
     Today, I can navigate beyond the main quadrangle without getting too lost, and I know where the best places to park my car off-campus.
     I received an excellent education preparing me to become a teacher. During my career I took student teachers from Geneseo more as a paying it forward thanking those professors who guided me at the campus school.
    Actually, the sense of small community I found in college became one of the reasons I remained in the area for my lifetime. I didn’t know it at the time, and never paid attention to what was tugging at me, until further on in age. I suppose that is always the case.
      As a student I got a kick out of walking up town to Main Street and circling the fountain for a movie, or perhaps, a sub at Aunt Cookie’s. (I had my favorite watering hole, too.) I was conscious of supporting local businesses coming from a family with our own store. My hometown was large, sprawling and had a whole different feel to it.

     Looking back, I am glad that we weren’t allowed cars on campus until we became seniors. I would have driven off to Rochester too often and lost the flavor of the village.
     That feeling has stayed with me. Any day that I am in Geneseo and I have time, I stroll Main Street from end to end capturing its vibrant sights and sounds. I know fewer people than in the past, yet that doesn’t matter. From the Livingston County News office on the south to the Big Tree at the north, the architecture is magnificent.
     One afternoon last summer I hung around the farmer’s market on Center Street. I distinctly remember trying to put myself back in time to the period when I was a carefree student without a clue about all the complexities of life that would come later. I left with a bag of local produce and a lift in my step. The past had been kind to me, and so had Geneseo.
     When I was a student I was fascinated by the lovely historic homes and my hikes took me meandering up and down residential streets. I suppose I did a lot of thinking, too, and subconsciously, a few term papers were written.

     Over the weekend I attended “Nine” in Wadsworth Auditorium on campus. It was an innovative musical production with so much talent.
     Winding my way through the campus, I thought of the millions of times I trudged to the library or went to class, wondering what the future held for me. That’s certainly no different than the thoughts of today’s students.
     Unfortunately, Friday night’s sunset wasn’t much of a display. It was overcast and cloudy much like the mood all around Geneseo.
     There is hope in knowing that there will be more sunsets if you are patient. Stick together and demonstrate concern by your positive words and actions.

      Look out beyond the valley, Geneseo.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Meet Louise, a care-giving cat

     During a phone conversation with my nephew Christmas Day, I learned that Lou had passed away. A wave of sadness came over me.  
     I had the pleasure of meeting lovely Louise myself numerous times when I visited my sister and brother-in-law in California.
    The truth of the matter is that Louise won the feline lottery. Mega Jackpot. She lived in the lap of cat luxury. Louise resided on the West Coast surrounded by adoring family and fans alike.
     Waving her paws from stretch limos holding lucrative Hollywood contracts weren’t to be part of her life; nevertheless, she did feel special regardless. She resided in a sprawling ranch home out of the Hollywood limelight.
     You could say that Lou got lucky.
     This story is not about her good fortune, though. Rather, it’s about how she stepped up to the plate at two crucial times regardless of her overly indulgent owners and fancy feasts.
     The tale started about 10 years ago when Lou was rescued from an animal shelter — a shout out to volunteers and staff at shelters that work tirelessly for the sake of our four-legged friends.
     “Life will be good. You will be loved,” said the couple seasoned in cat ownership. They had had several other cats throughout their married life and pretty much knew the drill of acclimating a pet into an unfamiliar environment.

     Actually, it was the West Coast kitty that selected her owners. There were way too many other choices at the shelter, and Lou didn’t want to take a chance at not being noticed. Lou brought forth her best personality traits — she was pure sweetness in a cuddly bundle. Although the shelter thought she was about three, maybe four years old, her small stature was deceiving.
     “They took her to the vet and the veterinarian said, ‘Nope, she's at least 9.’ We had her maybe seven or eight years total?” my nephew informed me.
     The papers signed, and Louise was adopted officially. She was a petite white cat with huge eyes – there were random patches of assorted colors all over her body - that stared back at her new owners from the safety of her crate wondering where in the world she was going.
     It immediately became apparent that her name would remain “Louise,” although it got abbreviated to “Lou” shortly. Eventually, her name would be morphed to Lou Bear and Boo Boo, too.
     As far as her relationship with her owners, trust developed quickly and built over the years.
     She was fond of stretching out on the husband’s legs when he took a nap, or in the bed at night between the two in the lump in the spread as close to their heads as possible. When the wife read a book in her chair, Lou was right there overseeing her progress on the printed page.

