Sunday, September 30, 2012

Animals Enrich My Life

Animals enrich our lives in so many ways. My dog, Harrison, loves to do tricks. He lights up when I get the treats out. Sadly, I don't do this often enough. When I still penned him as a puppy, I taught him for an hour before I got ready for work. Tonight, he backed up to me to scratch his lower back, but some sensitive area caused him to growl. I reached for some Milk bones to get his mind off his allergic reaction to flea bites. Not only did this animate him, but Steven, the Siamese cat, also jumped to attention. He stands straight up, like a meerkat. As these two closely eyed me, I thought is this great?
Earlier in the evening, we took a ride to Greenville, driving through Transfer. Our neighbor's sister lived in Transfer, on a farm. I wanted a kitten, after HoChi died in the spring of sixth grade. One night, the neighbor, Jane, drove my mom to the farm. Romeo came to us because he was the only one Mom could catch. For a wild farm kitty, Romeo quickly warmed up to us.
I chose the name Romeo because Mary Katherine Crosby, Bing's daughter, had a cat, Romeo. I saw it in some magazine and thought that was pretty cool. I decided then to call the cat that, whatever one I got.
Romeo was a sweet little white kitten, who saw me through most of high school. He accepted my toy miniature poodle a few years later. We let him go outside, it does save on the kitty litter. My dad, God bless him, changed the litter box hidden way below in our basement.
With Romeo's white coat, I often washed him with a blue shampoo for white pets. Darlene, the dog groomer, taught us about that. When I took a bath, he circled the tub, unafraid of the water. 
During the bicentennial year with all the celebrations, we surmised someone kicked Romeo in the head. He would be across the street, unable to find his way home. He started walking crookedly. He just never was the same and my parents had him put down.
If you love animal stories, please check out my friend, Holly's new blog
I promise you'll laugh out loud!

Check out Holly's blog

A girlfriend, Holly Thur Martin, from high school lives on a farm in Washington County in Pennsylvania. A calf was born early and she started posting pictures of him on Face book. His antics, his spirit, her love have captured many hearts. Amos means strength. He has become a symbol of answered prayer and determination.
Holly has started a blog. Check it out and I'm sure you'll be hooked as she tells about her farm, her animals and especially Amos.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Open House for My Seventh Grade

Seventh grade we left the school open house to the parents and teachers. I stayed home doing the copious amounts of homework. Mom walked over by herself as Dad must have been in the hospital or sick. He was spending a lot of time recovering from his whiplash a year before.
Mom followed my classes, but I think unlike Hickory, there was no schedule. Most teachers in October spoke well of me. The gym teacher told my mom if she didn't know me this early in the school year, I was behaving myself. The gym class was unwieldy with all grades in it, from seventh to twelfth. 
Mom brought back the report. She still beamed with my performance. Rebellion hadn't fully reared its ugly head, yet. The transition to seventh grade in the baby stages, clinging to elementary expectations. I was still the quiet student, bringing in my homework.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Last Open House

The other night I traversed the halls of Hickory High School at my last open house for I suppose a long while. Four for Katie and four for Mary Ellen. I missed last year since I was in California, but Mary Ellen started at the high school in eighth grade on the third floor.
The fluorescent lights flood the hallways. The windows blackened give a different look than a daytime learning experience. The parents sit in the desks as the teacher explains the class. One teacher is so nervous, she writes her name on her notes, in case she forgets. Yet, her voice emotes calmness and I can see why she is my girls' favorite teacher.
This year, I spend most of the time on the art hall. I climb no stairs and I'm not lost. I didn't venture to the cafeteria for cookies. I introduce myself to the guidance counselor during a study hall and lunch period. I hear great things about my daughter. I have no concerns. She is a hard worker most of the time. She knows how to act in public.
Senior year, especially for my last child, creates a bittersweet feeling. I worked for my children to be independent. My philosophy is to raise adults. They all say how mature Mary Ellen is. But I want to be more involved in the school. I want to chaperone the field trip for orchestra. I desire to help with the musical this year. I dream of mentoring young writers at the school. I want to be available. Maybe, I'm not ready to let her go, yet.
I'm comfortable in these halls, now. I don't feel animosity. I hug teachers. I love the school and the many opportunities for my children. Contentment fills me that we chose to live in Hermitage, a small city with great horizons.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Open My House to You

