Wednesday, July 26, 2006



A quick update on the garden, ignoring the weeds which will have to just stay there until the weather cools.
The brick garden No, All the Bricks Are NOT in MY Head! from June 8th has disappeared under the squash plants. The leaves are huge and the blossoms are plentiful. So far I have picked 2 squash, one a regular yellow squash, one a Delicata. The seeds came from a Delicata. If it were not for the stakes I would not be able to find the tomato plant or my expensive red raspberry plant. I wonder if I will ever get any raspberries from it. This picture was taken over a week ago. Anyway, the bricks have disappeared. A few zinnias have survived the upheaval and are blooming. They will be nice in September. I am amazed they managed to get enough sunlight to grow considering the size of the leaves on the squash. Next year I will spread the squash plants out or just pull some of them out of the ground.

The hydrangea has been especially pretty this year. I love these colors. The lilies are growing and multiplying. I like some of them, others not as much, but they are a bit of color. The orange ones Elizabeth pulled up years ago and gave to me to throw away now take up as much as 3 dining room tables. Originally I threw them into the jungle at the edge of the woods. Now they are out on the bank and look like part of somebody’s garden!
The phlox has survived. I don’t know why I love phlox so much, but I do. They are bright patches of color around the yard. Last year the phlox out front lasted even after the first frost. With the temperatures pushing 90 everyday, that seems so far away.
The honeysuckle continues to bloom here and there. It makes the butterflies happy. That makes me happy. Spook chases them but hasn’t caught one yet.

The bean plants are up to 3 feet tall. The seeds were planted 3 weeks ago. I bought them up in Pennsylvania. Yellow wax beans are real hard to find around here.

The tomato plants are think and heavy laden. Only a few of the bigger tomatoes have turned red but I pick dozens of the cherry tomatoes each day. How different they taste from the cardboard ones that cost a fortune in the store! So sweet!

I am hoping I made the right choices when I bought the blueberry bushes. I have one early bush and one late one and one in-between. The late one still has a few greenish berries while the other ones are bare now. They are still tiny, under a foot tall, but it has been fun picking a few berries every other day or so. During the cooler hours of the day, Spook can be seen standing (?) guard over the blueberry patch.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

the American University in Beirut

This morning I found a couple pictures of the American University that I wanted to include yesterday. I would still love to go there. How my heart aches for the people in the Middle East and for those here who have loved ones there.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


