Damned old dusty roads

When I was young…
 
Why oh, why does that seem to be my favorite place to go when I have time on my hands?  Does anyone else go there?  I suppose that for many, it is not a place that they want to go, but for me? I have learned to sort out the happy from the sad, the bitter from the sweet, and the wholly joyous from the broken.
 
I walked this morning, trying to beat the heat. I do wilt in the hot and muggy air of late summer, so I am just sort of dragging butt– being hit with these unusually hot temps the end of May and early June. Nearly 90 degrees round these parts…and the creeks are low!
 
The parking lot at the community trail is packed with vehicles…all sporting bike racks. I decide that my MP3 player is better left in the car today; very important to hear the approach of bicycles from behind.  I am certain that there are some Tour De France contenders staying in shape on this local trail…and I also think that given the speeds at which I have witnessed some of them flying by me…there WILL be a winner this year from my neck of the woods.  Some of them even wear those professional looking bike shorts and the trendy gloves, lol… Oh, I am just having fun. I know that they serve a purpose–with all of the padding in just the right places.
 
After putting the top up on the car, I spray myself down with SSS, bug repellent/skin softener. I buy it by the quart!  Keeping covered with clothing to prevent bug bites is not an option in this weather. I am down to shorts and a matching two tone pink tank top.  Lots of bare skin to cover with the spray.
 
I watch a woman leave the trail with a German shepherd looking dog, in full body harness. The dog spies me and begins to bark and growl.  I just shake my head as I wonder, why does she bring such an animal to a public trail that is chock full of little kids on bikes and even tricycles today? I know that it is America, but common sense and consideration go a long way. That is the exact reason that I never bring Gus to this trail to walk him… he is a wonderful dog, but he takes his job, as protector, quite seriously!
 
I head down the trail. The sides are overgrown and creeping in on the edges, which is unsettling to me. I have long had a bit of a phobia of not being able to see a long wide area around me.  The woods are dark and deep.  Sun dapples in rare places and lights the dame’s rockets into fluorescent purple color!
 
A man passes me, huffing and puffing as he peddles his bike. He is overweight, and inside I give him many kudos for getting out and moving. He must have turned at the parking lot, because he passes me going the other way in less than a minute.  Ahead of me he pulls over and takes a drink of water. Then he starts to cough. As I near, he says, “I swallowed a bug!”
 
I smile back at him and say, “There are such better choices for breakfast!”
 
He laughs as I continue on…
 
The wild (species) geraniums are winding down. They float airily upon fine stems and their light purple luminescence floats and dances on the lightest breeze. 
 
As I walk, I smell the scent of roses… faintly at first, and then as I walk past a place in the trail that is surrounded by white multiflora roses,  the scents surrounds me. In the heat and the humidity, it is thick enough to slice. I am at once…taken back to another place and to another time….
 
It was a hot June day, in 1976.  I worked at the bar a mile up the road from my house. I cleaned the deep-fryers and the freezers…on Saturday mornings. And when I was allowed, I cooked in the kitchen too, on Friday and Saturday evenings.
 
Early evening and the bar was nearly empty…and in walked Mr. Heaven.  His name was Dave– 6 feet something of blond haired and blue eyed smiles.  He was sweet on me, and had asked me out a couple of times. I had never said yes. And I would have had to sneak anyhow; my parents did not allow me to date.
 
He ordered a six inch pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms… and when I took it out to him, he asked me what I was doing later?  Then asked me if I had ever seen his car.
 
We walked over to the window and he pointed to a 1968 Chevy malibu–ragtop, sitting in the evening sunlight.
 
“Wanna drive it?”
 
“Oh, I don’t even have my learner’s permit yet?”
 
“So what?” he added with a devilish grin.
 
He had dimples…one dominant one… for sure, on his chin.
 
I agreed to drive his car after I was done working at 10 pm.
 
He was just a cute guy that came into the bar..and there were lots of them that flirted with me…but I was just 16 and most of them saw me for what I was… very young.  But Dave, well,  he was only 19 and just a kid himself.
 
He walked into the bar at a quarter to ten…and bought a quart of Budweiser, carrying it out in a brown paper bag.
 
