Friday, July 30, 2010
Well, several reasons. First and foremost, it is the only chance I get to visit with my Aunt Kathryn, now age 89. She has been my rock in the storm of my life since I was a kid. She protected me from my mother and step-father – enough about that – and well, she just has always been there for me. She took us in when my step father lost yet another job, fed us, and gave me the love that I so missed after I was no longer living with my grandparents. She taught me to be strong, to be a survivor, and to come out of life’s garbage dump smiling. Her life was not always easy, either. She raised 8 kids, but I am here to say I was “her first" even though her sister gave birth to me. I preceded her family by 3 years, long enough to create a loving bond that has never diminished a bit over all these years. I still call her a couple times a week.
I also get to see my cousin Leigh and his wife Carol. Leigh has been more like a brother than my own actual brothers who, in today’s world, are related to me but not to each other. Ain’t divorce grand? They probably don’t even know each other’s names. Leigh is Aunt Kay’s oldest son.
For a few years now, I have stopped in Chadds Ford on my way up to the Pocono's… getting too old to make the trip up all in one day when the traffic is so bad. Plus, I get to make a quick visit to the Brandywine Museum (of which I am a member) probably better known as the Wyeth Museum (Andy, NC, and Jamie Wyeth) and to get in a quick visit with my brother, Shaw, and his wife.
And the other reason I love to go to the Pocono's, I get to visit my favorite places, namely Hickory Run State Park, and Rockport, which is part of the Lehigh Gorge state park which runs for miles along the Lehigh River some of which used to belong to me and my family. Ever hear of Eminent domain? “Hey folks, we are gonna make a park here, hope you don’t mind, but we are taking your river front property, but you can visit it any time you want to, after all, it is right across the street from your house!”
First, Hickory Run… confession, these shots were taken last year – much more rain… this year the water is down to a mere trickle in places as you can see in this year’s picture of my favorite road.... Yep, that is my van on the right. The road goes thru the creek (pronounced crick up there)... as you can see, last year is was a real tire washer, this year, not so much.
Frances Walter Dam… from up on top of the dam. See where the road goes into the water? Ya don't want to try to drive thru this one however... This is from the other side of the dam looking down the Lehigh River.
I won’t even mention the fact that it is usually a good 20 degrees cooler up here than down home, and this year that was a huge difference as it was in the low 100s while we were gone.
Hmmm, trying to figure out why the date is wrong - and the time!
It is Aug 1st, 8:20 AM... go figure...
I just posted pics of the White Haven (Pennsylvania) library as it is today, nestled in a coffee shop (Coffeeworks on Main St in the basement of the old hardware store that only we old timers apparently remember.) See previous post. But this is where it will be this time next year when they finish renovating this building. The outside is quite impressive, isn’t it? This is called the Engine House Project and this is an effort to rehab a former Lehigh Valley Railroad engine repair shop into a multi-purpose library and Heritage visitor’s center.
It has been used for a few fund raising events and programs, but you can see the inside has a lot of work left to be done. check out the beautiful stone walls.
White Haven has a lot of tourist potential as it is in the center of an area that includes 3 state parks (Hickory Run, Lehigh Gorge [which took some of my land] and Nescopeck, all within 6 miles, the Gorge being within feet of the bldg) and welcomes over 400,000 tourists annually. Interstate 80 runs thru one side of the town and 940 goes thru the middle. White Haven is 4 miles from the NE extension of the PA Turnpike and is on the Lehigh River which separates White Haven from East Side, where my house is, on the East Side of the river. East Side is in Carbon County and somewhere in the middle of the river is the county line, with White Haven in Luzerne County which is known as “the Gateway to the Poconos.”
The library that will be housed inside these walls will meet the needs of children from Crestwood, Weatherly, and Hazleton school districts by providing hard copy resources, literacy programs and state of the art communications technology. But I bet people will miss the coffee! Think they will at least have an espresso machine???? a Starbucks vending machine????
Train and history buffs will appreciate the magnificent structure as it is believed to be the last railroad repair shop still intact in the Commonwealth of PA. I have known the building all my life and I am still impressed. It cleaned up good, as they say.
“Green” people will appreciate the fact that the building will be climate controlled with geothermal wells… a bit ironic (a double pun, that word) since the railroad was practically invented to move coal from the area and the coal was used to make iron that previously had been imported from England. Did you know the FIRST rails for the FIRST railroad were made out of WOOD? Funny, they didn’t last long. Did you know that people laughed when Josiah White tried to get people to burn those black rocks he found in these hills? They were very different from the coal found in England, big shiny black rocks that were slow to ignite, but burned much hotter than wood, hot enough to melt the ore to make iron. The railroad was first made to move the black rocks to the canal locks he built on the river. If you are interested, you might want to read a book that is both interesting and boring all at the same time on Josiah White, for whom the town was named. He was the founder of Lehigh Coal and Navigation and the Lehigh Valley Railroad – whose logo is on the building.
