Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Theo Discovers Gilbert & Sullivan


Caption: Theodore, left, with Natalie.

Mom and dad applaud Campbell School of Metuchen for exposing first graders to the brilliant musical-comedy team of Gilbert & Sullivan, artists that dad himself didn’t discover until well after a thorough liberal arts education at Indiana University.

“What’s that song that goes real fast?” Theo asked.
“I am the very model of a modern major general,” dad answered.
“That’s the one!” Theo said.

But there was another song Theo liked even better, but he couldn’t remember the title. After eliminating “When a Felon’s not engaged in his employment” and “He is an Englishman,” Theo and dad went to the Gilbert & Sullivan greatest hits CD and listened to the recordings from “Pirates” until we heard: “With Cat-Like Tread.” (Gentle reader, you may know this as the tune for “Hail, hail the gang’s all here.”)

“That’s the one!” said Theodore.

To dad’s surprise and happiness, Theo took great interest in the lyrics, and mom wrote them down on a piece of paper for Theo to study:

Come, friends, who plough the sea,
Truce to navigation,
Take another station,
Let’s vary piracy
With a little burg-la-ree.

After listening to the song a couple more times, Theo went off to the dining room to transcribe the lyrics in his own hand, and after his own fashion – he condensed the five lines into three on his sheet music.

Dad thinks an objective observer would describe Theo’s penmanship as impressive, and his overall interest in light musical comedy from the late 19th century as remarkably precocious.

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Here is a link to one of dad’s favorite Gilbert & Sullivan web sites:

http://math.boisestate.edu/GaS/index.html

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Joyce Clark wins Photo Contest


Caption: Winning entry: Even Daddy, top right, looks good in this picture.

Milford Pa.-based Joyce Clark won grand prize in the Clarks of New Jersey family photo contest. Her entry: “Clarks by the Fireplace” was described by the Pike County Arts Review as “Magnificent!”

The photo was taken on Thanksgiving Day, a great family celebration in Milford that brought together the Clarks of Penna., the Clarks of N.J. the Davidians of Princeton, and Sister Bernice Marie of Lodi, N.J.

Congratulations and a special thanks to Mimi, for once again providing a spectacular Thanksgiving Day spread!

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What is your best Thanksgiving Day memory?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Daddy's little girl



At night, Daddy tiptoes into Natalie's room and turns off her night light. He usually lingers a few minutes, watching her sleep peacefully.
Last night, Daddy discovered Pliplup, the Pokemon character, in bed with Natalie, along with a Pokemon book. Dad reported this discovery to mom.
"Yeah, she likes Pokemon now," Mom said.
In the morning, Natalie loved hearing that Pliplup spoke with Daddy when she was asleep.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Joking around


No fooling: Theo's in the Cub Scouts

Natalie has a good sense of humor – meaning, she knows when someone is joking. She’ll often ask: “Is that a joke?” Sometimes she’ll pretend to cry, very convincingly, then surprise her parents by saying: “I’m just joking.”

Theodore likes jokes, too. Here’s the one he brought home from first grade: “Why can’t the teacher go to the Pirate Movie? Because it’s R-rated.” Why a teacher is banned from the movie is unclear, and Theo didn’t accentuate the “Arrrrr,” as a pirate would.

He asked me if I understood the joke. Yes I do, Theo. “I don’t,” he said.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween in Metuchen


caption: Children have forgotten the true meaning of Halloween.

The kitty cat costume once again brought thrills to New Jersey residents, but little Natalie made a switch late in the day, changing into a beautiful Jasmine outfit. Theo played Prince Caspian, a lesser known Disney character. He pulled it off magnificently.

I just asked Natalie what was her favorite thing about Halloween. Here's what she said: "Candies." Kids today. They have forgotten the true meaning of Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Get on the bus!


Caption: Theodore, 6, catches the 8:01 to Campbell.

This morning the Clarks of New Jersey walked down the middle of the street to Theodore’s bus stop at Voorhees Place and Amboy Avenue. Bella and her dad crossed Amboy from their beautiful white farmhouse, and in a moment our happy party heard the screech of the bus brakes.

Bella hugged her dad furiously. Theo gave his mother a tender hug, but when he was told to “give a hug to daddy,” he changed gears. Careful not to get too close, he quickly approached dad with arms outstretched. He applied pressure to dad’s left elbow and right hip. He pushed his hands together, as one would squeeze an exercise machine. During this little gesture, which surprised dad very much, Theo smiled happily.

