Blogging from Cramer Hill because of plums…

Dear Reader,

Plums!  Today I’m back to blogging because of freshly picked South Jersey plums.

The news has been so bad for so long that I couldn’t bear to blog for months.  I didn’t want to contribute to any reader’s distress with one more justified outcry about what is happening in the world.

I’m being a chicken.  I’m not going to comment on the news.  If you know me, you can guess what I’m thinking about what’s going on, so…

This morning in our Cramer Hill kitchen, I filled a bowl with cold plums.  I had to admire them.  These plums are beautiful and delicious. They made me think of a poem of William Carlos Williams.

How blessed I am this morning to have these plums, to have my husband, Carlos, who is holding the bowl, and to have my daughter, Kim, and granddaughter, Nora, and Kim’s in-laws, who picked the plums!  I give thanks to Kim’s mother-in-law who put dozens in a bag and pressed them on me to take home.

Today I’m happy to sit at my kitchen table with toast and tea and sweet, juicy plums.

I’m back to blogging and I’m going to write about loveliness in our often unlovely world.  I’m starting with plums.


Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra

Cramer Hill resident






Years fly by…

Dear Readers,

No… No!  No!! No!!!  I looked at my calendar diary and realized I’ll be sixty-seven TOMORROW.

I thought I had a few more days of being sixty-six.  I mistakenly thought my birthday was this Wednesday and I’d have more time to think about it.  No, it’s tomorrow, Monday.  Sixty-seven?   It’s a bit of a shock.

Believe me, I’m not writing this blog to have dozens of long-stemmed red roses, cases of champagne or gifts of anything delivered to my door.  Please.  Cancel your orders.  I don’t have room for anything.  No kidding.  At my age, I have everything and MORE!

What I’d really like is for you to send me a large, self-addressed, postage prepaid box so I can send YOU some of the excess of my life.  Decorating magazines, anyone? Old clothing?  Pounds?  I have a lot of extra pounds to send you and I’m not talking about the British ones.

I’m grateful for these sixty-six years.  Look at me at this very moment. Right now, I’m lying on a comfy bed with my beloved laptop and my teeny-weeny queenie, torty cat, Reina, is lying on my shoulder purring in my ear.   What a life.  All I need is a box of bonbons.  No, I changed my mind.  No bonbons.  Didn’t I just mention the extra pounds?

Those years sure do fly by fast.  It was only yesterday that I was in John S. Read School in North Camden; Veterans Memorial Junior High in Cramer Hill; Woodrow Wilson High School in East Camden and back to North Camden in Rutgers University.

Decades after college hurtled by at the speed of light and now I’m a wife.  A mother.  A godmother. A mother-in-law.  A grandmother.  A writer. A reader. A dog and cat mommy. And, to my surprise still, a senior.

I’ll return to my diary and write down goals for my sixty-seventh year.  Finish my book–it’s getting there!  Take care of my health.  AND, have a lot of fun at age sixty-seven!  Maybe have a few of those bonbons?

How about you, my reader friend?  Is time flying by for you, too?

Love from

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra, Cramer Hill resident

Slouching on a Snowy Morning in Cramer Hill!

Dear Readers,

I love when it snows here in the Anthony Park homes in Cramer Hill.  I admit I’m not the one who shovels.  Heh heh. Everything looks quiet, pristine, other worldly. I don’t hear the sparrows chirping or dogs barking.  Cars aren’t revving.  Neighbors aren’t calling out to each other as they leave for work.

No kids are sliding down the hilly back driveway.  The snow is too wet.  I admit I love the silence.


Before I retired from teaching in Camden City Public Schools, I loved to have a snow day because it was a treat–a more or less unexpected vacation day.  It’s still a vacation day in retirement.  I’m not driving, I’m getting up later, I’m reading, I’m throwing in a load of laundry, I’m drinking my new tea (Bewley’s Irish Morning Tea), I’m feeling guilt-free to slouch around.

Slouch, slouch, slouch.  What fun. I remember one teacher said that a snow day was an occasion to walk around the house naked, play the Beatles and do nothing useful.  I’m not sure if she was kidding.  I’m sure she did play music though.

I thought I’d slouch a lot in retirement.  I haven’t.  Today I am sort of slouching which is still terrific.

How about you?  Are you slouching today?

Love to all my readers,

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra

Cramer Hill resident….back to blogging

P.S.  If you like, you can get my blogs by e-mail clicking on FOLLOW.



Dear Readers,

I have a quiet, cool Cramer Hill morning to write my blog and I’m looking through the photos in my cell phone.  Most pictures feature my cats, my dog and my granddaughter–not in that order!  However, I found a funny one that I took on impulse–my almost seventeen-month-old granddaughter’s doll.

