Monday, March 31, 2014

Poetry for the Soul

This weekend cried for poetry. Poetry digs into the soul without seeming whiny like prose. I whined and I apologize, especially for the Saturday post. A month or two back, my words tumbled over each other in a rhyming rhythm. I'm not a poet, but those days poems crept to the surface.
I learn from poetry workshops about descriptive words. The speaker urging us to mine that one word to fill the emotion, scene and flavor. I float out of those lectures. It has been too long since I have sat in one.
I noticed the North Pocono Community Library sponsors a poetry night this week. The high school students star with open mike. I think back on Katie and Mary Ellen in their eighth grade English class with a coffee house performance for the parents. Sitting at a midsize desk, listening to some wonderfully beautiful poetry and readings. I love emerging creativity. In this class, both girls jumped on the thought, they are writers, to make this a career. I can thank this English teacher, too, for sending it home to me, reviving a skill in me.
Another former student of hers, writes poetry on a blog that I follow. I know this young man and find he is growing in writing. A thoughtful soul exploring his relationship with Jesus. One poem, I knew he wrote after visiting home, as we both moved by the service and sermon in church one day, wrote about it. He affirmed my suspicion. Matt's blog. I also look at the ads on his blog, to help him out.
Poetry answers questions of the soul with its searching and pleading to make sense. The Psalms in the Bible lift me out of depression many times over the years. Some times I take a break from reading them. I return and wonder why did I ever take a break? A psalm plunges into the dark depth of the spirit, but gasps, reaches and finally clasps onto God, renewing faith, hope and love. Helps a lot with those feelings of revenge, too.
My poems are not Browning, Frost or Dickinson, but my feeble attempts feed my soul. When I post them, I hope that they in some way lift up a soul at the time they need a refreshing. If not, they refresh me. Bright sunshine does the trick, too.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Where Are Your Eyes?

In view of my weary spirit. Disappointments. Plans lagging or hiding. Tired body. Isolation I allow.
Hebrews 12: 2-3
New King James Version
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
and the hymn, "Turn Your Eyes" reminding me from the radio.
Reminding me, it is all about Jesus. Worship is where I am. Worship is what I do. It doesn't have to be with others singing, although, that encourages me. My Daily Bread, I am calling my service to God's Kingdom.
I pray today as I am weary, that I look outside of myself. I divert my gaze away from me and success. I remind myself, It is not about me. And I pray- love one another. I pray to be a clean vessel. I pray to encourage others. I pray. Jesus at every chance I encounter. I'm reminded to keep my eyes on Jesus. Where are your eyes today?

Saturday, March 29, 2014


This is a day for poetry, but I have no poetry at this time. March still drags in the dreary dirge of misery. Well, not really, but I feel a continence of "Nothing changes." A lie stinking of smoke.
My body in the day, like the seasons, senses attitudes. I need a change in latitude like Jimmy Buffet. Or not. We're hardy, us Northerners. I'm proud to be a Western Pennsylvanian. Endurance stretches our fabric. Do I want to grow with the fabric?
Oh, it is another Saturday I leave my home to work. I find little time to write, but I wrote much yesterday. I need the light in my soul, since we have no sun in our window. I'll be back to my "Daily Bread."
I will see tomorrow, how many read this. I don't want to live by polls. Some days, though, I need that boost. I think today is one of those days. April is Tuesday. And May comes in short weeks. I'm not wishing my life away, only looking for a push out of doldrums.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Golf with the Baptists

Someone told me bits of her back story, as she asked me questions about faith. She grew up Roman Catholic, and had two major moves in her life. In St. Louis, she had been surrounded by many Roman Catholic churches and people. They then moved to Tennessee where Baptists dominated and she golfed with them. Having been twenty five years ago, she didn't inquire like now. This was a question burning in her heart. What is the difference between Roman Catholics and the others?
I sat with her and started with Martin Luther. I prayed for gentleness. She glowed from having Mass with her priest. The questions came again after a Gospel singer's performance. We exchanged back and forth, as her questions bubbled to the surface, like what does it mean to be "born again?"
The thought flooded into my mind, "I have food you know nothing about." Jesus' quote while He communicated with the Samaritan woman. (John 4) Not in any way is the woman I talked to like this woman, except that she was seeking. I can see the similarities now, though, like the affirmations about where and how to worship. I talked about God's presence and Jesus in ways all Christians worship.
I was reading Acts this week. Peter had the vision three times of food, unclean for a Jew, but God said it was clean, before his lunch and before he was called to witness to the Gentile, Cornelius.(Acts 9 and 10). Peter denied Jesus three times after the Last Supper. He was told to feed Jesus sheep three times by the shore by Jesus after a fish breakfast.(John 21)
I have also been fasting this week. As I talked to this lady, I felt fed. Maybe this is the daily bread spoken of in the Lord's prayer or part of it. God uses the physical often to show us spiritual truths. We do have the Lord's Supper, which originated with the Passover meal.
Questions originating over lunch with the Baptists after golf, but not asked, arise again twenty five years later. My physical hunger met with a woman's spiritual hunger. All this to grow the Kingdom of God. Thanks to golf with the Baptists.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Does Satisfaction Come?

