A Cramer Hill grandmom’s gratitude Day One

Dear Readers,

Although the world might seem bleak, I am grateful for so much.

  1. My seven-month old granddaughter smiles at me and laughs with me.
  2. My little grandgirl loves me so much that she tried to put her pacifier in my mouth.
  3. My sweetie claps….ooh, what is cuter than a baby clapping?

Yes, in case you have guessed it, I’ll confirm it.  I’m babysitting.  Baby Nora is jumping in a bouncy contraption and is saying like Yee-haw!  

I thank God for this precious time.  Love continues to make the world go round.

Love to all readers,

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra, Cramer Hill resident

Feeling loved, loving and grateful for my precious granddaughter

Our Finn marks his one-year anniversary in Cramer Hill, but what should I do?

Dear Readers

What should I do? We’re about to mark Finn’s one-year-anniversary of his life with us in Cramer Hill..

If I send out invitations, rent a hall, secure a caterer, get a DJ, and buy Finn a custom-made tux, I might be overdoing it. He’s a year old. He would run around the legs of the guests and would try to follow his favorite friends into the restroom.

No kidding, he would sit at the feet of the soft-hearted friends and family and would beg for a piece of his huge sheet cake made of Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Salmon dog food that says, “We love you, Finn St. Maarten Ferra! Happy One Year!”

I can only imagine Finn ripping the bows from his gifts and tearing up the wrapping paper as we take videos. He would be thrilled with the dog biscuits, collars, winter coats, stuffed toys and balls that he would receive. What should he play with first? Would he remember to say thank-you?

When the DJ plays Who Let the Dogs Out or How Much Is that Doggy in the Window or, You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog, would he appreciate how carefully the playlist was chosen or would he ignore the music and tear around the reception hall chasing his feline siblings, Reina Anne, Lovey Anne and Bello?

The cats would jump on the feline-friendly folks only table and would look down at him with cool disdain. However, later, at home, they might have let him sneak a taste of their cat food, one bite only, to say, “We love you, bro!” on his special day and they might give him extra room at night when canine and felines snuggle together on the queen bed.

I doubt our Finny would let Carlos, my husband, and I have a slow dance during Paul Anka’s And They Call It Puppy Love because he barks, jumps and tries to separate us if we dance in the kitchen. Could we hope to permit us to enjoy the dance for his doggy dad and mom? Just once, Finn? (By the way, he would make a good chaperone for anyone with a teen-age daughter—call me if you’d like to hire him. JOKING. He’s too young to work.)

Would he write the thank-you notes for his party or would I, the doggy mom, get to buy them, write them, address them, stamp them and mail them at the East Camden Post Office? I know that job would fall to me. What a production his party would turn out to be.

And, our doggy boy’s adoption anniversary is only a few days off. Maybe it’s too last-minute to get it together.

With love to my readers from Cramer Hill,

Marguerite Ferra, blogger, writer, dog lover, cat lover and people lover, too…

Thank you to the people on the beautiful island of Sint Maarten who saved our dog son from life as a feral puppy looking for food in dumpster…the names I know are Team Golden Dog, Dr Jeff Sochrin, Island Radio 92, who is involved with the foster volunteer organization on the Dutch side of SXM, Alexandria Rose who found our dog and his two siblings and later fostered the puppies and Melissa who accompanied him on the plane. There are probably so many more—THANK YOU, Sint Maarten people!

Sincere thanks to the people in New Jersey who helped our dog so much, ALL THEY NEED IS LOVE, the rescue group, especially Emily and Cari. Much love and thanks to all of you, especially our very dear friends, Dawn and Miguel, who loved him when they met him on the island and later fostered him here and who brought him to our house for his trial overnight.  AGAIN, I thank those people whose names I didn’t mention! God bless all of you.

Finn Sint Maarten Ferra, a.k.a. Maarten and Max, is living a great life here with us and he brings us a lot of fun, joy and affection. He might be the most kissed and hugged dog in the state of New Jersey and while he was not a kissy dog at first, he now gives us lots of kisses, too.

In honor of his adoption, next week we will send a donation to ALL THEY NEED IS LOVE and a donation to ROOM TO READ. We love human kids, too, so we’ll help them out as well. Some people think that animal lovers don’t love people, but that’s not true in our case.

Cramer Hill Great-Grandmother Celebrates

Dear Readers,

The rain is beating on our metal patio roof here in Cramer Hill and I’m thinking about what should I write?  What’s on my mind this quiet morning in Camden?  Maybe it’s how can I believe that my mom turned ninety-one? That happened so fast.

I thought time would slow down in retirement and it has slowed down somewhat, but it didn’t stop.  It didn’t reverse and I haven’t woken up and found myself twenty-five, nor thirty-five, nor forty-five, etc.  (Sixty-five!)  Oh, boy!  It’s corny, but time marches on–although it marches a bit more slowly than the much, much brisker march when I taught school.  No slow marches in a teacher’s day.

My mom’s elder life marches much more slowly.  It took a while to persuade her to cut short her nap  to attend her party, but she got out of bed after much coaxing, left the house dressed up and looked forward to her special day.

