Sunday, November 15, 2020

271 A gift with a story


A Gift with a Story

An acquaintance heard me discussing efforts to establish a Civil War library for the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

"My husband has some Civil War books that no one in the family wants. He may be interested in donating. Do you think you want them?"

Although wondering if the books were the same titles that had been donated to us many times over, I told her to have her husband Phil email me and we could discuss. It turned out he had a great set of Civil War books--with an even better story! 

He had the 1911first edition of A Photographic History Of The Civil War edited by Francis T. Miller. The set is recognized as the best early collection of Civil War photographs and can fetch a good price on the used book market.

What intrigued me, however, was the letter pasted inside volume one.

Here is the text in case it is too small to read:

W. Steele Bryan M.D.
Ramey, Penna.
September 8, 1913.

Dear Pa:
Enclosed you will find a complete set of “The Photographic History of the Civil War.”

As you go through these books, I wish that you would mark with pencil in the margins all the engagements pictured in which you took part, the places visited and give dates when possible.

These books are to be yours as long as you live.
I hope that you will find much enjoyment in them.

W. Steele Bryan gave this set to his father, John R. Bryan, who lived from 1838 to 1920. John Bryan served in the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry, also known as the Fire Zouave Regiment. 

They were called the Fire Zouaves because the initial recruits were Philadelphia firefighters. Many Civil War units modeled themselves after the French Zouave fighters of North Africa and wore some variation of the Zouave uniform that could include sashes, baggy pantaloons, tasseled fezzes, and turbans. The uniform pictured below looks more practical and may reflect a later, more functional uniform style that was worn later in the war.
Image from the 72nd PA Infantry reenactors page.
Bryan rose to the rank of corporal in Company B. The Regiment served in many battles including Yorktown, Seven Pines, Malvern Hill, Antietam, 1st Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Petersburg.

He was also in the Valley with his unit at Harpers Ferry both in 1862 and 1863. His unit was in pursuit of Lee after Gettysburg from July 5 to 24 and probably followed him south to the Valley or to Loudoun County.

Bryan is buried in Oakland Cemetery and Mausoleum in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. His set of books passed down through the family to Phil Smith, who gave them to the SVBF Library. Now the books are in Virginia where Corporal Bryan fought so many battles.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

271 It Does No Good to Worry

It Does No Good to Worry

Well, dear readers, I am often told that it does no good to worry. I do worry, however. This week I am worried still about the pandemic and climate change 
and the painting in our house that needs to 
be done. I worry about the homeless, the west coast, Louisiana, and small businesses. I worry that New York City will never be the same! I worry about the four-year-old granddaughter whom we have not seen since February. 

Particularly, with the election Tuesday, I am worried about the Electoral College and how the election will play out. Do we still need the Electoral College? I have been wondering about this since I was a junior in high school! 

I decided, however, that worry was making my stomach hurt. The dogs are out in the sunshine, according to dear husband, trying to play grab the bags in the trash. I played around on Google to see what was trending. Does Trump have a Chinese bank account? Take away statements from the last “debate.” Mail-in ballots. Covid-19 vaccines. BUT I also found a biography of Laura Glück, the American poet who won the Nobel prize for literature this year. 

All of us have a few lines of favorite poetry from over the years. Maybe those lines we had to memorize in school or one that touched us in some way. I have always liked Emily Dickinson and Dorothy Parker with a touch of Poe and a line or two John Dunne. In college I found “Howl,” the Ginsberg poem that is the symbol of the turbulence of the late 1960s and 70s. 

Be that as it may for background, today I am adding Laura Glűck (rhymes with “click”) to the list. I will be honest and say I had heard the name but had NO context for recognizing it. Seems she was the U.S. Poet Laureate 2003-2004. Shame on me!

Here’s a brief bit of biography so you too can know a little about this amazing woman. She was born in New York City and attended Sarah Lawrence and Columbia. She won a Pulitzer in 1993 so she has been around for a while. At age 77 she is still a part-time professor at Yale and at Boston University along with producing 11 poetry anthologies and a non-fiction award-winning book: Essays on Poetry. In 2016 President Obama awarded her the National Humanities Medal. (This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia Louise Gluck; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified,)

I have been reading her poetry. Some is dark; some is lyrical; some I do not understand. Here is a sampling: 

Google: louise+gluck+poems&tbm=isch&hl=en&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS856US856&hl

I am sorry it took me so long to find her. If you have favorites poems or know her work from somewhere, we would love to hear how she was revealed to you.