Ambling along the hall passing medications and answering requests, snippets of TV shows flow. Last night, I overheard much of The Middle, with Patricia Heaton. I chuckled and identified with the theme of that episode. "How did we get to be the servants of our children?" the parents asked.
Later, the Patricia Heaton character, the mother, states, "When did we drink the Kool-Aide?" while she was with a group of parents. At least from the side of the med cart in the hall, that is how I heard it.
What I heard, sleeping on the couch because one child couldn't sleep at night, and the parents take turns leaving their comfort. The mother rushing home from work, stopping at three fast food restaurants to feed the varied tastes of the family, foregoing a fourth place for her and her husband, for fried chicken. Only made me glad we only had two children, who ate most any place. Now, about that chicken...
They lamented that their parents would have never done that for them. "I hated stuffed peppers on Thursday night," the mom recalls. The father remembered his worst meal he was forced to eat. "Our parents didn't care."
Overall, my parents were somewhat the same. My mother, commanded to sit at the table, sometimes till three in the afternoon on a Sunday, choking down cold roast beef dinner, wishing she could just have Mrs. Stein's chicken soup and listen to Mr. Stein's orchestra practice. Dad never spoke of being compelled to eat, but both growing up in the Great Depression, knew no arguing over the menu. We, then, were not force to "clean our plates," but Mom only made one meal for us. She delighted to make sauerkraut for my friend, Karen and Karen's mother, happy to have me over for chicken.
Later, though, when it was only me at home, and Burger King blew into town with the Whopper, I refused to eat any where but McDonald's. The Volks Wagen camper hosted our table. Dad went to McDonald's first, then Burger King. I got my own way, yet still made fun of their "Slopper." I'm thinking now, a slap across the face would have been in order, but they enjoyed their sandwich in the dreary cold camper at the tiny fold up table.
As old as time, our Heavenly Father gives good gifts. Jesus said, "Will your earthly father give you a stone when you ask for bread or a snake when you ask for a fish? Will not your Heavenly Father give you much greater gifts?
New Living Translation
So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Matthew 7:11.
How often do we sit in a cold cramped camper at a tiny table eating lukewarm french fries when we could have so much more? But we whine for things, make fun of the better things, and we gloat because we got our way. Yet, does satisfaction come?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesdays

Waiting for those summer evening walks

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

March Is Waiting for Heaven

March is waiting for spring and being disappointed at
Crocus in 14 degree weather with snow flurries today

first. Yes, it often snows on the first, second and third day of spring, as well as up to May. Even early June can be frosty, needing mittens in the morning on the cold steering wheel. We may not see spring, but we know in our souls it is coming, by the longer sunlight, the flowers bravely peeking from the soil sensing light, not warmth, and the temps slowly warming.
God too has set eternity in human hearts. We may not believe it. We may not act like it. But none-the-less, it is there, like those plants reaching out of the dark earth for the sunlight. To me the saddest ones are the people who profess a faith, but still act like there is no Heaven.
Many years ago, I read Ted Dekker's book, The Slumber of Christianity. He proposed that the modern day Christian puts more effort into planning their vacation than thinking of Heaven. All the best moments of life palely reflect Heaven. We should learn to savor small pleasures. We, as Christians, should be as excited as a child before Christmas in our anticipation of Heaven. I have met those who are so Heavenly minded, they are no earthly good. That is not what I am talking about here. We need to find joy in the crocuses as we wait for June roses.
As I was in the Heaven theme that year, I also read Heaven by Randy Alcorn. This is literally a weighty book, over five hundred pages, that has been condensed into booklets and devotional books.  The book answers many questions about Heaven, the New Earth and how so much will be fulfilled. Randy used the Bible to answer many questions. Reading this book is hopeful.
I suspect many do not look forward to death. As I wrote in my poem, "Forgive Jesus" we fear the moment of death, not the moment after. I have the 'blessed hope' spoken of in Titus, in the New Testament, of Jesus calling His Church home, also known as the Rapture.
I always believed this possibility. Growing up with the illustrated Bible stories, published probably in the late fifties, with the pictures of cars crashing, people screaming, and then the lovely gardens and golden choirs depicting the Rapture and Heaven. The first time I noticed the slag from Sharon Steel dumping at night, I was certain it was the end of the world. I also one time thought I saw a dove fly over the moon. I am clothed in this fabric. I am not to argue when the Rapture will happen, but I do look forward to it. And whether it happens near or far, we all will leave this Earth, and meet our own personal judgement day.
March is like waiting for Heaven. Life's disappointments dim our view of Heaven. We forget the best is yet to come. If I do die before the Rapture, I want a pink fork in my hand, to recall the story of how at dinners, we are often told to keep our forks for desert to be served. Pink, only because it is a perky color that makes everyone look better. In March, as in life, I wait expectantly for more sunshine and the carefree days of early summer. In your March of life, may you, too wait expectantly for the Best thing.
American Standard Version
But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.  Luke 21:36