We celebrated my mother’s birthday at Carollo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant in Pennsauken because the service is friendly, the food is good and the entrance is accessible for my mom who needs help walking.  There we were–four generations of women all together at Carollo’s–my mom, me, Kim and Nora–all strong-minded women–in the very best sense, of course—along with family and friends.

Our dear little baby loved my mother’s birthday tiara and she loved my mom’s nose, too.  She gave my mom’s nose a little squeeze as a gift that only a girl almost five months old could give a great-grandmom.

My Cousin Kathy brought a pumpkin pie to add to the birthday cake and that pie pleased my mom no end.  “I’ll have a slice of both,” said my mother calmly and she did.


Love from Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra and wishing all of you a happy day and a happy year.

Thanks to the people who sent my mom cards and sent her electronic birthday wishes.  She enjoyed them very much.

Good news Cramer Hill story! Friendship!

Dear Readers,

Oh, please.  I can’t take one more bit of bad news.  It’s overwhelming.  I can’t read even half of the newspaper.  So, here’s a good story for you.

Decades ago, my mom babysat to help out a young neighbor in our Anthony Park Townhouses in Cramer Hill near St. Anthony of Padua Church. We still live there.  That young neighbor, Georgia, moved out of Cramer Hill, but she never forgot that my mom babysat for her.

So, for all these years, Georgia makes sure to visit my mom even if she has to drive an hour to reach Mom here in Cramer Hill.  She takes Mom out to lunch.  But, this week I made lunch for us and we ate at Mom’s table that she has had before I was born…so the table is, at least, twenty-five?….no, I’m lying, SIXTY-FIVE YEARS OLD.  Lots of friends, neighbors and family have sat at that table!

We chatted and munched.  How great to catch up on old times together!

My mom might have forgotten what happened yesterday, but she remembered Georgia and her children and even her grandchildren.  She loved to hear Georgia’s tales of their talents and adventures.

Georgia cuts my mom’s hair on her visits and traditionally she won’t accept a penny.  This week, my brother, Ken, set out money to try, try, try, to pay her for present and past haircuts. I said, “You have to take it this time, please.  Ken’s going to be mad if I don’t make you take it.”

She laughed mischievously.  “Let him be mad.  I’m not taking it.”

Then, she paused at the door, went to the table and picked up the money.   I was glad, but surprised. I thought, “Good, at last!”

She handed the cash to my mom and said, “For your birthday this month!”

My mom looked surprised at the money and quietly counted it. (She was the queen of budgeting and handling money well.)  But, my mom doesn’t handle cash lately so having the bills in her hands  pleased her.  She folded them into her napkin, “I’ll save this money for Christmas gifts.”

Everyone hugged good-bye.   Mom counted her money again after Georgia left.  I know she felt rich–not only because of the gift of money, but she felt rich in friendship and rich in being appreciated after many decades.  God bless you, Georgia.  You never forgot your Cramer Hill friend.  We appreciate and love you, too.

Love from

Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra

Cramer Hill

I’m the proudest grandmother in Cramer Hill this morning!

Dear Readers,

Every day is special for me because I have a granddaughter, but today, this morning, topped them all.  And wow! Today my five-month-old grandbaby wrote to me –a private Facebook message, but I will share it with you.   Xffr gut a cnn, lx÷

Yes, can you believe it? She wrote Xffr gut a cnn, lx÷            

I admit that her mom opened Facebook for her and that the baby’s spelling is “invented spelling.”  (Thanks, Kim, for not correcting her work and discouraging your daughter’s fine effort.)  However, after years of reading “invented spelling” as a teacher, I feel that I correctly interpreted  Xffr gut a cnn, lx÷  to mean something like, “Dear Grandmommy, My love for you can never be divided.”

How proud I am. She used a capital letter, a comma and a mathematical symbol, the division sign. Now, wasn’t that an interesting sentence?

Perhaps she will grow up to be a writer and a mathematician? The best of both worlds!

My granddaughter’s first written communication to me—what a great day!

Ah, the insane bliss of grandmotherhood!

Love from Marguerite Ferra, Cramer Hill grandmother

Cramer Hill resident writes to an old friend at ninety…

Dear Readers,

This morning after breakfast, my ninety-one-year mom and I talked about her girlfriend from Burrough Junior High School (North Camden) and Woodrow Willson High School (East Camden.)

How lovely to have good memories about friends from decades ago!

Mom laughed about the time that she bought a real fur coat (raccoon) and visited Mary’s’ house to show the coat and how the parents delighted in the coat.  I’ve heard the story many times.  Mom worked at Bell Telephone in Camden and she had saved her money for that special coat.

There wasn’t much fun during World War II, but wearing that coat made her happy.  My dad (her boyfriend at the time) was in the South Pacific.   The coat became the only extravagance of her lifetime and she wore it proudly for decades.

I brought over a notecard and wrote a message for her to send to Mary in Florida.  However, she deemed it too short and took a piece of lined paper and added a message in her own still fine penmanship.    When I first had asked her about writing to her friend, she looked dubious and a little confused.  That’s why I wrote the notecard, but Mom got herself together and started writing.  She remembered that she liked to write.  She could have been a blogger!