Off to watch the pre- and post-election news. Stay well! 

                                            Somewhat savvy, Glenne 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

270 Happy Hauling

Happy Hauling

It all began in 1968. And it hasn’t let up. We have hauled more items than we care to count up and down the highways.

Our first big experience took place with a rented trailer for the move from our home state to a new place of residence in Virginia. We hooked the device to our Pontiac GTO and headed north. That was relatively painless since we had very little in the way of possessions. But that was definitely the beginning of this trail of carting

That evolved into moving furniture finds from Virginia to family members in North Carolina and on and on from emptying our parents houses to helping our children move and settle.

A few highlights of those trips include strapping a 30-foot ladder that folded in half atop a Buick Skylark. It was tied to the front bumper on top of the windshield and nose of the car. My husband just had to bring it from his parents’ house to ours which was about a seven-hour drive through mountains. Luckily, we were not stopped because I can’t imagine that was legal. We did start driving a station wagon that would hold more but the ladder would never have fit! 

As we progressed to a truck--Ford F150, I often thought of the Beverly Hillbillies as we piled many items on top. 

A dog house that was made for a very large Rottweiler was positioned in the middle with straps holding each side. This was when we needed to move the house for the dog who was going back to live with our son. We also rented a cab for the back of the truck on one occasion when the dog was sick, and we had to deliver him to our son. 

We never hesitate to accommodate our families on what we could deliver or pick up. Once our daughter was due to come home for spring break when one of those massive three-foot March snowstorms so famous in Virginia hit. My husband didn’t hesitate and loaded up the bed of the truck with snow and a shovel. As our daughter waited on the campus, several friends told her that her dad would never make it and she replied, “You don’t know my dad!” And of course, he made it. Took the shovel out of the back, refilled the bed of the truck with snow, and continued on his merry way with daughter in tow.

Dressers, desks, tools, cradles, and many, many other items made the trips from one destination to another. Sometimes rental options are used especially when emptying out parental homes. This was avoided when possible because we didn’t want to spend the extra money. We not only are highway haulers, but we are also thrifty movers as well. 

Our latest purchase has been the best when it comes to hauling. We have a truck with a full back seat, and a bed. We never thought this type of vehicle would suit but we love it, especially certain times of the year such as the holidays and beach trips.

Usually, the back seat of the truck, as well as the bed, are completely crammed for holiday hauling. Same goes for the beach trips that have become more frequent with retirement.

In addition, biking has become second nature with my husband so add a massive bike rack and bicycle to the load. Backing up can be a challenge, especially when we sometimes forget it is there. 

And of course, I can’t forget the return trip from New York City with a full table saw strapped in the back of a pickup truck. Those streets were a little tricky to navigate, but my determined husband will never miss a chance for a challenge even when vision is obscured by the enormous load in the back.

I wish I had photos of all of those escapades, but I ask you to imagine a truck filled to the top with various valuable items. Sometimes it feels as if it is a miracle when we make in unscathed. Please don’t be too critical when you see these loaded vehicles on the road.

I often wonder what other families do. Hopefully, they are as crazy as we are and bring whatever it is to a new destination when requested. Maybe not. Could be they all stay put and don’t have to haul anything! I can only imagine.

                                               Savvy Frances

Sunday, October 4, 2020

269 Senior citizen of a different breed

A Senior Citizen of a Different Breed

By Teri Merrill

I gave him a tender touch, gently awakening him before the sun had risen. "Remember, no food or water before your procedure. Doctor's orders." Mornings aren't his favorite, but breakfast is, so it was if I had delivered a double negative in one short sentence. He was not a happy camper!

Following his surgery, he was groggy and a bit grumpy. He took immediately to his bed, grunting at me along the way. This was his second bladder procedure in three years, and I had been worried since scheduling it. He’s on the golden side of life now, so the risks of anesthesia have increased. I had a long list of post-op instructions and medications to keep him comfortable. That evening he managed to eat a small dinner with enthusiasm, so I knew Scooter would be okay.

This isn’t my husband I’m talking about. Scooter is my 14-year-old Bichon mix, who joined our family four years ago. The oversight, worry and care required for an aging pup may eclipse that of many humans. And the costs associated with his care likely equal or rival that of many aging adults.