Friday, March 21, 2014

March Marking Time; Waiting for Change

March is blowing out and I'm glad. If there is a month that does nothing but wait, it is March. Yes, I know we have ten more days to mark the time, but I'm reflective today. March, a quarter of the year almost over, I keep my abundance picture before me. Do I wake every morning living that way? No, I must admit, a struggle ensues.
March also begins another year of employment. Last year, my daughter fought through her senior year. She sang in the musical, bringing me to tears, only a year ago. I was unemployed, waiting to embark on a new career path in nursing, a nursing home on March twenty fifth.
March is often my time for beginnings. I tire of the winter and the job I am in. Did this pattern start with David and the Navy? Maybe. My second job as a Registered Nurse began in the cold New Hampshire spring of 1983. The sub, the Archer Fish, settled into dry dock at Portsmouth Naval Yard.
We were there a year and returned to Connecticut again, late February. I entered Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in a different position than last time I left. The hospital also changed in that year, as a union had been voted in just before I left  the February the year before.
Three years later, we moved back to Western Pennsylvania in the spring. I waved good bye to Backus Hospital in Norwich with few tears in my eyes in March to pack for the return home.
I entered Medi Home Health in the early spring of 1996. Sloshing through the late snows in a new job, longing for spring. Five years later, after snow and disappointment in my husband's lack of employment, I decided to leave Medi and enter full time employment with Senior Independence.
Ten years ago, David ventured in our old station wagon to a new job in the Poconos the end of March. That happened so quickly, I still feel my head spinning. One day, few prospects, the next he's calling me, as I was driving in Columbiana County on State Route 11, near the 164 exit, that if he passed the pee test, he would be working for Lockheed Martin in some Army depot, I'd never heard before, Tobyhanna. Of course, he passed his urine test and we packed some possessions and he was off for the week.
March draws waiting. I don't do it patiently. I long all month for change. I hate the feeble attempts at spring. I cry out for summer, not the brown, dull landscape with cold temperatures. Sometimes we get hot temperatures, but they are fake, lasting a short time, then followed by blizzards. My mind feels fallow, awaiting spring and the real change.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Radio- Before Blogging

I am thoroughly enjoying Fannie Flagg's Standing in the Rainbow. The author was recommended to me by Geri Ibanez, the owner of Designs by G, where Summer Triangle rests for you to buy. I only had thought of reading Fried Green Tomatoes. I did not realize Fannie Flagg wrote so many books, nor  that they are so enjoyable and clean.
I assumed like many modern authors she would have that dark Southern angst. But I am finding she is like Jan Karon of the Mitford series. It is almost like reading the Facebook group, "You know you're from West Middlesex, if..." with more flesh.
One time, I browsed through 1938 and 1939 Oracle's, the West Middlesex High School yearbooks at the one room school house museum outside of Mercer. The high school at that time sat proudly on Main Street, next to the Presbyterian Church and in some pictures the house I grew up in peeks in the background. I amazed that Main Street appeared unchanged thirty years later in the sixties. The seventies brought the urban renewal and destruction of old buildings, history. My uncle groused one time to me that Main Street wasn't beautiful, any more. I disagree, but it sure has changed.
So reading about Elmwood Springs, Missouri, brings me back to what I feel about West Middlesex. I caught the tail end of a wonderful time to grow up. We didn't have a radio show originate in someone's home, at least I don't remember one or hearing of one, but we definitely had the Neighbor Dorothy character (or two). Neighbor Dorothy out of her grief lands into a radio show broadcasted from her living room. Her mother-in-law, Mother Smith, plays the organ. Dorothy showcases talent, mostly local. She recites all her days goings on's. I thought as I kept reading, my goodness, she is blogging.
Blogger's post songs or videos in their daily offerings. Mother Smith plays tunes to go with the topic. We tell of our daily adventures, many times with children or relatives groaning that we mentioned "that!" Sometimes, we plug a product.
We hardly have any local radio programs any more in our area. WPIC chose a national format, with local only in the evenings. I find the Ron Erret show refreshing, but never get to listen to it with working afternoon turn. Yes, there are podcasts, but that is not the same as knowing a person is talking in a radio booth on Pine Hollow Boulevard just over the hill where I can see the antenna. Sometimes, Ron was running late and I imagined the Sharon traffic. Well, at least the train holding cars on one side of the tracks.
One night after the Sharon/Hickory football game where the fight broke out, I listened to WPIC until eleven as the callers gave their point of view of the fight. It was Facebook on the radio in real time.
I miss Tony C. and later Joe Biro in the morning. I miss hearing the ladies call in, trying to understand the changing world or giving their view of the Valley back when.
I envy Neighbor Dorothy, even though she is fiction, her ease with her listeners and the audience. I hope with words to connect to my readers. Look for the "red light" of engagement, as I post yet another musing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Mercer, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Teddy Tuesday

