Saturday, October 31, 2009

Forgotten Graveyards

I decided on my poem today after visiting one of my favorite blogs, Life at Willow Manor.  Today, Willow wrote about steles, stone markers or slabs, used as monuments in cemeteries.  She went on to include some wonderful cemetery pictures and to discuss symbols used in tombstone art.  You can visit this blog at:

I have always loved visiting cemeteries, especially old ones at small country churches.  In days gone by, before the era of interstates and freeways, I would frequently stop in my travels, to take a break wandering among tombstones, wondering about the residents.  Many of the graveyards seemed bedraggled and forgotten but, every now and then, a grave would stand out, well tended, with fresh flowers, indicating someone in the vicinity still cared about the deceased buried there.

As a student nurse in New Orleans, I spent many hours at the wonderful cemeteries, "cities of the dead," for which that city is famous.  Because of the high water table of the city, burial is made in vaults above the ground.  Wealthy families have tombs with crypts that are most ornate, with wrought iron gates and beautiful statuary.  More than one family member can be buried in the same vault as long as the previous resident has been deceased for two years.  The remains of that person are then placed in a special burial bag which is placed to the back or side of the vault, his or her coffin is destroyed, then there is room for the newly deceased family member.

When I was a new bride, my husband was stationed at Hanscom Field in the Lexington - Concord area of Massachusetts.  What a wonderful place that was for old cemeteries, with very famous residents from Revolutionary times.  Our group of Air Force wives would venture out, armed with colored wax and sheets of paper to do gravestone rubbings, especially on warm days, then we would lunch at some wonderful historic inn.

A few years ago, for a writing site in which I participate, I penned this poem, "Forgotten Graveyards."  Willow's blog, today, remind me of it.

Forgotten Graveyards

I walk and stir the fallen leaves,
And think of those at rest,
Crumbling gravestones all around,
Which make me feel depressed.

Why this toddler's young demise?
A mother's pain so long ago
Sobs on a cold November morn,
As blustery winds would blow.

This one is a soldier's grave,
Did he die in some far war?
Longing for his love back home,
Life ebbing to a cannon's roar.

This man lived a hundred years,
He saw so much of life,
Were they years of happiness,
Or were they filled with strife?

This tree shades a woman,
"Beloved" the tombstone reads,
And yet her resting place displays,
Neglect and countless weeds.

Are they all forgotten?
Once loved but abandoned here,
To wait out all eternity
With no one to shed a tear.

Carmen Henesy

Copyright (c) 2007 by Carmen Henesy All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trick or Treat

Well, two more nights until the doorbell will be ringing, with an assortment of princesses, ghosts, goblins and superheros waiting on the stoop, anticipating a haul of sugary treats that induce nightmares in the dental profession.  I no longer have little ones in my family but I love the parade, starting soon after sunset.  Each year, it seems, the number of little visitors seems to dwindle as parents become more anxious about safety.  It makes me feel sad that an evening that used to be so much fun has suffered because of the actions of some.

Here's hoping this Halloween will be a safe one for everyone!

 Trick or Treat

A full moon lights the sky tonight,
And ghosts do roam the earth,
Witches board their broomsticks,
And cackle in great mirth.
Throngs of vampires gather,
Midst fairies, sweet and pure,
And here and there is Frankenstein,
Or a creature most obscure.

In great anticipation,
They walk about the land,
With sacks, and bags and satchels,
Held tightly in their hand.

They stroll about together,
And at every house along a street,
In a resounding chorus,
They cry out, "trick or treat."

Carmen Henesy

Copyright © 2008 Carmen Henesy. All Rights Reserved

The Language of Roses

The Language of Roses

She walked in swaying rhythm,
On a path with petals strewn,
As waves kissed lonely beaches,
Beneath a giant golden moon

The night held scents of roses,
That grew profusely everywhere,
She had one perfect fragrant bloom,
Pinned in her flowing raven hair.