Scooter is on a special diet that requires a prescription. He only drinks distilled water. He takes heart medications daily. We keep a steady supply of ear drops for his regular ear infections. He has his anal glands cleaned out about every six weeks. He requires regular allergy shots. We keep special cough medicine on hand. And this doesn’t even include the regular shots, check-ups, and heartworm and flea medications required to keep him healthy.

But we wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, we wanted to adopt a senior dog and welcomed Scooter into our home when he was 10. His primary caretaker had died and no one in his immediate family wanted him because he was "too old." He was given up to a foster mother just when he needed a “real” family the most. Heartbreaking as that is, I have come to learn that this is a common reason why older canines are surrendered to animal shelters--and most don't make it out. Imagine abandoning your Grandfather because he was a senior citizen! One look at Scooter's downcast eyes and depleted demeanor when we met him, and we knew we had to bring him home.

Confusion seemed to rule his first few days with us. He didn't know us, and we didn't know him. And suddenly, he had a baby sister, Dixie, our five-year-old, seven-pound charismatic Chihuahua. For every inch of the room Dixie's charming personality-filled, Scooter's reticence overshadowed it. He moved with extreme caution, not sure to trust us or his newly minted future. That first week, we started to wonder if that adage, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" was really true. But soon, as if a light switch was turned on, the "real" Scooter began to unfurl.

Week two, as we put our pups to bed, Dixie jumped into his crate to cuddle with her new brother. Until then, he had given her barely a passing sniff. But that night, Scooter gave a grunt and snuggled up next to her. He was finally home.

Over the past four years, we've watched in awe as Scooter has taught us how to age with grace, dignity and acceptance, something we never 
expected the day we laid eyes on his frosted face. Yes, we wanted to adopt a more seasoned pup, but we had no idea that we would be the "old dogs learning new tricks." Every day, Scooter shows us how to navigate the world by living in the moment, finding happiness in the smallest things, and perhaps most importantly, championing unconditional love!

Scooter may have a few more healthy years left, but it’s just as likely he may have a few difficult ones, filled with frequent visits to the vet. We don't care. We'll love and support Scooter no matter what time brings him--or us for that matter.

Scooter today is healthy, happy, and ready for his afternoon walk. We will take it slowly, letting him sniff to his heart’s content, turning around for home when he gives us the signal. And as I watch my little pup move through the seasons, my hope is that as my husband and I turn more grey and start to slow down, others will give us the same amount of respect, compassion, and support that we abundantly give to our sweet old man.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

268 Useless Pancreas Society


Type 1 Diabetes or
The Useless Pancreas Society

I read a Facebook posting that stated that people with Type 1 Diabetes make many life-saving or life-ending decisions every day. Perhaps that is why we feel no one can understand our lives.

Trying to balance the amount of food, insulin and exercise so my blood sugar isn't too low (I've gone to the Emergency Room at least five times so far for that) or too high--that can kill you too, but no hospital visits from highs for me.
My doctor pointed out to me that the amount of insulin I take is a low dosage compared to other diabetics. That's still 5 shots per day--just a low amount per shot! That means that one unit over or under in my calculations can have dire consequences. As bad as it sounds, it made me happy because I have always felt guilty for not having perfect blood sugar control.

I have been a Type 1 Diabetic for 55 years and doctors' attitudes seem to have evolved from judgmental to collegial--or I have finally found the right doctors! Managing diabetes is a team effort with the diabetic doing most of the work so that seems the right approach to me.

Perhaps I should stop and explain Type 1. No diet or vitamin or cinnamon cure can handle it because the body cannot make insulin--no way, no how. Insulin injections are the only way to treat it, not cure it. Once a Type 1--you are a Type 1 for life!

Eating too much sugar did not cause it (and I hate all those, "I'm gonna get diabetes if I eat x," jokes!) Diabetes is an auto-immune disease with links to heredity. 

Type 1 Diabetics comprise about 5% of the diabetes population. We are special! You also hear the term Juvenile Diabetes because people generally contract it when they are young but juvenile diabetics are all ages.

There is a Facebook page called Beyond T-1; my illustrations have come from that page. Nick Jonas, the singer, helped found the Beyond T-1 organization:

"Jonas explains that when he was diagnosed with it in 2002 at age 13, he didn’t have a T1D community in which to turn.

“I felt pretty isolated initially,” says Jonas. “One of the reasons I was so drawn to being a part of Beyond Type 1 was ready to find ways we could build up the community and be a support to those who maybe felt the way I felt when I was diagnosed, which was very alone."