I know it is stupid to say that I mourn for a city, but I do. It is not that I dismiss the lives shattered and destroyed, not at all. Indeed, I grieve for each and every one of them, to hell with their particular religion, I grieve for them as fellow human beings caught in the passion of their lives and beliefs or in the path of those who do not value life as much as I do. But I do not know them except as faces on the TV or in the paper or magazines. Nor can I truly comprehend their losses. I do not dismiss them or the lives they have lived as I write this piece. Turn on the TV and see their battered and worn faces. Can you do it and feel nothing?
I knew the city, the architecture, the feeling that a people give to a city, if only for a very brief period of time in the early 1960’s. I had wanted, almost desperately, to go to the University in Beirut to study archeology. Many of my classmates went there. Remember I graduated from high school in Ankara, Turkey. However, my stepmother was the one who made all the decisions and controlled the check book so I came back to the states and studied art. Oh well, it kept me employed and paid the bills, if barely, for many years. But I digress again…
Beirut was a beautiful place. It was called the Paris of the Middle East. I feel that name did nothing for Beirut. I hated Paris. Beirut was NOTHING like Paris. Beirut was much cleaner, much more interesting, and the people were much friendlier. You knew in Paris you were simply a form of cash on 2 legs. Well, you probably were in Beirut, too, but the people at least made you feel welcome and they seemed grateful for what you spent there. Paris always felt like “Give me your money and get out of my face.” Of course, there was a reason we were treated so badly in some countries. Did you see the young American University woman being evacuated from Beirut telling the camera, "Thank God! I was so bored!" - while people were dying... while bombs exploded a mile away! I was shamed by her remarks. Many of us go wherever we go with arrogance and an attitude of superiority expecting the world to bow down to us because we are Americans as many places did after WWII. But WWII was more than a lifetime ago. It was before my lifetime, and look at how old I am! I am on Social Security, for god’s sake! I did it again, didn’t I? Digress, that is.
Anyway, maybe that is what I loved about Beirut, the people treated me like I was someone worthy of respect. And maybe that is why I thought the city was so beautiful. What they might have said or did behind my back makes no difference. Maybe it was because I was still so young and so amazed to be “there” – wherever “there” was at the moment. Unlike my brother who was born in Turkey, had his diapers changed in a gondola in Venice, etc, I was a small town girl from the states who never dreamed I would really be anyplace anywhere more than a few hundred miles from home. I was in awe of the rest of the world and of the people I found there. I was humbled to be able to share their lives if only for the moment, grateful to see them and be a part of their world.
Sadly I don’t remember as many specifics as I wish I did about Beirut, just the general feel of the place. My visit was eclipsed by “running into” Katharine Hepburn. Being a teenager, that blew my mind even further than being in Beirut. (Forgive me, Beirut) That she even spoke to me finished me off. You have got to understand I am not a “movie” person. I might go to a theatre once a year if someone drags me. Nor do I rent them or watch movies on TV. Shoot, I barely watch TV at all. It is generally unplugged after the 7 PM weather report. If Hollywood had to depend on me for their income, they would all have to go out and find “real” jobs in the “real” world. But I digress, again. I knew who Katharine Hepburn was and respected her. I do own a copy of African Queen.
Beirut has a history that goes back at least 5,000 years. It was a city of renown long before the first century B.C., when it became a Roman Colony and under Roman rule was the seat of a famous Law school which continued into the Byzantine era. It was called Berytus then. But the power and the glory of Berytus were destroyed by a triple catastrophe of earthquake, tidal wave and fire in 551 A.D. In the following century Arab Muslim forces took the city and in 1110 it fell to the Crusaders. (God help them!) Beirut remained in Crusader hands until 1291 when it was conquered by the Mamlukes. Ottoman rule began in 1516, continuing for 400 years until the defeat of the Turks in World War I. The French Mandate Period followed and in 1943 Lebanon gained its independence.

What I really wanted to do here was show what Beirut was like for you to compare to what you see on TV today. But I realize that is an impossible task. There is no way I can give you the vision from my young innocent eyes that I had 40 years ago of a city beautiful and wondrous. Remember, I had been to Paris, Rome, London, Cairo, best of all Istanbul, and lived in Ankara. I was no stranger to cities by this time, not even to exotic cities. Beirut was special. It brought tears to my eyes as I went thru old postcards and photos today to put this piece together. Such a loss. Such a loss.
I found a couple of sites with some good pictures, give them a click. You can see the bad pictures every night on TV.
And pray for peace and sanity. This world sure needs it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Pony Tale

A pony tale.

A gazillion years ago, back when I was in 5th grade in snow covered North Tonawanda, NY, my teacher, Mrs. Clark, read a book to us each day after lunch. It gave the slow pokes a chance to get back from lunch (we went home back then) and unwind from the running and craziness of the lunch break. One day she started the book, Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry. My imagination took flight. I promised myself that one day I would go to school on that island where kids actually rode their ponies to school. From snowy NY to Chincoteague would take a miracle! The really weird thing is, it actually happened – but not quite as I envisioned it. Chincoteague was one of the schools I was assigned to in my first year of teaching in Virginia. I was itinerant, so I taught on the mainland in the morning and at Chincoteague High School in the afternoon. I was real disappointed to find out that the kids didn’t actually ride their ponies to school.
After a year or two, I taught some of the Beebe kids, from the family mentioned in the book. Misty was still alive though elderly. The Beebe kids made sure I got to go to their home to meet Misty on more than one occasion. I have pictures buried in a box somewhere… By the time all was said and done, I had taught 3 generations of Beebe kids. But there was only one Misty. I count Misty on my list of famous people I have met. Don’t tell Katherine Hepburn, OK?

