Saturday, June 30, 2012

Where Were You? After reading the last four chapters of Job, this song always comes to mind. I cringe when people say, "When I get to Heaven, I'm going to tell God about this," or "I'm going to ask God why?"  We lose sight of who God is.
I heard a talk show host on the local radio pretty much blow hard about creation verses evolution. This song by Todd Agnew evaded my mind. "Where were you?"
God is all powerful. I know He is a loving God. I also know He does not tolerate pride. I think with all the tears He'll wipe away, pride, too, will be wiped away.
Let's keep God in perspective. We will know the answers later. Paul states that now we look through a glass darkly but some day we will see face to face-1 Corinthians 13:12. We will not be proud at that moment.

Fake Ending

Several reasons why we in western Pennsylvania may feel summer is over by the Fourth of July, when in fact it is just beginning. We live almost on the edge of the Eastern Time Zone, giving us lingering summer evenings starting in late spring. Our schools close for the summer around Memorial Day or the first week in June, rarely later than that. A week after the summer solstice, the daylight grows shorter, with the bright morning sun arising later than at the beginning of June. I noticed these last few mornings, the sun is strong around 6:30, seemed it was 5:30 a few weeks ago. Plus with higher humidity, the mornings can be cloudy.
On the East coast, or at least New England, summer doesn't begin until the Fourth of July. They really should be in the Atlantic Time Zone, so sunsets are forty five minutes earlier than here, but the sunrises are that much earlier. This is where I developed the rising early mindset. And I was getting into my twenties more, growing up. The springs can be cold, even June. Schools there do not get out till the third week of June or later. My new niece-in-law just finished teaching yesterday in south Jersey.
In 1984, we returned to Connecticut from New Hampshire in March. David joined a "boomer" submarine. They had three months at home and three months away. He became part of the boat during off crew. The boat had two crews- blue and gold. He was on the blue crew.  We had three months to
squeeze in summer fun.
We had a glorious spring, warmer than other years. We drove all over eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island. As June approached, we wanted to go to the beach and water slides. The beach we had to ourselves, so we were excited about the water slides. All geared up, we pulled into the parking lot. Oh, they didn't open until school let out on the twenty first. David left on the eighteenth of June.
We found many fun spots didn't start operating until the kids' summer vacation started. Not having kids or even knowing any families with school age children, we were not prepared, even though this was our third summer in New England. We hadn't had the time crunch before.
The first two springs had been rainy and cold. The desire to do summer activities didn't arise. This year with the fine weather and David leaving June eighteenth, we rushed our summer. I felt it would be over after he left. This was the first three month cruise and we wanted to cram everything in before he left.
Sometimes I feel life is like that. We want to cram everything in it before we leave. Before we get old. I'm all for grabbing every opportunity we can. Yet, I can't feel it is over. I fight that feeling this time of year with summer. We haven't gone swimming. We didn't get to Pymatuning. We haven't been to Presque Isle. We haven't had a picnic. Summer is stretched out before us for two more months. What is the rush? Yet, that feeling of not achieving floods me.
I have learned this year to rest in the Lord. I set goals, I press on, but knowing limits keeps me from panicking. Rest, relax, create. Let life flow.
How do you feel this time of year? Is summer over or just beginning?

Friday, June 29, 2012


My life has had series of mini revivals, spiritual awakenings or ebb and flows of closeness to God. In the summer of 1974, my pilgrimage to Westminster Highlands would prove to be one of the highs of my spiritual life that lasted for a few years.
I am one of those in the category of thinking I was born Christian. I suppose it could be said that in a cultural sense, as some families are Irish in name only(or any other nationality/culture) and some know the customs, styles, foods and live it, I was. My family was entrenched in born again Christian culture. Dad and Mom lived the transformed life and the children knew the language. So my knowledge was reinforced by the siblings as well.
Yet, we all must be born again, as God has no grandchildren. At an early age, I knew I couldn't be good on my own as I told an elaborate lie and was found out. In a childhood fantasy I so wanted to believe this lie I told, when it came crashing around my little life, I lay prostrate on our maroon vinyl couch in our middle room, crying my heart out to Jesus. I suppose that is the first time I really gave my life over to Him.
But as in all journeys, often the pilgrim gets sidetracked. Often, I fell from the path, desiring to go my own way. Sixth grade into seventh began one of those detours.
So as I prepared for camp that year, I only thought of the fun, the beauty and would I meet a boy? I met two special ones. But I re-met Jesus in a personal way by the end of the week. This time, as I said, it stuck for two grades, eighth and ninth.
As we had that final camp fire on Chimney Rock, the Gospel became so clear again. I knew I had to surrender my life to Jesus. Yes, there are tears. Yes, it is emotional. But didn't God make our emotions as well as our intellect?
This morning I finished reading Job. After all the trials, with God actually coming and questioning Job, (you really must read these last five chapters) Job can only answer "I heard about You from others; now I have seen You with my own eyes."-Job 42:5 CEV. A personal encounter with the Redeemer makes a Christian life more than a culture. A person can hear about Jesus, but knowing Him is what this life is all about.
Like many relationships, though, sometimes two can be very close, then one starts drifting away. In a Christ relationship, the human is the one drifting. Jesus is there always, because His Word says so. He understands and forgives. As Micah says in 7:19 Once again You will have compassion on us. You trample our sins under Your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! NLT. As I wrote in my Bible when I read Micah, "No fishing in that ocean, either." We cannot dredge up our sins. We confess as in I John 1:9 and He forgives us.
There is no further notice. They are forgotten.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Good-bye, Beach Baby