Theo’s contact with dad usually involves a kick, a punch or a stab with an imaginary light saber. So this embrace was relatively touching, and most welcome!

Theo earned his fist badge as a Tiger Cub Scout, and he was very proud. The badge was for learning the Tiger Cub motto. I asked him what it was. “Do your best,” he said.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hostages to Fortune


The author, at an Ace convention in St. Louis.

The Clarks of New Jersey Web log has been very quiet in recent weeks. Business travel and work have encroached upon free time. Casey Clark, the author, has been in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Chicago – all in the last three weeks. And he’s going to Denver and Atlanta in the coming month. Work, work, work.
Here is what the great Bertrand Russell wrote about work: “Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surve relatively to other such matters; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.”
Anyway, Daddy is happy not to have to move heavy objects. The readers of this log will kindly forgive the author for his neglect and remember that the value of entertainment contained herein combines high value and low price. More on the Clarks of New Jersey will be broadcast soon. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

America the Beautiful


FELLOW AMERICANS: Natalie (left) and Margie Clark.

The Clarks of New Jersey often worry about the dangers of patriotism, described by Bertrand Russell as “the chief curse of our age.” But the Spirit of 76 is alive and well in our house, and George Washington’s portrait hangs lovingly in a place of honor above our fireplace mantel.

It was with this love of country that Margie took the 9:17 a.m. train to Newark this morning, to become a citizen of the United States of America. She aced her citizenship test – a perfect score. Then, on the 15th floor of a federal building on Broad Street, she raised her right hand and swore loyalty to the U.S.A., the first country in the history of the world to turn its back on Kings, Popes and Emperors.

Natalie, Theo and Daddy arrived in Newark in time to see Islamic spiritual leader Mohamed Qatanani’s press conference, during which he praised immigration officials for allowing him to remain in the U.S., despite alleged links to Hamas, the ruling political party of Palestine. Qatanani smiled at Natalie as the conference dispersed.

For dramatic effect, I now switch to the present tense:

The doors to the room holding the swearing-in ceremony are locked. A lawyer of some kind knocks. He exchanges words with a security guard. Doors open. Natalie, Theo and Casey sneak into the back of the room in time to witness the historic moment. (Note: the oath took place at about 1:45 p.m.) We are told that no standing is allowed, sit here not there, and the children must be very quiet. We promise to be good.

George W. Bush appears on a video, and warmly welcomes the new group of Americans while reminding them of their sacred duties. I reflect on how I have often criticized Mr. Bush, but I resolve to commend him for his expert handling of this immigration video.

Bush disappears. Applause all around. We spot Margie in the back row. She doesn’t see us. A second video plays on the large room’s multiple screens, this one of the tear-jerking lighthouse and Grand Canyon variety. It’s accompanied by Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” A Chinese man – that is, a Chinese-American man -- wipes tears from his face. A blond immigration official, without warning, hands Natalie and Theo tiny American flags. They hold them awkwardly. I silently protest the choice of music: why can’t we have “America the Beautiful,” the most stirring anthem known to man? More applause. Congratulations.

Margie is filing out of the room with her row. She sees us! What a sight. Natalie and Theo are waving little flags the family section with all the Muslims and Russian Mafioso. Margie turns on a high-voltage smile – her first as a U.S. Citizen!

Congratulations, Margie. You aced the test, you earned your papers, and now we can live happily ever after!

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What’s YOUR favorite patriotic song?

Monday, September 01, 2008

In the City of Brotherly Love


Caption: Geno's Steaks in South Philly, where Jim Brose joined the Clarks for dinner.

Some families are battleships when it comes to vacations: big, lumbering hulks of heavy steel and artillery that take a long time to change direction. The Clarks of New Jersey are PT boats, darting in and out of the waves with freedom and dexterity.

On Saturday, we decided to spend two nights in Philadelphia, so off we went. After Margie’s yoga class, we drove into downtown Philly to the historic Courtyard by Marriott, across the street from the world famous City Hall.

The Philadelphia Zoo was the star attraction, and it certainly entertained the entire family. Natalie asked: “Will the animals be locked, so they won’t get me?” Of course, Natalie. (Except for the golden lion monkeys.)

Some other highlights:

• Dinner at Genos. Philly cheese steak sandwiches are a big deal in South Philly, and Daddy’s friend Jim Brose joined the Clarks for dinner at Geno’s, the biggest, gaudiest cheesesteak joint in town. Interestingly, Pat’s across the street has the better sandwich. We conducted a side-by-side taste test.

