Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Children Love to Help

    When his parents bought a new grill last summer, Zachary, 18 months, decided to help put it together. His father snapped this picture.  Well, snapped is not quite the word for it.  Noah knows how to get down on the child's level and get in close.  

     He caught a precious moment.  I love the look of concentration.

     Having grandchildren reminds me of life with my own children, how eager they were to be able and to make a contribution.  Small children are both exuberantly playful and very earnest.  They know their parents do a lot for them and they need to do their share.  Doing one's part is apparently wired in.  When Noah was a baby sitting in a swing with a tray for toys, he would regularly throw his toys overboard or inadvertantly lose them.  Big brother Benjamin would pick them up for him tirelessly.  And now we have Chanan, Zachary's cousin, planning to put the socks and booties on their next baby.  Both children put in an honest day's work each and every day.  It's enchanting, and sobering, to watch.

     For more information about children, child development, and how to help children, including holiday craft ideas, scroll down to the articles and links below.  And enjoy the season.

     Trish/aka Swamp Walking Woman

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I created a tree of lights from a piece of plywood and a few nails on which to hang a rope and lights and ornaments.

For laughter and holiday gift ideas, read below.

Love, Trish

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


     Although our weather is mild again after some chilly days, we see each day getting shorter.  I'm convinced that one reason for lights and celebration during the shortest days of the year is to distract us from darkness.  Still, darkness has its benefits of retreat and gathering round the hearth.  Once when I lived in Cambridge, MA, I attended a Winter Solstice celebration I will never forget.  It seemed very English, with Elizabethan old scale music and jesters and tumblers in colorful costumes with bells on their turned up toes.  I enjoyed the pageant enormously!

     As for the turned up toes, I read in a novel recently--I've already forgotten which one but it could have been by Georgette Heyer, a superb writer--that shoe toes made in that style did not kick up mud as other toes do.

     For those of you who are looking for special gifts for friends and loved ones, here are a few I've found for you and mentioned in past posts:

FOR THE PARENTS ON YOUR LIST: Nicole MacKensie's ebook and on line class. There is no work more sacred than raising children.  See the curiosity based parenting method.  No punishment. Free e-class. Learn to set rules and consequences that develop respect naturally… Plus have fun in the process.


FOR THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER: Start with James Siew's ebook of humor. Click Here!

FOR YOUR WRITER FRIENDS: Good nuts and bolts advice. HOW TO WRITE AND PUBLISH YOUR OWN E-BOOK by Jim Edwards and Joe Vitale. Click Here!

Enjoy the benefits of darkness and the celebration of light!  Trish/SwampWalkingWoman

Thursday, November 13, 2008



1)       What do you need most from an encouraging and informative blog?  That is, what one thing stands between you and the happiness and success you deserve?

2)      What do you want to find out more about?  (What the heck is this thing called life?  The internet?  How to prosper?  Raising children?  Other?)

3)      Tell me about you.  I love to hear about my readers and their lives.  Your stories help me know how to help you the most.

     I'll thank you by sending a fr_ee gift.  Best, Trish/Swamp Walking Woman  


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


    Hello! to all my friends on the World Wide Web.  Connecticut, USA, is a lot cooler today than the last time I posted.  Halloween has come and gone.  On the trail by the brook yellow and red maple leaves lie on the ground while burnished oak leaves gleam in the afternoon sun, their  turn to shine.  To everything its season.

     From our different cultures we approach the holiday season, preparing for Thanksgiving in the US.  Most of us know now that the first Thanksgiving was created in the 1870s.  (If you doubt this, see Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen.)  Yet, for many, the tradition of sitting down to a special meal among family and friends has gathered a meaning and warmth all its own.  We don’t need it to have been factual in origin.  A few of us are even willing to admit that our ancestors weren’t nearly as nice about moving to these shores as the writers of grade school text books wanted us to think. 