As I wrote earlier this trip to Florida was open ended. I knew church camp was coming up the end of July, beginning of August. I started missing my friends. So one evening I told Diane I thought it was time for me to go home. She almost seemed surprised. We really were having a great time.
Arrangements were made for me to fly home. I would leave from the local airport, change planes in Atlanta, fly to Pittsburgh for a layover to connect with a flight to Youngstown. Yes, planes actually flew into Youngstown.
All my clothes that were dirty we put in a bag with my sleeping bag. I shudder now, thinking about packing that way. I didn't have my Samsonite pink suitcase yet. I think I got that for the other Florida trip with the Girl Scouts the next year. I flew United, since Dad had that airline's credit card.
I was a minor and the airline staff kept a very close eye on me. A family of brother and two sisters also rode the cart with me in Atlanta to our connecting flights. When I landed in Pittsburgh, the plane needed refueled and we had an hour layover. I asked if I could just walk around the airport. The stewardess glanced nervously to the front, then walked up to the cock pit. The pilot approached me and asked me why I wanted to leave the plane.
"Just to look around," I gulped. I really wanted to try to call the Pittsburgh boy, but I wasn't going to tell this authority figure in the blue uniform.
He looked around, "Well, why not? I'll take you on a tour."
The pilot showed me all the airport, we even stepped into the staff room. He bought me an ice cream cone. He joked about things. He gave me statistics about Pittsburgh weather, like there are 200 cloudy days a year.
We returned to the plane for the 15 minute final leg to Youngstown, where my parents had to show their ID before I could be handed over to them. I had flown by myself before from Newark, but this is the first long flight with connections and layovers.
I wore red shorts with white polka dots, the shirt matched with gathered elastic and puffy eyelet white sleeves. On my feet were the white clogs. I had the best tan, my naturally blond hair, showed darker roots. Almost as soon as we got home, I jaunted down Haywood to Chestnut Street to see Sherry. I was excited to see my friend and tell her what is hard to write in a letter. I wrote lots of letters to all my friends.
We hung out for the week until my time to go to church camp at Westminster Highlands, outside of Elmeton, PA, the foot hills of the Allegheny mountains. The Pittsburgh boy didn't come to West Middlesex that summer. I kept my tan going at the pool. Mom did the laundry that actually made it through the flight.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Evening Fun

After days at the beach and/or around the pool, we ate supper. Diane loved putting Bette on loud to clean up afterwards. One night, they put Elton John on-Crocodile Rock- and danced. I still want to work to loud music.
I sometimes sat on the dock, just thinking and writing, feeling the cool breezes. Or swam a little after supper, because the pool was there and I could. Or enjoyed the night air, riding around the small business section near the condo.
We played games. Diane taught me chess. We engaged in 500 Rummy. Diane mostly won those games. Sometimes we visited the elderly couple next door,(they were probably in their 50's). They introduced me to Yahtzee. I had beginner's luck and did very well the first time.
Saturday evenings, we watched the local boxing match from Mobile(Mobeel) Alabama. The mike spiraled from the ceiling. The referee wore short sleeve button shirt with a bow tie, black pants, white socks and black shoes, drawing out his words, "In thi-is corn-er...", lifting his leg behind him, like a pointer dog. He was the reason we tuned to that channel at 1130 PM.
I don't remember viewing too much more TV in the evening, except Geraldo Riveria's Goodnight America, a news show. It may have come on after the boxing spectacle. I thought he was really cute back then.
I mentioned other activities we did in the evening in my prior posts. Much of this was new to me and I reveled in it all. A different world had opened to me that I loved.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tripping Around the Panhandle

We didn't go too far from Fort Walton Beach. We made a few trips to Pensacola. One evening to the mall there. My eyes opened wide as we crossed a high, huge bridge, the sun settling into the Gulf. The mall provided much walking. I bought Paper Moon. In my mind Addie Pray's adventure and mine are intertwined. I always think of the southern heat and road trips.
A Sunday we went to the naval base. I love forts and we walked through the old one on the coast, with the coolness of the stone walls, hiding us from the hot summer sun. We looked around the museum, too, about naval history.
We made a few trips to Eglin Air Force Base, Diane and I. I couldn't get into the commissary, even with an officer's wife. I watched all the children hold up their ID's and I stood there like a fish out of water. So while Diane shopped, I sat in the old Ford, listening to the radio. I felt very cool, except I didn't know about the battery and had the car running. We were almost out of gas when Diane returned with her groceries. I learn a big lesson that day.
Another trip to the base was after I stepped on a rusty nail at the beach. The doctor did treat an officer's sister-in-law without an ID. I got a tetanus shot in that institutional room. The foot healed with no problems.
Mostly we went to the beach almost every day. The Air Force beach was the most natural. The Gulf is like a bathtub, clear, calm and warm. We would often see sharks or dolphins way out. About every other day, we read in the paper about shark attacks. This was before Jaws by a year.
One day Diane and I walked through the downtown shopping district. Great Gatsby promotion at the local movie theater had a large cutout old car. Very cool. The Exorcist was another movie advertized. We got many beeps and hoots. Diane taught me to be cool and not let that turn my head. But I felt good, being noticed.
In the evening I either rode Herman's moped or bike around the local area. I relished that summer night feel of coolness, street light and people mulling around. Was this like American Graffiti? I don't think that had come out, yet, either.
We ventured to a drive in movie. It had William Shatner and Angie Dickenson, so Diane thought it should be good. Big Bad Momma was anything but good. Herman couldn't believe we were watching it. Even though it had some scenes that were eye openers to a young thirteen year old, the story, acting was poor. A debate whether to stay through the bitter end because it was paid for or to leave because it was so bad. I can't remember what we did decide.
The next time I post I'll write about games and neighbors.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Stuff

