Tuesday, May 31, 2016

First a Party and Then Back to Work

It's a quiet morning. The sounds around me are the quiet, settled kind, a bird chirping outside, the tick of the wall clock, and a the low growl of a fan running in the upstairs bedroom. I can hardly believe we're all the way back around to Tuesday again. It's my long day of the week. Soon I'll be out the door...

Yesterday was a busy one. We cleaned the house, as much as is possible in the midst of kitchen renovation, set up the back porch, and had a picnic. Our friend Don came with his wife. He's been a longtime friend struggling with multiple health issues and had hoped to see our kids on his visit. He was not disappointed. We had six out of seven, plus seven grandchildren. I think it was a nice day even if it did go by in a blur. ha ha!

Our Minnesota son is in the hospital. He had a rough day Saturday and ended up at Urgent Care on Sunday morning thanks to the encouragement of my favorite daughter in law. Turns out he had a partially collapsed lung. The doctors inserted a tube to release the air that had collected around the outer area of the effected lung and are now looking into why this happened. It's hard to be seventeen hours away from your child, even a grown up one,when they are hurting. I am grateful to have Michele on the other end loving and taking care of that firstborn boy of mine. She is my hero today.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Remembering the Fallen

Today a repeat post from three years ago...

Friday, May 24, 2013

It's Memorial Day weekend, a day to remember those men and women who paid the ultimate price while serving our country. Memorial Day is often confused with Veteran's Day, which is meant to honor all who serve and have served, whether they died or lived to return home again. I will admit I have often melded the two days of remembrance into one, neglecting to specifically remember the fallen. Perhaps that is because my personal circle is too small. I know many who have served, but none who died while serving our country.

Packed away in an old box in the corner of my closet is a stack of old photographs. Some are curled and faded from the years. In one box is a photograph of an old woman sitting by a white marble cross in a graveyard full of marble crosses. I recognize her face from another photo and know her to be my father's Great Aunt Hattie. Other than the fact that she was my great grandfather's older sister, I knew little of this woman. Her photos led me to believe she was a rather unhappy individual. I'd never seen a photo of her smiling, only the sad cemetery photo and two others of her squinting into the sun while standing by her brother. (He wasn't smiling either, but I knew him to be happy. I have other pictures of him.)

A month or so ago, I learned the story behind the cemetery full of crosses and the sad woman seated amongst them. Aunt Hattie Shafer Willis was a Gold Star Mother of World War I. Her son, Sergeant  George M. Willis, was killed in action during a battle in farway France.

During the first World War, a flag with a gold star identified families who had lost soldiers. Grieving women were “Gold Star” mothers and widows. Between 1930 and 1933, the United States government took 6,654 Gold Star pilgrims to visit their sons’ and husbands’ graves in American cemeteries in Belgium, England, and France...
In the 1930s, when mothers had heroic stature in the eyes of the nation, the government took thousands of them on trips across the ocean to visit cemeteries in Europe. (http://www.pilgrimageofremembrance.com/)

I was blessed to find a smiling photo of Aunt Hattie on her own memorial web page. I see a familiarity in her face now, a little bit of my own grandma looking back at me, and maybe a little bit of my dad who looked so much like Hattie's father, Garrett Shafer. I have a renewed respect and understanding for this woman. This Memorial Day I take my hat off to all the moms and dads out there who have watched their sons and daughters march off to war, never knowing if and when they will return.

Thank you, Aunt Hattie, for being one of those Gold Star Mothers. And thank you, Uncle George, for giving your life to preserve our freedom.

(And thank you, Ondra and Lisa, for sharing your great grandma's story with me.)

And, in addition to the story, a copy of the postcard George gave his mother just prior to shipping out. He was killed that same year.

This is what I think about the Flag and it is one of the principle reasons I am ready to fight today. Have no fear but what we do for God is with us forever.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Barn Collective

I did not find any California barns on my vacation. I'm sure there are plenty of them, but they were not were I was and so I have no photos of them. I do, however, have several more New York barns in my collection.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


I arrived a tad early to work on Wednesday morning to find an absence of parking spaces. I did the best I could and parked in the yellow lines that mark the triangular edge of the smaller lot. Some days we park wherever the car will fit. Since I had ten minutes I took a few to call my sister. I also took a minute to pull out my camera and snap a photo of the crying reptilian tree staring at me through the passenger window. (Enlarge him if you can. He's really quite amusing.)

I finally gathered my things together and headed inside for the afternoon. I found my friend listening to the music therapist play the piano, helped her with her lunch, and stayed in her room while she took her nap. Wednesday is my short day. My relief came at 4:30 pm. We chatted a little, I gathered up my things, signed out, and headed for the door.

