Friday, March 29, 2013

Top 10 Holiday Food Shopping Last Minute Checklist

1. Eggs (Deviled) seems a little sacridelicious but we love em.

2. Easter Bread

3. Ham to compliment the green eggs.

4. Lamb, we always go with ham but for the more gentle souls, lamb.

5. Lamb sculpted butter. I have never purchased this but boy have I been tempted.

6. Carrots in case the bunny is your guest.

7. Greens, Asparagus, Green Beans, Limas, Brussel Sprouts, Peas, Broccoli (pick one green is good).

8. Parsley Potatoes (fresh parsley)

9. Desserts galore, lent is over baby!

10.Chocolate Covered Bunnies

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Top 10 Holy Thursday Customs and Church Visits

Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus and the Apostles. The Last Supper was held on the feast of Passover.

Mosaic on the wall at Murano Glass Factory, Venice, Italy.

A ceremonial washing of the feet can also be held in which the priest or bishop washes the feet of 12 chosen from the community in recognition of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles.

Also a simple supper can be prepared. I am not an authority on this one, but I do recall it being practiced by my mother and her church group.  They had soup and bread in the afternoon for their simple supper.

Another tradition that dates back to Roman time is "Seven Churches Visitation".  These churches below were not chosen for any particular requirement.  I just found these churches and their significant highlights interesting.

The Cathedral in Innsbruck, Austria, Dom St. Jakob, I found a video link on YouTube if you would like to venture inside this church.

 The Mariahilfglocke is housed in the north tower of the cathedral and tolls every Friday at 3:00 pm to note the hour Jesus died.  It was cast 1846 by the GlockengieBerei Grassmayr bell foundry. In 1961 and 1965, seven new bells were cast by Johann Grassmayr from GlockengieBerei Grassmayr and acquired by the cathedral for the south tower—six dedicated to various saints and the seventh named Totenglocke (Death knell). In 1982, the Innsbruck peace carillon was added to the north tower, consisting of 48 bells, making it the largest and most extensive carillon in Austria.  They were cast by the Royal Eijsbouts bell foundry of Asten, Netherland. The peace carillon, it is said, sounds daily around 12:10 pm. I heard the 3 p.m. bells but did not know their significance at the time. Additional reading here would be "World Peace Bells", google it, that was an interesting read.

The Oude Kerk ("old church") is Amsterdam’s oldest parish church, consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht. It stands in De Wallen, now Amsterdam's main red-light district. In mid-March each year, Catholics arrive at the Oude Kerk to celebrate the "Miracle of Amsterdam" that occurred in 1345. After taking communion, a dying man vomited the Host. When his vomit was thrown on the fire, the Host did not burn and was proclaimed a miracle. A new chapel was built on the place the miracle occurred and continued to be a place for miraculous cures. Rembrandt was a frequent visitor to the Oude Kerk and his children were all christened here. It is the only building in Amsterdam that remains in its original state since Rembrandt walked its halls. The floor consists entirely of gravestones. The reason for this is that the church was built on a cemetery.

 You have to be several miles away to get a complete photograph Dom Koln. This building has an amazing story and is said to house The Shrine of the Three Magi.(The Shrine of the Three Kings)  said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. You can take a virtual tour, there are so many things to see..
Looking up at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.  It is majestic. Make sure you read about the history of this building a continual work in progress similar to ones faith. It has been through the war and back.

In Florence, Italy, the Duomo is the big deal and it is huge and magnificent but it is not the church that sparked my emotions and it went like this. Since today is also picture book day I will tell the story in a series of pictures.

Simon, our fearless leader was leading us through the narrow streets of Florence, Italy.  We had been in town approximately 10 minutes now.

He is cautioning us on where to shop and to get good and fair deals. I purchased a statue of David, it's an original and I think I got a pretty sweet deal. There were a few stores to our right and to our left.  I remember one was a cameo store and then he gathers us all around in a circle and turns back pointing his umbrella at the building behind us and says, this is Piazza San Croce and that is the Basilica Santa Croce.
I remember thinking oh, I didn't even notice it, as we passed by it on the side street. Then he tells us who is memorialized and buried inside that church, it is a who's who of Art, Architecture, Poetry and Science all in one small community, a "minor" basilica in Florence, Italy. Who?  I was awestruck!  This emotion stayed with me the remainder of my visit to Florence. Only to be enhanced with each sculpture I passed and detailed craftsmanship that oozed with passion of its creator waiting around the next corner. Santa Croce has been restored many times over, the current facade was done by a Jewish architect in the 19th century. Note the "Star of David" front and center at the top of the building.  Click on the website to Santa Croce to see more about this incredible link to the past.

 If you have ever been to the Sistine Chapel you will appreciate this link on the Vatican's website.  If you have never been there, it is worth the visit but this link is as good as it gets.  There are no crowds and you can get as up close and personal as you would like to the masterpiece that Michelangelo. painted.  There is so much detail to absorb in one visit.  Two scenes stuck in my mind after leaving the chapel, the distorted flesh that some say was a Michelangelo self portrait located on the Last Judgement painting on the wall and God and Adam's fingertips about to touch for "Creation" on the ceiling fresco. No photography is permitted inside the Sistine Chapel.

My cousin sent me a Catholic quiz the other day and one of the questions was, Outside of the Vatican, where are the most catholic religious relics housed?  The one selection was so ridiculous I had to pick it and it was correct.  The answer was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I was never there but it sounds like an interesting site to visit.  Here is a link to St. Anthony's Chapel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Who knew?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Top 10 Favorite Types of Easter Eggs

1. Butter Cream

2. Butter Krak

3. Coconut Cream

4. Peanut Butter

5.Cadbury Creme Eggs

6. Hollow Chocolate Egg

7. Multi Colored Whoppers Robin Eggs

8. Jelly Bean Eggs

9. Plastic Eggs with Coins inside (enough to buy any of these eggs)

10. Hard Boiled Eggs (eating or dying)

Did I forget any? 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top 10 Spring Break Breaking News

Gimme a break

Break time


Break dancing

Break up

Lucky Break


Breakers (waves)

Break a leg

Break out

Them's the breaks!

breaking the silence, breaking a promise, breaking a bond, breaking barriers, breaking ground, breaking wind (sound barrier), breaking a code, breaking a record, breaking bread and breaking a habit.