     One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is that my own forebears committed crimes against humanity when they settled New England.  It was not a peaceful migration.  Perhaps that is why peace is still so hard to achieve.   And why I’m dedicated to promoting world peace.

     After Thanksgiving, families begin to prepare for Hanukah, for Kwanza, for Christmas, and sometimes Ramadan, depending on the year.  We become more prayerful than ever for peace across the planet.   And now, with internet communication, peace is possible.  That is why I’m offering you a chance not only to enjoy the holidays and pray for peace, but to do activities that create peace and safety in your own families and neighborhoods.

    We seem to have brought forward into present day life many of the less than satisfying behaviors of past generations.  If you are part of a family where a holiday gathering can become tense, argumentative, or rowdy, if you worry about how you and others will behave during visiting, consider how you will speak and listen to others.  Because I know busy people don’t have time to look for the resources they need, I’ve been trolling the internet for you.  Here are some treasures:

1)       An inexpensive course in simple communication to get you started on a peaceful holiday season.

Click Here! 

2)       For parents dedicated to raising happy free children, here is the Happy Free Children, Teachers and Parents Resource Kit, helps the children you nurture honor their innate wisdom and respect those they live amongst as well as their planet home.

Click Here! 

3)      One way to promote peace in the family is to keep children busy with projects they enjoy.  Here are some suggestions I found for you on Little Kid Crafts.

Click Here! 

4)      And an exciting resource on arts and crafts for grownups,

Click Here! 

5)     Beyond the holidays, and by beyond, I mean transcendent in its appeal, Michael Harvey has put together some information we can really use.  This is for anyone who wants to go easy on planetary resources and save mega-money on electric bills.  His mission:  To educate communities and individuals on how to live a more comfortable, cost effective, and pro-planet lifestyle.  Learn how to build your own inexpensive solar panels and wind mills.  See in these pages how to build a more efficient life, one that is kind to the planet and to your pocketbook.

Click Here! 

It’s clear to see why this last one would promote peace by helping us consume less and give back more.  Happy Holidays to All.  Trish, also know as Swamp Walking Woman

Ps.  Send me your email and I'll send you a fr_ee gift.  triciajean1@yahoo.com

Sunday, October 26, 2008



A Yankee Woman Finds Salvation in a Hippie Village

by Patricia Lapidus

Spiritual Hippies? These were the clean long-hairs, the ones who lived on the land, worked hard, and meditated to a joyful Ooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! that rose up through the trees and the golden morning air!”

Peace and Harmony. In this book you will discover how strangers lived together tribally—crowded and without running water or refrigeration—in peace and sanity far above the social norm. You will learn how the government watched and how that watching influenced the survival of the community.

A Gift for You. Here you will find information to help you live better with your own family and with those you may take into your home in an effort to lessen economic burdens.

Birth: You will see spiritual birth based on respect for the holy child and family.

Community: The community called The Farm was an attempt to stitch back together the torn fabric of social living, to make life fair and honest and safe. As for living green, we used to say, “Tread lightly on the earth.” Today we say, “Reduce your carbon footprint. For more green, Click Here!

Brief video about the book: temporarily not available.

Responses to Sweet Potato Suppers:

“I finished Sweet Potato Suppers and passed it on to a friend who passed it on to a friend. We all LOVE it. It's a real piece of history, documenting the Farm and community life in general. I especially appreciate your courage….” M

“I don't know HOW you have remembered so many little details about life on the Farm and all your experiences with everyone….And I find myself in you so often. My experiences and reactions - and I'll bet most of ours - were so similar to those you describe. What a riot! We've come a long way, Baby….Love the drawings too.“ ST

“Then a few more pages and I sat back and said, damn. This woman can write!.... This is not just history, this is poetry. This is ideas on the carrier wave of words. She is expressing thoughts I have expounded in conversation (as recently as yesterday to a reporter from Chicago) but never committed to paper, or seen in print. Amazing stuff, really, the diamond jewel in the lotus. The early days in the mud and cold and tents was the essence of the experience, that which was truly ineffable and utopian. You didn’t just tell it. You told it with style, you told it definitively. You made a mark, you set down the marker.” AB

i love your book!!!!
i'm almost done, & i want it to go on forever......
it's so thoughtful & thought provoking
thank you cc