• Please Touch Me Museum. Theo and Natalie loved this place. (Thanks for the recommendation, Mr. Brose.) There were about 30 distinct areas, and the children ran to each new adventure with undiminished enthusiasm. There was Alice in Wonderland, Where the Wild Things Are, and a supermarket for kids, all touchable. The museum will reopen in a new location Oct. 18. We will certainly return.

• Swimming in the hotel. Theo and Natalie both used their “swimmies” to keep their head above water. Theo is getting a little more comfortable in the water, but he still hesitates to submerge his face. Mommy and Daddy enjoyed the hot tub. So did the kids.

Oh great City of Brotherly Love, birthplace of freedom and liberty (within reason, of course) and cheesesteak, the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our Saturday


Caption: Natalie "nose" how to be cute.

Margie took the 9:04 train to New York City, and Casey took the kids to breakfast. Theo scored the first spill of the day -- half the maple syrup in the fancy container gushed over the table. The waiter looked at the sticky mess, and suggested that we move to a new table. (No thanks.)

Natalie didn't touch her eggs.

Then we dropped off laundry at George's, bought a lollipop at Variety Village, and played miniature golf in Essex County. Natalie loved putting her ball intentionally into the water. The colorful balls they gave us were floaters, so daddy could easily scoop them out of the water with any one a number of handy, conveniently located 10-foot-long ball scoopers.

After the golf, over drinks in the clubhouse, Natalie said: "Daddy you have a pointy nose." Yes, Natalie. What kind of nose do you have? "Mine is not pointy."

Natalie has the cutest nose I've ever seen.

# # # Reader participation # # #

What's the best way to get kids to eat?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Natalie Rides an Elephant


It’s odd to think of our little Natalie as a “Jersey Girl,” but there is the fact. She was born in Edison, N.J., and is distinguished as the only actual Jersey native among “The Clarks of New Jersey.”

Mom is from the Philippines. Theo was born in New York City. And Dad was born in Indiana.

Saturday afternoon, we drove to Point Pleasant to enjoy an afternoon at the beach – but an offshore hurricane created havoc. Lifeguards prevented people from swimming, then shooed them off the beach entirely, making the Jenkinson’s Boardwalk area as crowded as the E-train platform during rush hour. Still, there were highlights. I record them here:

• Natalie demanded to ride by her herself on the elephant ride, and she picked a pink elephant.

• Theo won a Pliplup doll in the water gun game: “Don’t be shy, give it a try. It’s easy it’s fun, it’s the water gun!” He beat Dad by six inches.

* At Big Ed’s Barbecue on the way home, Theo and Natalie discovered the joys of tender baby back ribs.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Development of Theodore


Caption: Theodore and Mrs. Fischer, his kindergarten teacher.

Our little Theodore will soon enter first grade. His development as a student and young man is progressing nicely. His kindergarten report card was stellar. Only one area received a "needs improvement" -- exchanging coins, or coinmanship. And I suspect Mrs. Fischer marked his card that way to show parents that she was painstakingly measuring each and every area of learning, as opposed to just handing out "all A's" like candy.

Regardless of the grading system, we're very proud of Theodore's accomplishments. Here are some other examples of his personal development:

• He has graduated to an intermediate level of "beach going." He has shed all fear of loud ocean and breaking waves. He taunts them, then happily and repeatedly runs away as the surf chases him up the beach.

• He's finished three New York Times bestsellers: "Captain Underpants," and the first two volumes of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."

• His baseball skills have advanced. Here is a direct quote from yesterday. "I can hit it every time." It is not a bad thing, wrote Bertrand Russell, for a young fellow to think highly of himself.

• He enjoys a game of tackle football with his dad. This is a very recent, sudden and spontaneous development. A kickoff, a football rolling in the front lawn, a collision, a take down! (These highlights are almost identical to those of the early 1970s in the back yard at 814 Park Road in Anderson, Ind., where the author very much enjoyed tackling and being tackled with his own dad.)

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What are your best memories of Indiana?

Monday, June 02, 2008


Caption: Theodore, third from left, and friends in Pokemon Island.

“Which of us is happy in this world,” writes Thackery in his masterpiece. “Which among has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied.”