Quick, I don't know what to post today! I have my Bible Study coming over in a hour. It's the first this fall. Will I have new people coming?
I panic because I still have a clutter problem. Oh, if only I had more time. I did well for a nano second, it seems. I've gotten comfortable with my group now. They know my faults. They love me, I hope. They keep coming back.
I believe this stems from my childhood. Mom always fretted about her house. We all worked together on Saturday morning, but she never relaxed. We entertained often, though. She never felt, though, the house measured up to those new ones. She didn't have Mcmansions with which to compare her beautiful home.
Why do we feel this way? Women work now. Yet we put great emphasis on perfection. I want my home to feel comfortable, but if I'm not easy sitting in my living room, thinking a guest may be spying that long cob web or looking at the dust on my stand, that vibe will transfer to her. Does the animal smell bother my guests or am I overly sensitive? My niece knows to take her Benadryl before she comes or as soon as she gets here.
So I open my arms as people come. Don't look at my desk/dining room table. Someday that will be clear for the cats to knock off the decorations. Don't look at droopy curtains. I'll be energized some day to buy vertical blinds. Do admire the pictures of loved ones. Do enjoy each others company and the food.
Mostly I pray that a guest will be surrounded by the love of Jesus. That peace will fill her soul. I want her to sit back, relax and learn more of our Savior. Now, mostly, I need that.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I knew today would be awesome in church because, 1) I woke at four am and couldn't fall back to sleep until almost six thirty, then waking to get ready for church felt hard, 2) a trickle of the river commenced at Wednesday night prayer meeting with a promise of more, and 3) my youngest's dress didn't work this morning causing a tantrum with choice words, we left her behind. We were still a few minutes late. As we walked in during the first prayer, I started rocking with the Holy Spirit. Hearing a boy being held in his father's arms chime in loudly, "Amen" at the end of the prayer, I knew church would not be the same today.
Revival, long awaited, long prayed for revival, knocked on our door today and we opened that door. I had many thoughts of prophecy, what I have seen happen in this sanctuary in the past fifteen years and things I only hoped. Twelve years ago the birth of the idea for the Mt. Hickory novel grew. So all the more reason for me to ask you to pray that I can write about David and Mary, especially Mary.
The land owned by the church, especially south of the building, two hundred years ago belong to my ancestors David and Mary Thompson. Mary's uncle was James Satterfield(see D David built the back part of the house they call Mt. Hickory with poplars from the surrounding land. This is the novel I want to write when I can truly research. I think of it as my opus.
This land, rich in coal when David settled here, and natural gas found in this generation. General Pierce appeared to have vision too when he migrated here from New Hampshire in the mid 1800's, bidding the highest for the widow Mary's land. He died in the front bedroom of Mt. Hickory after a stroke.
I believe prayers were lifted to the heavens for souls to be won in this area. The Presbyterians settled this land, the frontier in the early 1800's  to evangelize the natives. As with all workings of God, our prayers are never alone. We never work alone. I think of James, Clergyman Satterfield, riding his horse with his long braid down his back, until he was ninety, planting churches in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. I see the hard working Christian farmers praying for this land and their families. I envision the promise of these prayers from hundreds of years ago.
And today, my picture for the year of the yoke is more real. Out of the dustiness of my old life with the Lord's light, when we have no need of the sun or the moon for the Lord is the light thereof, shining through it. I have surrendered. The burden exchange occurred. The yoke is easy and light. I have given it all to Jesus.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


