Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Souvenir from Denmark in Pennsylvania

The Little Mermaid was home in Copenhagen Denmark after visiting Shanghai for the World Expo in 2010.  My husband and I met her on Saturday April 14th on our one week trip to Denmark. The Little Mermaid is from the story of the same name, written by Hans Christian Anderson, and published in 1837.  The Little Mermaid sculpture is 65 inches tall .  She was  created in 1913 by Edvard Eriksen. The Little Mermaid is sad. She loves the prince, but he marries another, and the Little Mermaid becomes sea-foam.

There were many people trying to take their picture in front of The Little Mermaid. A man was taking a photograph of  his female companion. I forgot to look at their hands. So I won’t say wife. I don’t know if she had on a ring on her left hand.  I offered to take a picture with their camera of both of them. Then they offered to take a photograph of me in front of the statue. I called for Nick to join me, and they took a photograph of both of us.  I like to look at the photograph. It reminds me that we were in Denmark.

A week after we were home, I went to pick up Piper at the thrift store where she works, Liberty Ministries Thrift Store, a ministry for people in jail or recently released.  She showed me something on the shelf in the ornament section. The statue looked a little sad, and far away from home.  The Little Mermaid was priced at $1.00. Made in Denmark, and living in Pennsylvania. I bought the statue and gave it to Piper.

I was told by one of Piper’s managers, ” If you want to buy something, just wait and it will eventually show up in the store.”  I believe her now.

The Little Mermaid was waiting for us in the store in Pennsylvania while we were looking for her in Denmark.


The Definition Of You

Today when the sun wakes up, find a mirror and smile at the beauty that is you. No one else can define who you are. You are all the words in the dictionary that are strong and good and beautiful. Make your own definition.

In Webster’s dictionary, I can look up the definition of words. Words like, table, bacon, rabbit and slipper. I am not in the dictionary. My name, Pamela Berdeane Fernuik Hodges is not listed. My name would fall somewhere between ————- and ————-.

This is the part in my rough draft where I go and find the dictionary to see what words my name Pamela would be in between, if my name was in the 1967 edition of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, edited by Jess Stein.

On page 1040 in the P section, I found the word palynology, the science of dealing with the study of live and fossil spores, and then going down the list, there are the words Pam, Pamaquine and Pamela. Pam is a non-stick spray, and the short form of Pamela. Pamaquine is a compound used chiefly in the treatment of malaria. Pamela is a girl’s name and is also an epistolary novel by Samuel Richardon published in 1740. I looked up the meaning of epistolary on the internet and then I looked for the meaning in the 9.6 pound Webster on my desk.  (I weighed in on my bathroom scale.) An epistolary novel is a novel written in the form of a series of letters.

The word after Pamela was Pamiri, a member of a Caucasoid people inhabiting the Pamirs. Oh, Caucasoid means caucasian. That is what the internet can not do, have flavor. The words that sandwich other words.

The dictionary had my name, but it did not have


I am more that just a girl’s name.

I could allow the words of others to define me. People may use words that build me up, or they may use words that destroy. Words are not like post-it notes that fade with time and fall off. Words that destroy often get swallowed, and remain inside, imbedded into the tissue like a scar after surgery.

I will listen to David, when he writes that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I will look in the mirror and smile. I will use words that are strong and good and beautiful. I will make my own definition.

Ending The Day With Prayer

Friends had stopped by to drop off a black sweater I had left in their car. We had zucchini loaf to share. We talked. We ate. We sat by the fire. Before they left our friends suggested we pray. We stood in the kitchen holding hands. Martha our dog, came and sat on my feet.

gathered in His name

ending the day with prayer

warm dog on my feet

The Jam on the Counter

This morning when I came into my kitchen. I noticed a butter knife covered in blackberry jam, and jam on the counter.

Last night after I had gone to bed, a member of my household came into the kitchen and ate something with jam on it. Then they left the dirty knife and jam residue on the counter.  I assumed that it was not a neighbor eating the Polaner All Fruit with Fiber Blackberry Seedless Jam from my Kitchenaid Refrigerator.

