Winter Mornings at Domehenge

Photos taken from our upper deck.

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Winter Mornings at DomehengeWinter Mornings at Domehenge

Growing Up: Malverne, LI, NY 1938-45: The Play

Life Mag-3aAs many young children do, we put on plays every now and then. Most were organized by my sister and some were improvised pretty much on the spot by the group of four budding actresses: Pattie-Anne, Gayle, Patricia and me. This particular play stands out in my mind.

It was our wedding day––all of ours. What a marvelous event! All four of us were getting married at the same time. None of us had ever been to a wedding and we had no TV, so what we knew must have come from Life magazine and radio shows. We probably had no costumes.

35 Doncaster Rd today.

The four of us lined up at the end of the driveway (the audience being in front of the garage) and we walked down singing “Here come the brides”.  We knew the tune but not the words so we just repeated “Here come the brides” over and over until we were halfway down the driveway where we met our four invisible husbands-to-be.

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Growing Up: Malverne, LI, NY 1938-45: The Runaway Doll House

The sun did not shine.
it was too wet to play.
so we sat in the house
all that cold, cold, wet day.

I sat there with Sally.
we sat there, we two.
and I said, ‘how I wish
we had something to do!’

From “The Cat in the Hat” —   by Dr. Seuss


PA-Denny Going into ClosetI really don’t recall if the day was wet or not, but Pattie-Anne and I found ourselves BORED. We were about 5 and 6 and our mother wasn’t around. She was probably down in the cellar (as we called it back then) doing laundry, and we were left to our own devices, which meant we had nothing to do.

So for no good reason we decided to go the hall door closet and hide inside. It was filled with coats and boots and umbrellas and hats. Everything was jammed together, but we decided we’d hide in back behind the coats. We knew our mother would NEVER be able to find us. With much noise and laughter we wormed our way through, giggling and calling, “Come find us!” as we did. But when we pushed our way through to the back we found something totally unexpected. A doll house! It was brown and two stories high–– almost our size!

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Growing Up: Malverne, LI, NY 1938-45 – The Background

Patty Anne, Doody & Mother at the "Dirty House" on Atlas Ave.

Patty Anne, Doody & Mother at the “Dirty House” on Atlas Ave.

My parents moved from Massachusetts to Malverne when I was about 2 years old. We lived on Atlas Avenue and then moved into our new house at 35 Doncaster Road in 1940.

Pattie-Anne and I always referred to the Atlas Avenue house as the Dirty House. Who knows why? Probably it came from hearing our mother saying, “Don’t pick up that dirty old comb off the street.” Or “Let’s take off these dirty old socks and put some clean ones on.” Dirty and old were synonymous. We were leaving the old house, the Dirty House, to move to a new house––a small Cape Cod, but in my eyes it was huge.


Doncaster Road - circa 1940

Doncaster Road – circa 1940

35 Doncaster Road today (Google)

35 Doncaster Road today (Google)

I was known as Doody back then. Turns out when I was born the family called me Doodlebug. A cute name for a baby but eventually the whole neighborhood  knew me as Doody. My mother realized when I was about four or five, before I went to school, that it wasn’t a great name to go through life with, so the family and neighbors made an effort to call me Denny. I appreciate their success, although who knows – maybe when I started my art business many many years later I could have called it “Doody’s Doodles”.

These were the “war years”. I remember at home having blackout drills when all the lights in the neighborhood (or maybe beyond) had to be out.

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Domehenge: Where the wild things are

1-tentOver the past two decades we have watched the ebb and flow of wildlife around our mountain top home.  The first was a bear, which we never saw, but which  visited our tent while we were back east and left his mark.  We found our tent with four long slits in the side.  He didn’t enter the tent, but we didn’t sleep very well that night.  Thank goodness we had not left any food in or around the tent and grounds.




Once we started building the house Mister Bear stopped by from time to time.  Here he is helping us stack the construction lumber.  He even offered to come up from the road and help us. But we discouraged that.