The back bedroom in my house growing up had a private entrance, enclosed stairway to our back porch and a door that led into the kitchen. First, Mom and Dad occupied it, as they remodeled it into a master bedroom, using the plumbing from the kitchen, they changed that into a full bathroom. The pantry made a great storage area for the new bathroom. For privacy, the bathroom was one end of an upside down U, while the other side, a small hallway with a new double closet. The window at the back of the house was at the top of the U. They put in wall to wall golden carpet, except for brown tile in the bathroom, which though a full bath, was narrow. Perfect for one person.
The older kids quickly grew and flew from the nest. Uncle Dave was killed just below our house, early one morning, walking to his work- at eighty years old- shortly after we moved up the street. We had the foster girls living with us.
For extra money and we had the room, Mom and Dad rented the back room. First to the new elementary gym teacher. I used the word "roomer" because he only rented the room. Mom didn't feed him. People at school would ask me about the gym teacher living with me. I replied, "He's a roomer."
Then  I'd think quickly if they thought I meant, "rumor." So I'd clarify myself by saying, "He's renting the room." I still got teased because only a door separated our rooms, but it was locked from my side. My mom cleaned the room once a week.
The closest we got to socializing was when his girlfriend came to visit. She slept in a bedroom we had downstairs. First it was Uncle Dave's room, then quickly became my toy room. After a few years, Dad removed the partition and it was one room with a shower and enclosed toilet and sink.  A double bed rested in there. It served as a guest room. Uncle Bill lived there for a while when he got out of the Army. Dan's friend, Ed Brucker used it too until he found a place to live.
After the gym teacher left, a young woman, Kay, showed up on our doorstep and wanted to live more on her own. She rented the room for about a year. Quiet, she became somewhat like a sister. She ate with us and helped with the dishes after supper. Mom still cleaned the room, but didn't have to work very hard. She drove a Mustang and sometimes took me the mall. One time, as we heading west on Business US 62, she turned left on State Route 18, but that wasn't allowed at that time. Perplexed at the cars blowing their horns at her, she continued with the turn. I wore her dress for my sister's wedding, with the colors of white and yellow. Remember, Diane planned her wedding in a month. Kay just had the perfect dress to go with the theme and color.
Kay moved on to a bigger place. One day, Mom received a call that the new football coach was sleeping on the gym floor in a sleeping bag. "Do you still have a room to rent?"
About the same time, a college student and her mother knocked on the door as they were sent over by Reverend Hatch, to see if she could rent a room during her student teacher rotation.
Teachers surrounded my room. Pat, the student teacher, lived in the small bedroom off the my middle room bedroom. Her jolliness infected our household. She became another sister. We walked to the high school together. She did her lesson plans and graded papers while I did my homework. I was in seventh grade.
Pat also went to church with my mom's cousin Twila Kepner in New Lebanon, PA. That is why she requested Mercer County for her assignment, hoping she would get the Lakeview district near her home. We were blessed they gave her West Middlesex. I met my cousins during a WM/Lakeview game. Twila had much older children, then she had the twins, Donna and Dale, a year older than I. A granddaughter, about two years younger than I, was named Molly. She lived in Sandy Lake area as well, so I met her at the game, a blonde hair, blue eyed girl. Those Thompson genes.
Twila belonged to Grandma Hazel's sister, Jim. Twila was the oldest. Olive was few months younger than Mom, because Hazel and Jim's mother was named Mary Olive. Mom got Mary as her name. There was Howard and Sylvia. I'm not sure of their order at this time. I know Paul was the youngest.
Jim married a farmer. Of her children, Twila, Howard and Paul followed the farming life. I forget what Olive's husband did, but Sylvia's husband was a business man in Vienna, Ohio. They all stayed local, in eastern Ohio. Except Twila moving back to Stoneboro, Sandy Lake, Coolspring Township area in Pennsylvania. I don't know for sure, but she probably met her husband when she visited Grandpa Thompson. I know Mom talked of  going to Christian Endeavor out of the Coolspring Church and eating at the Rainbow restaurant outside of Hadley with the young people.
Sorry for all the family history there. I chased that rabbit. I know my family likes to hear it, well, Katie, Michelle, and Diane.
Pat remained with us through the fall. The next year she married, they both were in the Army and she corresponded for quite a while. As most young people affected by my parents, visited when she could.
The foot ball coach, as you can imagine was a Steelers fan. He got his girlfriend a kitten. She lived at home and was unable to keep him. He named the cat, Franco Harris, and living up to the football persona, I swear that cat grew as big as a refrigerator. His head took up the window when he looked out to our side yard. Mom decided if she ever rented again, there would be a no pets policy, as cleaning with Franco was harder.
The coach woke up to KDKA, so did I, as Dad also opened the door right by the head of my bed to tell me to get up for school. "You're So Vain" often played that year. I could also hear the couple's quiet conversation, but seldom the words, but she never stayed the night.
When the coach moved on, my parents decided to not rent any more. I moved into the back room with the private full bath. Because the furnace didn't reach the back of the house very well, we had a gas stove in the room, that lit up when it heated. I felt I had a fire place in my room. I love this room, the windows that opened like doors, the huge closet, the wandering space and the back stairs. Never had boyfriends come up those stairs.
David and I lived there for a year and a half after his discharge from the Navy before we bought our house. I guess we were the last roomers. But we boarded, too. It is home.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Evening Activities

Yesterday's post made me think of the other show Bob Barker hosted, Truth or Consequences. Prime time started I believe at seven. Hence, the whole Nanny fiasco, wanting to watch a new TV show with my friend and ignoring the time.
I did like Truth or Consequences. I rarely watched the news when I was very young. As the weather cooled, I played in my bedroom. I had the big middle bedroom with twin beds, inherited from my sisters, who didn't want to share a room. They were now in college or married. I had an old record player and chose from my many albums to help me in my make believe. I had Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Oliver!, and each new Disney movie that came out. I also fought my sister for her Monkees album. I didn't want just the 45's. I loved albums, because they had short narrative and pictures. I guess they were like video tapes or DVD's for the 60's child.
I either laid on my bed while I listened to the music or I acted it out. I never saw Peter Pan, or Oliver! until later. These two albums had the most pictures and story. I could follow along while the songs fueled my imagination. Peter Pan showed the Disney version, not Mary Martin. Oliver! displayed glossy black and white photos from the Broadway musical before the movie.
By the time I matured to sixth and seventh grade, the albums were rock and roll or John Denver. Yes, I have diverse taste. Some one also gave me David Cassidy's Cherish, when I was in fifth grade, which really wasn't bad and I daydreamed of having someone like David Cassidy cherish me. Those shadowy men that just gaze at me, didn't know much else to imagine. Frolicking in leaves, maybe?
Junior high I did become interested in the news, as it was the only station on the only TV at the time. Eighth grade, watching it became a requirement, as well as Sixty Minutes, on Sunday evening. Before VCR's, the parents and I were mad at the teacher who made this assignment, an old neighbor, who was a Christian, since I attended Youth Group on Sunday evenings. I believe we taped recorded it- cassette tape. I supplemented the requirement with reading National Geographic, writing reports on the articles.
I spent a lot of time in my room when the cooler, darkening evenings came after supper. My homework, though, usually finished at the dining room table until I moved in the renter's room when I was fourteen or fifteen with the new desk, an old vanity, under the window in the back room. I still feel that is my room.  I loved it so much, I wrote essays about it in school.
High school, I had a new stereo in my room. I listened to mostly Kiss, Areosmith, Bruce Springsteen and Al Stewart albums. Then there was the Wizard, the FM sister of WHOT, playing the progressive music. At four in the afternoon, they played the whole album without interruption. How cool was that?
Also as I grew older, I had more activities outside the home. Girl Scouts, Rainbow girls, volunteering for Candy Stripers filled many evenings. Now, it is Friday night in September, which means rain just in time for the football game. Looking forward to pulled pork sandwich, cabbage and noodles and maybe, if chilly enough, cappuccino. And the best band music in Mercer County.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Late Summer Day