Here’s the story behind it.  Nora was playing with a paper towel roll (again…) and I started to play with it and look through it at her and to talk through it.  I made funny noises through it.  Okay, I know I’m sixty-six, but I’m not too old to be goofy, am I?

Then, I tried to take a picture of my beautiful granddaughter through it, but she moved too quickly.  I loved the idea of doing it, though, and I took a picture of her favorite doll, Da, with it.

I had ordered Da online and felt lucky to find a quality baby doll that had Asian features.  Not so long ago, it was almost impossible to find dolls that didn’t have Caucasian features. Asian dolls were mostly those in traditional costumes and were so dressy that you’d want to put them in glass boxes to preserve them.

Back in the eighties when my daughter was little, I did find one Asian doll for her.  (My daughter is Asian-American.) She wasn’t much interested in dolls.  She combed its hair until it looked scary and put it in her toy box at the babysitter’s house.  She liked her stuffed animals and action figures.

When my granddaughter plays with Da, I remember how hard it was to find an Asian doll.  I remember that there were few people on TV or in movies who were Asian.  There weren’t even many storybooks with Asian faces.

“Minority” faces were scarce everywhere.  The crazy thing is that no one I know commented on it.  Maybe they didn’t notice it.  Why?

The first time that I taught English as a Second Language in Camden in an elementary school in a hallway before the State of New Jersey saw me teaching in a hallway, many of my morning students were from Haiti.  I wanted to teach words about people and I bought a bunch of popular news magazines and women’s magazines to cut out pictures of people so the kids could make collages.

I had to go back and buy magazines targeted for African-Americans because none of the others had pictures of people of color. All the people were white.  Believe me. My Haitian students had dark skin. What was I saying to them if I didn’t find some other photos?   I bought Jet and Ebony and cut out pictures from those magazines, too.  Later, I’d have to subscribe to the few magazines targeted for the Asian and Hispanic market just so I could have pictures to make collages.

My mentor walked by and watched the students make  collages with the pictures, naming them–a mother, a father, a grandmother, etc.  “Where did you get those photos of black people?” she said.  She was black.

“I bought Jet and Ebony,” I told her.

She was surprised and pleased.

However, I shouldn’t have had to remember that she was surprised and pleased.  Why were people of color not included in those other magazines, too?  No people of color were newsworthy, beautiful or  consumers?

Dolls, magazines, TV, movies, storybooks….you could go on and on… Huge numbers of people not represented…  Maybe a bit more now, but often stereotyped and token…

I don’t want to be sad on this fine day.  I meant to write something funny about being a grandmom and dolls.  But, hey.

Love to my readers,

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra

























At least, I get a senior discount?

Dear Readers,

My granddaughter, Nora, is napping.  When she picks up her blanket and bopple, (bopple means pacifier in Nora talk) I know she’s ready to take her morning nap.

This morning we snuggled on the sofa–instead of watching the Mexican Hat Dance video, we watched a tennis coach give his two little girls tennis lessons.  “Daddy,” she said. Not her dad, but he does play tennis.

Then, we watched a tennis match of two young female champions.  She pointed at the one with a long swinging ponytail.  “Mommy.”  Not her mom, but she does play tennis, too.

I realized that someday my precious granddaughter would be on the tennis court and our days of snuggling on the sofa might be over.  Who knows?  When she’s twenty and I’m eighty-five (gulp…), she might not think that sitting with Momo and watching videos is such a great activity.

Boy, oh, boy.  Where do the years ago? It’s been on my mind.  Why do I think that I’m truly getting older? Could it, perhaps, be the mirror?  The way that I don’t leap from a sitting position on the rug?  The surety of the waiters who offer me the senior discount?

Last night my husband (the king of Cuban sweet talk) said to me, “Oh, you’re beautiful.”

“I’m getting older,” I mourned.

“You’re getting older?”

“Yes, I am.”  I made a rueful face.

“Hmm.  Did you know this would happen when you married me?” he asked sternly.

“Yes, I did,” I confessed, my head on his shoulder.  “But, I didn’t think it would happen so fast.”

We laughed.


Has this happened to you?


Love to my readers,

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra

Cramer Hill resident









Dancing with Da

Dear Readers,

September.  I’m not headed back to the classroom.  Retired.  Forgive my smirk.  I’m dancing with Nora and Da.

Nora is my almost seventeen-month-old granddaughter and she is addicted to the YouTube video of kids doing the Mexican Hat Dance. We dance it several times when I visit and sometimes the music runs through my mind after I am home and about to go to sleep.

