Barney, the Purple Dinosaur

Barney, the Purple Dinosaur, Photo by Katey Batavia

Barney, the Purple Dinosaur

In October, from Russia, Katey and Joe,

came to Florida twenty-five years ago.

Friends and relatives sent gifts of welcome.

Hanukkah and Christmas gifts filled our home!

That January, when Katey turned five,

we agreed that a book was the best gift to give.

On Katey’s birthday, when Papa came home,

the birthday plans all came undone!

When Papa came in, Katey was overjoyed.

Between Papa’s feet was a Barney toy.

From the wheelchair, Barney saw his new place.

A gigantic grin spread over Papa’s face.

Katey kissed Barney’s purple cheek,

and the talking dinosaur began to speak.

In his goofy voice, Barney said, “I love you.”

It was unmistakable, Katey loved him too!

We lost Papa six years later in January,

weeks before Katey’s eleventh birthday.

Barney lived with Katey for twenty-three years.

His demise last year left Katey in tears.

This year, I found on Amazon,

Katey’s Christmas present, a Barney clone!

Barney now lives in Texas, where he’ll say,

“I love you,” to Katey every day.

Katey Batavia and Barney, Photo by Katey Batavia

Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


My late husband, Drew, and I adopted Katey and Joe from Russia in October, 1995. We lived in Miami Beach, and Drew, AKA “Papa,” was a very devoted father until his death in January, 2003. Katey now lives near Dallas, Texas with her older sister Ellen, a cat, a dog, and two other roommates. The new Barney, the Purple Dinosaur, just joined the household.

How Do You Spell Merry Christmas?

Santa by Tima Miroshni from Pexels

How Do You Spell Merry Christmas?

(Acrostic)

Manger scenes telling the Christmas Story

Exchanging gifts with friends and family

Relatives and friends visiting

Remembering to hang your stocking

Yummy food in December

Christmas Pageants with lines to remember

Hanging mistletoe up high

Reindeer flying across the sky

Invitations to parties and balls

Singing Yuletide carols

Trees we decorate

Making cookies and cakes

Advent wreaths with candles

Santa and his elves

Christmas Eve, Photo by Vicki Yde from Unsplash

Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


The acrostic is an old fashioned staple of school and Sunday school programs. Each child holds up a letter and recites his “piece.” The letters often spell MOTHER for Mothers Day, HAPPY THANKSGIVING or MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Christmas Wreath, photo by Cheryl Batavia

Merry Christmas!

Eighth Night of Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah!, Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Eighth Night of Hanukkah

(My memories from the 1990s)

On the eighth night of Hanukkah,

We’re celebrating with Grandma and Grandpa.

Candles will shed soft light

on the faces of our family tonight.

Children light the menorah carefully.

Their father smiles approvingly…

A quiet moment lingers like a dream…

before latkes, applesauce, and sour cream.

Enjoyed by glowing candlelight,

Hanukkah gelt is a sweet delight.

Children eagerly await

opening present number eight.

Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

We sing,”Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel.”

Our pennies are on the table.

Spinning dreidels with Grandma, it’s clear,

“A great miracle happened here!”


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights that commemorates the rededication of the second temple. There was enough oil in the temple lamps to burn for only one night, but miraculously, it burned for eight nights. “A great miracle happened here!” is the message conveyed by the Hebrew letters on the dreidel. A dreidel is a top that is spun in a traditional gambling game. Our children and their grandma played for pennies.

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights. At sundown, the Hanukkah menorah is lit. One candle is lit on the first night. Another candle is added each night until, on the eighth night, all eight candles burn. Children receive a present on each night of Hanukkah.

A traditional Hanukkah food, latkes are grated potato pancakes fried in oil often served with applesauce and sour cream. The oil symbolizes the oil that burned for eight nights in the temple lamps. Hanukkah gelt is chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Our family also enjoyed chopped liver on matzos (similar to crackers) and matzo ball soup at Hanukkah.

Cactus-Tailed Cat

Cactus-Tailed Cat, Photo by Cheryl Batavia

Cactus-Tailed Cat

In nineteen thirty-six, in Sunday school,

someone said: Did you hear about Harvey?

You mean that guy who always acts the fool?

I heard that he has Hepatitis B!

Oh, wow! I didn’t know that he was sick!

They think he could die. We might lose a friend.

We’ll cheer Harvey up. Think of something quick!

A dozen roses would be nice to send.

The Sunday school class wanted to be kind…

Roses were too expensive, it was clear.

A cat with a cactus tail…What a find!

What a perfect gift to bring Harvey cheer!

Harvey, my Dad, was too stubborn to die!

Fifteen-year-old Harvey dodged tragedy!

That cactus-tailed cat was the reason why

they joined the Church…Harvey’s whole family!