The Project is a true community, grass roots effort, with the White Haven Borough council members voting to purchase the building in 2002 in response to hundreds of signatures (including mine) asking them to do so on the community’s behalf.
The library has been in existence, in one place or another, for 13 years, most recently in the coffee shop, so you can imagine how exciting it will be to have ALL the books unpacked and on shelves and available to the public. You can learn more at www.whitehavenlibrary. Years ago, my step mother (a librarian) used to drive 28 miles one way to Wilkes-Barre to check out a stack of books to last her a week or so, to help her survive “this god forsaken back woods place.” This was back when she had just recently been evacuated from Saigon with the rest of the American dependents and found herself in the old family home. I guess it was too quiet for her… no bombs going off day and night, that sort of thing… sigh. Anyway, she started back then to push for a local library, but nothing happened for many, many years. She gave up and moved to Bradenton, Fla. Fortunately, others kept up the fight, but it has been a struggle. That ride over the mountains to WB was a rough haul in the winter! Trust me.
Train buffs will recognize the brick pattern in the parking lot. Anybody want to guess why it is there? What it once was? (that is a clue). Both the circle and the straight section????? See the tracks currently in use just a few feet from the parking lot and building, like mid point in the picture?
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Yes, I know, one of the goals of this blog is to be always upbeat about things… this is why I stick mostly to the beauty I find in nature, the joy of wonderful friends, positive things. I seldom let any of life’s sadness or badness take over my life for long periods of time. I do not impose my political agenda on my readers, nor do I push my religious views. I don’t think this blog is the place for that. I try to stay as neutral as possible, and to avoid unpleasant subjects.
But recent events have knocked me for a loop, and I feel the need to write about them. Whether I post this or not is something I will decide when the time comes. Maybe it will just be therapeutic enough putting the words on the screen. And my readers might come away with the idea that we live in an area ridden with crime – but perhaps it is because this sort of thing is so rare around here that we are in so much shock.
No one should have to bury their child. Trust me, I know this absolutely. I have not figured out which is harder, losing a little one and being deprived of all the growing up moments, or having had all those growing up moments, then losing a grown child. Then again, what difference does it make, but I do wonder about it when a friend loses their child. Who knows why our brains think certain things.
I have been deeply touched by the loss of several people lately, the first being Johnny Strand, the manager of our local Pizza Hut. The headlines read ‘The kindest man’ – (May 5th, Eastern Shore News) and the front page article went on to tell about what a good kind soul he had been. His goal was to make you a friend and to make you smile. True, not everyone “loved” this man – the insecure, the mean spirited, were unable to trust his friendly ways looking at what their perverted minds thought he might “want” from them. Johnny was murdered… there has been an arrest… I will not discuss the details here. But on Saturday:
“Slain Pizza Hut Manager Johnny Strand will be memorialized this Saturday, July 17 at 11:00 AM at his former restaurant in Onley, Va. The public is invited to the event.
A plaque honoring Strand will be mounted in the dining room in the Onley Pizza Hut. Plans for a scholarship fund in honor of Strand are currently being talked over and will be announced soon.”
I attended one funeral last Saturday for the son of a dear friend of mine and will probably attend a second funeral later this week – both funerals for the adult children of friends of mine. My heart aches for these mothers, no one understands the pain unless they have walked in these same shoes. And even though this son was not out in the public eye, his family grieves just as much, just not as publicly.
The next funeral will be on Friday for Sharone Bailey. Sharone was in one of my classes my first year teaching here on the Shore, her mother was a teacher’s aid at that school. The headlines read (July 11, 2010, The Virginian-Pilot) Slaying of Citizen of the Year Stuns Eastern Shore. The article goes on to say:
“Sharone White Bailey was known for her selfless giving and volunteer work in her small tight-knit Northampton community. She regularly helped needy people get eyeglasses and medication, and she bought food for struggling families in the area.
Last month, the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce named Bailey the Citizen of the Year because of her volunteerism.
But her love of helping others ended Friday.
Bailey was stabbed at her home in the 11000 block of Occohannock Neck Rd on Friday afternoon, according to the Northampton County Sheriff’s office.”
I will not bother you with the rest of the details… a man has been arrested in this case also. For more information on these senseless murders, there are more details on http://shoredailynews.com/.
The man charged with murdering Sharone White Bailey will have a preliminary hearing today. The Judge will decide if Derrick Demond Epps 36 of Exmore will face first degree murder charges after he stabbed Bailey to death Friday. Bailey was named Citizen of the Year by the Eastern Shore of Va. Chamber of Commerce at their annual banquet last month.