You obviously did take delight in the simple moments of joy. I think it's so important that everybody gets to tell their stories now, it's what heals. And how wonderful for your children to read the stories. Thank you for writing your book, Patricia. CO

Be of good cheer! The Farm is still here. Furthermore, many of the members of The Farm, both those living on the land and the diaspora, are still committed to alternative birth and health and death, and to freedom, political and personal. They work actively to promote social change. For further information see www.thefarm.org

E-Book coming soon. Watch for Sweet Potato Suppers, eBook, audio book, and soft cover book, to be announced here soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


     Here is balm for the worried, excitement for the playful, and hope for all.

     At right, our copy of Hey, Beatnik.  We read it cover to cover, savored the bright pictures of people working together in the fields, and kept it by our bedside like a holy book.  In time we went to live on The Farm.  Many of the friendships we formed there have lasted to this day.  

     I know that your lives are not easy, that you are concerned about the survival of your loves ones.  Long ago I read that one of the most important ingredients for survival in difficult times is good relationships.  A tribal leader in the moving book Rainbow Moon by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas makes this statement:  Give me twenty people and I can get us through the winter.  The survival of that little group depended on the efforts and cooperation of all members.  Trust is about relationships.

     The advice to look to our relationships struck a cord with me.  If I were there with you, having breakfast and talking about the day ahead, I would see your face and posture, hear your voice tones, notice your movements.  You might look cheerful, and we would smile together and share our excitements about the day ahead.  If you looked dispirited I would give you my unhurried attention.  I would invite you to tell me your thoughts and encourage you to have a winning day anyway.  Or you would encourage me and share your knowledge of how to improve life, on purpose, no matter what.
     My book Sweet Potato Suppers, due out before Thanksgiving, will help, especially in the relationships upon which your good survival may depend.  Watch for it in the coming weeks, revised and updated since it was first published in 2003: SWEET POTATO SUPPERS: A Yankee Woman Finds Salvation in a Hippie Village.  Ebook, audiobook, and softcover.

     Ways to go forward:  

          1)  First, tell your story.  Write, talk, and publish if you like.  Ask me what I know about writing, sharing, and publishing.  Watch my progress as I learn the ropes.  Your story matters.  

          2) Second, look at community as normal living.  I experienced one that, having changed with the changing years, continues to thrive.  

     Some of us will solve problems of shrinking resources by sharing housing.  We will take in our children or neighbors.  We need to know how to live, possibly crowded, in peace and mutual help.  We need the arts and crafts of survival, of sustainable living, of growing food, and--that magnet that pulls it all together--the art of relating.

     Previous posts.  For a joyful look at stone towers found on the trail, for information about raising healthy and happy children, eBook publishing, learning language, laughter, and more, please scroll down or click the article title on the right.  I invite you to comment.

     Note:  The subtitle to Hey, Beatnik is This is the Book about The Farm.  Stephen Gaskin and The Farm.  (Beatniks were precursors to hippies.  Hippie started as a pejorative but was adopted and given honor by The Farm, a community of spiritual hippies.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hiking in Heaven

    Some god or goddess, perhaps several, visited one of my favorite trails since I last walked here.  High on West Rock Ridge a gathering of cairns appeared overnight--as if they had scheduled a meeting and were now in session.  Or, perhaps a coven of witches celebrated the fall solstice here.  They had made it into a magical place.

     I spent some time there admiring the forms--the balancing, the beauty, the work of such exhuberant play.  I pictured the slow, grunting frolic of lifting and arranging the stones, the conspiracy of preparing this extravagant surprise for unknown hikers.  The sheer audacity of bidding stone to appear light like dancers.  For these were not broad based cairms meant to withstand the winter winds that would push along the ridge.  They were single stones set verticle, three, five, seven stones together marching skyward.  Why they did not topple I could not say except that the creator had told them to stay.  I was unwilling to touch one with the lightest finger.  