My local workers lived in West Virginia and drove up here at about 7:30 each morning.  One morning I heard their truck arrive but no one came in. Then they started to blow the truck horn.  I flung open the front door and there was Mr. Bear, standing in the carport,  just 10 feet away.  He seemed to be saying “Go away, this is my house” to the truck full of workers.

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Good-bye Sandy – Almost

Unlike the aftermath of most winter storms of past years, when the snow would pile up and surround us, covering the hills and evergreen trees, and when the sun would sparkle on the icy branches outside our windows, there were no beautiful days of glistening snow after Hurricane Sandy.

Maybe we missed some of it while trying to adjust to 10 ½ days of no electricity. However, even when I made an occasional trip outside there were no beautiful “photo ops”. Our driveway and the road had been plowed down to the dirt; in the past there were always a few inches of snow left on them so that everything was totally white. I used to marvel at the beauty. Now there was mud, dirt and gravel which had been pushed up by the plow along with the snow on the banks on the roads’ edges. Not that I should ever complain about the plowing. It was a relief to know we could get out, if needed.


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20 Years of Geodesic Living: How it stacks up

Fig 1: The view

I would like to go over the plusses and minuses we have experienced in building and using a geodesic dome as a residential dwelling.  This is now our twentieth year in Domehenge , summer winter and whatever, on the top of Backbone Ridge in Garrett county Maryland.  Thus, some of my comments may be more the result of living on top of a mountain than of living in a geodesic dome. But I will try to keep this blog on the dome and save the other comments for a future “Mountain Top“ blog.

First, why use a geodesic dome as a house at all?  Well, that follows from the first decision to locate my amateur radio station on the top of a mountain. (FIG 1)  The winds predicted for this location were sustained levels in the upper fifties with gusts to 70 miles per hour.  The geodesic dome has a natural streamlined shape that provides a high wind resistance.  The weather people say that we can expect winds from 70 to 90 mph. Since we got our anemometer a decade or so ago, we have experienced sustained winds of 54 miles per hour.

At fifty miles per hour the dome does not even creak!


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Cozy Warm in Hurricane Sandy

When a black woolly bear crosses your path twice, beware.You know a bad winter is expected!

Hurricane Sandy arrived about dinner time on Monday, October 29 with winds picking up and snow coming with it. Mark was ready for any emergency radio help that might be needed, as was Alison back in Beltsville. The snow and wind continued all night and our electricity went off soon after midnight. I got out of bed and called the electric company just to let them know the extent of their outage.

And the snow and wind continued on and on.


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This Year’s Winter Forecast

It’s nearing the end of October, and what a beautiful season it’s been. So many days of being able to go out and walk in the crisp clear air; to enjoy the trees in all their colors and to watch their leaves fall lazily down for us to crunch through as we walk along the dirt road. During the past couple weeks we picked up selected leaves along the way – ones with good color and shape to use for a centerpiece on our table. The Shaggy Mane mushrooms, which had lined up along the center and edges of the road, watched us as we made our selections.


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The Singing Brook Inn: The Beginning – 1945

The Singing Brook Inn

The war was over!

I remember going out with my sister, Pattie-Anne, and banging the lids from our metal garbage cans to celebrate. We were living, at the time, in a small “Cape Cod” style home in Malverne, Long Island, New York. I was 9 years old. Little did I know that this same year my father would give up his job at Sperry Gyroscope Company and pack us all up to move to Vermont. Our parents’ dream was to own a small inn.

I remember them taking trips to Vermont to find the right place––eventually they did, in the small town of Pittsford. We moved sometime in the winter. I was in the middle of 4th grade.

Moving didn’t just involve the four of us. My grandmother and Aunt Olive lived upstairs from us; they were to come also. Olive, a graduate of Smith College (class of ’07) left her job as an editor at the Nassau Daily Review Star. My parents packed both households and off we went, including our pet, George Thomas Cat. They moved us all in. My sister and I shared a bedroom upstairs across the hall from my grandmother and Aunt Olive. My parents had a bedroom downstairs.

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