Raise a Mug to the Irish!

Is there a drop of Irish blood in my veins? I doubt it. I grew up Mennonite in the Longenecker family in Pennsylvania Dutch country, a hot-bed of Swiss-German ancestry.

Still, the Irish-named Donegal Springs is a mere 3-mile, 5-minute drive from Rheems, Pennsylvania near my birthplace. In the adjoining Dauphin County are Londonderry Township. In Bucks County, a town named Dublin, sister city to the capital of the Republic of Ireland.

Photo courtesy of Artist Cliff Beaman Dublin, GA
Photo courtesy of Artist Cliff Beaman traveling through Dublin, GA

When we visited Ireland, we met a congenial gentleman named Buchanan, who remarked that he has immigrant relatives buried in the Donegal Presbyterian Church cemetery, a place he once visited.

During my last trip to Pennsylvania, I discovered some vintage postcards stamped with penny postage, sent to Miss Fannie Martin, my Grandma Longenecker. Many of her postcards are embossed and saturated with color – no Photoshop filters needed.

In an era long before smartphones and text messages, postcards were valued. Instead of instant messages easily deleted and forgotten, these cards have become artifacts of my family history. The one below over one hundred years old is dated 1910.

StPat1912MUGfront

StPat1912MUGback

I live in a neighborhood where Irish names abound: Blarney Stone Court, Killarney Drive, Leprechaun Court, St. Patrick Lane. Names on residents’ mailboxes have included Dunleavy, O’Neill, and Kelly. We once had to fight a major retailer to retain charming shamrocks and moss-footed oaks in a wooded area adjoining our community. The hanging on our front door reflects the neighborhood and the season.

StPatBearDoor

St. Patrick’s Day this year falls on a Thursday, March 17. Until then, I wish you the luck of the Irish.

May the wind be always at your back and your pathways peaceful. If you are Jewish, Mazel Tov!

To enjoy these Irish limerick lines below add just the right word to complete the rhyme. Keep in mind the missing word must rhyme with the first and second lines. (Answer key in next week’s blog post.)

A bather whose clothing was strewed

By winds that left her quite nude

Saw a man come along

And unless we are wrong

You expected this line to be __________.

~ Anonymous

 

His sister named Lucy O’Finner,

Grew constantly thinner and thinner;

The reason was plain,

She slept in the rain,

And was never allowed any _________.

~ Lewis Carroll

There was an old fellow of Trinity

Who solved the square root of Infinity,

But it gave him such fidgets

To count up the digits,

He chucked Math and took up _________.

~ Anonymous

There was a young farmer of Leeds,

Who swallowed six packets of seeds.

It soon came to pass

He was covered with grass,

And he couldn’t sit down for the_______.

~ Anonymous

 

Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, and Lewis Carroll are among the best versifiers of this humorous form. If you want to cook up your own limerick, here is a link to the recipe with a pattern for the rhyme scheme.

 

Coming next: Wanted, Forty Winks

 

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Pollee Ann and Mr. Zip

Did you ever have a Pollyanna? A secret pal back in the days when mail traveled only in paper envelopes with postage?

As I was going through one of my Boxes under the Bed, I found this quaint gem sent to me at college in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. The charming card is signed Pollee Ann, obviously a reference to the main character in the children’s book series Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter, who finds the glad in everything. Though she was tragically orphaned and sent to live in the home of her gruff Aunt Polly, 11-year-old Pollyanna has come to represent eternal optimism as she spreads cheer, sometimes secretly, all around town.

1962_0314_St Patrick Card

My secret pal spells her name “Pollee Ann,” an interesting sobriquet for Pollyanna. And the card reached me in spite of the fact there is no street address or zip code, not introduced into the postal system until 1963. The term ZIP, an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, was chosen to suggest that “mail travels more efficiently, and therefore more quickly (zipping along), when senders use the code in the postal address.”

Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia

Have a Zippy St. Patrick’s Day!

Killarney Shamrock_modified_02

Some celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by baking/eating cupcakes or cookies with green icing or wearing a shamrock pin. How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Is there Irish in your heritage?

Coming next: The Nook, a Different Definition

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Killarney Shamrock_modified_02    This post first appeared March 15, 2013 now published again to celebrate the wearing of the green!

It’s a long way from Lancaster county, PA to Jacksonville, FL, but years ago our family moved into a neighborhood called Killarney Shores with street names like Emerald Isle Circle, Leprechaun Court, and St. Patrick Lane. On the day of Ireland’s famous saint, I give you my story of keeping it green:

The lurid orange zoning sign meant something, stuck ominously at the edge of the woods where our children used to roam freely up and down the deep ravines and along a serpentine creek bordering the neighborhood. I have always loved natural beauty, so it is no surprise that one of the items on the wish list for our next address was “a house on a hill with tall trees.”  A hill with tall trees–a laughable request especially since most of Jacksonville is flat with palm trees bordered by the beach. But our prayer was answered–a huge corner lot with 17 magnificent laurel oak and live oak trees, romantic symbols of the Deep South, nestled in a secret cove just blocks off a busy boulevard.