If you do not have time or the finances for a spring break, "Take Five" we all deserve a break now and then.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Top 10 Upcoming Events last week of March

March 23 - 28 Paint the Town Red Phillies style be on the lookout, tis the season, the boys are back in town April1st.  This is the warm up!

Monday March 25th The Civil War On The Home Front presented by Middleton Township Historical Society, speaker Nancy Webster. Lectures begin at 7:30PM at Lima Estates, Media PA.  Free and open to the public.

Tuesday, March 26 from 1PM-2PM. Use #SummerMeals to participate. The Food and Nutrition Coalition (@myFNC) will be hosting a Twitter town hall: "Help Feed Kids in Your Community this Summer with #SummerMeals".

Tuesday, March 26th 7:30 - 8:30pm 1684 Seller's Hall History and restoration at Marple Christin Church. Ellin Cronin of Upper Darby Historical Society will speak.

Thursday March 28th Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts begins. This year the theme is Time Travel, check the calendar for upcoming scheduled events.

Thursday March 28th Registration deadline: Parenting Skills Workshop Series Wednesday Evening, six part series. Registration is required by March 28th. Workshops begin April 3 and run through May 8th at the Chester Student Center 9th and Kerlin Streets 6:30pm - 8:30pm. Free childcare will be available during the sessions. Workshops are being sponsored by Solutions 4 Your Success, in collaboration with Media Presbyterian Church.  Enrollment space is limited, contact Dana Riker Jackson 610-566 -8272 or for more information.

Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7 PM  THS Spring Program Walking the Mason Dixon Line "The Thornbury AME Church 646 Cheyney Road, Glen Mills. Free and open to the public. Do you know where the Mason Dixon Line is?

Saturday March 30th, 11am Easter Egg Hunt at Colonial Plantation. Visit for full details.

Saturday March 30th, 8am to Noon  Tyler Arboretum is looking for volunteers to clean up portions of their trails. No experience needed. Call 610-566-9134 ext 205 for questions. Volunteers must be 14 or over. Raindate March 31st.

The Madness continues the March Madness Championship game is April 8th in Atlanta. Is you team still alive? 

Seriously snow?  This is suppose to be spring right?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Top 10 The Best of Chester

More than a year ago now, I asked Stefan Roots the author of the Chester City blog to name the Top 10 Best Things About Chester and I disagreed with number 9 but now I am going to have to give it to him. Also in his defense, it was out of season when I asked and judging by his blog today, I am sure he would have added the Chester High Basketball Team. They have brought a lot of pride to the city.

Stefan wrote: Here's my Top 10 Chester things in no particular order...

1. The Chester City Blog (ok, that's the real #1).

2. Widener University (not many cities can claim to be a college town).

3. Barry Bridge Park (the views on the Delaware River under the Barry bridge are spectacular).

4. Crozer Hospital (not sure if that's Chester or Upland) but they are a world class hospital with a top notch burn center.

5. Chester Park (72 acres of nature - I wish we could put a botanical garden there). My own two cents, the tennis courts are great, busy but you can usually get a court. They have four well maintained courts.

6. PPL Park (the sight lines inside the stadium rival any stadium anywhere).

7. Harrah's Casino and Racetrack (Chester's number one tourist location).

8. Rt 291 - Rosa Parks Memorial Highway (keeps trucks off of residential streets).

 9. OBs (Rt 291 and Lloyd Streets) - The best Jamaican food outside of Kingston. A dispute My two cents, I would have selected John's Doggie ShopThis photograph is from John's on the Conchester  but I still ventured into the City of Chester on occasion just to get one or two of these puppies. Anyone who grew up in Chester knows what a delicacy these hot dogs with the special sauce are. Now I believe Stefan may be correct.  I was saddened to hear John's is leaving Chester. I grew up on that stuff.

10. The Wharf at Rivertown - Beautiful restoration of the PECO generating plant which now houses a couple corporate headquarters and a lot of employees.

It is a funny thing about growing up in Chester, yeah the town gets a lot of bad press and some really bad things have happened there. I feel really upset when I hear the stories, it's personal, but I don't think you will find one person that did grow up there that doesn't have good memories and admit with pride, I grew up in Chester. There are a lot of great things about Chester, unfortunately for me many of those places and faces are gone but I have very fond memories and will always be a fan.

Check out Stefan's blog.  He does a creative job and he does it with pride.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Top 10 Alcatraz Anniversary

March 21, 2013 is the 50th Anniversary of the closing of the prison on Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz Island is located in the center of San Francisco bay about 1.5 miles from the coast line of the city of San Francisco. The Rock has a majestic presence on a clear day and an eerie, mysterious, dismal feeling in the fog. You can't miss it. The distance doesn't seem very far away but there are a few deterrents.The Golden Gate Bridge nor the Bay Bridge will take you there. If this were to be a destination for you, a plane, helicopter or a boat is your mode of transportation.  I suppose you could swim it, if you are an expert swimmer but the waters are known to be cold and the rumor was shark infested. Man-eating sharks were later determined to be folklore to keep the bad guys in at night but there are known sand sharks in the area.  I read somewhere that it was the first prison to have hot showers, just to discourage adapting to the cold water of the bay. Or perhaps just another chilling prison story.

An aerial view of Alcatraz Island.  It is the little one in the middle of all that water and between both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge.

