Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vexed by Verse?

April is a big month for poetry.  No, really. 

This is due to a few happenings and not the least of which is National Poetry Writing Month or NaPoWriMo.  The object of this activity is to write one poem a day, each day in the month of April, until said month is over.  You walk into April full of vim & vigor and you walk out of the month 30 poems richer. 

You’ve never written poetry?  No problem.  Yes, it can be done.  Yes, you can do it if you feel it may be something that you would like to do.  No, it does not have to rhyme. 

“But what is it all for?  What does it mean – nothing, everything, or something in between?”

You are the only one who can answer that, Gentle Reader.  What can I tell you?  Try it, you might surprise yourself.  If you are feeling a bit weak in the knees there is help out there; the internet and social media are our friends and then, every now and again, something unexpected comes out of the blue and an opportunity presents itself and THAT is why I would be remiss if I did not tell you about another poetry related activity that is happening on April 3rd, at 7:00 PM at the Atlantic County Library in Mays Landing.  Poet, Penny Harter, is going to conduct a workshop where YOU will be, “encouraged to write haiku, free verse and haibun.”  This one is limited to only 15 participants so if you are so inclined you need to register at this email address: 

It sounds like fun.  Who knows, if you get a taste for it and you want to dip your toes in the water there will be an Open Mike Night on April 15th, at 7:00 at the Library hosted by Penny Harter and Cole Eubanks. 

For a full list of upcoming activites & events within the whole of the Atlantic County Library System click and explore right here: 

My favorite branch is where the poetry is gonna happen in April.  You can find them right here:  

Enjoy, Gentle Reader; I hope to see you there.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Nova Scotia by Way of an Apology

So here’s a little background, Gentle Reader.  I have a friend named… let’s just call her, Carol.  She and her husband are going to be swinging north for a trip to Nova Scotia.  I said that I told her that I would find some campgrounds and some other attractions that I loved when I went and ship it all her way.  I made this commitment with the best of intentions; however, I am a shmoe and forgot.  I ran into her and she said, “HEY! Thanks for that campground information!"  


"You know, that campground information that you were going to get to me."

My brain started to scrape together and a realization hit me, “Carol, I’m a shmoe.”  I said.  “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t worry – we already booked.” She said.

Carol, I may have failed you on finding campgrounds but I hope this list of jaw droppingly awesome things to see and do helps to make amends.  My brain is like a steel sieve these days.  I find that making lists are not only a way to organize my thoughts but also, in some circumstances, are vital to recalling anything at all.  This said, here is one such list.  These are, in my humble opinion, a representation of some of the most wonderful sights and experiences in Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.  While, ‘Results May Vary’, I have no doubt that you guys are going to fall in love with the area.

So, without further ado…


I’m really not going to do Maine justice here and that is a shame.  I know that you guys are passing through on your way north so I’ll do the same here.  Down East Maine is a place in the world that is near and dear to my heart.  There’s a rugged beauty here that is hard to duplicate in any other section of the world.  There are things in Maine that you just can’t find anywhere else.  One of those things is “The Lobster Pound”.  These are shacks where you pick the lobster you’re gonna devour, they put it into a pot of boiling seawater, and serve it to you with melted butter.  There are Lobster Pots all over the place.  This one…

Is right outside of Acadia National Park.  My best advice is to say that whenever you see a Lobster Pound, pull over, and eat a lobster.  This is good advice.    

Acadia National Park

If memory serves, you guys have been there already.  If you have then you know that it is worth a lifetime of other visits.  I could run on Jordan Pond, Thunder Hole, Bubbles Pond, and about the stark beauty of standing on top of Cadillac Mountain and looking out onto Frenchman Bay where the ether and the water and the land all conjoin in splendor & beauty at the creation stretched before you but the fact of the matter is, it is far more impacting to see it for yourselves.  Yes, that is infinitely better.

Between Bar Harbor, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia there used to be a ferry called the Bluenose.  The Bluenose was removed from service in the early eighties.  It was replaced by, “The Cat”, a giant hydrofoil ferry, which is no longer in service.  So, the long and the short of it is, currently, there is no ferry service between Maine and Yarmouth.  If you feel the burning desire to hop on a ferry while you are in Canada then this: is a pretty good resource. 

New Brunswick & the Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is host to some of the most prolific tides in the world.  You can check out the, “Tidal Bore” at anyplace were the tide go in or out.  Moncton, New Brunswick sticks out in my mind.  I was a kid but it was interesting seeing a two foot wall of water travel in at the rate of speed that it did.  To really get a scope of the tides one of the best places to be for both low & high tide has got to be the Hopewell Rocks.  Here is low tide…

And here is high tide…

I’ve never done the kayaks there but it is on my list.

Nova Scotia

One of the main things that I like about Nova Scotia is its authenticity.  The people of Nova Scotia are the real thing.  There is no processed quality or theme park atmosphere, to my memory, in this province and that is a wonderful thing.  You can visit a fishing village like Peggy’s Cove and know that it is actually a working fishing village and not some construct to pull in tourists.

 There is also the Peggy’s Point Lighthouse which is worth a look-see too…

If you are feeling particularly nautical then a day trip to Lunenburg, to see the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.  It is closed right now due to major renovations; however they should be back in business by the late spring/early summer.  Fisheries, artifacts, a wooden boat school; yes, if you’re in the mood to whistle sea shanties then the Fisheries Museum is worth a look.

Perhaps your tastes are running a bit towards things piratical in nature?  Legend has it that there is a treasure buried there on Oak Island – perhaps, Captain Kidd’s, perhaps, Templar’s – who knows for sure?  Two brothers have bought a lot of property on the island now and are seriously searching.  If you would like to join the search then a two hour walk on Oak Island may be just what you need to do.  I was there 40 years ago and still remember it.  I’d love to take my girls back someday. 