This is one of those days I just don't feel well. Nauseous most of the day, teaching two patients what works for that queasy feeling. I struggle to keep the eyes open on my way home. I thought, well four of my visits are completed and verified. I immediately crawled into bed. Such a crisp late summer day spent with two cats curled up with me. I can't blame it on the weather.
The windows opened allowed the bells of a nearby church sing out the six o'clock hour. The clouds gathered, limiting the sun. Then the lawn service unloaded the mowers and windows closed by Mary Ellen, claiming allergies. I love to listen to the carillon sound out the hymns. I feel I live in a city with those near by.
In West Middlesex, Good Shepherd announced the time with bells, too. Eight in the morning, noon time and six o'clock had different number of chimes. Tuesday evening, the fire station tested the siren at seven o'clock. This time of year that served as the alarm to head home.
I tested that when I was in second grade. I stayed at my friend, Tracy's house to watch The Nanny and the Professor, season opening. I made it home after dark around eight. Dad was working. Mom, angry that I disobeyed the rules, got out the pancake turner. Such an infrequent event, that I didn't understand bending over the stool. I received a rare spanking. I didn't ignore the street lights or siren again.
The lawn mowers are gone. I hear the little girls' exclamations as they are outside with their parents. School is routine. Kids are already wanting to stay home. Unfortunately, staying home curled up with a cat all day is no excuse. I wanted to do that today as well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jesus Is on the Move

Last week, one of the young ladies posted a picture of her father walking into church and standing during worship. Four months ago, he had a massive stroke. Life hung in a fragile balance, but prayer ascended to heaven swiftly with the prayer chain, and we prayed in church, too. The prognosis declared he may not live and if he did, he wouldn't be the same. Four months later he is back in church on his own two legs.
I noticed last Sunday, at our Youth Pasta Dinner after service, a man sitting at the table. He, too, this winter suffered a severe infection, placing him on a vent. Many close calls from death knocked on his hospital door, but death couldn't conquer him. We prayed and prayed for him, too. Now, he, too, walks into the church building.
I'm sure you could tell me of miracles in your church, as well. I became very encouraged by just these two men last week. Also, a friend has a newborn bull, who's twin was born dead. The bull is only twenty pounds. They are normally ninety. He shouldn't have made it twenty four hours. With nursing care, tender loving devotion and a plea for prayer, even for an animal, he is still alive, over a week later. He is having a set back today, so I'm praying again for Amos. Amos means strength. To me, this Amos is a symbol of God's love.
I have felt a healing in myself this week, as well. My body, lighter, no thick jello to move through or sludge in my veins, lifts me to a positive level. The weight lifted without me realizing. I didn't fight to throw it off. My feet dance freely.
September always represented a new year, a new leaf, a new chance when my life centered on school. The Jewish holidays of new year, feast of trumpets, and Day of Atonement occur in September. Many books depict great change as fall approaches, like outbreaks of war, the end of a growing season, a new room in a life. September carries charged atmosphere. Does God work more in this time of year or  does He allow us to see His working more?
Maybe my imagination plays overtime. Something waits in the wings, orchestrated by Jesus. I tingle as I see His movement. I think of Narnia, always winter and never Christmas. My emotions lived in Narnia this year. But I see the buds on the trees, still tight, some snow quickly melting, the river roaring with the new run off. It is early spring spiritually, but new life  crouches, ready to jump us.
As Beaver said, "Aslan is on the move."
Are you ready?

Life is Here Still

I have been busy again or still. I dream about writing. I'm posting quick here to keep up posting. I don't like to see my numbers fall. I guess I'm obsessed.
I have some pictures to share. I will do that soon. I captured some of old wooden oxen yokes at the rural farm museum on Sunday. Always thinking of my year's picture. I think I may have something to fit.
But bills need paid. Work needs done. Errands need run. Prayers need said. The Lord God watches it all. He gently helps me with His yoke. I surrender.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Magic of Michelle

About a year ago I stayed at my niece's home in California. She fought hard and crunched numbers so she could stay home with her children. That in and of itself is a marvelous feat for a homeowner in California. She looks at this time as her present job. She wakes early to shower and be dressed for her day, as any professional would.
She prepares healthy meals for her family. She walks her children to their schools. Another advantage of the constant sunny weather. She herds them to get ready for school, calmly solving disagreements.
I observed her ease of movement through the day. The chores are done in a timely manner with no complaint. She stands at the laptop to catch up a little on face book and my blog. She doesn't sit to watch daytime TV. She maintains her home since her husband works hard at construction jobs, sometimes traveling far or in that infamous LA traffic.
Her purpose is her home, raising godly children who will be good citizens. Order comes with peace as she rules. She reads to her children. I felt like her day had the rhythm of a dance that she enjoyed.
Evening came and children to bed early. She spreads on the couch to watch some favorite TV shows with her husband, after making sure every thing is ready for the next day. I thought this is the magic of Michelle.