At ten, I stepped out into warm evening air, and the darkness and the newly felt mystery of what lay on the other side of that wide gulf that separated a girl from a woman.  He sat in his car, smiling like the cat that ate the canary.  I walked over and he said, “Hop in, we will find an old dirt road that you can try it out on.”
 
I hopped into the passenger seat and we were on our way.  We found that old dusty road, and at the bottom of the hill, at ruff run, we switched seats. He explained as I went through the motions…and I can still smell the roses on the breeze and feel that smile spreading across my lips as the car began to move.
 
Euphoria!
 
Up over the steep winding hill that led out of that deep dark hollow.  Giant steps I was taking into a big big world…  Near the top of the hollow, where the road wound sharply right, left, right, I had a little trouble  finding just where the car should be on the road!  Dave leaned over and took the steering wheel and suggested that he take over now.
 
We switched seats again, and for a moment, I was just that observant girl… watching fireflies and smelling wild roses…
 
We drove for miles it seemed and we talked and talked.  I felt the wind on my hair,and then his arm on my shoulder. It was lightning running through my body… and I knew that there could never be anything so wonderful as this in all of my life. I was so alive…
 
He took me back the old farm lane where I lived, stopping where the infamous electric fence crossed the lane at the bottom of the big hill… and it was there that he kissed me.  It was no little girl kiss, it was no ‘you are my friend’ kiss, it was THE kiss that held the promise of the world and all that it contained.  The kiss that said, “There is so much more to come!”  And it was there that I hopped out of his car…and he turned around to avoid the also infamous “Louie”, lol, father of five daughters.
 
I walked back the rest of the lane, drunken with fireflies and roses… and the thoughts of dreamy blue eyes. Somewhere deep inside I just knew that he would fit the quote, “You are like my favorite pair of jeans; I love you, my mother hates you and you fit so well.”
 
It was the best summer of my life.  He was fun, and open to things. He tried riding horses, but it was more fun riding around in the convertible.  I had my pile of friends that normally came along, and he had a couple of brothers that he included in nearly everything that we did.
 
We swam, and we went places together…and yes, we drank.  My mom really did not like him, but my dad did.  I was allowed to date him, just not stay out late.  It was freedom, like I had never known!
 
It was the summer that I began as a girl, and ended as a woman in love.  We were just two kids, with a tank full of gas and the top down… and no place in particular to go.  We were clicking on all cylinders, as we explored each others dreams and quietly pledged our futures to each other…
 
Never thinking that the dreams would crumble mid-stream, and our greatest challenge that we would ever face would be to forgive each other, and to forgive ourselves– for being young, so very young and not understanding forever.
 
It was sweet, and ultimately sad… but that summer was all about the smell of roses and the smell of dust on those damned old dirt roads… and years and years and many rose scented summer evenings have come and gone…and there is still always a moment when I see him, driving, laughing with innocent, youthful joy…and I see his blue eyes turn to look at me, and I know that he really saw forever in me, and I saw the same when I looked at him…
 
For six years our intertwined lives ebbed and flowed… but in the end, like a song carried on the breeze, he was gone… and for years, bitterness filled where joy had dwelt.
 
On our son’s wedding day, I danced with a handsome young man. It was the mother of the groom’s dance… and for a bittersweet moment, I saw his father’s blue eyes, as we danced.  I watched our son and his new wife dancing and laughing, and only for  a brief moment, I recalled two other kids who were so much in love.
 
None of us were ever given a crystal ball… and looking back, I would not have changed a thing.  We created two beautiful human beings…
 
My list of regrets is short… and he is not on it.  I have never regretted a love that I felt for anyone…they all have served me well, have taught me lessons that have followed me through life.
 
And I have honestly learned to smile at the memory, when I smell roses along a dusty lane, on a hot June evening… and I feel the breeze in my hair,  the smile starts to spread across my lips…
 
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Wild Hair weekend 4th and final (I hope)

Sunday morning, I was awake at 6:10–goal to catch sunrise over the Atlantic.  I checked in with Ed before I left to ask if there was a time schedule that I needed to keep. "Nope, No schedule, take your time."

I knew before I had even gotten to the beach, that I missed it. NARS! (not a rocket scientist) I had failed to take into account how much farther east I was than at home!  But the pics are still quite lovely!.

I am sooo in love with this world! solitude♥ wow, the person sailing that boat might be the only soul on this earth  more at peace than I am right at this moment!