     At first they blended with the surrounding forest.  I saw two, three, six.  The more I looked, the more structures I saw.  I walked quietly, respectfully, peering around me.  There was a rock balanced high on the stump of a lost branch of a tree.  One composition included found objects, a rusty saw and an old bottle.

     There was a feeling of worship to the place.  Something both sweet and powerful had been made, a sacred grove.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Book Suggestion

About Symbolia by Sylvia Anderson

 Symbolia is a humorous and inspiring story of a sister and brother from our world who journey to the magical world of Symbolia, where they find that they must follow the Sacred Path to get back Home. Along the way they are captured by the Abbo tribe in the MotherLung Rainforest, encounter the diapered dictators at the Gulf of Simonsez, carry burdenbags for the Zaards, .who live at the top of the pyramid city of Dogmapolis, and interact with stressed-out Morstuffians in the Forest of Berbs, Their Path leads them into Krule City, owned by the Giants of Induss Tree, then on to adventures with the Neggies in the Deep Depression and into Shadow’s Underground Maze to dig for the Gold of Self-Understanding. Then it’s on to GoldenMean to find Grandmother Sophia, who takes them to the New Treeno See, where they help create a new PrahBubble for the world of Symbolia before returning Home, where they can apply their new understandings to life here on Earth. It's a fun adventure story for children of all ages, a spiritual allegory for adults with ears to hear, and a socio-political satire for those with eyes to see.


More at:





Monday, August 11, 2008


Health, Laughter, and Persistance

Good morning from New Haven, CT, where we have a mix of sun and clouds with a few more thundershowers likely today.

I am not a health professional. Far from it. I'm so interested in simply living that I will run my body as far as it will go without attention. But I have needed to learn certain basic health strategies, such as eating vegetables for breakfast (hey, it works for me!) and how to handle a lifelong problem with yeast. Sarah Summer's eBook Natural Cure for Yeast Infections rounds up the data nicely.

Click Here!

But this blog is about what I learned about healing from a knee injury. In a word, persist.

A week ago we had perfect weather for a hike. I was used to doing a five mile loop every Monday, but that was before I fell on my left knee, cracked the knee bone, and traumatized the entire joint. All the tissues were involved. My knee was so sore, and so disappointed in me for not taking better care of it, it didn't want to be a knee anymore. I wore a knee brace for a month and then started therapy. At first the knee would only bend about 45 degrees. I did LOTS of exercises! Reluctantly at first, and then with more enthusiasm, the knee decided, Well, all right, I'll be your knee again.

I vowed I would take my first hike by early May. On May 3rd I walked the two and a half miles around Wintergreen Lake, a lovely easy gradient hike. And now, with my Monday trip up around West Rock, I'm fully back to hiking! Enjoy a few of the sights with me. Like this picture of Judges Cave where a couple of Connecticut judges hid out in 1661 after siding with the losers in England's political wars.

I can now grab my ankle and bring left my knee up to my butt just as I do my right knee. One thing I decided during the course of this healing time: I do not ever want to be disabled. What good is life on earth if you're not in the action?

Bringing the topic back to general health, remember to laugh. Have a look at James Siew's eLaughter. This fun ebook is worth the price just for the jaunty music--but don't try to read it while eating! These jokes will clear your sinuses. Click Here!

What am I doing these days?

Getting Sweet Potato Suppers ready for republication as an eBook.

Writing articles and reviews for eZines.

Taking pictures of my grandkids and the wide world around. (Some of the kid pictures in my blog were taken by my daughter-in-law.)

Looking for a good laptop with camcorder and voice recorder.

Keeping connec
ted with family and friends, so wonderfully easy with email and other websites such as facebook.

