Sunday, October 9, 2016

Rhymes & Rodents


These stories are factual. The pictures have been changed to protect the innocent... me, and those like me, who terrify easily.


Hickory Dickory Dock.
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down.
Dragging his trap behind him.

Truth is... there are no clocks in our basement.
And for the exact time I can't say for sure.
But a mouse trap was set... 4 of them to be precise, each smeared with peanut butter and strategically placed inside our cellar.

I know this because my husband told me after seeing small droppings (poop presents) where previously there had been none.

But now I'm told there are 3... three traps, three dead mice, and one trap missing, as in gone, vanished, nowhere to be found.

I freaked!... soon after hearing the words house and mouse mouthed together. "Eek!" no, 'Double Eek!' for somewhere in this house there's a mouse, big and powerful enough to pick up a wooden trap... and carry it with him!

Obviously, I don't like mice, and many other creatures I haven't mentioned; but right now the only thing keeping me from jumping out of my skin is that I haven't actually seen anything. Not a single sharp-clawed, twitchy-nosed, naked-tailed, furried-critter has yet to ascend the basement steps and enter my personal space.


And to keep things that way, we drove to Lowes Home Improvement Center where we met an employee offering advice on anti-rodent invasion supplies.

"Mice will chew right through that spray foam you're holding," she said. "You're better off using steel wool to fill in large gaps. Mice won't go near the stuff." This woman knew her "stuff" apparently from first-hand experience.

Her son raised mice for a local pet store. And her neighbor raised chickens, which attracted large colonies of mice. So between her son's few escapees and those from next door, soon HUNDREDS of mice were running amuck in her house!


After closing my dropped jaw, I asked, "How did you cope?"

"I'm not afraid of mice," she said. "I just picked them up by the tail and got rid of them. And I used poison. The poison worked great, but isn't sold anymore because dealers used it to cut their drugs.

Which was way more information than I could assimilate; I clearly stopped listening after hearing... 'hundreds of mice running amuck'.

And here I thought my 'Triple Eek' moment was scary, when years back, in the middle of the night, while living in Jenkintown in our loft space above a candy store, I heard, then saw, my bedside trash can move!

Right there, just inches from my head, was... a GIANT RAT!

"Eek! Eek! Eek!" I screamed, though it may have been just one long "EeeeeeeeeeeK!" that woke my husband.

"It's just a dream," he groggily muttered.

"It's a GIANT RAT" I sputtered.

And like lightening we bolted from our comfy king-sized bed, and ran into my studio, where we both laid, squished and immobile on a daybed, perfectly sized for one person.

Neither of us slept. Even if we had dozed off it wouldn't have lasted because with daylight came audible cries from the far end of Michael's studio.

Bravely, my weary husband, my hero, headed out to investigate.

There he found, stuck inside a five-gallon plastic bucket, not an oversized mutant rat, but a baby-sized OPOSSUM! The first of many!

Source: Elisa Shine

Unlike rodents who scurry and jump when threatened, opossums play dead.

Over the next few days, six opossums, or a passel (a group of opossum) were captured in habitat traps and set free.

As simple as it may sound, capturing these marsupials wasn't easy or convenient.

Often it was between 2 and 3 in the morning when their cries, like blaring alarm clocks would alert us to Quickly Get Up!, Quickly Get Dressed!, and Quickly Drive! to the nearest park where they would be released... ever so... s-l-o-w-l-y. Slowly, because the opossums refused to move; they all played dead!

Michael handled and transported all the creatures; I was just a passenger along for the nerve-wracking ride.

And once her children were gone, Mama Opossum, who had been living beneath the floorboards, chose to exit the building and never return.

Source: Mevv San

Which is my exact wish for the field mice now inhabiting our place in Glenside, that they leave of their own volition and never return! Better still... that their love of the outdoors keeps them from ever venturing indoors!

And that missing trap? Fortunately for us it was found with its catch intact inside a hollow concrete block. Not so fortunate for the mouse, who was once believed to have super-natural ability.

Several more mice have since been caught, but none lately.

Reminiscent of more joyous times when...

'Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse!