When you arrive by boat to the dock area, the first building you see is the Barracks/ Apartment building. It was used originally used as a barracks during the years that Alcatarz was a fort and later it was expanded to an apartment building for the guards and their families that worked at the prison. If you worked at Alcatraz it was typical to live there. If you were a prisoner the usual stint at Alcatraz would have been 8 years. The mild mannered (only in film) Birdman of Alcatraz was there for 17 years his bird years were actually at Leavenworth.. Robert Stroud died at 73, he was incarcerated for 54 years.

The lighthouse on the island dates back to the days of the fort.  It was built in 1848. Fort Alcatraz was built along with two other forts to secure the increasing popular bay area during the gold rush. While I was verifying the date it was built, I saw information that was new to me and I will share it.  The lighthouse on Alcatraz was the first one built on the west coast and the Statue of Liberty in New York on the east coast was at one time used as a lighthouse.  If you have an interest in lighthouses the U.S. Coast Guard website has a lot of detailed information.

The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor was used as a lighthouse in 1886. It was the first lighthouse to use electricity.

I can't remember if it is included in the ticket or not but by all means take the option of the audio tour.  You get a much better feel for the sights and sounds of what it is like to be confined inside the prison walls.

It ain't pretty inside.  It is a prison, maybe you would like to visit but certainly never want to live there. Despite the stories of the deplorable conditions at Alcatraz it was said to be clean and have good food.  It was considered a maximum security prison and if you were sent there, it was because you had trouble conforming  somewhere else.

"You Are Entitled To Food, Clothing, Shelter, And Medical Attention. 
Anything Else You Get Is a Privilege."
Number 5. Alcatraz Prison Rules and Regulations

Cells were not big, most were 9 x 5 and contained a cot, a table, a toilet and a sink but one of the perks was you had no cellmate and the chances for sexual assault were much lower. You had privacy.

In 1962, the Anglin Brothers, Frank Morris and Allen Clayton West  made masks of cotton, soap, paint and human hair to place in their cell beds to make it look like they were there for bed check. On the night of June 11th they made their escape all but West who was blocked by an unanticipated metal block n his vent system, also the way in which the others successfully escaped. The movie Escape from Alcatraz is the story of this prison breakout.  Although the bodies have never been recovered, it is believed that these men drowned in the icy waters of the San Francisco Bay.


Looks like he is sleeping soundly to me.

Other notable inmates include Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and the Barker Boys of the Ma Barker gang. Al Capone made his rounds, he also had guest accommodations at the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA and he almost seems like a decent guy if you watch the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, except he should never have been given a gun. That's when he went bad. Alvin Creepy Karpis a member of the Barker gang was the longest continuous prisoner on Alcatraz. He spent 26 years there. 


Life on the outside in the yard was a privilege and I would imagine also a torture.  If you climb the top of the steps in the recreation area, you can clearly see the free world just across the bay. Some days were foggy, others were crystal clear.

When the prison closed in 1963, there were many offers to purchase the island. One speculator, an oil man from Texas, Lamar Hunt wanted to create a space museum. If you have further interest in this topic you can read more at this The Unselling of_Alcatraz link. It gets into why the deal did not go through. Then there was the Indians of All Tribe takeover in 1969.  A minor attempt to "occupy the island" by this group took place in 1964 but did not  amount to much of a stand. In 1969 the group make quite a stir and presence.  Attracting media attention and sympathy for their cause, celebrities got involved.  The protest lasted 19 months and the cause suffered some of the same problems incurred in running a prison there. There was no direct water supply and food and supplies to maintain comfortable living conditions needed to be brought in by boat, all of these things added to the increasing expenses.  The group eventually in desperation began to strip the buildings of their copper and overall vandalized the island. Every year thousands of American Indians return to honor

My take away was, once you see what it is like to be confined on the inside, you come to appreciate your freedom much more on the outside.

Juan de Ayala a Spanish naval officer is credited with naming the island, Isla de Alcatraces, Island of the Pelicans as the title has been translated down to.  The brown pelican is no longer said to nest there. The jailbirds are gone but the Western Gull and the Black Crown Heron are known to use a section of the island for breeding and tourists flock there.

The most abundant bird found on Alcatraz Island is the western gull. This group with the chick in the middle was seen on the mainland in San Francisco down by the wharf just after the tour of Alcatraz Island.

Any planned trip to San Francisco? You have to go to see Alcatraz.  Modern world has a special GPS Secrets of Alcatraz App you can download on your smart phone for a special walking tour.   Be careful though, if you are trying to escape....they can track you!.

It is a bonus when you get out on the ferry, make sure you turn around and see one of the most spectacular views of San Francisco. Look at that incline.  It is the coolest city ever.

Once you get started searching on the web, we all know, one link leads to another.  I found this blog by looking to see if anyone ever swam the distance successfully.  I am not sure when it began but there is an Alcatraz Invitational Swim and this guy's blog caught my attention.  I like the way he explains his experience.  I would never do it, but now I feel like if I were ever to attempt the fete, I know exactly what it would feel like, challenging.  Of course there were a few differences in his experience than those of an escaped convict.  It is still a very interesting read though. He said a thousand swimmers are in that water. I find it amazing in what the body and the mind are capable of doing once you set your goal and have the determination to reach it. Here is the link to the blog, Comeback 65: Challenge For Good Alcatraz Invitational Swim.

Other further interest websites: 
They have an original picture courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library of what the lighthouse looked like before it was destroyed by fire. Neat picture and informative website.

The United States Coast Guard website is also very informative if you have an interest in lighthouses. That is where I learned about the Statue of Liberty,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Top 10 Wednesday First Day of Spring

10 Things You Can Only Do in the Spring

1. Put on Your Easter Bonnet.  Easter is very early this year, but we do have a pope.

2. See Spring Training come to an end.

3. It's blooming pollen time, achoo. Allergy season.

4. Plant seeds, time for new growth.

5. Watch the dormant turn to a rainbow of colors.

6. Open up your house and car windows without wasting the heat. Maybe even turn off the heat. Cuddle.

7. Withstand the elements better, not too hot and not too cold. Ah! A perfect spring day.

8. Watch March Madness. Get tickets for March 22 and 24th at Wells Fargo in Philly.

9. Opening Day of Baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies is April Fools Day.  Is that a good thing?

10. Put away the snow shovels.  I'm not saying yet, March is a tricky month but soon, very soon.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top 10 March Madness Pick

and how I got there.............