Happy Trails, from Swamp Walking Woman

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Do you have a favorite memory of spending time with your dad? Are you responsible for helping your kids succeed in sports? I have written an article for a baseball magazine, included in part below. Because of how my dad taught me to appreciate the game of baseball, I began thinking about how fathers encourage their daughters. I found a great link about teaching girls to play net ball.

Click Here! From the point of view of health, emotional health, family cohesiveness, and just plain fun, this eBook is a must.

My dad, age 95 this year, is in mourning for his team, the Boston Red Sox. After the good years together, Manny Ramirez should have treated the team better. (Manny was recently traded to the Dodgers because he quit trying for the Sox.) Dad himself has treated the Red Sox with the utmost respect, cheering faithfully for almost a century from his armchair and in the thick of farm chores accompanied by the radio. Cheering for his team to win a World Series.

I used to pack eggs for my dad. We owned a big poultry farm and there were always baskets of eggs waiting in the cooling room to be sorted and placed into egg cases that held thirty-two dozen each. He loved my company. Plus, we had the Red Sox. I’m sure he decided when to grade eggs by when the game came on. This picture shows him with me before I was much help. He seems confident I'll grow.

To grade eggs Dad first lifted a basket of eggs from the floor of the cooler to the bench. He then picked up each egg, cleaned any sawdust off it and held it to the light to make sure it was good. If another egg had broken in the nest, there might be egg yoke dried on this one. He sanded the dried yolk off with a small piece of sandpaper strapped to his fingers.

Dad switched the egg grader on and placed the eggs one at a time on a slant composed of two metal rubber-covered edges. The eggs rolled down the gentle foot long incline. From there they were moved along and balanced on wires that tripped them into different trays by weight. My job was to put the eggs in the correct cases.

By now the game would be in full swing and Dad would tell me just how Lou Boudreaux should coach. He’d brought Jimmy Piersall back too soon after injury or he should fine Jimmy for throwing his cap at him—which I think he did. Dad and Boudreau often agreed. Dad said he should keep Ted Williams in cleanup position and Boudreau did. Later he said it was time to put Frank Malzone fourth in the lineup. When Boudreau did just that, Dad was satisfied he had influence. By the time I was twelve I knew the lineup and their batting averages. I also knew a wonderful father who could get excited about hiking up Mt. Katahdin, about getting the hay in before a storm, and about baseball. I knew that life was good, that there was much happening of interest, that I could learn, that I could care, that I was beloved.

I married a man who also loved baseball. Among Don’s baseball trivia is the story of an early player, Germany Schaefer, who stole second base in an attempt to attract a throw and allow the player on third to steal home. When that didn’t work, Schaefer stole first so he could try the ploy again! Schaefer had a reputation for being a clown and also for playing serious baseball. Sometime later a rule was made against the reverse steal, purportedly because of Schaefer’s stunt.

If you enjoy jokes and funny stories, check out James Siew's excellent joke ebook. This fun ebook is worth the price just for the jaunty music--but don't try to read it while eating! These jokes will clear your sinuses. Click Here!

Moving around in the northeast, I have sometimes cheered other teams—Yankees, Mets, and any team having a good season. I have admired many players. But when I go home and find Dad in his easy chair, the National Anthem playing, the starting signal to “Play ball!,” there is only one team to root for and we all help, cheering with Dad for the team that finally vindicated him for his years of faithful encouragement and won the World Series, twice!! Back when Manny still wanted to help.

Until next post, Swamp Walking Woman

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Woman Writer: Pat Carr's Rule #1

Women writers, are you serious about publishing? The Summer Writers Conference of the International Women's Writing Guild is a nourishing scene for women writers and a place where many of us have developed publishable work. I'm grateful to Hannalore Hahn and her daughter Elizabeth Julia Stouman and the Guild's Conference crew for providing a safe place where magic happens routinely.