Before I asked Mom to write, I looked up Mary’s name and address online to make sure that Mary was still alive.  You never know.  When you are in your nineties, many of your friends have passed away. Happily, her friend is still alive and I hope she enjoys Mom’s note.  These girlfriends had phoned and corresponded and visited for many years, but not lately.  Old age and a bit of dementia can be limiting..

My mom’s birthday is coming up.  September 28th.  I think that is the day that Pope Francis comes to Philly.  I doubt that he’ll make it to Mom’s cake and ice cream.

I’m glad to report that Mom lacks for nothing–in fact, she has almost too many doodads that she has received from her many birthday celebrations.

However, she loves, loves, loves birthday cards and looks at them for months afterwards.

If you “know” me (in any way–blog reader counts) and would like to send my mom a birthday card for her NINETY-FIRST (!!!), please click on 91momsbirthday@gmail.com and I’ll reply with my home address so you can send her a card.  She loves flowers, especially pansies.  Sometimes the stores have lots of pansy cards–some years none.  Maybe she’ll get lucky this year!

Please identify who you are when you sign the card—  Your niece, Kathy,  Your daughter’s friend, Zana,  Your old neighbor,  Anna,  etc.

If you would like to send her a card, you could send it even today…  what a great month of September for my mom…receiving a card or two every day!

Thanks.  Enjoy this September day. Write a note to an old friend!

Love from

Marguerite Ferra, Cramer Hill blogger


Dear Readers,

Did you know that the billionaire author of the Harry Potter books got her idea to write about a young wizard on a four-ride (delayed) train ride? When my daughter and son-in-law asked me to go to Washington DC to watch the baby while they attended a wedding, I thought, “I’ll take the train. Perhaps what worked for J. K. Rowling will work for me.”

I booked my trip, senior fare, business class. This weekend was my summer vacation so I decided that I could splurge on the extra twenty-five dollars to have enough leg room in business class. The Philly-DC ride is only two hours so I’d only get half of the creative thinking time needed by J.K.R. so why not maximize the time by being comfy? Business class is always somewhat quieter, too.

The “kids” were taking me home in the car so I wouldn’t have another train ride for a little while. I would take advantage of every minute in business class.

My husband, Carlos, drove me to the NJ Transit Cherry Hill station that is behind the Shop-Rite to catch the 5:42 a.m. Yes, 5:42 a.m. We got up at 4:30 a.m. from our beds in Cramer Hill to make sure that I wouldn’t miss it and I didn’t. The senior fare was $1.50. What a bargain! Sometimes it’s almost worth getting old. Almost.

That train to Philly was quiet. Passengers looked stunned that they were out of bed that early. At least, I was.

When I arrived at 30th Street Station, I felt vacation-y. You know that tired, but excited, anticipatory feeling? The woman at the tickets told me that I could catch the very next train. Business class. No extra cost. There were seats. I would not have to wait until the 8:40 a.m. train. Well, okey-dokey. I’d have more time to breakfast in Union Square, my favorite train station.

My fellow passengers and I descended into the ground via the escalator, down to the platform. We waited. And waited. And waited.

I thought about money and J. K. Rowling. Who wouldn’t like to become a billionaire? However, I did read that sometimes Ms. Rowling isn’t a full billionaire because she gives so much money to charity. That’s a problem that I wouldn’t mind.  Think of the headlines, “CAMDEN WOMAN NO LONGER BILLIONAIRE BECAUSE SHE GIVES SO MUCH TO CHARITY!”

Female passengers kept touching their hair-dos because it was warm and humid down there. The humidity overcame hair spray. ( I did notice that the men weren’t touching their heads.Most of the men were bald.  But, looking prosperous!) Luckily, I hadn’t done anything fancy—my hair-do had been the 4:30 a.m. wash and brush special.

Where was the train? I was getting bored. I tried to create a story while I surveyed the others who were waiting impatiently, but politely. People folded newspapers and tucked them under their arms, tapped feet and complained that the train was late.

A train employee strutted through groups of disgruntled passengers and shouted out, “Don’t kill the messenger. I’m only the messenger. You have to board another train because your train had a problem.”

We trooped upstairs and  looked at each other in despair, but, in a few minutes, we trooped back down to board the ACELA. The fast train. The nicest train. The most expensive train! At no extra cost and with an even earlier arrival into DC!

Oops! Less time for me to be J. K. Rowling. I knew that I would have to make the most of every minute on the train. I wasn’t going to have four hours, not even two full hours to get an idea for something to write. At least, twenty minutes less. I had to focus, focus, focus while on the train. No looking out the window, no chatting with other passengers, no thinking about possible frizzy hair.

I blissed in the ACELA silence of people working on laptops or staring into cell phones. The perfect atmosphere to get an idea.  I wondered if J. K. Rowling and I could be BFFs.

But, I felt myself blinking uncontrollably.

The next thing I knew a voice came over the speaker, “Last stop. Washington, DC.”