     Louise was a talkative kitty and she kept it up to let you know of her regal presence, too. Once I was taking a quick nap, and in strolled Lou meowing as if to tell me, “time’s up.”
     Pet therapy is a proven fact. It is a wonder how a cat’s sense that someone needs his comfort comes at the very moment. Now dog lovers will remark the same thing, and there are many instances of tender compassion during sniffles, flu and worse.
     It wasn’t long after Louise arrived and joined the family in a spacious house with a view of the San Bernardino Mountains, that she sensed circumstances were not right. Too many pill bottles on the kitchen counter. Too many lengthy visits to LA to the City of Hope, a National Cancer Research Institute.  
       There were significant health issues for both husband and wife unfortunately, and the timing couldn’t be helped. It certainly wasn’t in the plans of a couple just turning the other side of 60.
     First Louise slept day and night by the wife over the following year or so as her health slowly diminished with complications from the side effects of chemo treatments for nearly 13 years. Louise only briefly left her side. She clung to the wife crying softly as the ambulance took her owner away for her final hospital stay.
     There was a slight reprieve for a year, and things got back to being ordinary again in a cat’s life. All along Louise had been well fed and cared for, although her teeth had given her trouble, which isn’t all together uncommon.

     Then her instincts told her to be alert once more. The husband was not well, and he too, was suffering from cancer. His life centered upon home hospice in his final weeks. Again, Louise was staying on the bed around the clock and offering the love that the owner wanted so desperately.
     After the husband died, fortunately Louise had a ready-made home with their son and his wife. They had a collection of cats, and Louise wasn’t the least bit fazed by her more aggressive male cousins. She blended in rather well and her infectious crying got her all the attention that she required.
      “In her last few years, she'd stand by her food bowl and call for her favorite meal: TROOOOOOOOOOOOUT. We started doing that with her, sort of the informal Lou greeting. She was always the first to greet us at the door, too,” my nephew told me.
     Louise lived up to her reputation as a comforter. R.I P.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Talking to that favorite person

     According to a survey that I read from an online blog – that should stop you in your tracks right there and question my sanity – people who talk to themselves have a genius mentality.

    Wow! I had no idea.
     For years and years, I though I was sliding down a slippery path and becoming like everyone’s mother. Instead, I am told that folks who talk out loud are highly proficient and count on only themselves to figure out what they need.
     It’s true. Thinking aloud helps organize all the stuff floating around in my head.
     So, you see, I’m not alone, and I’m not completely bonkers either. I’m just really smart. Ha!
     On the other hand, it also makes me look insane. Mentally challenged people talk to themselves, right? They’re conversing with the voices inside their heads.
     Now you’ve seen the little white-haired lady in the grocery store mumbling while selecting her one can of Campbell’s soup, a roll of toilet paper and her lottery ticket. You thought she had gone batty from loneliness. Apparently, not. She just might be on the gifted-track.
     When I am talking to myself around the house, my husband is forever asking, “What did you say?”  I blame it on the conversation I am having with the cat and let it go at that.
     If I go to the grocery store without a list and verbalize what I need prior to leaving home, I will remember each item. Otherwise, I get nowhere except a huge bill at the checkout.
      I decided to spend the day talking to myself both at home and in public speculating if there was a remote possibility that brilliant ideas would emerge and tackling tasks would be creatively accomplished like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates and the smartest kid I ever had in school with a 160 IQ – he’ s not President of the US yet, although he might know better than to set himself up for that thankless position.