Next week will be the annual Pony Swim and Pony Penning. Though I have lived here on the shore 40+ years, I had never been to the Pony Penning until a few years ago. Well, I hate crowds for one thing, heat for another, and then there’s the thing about feeding the mosquitoes, the alternate state bird here. (And you thought it was the Cardinal! HA!) I am not here to say I approve or disapprove of the way things are done… I know the vets swear to me the ponies are not hurt in this process, but doesn’t trauma count for anything? Citing worse examples (hunting mustangs out West with helicopters for example) doesn’t make it any better, and let’s face it, any animal that is sold or taken away from its mother is traumatized. You got a pet? Is it still with its mother? For that matter, are you still with yours? Well, you know what I mean.
Anyway, the herd needs to be thinned periodically as the island is only so big and will sustain only so many horses. The herd somehow or another belongs to the Chincoteague Fire Department… I still wonder about that deal… but they do look after the animals, make sure they get their shots and regular physical exams, etc. So the last week in July, they round up a bunch of them, swim them across the channel and drive them into town to the carnival grounds where the young ones are auctioned off on Thursday. All the proceeds go to the Fire department.
I have been fortunate to watch the swim from a boat, not up on the shore in the crowd of several thousand. It is quite an experience. If there is a real tiny new born, they take it aboard a barge so it doesn’t have to swim. Gee, how nice. I guess they see the ponies as ponie$ and that’s it. The ponies swim across at slack tide. That is the point between high and low tide when the tide is not pulling particularly either way. They claim high tide is easier on the ponies than low tide as they do not hit and scrape their legs on the bottom as easily. Now the truth is, the ponies DO swim the channels themselves when they want to. On some parts of Assateague they do it frequently. They even go out in the ocean and stand in the surf on very hot days or on days when the mosquitoes are real bad. So it is not something they have never experienced – except for the babies. And the firemen are on horseback swimming right along with the herd. They call them Saltwater Cowboys.
The national park service tries to protect the herds from the public rather than the other way around, as the ponies suffer more at the hands of the public than the people who occasionally get bitten or kicked. I am sure those folks would not agree with me, but if they had kept their distance, they would not get hurt. However, the people who ignore the signs telling them PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE PONIES are the real culprits. They teach the ponies to be moochers and that people mean food even if it is in the form of potato chips or nachos. So then when the next poor fool comes along and decides to pet the nice pony (they are wild animals, dolt!) and the pony bites because his space is invaded or there is no food in the hand that wants to touch… well, who’s fault is that exactly? Not the pony’s fault!
I have seen people try to put their kid on the pony’s back, pose for the camera, etc and then wonder why the pony gets nasty. Hey! The last people had apples and candy, where’s yours? So now the ponies are behind fences for the most part and kept almost out of sight. If you are one of the lucky ones, you might get to see who put that pile of pony poop in the middle of the road, but most of the wanderers are chased back behind that fence. And it is a shame, too. It used to be fun to see them amble along the road or run in the surf on a hot summer day. They still have that opportunity if they can figure how to get around the fences that are there to keep them safe – or if you go up (or down) the beach far enough and away from the public beach section.
Should you decide to come to the pony penning, book your room about a year in advance as the shore is over loaded during Pony Penning week.
If you have a chance, read Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague. Misty was a real pony… I remember the day Misty died and the Beebe boy (who was in my class at that moment) was called to come home. It was a serious and solemn occasion like a famous local hero had died. Well, indeed she did. Misty put Chincoteague on the map. I remember a new teacher from away asking where the Beebe boy was, she had seen him in my class but he hadn’t shown up for her’s. I said, “Misty died.” Stupid me, I thought the whole world knew who Misty was.
“Who’s that? His mother?” she asked. I gave her one of those incredulous looks, blinked a few times and said, “No, Misty, the pony.” Like what planet did you drop in from?
“He went home because a pony died?” she asked and you could see she was getting ticked. “Well he will just get a zero for today!” Not that he would have cared, but I suggested she not do that. Even if Misty had been “just any old pony” it would have been a good enough reason for me.
“But don’t you realize Misty IS Chincoteague! Do you mean to tell me you never heard of Chincoteague ponies? You never read Misty of Chincoteague? You really don’t know who Misty is?”
Maybe I will get back to Chincoteague and the pony penning one day – if Boy Bobby ever comes home to live again. But, maybe I will have to be content to just see something running thru the marsh a half a mile away on my next trip up there. And I will remember Misty and that miracles do happen, just not the way we plan them.

note: most photos are borrowed. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


