About earthriderjudyberman

Stories, and the art of telling them, fascinate me. I am a writer, a teacher and former reporter - both in newspapers and on radio. In this blog, I will share some of the stories I heard growing up, from our travels, our family and experiences on the job and off.

A gift for James on his 50th birthday — a home

Source: A gift for James on his 50th birthday — a home The original story is by Jim McKeever for Irish Investigations. I’m so delighted by James’ 50th birthday gift – a home – which takes him off the streets of Syracuse, New York. I wish James all the best as he strives forward. It truly did take a village for this very happy event to happen.

Please go to Jim McKeever’s site to leave your comments. I don’t know how to close comments on my site. But he’s the one who wrote this beautiful article. https://irishinvestigations.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/a-gift-for-james-on-his-50th-birthday-a-home/

Autumn’s Reflections

Autumn - Forests

By Judy Berman


The Intruders’ Visit

Silent as ninjas, we slip into the woods

on a wide path that beckons thru the Blue Spruce.

A thick, emerald green carpet of moss conceals our footfalls.

Dead pine needles choke out plant life and cushion our path

along the desert floor.

Pine trees

Then, twigs betray us as they crunch under our feet

And herald our presence to the forest’s early warning system.

Birds flutter from their perch.

Their shrill chatter alerts every creature

That intruders are invading their turf.

Autumn - Indian Summer

A Fall Reverie

The late October day is too warm at mid-day

for my beige pullover and tan, green and white flannel shirt.

When the sun begins to sink,

a streak of violet and lavender is cast on the horizon.

A chill sets in and I button the loose shirt.

Autumn - Indian Summer - from a Canadian window

A stiff, steady breeze rushes thru

and shakes hundreds of gold, orange and crimson leaves free.

My reverie on our deck is cut short by

the frigid blanket that now envelopes me

and I escape to the crackling fire in our family room.

Main Photo: Autumn – Forests – taken by David Crocker on Oct. 24, 2004. Delamore Forest  and includes the bridleway into Norley village.     https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/Autumn_Colour%2C_Delamere_Forest_-_geograph.org.uk_-_73478.jpg

Photo: Pine trees –  taken by Jane023 on Sept. 29, 2013. House De Dennen, where Lies van Oven was living with her parents, still hidden by pine trees from the road.     https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/98/House_De_Dennen_hidden_by_pine_trees_from_the_road.JPG/640px-House_De_Dennen_hidden_by_pine_trees_from_the_road.JPG

Photo: Autumn – Indian Summer – taken by Peter Rufi on Oct. 18, 2005. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b2/IndianSummer.jpg/600px-IndianSummer.jpg

Photo: Autumn – Indian Summer – from a Canadian window – taken by SteGrifo27 on Oct. 18, 2014 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/63/Canadian_window_%2B_indian_summer.JPG/640px-Canadian_window_%2B_indian_summer.JPG

Music video: “Autumn Leaves” by Frank Sinatra   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coRoCGbK5Z8   

Do you dread autumn as it signals the inevitable approach of winter? Or, do you savor its lingering reminders of summer? What are your thoughts?

Lessons Learned From The Godfather

The Godfather - I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse

By Judy Berman

Sometimes, life hands us a lesson when we’re least expecting it. That often happens to me when I’m reading a book or watching a movie.

Who knew that a mobster movie like “The Godfather” would have me carefully weighing words and watching my back?

In the opening scene, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) listens as an undertaker seeks vengeance against the men who assaulted his daughter. The Godfather hesitates to grant his request until the undertaker declares his friendship and heartily kisses the Don’s ring.

* Lesson learned? Gifts can come with strings attached:

“Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service. Until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.”

Before the Mafia Don can join his daughter’s wedding party, his godson, singer Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) asks the Godfather to convince movie producer Jack Woltz (John Marley) to give him a role he craves.

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” (Brando) says.