     I went for my usual walk down our back road without my headset playing lively music, and started coming up with ideas for a new column, except I spoke out loud.  I had fixed on a goal, and talking was a perfect way to achieve it.
     A few snippets dribbled into my head, I talked them through, and rearranged them into a few sentences. By the time I got home, I nearly had a completed column.
     Well, it wasn’t perfectly paragraphed, and it did have grammatical issues. Heck. I could fix that easily the next morning. What a relief to be finished with another piece of writing so effortlessly, and better still, my brain didn’t ache from the pain of working too hard.
     Granted, I had to add a couple more paragraphs, but the skeleton was laid out in my conversation with myself. I hadn’t disturbed the wildlife either, and no one would ever know the results of my little experiment except for you, dear reader, who has followed my thoughts this far down the page.
     Naturally, you and I catch ourselves chattering in public and glance around to see if anyone noticed. You have your embarrassing moment when you look away quickly while covering your mouth in hopes that you weren’t saying something really private – like how I got up to the bathroom in the middle of the night and forgot where I was going.
     That very afternoon I went to a meeting I was running without a written agenda, and I talked to myself about what I needed to cover while the others were chitchatting before we began officially. No one noticed – I don’t think it bothered anyone. The business was accomplished smoothly.
     I talked the directions through as I drove on a different route to another town after listening to my cell phone dish it out in its maddening monotone.  
     You don’t get the least bit disturbed when your grandson at three years talks aloud as he puts on his jacket getting his arms in the right openings and zipping up. Young children are in the study, too.
      Babies learn to speak by listening to grownups and mimicking what they say. Talking is all about practice. We need to hear our voices to learn how to use them.
     Think about how a child learns to read – out loud at first struggling to work hard at combining those syllables together into a sensible thought. Soon, with practice it becomes effortless.
     Haven’t you seen your favorite munchkin talking to himself while he plays with a toy car or favorite stuffed animal?
      A toddler can remain focused by talking through his problems.
If a small boy is playing with his toy cars, he might say, “The small car can fit through this garage door, but the big truck is too big.” At the same time, he’ll test which of the cars fit inside the toy garage.
     A child learns by talking through his actions. By doing so, he remembers for the future how he solved the problem. Talking through it helps him or her deal with the complexities of the world and transfers his knowledge to new situations.
      Why do we quit doing it as adults?
     We “talkies” are the most efficient and intelligent of the bunch. We take the time to listen to our inner voices, aloud and proud!
     So, how did I do writing this “moving” column while on my walk?




Thursday, December 17, 2015

Growing up at the family store

     Every afternoon after school from the beginning of November until Thanksgiving, I practiced. It didn’t come easy. I was determined, though, and I had “the master” for an instructor.
     I rolled out the thin ribbon. FYI: Grosgrain ribbon is a durable yet supple woven type and best for inexperienced fingers to handle. The characteristic crosswise ribs give grosgrain enough body for a crisp appearance despite multiple false starts.
     Next, I measured the length of my arm one time. Then I began the process of folding and refolding it until I made a bow.
     I tied it to the box holding it down so the bow wouldn’t slip and I pulled out the loops to make each one even. The red bow sat smartly on the package.
     My father beamed at me when I turned the box over to the customer at the store. I had followed his advice and learned to tie a bow like a pro.
     I got “hired” at my father’s store at 14 before the actual employment age of 16. I didn’t get paid a salary and worked only a few hours per week as a family member. I do remember receiving a “gift” of money on Christmas Day, and since it was so many years ago, I don’t expect the IRS will come after me at this late point in life by admitting that fact in print.

The County Review, Riverhead, NY, December 15, 1949 - I wasn't old enough  in 1949 to work in the store in case you were wondering.

      One of the tasks required was wrapping a package with no wasted paper. Dad had his Christmas paper in large commercial rolls and I had to mentally measure the proper amount for each size box before I cut it. Fortunately, the boxes used in a linen and lingerie store were standard ones, and I didn’t have to contend with oversized or odd-shaped items.
     After school I would rush to the store about a mile from my high school, and rehearse wrapping and making bows – the customer could choose between red and green – when the store was free of customers.
     Those were the days before pre-made bows could be bought in bagfuls and stuck on a box as easy as pie. I will admit to using them today, and rarely tie my own anymore.
     We are all in a hurry – not good- and we don’t slow down permitting the hands-on creation of a bow its room for expression. How I admire someone who offers a gift artfully wrapped and embellished for I know that loving care has gone into the presentation.
     Still, as I do place on a bow, I wistfully think of those hours and hours of training I received that taught me more than just how to tie bows and wrap packages skillfully.
     I learned that working for a goal – the process - gives as much satisfaction as the final outcome. Nothing comes easily, and the earlier that you learn it, the better off you are.
     Perhaps more importantly, I spent hours with my dad talking over life together. That’s the best package I could ever want. His advice has stood the test of time in every season.
     Although I never have had any desire to work retail after growing up in a family owning a small business, I truly appreciate those who have the entrepreneurial spirit offering specialty products, services and love for customers on main streets across America.  
      Dad was a tough taskmaster. After all, he had a reputation to uphold as the largest store of its kind on the East End of Long Island.  He gave stellar service to his customers, and there was no way one of his packages would leave the store imperfect.
     Often hurried customers would leave their purchases and go off to other stores before returning. Dad let me begin my training working on their packages, and it was easier not having someone staring at me while I put on the finishing touches.
     When I had passed the final “test” and was cleared to wrap on the floor, of course, worrywart Kay wondered who might be her first customer. I had been around the store enough to know that a lot of dad’s clients were handled with kid gloves. He had a lot of high- end folks come from the South Fork – namely Southampton – and their demands often seemed unreasonable.
     My dad said, “A customer is always right.”
     I couldn’t for the life of me swallow that, and I had to bite my tongue in back of the store watching dad smooth things over as any expert negotiator would do with a cranky customer.
     The afternoon came when I was ready to proceed ahead on my own.
     Thank goodness, my first “real” customer was a pleasant lady. She had been my third grade teacher, and I got along with her very well. In her classroom I loved hearing her melodious voice read stories to us after lunch.  
     She chatted with me about what I was reading in English class, and I just nodded back trying to focus my attention on doing a good job for her. I couldn’t multi-task quite yet.
     When I gave her the package, she told my father that he had been a good teacher. I was a certified wrapper.
     I went on to more and more opportunities for holiday gift- wrapping. One year I counted the hundreds of boxes and bows, but I have forgotten the number now.
     Let a simple red bow remind you to slow down your day and take in the wonders of the holiday season.  