Bailey founded and ran Therapeutic Intervention, a 90 person counseling service that served hundreds of Eastern Shore residents. Bailey also was on the Board of Directors of Eastern Shore Rural Health where she served as Treasurer and worked very hard to raise money for the new Onley Medical Center which ironically will open within the next few weeks.
There is so much here that has my heart aching – one part is for the good souls who are no longer among us and the great loss to the people of the Eastern Shore, and the other part is that for the second time in a week, a mother will have to bury her child. And when I also expressed my sorrow for the mother of the boy that killed Sharone, I was shocked at the negative reaction by a couple of the people in our little community. A mother’s loss is a mother’s loss, no matter who your child is or what they might have done. And the mother of the Epps boy must be suffering, too. It may appear in a different form, but she suffers nonetheless. How can she not?
Sunday, July 11, 2010
YES! IT FINALLY RAINED! We got 3/4 of an inch or rain yesterday and I thought I would celebrate by sleeping in this morning since I did not have to get up and water the garden at dawn before it got too hot to breathe out there. However, I only managed to stay in bed until 5:45 AM at which point I figured what was the point in being in bed thinking about all the things I had to get done – might as well go make a dent in the day’s work load, especially since I did NOT have to go out and water.
If you want to see some great pictures of the rain, go visit my neighbors at http://thefrogandpenguinn.blogspot.com/2010/07/raindrops.html. I was too busy yesterday to even think about taking the camera outside. Sometimes it gets tiring being chief cook AND bottle washer… but, as long as I can still do it, I guess I will keep movin’ on.
So the crunchy grass is greening up and the sun is shining. The thermometer is working its way up to the 90 degree mark once again. This is supposed to be another 90+ week. sigh. But, I am grateful for the rain and I know everything out in the yard is grateful, too! You could almost see the leaves smiling.
Hope you have a good day in your little corner of the world, too.
Friday, July 09, 2010
A FRIEND HAS HEARD MY COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE COONS MAKING SUCH A MESS ON MY CARPORT and told me about her solution to the problem. Now, it is a rather expensive solution, but, who knows, one might be able to find a second hand swing somewhere…
How to feed the cats and not the raccoons?????
It was a bit expensive and a lot of trouble, but well worth the effort - we bought a swing, a 2 seater, and hung it from the ceiling of the carport. It is really too high for a person to get in without climbing on a crate, but the cats can jump onto it from a nearby shelf. Being a heavy wooden swing, it really doesn't move that much, and we set the food in a kitty litter tray with a water dish which stays clean because the coons can't climb up into the swing, jump over to the swing, or get to the chains hanging from the ceiling that hold the swing.
In order to stabilize the swing, we attached wires from the ceiling to the middle of the back, down under the seat, around the front board of the seat and back up to the ceiling. The swing moves a bit, but does not swing. Put the cats on the seat a couple of times when it is their dinner or breakfast time and let them know where the food is.
At breakfast time, the first few days, we built a set of "steps" with old crates next to the swing to make it easy for the cats to get up and down and get used to the idea. The coons don't come for breakfast, so the crates could stay up most of the day.
The swing is about 4 feet off the floor, an easy jump for a cat, not so for a coon. It is almost 3 feet from the shelf, again, simple for a cat, too far for the coon.
We also leave a BIG water dish on the ground for ALL the critters which we have to clean out everyday thanks to the coons using it as a bath tub! We also have a big concrete birdbath at ground level which the cats drink out of more so than the clean water on the swing. Go figure.
Well! That sounds like a do-able thing… all I need is a swing and someone to hang it for me, and we are in business! I was impressed with her watering story. It matches mine. The squirrels come several times a day now to the ground level birdbath. The possums drink from it every night – or from an old water bowl they seem to prefer. Funny how some animals have their preferences.
It has been so dry here, we are now keeping an old wash tub of water out every night for the deer to drink out of. Last night, we saw the local gray fox almost climb in it to drink just around dusk. I used to use one of the taller plastic garden tubs, but it is too high for the smaller critters. The deer used to empty the white birdbath at night, so I put the big tub next to it. The flower pots? Step stools for shorter beasties. We aim to please!
This is the first year I have ever noticed bees and wasps going to the bird bath to drink. Being allergic to yellow jackets, I take notice of these little guys, but I have never seen so many on the edge of the birdbath before. They prefer the ground level concrete one.
Pictures of watering holes is pretty boring, so I have spared you pix of them all. The cats have 2 stainless steel ones on the carport, and there is another couple tucked in around the shrubbery. This copper one is the favorite of the finches, but the baby robin likes the one on the ground.
Have I mentioned how much we need rain?
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
HIS HOLINESS, the DALAI LAMA IS 75 TODAY. I feel like one of the most fortunate people alive to have had the opportunity to have studied with him, to call him teacher, and to have taken my vows with him. No, I did not have my head shaved or don Buddhist robes, not THOSE vows, I took what are called the Bodhichitta vows, or often called, in simplicity, the vow to do no harm.
