Hi-Ho The Derry-O, A Junking We Will Go!

All of my life, or at least for the portion that I was able to walk, I have been a garbage picker. In my mind a garbage picker is kind of like the American Pickers, only less “picky”, not as wealthy, and nobody wants to watch us on TV.

My first “pick” was a very large pink stuffed animal. I think it was a poodle. I found it in someone’s garbage can when I was five and brought it home to show my Mom. She was not impressed and more than a little bit upset that it was full of ants. There were consequences to my picking at such a young age and I nonchalantly accepted them. Whenever my Mom would call me in from playing and  yelled, “Roxanne!” the response from the neighborhood kids would be, “She’s in the garbage can!”. We “pickers” put up with a lot.

Be that as it may, I have found amazing things at that hallowed ground called the curb. Things like a big beautiful silk ficus tree in a clay pot, a bathroom shelf, a book shelf, a couple of dressers, and an area rug. (It belonged to my neighbor. I did unroll the area rug to make sure it wasn’t smelly or gross.  I do have my standards.) I’ve also found a children’s basketball net, which I carried home slung over my shoulder while walking my dog. I admit, while carrying this I could hear my Grandma Moon’s voice yelling at me from a portal of heaven, “Shanty Irish, Roxanne, Shanty Irish!”.

One of my best picks was a beautiful lowboy dresser that I painted and refinished. It now proudly sits in my entryway and receives frequent compliments. So what, if it still contained some of the previous owner’s socks and underwear when I brought it home? Though my children were grossed out, those items were easily tossed and by the time I was finished with it, both of my girls wanted it.

Recently, I have found another outlet for my proclivity towards other people’s debris. It’s called “junking”.  I have also discovered somewhat of a junking kindred spirit in my daughter-in-law, Kylene.  A few months ago, she and I visited a wonderful antique/junk place not far from us. Then, we found out they have an antique/junk extravaganza! We packed our lunch, and a very sweet, very patient friend named Cheryl, and off we went! If not for Cheryl, we would have been lost. There were over 800 vendors! It was amazing! Since Cheryl had been to a couple of these before, she became our Senior Navigator. She and Ky worked together to make this the experience of a lifetime for me. I will be forever grateful.


I found it in one of the first vendor’s tents we went to. I had no idea what it was, but it called me. It was very heavy and not particularly attractive and I couldn’t tell if it was some sort of a brass vase or an urn, but there was something about it. And then I found the tag.







If you don’t know by now, I love history. I particularly love military history. (I don’t know why.) The Civil War and World War II are particular favorites, though I am learning to appreciate WWI more and more.

I was more than a little excited when I talked to the vendor to find out where and how they found it. Of course we started chatting, of course I told her I am a history teacher, of course she could tell I was slightly passionate, and of course, I couldn’t afford it. I thanked her for the information and placed it back on the table.

She quickly came over and told me that her brother was a history teacher and she had a special place in her heart for them. She’d sell it to me for $40. She didn’t take credit cards and I didn’t have enough cash. I told her I’d wait and see. Cheryl told me if it was still there at the end, and if I still wanted it, we’d pool our monies for it. As I said, Cheryl is a good friend.

We walked the entire place and saw nothing else like it. I decided I still wanted it, so we went back. Just as I was walking up to the tent, I saw a woman holding “my” vase and talking about it to two men. They looked serious. I stood there, staring at them and silently praying that they would leave. They didn’t leave, but they put it down and started looking at other things. I wasn’t sure if I should grab it or not, but quickly decided, “You snooze, you lose!” I grabbed it. I did apologize to one of the men that was still standing nearby. I’m passionate, but I still try to be nice.

As you can tell, I brought it home. Proving that one man’s junk is truly another man’s treasure; but in the end, like everything, it’s really not that big a deal!




Posted in Antiques, Children, Family, Friends, Garbage Picking, History, Humor, Irish Roots, Junking, Shanty Irish, Teaching, Trench Art, Uncategorized, Women, World War II | Leave a comment

Florassic Park


Though I would never classify myself as a “Birder”, I do love to see and watch birds. In NJ we had a plethora of different birds, blue jays, starlings, robins, wrens, sparrows, nuthatches, goldfinches, cardinals, and the occasional hawk. The birds in NJ were bird-size. They were small. I remember seeing a Great Blue Heron twice in NJ. I saw a few more hawks, but still, if not for Sesame Street seeing a big bird was rare.

But, the birds in the North can’t even compare in size to the birds in Florida. The birds down here are HUGE, hence my title, and they are abundant. Aside from the wonder of seeing Bald Eagles soaring the skies on a regular basis, I have way more than doubled my sightings of Great Blue Herons. In fact, I get to see them every day!  As great as they are, they’re not even the biggest.  When we first moved here, I honestly thought I was seeing pterodactyls. They looked enormous even from the ground and they made a weird prehistoric honking sound, especially when they were flying. They’re called Sandhill Cranes. These birds stand as tall as I do. Maybe not a great accomplishment for a human, but for a bird? They’re very social creatures always in groups of 2 or 3. A friend of mine calls them “Martian Birds”. I think that’s a good description. They definitely sound and look somewhat ‘other-worldly’.