My dad and I about the time I was working in the store.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Decorate with holiday gratitude

     #OptOutside on Black Friday, supported by such national companies as REI, closed their doors and encouraged outside pursuits instead of a giant shopping binge.

     It got me thinking.
     Let’s start #OptInGratitude.

     With a little extra time management on your part, wrap gratitude as the first present of the holiday season.
     Suppose you spend time thanking all the people that randomly pop into your head – the ones that have crossed your path and made a difference in your life. There are incredible stories waiting to be remembered pleasantly, along with a lot of decisions influenced by just the right person at the needed moment.
      The majority of us brushed past those thoughtful souls at the time never realizing their value until much later, if at all. In cases, you may be able to thank individuals in person, by note or call. Sadly, many have passed on.

     Consider the family members other than your parents that stood out and guided you in your earliest years.

     I had a cousin four years older than me who was an outstanding pianist. She could have gone on to study at any conservatory, yet she was a background person, and found the most pleasure in accompanying other musicians.
     She and I formed a bond when she offered to play for me for high school solo competitions. I could count on her making my melodies on the flute sparkle by taking her part seriously.
     I look back at her entire unassuming life as a giving one, and I am thankful that she was an exceptional role model for others. When she passed away, her church installed a perpetual flame in the sanctuary in honor of her hours and hours of service.

     Think about the people that helped you along your way when you first started your career.

     In my case, the most influential person in my early teaching years was a third grade student. She taught me to pay attention to what was right in front of me and look at each and every student as a unique individual.
    Far too many children are hurting, anxious and silently crying out for help, and only perceptive adults notice them. Unfortunately, in her case, she was a victim of circumstances beyond her control.
     Although I have had principals, fellow teachers and instructors they were invaluable in my career, it was an eight- year old child in a dark green dress with tiny embroidered flowers on a rounded white collar sitting in the front row center that still brings tears to my eyes today for all that she did to make me a worthy educator and better human being for having had her in my life.

    Ponder a most unlikely friendship that you made during a period of your life.  

     Several years ago when I first started writing professionally, I went to a small hamlet in the Finger Lakes region to interview 4 separate entrepreneurs for a magazine article featuring their location as a day trip destination. It was meant to be a business trip for collecting information – or so I thought.
     However, when I left town that late afternoon – one of the people invited me in between interviews for a home cooked lunch - I had become friends with unique people that are still important to me today. We gather when we can to catch up with each other’s busy lives.
      Remember the person who said the gentle words to you when you were struggling with health issues or sadness.

     I am grateful for a particular colleague at work I didn’t know very well who called me at home the first thing when she heard why I had left school so abruptly one morning. It was a small gesture, yet she sent a powerful message.
     My father has passed away and I was preparing to travel to the funeral. She simply offered any help that I might require. Whenever I remember that moment in time, I think of how she reached out with thoughtful words.

     Consider the person who guided you through financial instability.

     My eyes were bigger than my pocketbook when I saw just the brand new car on the dealership’s lot. I wanted that car and all its associated glamour.
     The salesman reminded me that I loved to travel, and by buying a more sensible model, I would be able to continue going places. I followed his advice, and although he didn’t get a large commission from this sale, I did end up returning to buy a couple more cars in later years from a person with integrity.  

     Be grateful for the person who came to your rescue and you never caught their name.