I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Speedy! now, Stuart! now Mighty! and Mickey!
On, Templeton! on, Jerry! on, Chuck E! and Minnie!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

~The End~

XOX... Dyan

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Walked & Found: Persona

Found: Plastic with a question.

Some time ago I came across a piece of black plastic lying in the street.

I peered down at the 4 words printed in white letters and thought... is this some 'deep' message from above, and if so, does the universe expect an answer right now?

Just when I thought I had already evolved into somebody... a somebody who's out walking in desperate need of exercise.

So I left my 'find' where I found it and moved on. On towards the next block when curiosity lured me back to the spot where I previously stood.

This time, instead of just peering, I picked up the plastic and flipped it over for clues.

Lucky Chase!... for possessing the payable portion of a Dick's Sporting Goods gift card while I'm left with the discard and a cryptic message asking... "Who Will You Be?"

Fortunately for me, it didn't take long to solve the mystery. Once home and a few swift strokes on a keyboard, here's what I found...

Women now comprise half the shoppers purchasing sporting goods either for their families or for comfortable, stylish activewear for themselves. And because of this new trend, in 2015, Dick's Sporting Goods launched its first ad campaign geared specifically towards women, consisting of a 60-second spot followed by eight 15-second vignettes highlighting the challenges and rewards women face in balancing life and fitness.

According to Dick's chief marketing officer, Lauren Hobart, "Women juggle a lot. There's a lot women need to get done in any given day, so the choice to work out and the choice to fit in fitness is a challenge for people. They have to find time. This campaign celebrates those decisions, and celebrates people for making them."

"Who will you be?" asks the campaign. "Every run. Every workout. Every day. Every choice. Every season starts at Dick's Sporting Goods."

Interesting concept. Though somewhat wasted on me for I'm not big on sports, exercise or television commercials. I am however, intrigued by words and the psychological-sounding query... "Who Will You Be?"

While searching this slogan, I came across a book with similar words titled: Just Who Will You Be? published in 2008, written by Maria Shriver after having been asked to give the commencement speech at her nephew's high school graduation.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction...

"Not too long ago, I was whining to my teenage daughter, "I don't know what I want to be when I grow up!"

She took me by the shoulders, looked me dead in the eye, and said, "I hate to break it to you mom, but this is it for you! You are all grown up! You're cooked!"

I jumped out of my chair. "Not so!" I shot back. "You may think I'm over, but I'm not done yet! I'm still a work in progress, and I'm writing my next act now."

I told her, "You wait and see just who I'll be!"

When my daughter left the room, I wondered, "Is she right? Is this really it? Am I cooked? Am I over? Or do I get another shot at asking what do I want to be when I grow up?"

In having to come up with words of encouragement to give young adults just starting out in the world when she was struggling herself, Ms. Shriver came to realize...

"That asking ourselves not just what we want to be, but who we want to be is important at every stage of our lives, not just when we're starting out in the world. That's because in a way, we're starting out fresh in the world every single day."

"What matters most to me now is what I expect of myself. What matters most to me now is that I know myself... what my heart feels, what my inner voice is telling me.

So just who am I?"

A question like so many other questions I asked myself days after finding that piece of plastic in the street, when once again I was out walking and...

Found: A drawing of a mask stapled to a telephone pole.

And I asked...

Who are you?
And why do you look so surprised?
Who made you and why?
Why on a pole for all to see?
I don't know... you're a mystery to me.

However, I do know a few things about masks and personality.

The word 'personality' comes from the Latin word 'persona' which means 'mask'.

And the persona, according to Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, is the social face the individual presents to the world... "A kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual."

So the study of personality is understood by studying the 'masks' that people wear.

In short... our public vs private selves.

Which may explain the enormous appeal of wearing a decorative mask... the ease and thrill of reinventing ourselves while hiding our true identities. 

Personally, I love Venetian masks, the costumes that go with them, and the unique personas of those wearing them.

Here are a few masks with unique personalities from Carnevale di Venezia...

Photo Credit: Yen Baet

Photo Credit: Stefano Rellandini

Photo Credit: Scott Stulberg



Here are a few links you might find interesting:

View Dick's Sporting Goods one-minute add campaign and their 15-second vignettes (buttons located on the left of the screen) here.