One of the best aspects of my trip to Florida was all the new experiences. I mentioned some of the food yesterday. Diane surprised me she could cook. Remember she was 26. She hadn't lived at home for eight years. We kind of didn't really know each other, so this was an extended getting close time.
Also Diane doesn't mess around with cleaning. In the evenings when she cleaned up after supper, Bette Midler loud on the stereo. Herman sat outside. My first Saturday there we went through the condo like a whirl wind. Herman cleaned the cars, the Z and the old tan Ford that we drove to the beach. By noon, the chores were done and we headed to Hardee's. We didn't have Hardee's up north, so this was one of my first treats. A great juicy hamburger, fries and chocolate milkshake rewarded for hard work. I learned Florida road laws, like being allowed to turn right on red as we hurried to the fast food place.
When the Farrell friends arrived over the Fourth of July, I was introduced to some more adventures. They took me to the dog races. Even though I was thirteen, I passed for eighteen, the legal age to enter the gates. Maybe that is why I still love greyhounds and whippets. I have never been back to a dog race since, even though they had them in Connecticut, when I truly was legal age. I didn't bet anything, I just enjoyed the crowd and the races.
I didn't dare try the Hurricane drinks they made after a trip to New Orleans. Diane threatened me with a camera and "Lake Tawkwa." Like as a three or four year old I knew I was tatalling on her. But I'm glad she helped keep me on the straight and narrow. But those drinks sure looked inviting in those fancy glasses.
When these friends stayed, I gave up the room and slept in the master bedroom's closet. Now this was a huge closet. I have been in smaller bedrooms. It had two doors, one to the bedroom and the other to the bathroom. Herman came in early to get his uniforms before reporting to the base. He would rib me about sleeping in the closet. 
In my room was a Oriental pin ball machine that unfortunately I can't remember the name. I played it a lot. I slept on a futon. A round chair from their Oriental tours also furnished the room. I easily could have fit into this room.
I also kept a journal, even back then. But I believe I destroyed it. I wrote some on that dock. Made me feel artsy.
Next time I'll tell about some day trips we took.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Second Leg

Diane and Herman visited the Valley for his sister's wedding about a week of me coming home from Virginia. After the festivities, we packed up in a 240Z Herman bought in Okinawa, with the plates still on the front. The little orange car had two seats and I stretched out in the hatch back trunk, with a large window. I waved at all the truck drivers as we passed them.
Ohio at that time kept strict speeding laws. Flashing red lights stopped us mid-Ohio. The trooper questioned the plates, especially the Okinawa plates. Herman was cool under pressure and the trooper didn't even warn about me in the back.
We stopped at Dayton Air Force Base to visit some friends of Herman's. We didn't go to the museum, which I didn't mind since I had been there before. We stayed the night in Nashville, TN. A debate ensued whether to push through or not, but getting me out of the back seemed the better idea. Diane and I did switch some, yet I really didn't mind lounging back there on my ballerina sleeping bag.
My trip was open ended, my next destination was camp around the end of July. A one way ticket to home when I was ready would be purchased. This was past mid June.
I was impressed with the red bluffs of Alabama. But even from the car, it looked hot without an ocean near. Fort Walton Beach, Florida, waited at the end of the trip boasting white sand and a bay with a dock at their condo complex. Also a medium size pool with a diving board beckoned me. Not much yard, but who needed it with all the water. I loved even sitting on the dock- "Sitting on the dock of the bay." Never mind the song was about San Francisco, this bay was good enough for me.
I ended up staying for over three weeks. I fell right into place with Florida living. We visited the beaches where I walked out to my chin and could still see my feet. The sand looked like sugar from the table.
Diane introduced me to All My Children. On for a half hour only then, the shade covered the pool at that time, so we ate lunch. Fried rice with pineapple became a new meal to me. Diane had taken cooking lessons from an Hong Kong chef while she was in Bangkok, Thailand. When company came from Farrell, she made three dishes, my favorite of those meals was sweet and sour pork. Herman insisted on eating with chop sticks. Stated it tasted the best with the bamboo wood.
I'll share more new adventures next time I post.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to Summer Stories