More Mommy Memories

I thought yesterday of my school mornings growing up. I hate to admit this now, my mom dressed me until I was in third grade. The image of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, where she lifts her arms to be dressed by the young house maid reminds me of our mornings. Clothes were more complicated even when I was a child. Underpants, undershirt, a slip, leotards,(we called them, today they are tights), a dress or skirt and blouse, with buttons and zippers, buckles on school shoes, unless you had loafers, composed the morning ritual. If a dress had a bow, Mom loved to tie it from the front as she put her arms around me. She said that was the only way she could tie a bow. I suspect hugging was the motive. Long hair to be taken out of curlers and brushed, or put in a pony tail, dog ears(straight pony tails on either side of the head) or pigtails or braids.Sometimes I talked her into a headband or just yarn tied around my head. Mom didn't French braid, but I did my girls sometimes and my nieces when I visited in California.
To my mother, our appearance, our clothing, was of utmost importance. She told my father when they started having children, "Our kids are going to be dressed nice." She lived to that vow. Always shopping the sales racks for quality clothes, eying the Pittsburgh Post for the latest fashions so we could be in style, particular about laundering, ironing and folding our clothes, she would go without anything for herself so we could walk out that door looking above presentable. Having grown up in the Great Depression, with only a few dresses, she had her ideas. My third grade teacher asked her if she was trying to make me a fashion plate, which my mother took as a compliment.
Clothes became much easier for my children. Pants had long been the standard for school. The kids got dirty doing all the many projects at school. Teachers encouraged basically play clothes. Church also became much less formal. Just come.
My husband remarked often about school clothes, set apart for that, Sunday best for church and then play clothes. I guess as mothers became busier with working outside the home, the clothing had to be easier. Kids had to be able to dress themselves at an earlier age as mothers too rushed around to leave the home for the day. Dads also became more involved in the morning routine and well, dads don't always do hair. Some do, I've heard.
Moms still drive the morning, I think, majority of the time. Even when they are not there, clothes are laid out and demands written down or repeated often. Much done the night before to encourage ease in the rushed morning. Just as Mary Lennox had to learn to dress herself, we have learned to have independent children.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Early Mother's Day

Watching my great niece overnight brought so many memories. She woke easily, which usually isn't the case. I prepared her breakfast. We sat at the kitchen, eating together. I did that with my girls every morning. The sweet seven year old voice told me antidotes, as her pumpkin, Bob, from the last night open house, observed her eating.
She dressed quickly. I was happy her cut is short as dragging a brush across her head didn't pull any hair. She smiled with a toothless grin as I rejoiced at how easy that was. Her socks seemed harder than TED stockings to put on her, so each of us doing a foot as planned ended up not working. She pulled the black backpack with pink Hello Kitty designs as big as her body, then trooped down the steps to the mini van.
I kept telling her how this reminded me of Katie and Mary Ellen, as I was blessed to drive them into school, the same building. I turned around when we were in the driveway and told her I always pray for the girls(I still do for Mary Ellen), placing my hand on her leg as I asked for blessing over her. Then the door slid open, I watched the long skinny legs carry such a sweet little girl to the glass doors.
I smile as she seems to love school. She is eager to learn. She voiced her disappointment that she left Bob on our table. She had promised a friend that they would always bring cool things into school. I told her I was sorry, but sometimes those things happen. She didn't over react.
I floated around this morning as this had been fun experience. I love being a mom, caring for my children and resented the work that took me away from those responsibilities. I desire for this as much as for my writing. I long for energy even as I work. I had some periods when I was able to be a homemaker. I believe the reason I relished these times, as I knew they would be short and I had a great paying job waiting for me when I had to return to work. The best job to me has always been being a mother. What a wonderful privilege raising the next generation granted to mothers.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life's Curve Balls

Life overcomes writers at times, so they only live. I'm in that phase right now. I journal and written a few e-mails the last few days. I have served on jury duty. I absorbed the elegant courthouse of Mercer County. I observed and interacted with the jury. But no writing. I tuck it away for later.
We also had the perfect night for the Mercer County Band show. I love September with wonderful weather. Sitting in the stadium that my mother cheered her team, on stone bleachers with wider spaces than the new steel ones.The colorful band uniforms under the bright lights in the darkening sky thrill me.
Because of my great nephew being sick, I took his sister to her open house. I relished the fun being back in the Artman building. Those years filled with great memories from my girls.
Now I have a cute little blonde girl on my couch. Actually this is quite fun. And Jacob is on his way home from Pittsburgh Children's Hospital. Life throws those curve balls that writers watch then some day put down on paper.
And this is only a little bit of what is happening, but we're all tired and trying to go to sleep.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Eleven Years of Honor Star Crowning