This year I attended Pat Carr’s class. I usually do. I like the way she guides writers and listens to their work. Pat will say, “Ah! Yes!” And she will pause to allow time for the images and dialogue, created by one precious student, to hang in the magical air.

If you know Pat, you know her Rule #1, as we fondly refer to it:

Do not write from inside the mind
of someone you have
not been!

I’m writing a novel with a twelve year old boy as a main character. As soon as I wrote this line, I thought of Pat’s rule:

Gideon watched his mother’s tongue and teeth, thinking of bees,
of the buzzing of bees, as her tongue flicked words through her teeth.

I came to Pat’s class because I wanted to ferret out these slips into a boy’s mind. To be honest, I don’t know what boys think or how boys think.

Students argue with Pat. We are used to reading great writers who write, with seeming success, from inside the minds of persons they have not been. Check out Isabel Allende’s The House of Spirits and The Infinite Plan. Or Amy Tan. Be puzzled, as most of Pat’s students are at first. Is there anything wrong in these books? They held me enthralled.

When students ask why not write from inside the mind of someone you have not been, Pat tells them “Because it’s immoral.”

I don’t want men to write as if they know what a woman thinks. I get indignant. It’s like when a person of privilege says they know what poverty must be like. Oh, yeah?

Pat’s Rule #1 forces me to study closely the observable details, in memory or in creative imagination. This discipline makes my work stronger.

I rewrote the short passage from Gideon’s River as follows:

Gideon’s eyes narrowed and his head moved forward a notch toward his mother.

“Stop talking!” he yelled. “There’s spit on you tongue. Your teeth are crooked. You sound like bees buzzing.”

Now when I read books by authors who get inside the minds of characters they have not been, I see this as the breech of ethics it is. I agree with Pat.

At the conference I also took a class in how to use simple photography to enhance your writing. The pictures on this page were taken on campus at Skidmore. (I’ll let you know when my full essay about Pat Carr’s Rule #1 comes out in an e-zine.)

If you are serious about publishing, check out Jim Edwards' How to Write and Publish an E-Book in 7 days or less.

Click Here!

And if you're using photography to enhance your writing, here's Tony Pages Photo Toolbox Of Creative Tools And Techniques:

Click Here!

Send me your email address. I'll send you a gift.


Sunday, July 20, 2008


One of my grandsons is rapidly growing from toddler to little boy with all the interests of a boy. He has a small plastic turtle which he cherishes. And picture books including turtles. Turtle was one of his first words.

Recently he touched a real tortoise. This land relative of turtles was munching grass on a neighbor's lawn when my grandson and his mother, together with friends, discovered him. (See the little guy in the blue hat.) The lady who keeps the tortoise as a pet came outside to talk.

"He's only eighteen years old. They grow a lot bigger," she said. "He lives on grass so I let him out to munch on my lawn. Tortoises don't drink water. They get enough water from the grass."

My grandson was finding out how his shell felt.

Nicole McKensie has written an e-book about raising children. Her title MOM HAS TO HAVE FUN seems fullfilled in this picture where my daughter-in-law in enjoying the tortoise as much as the kids--or perhaps enjoying the kids' response to the tortoise. For a variety of ideas on how to help children, click here:


McKensie feels that daily life with the questions children can raise, the conflicts they can get into, and the efforts they make to grow themselves up, should be fun for the parents. My sons and their wives enjoy children. They don't need much guidance yet, but if they did, I would recommend McKensie. In her video presentation, she smiles a lot. She has fun not only raising six children but writing and presenting this book.

I worked as nanny to a one-year-old. There was a Walgreens Store going up two blocks away. We went daily to see how the building was progressing and how the parking lot was being prepared. Backhoes, cement trucks, men shoveling cement and men leveling cement. He would watch by the hour.

When my children were in grade school they had a rare opportunity to watch a backhoe at work. In fact, they had a grandstand seat from our porch, from which they could see the city sewer line put in. Piles of dirt everywhere. Men shouting. The teeth of the big yellow backhoe's shovel biting into our lawn. It was too good to miss. I excused them from school that day. They learned more at home!

