• Diane
  • Puppeteer, theme park junkie, poet, and devoted Mom to a Rat Terrier and a Smooth Fox Terrier! (Oh, and now a college student too!)
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MomHappy Mother’s Day Everyone

Categories: Poems
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Published on: May 12, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there! Here’s a poem I wrote a LONG time ago for my own mother. Enjoy!


 

Mother Earth

by Diane Graebner

 

There’s a reason we call it “Mother Earth,”
This planet that nurtured, and gave us birth.
 
For a mother gives of herself when a child is there
Her pain; her hope; her love; her prayers.
 
And each creature, each flower, each plant and stone
Is a gift from our “mother”, to call our own.
 
For like the Earth, a mother’s gifts
Are part of her soul; are what she is.
 
A mother’s love, a mother’s song,
A mother’s milk and arm so strong
 
Are all there to guide; To protect and provide
 
From a child’s youngest days.
 
And as that child grows, and flies from the nest,
A mothers prayers are the armor that makes every test
Though difficult, a task none the less
Attainable.
 
A mother’s shoulder is also there
To cry on, or to ease any care
 
That burdens a child in any way.
 
So to my mothers, both of you true,
“Mother Earth”, and mother — you.
 
I give back some of what was given to me
I give back my soul, my life to thee.
 
And when I hear a bird’s sweet song
Or smell a flower, or ponder long
 
Over cloud, or sunset, or the sun’s heat strong.
 
I’ll think of my mother, and though we’re apart
I’ll always have her in my heart.

Mother and Diane

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Up-with-People-StarYou Meet ‘Em Wherever You Go!

Categories: Up with People
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Published on: February 28, 2013
This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Up with People
Nathalie from Up with People
My “host sister” Nathalie gets acquainted with my Parents.

Like many young people, I graduated from college without a really clear picture of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Unusual, huh? I took odd jobs, including substitute teaching and managing a book store while I tried to figure it out.

A few years after graduation, we had an opportunity to see an Up with People show for free. My Father worked for an agency that was sponsoring the show, and was thus entitled to tickets. Unfortunately (for him) he had a meeting the night of the show and was unable to attend. Mom and I went instead. The show, Beat of the Future (I think, it was a long time ago and it’s hard to find a good chronology of Up with People shows online), was fun, uplifting, energetic, and well, fun (yeah, I said that twice). We really enjoyed it and wished Dad had been there to see the show. Two years later, when a new troupe visited our hometown, he got that chance.

The year was 1989, in November, and Up with People was coming back into town to perform Face to Face (I’m sure of this one!). Again, Dad’s agency was sponsoring, and again he was given tickets. This time he was also asked to host a student from the program. We welcomed Nathalie, a Norwegian/Canadian into the family for a few days. Since I was still very undecided about what to do with my future, and since I had been so impressed with the program two years previously, I decided to ask Nathalie about what requirements there might be to join Up with People. She was more than happy to talk about her experiences, and invited me to spend the day with the cast as they went about their activities. I sat in on discussions about what was going on in our community, and in the world. You see, there was a minor event unfolding in Germany on that date. After so many years, the Berlin Wall was finally coming down! That day! The International cast, which included a few students from Germany, was excited. It was a major event; one that impacted the entire world. Joining the cast on that day as they set up their stage, rehearsed, and performed their usual community activities, there was an electricity in the air. As the wall was coming down thousands of miles away, the German cast members were excused from their activities so they could run across the street from the theater where a local pub was playing the news on their TV set. I knew I wanted to be a part of that “family.” They were connected to history and knew it. It seemed that most young people I encountered barely knew what was going on within their own households. This group not only knew what was going on throughout the world, but they rejoiced in it. They embraced it. They lived it!

I went home to let Nathalie spend the rest of the afternoon preparing for that evening’s performance. At home, I discussed my plans to join Up with People with my family. Mom & Dad had been enthusiastic about my interest in the program (I think joining Nathalie for the day was actually their idea), but now that I was really serious about it, reality was sinking in. It would be expensive. Tuition at that time was around $10,000 for the year, and although UWP had scholarships and offered advice for collecting donations, it would not be cheap to travel with the program. I said I intended to interview after the show, as that was how new students were chosen. My parents agreed that I should do so, but were not terribly optimistic about the reality of actually traveling if accepted.