The first leg of my 1974 summer adventure started right after school let out. I rode with Dan and Jody to their first home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Dan had started doing AmWay, a motivational company selling soap and other products. They were gun-ho and since it stood for American way, Dan wanted to drive a red, white and blue Cadillac. The dealer talked him out of the three colors, so it was a gorgeous boat of a car, red and white- white leather seats, luxurious. So I encounter Virginia this time in style. Jody loved driving this vehicle. With her youthful personality, people stared at her in this car. She'd say, "It's my daddy's."
The apartment was the garden style popular at that time with a balcony. I had my own bedroom. A large living room with an attached dining room and the kitchen more like a wide hall was the floor space for the rest of the apartment. No TV, which I didn't miss as we had so much fun. Although the last day of vacation we visited an Amway lady and I found myself absorbed in the TV, to the extent I seemed rude by not answering her question. I was so embarrassed. I hadn't realize the power of TV until that day. I never wanted to be ruled by it again.
Dan and Jody had made friends in the apartment complex with other Marines and their wives. One day, three of us, Jody, a Venezuelan, Maria, and myself, took a day trip to Virginia Beach.  I thought for sure I liked crabs, although, I'm not sure I had ever ate them before. They came in a brown paper bag. I'm almost certain Jody had driven the VW camper, as I picture ourselves sitting in it eating these soft shell crabs. We watched Maria, as she seemed to understand this food. Jody exclaimed, "What is this yellow shit?"
Maria, innocent to the swearing, stated, "It es shiet."
One night the neighbors played spoons. If someone lost they had to do something crazy. Dan had to lead us in the parking lot, yelling through a traffic cone. Jody thought that up.
Another night, we could see an encompassing glow on the horizon. Jumping in the Cadillac that could hold six people comfortably, we chased around to try to find out where the fire was. Of course, we weren't allowed near it, but it was exciting and fun for a thirteen year old.
I went to the Amway meeting with them, too and caught the zealousness of the company. I loved the southern drawls. I was most interested in the make-up, but I was sold on L.O.C., too.
The week was over and they drove me home. I spread out in the back of that Caddy and enjoyed all the music, like the Hollies-All I Need is the Air that I Breathe and To Love You. I enjoyed my week, but was glad to be home for a week before my next leg of my summer adventure.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Best Intentions

I'm skipping ahead to 1975. My father had been out of work for almost three years. My mom was very active with the Children's Aid Society. The director of the home asked them to be house parents. A sweet job for them, as they worked together, for ten hour shifts, four days over the weekend. And I at fourteen, was allowed to come with them. The shift started at one in the afternoon to eleven at night.
Dad loved the station wagon, piling the kids into it for a ride in the evening. Sometimes to pick me up or to take me home after supper. Now, I can see how dangerous this was, as some of the teens had been one step away from Juvenile Delinquent home. He opened up where we lived and they knew I was alone sometimes.
My parents loved the kids. I did, too. It seemed a dream, the big house, a library, the dining room. Food on the weekends with Nellie was better than during the week. Although Jane did the best she could with the budget, I'm sure.
So Dad was naive. We were that way, believing the best in every one. Sometimes, oblivious to danger or that best intentions could be misconstrued.
My parents never saw the records of the youths coming into the home. Sometimes they came in drunk or high. It was not pretty. Yet, the hope that they could be redeemed grew in my parents' hearts.
I heard this song yesterday on the radio by Death Cab for Cutie-You Are a Tourist. The line "There's so many places to call home, Cause when you find yourself the villain in the story you have written, it's plain to see that sometimes the best intentions are in need of redemptions. Don't you agree?"
I hope I have a little of that, still believing the best in people. And asking forgiveness if my best intentions are offensive.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Itinerary

Mom and Dad decided since he was unable to make those long drives and I also think to keep me away from "the Pittsburgh boy" that the summer of 1974, I would visit all three siblings. Diane and Herman had returned from their stint in Thailand. Some stories there. I tell you, I have to get Diane to guest blog or maybe Herman.
Diane stayed with us in the winter of my seventh grade year for about a month I think. I know they drove into Walton Beach, FL in the dark in late January. Diane thought it had snowed, but she saw the white sand sparkling in the moonlight. They were in Florida for Herman's last tour of duty.
Dan and Jody married in March that year. They found an apartment in Fredricksburg, Virginia as Dan was still in the Marines. Jody didn't work right away.
Gerri Lee, Thom and Debbie remained in Bloomfield, NJ. They were still on the roster, as always. I spent at least a week every summer there.
Church camp at Westminster Highlands outside of Elmenton, PA, another must and stand-by. I loved my camp experiences.(read last years postings about camps).
I figured it out. That summer all told, I was in West Middlesex for one month, or four weeks. The boy didn't even come up that summer for a visit. In fact, I didn't see him again until September of my sixteenth year. Then we had the short romance.
So even though, I'm skipping my school year in seventh grade, I thought I'd keep with the summer theme. I'm enjoying this summer so much, I don't feel much like thinking of school, winter and drudgery for now. The next posts will be about my travels to Virginia, Florida(in the back of a 240Z), New Jersey shore and camp in the foothills of the Allegheny mountains. And Michelle, I will inch my way to the Casino dances...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Too Busy Writing

I just noticed I have posted 318 times. I usually like to remark on the hundreds and the fifties. I guess I was too busy writing. I have really been having fun writing about summer.
Don't you love summer? I sit here early this morning, since five, just listening to the birds, watching the sky lighting and glorying in the wonder of my Lord. Does it get better here on earth?
So I celebrate summer, life and my writing. I read this today in a little book I have been reading for almost eight years. Teach Me to Pray by Andrew Murray, daily devotional insights. I picked it up and a few others for Christmas gifts at the dollar store for a buck. I have learned so much from it and some days it speaks directly to my situation.
"Beware of limiting God in your prayer, not only by unbelief but also by pretending that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, greater than all we ask or think. Each time you intercede, be quiet first and worship God. Acknowledge what He can do and expect great things."
Celebrate life, expect the unexpected and don't quit dreaming.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bloomfield Neighbor

