The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.



Those who are a part of our lives touch us.  In one way or another they affect who we are or what we think or how we behave. If I am a sandy shoreline and you are a wave, when you come crashing onto my territory you affect my grains of sand. I may offer you a bowl of beef stew and if you tell me it’s too salty, I’ll change the recipe the next time I make it. We are all like rocks dropped into a pool of water creating ripples. Sometimes those ripples are calm and peaceful and sometimes they become turbulent eddies.


They fought, they yelled,

They betrayed each other.

No poster parents were they.

But they gave me roots, wings.


A quiet man was he,

His voice he never raised.

He taught me the value of silence,

The joy of catching a fish.


His wife, equally quiet,

Her hands never rested.

From her I learned how to 

Offer and receive love freely.


She was old – she looked like a witch.

She cracked a whip and rapped knuckles.

But she instilled in me a love of books,

Respect for words everlasting.


A man I know, incurably ill,

Bled my bank account, disliked my kids,

Taught me to laugh again.

Turned me into a gardener.

Another, far brainier than I,

Introduced me to Shakespeare,

Fed my brain the manna it craved.

A toast to them all.


My mother threw me in the lake when I was two.

A swimmer, sailor resulted.

My children got the same treatment;

Water babies all.


An English teacher’s love of words

Has never left this writer-reader.

How many others have her ripples touched?

The early learning seminars conducted by a friend

Influenced scores of parents who may pass on his lessons

To their children and their children to their children.


Even toddlers send forth ripples.

You’ve only to march to their drums of excitement,

Walk with them through wonderland.

They’ll broaden your face with a smile

You pass along to the next person you see.


We know where our blue eyes come from.

Who are those who give us a love of music, respect for diversity,

Open our eyes to the wonders of nature,

Encourage our imaginations.


The waves caused by ripples can be stormy and gray.

The man who uses his fists may breed bullies.

Those who turn up their noses at Blacks

Send an intolerance message to others:

A message that builds walls of hate.


I’d like to think the ripples cast upon my shores

Are like sand dollars.

I pick then up, keep those I like,

Toss the rest back into the sea

And the ripples continue to flow.


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Julie Rose


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I have a lousy memory.  The book I’m now reading is likely to be forgotten next week. I don’t  remember the addresses of all the places I’ve lived nor the names of childhood classmates.  I am attentive and take copious notes when attending a lecture but the words float through my mind like wisps of smoke. It embarrasses me to ask my son – who remembers EVERYTHING – when specific events occurred in our family.


There are however a few things I remember quite well. In this poem  it seems I’ve been bitten by a nostalgia bug and remembering those days reminds me of this as well Sing along with me.


Those were the days my friend,

We thought they’d never end,

We’d sing and dance forever and a day.

We’d live the life we choose,

We’d fight and never lose,

For we were young and sure to have our way.”

                                    (Artist: Mary Hopkins)




My sister and I spent our first sixteen years

At a small cottage near aWisconsinlake.

What looms large in my memory

Is the freedom we had had then

Freedom no responsible parent today would accord a child

Freedom to come and go, from dawn ‘til dusk

With no fear of danger by day or by night.


We ate warm tomatoes from the garden for breakfast.

Stole apples and blueberries from neighbors.

Hung clothes to dry in the sun.

Dug fat night crawlers out of the mud.

Climbed into a sacrosanct rowboat

Where no noise was permitted,

Bamboo fishing poles in hand.


We left early each day for the beach.

Spent days with minnows swirling round our feet,

Ducklings trailed us as we swam out to a raft,

Turtles sunned on the banks of the lake

Profuse with sweet-smelling water lilies.


We applied baby oil mixed with iodine for tans.

Shared one apple among three and nobody died.

Taught swimming to toddlers,

Built thousands of sand castles,

Carved our initials into picnic tables.


A weeping willow tree hung over the water.

We swung from its branches like monkeys.

Dove from a bridge over a channel

Higher than an eight year old should attempt.

A young friend drove his own speedboat.

Dragged us behind him on water skis.

Did that on one ski by the time I was nine.


We rode rusty Schwinns through the woods

Caught butterflies and fireflies.

Plucked handfuls of wild flowers,

Sought out wild blackberry bushes,

Tracked down rabbit holes,

Learned where the owls hung out.


No computers or cell phones for us.

Our evening entertainment was each other.

Kids gathered and played Red Rover,

Kick-The-Can, Marbles and Pick-Up-Sticks.

Some nights we hiked up a cobbled road

Shared Black Cows at the Dairy Queen.


To escape hordes of  hungry mosquitoes

We gathered on someone’s porch,

Played Monopoly ‘til the banker went broke.