That night, as we arrived for the show, my Father was really hedging about the whole “join Up with People” thing. “We’ll see…” was the standard response. Then, the lights dimmed. The music began. And as a hundred energetic (heck, they were STOKED!), excited, enthusiastic “Uppies” ran down the aisle, singing about how the world would someday come together as one, my Father on one side of me and my Mother on the other were tugging on my sleeves in unison, tears in their eyes. “You get accepted and we’ll figure out how to pay for it, Diane,” they both said. “We don’t know how, but we’ll pay for it!”

Up with People does not require an “audition.” They aren’t looking for singers or dancers (thankfully as I dance like a sack of potatoes and they turn microphones off if I come anywhere near them!); they were looking for energy. For a desire to make a difference. They wanted people who were enthusiastic, and optimistic, and devoted. Singing and dancing they can teach. Optimism is one of those things you either have or you don’t.

I interviewed first with a young man from Japan and a young lady from somewhere I don’t remember. The young man spoke very limited English, so the young lady was there to assist him. The questions were enlightening. How would I use the experience? What hopes did I have for my own community’s growth? Why did I want to join? After answering their questions, I was told that a staff member wanted to interview me as well. I waited and was then re-interviewed by one of the UWP staff. The questions were similarly thoughtful; the emphasis was on my hopes for the future of the world and for my own future - with a few “do you like to sing?” questions thrown in.

When I returned to my family after the interview, Nathalie was there waiting. “Well, how did it go?” she asked. I told her about my multiple interviews. “That means you’re IN!” she announced with a shout!

After Nathalie left to go to the next city on the tour, I sat down to complete the application procedure. UWP required a written essay, asking again about my reasons for joining the program and my plans for after it completed. I mailed it in and waited.

And waited…

And waited. I somehow knew that when the answer came, a large envelope would be good news and a simple letter-sized envelope would be bad news. Big manila envelopes contain booklets, and instructions, and forms to fill out. Letter-sized envelopes contain letters. Rejection letters. Not what I wanted! I waited some more.

On my way to work one day, I stopped at the mailbox to get the mail. In the box was a bulky, manila envelope. The envelope had the UWP logo on it! With shaking hands I opened it. I was in! I immediately drove back up the driveway and ran into the house to call my parents at work!

In the months leading up to the start of my program, which would begin in the summer of 1991, I had a lot of planning to do. I organized my life. I made arrangements for my car and my pet salamander (Yes, I had a pet salamander. His name was Nemo!). I arranged to quit my job. And I began fundraising! Lots and lots of fundraising. I spoke to nearly every Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, and every other club in town. I sent letters, lots of letters, looking for corporate sponsorships. I did receive a small scholarship from UWP themselves, and a fairly sizable contribution from my local church who considered my tour, although non-denominational, to be a form of missionary work. Friends and relatives donated. Organizations and clubs donated. It was hard work!

There’s also the myriad of things one has to do when one is going to be traveling all over the world. I had to get a passport (I look terrified in my first passport photo!). I had to get vaccinations and physical check ups. I had to get a suitcase! The suitcase was one of the more difficult items to get. According to the information I had been sent, I had to limit my belongings to one suitcase, a small garment bag, and an even smaller carry-on bag. That was it! For a whole year of International travel. We would be in Tuscon, AZ in the summer, and who-knew-where in Europe in the winter (Poland, Germany and Denmark as it turned out!). We would be doing community service activities that involved dressing up (visiting nursing homes and hospitals for example) and dressing down (we cleaned trash off the streets in Belgium!). We would also be responsible for carrying our own show costumes; and makeup; and shoes. We would need toiletries for a year. And shoes to go with each outfit. And music to listen to on the road. And books. And everything else one keeps with them when they travel. In one suitcase. One! It turns out, I found the perfect bag. It was tiny. It looked like a miniature suitcase. It was really a fold out garment bag! It held everything, and since most of my clothes were unfolded, it had lots of nooks and crannies for shoes, and toiletries, and even a stuffed Ewok (I’m a Star Wars geek – so sue me!). For the rest of the year, people marveled at how I fit an entire year’s worth of stuff into that tiny suitcase — until I’d open it up. Then they’d say “AH!” and understand!