Obviously, I did not get the job as a sports writer and there may be credence to that but it doesn't mean I don't care.

1. Louisville as the winner. I am fond of the name Louie.

2. I have Louisville and Miami coming into the stretch.  I have Miami here because I have been to Miami once and I have a very loyal reader in Florida.  I don't know who they are but if they are a basketball fan, I am supporting them. I am a team player, Hi- aleah.

3. Between the South and the East I have Georgetown going up against Miami.  It is such a great town and the name is synonymous with basketball but I am feeling the heat from Miami.

4. On the Midwest West side I have Gonzaga going up against Louisville.  I fear this could be my downfall.  I have been a big fan of Gonzaga since they were the Cinderella surprise team many years ago. I am going against my heart and my gut here.  I am conflicted.  Deep down, I think I hope Gonzaga takes it all.

5. Michigan St. against Louisville should be a no-brainer but we are talking March Madness and I don't wanna put any bad chi on any one.

6. I have Temple going up against Miami in the East and then maybe sitting the rest of the time out.  I hope I am wrong again.  I am a Temple fan. Either way they go, I will have Temple tears.  I hope they are tears of joy.

7. For the first time ever, I just used my eraser and went with my heart.  I am picking Valparaiso because I just love the Sting song Valparaiso.  I played it on Youtube and I can't deny it.  Listen to it.  It's a great song. Go Valparaiso.  This is my Cinderella team. They are seeded at 14, obviously somebody hasn't heard this song yet.

8. In the West, I went with Notre Dame my high school Alma mater, right out of the shoot and Harvard because I am impressed smart people have time to play sports, but we all need an outlet.

9. Duke is always an impressive team and gets the nod but I can't help but think of the scandal so long ago now, with the lacrosse team.  This makes me think I am no better then the people who are punishing the kids that play on the Penn State football team now.  They had nothing to do with the mess but they bear the scars.

10. Shame on me as a female for not following the woman's basketball team.  I just never have after I was dismissed from the 6th grade team because I couldn't dribble.  Maybe my shot wasn't that good either.

Well, there you have it.  My #1 pick is Louisville and my long shot is Gonzaga and best song goes to Valparaiso by Sting.

As we all know with March Madness, everybody has a shot. Go Louie.

I found this link to the NCAA tournament, it has a bracket advisor. Are you MAD?  More than half the fun is picking your own teams to follow win or lose.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top 10 Clear the Clutter (Monday)

This is National Clutter Awareness Week

Some suggestions on how to participate.

1. Clear the cobwebs in the corners of our minds. Let in the fresh air. Clear the air, clear the mind. Take a walk.

2. Junk mail call them on it, please remove me from your list and to those unavailable people that are calling me, I am also unavailable STOP CALLING! Please invent a two digit system that you can block the preceding call from being able to dial your number again.

3. Inbox deal with it and delete or just delete and delete your deletes.

4. Recycle what you can't use anymore, Check out If it is unusable the next electronic recycling event is March 23 at Chester, City Hall and the next one is April 6th in Darby and Hazardous Waste May 4th in Broomall at the Marple Transfer Station.

5. Clear out the refrigerator.  How long has that been in there? Wipe it down, when your done tossing. That is a recommendation from my friend, Mr. Clean.  I try not to spill.

6. Cupboards collect stuff in the back, either move it up front for immediate use or move it on out.

7. Medicine cabinets check for expiration dates. The next Take Back Drugs day is April 27th.

8. Junk drawers are the appetizer to get you in the mood. Keep, donate and trash, you have choices.

9. Paper work/files should be thinner after your taxes are done.  You did your taxes right?

10. Leaves make a great mulch but it is now time for leaves to leave. Make room for the new blossoms. Rake em and let the trash man take em.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Top 10 Ingredients for a Irish Feast

Feast or Famine, you can live on this stuff!

 There are choices to be made.

1. Corn beef

2. Cabbage

3. Veggies: Potatoes, Carrots, Green beans.

4. Oats, Wheat, Barley for cereal of course.

5. Beer

6. Whiskey

7. Soda Bread with or without the butter, most prefer with.

8. Irish tea and pastries, the Irish have to have their sweets.

9. Lamb and Beef is a staple and there are plenty of cows and sheep in Ireland.

10. Irish Potatoes "candy", every one has an opinion and an idea on the perfect Irish potatoes.  Let me just give you some of the ingredients and you can try for yourself, butter, 10X sugar, coconut, vanilla and cinnamon and a variation I have also enjoyed is, cream cheese.

Basically the same goes for all things Irish you can mix and match and they all get along.

The French use wine in their cuisine, the Irish use beer.  Always use what you have on hand.

A special
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit

Happy St. Patrick's Day 

to the leprechaunn
who gave me my Irish roots.


Just for fun I found this website

and has free access to Irish roots until midnight on March 17th.

Once you have it all together invite the crowd over to your castle.

They are a simple people, if you have beer................
the Irish are coming.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Top 10 You Know Your Irish When

If you come from an Irish family.................................
1) You swear very well.
2) At least one of your cousins is a fireman, cop, bar owner, funeral home owner, nurse, or holds political office, and you have at least one aunt who is a nun or uncle who's a priest.
3) You think you sing very well.You may not know the words, but that doesn't stop you from singing.
4) You have no idea how to make a long story short!
5) You have never hit your head on a ceiling.
6) You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling in prayer.
7) You're strangely poetic after a few beers.
8) You can't wait for the other guy to stop talking before you start talking.
9) You are genetically incapable of keeping a secret. 
10) Your skin's ability to tan not so much. (Only in spots!) they call them freckles.