She loved their riotous colors,
A tapestry of nature's art,
The most exquisite of all flowers,
A gift from a lover's heart.

She turned to find him watching,
His smoldering eyes caressed, .
His hand held out a perfect rose,
As she smiled and ,then, undressed

Carmen Henesy

Copyright © 2007 Carmen Henesy. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When It Rains

I do believe the sun's rays are making a feeble effort to break through the billowy gray clouds this morning.  Yesterday was filled with torrential downpours.  It reminded me of Bollywood films I've seen of India  monsoons, with hour after hour of steady rain.  Unlike Georgia's tumultuous summer thunderstorms, with sounds like sonic booms and blazing steaks of lightning, this was silent rain that kept up for hours.  It made for such a lazy day, luring both me and my mother back to our respective bed for long afternoon naps.  Such luxury to lie there, listening to the steady drumming of rain  on the driveway outside the window.  It reminded me of a poem I penned awhile backed, titled, "When It Rains."  I hope you like it.

When It Rains

Crashing drops pound upon,
The roof of hammered tin,
And I stretch, languidly,
And become a child again.

I recall those summer days,
When a sudden raging storm,
Left puddles meant for splashing,
With water nice and warm!

Raindrops fall on arid lands,
And quench the thirsty earth,
Rewarding us with flowers,
And a sense of new rebirth.

Downpours fall in heavy sheets,
Obscuring all from sight,
A hazard for those driving,
Or venturing out into the night.

Rain can be the lightest mist,
That barely wets the ground,
And as it falls around us,
It doesn't make a sound.

It also falls while thunder,
Booms from a threatening sky,
Accented by streaked lightning,
Menacing all nearby.

Carmen Henesy

©2009 Carmen Henesy. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ramblings from the South

I arrived in Columbus, GA about 1PM on Sunday, October 25th, twelve hours after I left San Francisco International.  I was unbelievably lucky on my five hour overnight flight to New York - three whole seats to myself in coach so I was able to stretch out and sleep for about three hours ( of course, not nearly so comfortably as in business class to and from Europe for my birthday - still I  gave thanks for my good fortune! ),  For the first time ever, I did not rent a car this visit.  Now that my retirement has me on such a fixed income, the $200/week fee seemed too steep for the convenience of having a car sit in the driveway for most of my stay.  I decided to be practical and get a car for a couple of days only since I do need to take my mother to get a senior citizen I. D. card and I'll need to do some grocery shopping.  Even the shopping could be done by taxi on a short jaunt that would cost less than eight dollars round trip.

This morning, the installer from Mediacom  braved the torrential sheets of rain to come out and put in internet for me so, at least, I am connected to the outside world, email, and blogging.  How quickly we take these things for granted.  Last visit, I had an important project I was unable to complete by its deadline so it seemed well worth the $20/month internet fee to have internet access here.  My brother, who is an IBM employee, will also have it handy when he visits from Florida so we will both benefit.  I just wish my mother had gotten a computer before her eyesight deteriorated so much.  She always had such a thirst for knowledge and, with the ability to enlarge font, make pictures full screen, this would have been wonderful for her.  When I mention it now, she just tells me she isn't interested.

While I am home, I will be able to show her all my online photo albums.  She hasn't been able to see much of her grandsons over the years and, with me living 2500 miles away, my visits have usually been limited to two a year.  I'm glad I've come three times since my retirement in April.  It breaks my heart to see her sitting in her chair across the room, staring into space, listening to the rain.  My mother says she isn't in any pain at all which surprises me since she used to complain of joint pain in her knees and wrists.