Listened for the tinkling bell

That announced the Good Humor man.


One friend lived on a nearby farm

The barn’s loft was our sleep-over party bedroom

Bales of freshly cut hay our pillows.

There we prayed to be witness to a bull

Breaking loose and mounting a cow.


No one questioned our whereabouts, our activities.

Yet neither of us ever got hurt or get lost.

Found our way home for dinner,

Corn on the cob dripping in butter,

Gabriel Heater and the News in the background.


When the stars appeared

A warm summer’s night sleep beckoned

On a screened porch in a swing

Rocked gently by evening breezes,

The aroma of peonies in the air.


I pined for the last day of school

For I knew that on the morrow

I’d be taken to the cottage

To again spend three months

With nobody asking:


Where were you?  What did you do?

Where did you go?  Who were you with?

Why are you late for dinner?

What are you doing tomorrow?


I leave you to draw your own conclusions

About what that kind of freedom meant

To two little girls from the city

And how it affected the women they became.




(Simcha is the Hebrew word for Joy – my middle name is Joy – Not Julie Joy which sounds like a Hooker – Juleanne Joy, named, I was told, for a Queen of Sweden. Why anyone would name a child of Norwegian ancestry after a Swede escapes me.)


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Julie Rose


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            For more years than I care to remember I was married to a man whose idea of a weekend get-away was a football game in Madison, Wisconsin – every year –same time – same place.  We once went skiing in Aspen over Christmas vacation. Guess where he wanted to go the following year?  “No,” I said.  “I’m going to Mexico.- come if you like.” He swallowed his fear of new places, joined me in Cozumel  and – you guessed it – wanted to return toCozumel the following year. His idea of experiencing something new was to occasionally sample a new restaurant not more than five miles from home.

We once planned a trip to California with stops in San Francisco and San Diego.  After three days of Fisherman’s Wharf and trolley cars a rented car was delivered to our hotel.  I grabbed the wheel.  He hauled out a map and directed me to the freeway leading south. I ignored him and headed forU.S.#1 – certainly slower but far more interesting. Spent two hours watching the Monarch butterflies in Pismo Beach where, at that time, the count was something like 30,000 butterflies. Imagine that!  Returned home with a small Eskimo soapstone sculpture and a luxurious woven shawl from an artists’ colony.

I vividly recall once taking a back road and stumbling upon a family having a picnic along the banks of a river.  They invited me to join them.  I enjoyed some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had and climbed aboard a canoe with them for a ride down the river. I made new friends, and walked away with a recipe for the cranberry/banana bread the woman served, thankful for having taken a detour.

Another detour took me past a farm with a large sign out front. “LabradorPuppies For Sale.”  “Are you joking?” I said to the farmer.  “$25 for this lovely pedigreed dog?”

I grabbed my purse, took out my wallet, and handed the guy three tens.  My children couldn’t have been happier. Heidi was the best dog we ever had and I never would have found her had I stayed on the expressway.

I do know one man who is the antithesis of my husband.  This guy seems to have an insatiable need to try everything.  One year he decided to learn to ride and bought  a horse. The next year he sampled sky-diving. The following year it was a sailboat. His idea of a Saturday evening’s entertainment is to visit a local pool hall and make an ass of himself or to drive 100 miles to have dinner at a hole-in-the-wall diner purported to make bar-b-q ribs to die for.

I pity the stick-in-the-muds who never experience the joy of discovery –  the aroma of fresh bread baking – the challenge of a riotous surf – the satisfaction of learning a new game  – the courage to tackle Shakespeare – serendipitous moments that come only to those willing to step off the beaten path.



Today I followed a new route to my destination

I was grateful there were no stoplights

The road meandered along lazy lagoons

Water lilies along the shore

Serendipity is what it was

A pleasant, unexpected, surprise

Like putting a coin in a vending machine

And getting three chocolate gumballs

The cautious resist taking a detour

They miss the pleasure of discovery

The joy of stumbling upon  the unusual

Discovery is a precious thing

You can’t beat the elation an astronomer or an archaeologist feels

When he discovers a new star or uncovers a mummy

Or the thrill a man experiences when he invents a new mousetrap

Or the satisfaction a couch potato finds in mastering golf

No one with limited vision stuck in the quicksand of life

Ever discovered the secret of the stars or opened a new door

The seeds of discovery float constantly around us

But they only take root in those ready to receive them

To discover a new author who speaks to me

A symphony that moves my heart

Find my own quiet corner of the woods

A pretty shell on the seashore

Would be “aha” moments for me

The voyage of discovery is not seeking newness

But in having new eyes

Dr. Seuss had it right:

“You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found

once you go beyond Z and start poking around.”

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Julie rose


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