Harvey became a Methodist preacher,

devoted to service for fifty years.

He was a story-teller and teacher;

he visited the sick and calmed their fears.

My Grandma gave me the cactus-tailed cat

that changed the family’s way of living.

The cat’s now a gift for my daughter that

honors her life of service and giving.


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


This poem is based on a true family story as told to me by my grandmother and my father. The first three verses are an imagined conversation showing how the Sunday school class decided to send the cactus cat to my father in the hospital.

The cactus-tailed cat is ready to send to my daughter, Ellen, in Texas. Ellen is an ordained Baptist chaplain and is taking seminary classes. She has taught Recovery classes for several years and is an administrator for the program.. I am not sure what her future plans are.

Disclosure: The cat is posing for this photo with an improvised cucumber tail. She is looking forward to getting a new cactus tail when she arrives in Texas.

Grandma

Grandparents & grandchildren, Photo by Aletia2011, Adobe Stock

Grandma

Our Grandma, Frances Ellen Tustin,

had to babysit, so she left after two years of school.

She had learned to read! She used that skill

to educate herself and lived her life to the full.

At twelve, Grandma worked as a hotel maid.

Married at seventeen, she had two sons.

She and Grandpa worked hard to support

their family during the Great Depression.

Our grandparents moved a lot, flipping houses.

Grandma wallpapered, painted, and plastered.

The last house they renovated was her childhood

home, using all the skills they had mastered.

Photo by Brett Jordan from Unsplash

Grandma lived there for more than thirty years,

raising chickens, planting grapes and fruit trees.

She grew asparagus, strawberries, and flowers,

and cultivated her garden into her eightees.

Grandma decorated her home with hooked rugs,

handmade quilts, and afghans she crocheted.

Her grandchildren were always proud

to wear the beautiful clothes she made.

Photo by Mae Mu from Unsplash

Cooking in restaurants and caring for the sick…

Grandma had many jobs over the years.

She was a long-time Sunday school teacher

who had earned the respect of her peers.

We always ate well at Grandma’s house…

Everybody loved her black walnut cinnamon buns!

Grandma fed us chicken cacciatore and cookies.

We gathered eggs in the henhouse. That was fun!

Photo by Natasha Skov from Unsplash

In summer, Grandma gave strawberries

to friends and neighbors and made strawberry pies.

A huge bowl of strawberries waited for us at

Grandma’s. We couldn’t eat them all, but we tried!

The Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls Grandma made

were in demand at local gift shops.

The dolls she made for her great grandchildren

were always loved a lot!

Photo by Non Vay from Unsplash

Most of my generation wanted to be like Grandma.

Great granddaughters, and great nieces, too,

are named “Frances” or “Ellen” or “Tustin,”

a gentle reminder: Be known by the good works you do.

Reprinted from Life in Inspiring Places


Copyright© 2019 by Cheryl Batavia

The $5 Challenge

Photo by Joseph Greve from Unsplash

The $5 Challenge

I heard the stories as a child…

of Dad skipping school and running wild,

breaking the ice to go for a swim.

Skunky smell emanating from him…

sent home or banished to the hall.

Given his grades for playing basketball.

Joined the Navy by lying about his age,

used the GI Bill to go to college.

Photo by NeONBRAND from Unsplash

Dad wasn’t much help with study skills,

but he gave me an incentive of a five-dollar bill

for earning straight “A”s…a perfect report card.

In my sophomore year, I tried really hard!

Photo by Hello, I’m Nik from Unsplash

By dropping my hated typing class,

I thought I could get all “A”s at last!

But the honor roll with a “B” or two

just seemed to be the best I could do.

The quest became a pain in the neck,

and to this day, I still hunt and peck.

The next two years, until graduation,

I focused on directing my own education.

I abandoned chasing grades…No “busy work” for me!

There were books to be read as far as the eye could see!

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe from Unsplash

After that, I took art class seriously

and sketched my teacher in trigonometry.

Like my father before me, banished to the hall,

I read a book and didn’t mind at all.

I was multitasking in trigonometry…

Figuring that out, my teacher tolerated me!

Moved to the back of the room, not banished to the hall…

I sat drawing, learning, and having a ball!

Mt. Rushmore, Photo by Brandon Mowinkel from Unsplash

My history teacher was a boring jock!

Outline the chapter?…I think he was in shock

that my outline was heads and subheads. My grades slid,

but I got an education despite the rude things I did.

No “busy work,” copying sentences in grammar!

Zeros hurt my grades, but it didn’t matter…

I scored high on tests, so my grades were okay.

No offense, teachers…Just trying to find my way!

Photo by Anna1991anna from Unsplash

Married at eighteen, then job and family.

