Tuesday, December 28, 2021



      Christmas was arranged a little differently for us this year. It wasn't a bad sort of different, but not arranged the way we usually have it. Now that the grandchildren are growing up, the daughters and their families want to begin their own Christmas traditions and have Christmas morning in their own homes.  It was decided that everyone would come over to our house for Christmas dinner and we would celebrate together that evening. Daughter #2 and her family from New Hampshire couldn't come this year, but daughters #1,3, and 4 would all be here. We were excited in anticipation of our celebration together and dinner was all planned.

     Steve and I were alone for Christmas Eve. We spent the early part of the evening at Mass. I joined the choir last spring and we practiced beautiful songs all through Advent. Immersing myself in the music was a wonderful way to mark the season. I enjoy the shared experience of singing with everyone. When we returned home, we cooked dinner for the two of us and ate by candlelight. It was different from Christmas Eves of the past forty years when some of the children would be with us, but as I mentioned before, it wasn't a bad sort of different. 

     Christmas morning and all day was quietly spent preparing the meal. We kept soft Christmas music playing in the background. When everyone arrived at five o'clock, there was much talking and excitement over the holiday. The children only asked a little about when it would be time for gifts while we enjoyed the meal. Afterward, we sat in the living room, opened gifts and visited well in to the evening. 

     The grandchildren are growing up and they don't need to be followed or chased after anymore to be kept safe. They take part in the conversation and share their own interesting stories with us. I sense a shift in the family dynamic as everyone grows and changes. Not too long ago, Steve and I led the family. As the parents, we guided our children in the direction in which we all needed to go. Now, our children's lives are beginning to lead ours. As they solidify their careers and locations of home, they are taking lead of their families. To a certain degree, Steve and I are becoming the followers.

     Wherever we all happen to be at Christmas time, as long as we are united in family spirit, we are good. In our hearts, we are home together and cherished memories are held close. Our faith further unites us in the celebration of our Savior at Christmas We contemplate what the new year will bring and we look forward to any opportunities we will have to gather together in the coming year.


Monday, December 20, 2021



     Earlier this fall I took a walk in the field across the road from our house. The land was up for auction and the fence gates were left open for public access. That particular field had previously been off limits because it kept cows and horses and was surrounded by electric fence. I have looked at that field from out our front door for the last eighteen years. I've watched sunrises over it and thunderclouds pile high above it. We've been amused by the calves' antics every spring and I've marveled at how lush the grass grew from all that fertilizer. I knew it must afford a beautiful view because it sloped up and chances are, in this county, if you are on a hill top or mountain top, you will see a beautiful view. 

     When we moved here in 2002, our land and the surrounding five hundred plus acres had just been auctioned off in five parcels. It boggles my mind that one person once owned all of this beautiful land. It was used simply for farming but I'm sure that farm life was far from simple. It must have been very hard. The three hundred eighty-six acres across from us was purchased at that time, a large log home was built on it and then it was subsequently sold ten years later for a nice sum, log house and land all together. This year, that owner divided it even more, into five smaller parcels, and auctioned it off once again. Little by little the land is chipped away into smaller and smaller pieces as the price for acreage climbs to exorbitant amounts.

      Also this year, the thirty-five acre parcel with a modest modular house constructed on it next door to us (on the left in the photo above) has also gone on the market. It's another beautiful piece of land that once was a working farm. There is an active spring down slope from where the farmhouse once stood. The foundation for a windmill stands crumbling at the spring and the brick milk house with its cement tub for keeping the milk cold is still intact, although barely. When the land was sold at auction, the farmhouse was razed and the modular house was built on the site. My heart cringes at the thought of it, but that's the way of it these days. I have walked that land many times and searched for any sign or remnant of its past life. I had hoped to find a bottle dump or anything but I have found nothing really. My metal detector has led us to old tractor parts buried a few inches beneath the soil and we have dug up more barbed wire fencing than I care to tangle with. I found a couple of horseshoes and an old bottle cap from a soda that someone seemed to enjoy under the shade of a large tree. I would liked to have shared that nice, cold drink with the old timer whom I imagine took a break from plowing that day to sit in the shade for a spell. I would have enjoyed hearing the story of the land and the day to day life that was lived out upon it. The old timers are gone now, too. 

     I did keep company with our lovely neighbor, Darys, for several years until she was moved away into a nursing home. Her family owns some other hundreds of acres behind us and up the road. But, Darys wasn't a story teller. She preferred to hear my stories and I could not coax her to tell any of her own. Perhaps she thought she didn't have anything interesting to tell or perhaps it was too painful to tell. I will never know. But she was a lovely lady and we spent many an afternoon together in her hundred year old schoolhouse home, surrounded by heaps of history. 