The girl who lived across the street from my sister in Bloomfield was a year older than I. Sometimes she baby sat Debbie. I enjoyed hanging out with her. Her name was Karen.
I felt she was my cosmopolitan friend. She went to school with Frankie Valli's daughter. Karen had two Boston terriers. People didn't seem to have pedigree dogs as much then as now. That made her unique.
We walked one time to the tennis courts to play. Tennis had an air of sophistication that I so wanted. We had no tennis courts in West Middlesex, at least public ones. They tried for awhile at the high school, but it never caught on. Neither of us were very good, but we had fun.
We did the twist in Gerri Lee's dining room to old 45's. Happy Days had just become popular. The '50's were the thing. Gerri Lee even joined in. She was so cool that evening.
Karen's dad was a Mason and she had joined Rainbow girls. I thought from her example a girl had to be a Mason's daughter and she never contradicted my thinking. I missed a year of Rainbows here in the Shenango Valley because of this misconception. Finally Nancy Brooks invited me to join when I was in ninth grade.
We played board games. Mostly talked about all the junior high girl topics. Boys, music, TV, boys, fashion, boys.
Having a friend next door made Gerri Lee's home feel more like my home. I did sleep with Debbie in her room. A street light from over the rail road station shone through the window. One time I woke and the light was so much like the powerful light that penetrated my room back home from the Fellowship Hall next door, I thought I was home. I really didn't get homesick, though. That was just one of those disorienting moments when you wake, a reminder that I had a home. I was amazed at how the light seemed exactly the same for a few moments, the same light watching over me where ever I laid my head.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Jersey is Hot in the Summer

When I wasn't going to the pool every day, I spent a week or a little bit more in New Jersey with my sister, Gerri Lee and Debbie. Sometimes Thom was at summer camp for the reserves, other times he wasn't. Sometimes we met part way and they picked me up. This way no one had to make the eight hour trip one way.
I was in junior high when they moved to a house in Bloomfield, NJ. The Runyons scrimped and save to get out of Newark with the apartment living. The gray house was on a corner and the side street dead ended to the rail road. Thom commuted on the train into New York City every day.
The summer I was twelve I played stick ball in the streets with the neighborhood kids. A girl lived next door who I believe was two years younger than I. Being the youngest of all boys, she was a bit of a princess, but I got along with every one. No air conditioning, I was glad she had an above ground pool and invited me a few times.
Gerri Lee and Thom arranged to take Debbie and I into the city to Radio City Music Hall to see the movie, Mary Poppins. We rode the train in the early morning with Thom. I observed all the commuters. One lady had a dress just like mine at home. She wore the large plastic brown frame glasses so popular then, and had frosted hair. I wore my white pants outfit Mom bought me earlier in the year. I felt very stylish.
We ate at a crowded, small restaurant. Then Thom went to his office. We rode the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. The clear day allowed me to see the three states. I imagined dropping a penny, shuddering. The great expanse of green that was Central Park stood in contrast to the gray buildings, very small or so it seemed.
In the dark theater, we watched the Rockettes kick it with the Disney characters. I always loved Disney and did not feel too old at all. Debbie, being four, loved it, too. Then the movie played on the really big screen. Mary Poppins did not disappoint, as magical as the first time I saw it when I was four. I had not seen it since. No video tapes in those days. I still think it is a wonderful movie promoting family. I cry when I watch it, now.
Since the movie was a matinee, we headed back to Bloomfield on our own, not waiting for Thom to be done with work. We rushed with the crowds on the hot streets. Debbie's little legs tired out, forcing her to sit on a stoop. We didn't notice right away, but when Gerri Lee did, she jerked around frustrated, grabbing Debbie by the lower arm. The anger mixed with fear escaped from her voice as she scolded Debbie. Debbie continued with us and did not whine anymore.
I do appreciate what my sister and brother-in-law did when I visited. I know they were on a strict budget, as Gerri Lee was returning to college. She stayed home with Debbie, till she was in school. I felt with the time I spent with them in the summer, I have a taste of city living, well, enough to know New Jersey is hot in the summer.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Six months into the year and I think I have finally gotten my picture into my life. The one I couldn't find on web images, yet so clear in my mind, I was certain it would just pop up. In my mind is a wooden yoke, empty in the snow, with a magnificent sunrise framed in it. My taking Jesus' yoke upon me in the dawning of a new day. The word image has to do. I never got over to Munnel Farm. I did see a yoke at the antique store in our mall, but I didn't buy it for the picture. Plus I'm hoping to not see snow for a long time.
Taking Jesus' yoke is really not as easy as it sounds. I want to power my life. I have drive, for goodness sake. Isn't that the American way? I found I worry about many things and even as I tried to not worry, my body responded with a rapid heart rate, diarrhea, and great fatigue. I so want this writing life, to escape nursing. I was most likely burned out. I felt like a functioning alcoholic, without the hangover from the vine. I managed to plug through work every day with no call offs. I wasn't doing the best job, though.
I'm reading Philip Yancey's book Reaching for the Invisible God.  Some things I'm getting out of this. One, I believe because of the fantastic imagination given to me, I can think of God and Jesus almost all the time. I do not forgot them in my daily life. So, I feel this is a blessing. Faith does come easy to me.
By the same token, though, I found an almost spiritual smugness about my intellect about God. For many years, I relied on my righteousness, my good works and even attitude. Then I had to struggle with the attitude as the bitter root grew and grew inside me. And this winter, as depression surrounded me like the heavy blanket it is, I found myself continuously asking God for help. I did not have "the luxury of waking up and finding(myself) righteous. ... a false perfectionism that lures one from grace."
I have had to accept as God's will the circumstances I am in every day. I cannot quit my job, yet. Each person I meet, is a divine appointment. My attitude is a choice that I must surrender to God every day. I pray daily that my attitude may be that of Christ's.
I have given up my burden to Jesus and taken His burden. For as the verse continues, it is easy and light. I must though lay mine down. And I must leave it there. This is something I need to do daily.
So the journey continues. I'm finding joy in Jesus, not in my own faith in Him. Each day is a day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Buhl Farm Park Pool