In July of 1991, all of the preparation and anticipation were over. It was time to leave for summer staging in Tucson, AZ. It was cheaper to book a round-trip flight in those days, so I left with two tickets in my pocket:  One for going out to Tucson, and another “just in case it didn’t work out.” I was nervous. I was excited. I was nervous. And nervous. And excited! I don’t remember much of the trip (well, except the layover in Chicago where Jane Curtain walked past me in the airport!), but I do have one last memory of my pre-Up-with-People days: I was heading through the gate to the plane. I made the mistake of looking behind me as I went. There were my parents. My Father had tears on his face. I’ll never forget it! It’s hard to start a journey like that. Leaving home is difficult, and this was going to be a full year away. I would be in another country (countries) for half of it. I would be halfway around the world. But what an experience it would be!

I would never be the same!

Nathalie
Nathalie and Diane – Host Sisters!

(Next post in the series:  Summer staging in Tucson!)

 

 

 

 

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HomepageNew Stuff on the Main Site!

Categories: About Diane
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Published on: February 25, 2013

So, I took a long-needed, nearly 10-day “staycation” this past week! I mostly lounged around the house, watching TV and resting. I also spent quite a bit of time going through old folders of papers and photos looking for stuff for the website. I found some gems, and have added them to the main Generations-Poetry site.

When Grandmother passed away about 9 years ago, a lot of her papers went to my Aunt; her daughter. My Aunt recently found a folder of Grandmother’s writing, and passed it on to me so I could add it to the website if I wanted to. I wanted to!

Here is a summary of what’s new on Generations-Poetry.com!

  • In 9th Grade English, I was asked to interview someone from another generation. I chose Grandmother. I found that paper in a folder of some of my writing, and added it to the front page of the site. It gives a great deal of insight into my Grandmother’s beliefs.
  • I added quite a few poems to the site; both my own and Grandmother’s. Look for new poetry on the following pages: Christmas, Grandpa’s Page, Potpourri, and StoryQuest.
  • I found a short story Grandmother had written about my Father’s pet ducks, Booble-a-binga and Beeble-a-binga (yes, that’s what my Father named his ducks!). It’s on the Fables & Tales page.
  • I found a snippet of a poem I started 30-some years ago in church. When inspiration struck, I had to write my thoughts down. I wrote the first verse of a poem on the retirement club insert of the church program. 30 years later I finished the poem and added it to StoryQuest. It is called God’s Hand.
  • One of the biggest treasures of all was a stack of handwritten pages containing the original first-drafts of some of Grandmother’s poetry! I added a Lightbox effect to the site and linked to those original copies after the poems on the site. I also added a few news articles about us on their respective pages.

Well, have fun storming the site, kids! I’ve still got a stack of papers right next to my keyboard on my desk, so watch for more to come later! I may have to take another vacation to get it all done, though!

 

 

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Rosen CollegeHeigh Ho, Heigh Ho! It’s off to college I go!

Categories: About Diane
Comments: No Comments
Published on: February 11, 2013
Rosen College
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

It’s been a LONG time since I graduated from college. A LONG LONG time. (I won’t go into further details about how long!) I originally graduated from Illinois State University, in Normal, Illinois with a batchelor’s degree in Elementary Education. I completed my degree although I knew halfway through my college years that I didn’t want to be a teacher. I figured a degree in Education would come in handy eventually (an education course-of-study is like a REALLY good liberal arts education). After college, I tried a few different jobs, including substitute teaching, managing a book store, and even traveling around the world in a volunteer performing arts program. After I returned from my world tour, I ended up settling in Orlando, Florida, and ended up working in the tourism industry as a theme park ride attendant, entertainer, and hotel concierge. 

Now, over 20 years later, I feel like it’s time to admit that my career has been in the hospitality industry. I’m no longer working in a job. I want to advance, and I want to be better at what I do. It’s time, in other words, to “get serious.” After doing a little research into the subject, I discovered that one of the top hospitality management colleges in the United States is literally down the street from my current employer. “Maybe,” I thought to myself, “it’s time to go back to school.”