For a few bright hours on May 30 in Metuchen, N.J., an answer presented itself. Several answers actually. Just look at the faces pictured above! Happy to the last. Can there be any doubt that Theodore’s Pokemon-themed party was anything less than a Pikachu-smashing success?

Twelve kindergarten classmates of Theo marched into the backyard at about 3 p.m. Little tables and chairs were arranged in the shade, surrounded by all the delights of Pokemon Island, including a lovingly hand-crafted Pikachu piñata.

At the center of it all was Theodore, freshly turned six years old. His emotions swung from pride to excitement to sheer, primal happiness. On one brief occasion, the exploding neurones cross circuited in his delicate nervous system, and he broke down during the piñata ceremony. He quickly rebounded to blow out his candle and accept his gifts, graciously shouting out the name of the next boy or girl to receive the honor of presenting a birthday gift to his majesty, the six year old.

In accordance with tradition, his guests showered him with gifts. To all those who attended – Emma, Mikey, Luke, Luke, Kara, Andrew (who, like Theo, objects to all mispronunciations of the word “Pokemon”) and all other children and parents at Pokemon Island – the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Clark Family Classic


Caption: Natalie's birth day was eventful.

As the birthdays of both Clark Family children approaches, it is altogether fitting and proper to look back at a classic entry. Here’s one called “Natalie’s Birthday,” which records for posterity the events that preceded Nat-Nat’s birth:

Many noteworthy and interesting things happened on June 10, 2005, Margie's birthday. It was the last day that Theo, Margie and Casey would live together as a family all to themselves. Into that happy little threesome, on June 11, 2005, came Natalie Rose.

June 10 began in Milford, Pa., at the house of Joyce and Ken, where Theo, Margie and Casey were living temporarily. We celebrated Margie’s birthday with a breakfast at the Milford Diner. It was delicious (except for the sausage), and Theo enjoyed pancakes and wore his hat inside, against Joyce’s wishes.

On the way out of Milford, Casey and Theo waited in the car for Margie to pick up Daddy’s shirts. The cleaners lost them.

Margie’s doctor appointment was at 11:45, and Casey got lost driving through South Plainfield.

The Clarks first drove to the hotel, the Clarion on Route 27, but we made a pit stop at the Entemann’s factory outlet. When the room wasn’t ready (check in was 3 p.m.), we went to 56 Voorhees Place, and sat on the brick steps and ate some of the donuts we bought at Entemann’s.

Weichert's Jamie Garda arrived about that time, and took us through our pre-closing walk through. Everything looked so large, compared to 57 Main St., and especially compared to 406 E. 63rd St.

At the closing, Theo was well behaved, and our legal counsel Mr. Mundy invited me to play golf at Metuchen Country Club.

Back to the hotel, then lunch at Xandros, Metuchen’s Filipino restaurant.

Later that night, at the hotel, while Daddy was rubbing mommy’s feet and the adults were watching "Six Feet Under" on HBO, Margie felt as if Natalie did a flip in her belly. Thus began an extremely exciting, wonderful and (eventually) painful experience.
Here is a timeline of events that followed:
At 4 a.m. – recognized that today was going to be the day.
At 5 a.m. – called Dr. Chan.
At 5:15 am – carried Theo to the car.
5:30 – Dropped theo at June’s house.
7:06 a.m. – Doctor Patel delivered Natalie: 6 pounds 7.7 oz.
8:00 a.m. – Dr. Chan arrives.

The movers arrived at 1:30 p.m., about the same time that Theo poignantly asked: “Will we live here for a long, long time?”

We’ll see, Theo. We’ll see.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mothers of the World, Unite!


Caption: Joyce is the "Mother of All Clarks"

The Clarks of New Jersey Web site is shared by tens of people around the world from as near as Metuchen and as far as Manila. But of all our subscribers, none is a more patient reader nor a more generous critic than Joyce Clark of Milford, Pa.

Whereas Sunday, May 11 is Mothers Day around the world; and whereas Joyce is the mother of the author; and whereas a blog posting is a cost-effective gift in these uncertain economic times; BE IT RESOLVED that the Clarks of New Jersey officially recognize her devotion to this site. Joyce Clark, wherever you are, the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

And to all mothers subscribing to this Web site, we salute you, too! Inay, Diana, Ate, Tedra, – even Fishers, Ind.-based Judy Donahue, who reportedly read all entries ever posted to this site in a single sitting – and many, many more matriarchs in the audience, we celebrate with you the miracles of motherhood.