The Tree House

Do the words Tree House conjure up some image from your childhood, a place where you could go and hide out, hang out, do pretty much what you wanted with no thoughts about the rest of the world? Most people associate tree houses with carefree little boys, messy places, usually, I mean, who “cleans” up a tree house? Most tree houses are in trees but I remember a friend who built one high on the rocks back behind his “real” house in the mountains overlooking the trees below, accessible by a torturous little path up the cliff face. It looked out into and over the tree tops.
Well, some years ago, Anna named the apartment we have in White Haven the Tree House, partially because it is on tree level in the front but mostly because when we went up there, we would have to spend several days cleaning up after my father and brother who had spent time up there the previous fall. Well, my brother used to come up more often when his aunt lived next door. With the aunt gone, he no longer seems to have any interest in going there. And, my father just turned 89 in May, so his visits are fewer and fewer. Pennsylvania is a long way from Florida, especially when you are 89 years old and driving all alone. I live 300 miles away and dread the drive up!
Four generations of our family have lived in this house and my great-grandparents were not the first owners of the house. I remember coming here to visit my father’s parents as a very little child. My grandfather and I used to sit in a big old swing on the front porch during thunderstorms. It was on this porch that he taught me how to tell how far away the lightning was by counting the seconds from the light to the thunder. He taught me distances and directions this way, also. “Now that one hit over near Freeland. That is 8 miles away,” he’d say. And he’d point and tell me the compass directions for Freeland.
The house is divided in to the Big House and a small 2 room apartment. Well, it isn’t all that small, really, but it is 2 rooms and a bath, an entry way and the “cave,” a small storage room in the hillside where we keep the garden tools, snow shovels, coolers, camping equipment, etc. The temperature in the cave stays in the 50-60ยบ range year round. The living room doubles as a bedroom. The kitchen has a modern electric stove and an old wood or coal cooking stove that used to bake the best cookies! Years ago, Gram used to rent out the little apartment, then she moved into it in her old age when my step mother and brother were evacuated from Vietnam and they lived in the big house. That side has a lot of rooms. When my dad was young, it had 6 bedrooms. Now most of the bedrooms are storage rooms or empty. Dad took two of the rooms and made them into one very large master bedroom. We rent out the big side of the house – well, sorta. E is a tenant but also the caretaker. She keeps the grass cut in the summer and the snow shoveled or plowed in the winter and lets my brother know when something isn’t working right.
You can enter the house from different levels as it is built into the mountainside. From the road, there are 6 steps up to the front yard where there is a porch with a door leading into the cellar. Personally, I would love to turn that into a little apartment – stone walls, etc. The cellar is divided into four rooms, one completely underground, one partly in the side of the hill. There is a set of steps up the side to the first floor level, the front porch, a flower garden, the patio, a sun porch and around back to the entrance to the apartment.
We have a driveway at what amounts to a block away (as measured by the block across the street, but we don’t have any streets crossing on our side) and it goes up to a parking area level with the second floor. Therefore one has to go up or down a flight of steps to get in or out of the house no matter where you park. In my old age, this sucks! The old stone steps are narrow and steep. The property then continues on up the mountain where Bill cuts little paths up to the old stone walls and some great old boulders where I used to climb up and have my morning coffee and watch the sun come up over the mountain and the morning fog burn off the river which is probably about 500 feet away if measured in a straight line. However, in the mountains, there is no such thing as a straight line. There is a very steep bank leading down to the river owned by the state now and is part of the Lehigh Gorge State Park. I used to climb up and down that bank like a little mountain goat when I was a kid. It has its own tiny waterfalls, two of them, actually, from the creek that runs thru my lot across the street. The Lehigh River, even on the hottest day of the year is cold. Seriously cold. But, we used to swim in it as kids.
There used to be a house down there, a great little place, and the people had kids my age and they used to let us run all over their place. Their yard was our “beach!” Then the state wanted it for their Park. The people would not sell. This went on for a couple of years. The state tried to take the place by condemning it. The owners fought back. Then one night, it mysteriously burned to the ground. The fire Marshall could not determine the cause of the fire. Right. But I digress, again. So, of course, the people sold it – the land, that is, since the house was gone – even the garage somehow burned down, too. Amazing, huh? And now it is all weeds and rock as part of the naturalized park.
Anyway, here are some pictures of the house, the mountain side (if you live in the Rockies, please don’t laugh at my use of the word mountain here – that is what it is called) the steps, the view from up back. The plants that line the road for a few hundred feet are peonies my grandfather planted eons ago. Grandpop dies in 1954. The trees around the house make it impossible to get a picture of the house in a way to show its size, etc. I will do my best to put the pictures on so you can tell what is what, but I haven’t figured out quite how to arrange things so I can put captions with them. This blog is pretty used friendly, but I am still learning.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006