I walked over to the sink to get a sponge to wipe off the counter. I was about to wipe  the jam up. The sponge was coming in for a landing when I hesitated. The sponge was frozen in mid-air. What do I want more? A clean counter or accountability. Now, I won’t take fingerprints. I won’t interrogate my family members. I will leave the mess and wait. I will be kind and talk with a gentle whisper.

When my husband came down for breakfast he picked up the kitchen sponge and was going to clean up the jam. I stopped him, “Please leave the mess, unless you were the one who ate the jam.”  He wasn’t. The jam will stay until the one who made the mess wakes up.

Rescuing My Grandchildren

When I was driving home from taking my older daughter to school, I saw bulldozers moving earth in the section of the property where my youngest daughter Timber’s frogs Todd and Toddette live. From the road it looked like they had plowed over the pond. I parked in the driveway and walked up the hill to the empty lot with the pond.

I was scared that the pond was covered in mounds of dirt.

The pond was still there. The bulldozers were only 20 yards away from the pond. I ran home and told Timber we needed to do a rescue operation. We took a pail and several large plastic containers. I also took my kitchen strainer to help catch my grandchildren, the Tadpoles.

We put on our rubber boots, we were ready to save lives.

We caught tadpoles and put them in the buckets in the wagon.  Timber prayed, “Dear God, please let the frogs come out so we can save them.” Timber made a noise by putting her tongue on the roof of her mouth. Two frogs answered her. Timber said,” I speak Frog.”

Timber heard a frog answer her. The noise was coming from the grass at the edge of the water. She put her plastic container in front of the frog and it hopped into it. “I caught a frog! We are making a difference.”

We put the tadpoles and frogs in our backyard pond. Tomorrow we will go back to the pond up the street and try to catch more frogs.

Pencils For Denmark

My husband was invited to give a presentation at the DAPUG workshop on New Language Features In Delphi on April 17 and 18th, 2012 at the Hesselet Hotel in Nybork Denmark.  I was invited to attend as a guest.  Jens Fudge was graciously hosting us in his home in Middlefart Denmark before and after the conference. Jens daughter Jessica is learning to speak English in first grade at a private school. In the Danish public schools English is not taught until the third grade. My husband and I were invited to speak at her school.

Whenever I fly, I keep a sock puppet in my purse, just in case I sit next to a child. I was prepared with my puppet Mary, but there were no children on the flight  to Copenhagen. I sewed Mary’s hair on during the flight. Mary has matching red button eyes and purple 100% cotton hair. She is made from a child’s sock purchased at a Big Box Store the day before I left Pennsylvania, the United States of America, for Middlefart Denmark.

On Monday we went to Jessica’s Fudge’s English Class. The students were seven and eight years old. Mary came to class as well. “Hello my name is Mary. I don’t speak Danish. Would you please tell me how to say thank-you. ”

The teacher translated and the students said loudly, ” Tak”

Mary, said “Tak, Tak, Tak. Oh, I need help. I scraped my knee when I came into school. Would someone please help me put a band-aid on my knee? ”  The teacher translated Mary’s request in Danish. I thought there would be several children who would want to put a band-aid on the puppet, so I brought many band aids. Only one child came forward to put a band-aid on Mary. Her name is Xenia.

I brought the book Saving The Liberty Bell by Megan Mcdonald from the United Stated to read to the class.  The English Teacher, Ricky, told the story in Danish after I read each page. My husband and I donated the book to the class after I had read it. Several months before we left for Denmark, I contacted Megan McDonalds manager, Laura Rivas requesting a book donation to the class in Denmark. Megan McDonald donated the first book in McDonalds, Judy Moody series. A hard back edition of Judy Moody was in a mood. The teacher is going to help the students write a thank you letter to Mrs. McDonald.

I thought how nice it would be to bring each student a pencil as a gift. Not just any pencil, but the  quintessentially American Pencil, Dixon Ticonderoga HB 2 pencil. But why just bring one pencil, when I have a big suitcase. I sent an e-mail to Marketing at Dixon Pencil asked them if they would be willing to donate pencils. Then about an hour after I had sent the e-mail I called Dixon and spoke to Nick at Marketing. He graciously offered to supply each child with one box of eighteen sharpened pencils. Dixon send their largest and best product, 18 sharpened Ticonderoga Pencils, with a satin smooth yellow finish and an exclusive graphite core formula. Crafted from reforested quality wood for easy sharpening. Top quality latex free eraser provides clean, easy corrections.  The World’s Best Pencil.