Woltz learns his lesson too late. He loses something valuable – his favorite horse – before he gives Johnny Fontane the part.

* It’s better to pick your battles.

The-Godfather-Michael Corleone at restaurant

Carlo and Connie’s marriage is disintegrating. Carlo (Gianni Russo) beats up his pregnant wife (Talia Shire). Sonny Corleone (James Caan) is furious when he sees the bruises on his sister’s face. Sonny tracks Carlo down and assaults him.

Angered by the public beating, Carlo plots with the Corleones’ chief rivals to have Sonny killed.

Paulie (John Martino), who was supposed to be Sonny’s body guard, is the first to pay for betraying The Family.

* Violence begets violence.

Paulie unwittingly goes on a last ride with Clemenza and a henchman. After Paulie is shot, Clemenza says: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

The Godfather - take the cannollis

* Always remember what’s most important.

The gang rivalry escalates. Clemenza’s advice to Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) rings true for warring gangs and world rivalries:

“You know, you gotta stop them at the beginning. Like they shoulda stopped Hitler at Munich. They shoulda never let him get away with that.”

* When there’s a dispute, it’s better to nip it in the bud.

Former friends form new alliances. Tessio (Abe Vigoda) turns against the Corleones to gain a better advantage in the perks of crime. Before he is killed, Tessio tries to minimize his deception.

“Tell Mike it was only business.”

The Godfather - It was only business

* Lesson learned? Choose your friends wisely.

The contradiction between Michael Corleone’s words and actions are clearly defined in the baptism scene toward the end of the film.

Michael is taking vows to be the godfather of Connie and Carlo’s baby. He swears that he will renounce Satan and his evil ways at the same time that carnage is being carried out on his orders.

The Godfather - Al Pacino at baptism

But Michael has one more score to settle. He meets with Carlo after the ceremony and tells Carlo that the heads of five crime families are now dead.

Carlo quakes in his shoes. But Michael assures Carlo that no harm will come to him if he tells the truth about his role in betraying The Family.

Michael shows Carlo airline tickets to Las Vegas and tells Carlo that his ‘punishment’ will be that he’s out of the family business. Carlo fesses up.

Carlo’s short ride to the airport ends – as does his life – in the driveway.

* Be skeptical of empty promises.

What messages have you taken away from a book or movie?

Shakti Ghosal’s thoughtful post, “Air to the Bird, Water to the Fish, was the inspiration for my post. His was about the choices we have when we’re confronted with situations that sometimes bring out the worst in us. It got me to thinking of the baptism scene in “The Godfather” movie where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is making vows to reject evil at the same time that evil is being carried out by his orders.  http://esgeemusings.com/2015/09/01/air-to-the-bird-water-to-the-fish/

Main Photo: The Godfather – Marlon Brando and opening scene  http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/the-godfather-trilogy/images/423734/title/godfather-photo

Photo: The Godfather – Michael Corleone at restaurant, killing Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) and a crooked cop. http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/The-Godfather-the-godfather-trilogy-423736_462_370.jpg

Photo: The Godfather – Clemente after shooting Paulie: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” (screen shot)

Photo: The Godfather – Tessio before being killed for betraying Michael Corleone: “Tell Mike it was only business.” (screenshot)

Photo: The Godfather – Michael Corleone vows to renounce evil at the baptism of his godchild at the same time that the heads of five crime famlies are being murdered on his orders. (screenshot)

Video: The Godfather – the baptism scene. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfbYp9oaIT8  https://www.youtube.com/embed/EfbYp9oaIT8” target=”_blank”>

Mending Walls

Wall - Old abandoned mine - West Virginia forest

By Judy Berman

The wall between us. Are the barriers – emotional or physical – needed?

Robert Frost poses that philosophic question about the boundaries we set in his poem, “Mending Wall.” In it, two neighbors go thru the annual spring ritual of mending a wall between their properties.

As they work, it’s clear their relationship needs to be repaired.

One farmer questions the other’s notion that “good fences make good neighbors.”