Yet there was much to fear that November day when I spotted the land use / zoning sign: The memory of the terrorist attack on our nation on September 11, 2001 still overwhelming our minds, our community had to address an encroaching menace much closer to home: Our rural, residential zoning status was being challenged by big box Wal-Mart, who wanted to build a  Super Center (gasp!) in the woods 200-feet from our homes. This would threaten the woods our children had played in, close to the burial site of our family dog, and near a lake by which we moored our canoe, Killarney Queen.

First, we had to find out what was going on. There were trips to the Planning and Development Department downtown with my good buddy Ann. If we are going to fight Goliath, the behemoth of retailers, our tiny neighborhood of 65 homes had to be educated. When we weighed in as opposition during the first City Hall hearing, dozens of residents responded to my hastily printed green fliers, some out of curiosity, some with animosity, but all with concern for the preservation of the quality of life in our secluded neighborhood. I, along with my neighbors, became familiar with a strange new vocabulary:  Land Use Amendment Application, Planned Unit Development, Rezoning Ordinance.

Neighbors opened their doors to strategy-planning meetings, furnishing refreshments and dishing up good-will. Residents from up-the-hill met those from around-the-circle . . . . as we joined hands in consensus. Even our councilwoman joined in, assuring us she would have a decision to develop the rural residential area into commercial uses deferred and deferred and deferred. We hired a City Planner for big bucks to “give us credibility.” On April 11, 2002 we had a showdown with the Walmart bigwigs, their cool, professional presentation countered by our-best-we-could-do foam-core display. Residents packed a school auditorium, wearing shamrock buttons that read “Keep it Green.” My neighbor Richy recently diagnosed with kidney cancer came to show his support. We all listened to Wal-Mart’s company staff show-and-tell session, which extolled the merits of the store to the community, implying the layout would make their 215,000 square-foot presence virtually unobtrusive. However, when our council-woman took the stand, we were in for the biggest let-down of all:  “Really, you’d be better off if you let Walmart develop the land. The company has big bucks and can make loads of concessions to you. Why they’ll even make a big retaining pond with a lovely fountain to enjoy as you drive by. What if an adult entertainment facility buys the land later? Or a huge liquor store?  Then where would you be?” To rub it in, the Wal-Mart people asked for some of our shamrocks, “to show solidarity in pursuing the green,” they said.  Green? Green like money?

images-4_as is    In the end, the journey toward a resolution was a zig-zaggy path of uncertainty fraught with the unexpected. It was truly Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. But we were bound together to face our common foe. The St. Johns River-keeper became a new friend, a neighborhood advocate from a nearby community coached us to anticipate possible next “moves” from City Hall and Wa-Mart. The Florida Times-Union ran progress reports, the local TV station featured us on an evening newscast. The process proceeded with fits and starts: rapid action following by long waits. At the final meeting at City Hall, for example, we signed in at 5:30 p.m. and were heard by the formal City Council at 12:45 a.m.  Though the decision for land use was ruled in favor of Wal-Mart, our community gained thirteen concessions, including 4.7 acres of conservation easement to compensate partially for the additional impact on traffic and loss of wetlands. And the fountain!

images-8_2x2in

Of course, there is more concrete and asphalt next to our beloved woodlands, but our community will never be the same. We have learned the importance of team-work to meet an outside challenge, and in the process have become true neighbors.

Yes, Kermit the Frog, is right:

“It’s not that easy being green;

But green’s the color Spring.

And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain,

Or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be

It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?

Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful!

And I think it’s what I want to be.”

     When we moved in years ago, Killarney Shores was very WASP-y, with the origin of many residents reflective of the street names. Now we share care, concern, and meals with Burmese, Bosnian, African-Americans – folks of all colors, a lovely palette of skin tones; white mingles with tan and mahogany. Symphony member, handyman, business owner, retirees live side by side. And if an outside threat strikes again, I have no doubt we will present a united front.

Rainbow_as is

Yes, green is important — very important. And in these times of awareness of our earth’s fragility, it is important to preserve, to recycle, even to restore our resources. But even more important is learning to value of community that can exist in all neighborhoods, all citizens of our planet and residents of a close-knit community with families from around the world.

Do you live in a neighborhood where there you have noticed changes recently? In the last few years?  How have these changes affected you?

Tell us your story.