Generating the Awakening Mind
With a wish to free all beings
I shall always go for refuge
To the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
Until I reach full enlightenment.
Enthused by wisdom and compassion,
Today in the Buddha’s presence
I generate the Awakening Mind
For the benefit of all sentient beings.
As long as space remains,
As long as sentient beings remain,
Until then, may I too remain
And dispel the miseries of the world.
On a daily basis, I repeat those vows and struggle to live with the 5 Precepts -
- Abstain from killing any living beings.
- Abstain from taking what is not given.
- Abstain from sexual misconduct.
- Abstain from lying and false speech.
- Abstain from the consumption of intoxicants and drugs.
The hardest of these is Number 1, as it includes mosquitoes, ticks, flies, etc. The other 4 are a piece of cake!
The Dalai Lama is, without a doubt, the holiest living man I know of. No, we do not worship him… but he is greatly revered. To have the opportunity to study under him, if only for 6 days, well, it still blows my mind that I was so fortunate. I know, I said that before and I still feel it is totally understated. I also have several other teachers, but by taking those vows with him, he is considered my primary teacher.
He exudes happiness, a sense of Peace, an understanding that just cannot be put into words. He has an amazing sense of humor. I remember one time he was telling a joke in Tibetan. None of us knew Tibetan, but he had us laughing right along with him before his translator told it in English. Then we got to laugh all over again!
Let me also remind those of you who don’t know or don’t remember from your college philosophy classes, Buddhism is a philosophy more so than a religion. Can you be a Christian and a Buddhist? Yes, it is possible. A Muslim and a Buddhist? Yes… But one great difference is, Buddhism does not tell you that you HAVE to BELIEVE anything if it does not make sense. It begs you to think for yourself, not just accept things on blind faith or because someone told you that you would go to hell if you did not believe. However, the concepts of Heaven and Hell become much clearer, and surely by living in such a way as to do NO harm to ANY living being has got to improve your chances of “getting into Heaven” than not.
But my point is not to explain Buddhism here. There are many wonderful sites if you just google Buddhism and check out the many links. My point here is to honor the Dalai Lama on his 75th birthday, and share my gratitude for having had the opportunity to not only have been in his presence, but to have “bumped” heads with him in honor as he “blessed” my khata, and placed it around my neck. Yep, just like that. Sigh.
If you want to read about my class with His Holiness, you can find it at
Happy Birthday, Tenzin Gyatso. May you stay until Samsara’s end.
Saturday, July 03, 2010
“Lord-a-mercy,” as the old folks used to say. Oh, my goodness, I am now one of those old folks, myself, aren’t I – at least to anyone under 50… But I digress… The Lord-a-mercy I hear in my head would be Grammy (who would now be 120) commenting on the dry, dry conditions we are experiencing – especially after the wettest winter I have ever known. “‘Zamazing,” our next door neighbor would have added.
I have been keeping things wet in the veggie gardens and the little garden where the birdbath is, and carrying water in bottles to the mountain laurel and rhododendron, but some of the plants are just a bit far away from the reach of the hoses, and so, to be honest, I have neglected them. My bad. And shame on me. So, to make up for it, I have spent the day dragging out the extra hoses and connecting them to get water to the nearly dead plants. In some cases, it took 3 hoses to get to the withering plants – that’s 150 feet of hose. I do have a 250 foot hose, and the year I planted my crape myrtle trees, it took the 250 plus the 80 and 3 of 50 foot hoses to reach close to the last of the baby trees. I have a tenth of a mile of road frontage, and I thought it would be nice to have a row of crape myrtles for folks to enjoy as they whizzed by on their way to work or home. You might know I would pick one of the driest years on record to do that planting. Duh.
Anyway, my raspberry bushes are way in the back, back even behind the barns… 3 hoses to get to them. I have had a gazillion raspberries this year, but they have been so tiny, I think I set a record for tinyness… Soooo, today I dragged out the hoses… poor babies!
This is one of the dogwoods… and this is the same dogwood just a few months ago – just before the daffodils bloomed. See that clump of daffodils in the lower left hand side? Just above the baby rhododendron? This dogwood is just inches away from those daffodils – and they spent weeks standing in water. I just noticed, that same dogwood in in the post below, standing in water or ice, and snow. This is the grass on the way to the dogwood – it is underwater in the picture above– and today... crunch, crunch. Guess I won’t have to mow it any time soon, will I?
No point in showing you any more pix of the dryness… this is depressing enough. Well, except that they say we will be in the 100s next week. So, I am working on my gratitude for a couple cool days and lots of hose, and the water that is still available – AND that I am able to get out and turn the hoses on and keep things from dying.
I bet there are some of you who would like to send some of your rain here!