In our fellowship we have a girls ministry called Missionettes. The group is from Rainbows, the pre-school to a Girls Only club if the interest is there for teen age girls. The Stars welcome third, fourth and fifth grade females. If a girl does the extra honor steps of memorizing all the twenty seven verses, attend the club meetings, learn our foundations of faith, along with other requirements, a ceremony is planned for them at the end of the three years.
Both of my daughters achieved this honor. Katie was in the first class to have it in our church for many years. I likened it to a Bat Mizpah. She, with six other young ladies, had their ceremony in September, not long after September 11. The country experienced a spiritual rawness. The worship that evening moved my heart. The mothers wrote letters to our girls that were read while their fathers escorted them down the aisle as pictures of them growing glowed on the screen. Fancy white gowns, their hair done by a professional hair dresser, manicured nails adorned the girls on the white runner. I missed my dad, yet realized if he hadn't died, I most likely would not have left my childhood church.
My younger daughter participated in this honor five years later with other girls having their special night. The weekend has been compared to a wedding. The girls work so hard toward this night of honor. The sponsors busied all weekend to make a special night for the girls.
Gena and Miss Stephanie, Missionette  coordinator
This morning the ceremony during church brought this program to attention of the congregation. The girls, in their beautiful white gowns and shoes, hair done up, marched down the aisle with their mothers. I grinned from ear to ear. I noticed six honor stars from the years past. A wonderful event to mark girls passage into womanhood shared by many girls.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Different Seventh Grade Memories

Having fun today browsing through old West Middlesex year books from 1965 and 1966. I thought I had later ones as I wanted to see someone's senior picture from 1969, but alas, I only have those two old ones of my brother. I love it because, my brother, according to the autographs was sweet, cool, nutty and they all had a lot of fun in seventh period study hall, in fact it was crazy. Katie glanced at them with me and asked, "What does R.M.A. mean?" Oh, dear. Remember me always.
The 1965 book showcased old pictures and I wondered at first why they went with that theme. Then I saw one with student council's float for the centennial. Oh, yes, West Middlesex was settled in 1864. I kept seeing pictures, showing David, "This could be in my novel." Ah, any illustrators want to help?
I pointed out all the teachers I had ten years later. In some ways, my school years lagged enough behind my sisters' and brother's that I seldom was compared, like poor Danny had been on his first days of seventh grade. The 1965 year book showed him in seventh grade. A tiny boy as Mom described him, trying hard.
I remember when he was around this age, well, fourteen and fifteen, getting up at four to check his muskrat traps. He also delivered the Pittsburgh Post early in those mornings. He is a hard worker.
I just read a post on Christopher Columbus and genius. Kids test in genius range when they are five, then it goes down and down in formal education. Dan, I think, fell in that category with the school system not meeting his potential. He now reads and not fluff books. Mom always said if they had had Vo-tech when he was a teen-ager, she felt he would have done much better. I think if we could have been home schooled, because my parents promoted learning in so many ways, we all could have done better. We had the World Book Encyclopedias. As I mentioned in my travel posts,  Dad would drive out of his way if we were interested or studying something near. We learned in the best possible way, with love and experience, encouraging learning. 
I remember Dan taking my plastic horses and creating a whole knight diorama. I watched in fascination to see my horses transformed. He had Lincoln logs that he used for some other project. I did resent slightly that our toys had to become projects. I admired Dan, so I allowed it.
I'm not really sure where I'm going with this puppy. Learn on, any way you can? Teach your kids as in a delightful environment. I'm a home school advocate, but I never had the privilege and my children did well with the school system. I'm proud of our school district and the opportunities afford my children. I always believed schooling started at home and the main responsibility is the parents. Modern day life makes this harder. But maybe not really, as a few generations ago, parents maybe didn't read or finish high school. My dad didn't, yet he was a very intelligent, wise man.
Life every day is learning. Reaching out for new knowledge to satisfy a thirst. Continue to learn.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day Seventh Grade