Actually, I have lots of reasons for going to the Poconos, my Aunt Kathryn being the first and greatest reason. I would walk the 300+ miles to see Aunt Kathryn. Of course, it would probably take me a year to walk that far, but I would give it my best shot if there were no other way to get there. On my list of top 10 women in my life, Aunt Kathryn would be 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. Grandma has to be first, of course. But, this is not going to be about Aunt Kathryn, as much fun as that would be – she’d shoot me or go out shopping for a new ping pong paddle to greet me with the next time I get up there. If you are family, you KNOW what that ping pong paddle means (the clue is in its name and it has nothing to do with ping pong) but if you are an “outsider,” well, I am sure you can guess. (Though I have never felt its actual presence on my behind, the LOOK was always enough for me, my cousins can attest to its power – or the threat of its power. I learned that LOOK and used it well in my classroom for 38 years. But, as usual, I digress. I probably do that better than anything else in my old age.)
Anyway, the Poconos… My paternal grandparents (and theirs) came from the Poconos, maybe back as many generations as you can count – or so I have been told. When I was young and of dating age, every guy that asked me out Dad said was a cousin. 4th or 5th is still a cousin as far as I am concerned and I have never figured out that twice removed stuff. Now that I live in the South… but I digress again. (Do you think that’s why I married a man from Michigan?)
“Will she ever get to the point?” you say? Well, maybe if you wait long enough. But dating does have something to do with it – back in my youth, one went parking after a movie, dinner, BBQ or whatever, though parking didn’t mean quite the same thing as it does today. Often we would just go for a drive, and the Poconos is the place to be if you want to go for a drive. It seems that no matter what road I was on, sooner or later we would get to a waterfall. Or many waterfalls. Hickory Run was often the destination of choice, or down along the old Pennsylvania Railroad bed that ran along the Lehigh River and is now the Lehigh Gorge State Park. See for more info, maps and pics! Or, try for info about Hickory Run. Another site tells a bit about the area and is a drive we often follow today. Years ago we used to drive the Honey Hole Road, not just because we loved its name, but because it was a beautiful ride. They are in the process of turning it into a State Park, also. Catch a glimpse at - I practically grew up in these parks and in which is near Trucksville where I lived with my maternal grandparents until I was 9. We drive thru a part of most summers. We also drive thru Tobyhanna each year, and are just a stone’s throw from bunches of other parks.
As a little kid, I used to go to Ricket’s Glen a lot. It is on my list of places I want to go back to again while I still can walk a little bit. Maybe next year?????
My brother keeps talking about selling the Tree House (our house in White Haven) and I am kind of OK with that… well it has been in the family for 4 generations… but those stone steps just about do me in… but I kind of panic when I think I might not be able to see my favorite waterfalls again. Then I found out there are cabins available in some of the Pennsylvania parks. I just discovered that when looking at Now I am kind of excited! But the waiting list is probably years long, like when we went to St John’s in the Caribbean, I think we had to wait 2 years to get the accommodations we wanted. Anyway, it may be an option, after all, since we pack up and take all the same stuff when we go to the tree house. That part would not be much different – it’s just that there would be NO STEPS to take to get in or out of the house. I vote for that!
So here are a few pictures all within 10 miles of the Tree House, most from Hickory Run or the Lehigh Gorge. We live 7 miles from Hickory Run and 400 feet from Lehigh Gorge. These shots, however, are closer to Rockport than White Haven. I just remembered, I promised pictures of the Tree House, too – so maybe I will do that tomorrow.

I borrowed the shot of the road where you actually drive thru the creek. The water was low this year when we were up, and my old legs just did not want to climb down the bank to get a picture. I have some from previous years - I just haven't dug them out yet.
And last but not least, did I mention why we go when we do? I will add just one or 2 shots of the Mountain Laurel that is usually in full bloom when we are up there. As you can see, it goes as far as the eye can see. As the laurel fades, the Rhododendron starts to bloom. I will do more on the flora and fauna in another post. Blooms and BEARS!
Unfortunately the shots of the falls don't include all the beauty in bloom around them and to expand the view to include everything would make the images too small to be effective.
Anyway, for what its worth, here are a few reasons why I love to go to the Poconos!