KermitFrogDreams

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Killarney Shamrock_modified_02    It’s a long way from Lancaster county, PA to Jacksonville, FL, but years ago our family moved into a neighborhood called Killarney Shores with street names like Emerald Isle Circle, Leprechaun Court, and St. Patrick Lane. On the day of Ireland’s famous saint, I give you my story of keeping it green:

The lurid orange zoning sign meant something, stuck ominously at the edge of the woods where our children used to roam freely up and down the deep ravines and along a serpentine creek bordering the neighborhood. I have always loved natural beauty, so it is no surprise that one of the items on the wish list for our next address was “a house on a hill with tall trees.”  A hill with tall trees–a laughable request especially since most of Jacksonville is flat with palm trees bordered by the beach. But our prayer was answered —  a huge corner lot with 17 magnificent water oak and live oak trees nestled in a secret cove just blocks off a busy boulevard.

Yet there was much to fear that November day when I spotted the land use / zoning sign: The memory of the terrorist attack on our nation on September 11, 2001 still overwhelming our minds, our community had to address an encroaching menace much closer to home: Our rural, residential zoning status was being challenged by big box Wal-Mart, who wanted to build a  Super Center (gasp!) in the woods 200-feet from our homes. This would threaten the woods our children had played in, close to the burial site of our family dog, and near a lake by which we moored our canoe, Killarney Queen.

First, we had to find out what was going on. There were trips to the Planning and Development Department downtown with my good buddy Ann. If we are going to fight Goliath, the behemoth of retailers, our tiny neighborhood of 68 homes had to be educated. When we weighed in as opposition during the first City Hall hearing, dozens of residents responded to the hastily printed green fliers, some out of curiosity, some with animosity, but all with concern for the preservation of the quality of life in our secluded neighborhood. I. along with my neighbors, became familiar with a strange vocabulary:  Land Use Amendment Application, Planned Unit Development, Rezoning Ordinance.

Neighbors opened their doors to strategy-planning meetings, furnishing refreshments and dishing up good-will. Residents from up-the-hill met those from around-the-circle . . . . as we joined hands in consensus. Even our councilwoman joined in, assuring us she would have a decision to develop the rural residential area into commercial uses deferred and deferred and deferred. We hired a City Planner for big bucks to “give us credibility.” On April 11, 2002 we had a showdown with the Walmart bigwigs, their cool, professional presentation countered by our-best-we-could-do foam-core display. Residents packed a school auditorium, wearing shamrock buttons that read “Keep it Green.” My neighbor Richy, recently diagnosed with kidney cancer came to show his support. We all listened to Walmart’s company staff show-and-tell session, which extolled the merits of the store to the community, implying the layout would make their 215,000 square-foot presence virtually unobtrusive. However, when our council-person took the stand, we were in for the biggest let-down of all:  “Really, you’d be better off if you let Walmart develop the land. The company has big bucks and can make loads of concessions to you. Why they’ll even make a big retaining pond with a lovely fountain to enjoy as you drive by. What if an adult entertainment facility buys the land later? Or a huge liquor store?  Then where would you be?” To rub it in, the Walmart people asked for shamrocks, “to show solidarity in pursuing the ‘green’,” they said.  Green? Green like money?

images-4_as is    In the end, the journey toward a resolution was a zig-zaggy path of uncertainty fraught with the unexpected. It was truly Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. But we were bound together to face our common foe. The St. Johns River-keeper became a new friend, a neighborhood advocate from  a nearby community coached us to anticipate possible next “moves” from City Hall and Walmart. The Florida Times-Union ran progress reports, the local TV station featured us on an evening newscast. The process proceeded with fits and starts: rapid action following by long waits. At the final meeting at City Hall, for example, we signed in at 5:30 p.m. and were heard by the formal City Council at 12:45 a.m.  Though the decision for land use was ruled in favor of Wal-Mart, our community gained thirteen concessions, including 4.7 acres of conservation easement to compensate partially for the additional impact on traffic and loss of wetlands.

images-8_2x2in

Of course, there is more concrete and asphalt next to our beloved woodlands, but our community will never be the same. We have learned the importance of team-work to meet an outside challenge, and in the process have become true neighbors.

Yes, Kermit the Frog, is right:

“It’s not that easy being green;

But green’s the color Spring.

And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain,

Or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be

It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?

Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful!

And I think it’s what I want to be.”

     When we moved in years ago, Killarney Shores was very WASP-y, with the origin of many residents reflective of the street names. Now we share care, concern, and meals with Burmese, Bosnian, African-Americans – folks of all colors, a lovely palette of skin tones; white mingles with tan and mahogany. Symphony member – handyman –business owner–retiree live side by side. And if an outside threat strikes again, I have no doubt we will present a united front.

Rainbow_as is

Yes, green is important — very important. And in these times of awareness of our earth’s fragility, it is important to preserve, to recycle, even to restore our resources. But even more important is learning to value the brotherhood that can exist in all neighborhoods, — all citizens of our planet and residents of a close-knit community with families from around the world.

Do you live in a neighborhood where there you have noticed changes recently? in the last few years?  How have these changes affected you?

Tell us your story.

KermitFrogDreams