I went once to Buhl Farm Park pool when I was a child staying with my cousin, Carol. Funny how as children we relate to the cousin and not the aunt and uncle. I mean really I was staying at Uncle Dale's and Aunt Elizabeth's, but it was Carol who took me places by walking in Sharon. They lived in a great house on Pearl Street right by the stadium. The house still looks in terrific shape today. That is probably one of the best neighborhoods in Sharon.
This time I was staying with them in the summer. I barely remember. The pool, though, was huge compared to any other pool I had experienced. The dressing room was a brownish yellow and big. I loved being with my older cousin. Well, since I was the youngest grandchild, I guess they were all older. But Carol was cool.
I remember walking up to the Shenango Inn from her house in the evening and loving the fountains. We also walked to Gargano's neighborhood market. Carol got yelled at because she held the bread wrong. I still to this day watch how I hold bread from the store.
But back to this glorious pool. It is shaped like an L. It still has two boards in the little part of the L. Since I live near the park in Hermitage, we get reduced memberships to the pool. I have even given this as birthday presents to my niece and her kids.
I started taking Katie there when she was real young, three or four. I always had her in the water, too, with the Mommy and Me lessons through the Y at the Radisson pool.
When the kids were young, I packed all kinds of snacks, like frozen grapes or had a handful of change so they could experience the vending machines. Trees shaded a part of the lawn around the pool. We set up camp there. With sunblock, the shade and usually going after three in the afternoon, we avoided sunburns. We always lingered there until seven thirty when they kicked us out. Some summers were exceptionally hot, allowing us to stay an extra hour.
I loved my days off and we would spend the whole day there, with sandwiches, chips, Capri Suns, fruit, cookies, all kinds of treats. I did envy some of the families that ordered pizza, but we didn't starve. A great appetite from swimming over took us at times, though.
The first time I took Katie there, she said as we were leaving in the good old blue Corsica, "They put sleeping potion in the water, don't they, Mommy?" How true.
Just asWest Middlesex pool had that magic when I was a kid, Buhl Farm Park's pool had that magic for me as an adult with my children. We hardly walked to the pool though, because of the whole packing up, like for a camping trip. I guess I was also afraid of trying to walk home with two tired little girls after a full evening of swimming.
Rules were doubly enforced after a little girl drowned during a very crowded, hot day, as no one was with the seven year old. That put a deep damper on the swimming. I think that may have even been the summer I got a pass at West Middlesex.
I love the clear blue water of a pool. The splashing in the evening sun sparkling on the water. The lounging on the grass. The trees are gone for the new bath house at Buhl Park, that was the best. I loved getting out of the sun for awhile. Yes, this year, I'm getting the family a pass, since the awkward teen age years are over.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Pool, Years Later

As I approached my teen years, the allure of the pool wore off. Maybe because only little kids and tweens went. Maybe we just got busy. When we could drive, a new world opened. The Shenango Dam appealed as no life guards, no rules. We packed lunches and stayed all evening. In May when it was hot, before any pools or beaches officially opened, we'd head to a beach after school. The trees hanging over the water gave it an exotic feel.
So for a long time, I abandoned the community pool. I tried some after high school graduation to swim there, but again, the shine faded. I felt alone sitting on my towel the only one over fifteen, even the life guards were young, not the cool ones like Bud and Georgianna when I was a kid looking up to them, literally sometimes.
I tried to recapture the pool experience with my girls one year. Katie was six, Mary Ellen, a baby. Mom now lived closer to the pool in an apartment on Main Street. I drove the kids there. The pool, of course, seemed much smaller. The diving boards were gone. Kids just jumped off the sides in the deep end. The three of us remained in the shallow end, as I carried Mary Ellen the whole time. I felt safe as a mom in the smaller pool as Katie swam around.
Mary Ellen, slathered in sunblock, wearing a light cotton hat, tanned beautifully. She looked like a toasted marshmallow. She had that chubby baby fat, thunder thighs. The ten to eleven year old girls crowded around us. They loved the baby. All wanted to hold her, but I refused.
I didn't get much swimming myself, but I kicked my legs out, did squats. I ran in the water holding the sixteen pound baby. I kept up with Katie.
The kids still loved the pool, but I felt they were cheated. It now closed at five, and I mean closed, locked up tight. The swimmers had to be out of the water well before five and out the door. They did have some night swims. But it didn't seem like the lazy days when I was a kid. We had fun, though. I loved getting to know my friends' children, or nieces.
We were blessed with some really hot summers that encouraged swimming. Tomorrow, I'll post about the Buhl Farm pool.