 From Teddy's Law Facebook Page. More reminders on how to keep our kids safe:

Some more info from research on Internet sexual predators. Sexual abuse of children is just one of many forms of abuse. These predators have endless patience building trust between them and a child. It's called the grooming stage. They especially zero in on a child with school or home issues. They fake compassion, they easily find out where a child attends school, what school activities they enjoy, names of friends. Chat rooms are the most dangerous, they are able to gain access to e-mail addresses and personal info.
Parental controls are available but very time consuming since all search engines need set up individually. Password protecting your router is the easiest. Kids are smart and can find ways to bypass parental controls. Do your best to caution your kids on Internet dangers. (MVD)
Don't forget that sharing photos on fb, twitter, and Instagram can actually be traced back to where the picture was taken, if it was taken on the phone. This gives hackers the ability to get a layout of where your children go the most and actually can give them a layout of your home. Saw a documentary on this a week ago, once I get the link again I'll post it. It's actually scary as the computer forensic officer didn't even know how to do this until someone else showed him.

  • Teddy's Law This is important info, so glad you learned of this. Please post link. Dosen't look like any form of communication is safe. Thanks so much. (MVD)
Monitor your kids' behavior on the Internet. Tell them to stay out
of chat rooms, that's where sexual predators reach into their bag of tricks. Sexual abuse of children is unfortunately very much alive. It doesn't all begin at home, many cases of sexual abuse of minors originates in cyberspace.

Monday, March 17, 2014


My body feels like it has been through the ringer- sometimes cliches say it best, especially if you have been through the ringer. In my case, I only feel that way. Tired, at times hungry or even a little nauseous from waiting to eat overwhelmed me today. The schedule of eight days with only one day off sets my teeth on edge, because I didn't ask for that. No overtime, either, with this schedule. I am not an overtime hog. They make up the days off this week with three. Inhuman, is what I call it.
My day off today, the sun rose bright, but still cold. March drags out winter with hidden hints of spring. She gave us no snow today. I am very grateful for that.
My friend's husband died. I attended the funeral this morning. He was young with kids in their twenties, one grandchild. He had been sick a long time. I know, though, the hole that can't be filled. I stayed for the luncheon, since so few had a Monday off.
Morose as the situation was, a comment about my book tried to put me in a spiral. I imagined all kinds of things. The bad mouth keeping the sales down. The feeling that no one supported me. The Bible calls them fiery darts and so they are. I text my Christian friend who helped me with editing. She reassured me my writing is fine for Christian readers. She let her young teen daughter read it. I still feel I'm temperamental writer.
I knew I was tired. I knew whatever decision I thought produce no good fruit. I read magazine articles, the paper and napped in the sun on the couch. That's it, I didn't take my Vitamin D or C, causing me to feel weak and down. The thirty degree temperature did not inspire a walk for me. Harrison basked in the sun on the porch while I dozed.
So in my tiredness tonight, I write in cliches because sometimes a body feels lazy and that is the best it can do. How are you doing this end of winter?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Geography Influences

The time clicks and I can't find the interview I read on Wednesday. It was with Susanna Kaysen. I identified in two ways that I remember with her in the interview. She has a new book coming out on March 18, Cambridge. Part of me recoils when an author writes about a child not loved. I want to run, having little understanding. Yet, I am a writer and I must have some angst in my soul to write.
Susanna stated that her writing days consist of not writing. I understand that, as I am distracted often in the morning and by the time I settle to write, I seem to have to get ready for work. After reading her answer, I was encouraged to write.
Another statement Ms. Kaysen made was about working a lot of jobs she didn't like. I have to work and most days I get tired of hearing the burden of life. Life of illness, pain and suffering. I can't fix it. Some things can't be fixed. I want to comfort, but sometimes I wish the ones being comforted had a heart for their fellow sufferers. I decided, like fish, three days is enough, then I need a break. I cry out to Jesus often for strength to care for my residents. Yet, I do love what I do. I couldn't imagine working in another job other than nursing, for the biweekly paycheck.
I find I love reading writers' stories of their lives, more than their stories at times. Those books, interviews and movies draw me, as I have stated before. I read a biography of Eudora Welty, I found in a bookstore in Mystic, Connecticut, long before I knew about her or read any of her stories. The compact paperback welcomed me on sale. I dreamed then of being a writer, living a writer's life. I wrote recently about the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, which is coming out on DVD next week, while it is still playing in the three dollar movie theater.
I long for the days I can write alone. My eyes are opened as I do this even part time, professionally. Marketing, promoting yourself, checking stats whittles away the precious time. I console myself with much of what I do is research, creating a mood for me to write. That is truly what happened Wednesday when by the evening I wrote with the plot gelling, molding together. Awe at the wonder of story filled me.
This winter I struggled to hold on to my dream, my focus. Every winter drains me. I live in an area with harsh winters, and dragging springs. Yet, as Cambridge, and being away from it often, shaped Susanna Kaysen, the Dakotas shaped Laura Ingalls Wilder, and New England shaped Stephen King, so my little town, weather and family influenced me. I embrace the life I have.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Joy in the Midst