There are no cows grazing in the fields. So, he wonders, just what are they “walling in or walling out?”

Is the wall built out of fear? Or is the barrier needed for self-preservation?

Wall - Carlisle stone wall - Massachusetts - 2007

Whether it’s an individual or a country, either reason may be used to justify a barrier’s existence.

Some favor building a blockade to keep immigrants or refugees from entering their country.

Presidential hopeful, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas talked about building a wall between the United States and Canada. Others are urging for the same between the U.S. and Mexico.

Still others in Europe want to do the same to prevent an influx of folks fleeing their war-torn countries in search of a safe haven.

Such a wall has been erected before.

Wall - Berlin Wall - 1989

Communists began building the Berlin Wall in August 1961. The structure, nearly 100 miles long, completely cut off West Berlin from East Berlin and East Germany until it was opened on Nov. 9, 1989.

“At least 171 people were killed trying to get over, under or around the Berlin Wall.”

“From 1961 until the wall came down in 1989, more than 5.000 East Germans (including some 600 border guards) managed to cross the border by jumping out of windows adjacent to the wall, climbing over the barbed wire, flying in hot-air balloons, crawling through the sewers and driving through unfortified parts of the wall at high speeds.”  (history.com)

Demolition on the Berlin Wall began on June 13, 1990, and was completed in 1992.

Rather than throwing up walls, we need to find ways to build better relationships to ease our worries. That task might be difficult, but not impossible to overcome.

When we’re done, we might find that it’s healthier to tear down those barriers – whether it’s between neighbors in a community or those that divide us on planet Earth.


All are welcome.

All are welcome.

What are your thoughts? Do “good fences make good neighbors”? Or, what do we need to do to end the divisiveness?

Sept. 10th marks my fourth anniversary on WordPress. Thank you to all the friends I’ve met here, for your thoughtful and funny comments, and for your support. I especially want to thank my husband, Dave Berman, who has edited all my posts. Thanks, Honey. 

Photo: Wall – Old abandoned mine in Allegheny Mountains forest, West Virginia. Taken May 2, 2009 by http://www.ForestWander.com https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5c/Old-abandoned-mine-wv-forest_-_West_Virginia_-_ForestWander.jpg/640px-Old-abandoned-mine-wv-forest_-_West_Virginia_-_ForestWander.jpg

Photo: Wall – Carlisle stone wall, Massachusetts, taken Oct. 6, 2007 by Kristin of Somerville, Mass.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/54/2007_Carlisle_stone_wall_Massachusetts_1520579862.jpg/640px-2007_Carlisle_stone_wall_Massachusetts_1520579862.jpg

Photo: Wall – Berlin Wall – November 1989 by Yann (talk). https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/85/Berlin-wall.jpg/640px-Berlin-wall.jpg

Photo: Walls – Breaking Down the Walls  https://www.facebook.com/GlobalTableAdventure/photos/a.309297250495.156742.301917530495/10153029519040496/?type=1&theater

Source for quote on the Berlin Wall: http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/berlin-wall


Off the Beaten Path

Mt. Charleston - Cathedral Rock trail

By Judy Berman

There is an antidote for Las Vegas’ scorching summers.

The best way to escape the heat is to drive about 35 miles northwest of Vegas. That will take you to a spot that’s at least 20 degrees cooler.

Mount Charleston’s mountain, which is snow-capped for more than half the year, can be seen from parts of the Las Vegas Strip. (Wikipedia)

My brother, Hank, introduced us to Mount Charleston several years ago, and it’s been part of our annual visit to see him ever since.

From the deck of Mount Charleston Lodge, we have an excellent breakfast with a jaw-dropping view. At 11,916 feet, it is the highest mountain in both Spring Mountains and Clark County, in Nevada.

Green pine trees, the bluest of skies and white, puffy clouds are our backdrop.

Gorgeous homes and lodges are tucked into the mountainside.