I applied for admission to the Hospitality Management Master’s Degree program at Rosen College. Rosen is part of the University of Central Florida, and was created and is funded by some of the top names in the hospitality industry. Professors have worked in the hospitality industry for such giants as Disney, Rosen, and some of the top restaurants, theme parks, and hotels in the world. Furthermore, it is a beautiful, quiet campus away from the hubub of the main UCF campus. It is conveniently located right in the middle of the attractions area, and has access to state-of-the-art restaurant, hotel, and tourism equipment and opportunities.

Graduate School is a scary proposition. The application process itself is quite daunting. After more that 20 years out of college, I found it difficult to find people who were able to write pertinent letters of reference for me. My current employers were unable to due to policy restrictions, and my previous employers were hard to find.

In addition, it had been a long time since I’d taken basic college math and a “competitive score” on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) was a requirement. I studied over a couple of months, and ended up with a very competitive language score and a very average math score. This was not going to be enough to set the world on fire, but most Graduate programs put more emphasis on experience and academics than on test scores (or so I hoped).

Let me just say that if you are considering going into Grad School, remember that the GRE (or GMAT for some programs) is usually a requirement. It is a grueling, stressful, hideous test experience! The test itself is designed to take up to four hours to complete, and includes basic algrebra, reading comprehension, and language/vocabulary skills. It’s designed to not only test your knowledge, but your stamina. It’s also not cheap to take (around $200 not including study materials) so it’s not something you enter into lightly. Sitting for the GRE involved more security than the airports (no contraband allowed: including calculators, cell phones, watches, timers, or crib notes). Just going to the bathroom during the test involved signing out, going to the restroom, getting patted down for contraband again, and signing back in! And, you only have 6 minutes to do it in most cases. You complete two math portions, two vocabulary/reading comprehension portions, and 2 short essay portions and have only an allotted amount of time for each. I only vaguely remember the ACT (or did I take the SAT?), and I remember it being stressful, but this was nerve-wrecking!

After completing the GRE and submitting my personal statement (why I wanted to attend the school and program), references, and application, I hunkered down to wait for acceptance or, Heaven forbid, rejection. And I waited. And waited. And waited! Although the turnaround time for acceptance or denial of an application for enrollment is supposed to be 2-weeks, I ended up waiting over four months!

The wait finally ended last week when I received an email letting me know I’d been accepted. I had just about given up. Now I can stop worrying about getting into college, and start worrying about how to pay for it all!

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Well, Look at that!

Categories: About Diane
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Published on: February 10, 2013

So, fixing up the site has inspired me to do some work on the Blog as well! I’ve tidied it up, and matched the theme to the rest of the site. I don’t know if I’ll remember to actually post anything, but I’ll try to post family updates, news, and other information on the blog.

I’ll also continue to use this space as a holding place for new poems, stories, or newly found items. Subscribe to our RSS feed for news on new posts. I’ll try to mention here when I add new content to the main site as well!

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Swim, PT, SwimA Memorial to P.T. Barnum

Categories: Poems
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Published on: October 2, 2009

Heaven’s Park

By Diane Graebner

Saint Peter sits at heaven’s gate, his gilded book in hand;

Upon it writes the names of those admitted to the Promised Land.

As each is called, he speaks their names, and writes them on the page.

And then below he writes their deeds; the story of their age.

 

And when each life is written down, upon its golden line;

Each man or beast goes through the gate into a land divine.

 

All worldly cares are thus relieved; all troubles cease to be;

Each one released from mortal woes, and earthly frailty.

 

There came a time a small frail dog approached the heavenly port;

His fragile legs could barely stand without a hand’s support.

 

He looked about with fading eyes, and trembled on the mat;

St. Peter softly wrote his name, then gave his head a pat.

 

And then with one last gentle touch, the gates were opened wide;

The tiny pup first faltered, then slowly limped inside.

 

In front of him there suddenly, appeared a great green field;

He felt his cares all melt away, his pain and anguish healed.

 

A gentle light shone all about, where trees and flowers grew,

Be-speckled by the rays of light, and gently washed by dew.

 

And there he plays eternally, within that heavenly park.

And angels smile to watch him romp, and hear his cheerful bark.

In honor of my dog, Phineas Taylor Barnum, who died on September 23, 2009.