Out of habit, while on my way down the sidewalk toward my vehicle, I reached into my pocket for the car key. It wasn't there. I checked my other pocket. Not there either. I hadn't worn a coat or sweater and never put my key into my backpack. Several scenarios raced through my mind. Did I leave the key in the van? If so, did I lock the doors like every other day? If so, who would I call? We don't have roadside assistance anymore. I decided it was a good thing it was early and I have a cell phone.

When I reached the parking lot and looked into my van, I could see the ring from my key dangling from the ignition. "Oh, great," I thought, "I'm going to be locked out." I pulled the door handle and found, to my utter amazement, that not only had I been absent minded enough to leave the key, but I'd forgotten to lock the doors as well. And my van was still there. (Thank you, Lord.)

So, my dear Wanda, you are not losing it alone. I'm right there with ya!

Friday, May 27, 2016

It's A Boy!

As much as I like little girls, I think little boys are fun too. Can you ever have too many grandsons?

He'll be here around the end of October.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Coffee and A Swamp Walk

I go to bed tired at night, but then toss and turn, and turn and toss. I wake up multiple times and by the time morning arrives, I am at least as tired as when I climbed into bed 8 hours earlier. Must be something to do with hormones, middle age, and a restless mind, although I know my mind wants to rest. Good thing for coffee...

I took my grandkids out this morning. We went to find Tinker Nature Center and the Fairy Houses in the woods.

I didn't bother to count the tiny dwellings. I was having a hard enough time keeping track of small children while snapping pictures.

We followed the trail past all the Fairy Dwellings and on into the swamp where a few friendly frogs reside. Have you ever tried to keep small boys (or girls) out of the swamp? I almost felt bad telling them to stay on the trail. Look at all that great space to adventure in!

We not only found Fairy houses and frogs, but squirrels, geese, a few snails, and some pretty red birds. I looked for the herd of deer that live in the park, but they were hiding today.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

To Work or Not to Work, That is the Question

Months ago I decided I did not want to sit out another summer inside. I gave my boss plenty of notice and waited out the time. Two weeks ago the new companion came to "shadow" me and meet our friend. She was scheduled to start this week.

I knew from my visit with the new employee that her chance of staying for the long haul were slim to none. She was already saying, "I don't know how long I'll last." Well, she didn't even begin. So after my lovely California vacation, I am back to sitting with my friend. It's not so bad, really, and it gives me a few dollars in my bank account. Besides, I don't have another job yet and this keeps me out of the Cabinet Maker's way while he works on the kitchen. And I don't have to train for anything new. Yet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Missing Things and People/

I wrote about our trip to the Glendale Galleria and how my camera battery died, but I didn't tell you about Wand's missing sweater. She wore it home and it was on the bed when I opened my suitcase to find a fresh camera battery, but when she went to find it later, it came up missing. Feeling a bit emotional because it was the third item to go missing in as many days, I heard her tell Don and she actually sounded teary. "It was on the bed when I opened my suitcase," I told her. And then I thought about my own navy blue sweater and shirt, the only clothing items in that particular suitcase... I am embarrassed to admit my apparent kleptomania, but Wanda found it a comic relief to her previous concern that perhaps she was losing more than her sweater...

On Friday Wanda took me to a Monrovia where we perused and antique store and had lunch on the sidewalk outside a little bistro. We ordered gigantic lattes and
then, wouldn't you know it? My camera sent up the "change battery pack" sign again. Luckily, I listened to my own advice and had a freshly charged battery back in the car. I ran back to get it while Wanda ordered us a bit of lunch. She had egg salad in romaine boats and I chose the Monte Christo sandwich and a small bowl of fruit. Everything was oh, so yummy! Rather than eat it all in one sitting, we each ate half and took the rest home to enjoy later. I finished my Monte Christo sandwich on
Saturday morning before we headed out to the airport. It was the perfect breakfast for traveling.

Saturday came all too soon and we suddenly found ourselves back on the freeway headed toward the airport.I am pleased to report that I did not arrive at home with any items that did not belong in my suitcase, although I was chosen for a pat-down upon going through security. This has happened before and I am entirely unsure as to what kind of threat this middle aged white American woman could possibly pose. Perhaps I have a kind face and they are really just looking for a random American who will not give them grief. Who knows? (One of my bags was "randomly" chosen to be searched on the way... I'm just glad they didn't decide to open my bottle of maple syrup and spill it all over my clothes. Been there done that, only it was green chile salsa.)

Monday, May 23, 2016

A California Post

An airplane can make California feel almost close enough to visit on a regular basis...