I had a good day writing yesterday. It brings such joy when the ideas meld together and the little seed I had is aided by the time it takes to think on the story. I had scattered scenes, unable to bring them together the way I felt confidently about. Yesterday, they joined together, making sense to me.
The words flew and I know I will have editing. I will have mucho editing. But joy, oh the joy, when something that has been germinating in my mind, but sometimes, like even today, I have little time to focus and fancy, finds root.
Today, a meeting at two before work, delays writing on the novel. We won't mention the aching back that kept me from moving from the tiredness of having only one day off a week. I'll write more the next time about reading author interviews.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Teddy Tuesday

From Teddy's Law Facebook page.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mothers and Faith

Mt. Hickory Farm
I woke with that lead in my veins feeling today. Blame it on the time change. Blame it on the weather. Blame in on March. Blame it on life. But it was there and I had to deal with it. I prayed on my way to church, for which I was not early, but not too late, either.
I stood through most of the worship songs. Lord, touch me, but I couldn't muster an enthusiasm. I know faith is more than feelings, so I hung on. I almost wish the sermon was first, then the singing. I cried through the skit about the thought of a young man, six months from graduation with some deadly disease. The father had faith which infected the son. The son's tests were great. The doctor states, "Whether a miracle of God or medicine, it is still a miracle." I glance across the sanctuary, seeing a mother who lost her teen age daughter to cancer. The whole church prayed for her. We fasted and prayed, yet I had sat in this room for the funeral. I wonder.
The sermon was on the language of faith. We hold on. We say like the three in the furnace in Daniel's day, we will trust our God, whether He delivers or not- no, Pastor didn't use that in the sermon. We speak to ourselves a language. We make a story from the facts of our lives.
My women friends prayed for my family Thursday night. One stated she sensed God tell her, we have to give up control, so our children will see God come through to them; they can see God work in their lives.
I pull out of the parking lot, with snow still on the fields, yet sun shining strongly. I study Mt. Hickory Farm. I think of Mary. She gave her two daughters, Mary and Caroline, to her sisters, who were not widowed young. Was it a financial decision? I think it must have been. What did Mary feel? How did she get through? I can only think she was a woman of faith.
Six generations later, I stare at her house. She moved from there to another fine house. Maybe finer. She lived to eighty six years old. I wish I could know more. We live by faith. I think of the prayer I wrote when I was eighteen about my writing. God will honor it, I know.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Food and Castles

A funk creeps over me. I find it hard to focus and I haven't written. I call myself a writer, but the last few days I live a sham. How can I do this? I need that plucky eighteen year old, with the looping handwriting, can do spirit. I need someone to take care of me. I have to put up the shield of faith. Those fiery darts, the lies of the enemy, pierce my confidence. The truth is I need to write, getting discouraged when I find myself distracted.
I woke from a nap yesterday, on my day off, feeling more drained than when I laid down. I waded through my day off with no focus, too many variables. I did copy the rest of that California trip, with time consuming download of the pictures. I long for the day computers do directly what we ask. I've been married almost thirty two years, waiting for my husband to get off that spinning circle too many times, too. We both have that focus problem, depending on the other to fix it.
After reading my journal from my senior year of high school, I think back on that thin girl, attempting to catch life by the horns. I jogged. I loved the early morning light, several of my entries were about that. If we could all live on a school schedule. Eight AM to two fifty two PM as the work away from home day, weekends off, with the home work. I did stay up all night on my eighteenth birthday working on a term paper, I entered in my journal. I remember that old typewriter. Or was it the electric one? I was dismal at typing on both of them. Usually, I had my mother type for me. My last term paper for high school, I determined to type myself, as I had put most of it off, due to having an educational adventure.
Maybe I miss that. Someone to keep the home fires burning while I write. And someone out working and pay the bills while I write. And of course, missing those wonderful people to believe in me, that I can do anything.
My year's picture comes to mind to taunt me. Abundance.  I need to believe. I need to rise above funks. I need to write.
I write on about California. My first trip there was in the most beautiful time of year in that state. The hills green dotted with the wild flowers. The temperatures eased into the seventies with bountiful sunshine.When we weren't exploring, a routine developed around the house on Alice. I woke early, around six because of the bright sun and I loved mornings. I read my Bible, I jogged. I enjoyed coffee and of course, wonderful Michelle.
Diane tutored a few afternoons. I babysat Michelle. I loved it. It thrilled me to see how happy Diane was to return home to her baby. Part time work for mothers is probably the best. Herman came home from the hospital every day for lunch. I learned about sourdough bread in California. I tried to eat healthy then, as well.