This year, after our meal, we walked across the street to the state park and walked a bit on the Cathedral Rock trail. Maybe next year, we’ll venture farther into the park.

Walk in the woods - Pete Seeger - Mutts Comics - 9-2-15

view from Mt. Charleston Lodge - 2013

view from Mt. Charleston Lodge – 2013

view from Mt. Charleston - 2014

view from Mt. Charleston – 2014

My brother, Hank, and my hubby, Dave, in Cathedral Rock and Mt. Charleston Trailhead

My brother, Hank, and my hubby, Dave, in Cathedral Rock and Mt. Charleston Trailhead – 2015

What is your favorite ‘off the beaten path’ site?


Main Photo: Mt. Charleston – Cathedral Rock trail – View of Mummy Mountain from Cathedral Rock trail. Taken by Sarah Nichols of Las Vegas, Nevada on March 8, 2008.  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1c/Mt._Charleston%2C_Cathedral_Rock_trail.jpg/640px-Mt._Charleston%2C_Cathedral_Rock_trail.jpg

Cartoon – Walk in the woods – quote by Pete Seeger – Mutt Comics. 9-2-15

Photos of Mt. Charleston – from 2013 to 2015 – by Judy Berman

Video – view from Mount Charleston Lodge

Mount Charleston Lodge – information – http://mtcharlestonlodge.com/



Valley of Fire in Nevada

Valley of Fire - Nevada

By Judy Berman

The desert might seem like an odd place to visit when the temperatures have been in the triple digits for several weeks.

But, fortunately for us, there was a slight breeze and an air-conditioned van that eased any discomfort as we toured the Valley of Fire State Park in mid-July. Valley of Fire is about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.

We scampered across rocks and climbed up into them. This place was on my must-see visit in Vegas this year.

Some people stare at clouds and think they look like a dog, a bunny or some other creature. As we stared at the rock formations, we did the same. We saw the profile of an Indian Chief, an elephant, a poodle and much more.

The desert also held some surprises. In the middle of nowhere, there were three cabins. The Cabins were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers in the 1930s.

Not far from the park, we stopped to visit the Desert Springs. While it’s a lovely oasis, don’t drink the water and don’t swim in it. The results could be deadly.

The Arch Rock, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

The Arch Rock, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Nightmare? Rock formations

Nightmare? Rock formations


Valley of Fire - Fire Wave - a small waterfall spilling off the rocks

Valley of Fire – Fire Wave – a small waterfall spilling off the rocks

Valley of Fire - rock tunnels

Valley of Fire – rock tunnels

climbing steps to see petroglyphs (writings in the desert)

climbing steps to see petroglyphs (writings in the desert)

petroglyphs - ancient writings in the desert

petroglyphs – ancient writings in the desert

Profile of an Indian Chief carved into the rocks?

Profile of an Indian chief carved into the rocks?

Balancing Rock

Balancing Rock

A rock formation that some think look like a poodle

A rock formation that some think look like a poodle

The Cabins built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)members.

The Cabins built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) members.

Desert Springs - A welcome attraction in the dry desert, but do not drink the water or swim in it.

Our tour guide, Adam Hefner with Casino Travel and Tours, at Desert Springs – A welcome attraction in the dry desert, but do not drink the water or swim in it.


Where do you prefer to visit? The mountains, deserts, rivers, the ocean or cities?


Note about the photos: I chose to use five photos from Wikimedia commons because many of my own photos had a bluish cast. Not sure what happened. It was certainly disappointing when I checked the photos after we returned from our tour.

