The AtHome Pilgrim

Musings at a Slower Pace


Philly area, Pennsylvania, USA
"Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita," I find myself still asking some of the same questions I did when I was just a punk kid. The Big Things confuse me. Fortunately, though, many little things delight and amuse me, and some Big Things--my wife, our kids, our bird and bunny visitors, food, baseball--make me very, very happy. In my pilgrimage, I try to be guided by the wisdom of dear old Auntie Mame: "Life is a banquet!"


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“Oh, the golden, glowing morning,

All the waiting earth adorning

For this Easter Day!

To the King in all His splendour,

Lord of life and death, we render,

Highest lauds this day.

Let the banners float before us,

While we sing th’exulting chorus,

Christ is risen!

He is risen! This isRead full post »

This is the third part of a series about the events and decisions that led to the firing on Fort Sumter and the beginning of the Civil War. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.  


On April 11, 1861, the relief expedition led by Gustavus Fox was nearing Charleston.Read full post »

This is the second part of a series about the events and decisions that led to the firing on Fort Sumter and the beginning of the Civil War. Part 1 is here  


Lincoln had a plan to handle the Sumter crisis—but did he have an administration to carry it out?Read full post »

On a late August day in 1945, just a few weeks after the informal Japanese surrender, which ended World War II, a dark-haired, spectacled man sat behind a desk. When the young, athletic African American came into the office, the man behind the desk examined him intently—and extensively. The blaRead full post »

As he met with his Cabinet on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln revealed a premonition. Something important was about to happen, the president said. He was sure of it. He had had a dream the night before. 

It was the same dream he had had several other times—the nightRead full post »

APRIL 13, 2011 9:13AM

To Number Two Son, on His Birthday

Twenty-four years ago, you came early,

No omen of future proclivity,

Moon-summoned, druid blue, planting surely

In parents’ hearts, welcome activity.

With passing years, morphing from Señor No,

To Lego master, devouring reader,

Jedi knight and friend of Captain Solo,

Both martial artistRead full post »

When Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office of President of the United States on March 4, 1861, those states were hardly united. Seven of them—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas— had voted to secede and formed the Confederate States of America.&nRead full post »

APRIL 7, 2011 7:53AM

A Modern Origin Myth

“Did you hear about Lenny?"

“Yeah, he got speared. Right through the head.”

“Benny is despondent. He just lies there, doing nothing. Won’t even move.”

“It’s tough to lose a twin. I remember when Rosemarie died. She had been so alive, warm and fuzzy. AlwRead full post »

When I was thirteen, I had no friends. There were kids I talked to at school, but no one with whom I played after school, no one with whom I shared thoughts, no one in whom I confided my deepest fears or my foolish dreams. 

I believed that to be theRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 1, 2011 8:51AM

Puns and Neologisms for April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s Day seems like a good occasion for some word play. Get your groans ready! 

Czech mate: the spouse of a resident of Prague 

If it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it: said by the music director of the symphony who disliked music from the seventeenth century Read full post »

Opening Day, thank God, is on the horizon. Last Sunday, while en route somewhere in the car, I popped an exhibition game on the radio and listened to an inning or two of relaxed banter interspersed with game narrative: spring training for the ear. 

Each new sports season promises a newRead full post »



Purple 1



Purple 2


White 1



White 2


 White 3     


Words and pictures © 2011 AtHome Pilgrim.

All Rights Reserved. Read full post »

MARCH 27, 2011 10:25AM

In Memory of Tía

pencil thin



tough stock



glinting eye


loving spirit 

spartan taste



sad pleasure


brought by hija 

joy again:


second hija 


of the

lingering life 

relief comes:


united agaiRead full post »

MARCH 24, 2011 11:01AM

Showing Your Face to the World

I’ve been in the “accidental profession”—book publishing—for nearly 35 years now, and I’ve never lost my love for the variety and individuality of typefaces.*

Variety because you can choose from among serif, sans serif, or script fonts, old style or new style; indiRead full post »

MARCH 22, 2011 10:18AM

Pilgrim Contemplates a Career Change

About two months ago, when Mrs. P was on her way home from work one dark Friday in the still-chill winter, she had a close encounter of the third kind with one of Bucks County’s ubiquitous deer.  

The creature came from the opposite side of the road, entering the roadway justRead full post »

One of my favorite recurring memories of childhood—the very opposite of a recurring nightmare—is the smell of Grandma’s kitchen on Sunday. It was the aroma of pasta sauce* cooking for hours, the aroma of famiglia—the essence of love.

In warm weather, when the windows were openRead full post »

Once, years ago, I heard that pancakes came here from Sweden. It appealed to my half-Swedish self, but it’s silly, of course, since scores of cultures have some version of a quick-cooking, griddle-cooked batter cake.  

Still, it seems somehow right that my passion for pancakes might sRead full post »

MARCH 19, 2011 11:05AM

A Family Cooks a Feast

“Wake me up tomorrow morning when you do the pig.”

“Are you sure? I mean, it’s like one in the morning now, and we’ll be getting up at six to put the pig in the oven to make sure it cooks long enough.”  

Number One Son was adamant: “Cousin Doc andRead full post »


Two years ago today, Open Salon became a lucky place. That was the day that Torman, David McClain, decided to grace this site with his blog.


My man would probably scoff at the use of the word grace. He’d say, with his Texas drawl, “Why I’m just anRead full post »

There I was, trying to write a pithy statement about the rise of identity theft (don’t ask why), happily typing along.

“The ease of access to personal information through the Internet has significantly increased the . . .”

and there, with eager fingers poised lightly on the kRead full post »

Ah, the orchids. 

Waldor Orchids, a New Jersey grower, has a magnificent exhibit of its plants each year. This year’s was built around information about a French firm (the show was themed “Springtime in Paris,” right?) that did pioneering work in orchids. I did not read the infRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 13, 2011 10:30AM

2011 Philadelphia Flower Show: Springtime in Paris, Part 1

Finally, as promised a week ago yesterday, here are some pictures from this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, which dazzled our visiting friends from Ithaca so thoroughly that they kept the glow after returning from the show last Sunday evening even after learning that a foot of snow was faRead full post »

MARCH 5, 2011 8:04AM

The Blackbirds Cometh--and Goeth

Last week, or the week before, prior to the complete melt at any rate, the Pilgrimage was visited one morning by dozens of blackbirds—Brewers’, red wings, and starlings with the odd cowbird in the mix.  

They wheeled en masse into the yard to feed at the feeders. Spotting the coRead full post »

Today, we’re going to have a little fun. I hope. 

March Madness is nearly upon us, and while my taste in sports runs more to the clearly mercenary, rather than the sub rosa gladiators, it is undeniable that the NCAA tournament—aka “The Big Dance”—has spawned the catRead full post »

MARCH 3, 2011 10:45AM

Old Friends . . . .

Tuesday, Mrs. P and I were surprised by a visit from one of my college roommates. A constant traveler, he had called from the Philly airport to say that he had just landed and would be driving to central Jersey for a dinner meeting. He wondered if he could stop byRead full post »