Night school part-time at twenty-six…I was ready!

At the beginning of each quarter, I always asked,

“What do I have to do to get an ‘A’ in your class?”

After all the drama, I finally had my four-point-oh…

Dad’s offer had expired…five dollars was a “no show!”

At forty, I graduated and consecutively

started teaching and earning my masters degree.

Elementary Classroom, Photo courtesy of CDC from Unsplash

Like my father before me, I say, “Don’t do as I do!”

Educating yourself is essential, but grades are important too!

Dad went back to school after I was grown.

He earned five doctorates…Who could have known?


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Word to the Wise

If you are a student, please don’t do as I did! Or as my father did, either! Find the balance between earning good grades and educating yourself about the things you want to know. Take it from someone who learned the hard way…Grades and following your interests are both important!

Remember to be kind to your teachers. Karma may get you if you are rude to them! As a teacher in inner city schools, I got back a little bit of what was coming to me. So, if you are ever tempted to give your teachers a hard time, remember my advice, and don’t go there!

The Joke & the Divine

Photo by Nikola Knezevic from Unsplash

The Joke & the Divine

Young Mary told a naughty joke…

The Reverend heard her as she spoke.

In stern rebuke, he raised his hand,

with eloquence gave reprimand,

and when that great Divine had done,

he walked away and stood alone…

He thought upon her clever wit,

and, quite unholy, laughed a bit.

He bowed his head in bitter shame…

and then, poor man, he laughed again!


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


This poem was written when I was in high school, about 1966. I remembered it when I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep. I am not sure whether my father, who was a minister, was pleased when I teased him by writing this poem. However, he may well have laughed about it when I was not around! He did have a sense of humor.

Ghosts of Halloweens Past, Reblog

Photo by Taylor Rooney from Unsplash

Ghosts of Halloweens Past

Cauldrons of magic potions steaming,

Black cats awakening from dreaming.

Cardboard witch astride her broom

cackles under the harvest moon.

Disney princesses in jeweled crowns

are panhandling all over town.

Frankenstein’s monster is resurrected.

Roaming mummies have been detected.

Blow-up ghosts hover mysteriously,

orange lights twinkle in shrubbery.

Hanging from the live oak trees,

paper skeletons dance in the breeze.

Photo by Conner Baker from Unsplash

Spooky music is beckoning,

roving children are threatening,

“Trick or treat! Trick or treat!”

on every suburban street.

Little pirate brandishes a toy sword,

winning him a sweet reward!

Cat Woman says,”Thank you.”

Neighbor says,”Have fun, you two!”

Jack o’lanterns glow,

grinning at the passing show.

Flickering candles beneath

backlight their jagged teeth.

Vampires in windswept black

pantomime a plastic-fang attack.

Howling werewolves with hairy arms

induce us to pretend alarm.

A little troll walks with a giant bunny.

Funny thing is, he calls her “Mummy!”

Diminutive dragons are holding hands

with a Cat-in-a-Hat they call “Dad!”

Wolfing down all the candy they can eat,

Halloween’s children fall blissfully sleep.

Mom chews bubblegum. Dad eats M & Ms.

“Oh no! We can’t stop! When will it all end?


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Sledding

Male Cardinal, Photo by Joshua J Cotten from Unsplash

Sledding

Saturday morning…soup in the crockpot,

wholegrain bread rising, birdseed scattered

on the snowy porch. Cat at the window

watching cardinals, jays, and finches!

Photo by Sergio Arze from Unsplash

Sunday afternoon…packing a picnic,

dressing in long johns, boots, and mittens.

Daughter excited! Driving up the mountain

to George Washington National Forest.

Photo by Pezibear from Pixabay

Building a fire, soup pot on the grill.

Sledding downhill, trudging uphill,

sledding down again. Cheeks red with cold,

ice-matted sleeves, jeans wet at the knees.

Photo by Yvonne Huijbens

Steaming mugs of homemade soup,

homemade wholegrain bread.

Sitting tired and happy at a picnic table,

laughing, talking…making memories!


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Parenthood

Photo by Jordan Whitt from Unsplash

Parenthood

Child in agony.

Parent watching powerless

to take pain away.

We share children’s pain…

from scraped knees to tragedies

to their misspent years.

If we didn’t love,

we wouldn’t feel the anguish…

wouldn’t share the joys!

Photo by Wonderlane from Unsplash

Copyright 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Hello, everyone! It’s so good to be back! 🙂 I have a new computer battery. Two new features, Archives and Categories, have been added to my site. Just click “Archives” at the top of the menu next to the folder icon, and you will find both of them there.

Over the next few days, I’ll be catching up on my emails. I know I’ll find some gems! ❤ All the best! Cheryl