Read Maria Shriver's "My Pledge" from her book Just Who Will You Be? here.

A video of people wearing Venetian masks and costumes here.

Learn how Venetian masks are made here.

And for some fun and personally revealing information:

A color personality test here.

From 'You Just Get Me'... Rate Your Own Personality here.

Are You An Optimist, Pessimist, or Realist? here.

Dedicated to my very dear and 'private' friend
who passed on August 18, 2016
affectionately nicknamed, 'Denisee Pie'
of brilliant mind, big heart, and kind soul,
who enjoyed many of life's mixed pleasures:

Health food, the occasional chocolate croissant, ice cream bar, and fruit tart.
Long walks, bike rides, and times as a couch potato.
Classics and 'trashy' novels.
Fine Art and childhood TV reruns.
Expensive shoes.
And paper plates, "Cause life's too short to wash dishes."

Thank you for more than 4 decades of constant optimism, enthusiasm, inspiration, sincerity, undying devotion and support.

The loss is great.
Having had you in my life, greater.

Peace to you dear friend, who shall forever be remembered.

XOX... Dyan

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Walked & Found: Footwear & Photography

Found: a baby shoe.

Oddly, this baby shoe, in its placement on the curb, looks more like a collectable on display rather than something you'd expect to be strewn about from having been dropped, kicked, or playfully tossed. It's not so hard to imagine that somewhere there's an infant, partially barefoot, with a child-minder unaware that something's gone missing.

Everyday things are lost... and sometimes found.

When I found this soft, ordinary, baby shoe in an ordinary suburban neighborhood, while on my daily walk, I knew it wouldn't make an extraordinary photograph, but shot it anyway thinking it might make a unique story.

Once home, I emailed my cousin, Carl, and told him of my day... about our hot and humid weather (nothing new), my walk, and the object I found.

Moments later he replied with just a picture: a boot in the sand.

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

I think we were communicating, sort of, though I'll never know if this was a photo of his boot or someone else's, if it was placed there or accidentally left behind, or even when it was documented, recently or years ago?

I write volumes; Carl sends photographs.
Occasionally with his images, he'll include a few words, if I'm lucky a whole sentence.

Carl is my first cousin... my father's sister's son, and my favorite living relative. We were both born in New York. He was raised in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn and I grew up in East Meadow, Long Island. Now Carl lives on the West Coast, California and I live on the East Coast, Pennsylvania.

Carl is a morning person, up and out by 5 AM.
I rarely leave the house before 1 PM unless I have an appointment, then I'll get up early and complain the whole time.

Carl is a free spirit, rode a motorcycle for years, now owns a 535i BMW.
I don't drive and spontaneity for me is planning something a day in advance.

Carl hasn't eaten meat, fish or fowl for 45 years.
Me? I can't imagine how anyone can live on air and water alone.

Differences aside, together we share a love for each other and a passion for photography.

Nature is the predominant theme in Carl's photography: landscapes, seascapes and wild animals.

Here's a selection of work from his seascape collection.

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

Photo Credit: Carl Richards

My photography focuses on capturing light and shadows indoors, and when outdoors I shoot urban architecture, remnants of old buildings, facades, surface textures, and signs.

Here are a few of my architectural photographs, a series of windows.

Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

Photo Credit: Dyan Titchnell

Thinking back to the shoe/boot exchange, I'm reminded of a wonderful photography blog, the original name, 3191: A Year of Mornings, later changed to 3191 Miles Apart, with the 3191 referring to the mileage between joint bloggers: Maria Alexandra Vettese (MAV) who lives on the East Coast, in Portland, Maine and Stephanie Congdon Barnes (SCB) who lives on the West Coast, in Portland, Oregon.

Their quirky concept of taking a daily morning snapshot of their lives for an entire year and posting the images online as a diptych started back in December of 2006 after seeing and admiring each other's photographs uploaded on Flickr, photos of a still life of their kitchen tables, which coincidently seemed quite similar.