Slovang, California
I relished Andersen's pea soup, with Slovang's pastries. We ate Thai food. Diane cooked a variety of outstanding food. She also discovered I didn't know how to thicken gravy. I loved Kern's nectar, which is mostly sugar, but seemed healthy at the time.
Scotty's Castle

Scotty's Castle

Myself, Diane and Michelle I think on way to Kennedy National Forest

Looking from San Simeon

Scotty's Castle, oasis in the desert

Hearst Castle

Sitting on marble toilet at Hearst Castle

Dunes at Death Valley

We took the bed and bathroom tour of San Simeon, Hearst Castle, as well as contrast Scotty's Castle in Death Valley. Diane, Michelle and I drove up to Owen's Lake. The family also took a trip to Kennedy National Forest, that I loved.
More on all this next time I post.

Friday, March 7, 2014

More 1979 California Diaries

May 1, 1979
Back to California

After our hike in the Park, we headed for the sunshine and warmth again. The road was foggy and I sometimes thought impassable. But we made it and soon we saw the valley all lighted up with the sun.
Through the small hills with horses and cows grazing, we traveled. It seemed the farthest thing from California. It was too quiet, peaceful and gentle, nothing like the fast, gaudy pace of L.A. Of course, this nature-lovin' , country town girl was enchanted by this beckoning land. Obviously, I can see why everyone wanted to move West. The West is beautiful and much different from the East.
As the land grew flatter, the orange groves also grew. About a half hour before lunch, I felt like a snack. Herman waited patiently until there were no houses around, and then stopped the car. I hopped out and ran as fast as possible to the nearest tree. I plucked a bright orange made from the sunshine and raced to the Rabbit again.
Immediately, I started at the round fruit. It squirted and sparkled. The white on the rind was so thick and inviting. I couldn't wait to engulf the whole thing in my mouth.
But Michelle shoved her blonde head between the bucket seats and demandingly looked at me. I remembered I must share and broke the sections apart. More sticky spray flew. And everyone had a piece of orange. 
The orange was delectable. The sweet juice swished in my mouth and the pulp melted. It was the best, the sweetest, the organiest, the sunshiniest fruit of any kind I ever had. A representative of California, summer, warmth and wholeness made me want more and more.
Traveling across this long green bowl surrounded by gray mountains reminded me of Kansas and Nebraska. Even the little farm towns with non-brandname stores and storage towers were typical of the Great Plains. The people that weren't Spanish had the Midwestern impression. Little oil wells also spotted the land, another trait of the first western states I visited. Some of the village squares with the old established Victorian style buildings were bringing thoughts of Ohio into focus. But did I really believe I was in California? No.
Bakersfield (doesn't even sound like California) marked the beginning of the pass through the Sierra Nevadas to the long awaited Ridgecrest. This city (Bakersfield) with its hilly outskirts building to the mountains appeared to me as Wyoming or Colorado. With the ranches, horses and cows, the dry land spoke clearly of Laramie. There were no Beach Boys here, only cowboys.
The very narrow two lane highway followed the rocky and dangerous Kern River. The mountain flowers were just jumping into bloom. The grass was a new green only spring can revive. And of course, the sky was blue as ever. The mountains were bursting and so was I with all the beauty I could possibly hold. It was much too stupendous for any human to see. Yet I was seeing it along with many other people. The Lord is most gracious with His gifts. California is a place to rejoice in the Lord.
I noticed slowly the land became drier and the plant life became unfamiliar from the other. Dust was more common now than the mudslides just two days earlier. Still in the mountains, I was already sensing the desolation of the area I was to occupy.
Then we approached the forest of Joshua Trees, so different from this day's morning at the orange groves. They were jaggy and scraggly. The interestingly pretty plants twisted but were short. They only grow about a four thousand feet altitude in a dry climate. Each plant adopts to its environment.
Soon we were at the end of the pass and edging into the foothills. Before the Rabbit, spread the massive desert.
"Ta da! and there's Ridgecrest!" Herman pointed with fake enthusiasm.
I asked, "How long till we get there?"
Herman, realizing I was not picking up his false spirit, answered matter of fact, "About a half hour or so. Not impressed, huh, Mollie?"
Herman feigned his disappointment.
"It's interesting," was all I could murmur. I didn't want to get down on the desert without first really testing it.
Herman, who seriously is a great guide, nodded his head to Robber's Roost. And then we were on the desert floor. Only fifteen miles to Ridgecrest, a giant sign loomed out of the ground: Ridgecrest, Home of Naval Weapons, invited everyone to this town.
We turned down a road and first went through a little town named Inyokern. The biggest happening was a few weeks from this time, a man tried to push his girlfriend from a bar into the street with an oncoming semi. Why, that happens every day in the Shenango Valley! Of course, the Shenango Valley has much more to offer than the Mojave Desert in the way of things to do.
To bear out the last ten minutes of our trip, I played peek with Michelle. She had been growing weary and was enthralled with this new game. I quit when she decided poking my eyes out would be even more fun and I looked at the town.
The road was bumpy because they only spread tar on the sand. The houses were all quite new but walled in. The little stores on the corners with gas stations and the drive-in were definitely something out of a ghost town movie. I couldn't believe how desolate the life seemed already only after a few minutes of observance.