# # # Personal Message # # #

And a Happy Mothers Day to you, Miss Margie. Mahal mahal kita!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Out of Towners

Caption: The glorious Food Emporium of 59th Street.

Back in the early days of the 21st century, the Clarks of New Jersey were the Clarks of New York City. We lived on 63rd Street between 1st and York, and we shopped at the Food Emporium, beneath the world famous 59th Street Bridge.

On Saturday, the Clarks turned back the clock. We went for a drive down 64th Street, looking for a parking spot, just like the old days; then pulled into the garage on 63rd, just like the old days.

The neighborhood was relatively unchanged. A new bike store on one corner, a new laundrymat on the other. We walked south to the Food Emporium, then visited the wonderful home and furniture store Conrans, where Theo shouted at his dad to look at the items that amazed him, and he was amazed by every item in the store.

Then we took the MTA bus up First Avenue, a new experience for Theo and Natalie. At St. Catherine's Park, Natalie enjoyed the slide and Theo enjoyed chasing the pigeons, of which there was an endless supply.

Then, off to the Library on 67th Street, a beautifully remodeled monument to the public of the Upper East Side. Its existence was a revelation to Natalie, who asked her mother: "There's another library?" She thought her Metuchen branch was one of a kind. The kids quickly borrowed some books, and off we went back to the car, and back to the future.

The Clarks of New Jersey still love New York. video

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Princess Aficionado


caption: Natalie Rose by any other name would smell so sweet.

To readers of the Clarks of New Jersey web page, the administrator and web master might seem a man who thinks only of others, a selfless servant dedicated to the online community that thrives here at www.clarksnj.blogspot.com.

The truth, dear reader, is something very different. The administrator is in this for himself. He loves his children very much, you can understand, and posting their photos for the world and posterity generates no small amount of selfish pride.

For instance, look at the photo of this child of two years. Is it possible that this is the administrator’s daughter? Look at those eyes, that jet-black mop of hair. I must admit that my pride swells with the publication of this picture. Let us look again.

An update? Very well then.

Natalie is a princess aficionado who spends most of her days listening to the soundtrack from "Beauty and the Beast" and other princess-related entertainment.

Funny story: At the Metuchen library this weekend, Natalie asked Daddy to read, “Spot at Home.” Natalie’s comment: “But I want to read it here!”

Yes, she has her little mean streak. For instance, this morning I peeked into her room to say hello. "Get out of my room!" she shouted at me. Natalie, say please. Then, in the sweetest little angel voice, she asked me: "Will you get out of my room, please?" Of course I will, Darling.

She’s warming up to her dad, little by little. At night, we play a game called Max, the rules of which defy description but generally allow her to hide in a closet while pretending to be the boy who lives across the street.

Five-year-old Theodore has discovered Pokemon, and continues with a hand well advanced for his age to draw everything that excites him. He enjoyed his Moss School class trip – to Wegman’s supermarket in Woodbridge. Details of the trip remain sketchy, but it is known that the bus ride, the first in his academic career, was bumpy.

# # # Reader Participation # # #

How are things with you?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday in Skillman


Caption: Madeline, Michael, Theodore and Natalie, with their bounty.

The Clarks of New Jersey shared a memorable Easter holiday with the Clarks of Pennsylvania and the Davidians of New Jersey, a branch of the Clark family not to be confused with the Branch Davidians. These are two very different families.

Highlights included an egg hunt on the “Great Lawn,” organized, directed and sponsored by Diana Davidian, matriarch of the Davidian branch. Interestingly, in the race to collect a satisfying amount of colorful eggs, no child was left behind. No tears – a very rare feat for hunts of this nature involving children of varying heights and ages. For organizing this successful event, Diana is to be commended – the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

Other activities helped place this Easter celebration in high standing. Jumping on the trampoline at the Zauner’s backyard (for video, see www.dailymotion.com/hlmencken); trading Pokemon cards in Michael’s bedroom; watching Davidson upset Georgetown in the basement.

For little Madeline Davidian, 11, the Easter Celebration was crowned by a magnificent view from the roof of her house. “Don’t you go up there,” said Dad and Uncle Carm when the Frisbee went on the roof for the first time. But Dad and Uncle Carm weren’t around the second time. Up she goes like a squirrel.

The most repeated comment of the day: “Michael and Theo look like brothers.”

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Easter Egg Hunting


Caption: Theo's classmate Emma (left), and Theo, at Myrtle Field.