This list was a gift from my Irish cousin Billy.  He sang at the St. Patrick's Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Sunday with the Bull Dogs Blue and Grey Choir.  I would wager he was the loudest and proudest Irishmen up there.

St. James Blue and Grey Choir sing at St. Patrick's Cathedral

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Top 10 Do You Know Gil Spencer?

Whenever someone asks what I do and I tell them I write a list for the Delaware County Daily Times, online their reaction that's cool.  Do you know Gil Spencer?

There is really two answers to that question but I suppose the truth is no...but
I did get to spend a few hours in a day with him, once and I have had brief interactions with him twice.

1. I was at the Media Courthouse, no, I was not one of his special interest cases or the innocent woman accused of doing something wrong.  Although just like every other female, I have never done a thing wrong in my life, in my eyes only. I was a face in the crowd and eventually labeled juror number 124.  They called our names sent us to the hall, lined us up against the wall and handed us lanyards to hang around our necks with our number in plain view. I was standing there, I am sure my palms were dripping wet with sweat because that is what happens to me when I get nervous and Juror number 125 says to me, "First time here?" There was a little perspiration dripping from my brow giving me away, a beet read face will do that too.

2. I suppose anyone else would have considered it a courthouse pickup line but me I was relieved to have a buddy for the day, a comrade in crime, so to speak, someone to pass the time with. No, I said, but I am not a fan of this whole process.

3. They hauled the whole lot of us into this big courtroom and told us they had some big cases this day and will need a lot of jurors and there was a possibility we could get sequester. I was so relieve because I knew, I'm out, they need me at work.  It wasn't till years later I discovered that wouldn't hold water, when I was laid off. My role wasn't as crucial as I thought.

4. Anyway back to Gil, I mean Juror 125, he was a loser too.  Neither one of us were picked for the first trial. The second call back was shortly to follow. It was many years ago now but I seem to remember the case was going to be a malpractice suit.  First the judge address the crowd.  They had brought in a smaller group of potential jurors but still a pretty big crowd, maybe 50 or so, 125 and myself were included.

5. Juror 125 and I were thrown together again.  I confessed to him that I really was reluctantly there.  I would never want it on my conscious to send an innocent man or woman to jail from a mistake or misjudgement on my part. What do you do for a living?, he asked.  I told him I was in IT support and he was not even moderately impressed. He said, they will never pick me.  I said, why not you look normal.  He said, the judges all know me they don't want me on their jury.  Now I am really nervous and think I'm sitting next to a convict.  I scarcely had the nerve to ask, so what do you do? I'm Gil Spenser and I am writer for the Daily Times.

6. Prior to this statement, I wanted him to be quiet.  He (125) was getting us the hairy eyeball from the guy who was in charge of keeping the jury to be selected, quiet.  We were not suppose to be talking and 125 just would not shut up.  He was full of questions but he knew just when and where to ask them. When hairy eyeball wasn't looking. I was getting caught answering his questions and hairy eyeball would throw a shhhhh into the air, at me mostly.

7. Gill Spencer?  I said, I read him.  He's like a rock star.  You look nothing like him, well the picture in the paper is way different.  He has dark hair, I said.  He replied, it's an old picture. Well you should update it I said, you look better now.  Instead of him taking it as an insult which it was not intended to be, I think he took it as a compliment.  Not long after that day in court, he changed his profile picture and I always wondered if it was from something I said.

8. In the judges speech, what I could hear of it, 125 was jabbering away next to me, the judge was trying to slim down the crowd.  He asked various questions on why maybe, you would not be an ideal juror for this particular case.  He seemed to indicate work related issues were not a factor and no one was above the law to serve their civic duty. He did continue with some contributing factors. Finally I saw my out, and the judge wanted to see all exempt, up at the sidebar. My knees were knocking when I went to give my confession. I had no prejudice but a family member of mine was the victim of a random act of violence and it had made me pretty mad.  Not because the kids that jumped my little brother were black and stole his bicycle and gave him a concussion but because I got the phone call from the police and I had to tell my father what had happened.  He was so upset, I thought he was going to have a heart attack and die.  Then, I would have been really mad.  I also had to admit that I had dated a cop, a response the judge only replied congratulations, go sit down. I was still eligible.

9. I really had Gil's attention now.  I was a person of interest.  He whispers, What did you do?  We had known each other about two hours now so I felt comfortable enough to tell him my life story.  Again, he looks at me unimpressed and said, that's nothing. Well it was to me but I have found in the big scheme of things, it really wasn't. Neither Gil nor I were picked for that jury either and then it was lunch break.  I had meant some ladies earlier in the big room and two of them had asked me to join them for lunch.  I invited Gil to come along but he declined.  I think he said I live right around the corner, I am going to go see my girlfriend at lunch. Maybe a bunch of yapping ladies didn't appeal to his appetite or being outnumbered intimidated him.  He made a good choice by the way, they just wanted to shop in the stores anyway. The Thai food was good though. After lunch we were never called back in to be interviewed, so my connection with Gil Spenser was over.  I may have glanced across the big room at him once or twice that day because he now held my curiosity but we never spoke again.

10. I think I may have name dropped Gil's name once or twice when I first applied for the blogging job.  Come to think of it maybe that is why Phil Heron didn't answer me for a while. Just kidding. The next time I saw Gil Spenser was in the room where they film "Live in the Newsroom".  Probably 8 years later or so, about two years ago. It is also the location of "the blogger meetings".  We had a pretty big crowd one day, and as typical, we went around the table stating our name and the blog we write.  Gil was in the room over in the corner typing away on the computer not paying attention to our group, I thought. When I said my name quietly, as I do, he looks up and pipes in, who writes the Top 10?  Naturally his gaze went to the most attractive and vocal woman sitting at the table.  That was not me, but I fessed up, shrugged and maybe I waved my hand a little and said meekly, me.  I read that, he said.  I don't know whether he still does or not and I really have no idea who my audience is but I was flattered as I am with who ever reads what I write daily. I find more and more every day it is a small world. It is not an easy job to put yourself out there to scrutiny every day.