It was a busy week. I boarded a plane and set out for the west coast last Monday morning. My first stop was Baltimore, Maryland so I literally flew from sea to shining sea, from Atlantic to Pacific (Gee, the traffic is terrific...). I tried my best to sleep on the five hour cross country flight and I did catch my mouth hanging open a time or two, so I must have fallen asleep here and there. Ha ha!

I arrived in California a little after 11 am Pacific Coast Time. I'd already been up for 8 hours (if I'd managed to get any sleep at all at home) and we had the whole day ahead of us. I can't even remember what we did that day... maybe nothing, but I do remember taking a much needed nap and eating some very yummy pulled pork and cole slaw for supper.

On Tuesday Wanda and I set out in search of an AT&T store because my prepaid phone had failed to renew for the month. That will happen when one gets a new debit card... We checked out some thrift stores and decided Savers is way too pricey for used items. The thrift store we visited with Don on Wednesday was my favorite. I didn't buy much but it was a great place to wander about looking even if the aisles were full of shoppers. After our thrifty adventure, we went to In-N-Out Burger for lunch.I like In-N-Out Burger.

On Thursday Don and Wanda took me to the Glendale Galleria. We didn't spend any time inside the mall, but headed instead to the little park with a pond surrounded by smaller shops and stores. It was a wonderful little place to wander about with a camera.

The Cheese- cake Factory was on the agenda, so when lunchtime arrived we headed over there and found a quiet booth to enjoy some food and dessert. I took a cute photo of Don and Wanda after which my camera informed me to "Change the battery pack." Unfortunately, I'd left the backup battery pack at home in my suitcase.

Not all was lost. I eventually remember my Nook which was tucked away in my backpack. I couldn't manage to get online with it at the apartment, but was successful in the galleria Barnes and Nobel. I took a few photos of lunch and then uploaded them to my Facebook after our meal when we made a return trip to the giant bookstore. One massive piece of cheesecake was shared by the three of us. Oh, yummy! I decided my Nook works pretty good for taking photos in a pinch.

Don and Wanda have learned how to beat the Los Angeles freeway traffic, so after our meal and a trip to the top of the parking garage elevator for a bird's eye view of the area, we headed back to the car and on home again.Don told me that was LA back on the hill in the distance. It was a bit hazy that day and a little hard to see but pretty just the same. And again, not too bad a picture considering it was taken with my Nook.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I'll Fly Away

I am home again after a week with my dear friend Wanda and her husband Don. It was a time of rest and relaxation, deep conversation, and enduring friendship. I'm suffering from a bit of jet-lag today, took a nap on the couch and woke up scarcely knowing where I was or what day I'd landed in, much less who I am. ha ha!

Tomorrow, when my brain is a little less foggy, I'll post about my coast to coast trip and the lovely time we had together. Tonight I think I'll relax and go to bed early, if I can figure out what that means. Rather than Pacific Coast Time or Eastern Standard, I'm feeling a bit like I'm in the Twilight Zone.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Barn Collective

Not really a barn, and yet it has a barn-like quality.

This painting of the old Ashantee Mill in Avon, NY hung on the wall in my parents' home for much of my childhood. It is one of several Ashantee Mill  paintings by my father's aunt Harriet Torpey. At least one of the others is an autumn rendition.

From what I can gather online, the mill has been a sawmill, an antique store, a cider mill, and is now a private residence. I happened to catch sight of it in an online video a couple years ago when the Conesus Creek was flooding.

When my mom moved in with us in the fall of 2010, Aunt Harriet's Ashantee Mill painting came with her. It still graces the wall of the room she occupied. If it doesn't qualify as a barn, it would certainly work for a Tuesday Treasure.

For more beautiful barns, visit Tom's Barn Collective.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Before Pictures

So the big change is upon us. The cabinet doors have been removed and the shelves cleared. It's kind of like moving, except we're not.

I won't be here for the big demo, he's tearing the place up Monday, and it'll be completely different by the time I return from my trip next Saturday night.

Chickens and the Littles

Packing my entire kitchen into boxes while simultaneously packing for my trip across the country (I'm flying) is proving to be an overwhelming task. The remodel won't be finished by the time I return, but a big chunk of it should be done. I did not take a "before" picture and now the upper cabinets are without doors, which is really weird and makes me want to close the cupboards every time I walk into the kitchen...

There were four grandkids here yesterday. Spencer was happy to show his cousins the chickens. He really does think they're the best pets. Aside from The Naughties, of course.

Speaking of Naughties, one of them followed us down to the chicken coop for a look of his own. There was a bit of flapping and flying about with four children and two adults in the coop and Naughty One found it quite alluring. He reached through the chicken wire in hopes of catching an early lunch (or second breakfast) but sadly for him the chicken escaped his clutches.