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I have no idea how this picture ended up in a whole separate section in my documents instead of in my pictures with everybody else. Well, I guess I was getting tired at the time I found this pic. I only work on this blog during my "rest" times, but the pictures have to go on all at once and there were a lot of pictures to sort thru - all on old floppy disks. I had them install a floppy A drive in this computer just for moments like this... Anyway, it is one of my favorite PITA pictures... early one Christmas morning.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


An Awesome Possum viewing her pictures on the internet and taking time to smell the posies.

I hadn’t planned on doing a “possum” thing just yet… but I have had 3 emails re possums since we got back from Pennsylvania, so I guess the time is right.
First a bit of my personal possum history - I volunteered for a few years at a wildlife rehab center an hour’s drive from my home. Can you imagine anyone nuts enough to drive a 2 hour round trip and give up one day of their week-end to go clean cages, feed babies, wash floors, etc FOR NO PAY? All I can say in my defense is ga$ was a lot cheaper then… Anyway, this is what I did for a while and took classes in animal care getting an associates degree in something or another like that… But the point is, I hope I did some good and I know I learned a lot. Mostly what I learned, however, is that I know just about nothing about anything. But, I have learned how to find out things and to find help when I need it.
My first love was squirrels. Bunnies were the cutest, but awfully hard to care for and had a high mortality rate compared to the other critters. And jumpy little critters! I remember avoiding the baby possums as much as I could. I carried baby squirrels around in my shirt pocket all day, talking to them about everything, petting them whenever they stirred. Baby rabbits would have jumped out of my pocket in a heartbeat, but the squirrels curled up and slept, content to be with “mommy” until they needed to eat. But, more about squirrels in another post. I vaguely remember feeding the baby possums. Mostly I remember they slept in a big sock. I thought that was cute. Since they slept all day, they made little demand for my time. So what did I know about possums? Was I prepared for the box Anna brought home one afternoon? HA!
I think it was April, more or less. I had just buried one of my dearest friends, my former guardian, and was struggling to learn how to use this confounded piece of equipment sitting here on this desk. Yeah, it was a while ago. Anyway, Anna came home from work one day carrying a big box – really big compared to the tiny creature in it. Inside was a totally terrified, truly tiny possum. She weighed less than 150 grams. I do remember my exact words as I lifted the little creature out of the box and cuddled it to my chest. “Do you have any idea how you have just changed my life?” Yep, that is what I said. Did I know how right those words were? I wrapped the little thing up in a towel and headed for the telephone. I called my dear friend “B,” the owner of the wildlife center. “B” talked me thru the first 24 hours, told me what to look for on the computer, I called a local vet to get some baby formula, got a cage out of the barn, and thus began one of the most fascinating experiences of my life.
I am sure I did a million things wrong… so much of life is trial and error. I only hope, if there is a heaven, we get points for good intentions. Lord knows, I had plenty of those. If love counts for anything, that little possum was dearly loved, easily as much as her house mates, the cats. Maybe more.
We named her PITA. Not Pita, PITA as an acronym for Pain In The…, well, you get the idea. And she was for about a month. Well, maybe not that long, but it was because I knew nothing about how to care for her. It seemed I was taking Possums 101, 204, 336 and probably some graduate level stuff all at the same time! I was also learning how to do some serious research on the web and learning more about possums than I thought I’d ever care to know. And I was still teaching full time. Anyway, the name stuck even if the feelings changed.
One day, maybe after having her nearly a month, I tucked her in my bra while cleaning her cage. I did not have on a shirt with a pocket. After the cage was clean, the phone rang, I took care of that and basically forgot PITA was in my “pouch.” I went on to do the “housey” things, dishes, bed, laundry. PITA was curled up and sound asleep. I am sure it felt like she had found her mommy. The pouch was warm, there was a heartbeat to sleep next to – all the comforts of home. I remember the look of surprise on a friend’s face when she came in my back door which is designed to slam and this little face with bright black shoe button eyes popped out of my shirt and stared at her. Later that day when I took her out of her pouch, fed her and put her back in her cage for the night, she started to “sneeze.” “Tschew,” she said repeatedly. I was sure she had pneumonia. I was terrified. Remember, I really knew nothing about possums. I later learned this is how they cry or call to their mommies. PITA hadn’t caught a cold, no, no, she didn’t want to go into her lonely old cage, she wanted her new “mommy!”
In spite of my bumbling efforts, she outgrew her little cage and moved into a much larger one, about 16 cubic feet. She ran around in the house (with the cats locked up in a bathroom) and played in a small space out in the yard. Possums are supposed to be nocturnal, but bless her heart, we kept her on our schedule. I guess it was like working the night shift for her! I got mail from B telling me what I should do, mail from Dr Henness (yes, the famous Dr Henness) even several phone calls from Dr Henness which I valued more than a presidential handshake (I had one of those once, lets see, what was his name?)
By the end of June, school was over and it was time for our annual trek to the Poconos. PITA had just about outgrown her new cage, the largest I had here. “B” agreed to take her while we were gone, and probably until she was released, as I just did not have a full sized cage here. When I say full sized, I mean room size, walk in, outdoors, but with a roof over it.
So we moved our little girl up to the wildlife center. A week or so later, we began to train her for her eventual release. We opted for a soft release – literally an open door kind of thing. She would be free to wander in and out of her cage, but first we had to teach her to use a different entrance than the door. She wanted to use the door like everyone else. We needed an entrance big enough for her but too small for raccoons to get thru and get into her cage. Training took lots of time and lots of raspberry yogurt. See the picture where we are coaxing her thru the pipe?
At first we kept her cage as natural as possible with branches, leaves, the sort of things she would nest in and live with in the real possum world.
The heroine in all this was “B” who had to work not only with this little possum but also with a human who was basically clueless. Willing, but clueless. The long and short of it is, PITA was released, but came home badly injured and Dr Henness said she was not releasable. B was willing to keep a roof over her head, as it were, and Anna and I drove up to visit and bring crickets, flounder, bananas, a new bed, a better ramp for her to climb as she got feeble, kitty litter (yes, she was litter trained as a toddler) and whatever else she needed, every week-end. She slept in my old night shirt most of the time, had her own special dishes with “Her Royal Highness” on them. If all the children in the world could be loved half as much, what a wonderful world this could be. We celebrated birthdays and Christmas in her cage. As long as she had a belly full of crickets or fresh (never frozen, please) flounder and a spoonful of raspberry yogurt (all natural, none of that NutraSweet stuff) she was happy. Even full grown, she still nestled inside my jacket when the weather was cold.
I will end my story here as all good things must come to an end… but I will ask you to read more about these much maligned and misunderstood little critters. And if you see one toddling along some dark night, say “Hi,” for me, will ya? Don’t chase them, don’t hurt them, it might be somebody’s precious little one.