I’m thinking because of the gentle climate we also have quite a few emus and ostriches down here. They don’t actually run loose, but they are kept. Our vet keeps some emus at his home/office and Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a few ugly ostriches. If you’ve ever done the Safari you’ve probably seen the display of three never-hatching, but always intact, ostrich eggs. I have now committed to memory the fact that “they weigh up to 3lbs. each and a grown man can stand on one without breaking it.” If Disney says it, it must be true.


Once, while selling real estate, I was chased by an emu. Really. It was during a time when I had quite a few clients that were college students. One particular student/client had had his fill of  looking at condos and decided he wanted to live in a tree house. Amazingly, I found one. It was a little off the beaten path, but it was there. We went to the address and there in the front yard was an emu.

I had called the owners in advance telling them when we would be arriving. They didn’t tell me about the bird, but I assumed it was harmless since it was loose.

As we pulled up, I have to admit the tree house was, in a word, in-tree-guing (Get it?). An elevated home with a large tree growing up through the middle, the home was built haphazardly around it; not like anything on Treehouse Masters, but still. I was as excited as my client to see how it looked inside.

My client was a little reluctant to get out of the car because of the emu. As I said before, I assumed it was harmless and so, I got out. As I walked toward the house, the emu looked at me. I talked nicely to it, trying to make friends. It seemed to listen, but then it began to slowly move towards me. I stopped, waiting to see what its intentions were. I knew soon enough, turned and ran. I’ve never yanked a car door open so fast in my life and was ever so grateful that I hadn’t pressed the door lock button.

Then I opened the sunroof of my car and I and my client, who was wearing his pajamas, popped our heads through the top. He wanted to look at the emu, I wanted to talk to the owner, who had heard the commotion and come out the front door. The owner told us that the emu was harmless, so we tried again because my college student client thought it would be “cool”. He got out first. I warned him that I was not responsible if he became emu fodder. But, he was a kid and insisted all would be fine. And it was…for him. Seeing that the emu was kindly towards him, I decided to give it another try. I confidently opened the car door hoping to appear unafraid. I know you can’t show fear to dogs, and decided maybe emus are the same. I closed my car door and proceeded to follow my client avoiding eye contact with the bird, but very aware of its location. That stinkin’ emu waited until I was far enough away from my car and then, ignoring my pajama clad client, ran after me.  In a pinch, I can move very quickly and jumped into my car again. This time the bird didn’t just chase me to my car, it was pecking at my window. It really didn’t like me.

The owners were old hippies and very perplexed by the bird’s behavior. They discussed this with my client for quite some time. Please keep in mind that I was still trapped in my car with an emu trying to attack me through the glass window, but no matter. They came to the very astute decision that the bird must not like red hair. Well, of course, what else could it possibly be? They finally corralled the emu and locked it up in the backyard.

My pajama clad client thought the inside of the tree house was “cool” (his favorite word) in spite of the fact that the roof wasn’t sealed around the tree and it leaked when it rained. His father refused to pay for a leaky tree house. He ended up living in the dorm. Much safer, no emus. I didn’t get a sale, but I did have an adventure and something new  to add to my list of “Weird Redhead Anomalies”. After all, how many people can say they were chased by an emu while trying to sell a leaky tree house to a pajama clad client? I may be the only one, but it’s really not that big a deal.

Posted in Animals, Birds, College life, Emus, Humor, Life, Memories, New Jersey, Real Estate Agents, Red heads, Students, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


It infiltrates. It permeates. It saturates. And, at times, it really stinks. I’m not talking about politics…I’m talking about change.

“Things” have changed…again. The older I get, the more I see change worm its way into every area of our lives. The older I get the more I realize, I’m not overly fond of change. I need to listen to my own advice and have a good attitude about it, clearly. But, lately I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

Our household has changed. We bring these beautiful little people into the world and every aspect of our lives changes. They become our “kids”. Our kids live with us. Our kids grow up. Our kids move out. Our kids move back in…with their families. We are all squished. The house is loud and just when we get used to it…the kids move back out again. And then, it’s lonely. It’s too quiet. The dogs are confused. When suddenly one day we wake up with the amazing realization that, we can actually hear ourselves think! The quiet becomes a good thing, an enjoyable thing. Of course, now that we’re used to the quiet, I’m sure someone else will move in and things will change again.

I’m going through change in my body. Aside from the change that caused me to contemplate how to get away with murdering someone on an almost daily basis; I can’t eat the things I used to…like sugar, my very favorite food; and anything that turns into sugar in my gut, which is an awful lot of good stuff. Of course I can eat salad, vegetables, fruit, lean meats, even beans…not originally my favorites, but I need to change my favorites. It’s not so bad, but it will take some getting used to.

My handwriting has recently changed, not a good thing when you’re a teacher and need to write notes to your students that they can’t read. We’ve narrowed this change down to a pinched bunch of nerves in my neck. This has been a kind of weird change and has led me to another change. I now go to a chiropractor because, as he has shown me through x-rays, I’m no longer normal. Honestly, I don’t really think I ever was; but they assume I was…so you know what that says about them. But, we’ve decided to believe them since the evidence of neck pain, carpal tunnel, and the handwriting thing prove that something is amok.