     In my youthful foolishness I never checked my car’s engine light before driving on the highway, and I broke down. A stranger – a local person actually- picked me up and took me a couple miles to the nearest town to a friend’s and I called my car dealer for a tow.
     Somehow on purpose, this man came to my aid in a gentle manner when I was going through a vulnerable period disliking everything about my life and not trusting a soul. As I look back, it was a tiny step on my learning curve and marked a change in my attitude about people.
     Make this exercise into a daily habit, and you might start a gratitude journal as I did back in July.




Thursday, November 26, 2015

The gang's all here!

Pass the turkey, cranberry sauce along with a heaping plateful of laughs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Skipping stones and liitle boys

    My two-year old neighbor toddles into our living room and starts his inspection process while his mother and I talk in the entryway. He picks up a small black flat stone off the coffee table and examines it.

     “That’s yours,” I tell him. “You left it here the last time you were over, and I saved it for your return.”
     You’d have thought that I had given him the keys to the Magic Kingdom from the grin that comes over his face. He grasps it, turns it over and over and rubs it with the tips of his fingers.

     After numerous attempts, he fails putting 
the object into the slit in his jacket pocket, and it lands on the floor where it remains. Changing plans, he works on the complexities of zipping up his jacket in his latest desire for independence. -So much for a slippery stone.
     To be perfectly honest, I had forgotten all about that stone resting near the pile of magazines. I had recovered it off the floor and placed it there after his last visit. I never gave a second thought that down the road it would make a little boy so happy – at least for a few seconds - like discovering a long lost toy car hidden under the couch.
     Typical of all preschoolers, he is ready to move on and basically the visit is over as far as he is concerned. He sides up to his mom, wraps his arms around her knees and we both realize that our few moments of opportunity for adult conversation is finished for today.

     After mother and son leave, I gather up the flat stone no more that one-half an inch in length, and hold it for a moment. One of my favorite things to do at the beach no matter what the season is searching for just that shape of stone and skipping it on the water’s surface.
    If you are like me, you are weary of all the violence in the world. It is complicated, and if and when solutions get addressed, perhaps, there will be a more humane way of co-existence. That’s why I turn to simple pleasures free of brutality keeping me sane in a messy global community.
     There’s a practiced art to skipping a rock — YouTube will come to your aid, and if you find just the right shore, there are a multitude of thin light stones lying there waiting for you.
     Stand perpendicular to the water’s edge, give the rock an underhanded toss and let it go. If you are lucky, it will skim the surface, gain momentum and skip a second, third or fourth before dropping into the depths. The object of the game is to see how many times a stone can bounce before sinking.
    The stone generates lift in the same manner as a flying disc by pushing water down as it moves across the water at an angle. Surface tension has very little to do with it. The stone's rotation acts to stabilize it against the torque of lift being applied to the back.

     I have solved many of my most troublesome problems strolling the beach listening to the slap of the waves on the shore and randomly tossing stones out like I was physically letting go of my worries one at a time.
     Growing up friends and I would have our best conversations skipping stones together and often it was just the companionship we needed while trying to solve the perplexities of growing up - like figuring out why we were so misunderstood by our parents and teachers alike.
     In my head I have the image of my mother as a young woman – she was the best stone skipper by a long shot – and it reminds me that I should keep that picture of a vigorous, active person alive instead of one of her last years in ravished health. - So, I see her deftly skipping stones without a care in the world.
      For those of you trivia buffs, there is The North American Stone Skipping Association (NASSA), founded by Coleman-McGhee in 1989 and based in Driftwood, Texas, sanctioned world championships for four years from 1989 through 1992.
.     Believe it or not, there are official NASSA World Championships, too. The World Stone Skimming Championships 2016 will take place on Sunday, September 25, 2016 on Easdale Island, near Oban in Argyll, Scotland.
      “Skim it far, skim to the stars!”  - Its motto, and the only entry requirement is that you must skip a stone three times.
     The world record according to the Guinness Book of World Records is 88 skips by Kurt "Mountain Man" Steiner, age 48. The cast was achieved in 2013 at Red Bridge in the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania.
     I suppose if nothing else, it is satisfying to know that I am not alone in sporting the hobby, if you want to call it one.
     I reach into my sweater pocket and out comes an unusual stone – I am a collector of rocks and have been for years. I put this one on the coffee table for my little neighbor. In the meantime, my cat will get in the act by knocking it to the carpet when he is in a lighthearted mood.
     I have no doubt that my wee friend will use his sharp eyes and we will “play” the game all over again with 2 stones instead.