Dixon also sent each child a set of 8 colored makers.  There were twenty-one students in the class. I brought to Denmark 368 pencils, and 168 markers. The children were very happy to receive the pencils and markets. They are going to write to marketing at Dixon Pencil to thank them for the pencils and markers.

I was grateful to have all of that empty space in my suitcase to fill.

At the end of the class after I read the book and handed out the pencils and markers Mary said to the class, “I do not want to go back to The United States. I want to stay in Denmark and learn how to speak Danish.”  Mary walked over to the girl who had put the band-aid on her knee. Mary came off of my hand and went on the hand of her new friend, Xenia.

I will have to make another puppet for the flight home from Denmark. Just in case.

Letters From Japan

I just opened my mail.

A large brown manila envelope from Fort Collins, Colorado, postmarked April 19th, 2012. Inside the manila envelope were letters that I had written to Margaret in  Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, when I lived at  Haramachi 2-58, Fuji-so, Shinjuku-ku, Japan  from 1983 until I moved to California in 1990, after my wedding to Officer Hodges.

I  met Margaret when I had classes with her daughter Barbara, at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary in 1979. Barbara and I were best friends in our first year of Art College. We took several drawing classes together. We talked about our life goals and dreams. We ate popcorn and drank grapefruit juice. We travelled to New York together to watch the ball drop on December 31st 1979. Barbara moved back to Edmonton the summer of 1980. I continued attending the Alberta College of Art. We both helped support the Greyhound Bus Company with frequent visits  to each others home. Barbara came to my apartment in Calgary and I went to her family’s home on 69 A Avenue when I took the three-hour bus to Edmonton to see her.

Barbara’s  mother Margaret taught me how to make gingerbread cookies, and to handwash delicate clothes. I still use her recipe, but I do toss everything into the washing machine.  When I moved to Japan in the fall of 1983 I wrote to  Margaret. She had kept my letters for over 30 years and recently mailed them to her daughter in Fort Collins to forward to me. Barbara included this note with the letters.


My Mom thought you’d enjoy having these letters and cards you sent to her and Dad, mostly from the time you were in Japan. I know she really enjoyed corresponding with you and sending you books — Enjoy.

Tonight during my youngest daughters acting class I enjoyed reading the letters, a taste of my life, a window into a world of details that I had forgotten.  They were written over a period of seven years;  my first day as a freelance photographer, when I joined the The Tokyo International Players theatre group, moving to my own apartment, a postcard from a photographic exhibit I was in,  photographs of me teaching English in 1984, and two from my wedding in 1990. The last letter in the envelope was postmarked December 4th 1990.

Included in the letters was a list of the books Margaret had sent me while I lived in Japan.

Fifth Business, Foreign Affairs, Options, Handmaiden’s Yale, Thornbirds, A Bird In The House, The Diviners, Progress Of Love, Lives of Girls and Women, Spanish Doctor, Samurai, The Eagle and the Raven, A Man, The Ivory Swing, Obason, The Way of The Bull, Three Woman At Water’s Edge.

I don’t remember reading all of the books. I remember enjoying opening my mail and finding a letter and a book from Margaret. I remember thinking the letters were like cold water to a weary soul, a drink of water in the desert, good news from a distant land.  I am grateful she did not throw away the letters. I am grateful she mailed them to me through her daughter.

I will write to Margaret and to Barbara. I will pick up the threads of friendship that I dropped when I got married. I could send Barbara an e-mail to tell her I received the parcel. I could send an e-mail to Margaret and thank her for saving my letters and mailing them to me. But not tonight. Tonight I will find a blank card and an envelope. I will practice my cursive handwriting and write two letters. Tomorrow I will put the letters in the mailbox in my front yard. I will flip-up the little red flag to tell the postman when he drives by that I have a letter to send.

In about a week, or maybe longer, one of the letters with the handwritten note will arrive in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Margaret will know that I am thinking of her, and that I miss her. The other letter will stay in America and go to Fort Collins, Colorado, and my friend Barbara will know that I miss her and that I am thinking of her.

Picking up threads.