I have enjoyed being part of the Beyond T1D community. Seeing my fears and feelings shared by others has made me feel better about my own care.

I have been lucky. I haven't lost a leg or foot to amputation. My heart is good; I have some mild diabetic retinopathy in my eyes, but I haven't gone blind. And I try not to think about all other complications that can come from diabetes. Diabetics have a greater risk of serious consequences from contracting coronavirus, but it seems that those with good blood sugar control, who don't have other issues such as heart or weight, have about the same chance of dying as the general population. 

One of my doctors told me about one of his patients, a ninety-year-old Type 1 diabetic who is still going strong! So I guess I can keep on chugging along!


Sunday, September 6, 2020

267 Apple Time

September Is Apple Time

Oh, Dear Readers, can you believe it is September again? Maybe because I have been essentially in my house and yard for six (6!) months, I am finding it hard to accept that 
two seasons have passed us by. 
No spring Apple Blossom Festival, 
no graduations, no weddings, no beach (not that I go to the beach), no trips to NewYork City (that’s the one that broke my heart). 

This blog may strike you as random – because it is. As you know, my best friend Google and I started by playing around with the word “apple.” 

 I got a bit upset with my friend because the first hit that popped up was this: I’m thinking NO! NO, Google, NO! Well, I had to forgive Google because I used a capital A in my query. Used lower case and voila, I get the fruit! 

We all know the saying, “ An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Is it true? says, “Sort of….” Apples have vitamin C, antioxidents, is good for heart health, and may help prevent some cancers. However, apples are a high carb fruit--25 grams in a medium apple and with 4.5 grams of fiber can cause gas, bloating, and stomach pain. The daily recommended amount of fiber is 25 grams. 

I am really liking the updated version of an apple a day: I grew up with apple orchards on either side of our farm. Yep, we did hurl a few apples, especially the almost rotten, ugly ones. [Always such a young lady.] 

So, it seems to me that apples are best to be eaten freshly picked off the tree or used in pies. With apple desserts one can pretend nutrition and prevent roughhousing at the table. I learned how to make apple pies at a very early age (maybe five or six), but I grew out of the habit as a teenager. There are a couple of kitchen hacks, though, that I learned from my grandmother that still make me feel superior when dear husband and I watch a cooking show. 

I have two useful pieces of information to share with you. The first is that although Red Delicious apples look so pretty at the market, they are mealy and not good for cooking. Use Golden Delicious or Granny Smith. They are both firmer and tarter and keep the pie from having “soggy bottom” and tasting too sweet. 

The second tip is use store-bought pie crust. Pillsbury is just fine. You are ready to make your pie. First do this: break one egg, separating yolk and white. Use a fork to froth-up (is this a word?) the egg white and brush it on the bottom pie crust you have just put in your pie pan. Something in egg white creates a bond that will keep separate the pie shell and the fruit. I do not know the science on this, but it works. 

Now you’ve filled your shell and put on the top crust. Beat the egg yolk (with a fork is just fine) and brush that on the top crust for a professional shine!! Actually, I have a third tip: call ahead of time to your favorite bakery or market and order one! 

Another random thought was the story of Johnny Appleseed. Thirty-plus years of being a librarian and this story is annual September display. Most folks who know anything about apples are aware of his story. [I was once in a play about this legendary man. I played a school teacher named Miss MacIntosh. How cute was that?] 

If you have little ones around–in school (maybe) or for a fall visit, entertain them with the story of Johnny Appleseed. He really was real. John Chapman, born in 1774, was actually an early horticulturist who traveled throughout the mid-Atlantic and mid-west and gave apple seeds to farmers to cultivate apple orchards to make cider. 

He apparently did not wear a pot on his head or go barefoot. He was a leader in land use, showing farmers where the apples would grow best, and how to fence off parcels to keep wild animals from eating the immature trees. He died in September of 1845, leaving a legacy and a legend. 

Enjoy your September. Eat an apple. Bake a pie and be the “apple of someone’s eye.” Maybe it’s time to get things “in apple pie order,” but don’t let “one rotten apple spoil the bunch.” Enough clichés!! 

Stay healthy, wear those masks, and keep in touch! 

Savvy Glenne                    

Sunday, August 23, 2020

266 Adjusting!


The past five months have taught us many lessons, the least of which is the capacity to adjust.

Adjusting to a new normal – staying home to stay safe.