Which brings me to my last change and the title of this blog. I was told. I was warned. I was cautioned, but did I listen??? Nope.

For weeks, nay, months now my WordPress blog site has been telling me there was going to be a change. I saw the messages and decided it somehow didn’t pertain to me. I don’t know why I thought that, since I write my blog every week; but, that’s what I thought.

So, imagine my surprise when I finished up my post last week and went through my normal routine of scheduling my post only to find that there was no scheduling option. If I was a cussing woman, I’d have said a mouthful. But, since I try not to cuss out loud, I said, “OHNOOHNOOHNO”! That didn’t really help, but that’s what I said. What I actually thought is not printable. After that I sent out a little “Testing 1,2,3…” title without a blog. You may have seen it. Some of you even liked it. Which makes me think you’re either very kind or you don’t really read more than the title of my blogs.

When all was said and done I did the only thing I could do. I contacted my Fairy Blog Mother. Fortunately, I have two. I have a “Techy Romance” Fairy Blog Mother who is not to be confused with my “Non-Techy Funny” Fairy Blog Mother.  The Techy Romance FBM is the one we two “non-techy’s” run to in times of trouble. She knows us and even better, she loves us anyway…

My Techy Romance FBM told me what I already knew, the format for my blog site had changed. She also told me how to set it back to the old way. I really like ‘the old way’. Still, ‘the old way’ may not be the best way and unless we are static, not like the electricity but just like standing still; we will be in a constant state of change. As I’ve said before, change is here to stay and it’s really not that big a deal.


Posted in Aging, Attitude, Bad Words, Children, Chiropractor, Christians, Family, Handwriting, Health, Home, Humor, Life, Teaching, Uncategorized, Women | 2 Comments

The Taming of the Tongue

In an old country churchyard in Hatfield, Massachusetts,  stands a drab, gray slate from 1771. The faint markings read:

Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young, who on the twenty-fourth of May, began to hold her tongue.

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Posted in Americans, Attitude, Children, diversity, Embarrassing moments, Ethnicity, Family, Friends, High School Reunions, Humor, Italian Roots, Italians, Life, Marriage, New Jersey, The Human Spirit, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

How Do I Love My Body…

Let me count the ways…

Once you hit 50, I think those ways are hard to think of, let alone count. The tendency, for some or most women anyway, is to look at ourselves and wonder what happened.

I have recently been encouraged by a young friend of ours, Rebecca Rice, who writes a blog called, The Hydrangea Project. She recently had a question posed to her at her writer’s group. “What do I love about my body?”

I think Rebecca is 26 or so and I’m sure the ladies in her writer’s group are just about the same. Still women young or old have hangups about their bodies and I’ll dare to venture and say I think some men do, too.

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Posted in Aging, Attitude, Change, Children, Church, Curly Hair, Getting Old, Life, New Beginnings, Uncategorized, Women | Leave a comment

Is He or Isn’t He? Only His DNA Knows for Sure…

As you probably already know, when I turned 55 my husband gave me an Ancestry DNA kit for my birthday. When I told him he should do one he refused saying, “I’m 100% Chinese. Why should I pay money for someone to tell me that?” As time passed and my spit was updated, consolidating all of the “less than 2%” parts of me because of  “thousands upon thousands of new samples” they’d received, I think he became intrigued by the whole process.

He has been told many times throughout his life, that he doesn’t really look that Asian. On our honeymoon, one older couple we met actually thought he was Italian.  And no, they did not have a seeing eye dog and, though they seemed it at the time, in retrospect, they were probably not that old. On more than one occasion, other Asians have guessed his ethnicity as something other than Chinese. Though I joke with him and tell him that all Asians look alike, Asians seem to take pride in knowing the differences among themselves.

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Posted in Children, China, Chinese roots, Christians, Christmas, Cultural Differences, DNA, Ethnicity, Facebook, Family, Friends, Heaven, Humor, Life, Love, Pride, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Other Sister

I think every family has that one child who is ‘different’ from the others. I believe this is, to some degree, determined by a little something I like to refer to as, ‘The Mommy’s Curse.” You know the one. It’s that phrase used by moms in that moment of extreme frustration when they say, “I hope you have a kid just like you!” It’s said in anger when she can’t think of anything worse than us having to put up with what she has had to put up with.  I firmly believe those words somehow have an impact on our DNA. My Mom had four of us. We have all heard “The Mommy’s Curse”.

We are a family of three girls and one boy. The boy is the youngest and, yes, we tortured him until he outgrew us, but this isn’t about him. This is about our middle sister, our ‘other’ sister. Our one, our only, Neanie.

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Posted in Aging, Anniversary, Childhood, Differences, DNA, Family, Florida, Getting Old, Growing Up, Home, Humor, Life, Love, Memories, Moms, New Jersey, Siblings, Uncategorized, Women, Words | 2 Comments