I am cherishing my time with her, happy to be able to fix meals for her and glad of this time together when we are not at odds as we often were in years past.  Now, while she naps, I am going to catch up on the blog reading I have missed since I left home Saturday night.  I have certainly missed you all, especially with my two with absence for my birthday!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Returning From the Library

Since my children have grown up, I haven't been a frequent user of the library.  With my forensic nursing job, I would be at the hospital all hours of the day and night, taking care of victims of sexual assault and, when I wasn't, I would try to grab a little sleep in the odd moments that I could. I absolutely love libraries but most weren't conveniently open to suit my neeed ( 4AM, midnight ).  I learned about new books via the internet - so conveniently available ALL the time.  If I saw something I liked, I would order it.  Now with the loss of my job of twenty-one years, in the horrible budget cuts to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, my retirement, and the major decrease in my annual income, I cannot afford to order books the way I once did.  Woe is me!!  Adjustment is not easy for an old lady!  However, it has forced me to rediscover libraries and what wondrous places they are.  I spend hours at the one closest to my house.  When it doesn't offer what I need, I venture further afield to downtown San Francisco, an absolute mecca of volumes to keep one entertained indefinitely. 

This poem was penned after one such visit.

Returning From the Library

An afternoon well spent,
In avid search of books,
From myriad various stacks,
And hidden little nooks.

I’m anxious to get home,
My treasures to peruse,
Viewing all the volumes,
Which one will I first choose?

For two weeks I will be,
Enmeshed in many tasks,
Mastering Balinese cooking,
Illustrated by exotic masks.

I have the new bestseller,
A favorite mystery sleuth,
Who keeps me waiting breathless,
As he searches for the truth.

I’ve a book on herbal medicine,
I hope that I can learn,
To halt the aging process,
And help my youth return!

There’s a travel volume,
With scenes of glorious Greece,
And a book of meditations,
To help find inner peace.

That will keep me busy,
But if I need a few days more,
I can do online renewal,
Without walking out my door!

Carmen Henesy

Copyright © 2009 Carmen Henesy. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Poems

On Poems

Poems have filled us all with wonder,
Written by the rich and poor,
Verses penned in homes palatial,
Or in hovels most obscure.

Epic tales of ancient Greece,
Show modern times Achilles' wrath,
Or let us see through Robert Frost,
The snowy woods on a winter path.

Poets speak of love unending,
In sonnets and in flowery prose,
Japanese poets gave us haiku,
From which simple beauty flows.

Five lined limericks make us laugh,
Though some may be a bit risqué,
While ballads, often sung in rhyme,
Narrative tales they may portray.

Whatever genre peaks your fancy,
There is a type for every soul,
A literary journey for the senses,
The rewards of which I can extol.

Carmen Henesy

Copyright © 2009 Carmen Henesy. All Rights Reserved.

65th Birthday Celebration - Second Photos - The Navigator of the Seas, Pisa and Lucca

65th Birthday Celebration - Second Set of Photos
The Navigator of the Seas, Pisa and Lucca

On October 4th, we arrived in Civitivecchia, to board Royal Caribbean's 138,000 ton Navigator of the Seas.  I had done a twelve day transatlantic crossing on her in April 2008 so I already had made some crew friends on board the ship and two long time friends, Edsel Toscano, casino
cashier supervisor, and Robert Wood, Restaurant Operations Manager, had recently joined the ship.  I was very much looking forward to seeing them again.  This was my 76th Royal Caribbean cruise in 14-1/2 years and as a "Diamond Plus" member, we had a special check in line and were soon ready to board.  We had a phenomenal surprise awaiting us!  Our balcony cabin had been upgraded to a Royal Family suite!  It was a huge aft cabin with a living room, dining area, TWO bedrooms, TWO bathrooms, numberous drawers and closets and the most
wonderful cabin steward ever!  Also, the balcony ran the entire length of the room and accommodated a table and chairs and three chaise lounges.  Too bad the cruise was only going to last six days.  I was ready to go around the world in this suite!

This is our suite living room - couch made into a sofa bed

This was my bed - I had a nice dressing table and a row of closets and shelves

One bathroom in our suite

We even had a tub in this bathroom!

Desk and bar area - we had enough glassware to host a big party!