      It was fascinating to see the lay of the land from the hill across the road the day I took these photos. I have walked it all, including the back roads behind the tree lines in these pictures. The land never appears the same from the road as it does from a hill or from a plane. I often thought I was walking west when I can now see from these photos that I was walking south. These birds eye views put it all in perspective. Our little place among the fields and hills and mountains looks so insignificant from afar. Yet the daily life that we live within it is all encompassing for us. We focus on work and more work, what shall we eat for dinner, and what clothes will I wear today, and do I need to dust the furniture. I suppose our own personal history may seem uninteresting and insignificant from this vantage point. The crazy thing is, our insignificant lives do matter. The fact that that we wake up, move forward, lend a hand, contribute to society, love people, hug an ailing friend, give a word of encouragement, it all matters so greatly. These are the threads that create the tapestry. Someone wrote that our lives are contained within the dash chiseled between the dates of birth and death on our gravestones. How much life can we pack into a dash? It wouldn't be measured by time so much as quality. I've just decided that I will ask for an exclamation point rather than a dash between the dates on my gravestone. It's all a matter of perspective and an exclamation point speaks volumes more than a dash even though I am just washing the dishes this morning and baking some cookies. Maybe I'll take the metal detector out and dig up some more barbed wire, too.




Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Remember Me


     One of the aspects of Wormsloe, the historic site we visited near Savannah, GA, that fascinated me was the directive of the original owner, Noble Jones to his ancestors. In his will, Noble Jones directed that Wormsloe go to his son, Noble Wimberly Jones, and “his Heirs for ever.” Today, the ninth generation of ancestors lives in the home and Wormsloe is the oldest property in Georgia to be held continuously by the same family. 

     In personalizing this history, I can't imagine instructing our daughters to keep our family home "forever". To me, that seems a huge burden to lay on future heirs. However, I can understand the desire to leave our human mark on the world and to not be forgotten. Among the ruins at Wormsloe there is a burial plot with a large grave marker that is inscribed, 

"To Mark the Old Burial Place of Wormsloe 1737-1769 And to Save from Oblivion the Graves of his Kindred."

There is something about that phrase, "And to Save from Oblivion ..." that tugs at my heart. 

      We have a little graveyard just behind our property that is owned by the Cahoon family. It contains a handful of graves that are over one hundred years old. The family used to maintain it and keep it trimmed but it has become neglected over the years is now overgrown. I don't suppose there are any heirs left remaining to keep it trimmed. We occasionally try to walk around the graves and pay respect to the souls (unknown to us) within it's wire-fenced perimeter but, a very large tree blew down on top of the graveyard last year and it has become more difficult to maneuver the area.Within a few more years that little graveyard will have disappeared entirely, into oblivion.  Perhaps this is the way it is intended to be, "dust to dust."


      I ran across a lovely item this week at an online auction over in West Virginia. It tugged on my heart in the same manner of the Noble grave site at Wormsloe. There were several old quilts listed in the auction but one in particular caught my eye. It's not the most beautiful quilt, as quilts go, but look closely and you will see what it's all about. Look at all those names! I thought what a loving memory this quilter constructed. She left her own mark of sorts on history, those of souls who have lived on this earth and whom were dear to her. To me, it is equally as magnificent as the grave marker at Wormsloe. In so stitching these names she was attempting to leave a record of the family for posterity. I hope a good bidder comes along and is drawn to this quilt and, "Saves it from Oblivion". Otherwise it may be destined for use in someone's dog crate. Ugh.

     I know what we are all thinking and I already thought of it myself; to be the one to save this quilt. I can not. I am already the keeper of family items that I have no idea how to preserve as it stands. Which brings me back to my original thought that leaving stuff, whether it's a large estate or a quilt, to our heirs is largely a burden to them. Let me fix this now by saying, "I hereby state that none of my personal belongings become a burden to my family and that they all have my permission to dispose, burn, give away, sell, or whatever they see fit to do with it." Well, maybe with the exception of my grandmother's trunk...and my mother's chalk fruit...and my father's guitar...and the summer floral rug I made... oh dear.


Friday, December 3, 2021

Savannah, Georgia


    In early November, Steve and I spent five days in Savannah on a lovely little getaway. We joined another couple, good friends of ours, and rented a home through VRBO. It was a lovely, renovated row house located in the historic district and only a couple of blocks away from LaFayette Square. I was awestruck by the beauty of the city, its vibrancy, and the twelve foot ceilings in the rental house! One couldn't help but feel grand in such a home or in such a city.