So no, I do not know Gil Spencer but I do read his columns and I sometimes cringe at the things he says, but you gotta respect him for putting it out there. I am by no means an experienced seasoned writer for a newspaper but I have tipped my toe into the water far enough to know, like most other jobs it is a thankless position where you are free to give your opinion but you better have some tough skin because its different now.  You are not only judged on your opinion, very often your words are taken out of context and you better cross your "eyes" yes I spelled that incorrectly on purpose and dot your "tease" because there is some one out there just waiting to "comment" on your mistakes. Every one who lives in a glass house is anonymous. Sometimes it seems you are merely target practice. I met a woman once who said, ugh Gil Spencer, I hate him he's a sexist and a racist. From the very brief time I spent with him that day, I didn't get that at all.  He's chatty opinionated and very inquisitive but I think he's human and just doing his job. My favorite piece of writing of his, for me, was the one he wrote not too long ago about his father after he passed away.  It was sincere and heartfelt and proved that Gil Spencer is human.  Maybe he was just doing his job that day too but it was different because he was doing the job of following in the footsteps of someone it was obvious he respected.  I am a sucker for raw honesty. I like his guts and I hope whatever he is up to and wherever he is headed next even if it is just the kwikmart, I hope he remains bold, brash, brilliant and continues to find buddies along the way.

The verdict is in, I am glad I was called for jury duty that day. Who knew?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top 10 Family Friendly Things To Do including Easter Egg Hunts

Prom Dress Giveaway March 15th 6 -9pm at the First Baptist Church in Norristown and March 16th 1-4PM.  Any high school girl from any high school is welcome.  Donations of new or gently used dresses, jewelry, shoes or handbags will be Monday up until Friday between 8:30AM and 1:30PM.
Now through March 30 Open every day 9AM - 6PM In-Door Mini Golf "Fore the Plant" at Linvilla Orchards, Media, PA. Also, Linvilla Hayrides to Bunnyland March 16 and 17th and Saturday thru Saturday March 23 - 30 11 - 4 PM $8 and cakes and pies and Easter baskets, fruit baskets and flowers and Easter candy!! and fun.

St Patrick Day Tour, Toasts and Taste at Laurel Hill  Cemetery March 17th, 1 PM.  Advanced registration is requested.  General Admission $20 includes tour, food and beverages.

"Ballfield to Batttlefield and Back From FDR to JFK" presented by the Chichester Historical Society and the Chichester High School Rho Kappa students. Jim Vankoski  will share the DVD with portions narrated by former major league batting champ and Marcus Hook native, Mickey Vernon. Admission is FREE. Tuesday March 19 at the Chichester High School Auditorium. Contact: Cyndi Charney, c: 267-242-0232, e-mail: Tis the season.

Ride the Easter Bunny Express on the West Chester Railroard, March 23, 24 and March 30th.  It is a 90 minute ride with departures at 12 and 2PM.

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny March 23rd Center Court 10-11:30AM Granite Run Mall.

Great Media Easter Egg Hunt at Glen Providence Park scheduled for March 23rd at 11PM. Raindate March 24 at 1PM.

The Friends of Historic Eden Cemetery is hosting an Eggstravaganza, Saturday, March 23, 2013, 2 PM - 4 PM, Historic Eden Cemetery 1434 Springfield Road, Collingdale, PA 19023.
(rain date: Sunday, March 24, 2013) To register call 610 583 8737

 Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast with the Easter Bunny for Upland Borough Children. March 30th, Egg Hunt at Bristol Lord Field 6th and Main and the Breakfast will follow at MacQueen Hall. $5 for Adults Children (12 and Under) Free.

 The Easter Bunny Brunch is sold out but it looks like tickets are still available for the Easter Buffet March 30th 1 - 5PM and March 31st 10am - 5PM at Longwood Gardens. Reservations are required, order tickets online or call 610-388-1000 (additional fees apply for phone orders). You can also buy a general admission ticket and just hop around the gardens.

Please verify dates and times of all events at the links provided, in the event of a date or time change.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Top 10 Times are Changing

Did you change your clocks..spring ahead? We all lost an hour now. What are you going to do with less time?

Change your job or at the very least change unemployment status. Summer jobs, time to apply!

Change the batteries on your smoke detectors. More "good" information can be found at this website "Learn About Smoke Detectors" from U. S. Fire Administration.

Change your socks and underwear daily. It is a tad too early to change your wardrobe but you can prep and can change your sheets.

Change your oil but don't just dump it on the street.  There's rules about that.  Okay so I have never done this before in my life but has a great "How to" and recommendations of where to dispose of the used oil. I now feel capable of supervising the process.

Change your toothbrush

Change your password(s)

Change your opinion

Change your exercise routine.  It should involve a little more than the way you hold the remote.  Start by keeping it across the room so you have to get up to "change" the channel.

Change your approach, Change your "bad" habits, Change you attitude. These are all members of the change gang.

Change you seat at the table.

Not every one accepts change all that well, including myself at times but I am going to share one of my favorite sayings that used to hang on my wall at work, right next to the window.  It was one of the best views in town but of course that has changed.

If you change

the way you

look at


the things

you look at


Windows and doors do open and some close.

Best of luck to Gil Spencer on his new venture!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Top 10 Upcoming Events Starting Now

Now through April 15th Pathways of PA  is offering FREE tax preparation in Greater Philadelphia, Camden and Delaware County contact them for more information (services are available for individuals and families earning less than $51,000). Contact information.

Now thru Sunday March 10 The Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

March 1 -24 Moby Dick Rehearsed by Orson Wells performed at the Iron Age Theatre, Norristown, PA,  Friday and Saturday evenings at 8PM and Sunday Matinee 2PM.