We pulled into the garage of Diane and Herman's mustard color house. The abode was large and 'H' shaped. On the left side of the 'H' was the kitchen, dining area and family room all connected. A fireplace was in the family room idea. The middle was the living room and formal dining room with large cathedral ceilings. A fireplace was in the sunken living room, also. The view from the picture window was of the mountains we had just come from. My room was the first on the hall. It was the packing room, full of unopened boxes, and the most comfortable chair that had been in my room in Florida was the only piece of furniture. Michelle's room was next to mine, although the doors weren't side by side but at a 90 degree angle. It was a lovely yellow nursery with baby pictures on the wall. Mine and Michelle's bathroom was green
with two tiny rooms, with the sink and mirror, then the inner one with the toilet and tub filled with Michelle's bath toys. A third room was locked with the owner's possessions. The master bedroom was romantic. It  had the sliding doors to the patio and a large area for dressing and bathing blocked with shutter doors. This room also had a walk-in closet. Herman asked me if I wanted to sleep there. I laughed heartily because when I stayed with them in Florida, for a short time(when other guests had come to visit), I had to sleep in their closet. That is one joke that will never be forgotten.
Herman took me on a fast tour of the desert town. I observed the small hospital where he worked. The only familiar names in the town were McDonald's, Burger King, Safeway, Hallmark, K-Mart and Kentucky Fried.
The little downtown of the few stores gathered haphazardly reminded me of  a make believe town of a little boy's imagination built to size. All the signs for the stores were unfamiliar and painted.
But I told Herman, it was more than what West Middlesex has. And Herman replied, "Yes, but at least Middlesex has the Valley."
I went to bed early, ready to jog the next morning. I slept soundly, yet before I dozed off, I wondered what the rest of the vacation would be.

That ends my journal about California. This was a school assignment for my creative writing class. A few days later, when the teacher had reviewed our journals, she announced couldn't read our journals any more. She didn't know if she could read them again. She said none of us could write. "She is the first person that ever said that about me," I wrote on May fifth, my reaction to her declaration. I continued in my journal as only a Christian eighteen year old could. I decided to pray for her. But I was angry.
I can see as I reread this, I tried hard. A little mentoring may have been in order. Good thing I got that from David Yarian, my journalism teacher. He knew my gift and that I was still immature. How can you really be anything else at eighteen? I had that Philippians 4:13 attitude, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. In a cocky eighteen year old way. I did try to learn from the hurt. I forgave her and still do. She is dead, now, but I wonder if she could read my novels or my blog now, would she still say I couldn't write? (Well, not these last few days. She read that and told the class her opinion on our writing.) I am glad, I never gave up or was discouraged. I continued writing even that year. I didn't believe her. I have immense joy with writing and hope to write every day of my life.
I have many great memories of this first trip to California, which I will tell with more pictures next time. An idea of a term paper were the castles of California, but I didn't really have enough information about that, so I wrote in favor of the death penalty in Pennsylvania, another hot topic at the time, that I had been introduced to when I did my Harrisburg week, with the church in my junior year.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