Dining area with my roses from Crown and Anchor

Second bedroom

Wonderful balcony for morning coffee or evening wine!

Side viewof our balcony

With my dear friend, Robert Wood, of England, Restaurant Operations Manager

One of my favorite spots on the ship was Vintages Wine Bar and the wonderful "wine tenders" who staff the place.  One of the Royal Caribbean Food and Beverage Managers, Chris Nothdurft, knowing my love of wine, had recommended Vintages to me when I did the transatlantic last year.  Much to my delight, several of the crew I knew from that time were on board for this cruise.  They greeted me like family which is the way it gets to be when you are a frequent cruiser.

Here I am with Olga - who I met for the first time this cruise.

This is Michelle from the Philippines.

Last, but not least, is Christina - I got to meet her mother who was sailing with us this cruise.

Livorno, Italy - with Ricardo

Last year, when I cruised in the Mediterranean on the Legend of the Seas, we were fortunate to have Ricardo show us about Pisa and Lucca.  As soon as I knew we were coming on the Navigator, I contacted the taxi company and was able to have him escort us again.  He is such a delight and we had the most wonderful day.

Pisa is a lovely city in the central Italy region of Tuscany, on the Arno River.  It has a population of about 80,000 people and is famous for its leaning tower.  Pisa figured signifignantly in ancient times and during the Middle Ages.

The tower and cathedral at Pisa

The leaning tower and statue of cherubs

The leaning tower of Pisa

The leaning tower is the freestanding campanile or bell tower and is the third structure built
in the square, following the cathedral and the baptistry.  While it was meant to stand vertically,
soon after construction, it began to shift, because of a poorly laid foundation and loose
substrate.  Restoration work, which began in 1990, has corrected the lean 1.51 degrees.
The construction of the tower took about 177 years, progressing in three stages.  War halted construction, at one time, for almost a century.  The tower houses seven bells, one each for a major note on the musical scale.

 The Baptistry

A coffee break in Pisa

Close up of Pisa cathedral facade

Little police car

Pisa street scene

Lucca, Italy - birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, opera great

Lucca is a Tuscan city in Italy, situated on the River Serchio.  It became a Roman colony in 180 B. C. and its Renaissance-era city walls remain intact.  Napoleon took over Lucca in 1805.

Lucca scene

Lucca's Giacomo Puccini, composer of operas La Boheme, Tosca, Madame Butterfly

Crowded shopping street, Lucca

Tall tower, Lucca

Beautiful Luccan Square

Angel looking out on the square

The square is almost deserted at the end of the day

Our final toast to Lucca

Passing a luxury Italian yacht builder

Apartment living in Tuscany

We had spent a wonderful day in Pisa and Lucca and I bade farewell to Ricardo for a second consecutive year, somewhat sadly, wondering if this might be my last trip to this area of the world.  If I ever return, he will definitely be the first person I will call to take me about, perhaps to Cinque de Terre or another wonderful area near the port of Livorno.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Take the Time


Take the time to pause and wonder,
At the things you see today,
The brilliant hues of morning sunrise
The racing gulls upon the bay.

Take the time to feel the breezes.
Soft and cool upon your face,
Savor every special moment,
Of your lover's sweet embrace.

Take the time to smell the roses,
As they make the air so sweet,
Look in wonder and amazement,
At miles and miles of swaying wheat.

Take the time to smile at children,
As they learn about their world,
Keep their sense of awed excitement,
As new mysteries are unfurled.

Take the time to say I love you,
These are words that one should share,
How sad to say, when life is ending,
"But they have to know I care".

Take the time while there is time,
For all of us, time has to end.
Let's hope that every second left,
Brings love and happiness, my friend.

Carmen Henesy


Monday, October 19, 2009

65th Birthday Celebration - First Photos - Rome

Much to my relief, I did arrive at Rome's Hotel Napoleon in time for their Friday evening "wine appreciation hour."  I had been worried about that, since my flight didn't touch down at FCO until nearly 4:30PM and, with clearing customs, and evening rush hour, I was sure I wouldn't make it by 6PM.  When I stayed there in April 2008, a year and a half ago, it was such a fun event, attended by hotel management who treat you like family - and their Italian wine selections were superb!