Buildings along River Street

     Savannah was a "planned" city, founded in 1733 by General James Edward Oglethorpe, a British philanthropist and Member of Parliament.  The city is laid out in carefully planned grids with lovely parks, twenty-two in all(!), every few blocks. We walked many blocks every day, exploring, shopping, and eating our way around the historic portion of the city. We drove out to Tybee Island one day and walked on the beach and lunched at a shack-type bar and restaurant that had excellent food.Along the waterfront area, we browsed an antique store with the most antique furniture that I have ever seen, jam packed under one roof. We walked  along River Street, stepping carefully on the cobblestone road, and watched a huge container ship maneuvering up the river. The shops along River Street were varied with something of interest for everyone. Steve found a cigar shop and even purchased an old coronet in one of the antique shops. I found a pretty shawl in one of the boutiques and it was fun to window shop in the more expensive places. Another day, we walked to the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and wandered around the cathedral. It was breathtaking and beautiful beyond measure. We decided to go back and attend morning Mass a couple of days later. On our last day, we drove to Wormsloe and toured the little museum and walked to the old home site. The entrance road was grand beyond measure with its allée of Live Oaks. Descendants of the original settlers still live on the property so the main house is not open for touring. However, the crumbled walls of the original fort and home are still magical to see and it was easy to imagine the rustic life these early settlers endured. 

                                        Interior of Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist


     I think my favorite part of the city was the architecture and parks. I never tired of looking at the brick houses, mossy walls, iron fencing and all the parks shaded by Live Oaks draped in Spanish Moss. The parks were so inviting and it was common to see people sitting on benches, reading books, walking dogs and lounging around. 

                                                                The allée at Wormsloe
                    Walls made of tabby, built in the 1700's by mixing oyster shells with sand and lime
            Steve is standing on a mound of oyster shells along the marshland deposited by the natives. Oysters were a staple of their diet and the settlers made tabby for buildings from these since they were so plentiful.

      Although Savannah is bustling with traffic and eateries and wonderful coffee shops, it still gives one a desire to slow down. The buildings are too pretty to rush past and the parks too inviting not to stop and sit under the trees. If we ever go back, I think I will carry a book with me and spend more time sitting in those beautiful parks.   

          Tugboats were maneuvering this container ship in the Savannah River. If you look at the little                    rectangular opening in the middle right of the photo, you can see men standing on the ship.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Feeling Strong


    We began the very first day of 2021 with the Covid virus. Steve brought it home from work the week before. His symptoms were so mild that we didn't realize he was sick. It wasn't until he tested positive that we were forced to accept the fact that he had Covid. I can pinpoint the exact moment I caught it from him. It was before he went for his Covid test. We were installing a cabinet door in the hall bathroom and he sneezed. My memory replays the scene in slow motion. I was holding the cabinet door while he attached the screws and we were practically head to head in that tiny space. And he sneezed into the air because his hands were occupied with attaching the door. The rest, as they say, is history.

    My bout with the virus wasn't as mild. It was miserable. Thankfully, we both recovered at home without medical intervention. The lasting effects were a little more baffling and complicated for me. I have finally come out on the sunny side, ten months later. Even though I had Covid in early January, I was in the emergency room in April and then briefly hospitalized in May. Apparently the virus had attacked my autonomic nervous system leaving me with excruciating headaches, muscle spasms, confusion, and a litany of weird symptoms that later revealed themselves to be Postural Orthostatic Hypertension Syndrome. Basically, my nervous system wasn't controlling my blood pressure or heart rate as it normally should. 

     In time, my body slowly healed itself. In the course of it all, I learned how to do somatic tracking to deal with the headaches and muscle spasms. Not even the strongest prescriptions had worked on those headaches and I was desperate for relief. I found online support groups for Long Covid and they turned out to be much more helpful in a practical sense than the medical community at this time. I learned how to meditate every day to calm the heart palpitations and balance the highs and lows of blood pressure fluctuations. Basically, I learned how to be calm, which is anti-me, and allow my body to heal. It's not an easy thing to do when you're unsure if you're actually going to heal. It required a lot of trust and inner battles of self doubt. 

     So, that's where we've been this year. 

     We have had lovely visits from the daughters and their families. We grieved and buried my father-in-law, Steve started a new job, we've traveled some, we started new hobbies and let some old ones go, and we talk about the future. I hope to start sharing here again. My daughter, Claire keeps a nice blog and I always enjoy reading what the family is up to. Whatever way folks can use to connect, keep in touch, make one another laugh, encourage one another, and share stories is always a good thing.




Sunday, November 28, 2021



                                             Lost Time   by Rabindranath Tagore

On many an idle day have I grieved over lost time.

But it is never lost, my lord.

Thou hast taken every moment of my life in thine own hands.

Hidden in the heart of things thou art nourishing seeds into sprouts,

buds into blossoms, and ripening flowers into fruitfulness.

I was tired and sleeping on my idle bed

and imagined all work had ceased.

In the morning I woke up

and found my garden full with wonders of flowers.