Tours are limited but how often do you get the chance to tour a Treasure Island?  If ye be so inclined then ye’ll be wantin’ to click right here for further details:

If you head northward to Cape Brenton Island, Nova Scotia you will find the Cabot Trail and once you discover this you will always remember it (see:  The stark beauty that will surround you is, once more, better for you to behold than for me to fawn over.  The Cabot Trail is worth your time.

Not only are there trails to hike, whales to watch, and adventures to be had but there is also one of the greatest scenic road-trips in North America to take as you follow the Cabot Trail around the north end of the island…

Yeah, it’s something to see.

So, Carol.  There it is.  Some of my favorite things about Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Maine that I hope serve as an apology for that whole forgetting about the campground information thing.  I am truly looking forward to hearing of the adventures that you and your husband are about to have.

Talk soon!

Saturday, March 08, 2014


 So, yeah, that happened last night.

About two months ago I saw something on Twitter (I think) about Neil Gaiman coming to Rowan University.  I remember the brief conversation that my wife and I had concerning the coming event.




“NO – ROWAN!?”


We looked deeply into each other’s eyes and emotions & questions began to swirl – how could this be that Neil Gaiman, one of the world’s lights in literature was going to be coming to, of all places in the universe, South Jersey – our little corner of the vineyard?  The thoughts continued.  Well, the girls (our three daughters 21, 17, & 13) would have to go – they would have to see him speak about a topic that is near and dear to their hearts, creativity.  Back during, “The Graveyard Book” tour I had taken two of my girls to see Mr. Gaiman read a chapter and to enjoy a Q&A (see: for all the gory details).  But that was only two of my girls (my youngest and my wife had not yet seen him live) and it was before he delivered the best commencement speech ever at the, University of the Arts in Philadelphia (see:  They would have to see him.  I knew that the lecture would speak to the creative, imaginative women that they truly are and that they would be bettered for the experience.  They are at an age where consideration for one’s future is a big question.  They are prone to the arts and I would much rather see them move towards the mountain, so to speak, than to wander in the desert.  If there is one thing that Mr. Gaiman does (besides writing) it is to inspire creativity.  Case in point, I was in a library and found a poem that someone wrote and stuck inside a book by Neil Gaiman.  It was National Poetry Writing Month at the time and it struck me as a wonderful little thing to do (see: for all those details).  With all this considered the deeper questions had to be probed & explored.

“Tickets.” We said out loud to each other, “How are we going to get tickets?”

It was a good question.  After a brief search it was found that students and faculty were the first to have access to the tickets, followed by alumni, and then the public at large via a lottery.  My wife, God bless her, has some friends who work at Rowan and they were kind enough to procure three tickets and bestow them upon us.  I am an alumni (when I was there the school was known as, Glassboro State College); however, I was too late and the alumni tickets were gone.  I entered the lottery – so did my wife.  We got email notification from Rowan that we were not winners.  (NOTE: this is something I have suspected of myself for quite some time and while it is pleasing to have my alma mater recognize this trait in me after so much time has passed I would appreciate it if they left my wife out of such hasty judgments thrown against her character in the future.) 

So we had three tickets.  I thought that it was important for the girls to be able to see the lecture and I developed a plan in my mind.  We would drop off the girls, my wife & I would grab something to eat, rendezvous back with them after the lecture, and listen to their tales of awesomeness & joy that had been imparted upon them.  This became the plan.  I dropped them off with my wife (who was just showing them where to go) but, just for fun, I parked our mode of transportation and wandered in to meet up with them before going into the theater.  They were already inside.  I saw my wife and the two of us met in what appeared to be the “Stand By” zone.  We were the only people standing there against the ropes and a woman approached us and asked, “Do you have tickets?”

“No.” My wife said, “We dropped off our daughters and we are going to dinner.”

“You’re not fans?” she asked.

“OH YEAH, WE’RE FANS.” I said and this woman and I started geeking out over the movie and story, “Stardust”.  She was a fan of Robert De Niro’s performance.  Me too.

“We don’t have tickets.” My wife said.

She looked at us and said, “My family is already seated,” and as she said this she reached into her pocket and produced two tickets and handed them to me.

“God bless, you,” was all I could say.  I should have thrown my arms around this wonderful benefactor but I have a sneaky suspicion that security would have escorted me out.  We profusely thanked her and stepped around the ropes to find our girls.  (Note: To our Dearest Benefactor, if by some strange chance, if the right combination is struck between the tides and the planets in the heavens and you read this, my humble blog, THANK YOU for your wonderful act of kindness.  Know that Robert Louis Stevenson was speaking of you, Gentle Woman, when he wrote, “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.”)

On our way to find the girls a charming young lady standing at a table with two other charming young ladies with cards and pencils asked us if we would like to submit a question for Neil to answer.  My wife didn’t hear them and continued on to find our kids.  I, on the other hand, said, “SURE,” and wrote down a question as my wife disappeared around the corner and into the theater.  I joined them shortly thereafter.

What can I say?  He was great.  He performed some of his short stories & poems, he spoke about the creative process, and during the Q&A among the questions that Mr. Gaiman answered, was mine.  It was a wonderful evening.  If you haven’t seen or read Neil Gaiman, do so whenever you get the chance.  I was happy to be there with my family because it is vital to be able to identify magic and wonder and joy in this world – in this life and by hearing encouraging words from one of the true masters of making magic and wonder and joy is priceless.  I’m thankful that my wife & I could share that with our daughters who consistently bring those commodities, magic and wonder and joy, to us.

So there it is.

Thank you to that professor from Rowan who spent the last two years working on bringing Mr. Gaiman to South Jersey.  I’m sorry I missed your name but know that YOU too are a hero.