Main Photo: Valley of Fire, Nevada – vista – taken Dec. 18, 2012, Author: Frank Kovalcheck of Anchorage, Alaska https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/What_an_amazing_place%21_%288286982428%29.jpg

Photo: Valley of Fire, Nevada – Arch Rock – taken Dec. 18, 2012, Author Frank Kovalcheck of Anchorage, Alaska    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/Arch_Rock_-_it_is_actually_very_small_%288285923311%29.jpg

Photo: Valley of Fire – Nightmare rock formations – taken Oct. 11, 2012. Author: John Fowler of Placitas, New Mexico https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7a/Nightmare_%288192727113%29.jpg/640px-Nightmare_%288192727113%29.jpg

Photo: Valley of Fire – Fire Wave – taken Oct. 11, 2012. Author: John Fowler of Placitas, New Mexico. (At the time of his visit, there was a little waterfall spilling off the west side.) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/54/Fire_Wave_%288161224428%29.jpg/541px-Fire_Wave_%288161224428%29.jpg

Photo: Valley of Fire, Nevada – rock tunnels – taken Dec. 18, 2012, Author: Frank Kovalcheck of Anchorage, Alaska https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/43/Absolutely_amazing_formations_everywhere_%288286980054%29.jpg/486px-Absolutely_amazing_formations_everywhere_%288286980054%29.jpg


Photo: Valley of Fire – climbing steps to see petroglyphs – ancient writings in the desert. Taken July 2015 by me (Judy Berman)

Photo: Valley of Fire – petroglyphs – Taken July 2015 by Judy Berman.

Photo: Valley of Fire – A stone structure that appears to be a profile of Indian chief. Taken July 2015 by Judy Berman

Photo: Valley of Fire – Balancing Rock – Taken July 2015 by Judy Berman

Photo: Valley of Fire – A stone structure that some think looks like a poodle – Taken July 2015 by Judy Berman

Photo: Valley of Fire – The Cabins – Taken July 2015 by Judy Berman

Photo: Valley of Fire – Desert Springs – Don’t drink the water or swim in it. Taken July 2015 by Judy Berman


Six Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Up - couple in the movie2

By Judy Berman

It’s the little quiet moments that I enjoy most, and the exhilarating times, too, in our 31 years of marriage.

What advice would I give for a happy marriage? I defer to others to bring you the pearls of wisdom that might work for you.

  1. Never go to bed angry

Even if you have to stay up several days and emerge with Rocky the Raccoon eyes from sleep deprivation. Of course, by then, you might be so tired that you’ve forgotten what your argument was about in the first place. That’s a win-win situation.

  1. Remember those three little words: “Let’s eat out.”

That worked for comedian Henny Youngman and his wife.

When asked the secret of their long marriage, Youngman confessed: “We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays. I go Fridays.”

  1. An open-and-shut policy:

Benjamin Franklin recommended: “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half-shut afterwards.”

Or, to quote another profound source:

“Like good wine, marriage gets better with age – once you learn to keep a cork in it.” (Gene Perret)

Up - couple in the movie

  1. Don’t stop believing:

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, and always with the same person.” (Mignon McLaughlin)

That bumpy ride on the road of married life often requires some realignment. To navigate it, to survive the ups and downs of life, means those in the vehicle might have to reset their GPS, and their outlooks to reach a common goal.

  1. Keep talking:

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” (Andre Maurois)

That line of communication links you together. Your partner can’t read your mind.

  1. Keep laughing:

“A healthy relationship should have a lot more comedy than drama.” (Dave Willis)

Laughter bonds people. It might be lines in a movie that gets you to giggle. Or a weird situation you spot when you’re out and about. Inside jokes that keep on giving are the best.

Venice - family vacation - June 2015 (97) - at Caffe India

Each relationship has to find its own rhythm. I have to thank my husband, Dave, for his patience, love and support.


Do you have a quote about being happily married? Please share below. 

Source of many of these quotes are from: “40 Best Funny Marriage Quotes and Advice”   http://quotesaboutmarriage.com/40-best-funny-marriage-quotes

Photo: from the movie “Up.” For the second image, here is the link: http://www.supertran.net/2009/08/movie-up-2009.html

Photo: Dave and  I (Judy Berman) in Venice, Italy, June 2015.