Friday, June 8, 2012

More Swimming Tales- No Kissing This Time

As I thought about what I posted last evening, I kept thinking how we spent five hours at that pool every day. It really was a large part of summer life. No wonder I was a skinny kid. Walking to the pool and back almost every day, swimming most of the afternoon. What an exercise program!
I loved swimming since I first saw Sarah Grundy's pool or Pymatuning. I even loved Hogback Creek. I craved the water. The project for the community pool took a few years to raise the money. Sarah put herself into it, she so believed in swimming. Her pool was always open, as long as an adult could watch the kids. She declared she couldn't live with herself if someone drowned in her pool.
The West Middlesex- Lackawana Community Pool opened summer of 1968, as I was seven. My brother, then, escorted me to the pool every day. He kept an eye on me. One time as I was laying out, he walked by and warned me I was getting red, to get out of the sun.
His friends picked on me. Joey States always had to dunk me a few times. The three foot section held  most of the pool. Four and five foot finished the shallow end. At six foot, all these numbers painted in bold black, a rope separated the shallow from the deep. At the deepest it was ten feet. This was for the divers. A lower board perched on the right side and the high dive ruled on the left.
Even though Sarah had taught me to swim, I was still signed up for lessons at the pool. On the cool June mornings the water was cold. This was not enjoyable, but I guess I endured. I really appreciated Sarah. I remember the first time I dove off their board. It was seven feet deep at their pool's deepest. Sarah waited in the water with outstretched arms, her bathing cap covered head smiling at me. The best part of her lessons was at the end, we dove for coins at the bottom. I loved diving for any object, but we got to keep whatever change we collected.
When I was eight, I was allowed with the Powell girls to walk to the pool. The worst part was crossing busy Route 18. But we stood at the light(the only light in West Middlesex) then scurried to the other side with the light.
With breaks, we gazed at the vending machines, counted our money and picked a snack. Or at the desk, other snacks were for sale, I think even ice cream sandwiches and such. After we made our selection, we sat either on the bench in the building or outside staring at the ball field. Another thing we loved to do was take warm showers.
When I got home in the evening, supper was ready to be set on the table. Often I took a shower at home, to wash the chlorine out of my hair. Then the evening, we either played outside till the street lights came on or watched TV. 
The pool was one of the best things about summer. I met my friends there. We played all day. The parents who raised all the funds lived with satisfaction and pride.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Swimming Days

The last day of school, I got home before ten in the morning. I probably watched some TV and Mom fed me lunch. One o'clock the pool opened. Excitement filled me.
Sunblock had not been invented yet. The key was to get burned, then you tanned the rest of the summer. That first night, I was always sick with a blistering burn, smeared with Noxzema, wearing a tank shirt to bed. The next day I wore a T-shirt over my suit, we were allowed only if we had a sunburn. The life guards also watched our backs, warning us if we were getting too much sun. We did use sun tan lotion. Sometimes, we splurged buying cocoanut butter that smelled so good it seemed you could eat it.
One o'clock, kids lined up, most of us with our tags for membership pinned to our suits. The first day, they were bright with the color of the year- red, blue or green with white and a number on it. Some paid whenever they came to the pool, but most of us wore the badge of summer fun. By the end of summer, the color faded if a kid came a lot.
The big overhead door clanged opened. Cheers escaped from the crowd. We filed into the metal building, getting a basket for our clothes, heading to the changing rooms. Most just wore a T-shirt over the suit, so a simple T-shirt and shoes or flip flops went into the wire basket. In the dressing room, a shower was required. Believe me, the life guards make sure our heads were wet.
As I got older, by now as after sixth grade, they knew I had passed the swimming test. I headed for the high dive. We spent the first twenty minutes diving, cannon balling, doing the banana or just crazy jumps, making them up. I practiced so much that the next summer when I was in Florida at my sister's condo, a man thought I dove for competition. Or he could have just thought that was a way to make conversation with a shapely girl. I'll write about Florida later.
Sherry, her sisters and the other Chestnut Street, Haywood Street girls joined this ritual. Sherry and I swam for about two hours. We built up an appetite, so she and I would walk back to her house. We made huge hoagies and chocolate milkshakes. We mixed the shakes in a silver mixing bowl with an electric mixer. We ate, talked and goofed around for about an hour, then returned to the pool to finish up the day session. The pool closed at six.
During the five hours, lifeguards called breaks. The kids could sit on the edge with their feet in the water while the two or three adults did laps. One kid, usually a boy, would "fall off." The whistle blew and everyone laughed. A sheepish grin, shrug of the shoulder, but a look like "I still got in the water" covered the kid's face.
Two evenings the pool opened from seven to nine, usually Tuesdays and Thursdays. I envied Friday nights, teen swim, from eight to ten. At the end of the summer, even though we were twelve, Georgianna, the head life guard, allowed us to join this magical night. We loved it because swimming in the dark with the lights under the water proved mysterious. The teen guys we eyed and dreamed about.
We walked home on these summer evenings under the shaded street lights in a big group. After that last teen swim, the group strolled along Route 18 on the depressed sidewalk, more dirt than concrete. The boy visiting his uncle and the new aunt put his arm around me. He was sixteen, from "Pittsburgh," which really meant he was from a small town outside of Pittsburgh. We also necked later that evening on his uncle's picnic table.
Word of this, because girls love to talk, got back to my parents. A worker at the Dairy Queen overheard the conversation. I was grounded for a week, by that time the boy had returned home for the summer. I didn't see him again for four years.
My dad showed himself understanding. Mom said I had a zit on my lip from kissing "that boy from Pittsburgh." I felt like I had to change my name to Mollie Mudd. I got mad at the wrong girl that I thought had blabbered.
My awakening that end of summer to a new world. Kissing boys was fun. Girls liked to talk. Parents found out and the consequences were not pleasant. There was always a joke in West Middlesex that if a kid did something wrong, someone always reported it to the parents before he got home.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Last Day of Sixth Grade- Good-bye Oakview