Yesterday in Metuchen, about 300 children and adults gathered at Myrtle Field to hunt for Easter eggs. Natalie went out with the zero to three year olds at a few minutes past 9:00 a.m. With a somewhat aggressive strategy (see video below), Natalie gathered three colorful eggs, each filled with chocolate candy.

Next it was Theo’s turn. With about 75 other four-, five- and six-year-olds, (including Emma) Theo collected a nice bagful of eggs.

The children have been growing up quite nicely. Since our last posting, the Clark children have seen their first musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” at Edison High School, and have discovered Pokemon (Theo) and have learned how to put on jackets by themselves (Nat).

The musical made a big impression on the kids, who sing along with or without the recording. Natalie has an interesting interpretation of the title song. She quickly chants: “beauty and the beast, beauty and the beast,” then, in a soulful approximation of Belle, she sings the finale: “beauty and the beast.” (Theo’s favorite character is Gaston.)

Today we saw “Horton Hears a Who” at the Menlo Park Mall. Dad was very disappointed.

# # # Reader Participation # # #

Why can’t they make kids movies like they used to? video

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Slice of Cheesequake


Caption: Natalie, Margie and Theo, on the trail of the goose.

The administrators of this happy online journal have refrained from political commentary because we wish to remain in good favor with our friends and readers, shielding them from our radical views. However, the events of Monday, Feb. 18 (Presidents Day) have forced our hand, and we must broach a sensitive political issue. It was 65 degrees on that day, therefore, we take the position that Al Gore is right about global warming, and his detractors are wrong.

More importantly, the Clarks of New Jersey took advantage of the near record heat by dashing off to Cheesequake State Park, burning ozone-depleting fossil fuel all the way from Exit 130 of the Garden State Parkway to Exit 120.

Maybe you’ve seen the videos at www.dailymotion.com/hlmencken? If not, you can generate the image in your own mind by concentrating on a carefree family frolicking through the pristine woods of the Raritan Valley, discovering moss, mud and a strange one-legged goose perched on a rock in the middle of a lake.

This last discovery seized the curiosity of the children, who launched a barrage of questions. “Why does the goose have one leg, mommy?” Then the relentless follow-up question: “But why?” To this day, the parents have no satisfactory explanation for the missing leg.

# # # Reader participation # # #

Did you see Al Gore’s movie? And how do YOU think the goose lost his leg?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Natalie Gets a New Room


Caption: Natalie, left, will sleep in a big girl's bed for the rest of her life.

According to the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), the single most common do-it-yourself home improvement project is the painting of an interior room. The Clarks of New Jersey brought their talents and resources to bear on this activity last weekend, with superb results.

Visitors to 56 Voorhees Place might remember Natalie’s bedroom as a tired, beige affair with a worn-down floor. Things have changed. Today, the walls of light green, (technically, it’s either “alligator smile” or “meadow mist,” I can’t remember) mix sweetly with the white trim. And the professionally sanded floors are a modern marvel.

Moreover, thanks to Mimi, Natalie enjoys her first-ever “big girls bed,” a nice wooden twin, crafted by Appalachian master woodworkers and bought for a song during one of Mimi’s many adventures to points far off.

The transformation of Natalie’s room is profound.

# # # Reader Participation Segment # # #
What color should we use to improve Theo’s bland bedroom?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Three Score and Ten


Caption: Celebrating the birth of Poppy (See video, below) are Natalie, Madeline, Theodore and Margie.

Congratulations to Ken Clark of Pennsylvania, a.k.a. Poppy, alias, The Goose; for turning 70 in such bright style. Wearing the grandfather mantle, he’s the man largely responsible for the Clarks of New Jersey, the Clarks of Metro Denver and the Davidians (Sons of David) of Sycamore Lane, Skillman.

Let’s do the math – that’s three children and six grandchildren – a total of nine offspring direct or indirect. Fans of this blog and relatives are openly cheering for one more kid, so that Poppy can attain double digits of new humanity creation!

The East Coast wing of the family met at the Black Forest Inn for a celebration that included gifts, announcements, surprises and general merriment. One highlight: Poppy received a surprise Florida vacation, to begin Feb. 2. Bon Voyage Poppy, give our regards to Naples, Fla.-based Aunt Joan.

A word about The Black Forest Inn, the venue of Poppy’s 70th birthday celebration: You can’t go wrong with the three-sauce veal medley – delicious. video