Here are some links you might want to check out -
Links: - the BEST site for any possum info you might ever need, includes excellent on and off site links to your possum questions or needs.
Another good site is It has many links but not as much in depth info as the site above. (Just my opinion, folks)
Nice info but nothing to help with injured or orphaned possums -
This 3rd link did include the following:
The opossum is omnivorous, feeding upon almost anything that it can find or catch: rats, mice, moles, slugs, snails, shrews, worms, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, crickets, frogs, garbage, fruit (especially persimmons), corns, berries, and even road kill. That habit gets about 8.3 million opossums killed a year. An opossum seeing an object on a road during the night may believe it to be road kill, and may either freeze in the headlight of a car, or try to run away. As opossums run very slowly, they often get killed. Opossums also enjoy eating snakes, and will kill and eat all snakes including poisonous ones. They are immune to the snake venom, and relish copperhead, water moccasins, rattlesnakes, and others.
Again, my opinion, the headlights probably blind the poor creature, so he/she just stands there and… well, around here, half the drivers I know will steer right for the poor thing.

Enjoy the pictures. Most are of PITA, some are borrowed. I spent several hours looking for and downloading (or is it uploading?) PITA pictures off old Kodak floppy-A disks. It has been quite a trip, lots of memories. As we pass thru life, we are given many gifts. Some of them we don’t even recognize or just take for granted. Some are so unusual we just can’t ignore them. PITA was such a gift.
We celebrated Christmas and birthdays, any excuse to break out the raspberry yogurt!