But you don't have to wait for adventures to come into your yard--or for a tortoise to walk across your neighbor's lawn. Children want to know what goes on in the area where they live. And here's where I write more from regret than from what I actually did. If I had their childhood to live again I would make appointments with an official at the fire station and give the kids a tour. I would take them to places where people work in ways that they could see and appreciate. When we went out for pizza, I would strike up a conversation with the man behind the counter rotating the circle of dough, let him talk about how he learned to do that! I would take them to visit with the mayor. Help them talk with a lifeguard at the beach about her job.

Probably I was too busy, too tired from working one full time job out of the house and another at home! Still. On those occasions when we went camping in the Catskills or spent a summer evening watching a minor league baseball game at Damaske Field--where we ate tofu pups we brought and ice cream treats we bought, saw the Franklin Mountain rise in the south and the sun set in the west--they went to bed spent and satisfied.

Till the next post. Swamp Walking Woman

Thursday, July 3, 2008



My grandson, who is a year and a half old, likes to say uh-oh when something falls or when a toy doesn’t work. In fact, he enjoys saying uh-oh when nothing much is wrong or for reasons we don’t follow. Like anyone, he wants to comment on the happenings around him—with what words he knows. He is on the front end of an explosion in vocabulary. It is fascinating to watch him work at this important developmental task, one that each of us accomplished so early that we hardly recall a time when we could not talk.

With speech comes responsibility. When he fusses to get picked up, his father reminds him to say up. He does. He also says up when he wants to get down—though he says sit down when he sits to get his shoes on. He says thank you very sweetly when he presents his sippy cup for a juice refill, sure his grandmother will help him. When I open the refrigerator door, he comments, get juice.

Before he learned to talk, his mother showed him how to signal his wants. For example, when he is all done with a meal, he waves his arms sideways from the center in a gesture familiar to most of us, one that means no, enough, all done! Although he can now say all done he still uses this signal, especially when the message is urgent. Along with the signals, she talked to him a lot before he could talk, giving him her voice to study.

This week he speaks about 30 words and several phrases: all gone, balloon, ball, bubbles, up, mama, dada, bread, juice, shoes, mo-mo (more), done, baby, night-night, bye-bye, thank you, car, truck, no, uh-oh, see, hello, garbage, cup, cracker, off, nose, down. Balloon is pronounced with a lyrical rise on the second syllable. Much of his speech is almost sung. The purity of a child’s voice at this stage is holy—like the truth of his facial expressions. One morning he put several small items into an empty gallon container. Having forgotten to turn the container over and dump the pieces out, he tried to push his hand into the opening. Looking at me with grave concern, he said, stuck! Lucky I had my camera ready.

Probably he is saying more than we hear—he’s working on how to say it as well as what to say. Some of his vowels and consonants are not yet set as the English sounds they will become. Stuck and truck and clock are pronounced the same, beginning with a sound between g and k—much like the way a Spanish e is neither a short nor a long English e. The mouth is capable of making a much greater variety of sounds than those used in any one language. Each child must somehow get her mouth to form the sounds needed to pronounce the words of her caretakers. She slowly narrows the fluidity with which she begins, leaving out the many possible nuances not used in the language she must master. She begins early by cooing a range of vowels and, then, more and more the vowels she hears. Linguists can tell the difference between, for instance, the coos of a Japanese baby and those of a German infant. Realizing how early children begin practicing to talk makes me respectful of infant babble.

We veteran talkers don’t think about how we place our tongues or how much throat to put into a word, nor, for that matter, how much force is needed to execute each sound. Like many children, my grandson started saying ba for ball. His father demonstrated how to make the end of the word. He now says balla, over-pronouncing the l sound. Our English l at the end of a word like ball is pronounced so gently that a child can miss it at first and then have trouble getting just the right amount of force into it.