He was sorely disappointed and I was thoroughly satisfied to catch it all on camera. If you wondered why we aren't free ranging, this is just one of the reasons, this and his striped brother along with foxes, coyotes, neighborhood dogs, and the hawks I saw circling overhead on Wednesday. Once I return from California and work on the kitchen slows down, we'll build them an enclosure under the old trampoline frame where they can scratch in the dirt, fertilize the lawn, and remain safe from predators.

For now they have a bit of dirt in an old tire, and an enclosure safe from hawks, foxes, coyotes, cats, and hopefully, kids. We may need to install a padlock to keep naughty children from trying to get in when we aren't looking. Yes, they did make an attempt, which was thwarted by Aunt Sabrina who came around the corner and spoiled the fun of one little boy who will do what he wants if he thinks it's a good idea.

My husband thinks getting a dog would be a good idea, but I'm thinking chicken manure is a whole lot easier to clean off the bottom of shoes than dog poop. Of course, chickens aren't quite as cuddly and they don't make the best orchard walking buddies. In spite of my love for dogs, I don't think I'm ready to have another just yet. That is why I have The Naughties. A little snuggling, a smidgen of company, and good entertainment. It's working pretty good right now.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Yesterday's Adventure

I have children today. I wonder what kind of adventures we will find?

Yesterday I went for a walk with my sister. Rather than walk the neighborhood or around North Ponds Park, we checked out Vosburg Hollow and walked part of the old Hojack Trail.

When I was a child trains still traversed the rails in Webster, NY. The line ran from Wayne County to the east, through the little village of Webster, and on down toward Lake Ontario where it crossed the Irondequoit Bay outlet and continued on toward Rochester. Aside from some old railroad ties down by Lake Road there is little to tell you that trains once travelled through on a daily basis.

We parked the car at Vosburg Hollow, walked down some steps, and checked out the pool at the mouth of a tunnel under the railroad bed. Graffiti artists have left their mark on the old concrete walls adding a bit of interest to that which would otherwise be just cold and drab. (Thinking positive here.)

My sister was kind enough to snap my picture when I squeezed around the abutment. Perhaps she was hoping for some comic relief should I chance to take a sudden dip in the stream, but I was lucky enough to hold my footing this time and kept my upright status.

After checking out the pool and tunnel, we headed north on the trail through the woods toward Lake Ontario. Walking through the woods always takes me back to the days of being a little girl and playing in that strip of woods between our neighborhood and the local school. It wasn't big enough or deep enough for hunters, and since children were then allowed to play out of parents' sight (and hair), it was often full of boys and girls. The woods always looks like a great playground to me.

We walked north as far as the bridge over Lake Road where a sign informed us we had come to the end of the trail. The railroad had continued on through what is now backyards and along the lake shore toward Rochester, but we had to turn around and head back the other direction. I was just a tad disappointed as I'd hoped to actually reach the lake, but now I know where the trail leads, and probably why when we were teens, my friends and I never headed down to the lake on those motorcycles we used to ride along the old railroad tracks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Chicky, Chicks

This morning we took Spencer out to see the chickens. He thinks they're really cool.

 It's been an interesting adventure raising chickens. I think I like it so far.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tuesday Treasures

Years ago, when I was just a little girl, my dad had dreams of putting a Franklin stove in our house. He bricked the hearth inside with a pile of bricks that had once been part of a street somewhere.

My grandpa had his eye on Dad's dream too and he also had an idea. Down in Uncle Leo's garage in Angelica, NY was an old wood stove with the back burned out. Grandpa carted it home to his basement shop in East Rochester and started the task of rebuilding the old relic. One day when we stopped to visit he took Dad downstairs to show him. There it was in pieces, on the floor and stacked in boxes. "I don't know, Dad," my father said, "I've really got my heart set on a Franklin." We went home and Grandpa kept working. Several weeks later he took Dad to the basement again to show him the nearly restored treasure and ask him what he thought. He said, "Ya know,Dad, I think I changed my mind."

Sometime during the summer or fall of 1974 the Round Oak Duplex joined our family and took up residence in our newly converted living room. Dad spent many Friday's out "scrounging" dead wood and getting permission to cut it up (or down) and take it home. For years we spent cold winter days basking in the heat of that old wood stove, built with love and filled with it too. We didn't end up with the coveted Frankin stove, we ended up with something even better instead.
The old stove hasn't had a fire inside in several years now. Dad isn't here anymore to scrounge wood and keep the chimney clean.  Baseboard heat keeps the house warm and the Round Oak Duplex sits smiling patiently, waiting for someone to fill her belly and light her fire once again.

Join us at Tom's for more Tuesday Treasures.