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Swim, PT, Swim!

Categories: About Diane
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Published on: September 18, 2009
Swim, PT, Swim
Swim, PT, Swim

On Tuesday, September 15, 2009, my fox terrier Phineas Taylor Barnum (PT for short) turned 18! For those of you counting, that’s approximately 137 years in human terms! Ok, that math is probably a little off, but as his vet says, he’s no longer “elderly” and is now “old!”

In spite of his advanced age, PT is still in very good condition. He eats well (scrambled eggs and brown rice for breakfast every morning, and chicken, baked potato, and peas for dinner!), is alert, and reasonably active. He’s lost his hearing, but it was a year before I realized it since he wasn’t really too good at listening anyway. His vision is not as good as it once was. He sees well up close, but distance is another matter. He follows so closely that if you stop short, he runs into the back of your legs! I keep threatening to buy him a pair of doggy bifocals!

The one problem that PT does have is arthritis. About a year or so ago, he began having difficulty walking. He wobbles a bit, and his legs were getting weaker. It became harder for him to go on walks, as his legs would eventually wobble and cease holding his weight. It was difficult to deal with, as he was still very active and I was finding it hard to keep him from hurting himself.

I had read online about canine hydrotherapy. Just as with humans, dogs benefit from the non-impact environment water provides. Swimming in warm water relieves muscles, and enables flexibility. But where could you take a dog for that kind of thing, and how much would it cost?

I Googled it. My search returned a group called Hip Dog Hydrotherapy. Based in Winter Park, Florida, Hip Dog provides just the kind of therapy PT needs. Volunteer therapists with degrees in massage therapy and veterinary therapy and health work with dogs of all breeds and sizes, with a wide variety of injuries, ailments, and needs. Each dog receives Reiki massage, therapy, and swims in 30 minute sessions.

PT has been swimming with Hip Dog for a few months now. Although minor changes were instant, we are just noticing some major improvements. His legs are less wobbly. He’s growing muscle. Over the past couple of months, as I’ve left the apartment for work, he hasn’t bothered to get up off the floor to follow me to the door. This week, he has walked me out every day! He’s attempting to run. It’s not pretty, and I discourage it (no point overdoing it now puppy!) but the fact that he feels well enough to try is heart warming. For awhile, he didn’t want to be held or petted. I imagine his legs and hips hurt. Recently, he’s whined to be put up on the couch to cuddle every evening as we watch TV. Just like in humans, the therapy is improving his flexibility, building his muscles, and aleviating his pain.

Unfortunately, the weekly cost is difficult. Because they are volunteers, the cost of the therapy is extremely reasonable. They ask each person to pay $35 per session, which is way less than therapy normally costs. The funds contribute to upkeep on the pool and other minor expenses only. Payment is through a sort of honor system, and if you are unable to pay the complete amount one week, they claim that the main thing is to keep the dog swimming. Giving up therapy because you can’t afford to pay is not an option.

Because I work in a very low-paying industry, it is difficult. I’ve cut back on other bills, doing everything I can to lower utilities and cut costs. I still have some trouble paying the $35 every week, especially on the week rent is due. It’s been difficult, but worth it.

Just look at the happy look on this dog’s face if you doubt me!

Swim, PT, Swim
PT swims with some help from his Hip Dog Therapist
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My Nephew the Pirate!

Categories: About Diane
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Published on: May 21, 2009

My nephew Andy is a pirate. Ok, he’s not a pirate in the sense of most pirates, but he is a pirate of sorts. You see, his initials are ARG (of piraty “Aaaaarrrrrrrrggggggggg!” fame).

Andy has a wonderful creative streak (he gets that from his Aunt!). He loves cars and travel, and has an airplane as an imaginary friend. One day, while discussing the poem “Change is Hard,” which I’d just written, Andy announced that he wanted a poem too. I don’t write on demand very well, but Andy was insistant. I wrote “Andy Goes to Florida” for him.

On another occassion, I decided that I hadn’t written a short story for awhile. I wanted to write something fun for ARG. I came up with the idea for “Andy Goes on a Trip” based on his love of cars. I figured he’d enjoy reading about himself as a car. I asked him to draw some illustrations for the story. We’re still waiting on his illustrations (life is busy when you travel and visit theme parks as much as my family does), but until then I figured I’d post the story as it is.