Finally, seventh grade. The year we were prepared for all sixth grade that scared me. I remembered the high school from when I attended kindergarten, first and second grade classes in that building. Standing at the nurse's door entrance feeling very small as the high schoolers changed classes, a mass of teenagers threatening to flatten us if we stepped from Mrs. Hazelett's protection. Mr. Faddis staring in the window at our classes, making us giggle,calling him Santa Claus because of his white beard.
I was returning to the school, bigger, but no less scared, since every class we traveled to another classroom. What if I got lost? What if I forgot where I was supposed to go? Would I get trampled by bigger kids? Would I look cool?
I wore hunter green jeans and a mustard colored top, I believe with a hood. We still wore new clothes on the first day of school, but I didn't want to wear a dress this day. We crossed just past my house on the corner. The police women didn't see us as we were just on the other side of the dip of the hill. Then behind Jane and Bill Thompson's house, over the hill to the back door of the school. Simple. The junior high wing was on this side of the building, closest to my house. This year, even though we started earlier, proved to be easier to get to school. Except that I primped now, as I was allowed to wear make-up, I could almost literally fall out of bed and roll to school.
Within the week, changing classes was a breeze. All the classrooms were in the old second grade hall. Except for the gym and a study hall in the auditorium on the other side of the school. Gym had all grades in it up to seniors. We didn't have to take showers. Oh, I was so glad of that. The class was so large that Mrs. Palmer told my mother at the open house in October, since she didn't know my name, it meant I hadn't gotten into trouble. The boys exercised on the other half of the gym.
We wanted to be in every club offered us. Pep club the first active one due to football season. I went to every home game and Dad started taking us to away games. He and Mom joined us at the games, too.
I had science class after lunch and didn't do so well in that class. I got a few C's and that was unusual for me. I didn't try very hard, hence the C's. But the first day, I didn't know that. I didn't know what adventures awaited me as I kept changing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chapter One- Main Street

A friend is going to edit my novel and soon I will send it to be published. Many authors speak of a tribe. I hope you will be my community and pass along my book. I had a few delays, the flu and being on call for my job, on my time table, but know it will go forward. This book had two main purposes. One, that I could write a full story and two, to prepare the way for financial stability to write more.
I'm anxious to share it as well. Each time I read it, I like it more. I think of the times I wrote each part.
Tonight, I'll share the first chapter. My first story in Gables and Gingerbread Stories- Main Street:

Martha Sweeney's hands clutched at her neck involuntarily, almost like the rope had tightened. She woke paralyzed. As she slowly regained movement, thoughts of the events that led up to these night terrors filled her mind. Every night the final scene seared her memory completely, never loosening its grip, waiting till she drifted into a restless slumber to tighten control. This pattern of the last few weeks invaded her nights since that event ended the living nightmare, but began her somnolent terrors.
Martha and her husband, Tom, moved into this five gabled house with gingerbread high in the eaves fifteen years ago. The house dominated the highest level of the the town with luxurious land. The business district of the town was a mile away. Main Street dotted with a few homes. Only one was built forty years after the white home, in the Italianate style rivaling the gable home in size, directly across the street. Close to the right side the Manse, a modest, yet respectable two story clean home accompanied the gray stone church. All sat on the plateau of the town. Down the hill from the church, the school presided, which would encompass most of their lives in a few short years.
Martha loved the land with the shady elms and maples, the gardens she grew and a little shed built to resemble the much larger home. The shed provided a fine place to hang herbs and flowers. She wasn't sure how she would keep up a large home, but hired help was plentiful in the early 1900's. Tom had help with the yard and their own livery stable, the new noisy automobiles rare in their small borough. As Tom's business grew, the family expanded, assistance became readily available to run their beautiful home.
Tom and Martha were married five years before they moved into this mansion. It, of course, was not a mansion; yet being one of the oldest and largest edifices in town, gave it a special air. The move from an apartment above the livery business downtown fulfilled the dream of Tom and Martha. They saved enough to live away from the down town in their own home. Everything about it showed beauty, from the high ceilings and airy bay windows, the slanted corners in the ceilings from the gables, the stairway of seventeen steps with a curve at the top, to the outside with porches observing traffic on Main Street to the sloping lawn on the side. The hardwood floors gleamed, not yet encumbered by the heavy rugs so popular at the time.
They had not grown up in as fine a home as this. Farming was their families' occupation. The new home, almost like being in the country, yet, still in town, was not a working farm. They felt it was a step up and though not very snobbish, they were content with how their life progressed. Martha's mother became a widow, moving in with them a few years after they had personalized this abode as their own.
A son was born before they moved there. Little Tommy, a fair headed toddler, laughed in the long indoor expanse as he ran straight through, before the furniture filled the home along with the heavy rugs. He had a fun few months before it became more sedate, but Martha and Tom took him outside, too. He had a large playroom off the kitchen in which he could pull his train around.
Soon, Tillie was born, a docile, dark haired beauty. After that another girl, Olivia with golden ringlets like Tommy, except school aged now, the curls long gone. Finally, another son, Mark, with fiery red hair from his father, proved the temper that goes with that trademark.
As the children grew, they loved the upstairs with a large middle bedroom and a huge bed for jumping, so they thought; but Martha and her mother told them otherwise. Once, they landed on the floor with the mattress bunched up around them. Apprehensively they waited for they knew they couldn't hide. They wanted to scoot down the back enclosed stairs, but they couldn't escape, as it dumped right into the kitchen. Their grandma yelled from the downstairs, for she sat directly below them, fussing about the jumping for some time. Martha, busy in the kitchen, didn't really listen to her mother. The crash and her mother's louder scream finally brought the kitchen to attention. Martha and the hired girl ran up the back stairs to see the four in such a tussle that they laughed. Soon the mattress was back on the bed. Martha declared it was time to turn it anyways, but the children sent to separate rooms, solemnly watched the snow fall heavily.
The chided mood didn't last past supper, as that thick snow turned into a sledding party after they ate. The neighbor kids all showed up in their hats and mufflers, with sleds and toboggans in tow. The side street beside their yard transformed into a sledding hill with children piled high onto each other, their laughter echoing down the the hill to the bottom, far enough away from the creek to prove no danger.
Tom built a fire and soon the children of all sizes bundled close to it. Some potatoes placed in the fire by Martha made a hot starchy treat that also warmed frozen fingers.
Martha smiled faintly as she remembered the spring they planted the Rose of Sharon trees to edge the yard, along with the delicate white dogwood tree in the front of the house. The trees added romance, as well as a semblance of privacy. As the girls and trees grew, in the many July's, Tillie and Olivia picked purple, pink and white blossoms and pretended the flowers were young damsels in their ball gowns; the Rose of Sharon flower upside down resembled a sweeping dress made for dancing.
The boys by this time had formed a gang with other boys in the neighborhood. The creek with frogs, minnows and crayfish welcomed those boys. The critters came home. When they were small, they could only easily catch snails. Once, as Martha strolled in the yard, she noticed in the bird bath, multitudes of very tiny snails. Yes, one of the boys had put at least a pair of snails in the bird bath and they flourished, just as Martha thought her life flourished in the beautiful gable home. She loved her life in those early days.
Each new fall saw a child start school. The days slowly grew shorter, although always hot in the September mid afternoons. Excitement filled the air with a new outfit, knickers for Tommy and Mark, dresses, pinafores with matching hair ribbons for Tillie and Olivia, added to the joy of learning. The children were eager learners, with a love of reading from their mother and math from their father. Tommy wanted to run a business like his father. Mark became angry when a figure wouldn't add. Martha loved the studying time, thrilled the school was close; scholastic programs being their social life now. New children joined the parade to school each year, as they all walked together, stopping at each child's house as mothers watched them proceed down Main Street.
Tom love to build big bonfires as the evenings cooled. The children from around the neighborhood came, along with parents sometimes. Mothers brought cookies to pass around. Fathers smoked their pipes or cigars. The smoke mixed in with the firewood aroma. Kids played games, mothers talked about what was going on in school, and the men debated the president and congress.
Martha sighed as she thought of those pleasant early years. It seemed they were over too soon. She rolled over, wishing she could fall back to sleep, but a car crawling on the street outside her opened window reminded her of how life changed. Life always changes, but it seemed in the mid teens of the twentieth century, the change accelerated.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bulh Day 2012