Here I am with Roberto Cioce, Hotel Manager, a most delightful gentleman who has become a friend.  Now that I am retired, I am not sure I will ever get back to Rome but I have delighted in staying at the Hotel Napoleon during my two visits, in April 2008, and for my birthday, in October 2009.  I would recommend this warm and pleasant hotel ( which came highly recommended on TripAdvisor ) to anyone visiting the Eternal City!

With the ultimate concierge, Francisco Quirinis, who is the best I have ever met, anywhere in the world.  He is handsome, magical, charming and can accomplish anything.

I was so amazed that Pietro, the bartender, remembered me, as did other staff, a year and a half later.  It is such a family hotel and the employees stay for years.

My friends and me, enjoying the "wine appreciation hour" to the fullest!

The Coliseum, within walking distance of the Hotel Napoleon.

We headed out to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican on my birthday, October 3rd.  It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny.  This building was across the street from the ticket entrance to the Sistine Chapel.

We already had our tickets but there was a long line and, of course, this group of boys were being boys and had tried to make a pyramid up the wall.

Pretty apartment buildings across from the entrance to the Sistine Chapel.

Sturdy shrub growing through the bricks!

Vatican Statue

Beautiful stained glass 

Vatican Square and St. Peter's Basilica

Driving back to our hotel, we saw this bride and groom on a hillside!

My birthday lunch - yummy grilled vegetables and very good house pinot grigio!

Sign above the restaurant entrance to downstairs - I found it quite comical - I guess it referred to the low overhang but I wasn't totally sure!

My birthday dinner at Orso 80 in Rome.  I discovered this restaurant last year when I was in Rome for my 64th birthday.  It is a delightful family run restaurant, famous for its local dishes.  On TripAdvisor, it is rated #127 out of 1593 restaurants in Rome.  

We ordered the Roman Antipasto for the table, deciding to wait to order anything more and that was a wise decision.  We could not have eaten another dish.  Plate after plate of fabulous antipasti ( fifteen in all ) arrived - grilled eggplant, proscuitto, grilled zucchini, olives, meatballs, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, shrimp, salami, mushrooms - I can't remember everything!  Topped of by an excellent Italian red wine, recommended by our waiter, we were totally content.

My first plate - there was a second to match this.

This was an amazing surprise, out of the "small world" catergory.  We were sitting at our table, when this lady approached and asked if I was Carmen Henesy.  I thought she looked vaguely familiar.  She said she was dining with her companion Delta flight attendants when we passed their tables.  "I recognized your by your eye shadow." ( I always match my outfits...have done it for about 50 years! ).  Anyway, Jennifer and I attended a Spanish child forensic interviewing course in Huntsville, Alabama together two years ago!  We've corresponded since but haven't seen each other.  It was such a surprise to run into her in Rome at the very same restaurant!

The finale!

 We left the restaurant and decided to walk to the Piazza Navonna for a nightcap.  There were little vendors in the street and my friend, Phil, bought me this sweet bracelet for my birthday.  Since my friend, Brenda, was wearing a red dress, I let her wear it for the evening.  She modeled it for this picture, with our bottle of wine.

It was pretty crowded at the Piazza Navonna so we spent about an hour, sipping wine and listening to strolling musicians.  Lovely!

Someone must have hugged off part of my eye makeup!  After a little wine, who cares?
Our time in Rome flew by all too quickly.  Fortunately, I was there last year and had been several times before so sightseeing wasn't so much an issue.  I was able to relax and just take it easy. 
We left early on Sunday morning for Civitivecchia to board Royal Caribbean's huge Navigator of the Seas for our six day Mediterranean cruise.  More on that and pictures, of course, in another episode.