Grandmother wrote many poems and short stories for her kids, and later for us grandkids growing up. I hope I can carry on her tradition!

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Andy Goes on a Trip

Categories: Short Stories
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Published on: May 21, 2009

Andy Goes on a Trip

by Diane Graebner

Once upon a time, there was a little car named Andy. Andy was a beautiful little car. He was bright orange, with a pretty blue racing stripe down his side. Inside, Andy had all sorts of dials that lit up with a beautiful blue glow, and bells that dinged and chimed. Andy liked to travel. He loved to take long drives to see what he could see. He enjoyed driving fast on the highway, feeling the wind blow across his windshield. He loved driving slowly in the country, smelling the country air and watching the scenery go by.

One day, Andy decided to take a long trip. He put on his best tires, filled up his tank with gas, and loaded up his engine with plenty of oil. Then, he drove off to see what he could see.

The first thing Andy saw on his trip was a field filled with cows and horses. They were running through the field, stopping every so often to eat the green grass.

“I wonder if they’ll talk to me,” Andy thought to himself.

“Honk, honk!” said Andy.

The cow answered, “MOO!”

Since Andy wasn’t sure what “moo” meant, he flashed his headlights at the cow to say goodbye and drove off down the road.

A few miles more, and Andy came across a big tractor working in a corn field. The tractor was huffing and puffing as it dug up big piles of dirt.

“I wonder if he’ll talk to me,” Andy thought to himself.

“Honk, honk!” said Andy.

The tractor answered, “VROOM!”

Since Andy wasn’t sure what “vroom” meant, he flashed his headlights at the tractor to say goodbye and drove off down the road.

Soon, Andy came to a set of train tracks. A giant steam engine was sitting on the tracks, puffing smoke out of his smokestack.

“I wonder if he’ll talk to me,” Andy thought to himself.

“Honk, honk!” said Andy.

The train engine answered, “CHOO, CHOO!”

Since Andy wasn’t sure what “choo, choo” meant, he flashed his headlights at the train to say goodbye and drove off down the road.

After driving for a bit, Andy came to a small, white boat in a pond. She was quietly blowing bubbles in the water for the ducks to chase.

“I wonder if she’ll talk to me,” Andy thought to himself.

“Honk, honk!” said Andy.

The boat answered, “GLUB, GLUB!”

Since Andy wasn’t sure what “glub, glub” meant, he flashed his headlights at the boat to say goodbye and drove off down the road.

Next, Andy came to a place where a house was being built. A huge crane was busy lifting pieces of metal onto the roof of the house.

“I wonder if he’ll talk to me,” Andy thought to himself.

“Honk, honk!” said Andy.

The crane answered, “CRONK!” Since Andy wasn’t sure what “cronk” meant, he flashed his headlights at the crane to say goodbye and drove off down the road.

Finally, Andy came to a big parking lot. Lots of cars were sitting around, waiting for their people to come back. There were blue cars, and red cars, and silver cars, and green cars, and white cars, and black cars. There were big cars, and little cars, and trucks, and SUVs.

“I wonder if they will talk to me,” Andy thought to himself.

“Honk, honk!” said Andy.

All of the other cars answered, “HONK, HONK!”

Andy smiled as he drove into the parking lot. He couldn’t wait to share the stories of all the things he had seen on his drive. He was sure the other cars would have wonderful stories to tell to him too. He was tired from his long trip, but he was very happy!

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Andy Goes to Florida

Categories: Children's Poems, Poems
Comments: No Comments
Published on: May 21, 2009

Andy Goes to Florida

by Diane Graebner

Andy goes to Florida,

He rides upon a plane,

He stays for almost two whole weeks,

And then goes home again.


Andy visits Grandma’s house,

He peeks in every space,

And eats some homemade brownies,

With a great big smile on his face.


Andy rides in Grandpa’s car,

He sits in the backseat,

The car makes lots of funny sounds,

As it drives along the street.


Andy visits Aunt Diane,

He sees her office too,

And on her desk he sees displayed

All the pictures that he drew.


Andy goes to Florida,

He goes most every year,

And his family is glad he does,

At least that’s what I hear!

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