A warm June day in 1973, excitedly I walked to school. I was allowed to bring along my niece, Debbie, who I mistakenly made three the last time I posted about her, when she was actually four. The last day of school was brief for the handing out of report cards, dismissal within a half hour. In a manilla holder, a folded white cardboard revealed the final marks of the year.  Parents did not have to sign the back of it this time. We kept this one. The final report of the year and our Oakview Elementary years. The last hard report card, from now on, they would be flimsy paper.
Debbie stole the show in Mrs. Janosko's room. We signed our names to the back of all our classmates' envelopes. Everyone wanted Debbie's signature. Being four, she wasn't used to that much writing. It started as "Debbie," then "Deb," and finally her initials, "DR"
"Doctor," everyone laughed.
Miss Doctor did a few more, then she begged, "No more."
Then the kids begged her and she grudgingly did a few more. Her little hand was tired.
9:30 the last dismissal bell rang. The classmates gathered around Debbie, letting her know how glad they were she came and that she signed their cards. I'm not sure how either of us got our heads through the door.
I said, "Good-bye," to Oakview. No more gazing down the hill. I would be in the high school in the fall. But at that moment, anticipation of swimming at the pool filled my mind.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Stretches Out with Promise

Glorious, peaceful Monday morning here in Western Pennsylvania. Last week of school for my daughter. Friday, she will move up to her senior year. Where does the time go? as everyone says.
I love June, as the summer stretches out before me with such promise. Every year, so much planning into summer. The Pentecostal Evangel, publishes the best summer reads next week. We think of long days, reading, playing, swimming, projects the kids can do.
Reality hits, though, and summer can be the craziest time. No hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer, it seems as an adult. I look forward to a real vacation this year, more than a week. I love reading older books, when a month or two vacation at the shore seemed to be the norm for some. Many times the families packed up with the fathers visiting on the weekends. Hmm, sounds like my life, now. Only as a mom, I have to also work outside the home, no beach vacation.
I love perusing magazines that show pictures of these beach homes, cottages. I like the simple ones, but if anyone offered me a large condo for a week, I'd be more than happy to pack up and be there. As Tina Fey says, "I want to go to there."
I love these mornings, with green so luscious against the robin egg blue. Bright sun in my eyes, birds singing and chirping, flying by. Very few human sounds, yet as it is just seven in the morning. The light has been growing since five. My soul is renewed with the sun and prayer and time alone with my Creator.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Freedom of Religion

The large sanctuary of Notre Dame didn't overflow with people this evening, but every row boasted bodies. The Hickory High School class of 2012 participated in their baccalaureate, a voluntary exercise. 
As I drove up to the church early I thought, the parking lot held few empty spaces. The evening is cool, yet sunny with puffy clouds. A choice to stay home to enjoy this weather or come to a church on a Sunday had been free.
My daughter sang with the chamber singers, but I believe this also was a voluntary choice. Yet, the group is full. Other underclassmen scattered through the wide sanctuary.
It pleases me that still a large percentage of the graduating class has donned their cap and gown when they are not forced by school to do so. They are not getting their diplomas tonight. This is clearly a religious service. It is tradition, as well, but the large audience shows that many are allowing God and Jesus in their lives.
The graduates marched into Onward Christian Soldiers, a hymn I dare say is hardly sung in any church now, due to the military tone. The students lead us in the Lord's Prayer, the pledges to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible. Scripture is read from the Gospel of John. The speaker had been a youth pastor and now serves a church outside of West Middlesex. He spoke on "Whatever." The evangelist, Deborah Sanders, again sent chills and goosebumps as she sang Battle Hymn of the Republic, in her powerful voice. I can never tire of hearing this lovely woman sing. She also sang another song about flying, so appropriate for fledgling young adults. The final charge is clearly Christian and emotional.
I pray for these men and women that I have had the privilege of knowing. Long live freedom.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Renewed Strength

Yesterday morning, I felt my dreams revived. My goals fleshed out clearly. They bobbed on the horizon. Plans flooded into my mind. I can do this, I've been renewed.
A vivid ending for the novel I started in November with NaNoWriMo, settled in my mind as I traveled north on Route 7, the day before. I loved my ideas for Gables and Gingerbread Stories, "Main Street" has been done for two years. "Country" I started well, but wondered where it would go. The map fell in place. I need to follow it now. "Cross Roads" has been in the back of my mind for a while, waiting to enter the laptop page.
I'm actively looking for a writer's conference to attend. I was crushed this winter when vacation for St. David's Writer's Conference nearby at Grove City College was denied due to another nurse getting her request in sooner. I had planned on attending the whole session, not just one day like last year. This conference welcomed me warmly and freely. I felt so blessed to be a part of it for one day. My desire was to be part of the whole conference this year. At this point, I think a fall one will fit into work and my life. Except, I may have to miss one of the last football games with my senior year daughter as the drum major.
I'm learning more each day to accept the flow of life coming from God. I'll row, view the chart, study the course, but not be depressed by the snags in the river. I'll trust God through the rapids, and the doldrums.
Not only my writing dreams have been refreshed, but spiritual goals as well. Visions for my home Bible study women to pray for revival on prayer walks and fellowship live in my mind. I'm running with these ideas. I have renewed hope for this summer and changes.
I knew the dream had never died, but a refreshing played around in the shadows. I faintly saw the ember of life. Hope did not abandon me. Relying on God's timing is the only way to live and dream.