Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Forty two years ago, I received a book for my birthday:  Now You Are Seven.  I still have it *no one who knows me can even pretend to be surprised by this* (!)  It is a lovely anthology of pieces selected for the young reader -- a mixture of cultural folklore, short fiction, arts & crafts projects, and poetry accompanied by vivid illustrations.  To this day, I can (and do) fondly recall a line from a poem about Bert (an amorous kangaroo, in a zoo, in love with Betsy Lou, who happened to be a kangaroo too):  "So they lived in one cage/till a very old age/and died at ninety two."  Why this is the line that has managed to stay with me for 42 years, I cannot say (especially since this book was also my introduction to Tennyson & Longfellow) -- but, there you have it. 

Home of Bert and Betsy Lou
Recently, I mentioned this book to my mom (the giver of this formational tome) -- wondering aloud if it were part of a series.  She did not recall seeing any for other ages at the time. I have never seen another of this particular book, or any others like it.  But it got me to thinking:  Why not?  Wouldn't it be neat if there were an ongoing series of books designed to provide insight/comfort/encouragement as we cross the threshold into each new year and all that it holds? 

SO...  As a lover and collector of words that speak to me, I have merged words with images to create a collection to mark the occasion of turning 49.  Actually, it may be more accurate to say that these are verbal talismans to carry into my 50th year.  Thoughts, inspirations, and reminders to carry with me on the Journey.  This was a great deal of fun, although I must admit:  it took way longer to do than I imagined (!)  Reminding me, yet again, of my mother's supreme wisdom:  "It always takes longer than you think!"  

Rope bridge photo*
Paper Factory Hotel, Long Island City, NY
Book tower and cash register detail
Paper Factory Hotel, Long Island City, NY

Suitcases and cash register detail
Paper Factory Hotel, Long Island City, NY
Bedroom window - Paper Factory Hotel, Long Island City, NY
Zodiac Mosaic - Subway Station, NYC
Stairwell window and painted man
Paper Factory Hotel, Long Island City, NY

I have never been one to worry and fret over birthdays...  I see much truth in the old saw:  "Age is just a number."  Twenty + years spent in the company of an incredible human who lived large by this adage only served to galvanize that truth, for me.  I understand the 'why' behind certain ages being of some significance:  16 and driving; 18 and voting; 21 and drinking; etc., etc...  I suppose I understand marking the milestones of entering a new decade, too (?)  Having said all of that, I have a tendency to celebrate the odd; for example, prior to our marriage, I threw The Man a surprise party for his 45th *hey, any excuse for a good party - right?*  But I have never approached a birthday with any sense of dread.  I have several friends who bemoan the pending birthday, and it always leaves me scratching my head...  Another birthday?  WINNING!  I mean aging isn't always pretty, but it beats the hell out of the alternative!

Memorial Tree - Arlington Cemetery

I must acknowledge that I have entered my latest year from an entirely new angle.  After two years that contained profound personal and professional losses, I finally feel like I have reclaimed some sort of equilibrium.  I am eternally grateful for the folks who stuck it out with me, and remain a part of my life.  In truth, there are still dark, difficult days -- but these are no longer the bulk of the days...  I feel stronger in mind, body, and spirit than I have in quite some time.  I am thrilled to have a renewed sense of discovery and optimism!  

Be prepared, gentle reader!  I will be exercising #50for50 well and often in the coming year!  I look forward to having loads of fun, and I hope you will join me!

The Brother in Little Italy, NYC

Onward & upward!

Since todays post is loaded with Words of Wisdom, I am leaving you with a song. *nay, an anthem!*  I first fell in love with this tune when I discovered the album Planet Waves in my teens.  In the intervening years, I have heard covers from a variety of artists:  Johnny Cash, Jerry Garcia BandThe Pretenders, and Pearl Jam.  The version that I am sharing here is *hands down* my favorite, after the original.  The Soweto Gospel Choir brings a power to this song that I have not felt in other renditions -- it gives me chills every time!  It is offered here as both a wish and a blessing!  

*Rope Bridge Photo -- This is actually a photo of a photo -- I would gladly credit the original photographer, had there been a sign (?)  This print was HUGE -- I encountered it turning a corner on the floor below where I was staying, and was awestruck.  It felt like you could just keep walking and go right on over that bridge (!)


  1. I always enjoy your posts immensely, Penny! We only met once, years ago at Sindy Anderson's Soap Gathering in Georgia, but you made a lasting impression. You have a way with words. I admire your creativity, your artistic abilities, and your grace under pressure. What I remember most is your sense of humor :). May it serve you well!

    1. Alison!
      I remember you well. Thank you for the kind words. I am grateful to have you here! I hope that our paths cross again.

  2. That would be lovely indeed. And you just never know :)


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