March 8th The Irish Rovers at the Keswick Theater.

March 9th Arts4Smarts Fundraiser for Wallingford Swarthmore School District at Cloither Hall, Swarthmore College 7-10PM.

March 10th The Brewers Plate at the National Constitution Center, Arch Street in Philadelphia local restaurants and local breweries 5:30PM (VIP) 6PM (General Admission) - 9PM Ticket info and the delectable list of participants.

March 10th St. Patrick's Day Parade, Philadelphia 11AM-3PM.Ben Franklin Parkway.  St. James Alumni Blue and Gray Voices will sing at the St. Patrick's Cathedral (9:30 AM Parade Mass) and also be part of the parade.

March 10th "Historic Views" featuring Nether Providence and Rose Valley presented by local historian Keith Lockhart at the Helen Kate Furness Library, Wallingford, PA 2PM.

March 14 Dervish an Celtic folk band at Longwood Gardens 8PM at Exhibition Hall.

March 22 is the deadline for entries for Doodle 4 Google.  Unfortunately I am too old,  but I am a huge fan. Participants must be in grades K thru 12 for more it.  Doodle 4 Google and Google Luck!.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Top 10 Sleep Awareness Week

National Sleep Awareness Week March 3 - 10, 2013

1. How many hours of sleep do you really need?  According to the chart on the NIH website, here are the recommendations:

AgeRecommended Amount of Sleep
Newborns16–18 hours a day
Preschool-aged children11–12 hours a day
School-aged childrenAt least 10 hours a day
Teens9–10 hours a day
Adults (including the elderly)7–8 hours a day

2. We have all had those days when we wake up groggy and we know why.  I didn't sleep well last night.

3.  What are some of the things that can keep us from getting a good nights sleep? I would venture to say the number one answer would be, something is on your mind. Temperature, lumpy pillow and unfamiliar environment would probably factor in as well.  We all like to be comfortable when we sleep.

4.  It is a time to let your hair down, let your cares go drifting into space (isn't that a song?), check out and disappear for a while and it is all legal.

5.There are things that can disturb ones sleep.  Noise is a big one for me.  I am like the guard dog.  I hear something and my nose immediately perks up, followed by my eyes opening up.  This is when I most feel like I have robot tendencies.  My eyes begin to roll, my head can spin around and in the very next nano second I can remain perfectly still as I analyze exactly where that noise came from.  I am the girl that determined that the siding was flapping in that last wind storm and the same one that knows it has not been addressed yet but I have turned in the report and I am no longer going to lose any sleep over it.

6. Medical conditions that can interrupt a good nights sleep include medications, read the labels when you take them.  Maybe you should take them during your waking hours.  Talk with your doctor if it is an issue.

7. Sleep Apnea is another serious medical condition that should be addressed.  Unless you are sleeping with someone else and they notice the symptoms like snoring, trying to catch your breath, dry mouth, sore throat, I don't know how you can know you have a problem.  The Mayo Clinic has a whole list of symptoms and to be diagnosed properly you most likely will have to take a sleep test which could or should involve an overnight stay in a hospital sleep clinic.

8. Peculiar sleep issues can be walking in your sleep and talking in your sleep.  In my previous life I was know to be a sleep talker but similar to my waking hours nobody is listening so why bother with the pillow talk.  I still try it every once in a while though with a question like, did you hear that? The response is typically no, I was sleeping.  If I find it to be a particularly dire situation, I will get more physical and use an elbow. He couldn't possibly be sleeping now.

9. Sleeping in on the weekend and catching up doesn't really equal that lost sleeping time.  The only  way to get back in sync is to get back to a normal schedule of the required amount of sleep for your age bracket listed above.

10. Although I don't recommend it because it drives me crazy to walk into a room with a tv blarinng and someone snoozing on the sofa, you could try a little white noise but please use the sleep function on the television. That is what it is there for.

I was a little disturbed the other day, I heard an advertisement for a sleep aid for shift workers.  Personally my hat goes off to these people because I don't know how they do it. I did it for a while alternating from day shift to night shift and some days I didn't know if I was coming or going.  Anyway I heard this advertisement, its a new medication and they talked about getting your sleep rhythm corrected.  I know this is a struggle for a lot of people, so it sounded like a good deal and then they slam you with the adverse reactions can cause nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, psychotic thoughts, dizziness, gas, headache, stomach pains and insomnia.  Those thoughts alone are enough to keep me up at night.  Did you ever try warm milk or meditation? It works. Those problems that keep you tossing and turning will not be cured overnight but if you get the proper sleep you could wake up with a fresh idea in how to tackle it. For the more serious conditions see a doctor.

Further reading and sources:
Sleep Disorders U. S. National Library of Medicine
Sleep Disorders National Sleep Foundation
CDC Fact Sheets on Insufficient Sleep

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Top 10 Red Cross Month

 March is Red Cross Month

What does the American Red Cross Do?

1. Provide Disaster Relief and Preparedness

2. Supports American Military Families

3. Largest blood collection organization in the nation

4. Provides Safety and Life Saving Training    

What Can You Do?

5. Volunteer

6. Take a Class

7. Give Blood

8. Donate 

9. Red Cross Mobile Apps are Free Downloads
Currently there is a Tornado, Hurricane, Shelter Finder, First Aid, Earthquake, and Wildfire App.

10. The Red Ball will take place at the Please Touch Museum 
Saturday, March 9th 8PM - 12AM

The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton.

 Bonnie McElveen-Hunter is the Chairman of the Board of Governors

Gail J.McGovern is President and CEO of the American Red Cross. 

 The American Red Cross is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Link to the 2013 Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top 10 Getting to See the Pope. Almost

1. The first pope I can recall in my lifetime was Pope John XXIII.  I always thought that is why we HAD to learn Roman numerals to identify the age of the Pope.  I knew he was older; although I never saw him in person, we had a picture of him in every classroom in school. I knew what he looked like.  He was older than that, but of course, XXIII was a lot older in 1st grade and he was jolly looking like a grandfather type guy and I thought he resembled my grandmother a little. He seemed nice with his kind smile and everybody seemed to like him and we learned to sing and pray in Latin under his reign for a while. In egg shells was a favorite tune.

