A happy ending to my day

September 6, 2017

Dear Readers,

I started out worrying terribly about people in the wrath of Hurricane Irma.  I forced myself to do something productive.  Set two goals, I told myself.

I’d study German and then I’d sort through a bag of papers.

My German textbook didn’t look inviting so I decided to put on a German-language movie and, at least, listen to the German voices while I sorted.  Since I knew I’d only understand only a dozen words, I would put on the English subtitles.  Netflix offered plenty of movies, but not many looked cheerful enough for this rainy Cramer Hill day.

I spied the 2015 Swiss film version of Heidi, based on the children’s book by Johanna Spryi.  The title brought me back to an illustrated version of the book that I’d loved and read many times as a kid in North Camden.   I remembered Mrs. Helen Faust, John S. Read Elementary, Grade Four,  gave me the sequel, Heidi Grows Up, on the last day of school because I had been the best speller in the class.  I hugged it that hardback book and floated home with it. (Thanks, Mrs. Faust. God bless generous, loving, thoughtful teachers.)

Fifty-seven years later, here I was, still in Camden, although in Cramer Hill, watching feisty Heidi, her aunt, her grandfather, her friends Peter and Klara appear on my TV, so familiar, long lost friends found again.

Amazingly enough, I have visited Switzerland many times because I have good friends there and so I have been blessed enough to have been to the Alps and the beautiful Swiss countryside.  Today I was experiencing Switzerland again.

I had to put down the bag of papers, half-way sorted, and let myself be drawn into the story of an orphaned child who loves the mountains  and those around her.  Those old receipts, ads and catalogs could be sorted tomorrow.

This movie made my day.  And, I even did recognize a dozen words in German.

Much love to all readers,

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra, Cramer Hill resident


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Donuts, coffee and small thoughts on a Cramer Hill Saturday morning

Dear Readers.

Today I’m at the kitchen table looking at the morning glories on my back fence here in Cramer Hill.  I’m feeling the contentment of a teacher who has been retired for three years.  Retirement is G-O-O-D.

Nothing much beats a cream donut, a jelly donut and a cup of coffee on a Labor Day Saturday morning when YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT GOING BACK TO SCHOOL ON TUESDAY.  You might have to consider your damage to your calorie count, but not much else.

Yesterday I decided to ignore all non-life-threatening chores and to wander around Ollie’s Discount in Cherry Hill.  I didn’t have to buy anything for the classroom…no more poring though pencils, fun erasers, cute notebooks, crayons or glue sticks, no more paging through little books to give as prizes, no more choosing the best stickers and no more piling the cart with boxes of tissue and cleaning wipes.

Although in the throes of retirement joy in the middle of the store, a bit of wistfulness crept in.  I smacked that wistfulness away.  However, I allowed myself think of those first days back to school.  They were filled with anticipation and optimism for the new year, but always tempered with dread that I’d have to go to another school or even another classroom.  English as a Second Language teachers moved around as needs changed.

Retail therapy to the rescue!  I thoroughly retail therapied myself by buying books for my granddaughter…and myself.  Then, I spied a huge Thomas the Train puzzle for my granddaughter. What a big floor puzzle and what a discount, too! Win-win.

I popped into my daughter’s house to give the gifts.  My granddaughter’s sleepy face, just up from a nap, livened when she saw the puzzle box.

“Thomas!” she screamed.

We put the puzzle today, my daughter, my granddaughter and me. All forty pieces!  No, I lie.  Only thirty-nine.  The center piece was missing.  Oh well.   I wasn’t being observed on the activity and I hadn’t had to write plans for it.  I wouldn’t get a low mark for not having put the puzzle together first to make sure all the pieces were there!  We had a good time, Piece #40 missing or not.

Back to my morning coffee.  I have eaten the donuts.  I asked my husband to bring me one, but he brought me two.  Who am I to turn down two?  Would you want me to hurt his feelings?

I’m going to take my coffee to the window, look at my morning glories and contemplate retirement.

Love to all my readers,

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra, Cramer Hill resident

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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