Here are some of their collaborative images with MAV's photographs always shown on the left and SCB's photographs shown on the right.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Speaking about miles apart... after my cousin read my final draft, he emailed and said: 

"What? We've been communicating since we met, when you were born." Then he added, "The photo was taken very recently; the boot was washed ashore, and shot because I liked the image."

Now that's communication!  A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes you just want to hear the words or see them in print.

To view more photography by Carl Richards go to his website here.

You can read more about 3191 Miles Apart here and view their blog here.

Until next time

XOX... Dyan

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Walked & Found: Tarot

"The Tarot is a pack of 78 playing cards used both for divination (predicting the future) as well as a kind of guided meditation. It is a collection of symbols or archetypes that represent all of human experience. The Tarot is a map of spirit, heart and soul. You lay it out so you can get a bird's-eye-view."
                                                       -Angeliska Polacheck, Tarot card reader

Found: A playing card and a cracked mirror.

Clubs in an ordinary deck of playing cards are equivalent to Wands in a Tarot deck of cards.

Ten of Wands

"Here a hunched-over figure is carrying ten wands. They are so heavy and unwieldy that they block his view of where he's going. The man is carrying more that he should. By burdening himself will all the wands at once, he is hindering his own progress. You get the sense that if he put down some of the wands and took multiple trips, it might take longer, but he would be more successful. Or if he carried the wands in a different arrangement, he could see where he was going. As it is, though, the burden has become overwhelming. If one is going to carry on, adjustments will have to be made.

Burnout is a very fitting word for the Ten of Wands. The wands represent fire, everything that excites us and gives us pleasure. But too much excitement can lead to exhaustion, and too much fire can lead to burnout."
                                                 -Jessa Crispin, author of The Creative Tarot

Just as I came upon this cracked mirror with the Ten of Clubs, a large black bird dropped from a tree. Thud! Dazed and immobile except for his eyes that seemed to spin in circles.

What bird falls from a tree for no reason? Perhaps he was tired. Maybe 'burned out' from too much flying, mating, nesting, or hunting for berries... or whatever else birds do.

Or perhaps he saw his reflection in the cracked mirror and assumed he was doomed to seven years of bad luck... "A common superstition that comes from Roman belief that everybody goes through a physical transformation every seven years. A broken mirror indicates disrupted health and prosperity over the course of that cycle." Source:

Fortunately, the bird recovered. He was gone by the time I returned from my walk.

Months later, I...

Found: A partial playing card and names carved in concrete.

Hearts in an ordinary deck of playing cards are equivalent to Cups in a Tarot deck of cards.

Queen of Cups

This card symbolizes calm, compassion, intuitiveness and represents emotional security. The Queen of Cups is the 'Queen of emotions'.

Here she sits in deep contemplation by the edge of the sea on a throne adorned with fish, shells, and sea nymphs while holding an ornate sealed cup with angel-shaped handles symbolizing thoughts from the deep recesses of the Queen's unconscious.

This card signifies a good outlook in love and relationships.  It indicates a nice balance: equal love shared, with trust and respect between both parties.

When reversed, (card shown upside down) the Queen of Cups signals trouble in paradise... too much independence with the relationship going nowhere.                   -Imelda Green, Editor of Trusted Psychic                                    
I first noticed the couple's name inscribed in freshly poured concrete around the time their house went up for sale, about two years ago.

Now with the addition of the torn and reversed Queen of Hearts/Cups, one has to wonder if Beth & Pierre are still together.

Let's hope for their good fortune and yours!

XOX... Dyan

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Birds: Feathers & 'Tales'

Source: Houston Chronicle

Brawny Bird

"Hey 'Brawny Bird', don't you know it's 5 AM and people are sleeping... were sleeping but not anymore?"

We're up now and pissed, but apparently not as pissed as you.

"What gives with all the bodily banging and thrusting against our bedroom windows... morning, after morning, after morning?"

"I'm no bird whisperer, but I assume you're the alpha male, or trying to become one, that your hormones are poppin' and you want all the 'chicks' to yourself... and heaven help the bird that gets in your way!"

"But your thinking is totally off if you believe another bird is honing in on your territory. Surely you have some self-awareness and can see that it's your own damn reflection you keep trying to obliterate." But obviously not.