Adjusting to not seeing family so all of us can be safe.

Adjusting to wear a mask for several hours for my safety and others.

Adjusting to not visiting friends and taking part in events so everyone is safe.

Adjusting to a new life style of not eating out, cooking more at home, or ordering take-out, again to stay safe,

There are many more but I don’t want to belabor the point. We are all seeking ways to adjust to a life that may never go back to what we perceive as normal.

Recently, several situations have come to mind on how others are adjusting.

Online schooling is about to begin for many students–this cannot be taken lightly and must be done so our children learn as well as they do in person. It will take some creative solutions, and teachers and families are working hard to make it work.

Retailers are taking great precautions to get us in and out of stores with hand sanitizer, wipes, masks, and staying far apart.

I recently got an email from the Philadelphia Flower Show – an event I love which is held each March for nine days inside in a huge convention hall. This year’s event was completed just as the shutdown began.
Flower Show in 2016

The organizers and managers have been busy at work to salvage the show that has been in existence since 1829.

For 2021, it will be held outdoors and in the summer. No dates have been set yet but it makes a great deal of sense. "… we are moving the Flower Show to a new location at a new time of year in 2021,” says Sam Lemheney, Pennsylvania Horticulture Society chief of shows and events.

Given the monumental challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, PHS’s staff and board made an early decision to change the 2021 Flower Show’s look and the locale to offer a safe, breathtaking experience for all, according to

Thank you so much. This is true adjusting to keep people safe!

Also, recently I was watching a Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” which really adjusted the show during the pandemic. The host Guy Fieri usually visits places all over the USA and other countries to find amazing dishes.

The show’s name was changed to “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: Takeout,” for a few weeks. “Each episode features four chefs that Fieri has met in the past, who send him their full ingredient list for a chosen recipe and guide him through each step of the cooking process remotely so that he can cook up his own version of their special dish from home,” according to

“Triple D has always been about hitting the road and celebrating the hard-working folks of the restaurant business. And while the restaurants are partially closed and the Camaro is parked, DDD: Takeout is here to show you how your favorite chefs are still cookin’ it up to keep people fed, support their communities, their families, and their employees,” Fieri said in announcing the new episodes.

It was just as interesting and exciting as his regular shows that take you to the actual location. The chefs were enthusiastic and added good-natured comments about the preparation while they watched. (A little ribbing—pun intended
but all in good fun.)

That is an amazing way to adjust and keep the show going and everyone safe! Hopefully, we all can be on the road soon so remotely will not be necessary.

Please add any adjusting tips you have noticed or have taken yourself. I am sure there will be many, many more as we enter into the sixth month of the pandemic.

Keep adjusting and stay safe!!

Savvy Fran                                            

Sunday, August 16, 2020

265 Rain on the roof


Rain on the Roof

This rainy weekend has reminded me how much I love the sound of rain on the roof. Our house has a metal roof--the sound is so soothing to sleep by.

Every time I hear that rumbling murmur, I think about the scene in the film, W.C. Fields and Me. W.C. Fields was dying in a sanitorium. His friend, former lover, and future biographer Carlotta Monti, knows he longs for the sound of rain on the roof. The shot shows him passing away peacefully in his room as he listens to the rain. Then the camera pans to the outside where Carlotta is using a garden hose to create the "rain."

There are so many sounds of nature to enjoy:
  • Wind in the trees
  • Crickets in the grass (not in the house!)
  • Listening to bird songs while trying to spot the birds
  • The who-who-who of an owl
  • The rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker (except on the house!)
  • The rush and gurgle of a brook, a stream, a river
  • A waterfall
  • Waves crashing on the beach
A scientific study in 2017 found that people relax when hearing the sounds of nature, but not when exposed to artificial sounds. In true Savvy-Broad mode, I googled "sounds of nature" to look for studies such as this one. I did not pursue it through too many screens because the search was filled with sounds of nature that could be downloaded. Are nature sounds artificial if recorded?

I must confess that we turn on a sound machine every night that mimics the sound of running water. We had never used one until we contemplated taking our six-month-old Jack Russell, Tootsie to a motel! We were sure that every sound in the hall would have her awake and barking all night long. The machine really worked and blocked out the stray sounds. It still does--we turn it on and she knows it is bedtime!

I need to listen more when outside and, when not; there are always memories:

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Last stanza: 
"The Lake Isle of Innisfree." William Butler Yeats