Hickory High School Marching Band

My niece and great niece

My great niece

My other niece and her niece

Crowd listening to concert

Shenango Valley Chorale

Sharpsville Marching Band

Sharpsville Marching Band

West Middlesex Marching Band, Gracie in the corner

It was a beautiful day again for Buhl Day. Years and years of tradition, where we stood for the parade at different times, who played the concerts, the fireworks all tumbled into our memories today. The cars used to park all the way to our house from the park. Not so much, now. The parade started our day, as more traffic than usual traversed around our neighborhood. As like last year, we stood with Lori and the kids, joined by her friend and kids.
David walked down to get the ribs and I met him in the van at the edge of the park so they would be hot when we got them home. The fries were hot, too. Later I enjoyed a thirty two ounce lemon shake. Sweating and powder sugar covering my clothes from the hot funnel cake created the best feeling in  the world at that moment as I listened to the concert in the Performing Arts Center.
Ending the day as cool breezes stirred and the Shenango Valley Chorale invited us to sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Fewer people joining in, still a wonderful sight as the sun filtered through the leaves. Another Buhl Day put to rest with not a storm or rain cloud in the sky.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Let's Go to Wally World

I keep forgetting as we rewatch older movies that what was funny when I was twenty are a little on the vulgar side now. The unnecessary nudity, the drug jokes and sexual no so innuendo and language populate the movies. Family values they tried, but it was the early 80's.
Reminds me of the time that Grandma Lyon visited with my in-laws to Ray and Kathy's. Movie rentals just became a new thing. Ray thought back to movies he watched in college. Hmm, Blazing Saddles, that was a western, right? The family sat down to enjoy this night of entertainment, when Ray realized that college humor is not what you want to watch with your eighty-something old grandma. He had forgotten the content.
I'm feeling that now with my children, who probably have seen worse on the internet. All they can say is how different this would be if they had cell phones. I'm laughing because so much couldn't be said today, like the young girls having joints, the young boy drinking a whole can of beer, and the incest, child sexual abuse reference that passed for humor. We are in so many ways more sensitive, no smoking in movies, now. Yet, so much other more detrimental themes dominate movies.
Back then they prayed, maybe, not correctly, but closer to what we say in church. Now if movies are too Christian, that can get a stronger rating. Maybe we were better when we didn't take ourselves so seriously. Let's go to Wally World!