2. The next opportunity to actually see what a Pope looked like came more than a decade almost two later in Philadelphia in 1979.  My mother and I traveled into the city by train and left very early that morning to get a good spot to stand and see Pope John Paul II.  We waited for hours in a crowd amassed with eager to catch believers who wanted just a glimpse of the pontiff.  We were ushered into a side street off the boulevard and pretty far from the scheduled route of the pope's travels. We did witness a little flurry of excitement when it looked like the secret service rush into this building we happened to be standing in front of. I heard they were checking out the rooftop and then the guys in suits came out.  It was about 15 minutes later, just over this short ladies head and between about twenty thousand shoulders I saw him, well I saw his car go flashing by, but I was there and so was he. There are about a million witnesses. You saw me there right?

3. My parents were very active members at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Chester. They went to Rome when Blessed Katherine Drexel's canonization was performed by Pope John Paul II. My father made the Delaware County Daily Times article written that day by Joe Hart on October 2, 2000.  He had a  hypoglycemia attack, he did get to see the pope, but he missed half of the canonization, so did my mother and Father Peter who accompanied them to the medical tent. How many people get to visit the medical tent at a canonization and are blessed with a quick recovery? After that experience, my father was quoted as saying, he was glad to be there despite the mishap. "I was there for a purpose. It was something I was looking forward to", he said.  Here are two pictures of what they did get to see.

You can see the Pope on the screen just below the statue of St. Peter.

The Pope appears in the center of the picture in green vestments below the pictures of the Saints that are being canonized and under the canopy.

4. Fast forward ten years and I have arrived in Rome via a six hour bus ride from Venice.  There was not a lot of time to sight see upon our arrival but our tour director took us on a teaser trip along the Tiber River.  He was starting to explain old city and new city and the differences on either side of the river.  He also non-nonchalantly mentioned that he had it on good authority that the pope may be in town. At first I thought he was only joking with us.  Naturally the pope was in town, he lives here, but he was explaining that the pope takes a lot of trips and visits different people and places.  He is kind of a busy guy and the prior weekend was a big deal in town.  It was the beautification of the previous pope and banners were hanging everywhere.  You would have thought he was the current pope.  I was just starting to get an understanding of the Seven Hills in Rome when I looked up and I saw the chopper.  I was mesmerized.  Was that The POPE?  I totally missed the rest of the lesson on Hills and almost got whiplash twisting and turning and following what I was sure was the pope copter.  I still to this day think it was him above me. I couldn't tell who was driving or flying as the case may be.

5. That evening after dinner, what I called our pizza party night, we took a little side excursion. Simon our tour director did not want to promise anything and did not reveal where we were going till we got there.  When we arrived at our destination, Simon says, okay you have fifteen minutes. We aren't suppose to park here. Do you see the two windows lit up on the building on the right side?  That is the Apostolic Palace, the two lit window's are the pope's apartment.  He is in town tonight and it looks like he is awake and the other building, that is St. Peter's Basilica. You get to go inside that tomorrow.

6. It was an amazing sight from all angles with the time of evening, the lighting and the reflections made the atmosphere all the more magical, peaceful and serene. Fifteen minutes was almost torture but it was enough time to just marvel at the opportunity to actually be standing there and the Pope..... he was right up there.  Amazing Grace!

7. This is what the building looked like in the day light. On Sundays at noon, the pope usually (if he is in town)  appears in his window to pray the Angelus and bless the crowd in the Square. We had tickets to tour the cathedral at 9AM and the Sistine Chapel at 10AM and it was a Sunday. Hoo Rah!


8. There were still remnants in St. Peter's Square from the beautification of Pope John Paul II the previous weekend and this is one of the giant banners that was still on display. He was the 2nd longest reigning pope (1978–2005): 26 years, 5 months and 18 days (9,665 days).

9.  This photograph gives you an idea of the facade of the St. Peter's Basilica with the Sistine Chapel in the background. This is probably one of the camera angles that will be used when the smoke signal comes from the Sistine Chapel that a new pope has been selected.  I could make the trip if anyone would like to sponsor me and a guest of course. I would need a translator my Italian is limited to a shrug and forget about it.  I think the new pope appears in the center balcony (loggia) and greets the crowd. Don't quote me though it wasn't part of the tour.  


The Senior Cardinal Deacon will announce from a balcony over St. Peter's Square the following proclamation: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum! Habemus Papam! ("I announce to you a great joy! We have a pope!"). He then announces the new pope's Christian name along with his newly chosen regnal name.

  Inside the church, beneath the Presentation of Mary Altar lies the body of Pope Pius X (1904 - 1914) the last Pope to date to be canonized.

He is dressed in a papal robe and his face and hands are covered in silver. Many of the more recent popes are interred at St. Peter's Basilica. How many popes are saints you ask?  I found a link to a list.

10. The Swiss Guards are the body guards to the pope and I am sure you have read articles about them lately.  They are not required to guard the pope now that he is a pilgrim. This is a picture of the "Bronze Door" that leads to the area where you get to have a private audience with the pope. Kings, Queens, Presidents and other dignitaries have entered through these doors. After going through security, we were allowed to pass them but entered the other Vatican buildings from the public entrance. I never did get the opportunity to see the pope.  We had tickets for the Coliseum at noon but there was enough time to go and purchase a blessing at the gift shop. It arrived about a month later with some pretty fancy stamps on it. Note that Mother Teresa's stamp was among them.

The blessing hangs on the wall in my living room.  I would take it out of the frame to remove the light glare but I never like to mess with things once I have been blessed.

So many times. I have been close but I have never actually seen the pope but I do feel blessed for the opportunities that I have had.