However, it’s not merely Nora and I dancing in the living room.  Usually Da and some friends, Ted the Teddy Bear or Clifford the Big Red Dog, dance with us.  Da is the Number One doll of Nora and she doesn’t mind that Nora shortened her name from Diana to Da.  It might be the doll’s stage name one day?

 My husband wanted Nora to be named Diana, but he didn’t get his wish so we named the favorite doll, Diana. Life is full of compromises

Lately, Da, Ted and Clifford seem tired of the Mexican Hat Dance so I bow gratefully to their requests and we also watch little kids in Ireland dance in competitions on YouTube.  When we tire of that, we watch two children about six years old salsa in an international competition.  Nora stands there and moves ever so slightly, her eyes intent on the dancers.

I’m relishing her joy in dancing and I’m squeezing every bit of fun out of this time before she realizes that her grandmother really can’t dance.


Love to all my readers,

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra, Cramer Hill

P.S.  If you wish to follow my blog, there’s a place to click on the side.









OUTTA THERE–two years!

Dear Readers,

The very, very, very last day of school made me feel like OUTTA HERE!

On that three-mile ride from Wiggins College Preparatory Laboratory Family School to my home in Cramer Hill in June of 2014, I dreamed of my freedom in retirement and the fantasy kind of day that I’m having today.

Now I’m feeling like Hey!  I’m so OUTTA THERE!

Here’s my day so far–lunching with my daughter at a Japanese restaurant, strolling around a bookstore and sipping iced tea at Starbucks.  Not bad, huh?  Writing my blog.  Listening to Starbucks music.  Watching happy people drink coffee, talk, play on cell phones and computers in air-conditioning.  Bliss.

Another retired teacher told me that the retirement “honeymoon” would last about six months.  Oh no. Even after two years of OUTTA THERE!,  I love this kind of day. It’s not old hat.  It’s more like pay day every day.  (Except for the money.)

It’s August and I have no new school year apprehension nor any regret that summer might be ending.  As a matter of fact, bring on the cool weather!

However, let me be truthful.  During my bookstore stroll, a weird  sadness overcame me as I looked through the children’s section.   I kept seeing books that I’d love to buy and to share with students.

The Who Was? biography series–I’m crazy about them.  I loved to read them purely for myself and, of course, to use them to supplement the regular ESL curriculum.

What? New titles came out since I retired?

I regretted I didn’t have students who might enjoy them.  I remembered how kids begged to borrow them, even many beginning English speakers.  How they enjoyed the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King, The Beatles, Helen Keller, Dr. Seuss, Harriet Tubman, Annie Oakley! What a joy to share the love of reading with children…  That might sound trite, but it’s a true and beautiful feeling. I really miss it.

I almost purchased the Who Is Hillary Clinton?   Then, I thought twice. I glanced around nervously.  I was scared to see if there was one for Donald Trump so I walked away from the Who Was? books.  I’ve had enough of reading about who is Donald Trump and I wouldn’t want my little granddaughter to pick up a book like that by accident.

I gravitated to the puzzles because I wanted to send one to my Aunt Rita who had hosted me for three days in her home in Connecticut.  I cheered up because I found one that she’d like, three cheerful chefs.  I forgot about my “missing sharing books with kids” pain for a few minutes.

Then, I spied a six-hundred-piece puzzle of the world–each piece is a country!  Wow–look at the continents! Look at the oceans!  Geography buffs–you know how I felt.  My heart soared to the bookstore ceiling–wouldn’t that puzzle be terrific for the kids?   How much fun it would be to do that puzzle with the students!

There would always be students who loved finding countries on the globe and on maps and I’d be right there with them.     This puzzle would be fascinating for them and….for me.

Oh no, I’m retired.

Now that kind of fun is no longer going to happen for me, I thought gloomily. My granddaughter, Nora, is only sixteen months and a six hundred-piece puzzle might be daunting, especially when I’d have to pick up all six hundred from the floor and watch that she didn’t put any in her mouth.

I dragged myself, heavy-hearted, to the line to pay for Aunt Rita’s puzzle and I waited near the display of corny inspirational magnets. One grabbed me, though.   DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY TODAY!

It was a sign.  I got out of line. This was going to be divine.

Back to the puzzles and I picked up the world map puzzle for one of my favorite people.  Myself.

I’m OUTTA THERE! and I have retirement freedom to do this puzzle all by myself.  Hmm. By the time I finish it, perhaps Nora will be old enough to take it apart and put it together herself.


Love to my readers, especially Virginia Dillon who wrote me and said she missed my blog…  Thanks.

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra, reader, writer and about-to-be puzzler…

Proud resident of Camden, New Jersey.