1979 California Diaries Continue...

April 24, 1979

The next day I woke up with Michelle's child face smiling at my sleeping expression. I dragged myself  grudgingly out of bed and patted the little blonde head. After a few stretches, I climbed into my first shower in three days. The sparkling, clean water tumbled on me and I felt exhilarated. But we all forgot shampoo, so Ivory soap washed my hair. I climbed out feeling clean, but it was muggy and I opened the door. Such a smell and I knew not where it came. Was it me or my hair?
Michelle had a tremendous mess and walked out of her Pampers. The horrendous stink permeated the small room. Because of this discomforting smell, I hurriedly dressed and got ready for the day.
Herman was still in bed, but Diane was up. We decided to walk to IHOP while Herman would join us later.
It was still early and cool in the bright sunshine. Mornings are so refreshing and beautiful even on a busy highway of a fair size city. Holding Michelle, listening to her baby talk, I felt great. Sometimes I think I can never express what mornings mean to me. I write often of them, but the words never come to explain my ideas, except for others words. It's newness excites me.
Herman didn't join us as the crowd gathered by the time we had finished. So we waited just a little longer and then started our journey back to the motel. The tiny white Rabbit zipped into a side street and we scurried to it. Herman wasn't angry as he didn't feel like a big breakfast.
After we were amusingly embarrassed by Michelle in a doughnut shop, we wounded our way out of Fresno.
The fields were a fresh green with avocados, asparagus, and vines. The sun always is making these products. As flat as the land was, the road twisted and turned sharply because of the differently owned farms.
The road began up the mountains and before I knew it the approaching noon heat backed off. I was forced to close the window and then a little while later ask Herman to close the vent.
But the view was fantastic as the mid morning sun sprinkled the large valley checkered with farms. I wanted to stay in that farming valley and explore, live off the land, discover the what seemed the simple life. Still the road climbed up and up and I wanted desperately to see what was also in front of me. So I absorbed and soaked and breathed in the scenery. 
The pine trees became red and tall. And the ground was covered with snow! and the skies were gray! What in California? In the mountains, it is like that.
We entered the Sequoia National Park, but all the roads were closed except the one to Grant Tree. We ventured through the squatty trees to the parking lot of Grant Tree. We hiked on the snow covered trails in our tennis shoes, sandals and street shoes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Looking out third window at Children's Museum in Pittsburgh
, first of March

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Teddy Tuesday

If you suspect a child is being abused keep calling agencies & authorities. Document your calls - Child's name, address, approx. age, who you spoke with, date, time, why you feel the child is being abused, what you witnessed or were told. You can also notify the child's school. Inform each person you call of everone else you have contacted. Start with local police, they are required to respond. Let police notify Children's Services, then follow up on you

  1. Over the past year me and my family has went thru up and down hurdles. They death of Teddy was unbearable and could have been prevented. We pay our state employees good money to protect our children. Yet time after time they are failing them. We want to know why? How can constant calls by neighbors and teachers be ignored? In August i talked to Attorney David Engler about how i could get answers from Children Services. And after doing an investigation we found we had a case. We filed our case into federal court. As we released our information to the local media on the findings we were met with criticism. So now it is time for us to get this information out to you. Attached is only one page of a police report that shows Children Services dropped the ball. We want answers! And we want Teddy’s voice to be heard. If you cannot see this document please visit
r own by calling Children's Servuces. Keep calling, please don't give up. Do your best! (MVD)
Police in Youngstown are investigating the death of child who may have died from exposure.

Monday, March 3, 2014

More From California Vacation

April 17, 1979

It's hard to believe my vacation in California is coming to an end, but I'm sitting in the morning bustle of the L.A. airport, my first and now my last glimpse of this diverse state. Where did the time go?
I should have written every day, but even if I had I could not have recorded everything I felt and saw. Just too much happened to me and every little different event affects me in some way.
I will still get back to my story of this experience, because I have a lot of days to make up in my journal and I seem sometimes to run out of topics. I feel like the author of a story I had read to me in elementary school. It was a tall tale and the man kept going on with these extravagant yarns, promising to get to his "watermelon plants, we'll get to that later." While he never got to them, but it was funny to hear him say that. I have many diversions from my original story, but I will get back to it in its entirety (sounds like a news break.) 
Well, if you remember I last stopped in San Luis Obispo. That was Friday night of my first overeating. Stuffed was not the word, gorged and rolling more describe my feeling. It was delightful.
On Saturday morning, after many pancakes, we started up the coast on Highway 1, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway. We passed a large rock, over a hundred feet tall, known as Moro Rock in Moro Bay. It is a bird refuge and extremely interesting.
The ocean that morning had brought no mist or fog in and the day was clear. The grass was emerald and the water a deep contrast of blue from the blue sky. As we gained elevation in the cliffs, the rocks made the grass seem brighter and brought out the lovely colors of the ocean and sky. The severe drops of the cliffs made the sea more magnificent. It stopped the land and had much power to eat it completely. The pines and the salt combined in an intriguing perfume. The narrow road with each turn brought a scene more beautiful than before; they possessed nature's secret of enchantment. It was the best of two worlds, the ruggedness of pine covered mountains and the cooling savor of the ocean.
We went as far north as Carmel on Monterrey Bay. We spent some time on the beach, but the tide was coming in as the sun's rays lengthened. One time when the waves rolled in, Herman fell with Michelle. She began crying and a couple who had laughed felt badly. It was funny though to see a tall man run from some water backwards and to trip on the sand. At least he escaped the water. I wasn't quick enough and thick foam engulfed one of my tennis shoed feet.
After this pleasant visit to the sea, we headed inward to Fresno. Fresno is in the Central Valley and  after a tiring flat dark ride of two hours, we found our motel room and spent an uneventful night in this large farm town. Sleep felt good, except for Michelle who wanted to stay awake and play.
Loving the cliffs over the Pacific

Diane holding Michelle with Maggie and Al in front of their house

Bridge used in many commercials