A person with a limited vocabulary must make every word count. Cracker also means cheerios. All gone applies equally to a tray from which he has eaten all the cheerios and to an empty clothes hamper. And bye-bye is uttered when one of his parents goes as far as the kitchen. For one of my children, broken was such a word. A torn blanket was broken. A ripped paper was broken. One morning when he was sick he said, I broken, Mommy.

The limits of vocabulary would frustrate you and me now, but we know we each tolerated not being able to talk, or not being able to express all that we wished. My grandson is rather placid, I think, considering the many things he says that we don’t yet get. For example, he speaks several phrases. The ones we have picked up on include where’d it go?, what’s this?, what’s that?, like that!, they’re there, get juice, sit down, and put it down. He sometimes utters a series of syllables we don’t catch. He’ll keep trying. It is this spirit of persistence that I admire. Toddlers have small bodies, certainly, but their courage and intentions are big as life. And who are toddlers but every one of us? Each of us made this journey. Judging by my grandson, our attitudes were awesome.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Welcome to my blog. The title, Swamp Walking Woman, is the title of a book I will publish in the weeks ahead. It's a mythic fairy tale for modern times, a tale of women's strength. More on that later.

This blog will reflect my interests: writing, community, raising able children, health, and laughter. Oh, and I'm very enthusiastic about my two small grandsons.

In 2003 I published Sweet Potato Suppers, a memoir of the decade my husband and I lived on The Farm, a community of spiritual hippies. This book will soon be available as an e-book, as well as a book and a CD. That's right. I will read you a bedtime story while you sit back and relax. This is appropriate. The book started out as a story for my children, so they would know what The Farm had to do with them and with anyone who longs for connection, community, tribal living, and living green. Like most folks, I want to provide a green earth for our children unto the seventh generation.

WRITERS: As I explore the internet for ways to write and publish, I will share my findings with you. Here's one I'm just getting into. So far it is very good nuts and bolts advice. HOW TO WRITE AND PUBLISH YOUR OWN E-BOOK by Jim Edwards and Joe Vitale. Click Here!

PARENTS: I will also share links to advice for parents. I like Nicole MacKensie's ebook and on line class. There is no work more sacred than raising children. I made mistakes and muddled through. Of course, we all learn along the way--and now, with the internet, we elders can offer our experiences to the present generation of parents. See the curiosity based parenting method. No punishment. Free e-class. Learn to set rules and consequences that develop respect naturally… Plus have fun in the process.


LAUGHTER: Most everyone has had to solve health problems, especially those of us over 50. I'll share some of my discoveries and provide links to the sites that have helped me. Any thought of good health leads to the health of laughter. Start with James Siew's ebook of humor. Click Here!

I like jokes immensely. You can tell me your favorites and I'll tell you mine. I'll lead you to any great links I find for good stories, good jokes, and laughter. Yesterday I was driving in a quiet neighborhood when I looked up to see, just beyond a tall spruce tree, an orange stucco house sparkling in the sun. That house look so good I laughed out loud with only the car for audience.

Tales of the things children say and do are tops for me. Here's one. My grandson, at the age of 20 months, was just learning to jump. He would get up on a small stool, bounce up and down a few times, and carefully step down. Then he would say, "I jumped!" Now he is over two and he really does jump. Well, I'm going to imitate him. I'm just beginning to get the hang of blogging. Here's my first effort. I've bounced up and down a few times and stepped cautiously into cyberspace. Wow! I blogged!

Send me your email and I'll send you a free gift.

One more thing. If you want to earn money on the internet with a simple blog like this, I recommend Easy Writing Biz.com. Click Here!

Trish Lapidus
Ps. Check out these links.

Curiosity based parenting method. http://tinyurl.com/4f4ztz

This fun ebook is worth the price just for the jaunty music--but don't try to read it while eating! These jokes will clear your sinuses. Click Here!

Till the next post. Swamp Walking Woman