"So that's it... we humans, the chosen ones, are living in the dawn of hell because you happen to be all muscle and no brain... and we happen to have the cleanest windows in the neighborhood". Lucky us!

And lucky is what we thought back in December when Winter felt like Spring, and we were able to wash all the windows in our house both inside and out... all 53 panes of glass, never imagining there'd be consequences for such constructive action.

And it was action on my part that eventually put an end to Brawny Bird's antics. Nothing physical... just a logical plan that shouldn't have worked, but did.


Large black and white images of a cat... a cat with intense-looking eyes, lying down, but ready to pounce at any minute were printed and attached to large sheets of cardboard that were then clipped to our bedroom windows.

Thud! Just one thud after encountering a paper cat on one window and Brawny Bird was off! Another day, another single thud. A few more days of thud, thud, thud and eventually all contact with our windows ceased. I can't pinpoint when exactly, but like chronic pain... you ache, and ache, and ache, until one day you suddenly realize the pain is gone.

Bye Bye Brawny Bird.

Hello Brainy Bird.

Source: Koit

And from 'The Week' Magazine, May 27, 2016...

"A mother goose turned to Cincinnati police for help when one of her goslings got tangled up in string. Officer James Givens was sitting in his police cruiser near a city creek when the distraught bird started tapping at the door with its beak.

"It kept pecking," he said. "Normally they don't come near us."

Curious, Givens got out of the car, and the bird led him to a gosling that was tied up in a discarded balloon string. Givens' partner carefully untangled the baby bird, which ran off to rejoin it's happily honking mom"... who proved to be one 'smart' bird.

And shortly before this incident in Cincinnati, curious friends of ours, Joe and Kaylah vacationing in California, emailed asking for the exact location in San Francisco where Michael and I once lived... which opened a can of worms for us as we had long forgotten the address.

But I could picture the place.

Source: Google Street View 2016

And clearly remembered... that it was located on the corner of Leavenworth and Vallejo Streets, that it had been a grocery store, empty for a number of years before we rented it, and once situated, how eager the neighbors were to inform us of the property's notoriety... the place where our landlord's parents had been gunned down for refusing to pay protection money.  Shock City!

Shocked and devastated by the killings, it's no wonder our landlord Tom no longer set foot inside the building until we had it completely revamped to where it looked nothing like the previous place with all its misfortune.

In a way we brought Tom good fortune. Shortly after the property's transformation, it was put on the market and sold for big bucks!

And in flew our new landlord...

Beauty Bird

Source: Vintage Everyday

Beauty bird was a petite woman yet well-endowed. She wore big hair, loads of make-up and eyelashes that practically crossed the street. She was retired, a former Burlesque Queen with traces of having been an eyeful in her day.

And from the floor above we'd hear her practicing to the sound of striptease music.

"Ta Dah, da da... Ta Dah, da da... BOOM Ta Dah... BOOM Ta Dah... da da da."

She was an odd bird in a pleasant sort of way.

Then one day, with lashes 'aflutter', she approached us and said, "Your lease is almost up and I'd love for you to stay. But (short pause) I have to double your rent from 200 dollars to 400 dollars a month."


Not only was she a beauty, but a brawny and brainy bird as well.

Unfortunately for us, we were mere students and a rent increase of any amount back in the early '70s meant... Good Bye Nest Egg! Not that we ever had one.

So when our lease was up we 'flew the coop'... east to Pennsylvania.

Where 'birds of a feather flock together', unless one goes rogue and you happen to have sparkling clean windows... which sounds more like the beginning of this post instead of the end.

So here's one final tale of a rare bird and long-time friend.

Arty Bird

Richard Cramer is an artist and professor emeritus at Tyler School of Art, who now lives and works in New York City.

Here is a selection from his series of bird drawings, the originals measuring 30 X 40 inches done with pen and ink on paper.

There's a saying... "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Until he flies off and starts attacking YOUR windows! Then you'll be looking for that 'stone' from that other saying.

Until 'nest' time and more tales 
"Here and Next"

XOX... Dyan