  I am struck by how easily and quickly colors, hues and lighting change, this time of day, with the water and reflections.

I decide to walk up toward the boardwalk at wildwood…maybe, what? Two miles at the most? 😉     (NARS again)

I beachcomb as I go. I meet a few people on the way, but most are very busy, with a task at hand… getting the conch shells!  Two people actually brought their small children along to carry the shells in the arms folded across their chests! I had to smile at one little boy, perhaps all of five years old. As he made his way down the beach, he would scurry like a sandpiper toward any object that he saw lying on the sand as the surf receded!. I do not know how the lad would have picked up a thing; his arms were full to overflowing already with conch shells!

Aha! What is this?? Unbelievable! and what are these?? and this?Now I start to giggle out loud>> at our "rare’ find yesterday!  They  are everywhere this morning!  I find not one, but two conch shells!  Great! One for carol, one for me. It is so warm by now that I have taken off my windbreaker and looped it under my camera bag’s waist strap. The shells fit one in each side pocket.  Great coat! Wore it all winter skiing and walking, I zipped out the liner and it is a perfect traveling coat now <big smile> "This coat has been to" I suddenly see in my minds eye…a sewn in patch that has destinations recorded on it.  <Shaking my head> It is a danged good thing that I do NOT have too much time on my hands!  Okay, back to my morning walk… WOW!!! LOL!!! FIND OF THE TRIP!!! HAVE TO TAKE A PHOTO OF THIS!! There is a story behind this– many moons ago, Dave his buddy (Colorado visits–in photos) were water skiing on the Allegheny river. Colorado on a slalom, and Dave on a kneeboard.  Colorado kept putting out walls of water by skiing wide then back toward Dave and cutting hard at the last minute. Dave was doing the same, but the kneeboard just could not compete! They were both laughing like little boys and on one particularly giant wall of water, Dave laughed a hard, wide open mouth laugh! It washed the teeth right out of his mouth! For a split second, he saw them on the tip of the kneeboard— and then they were gone! 

Hah! I have found them!

And I left them, right there!  Where I found them!  🙂

I proceeded toward the boardwalk, thinking and walking and dreaming…and just absorbing the sound of the surf, the quiet of the early morning, the gulls crying…brought to my sense only when someone approached.  A smile and a few kind words exchanged, and I was back in my world…meandering as I so love to do…

I lost track of time.. pulled my cell phone out of my camera bag to check the time–missed a call from carol. Message left at 6:32 am. She wanted to know where I was, she would walk to the beach to meet me. I returned the call–7:40 am. No answer! I continue walking.  I finally get up to the beach in front of the board walk, take a few pics and turn around.

One shot back toward the where I entered the beach, uh oh! I have to use all of my zoom to even make out the beach front condo that is coral in color!  Hmm, pretty far up the shore!

I start back toward Wildwood Crescent beach.  My phone rings, it is now 8:20.  "Where are you?"

"Just south of Wildwood, the boardwalk."

"Oh, we want to go out on the boat, and the wind is starting to kick up–it could get too bad if we wait long."

"OK, well, I am heading back to the beach."

"When we know what we are doing we will call you back"

I walk a lot faster now, estimating 20 minutes to a half hour to get back to ‘our" beach at this pace.  Ten minutes later I am just back to the big wooden pier that can be seen with telephoto from "our" beach.  Damn! It is hard to gage distance on a beach!

The phone rings again, "Where are you at now?

I look toward the street and give the name of the building. Ed has never heard of it.

"we will call you back."

I continue walking…

I turned up toward the street, figuring that I will make better time walking on a sidewalk, than on sand. I am just pausing to take pics as I cut through the dune, when the phone rings. Sea oats is lovely!

"Where are you now?"

"The Excalibur."

"Okay, we just passed it!"

Within two minutes we are all together and headed for the boat. On the way, I present Carol with the conch shells, and she can take her pick. Ed does not miss a thing.

We arrived at the marina where he keeps his boat, but he pulled into a different parking lot, stopped the vehicle and  said. "Look."

Carol and I both look down over the back where we are parked, it is low tide, and there is sea grass and mud and an old rotting wooden boat.

He repeated, "Look." but this time he added "hard."

We looked again…and saw the grass, the mud, the boat…

I must add here that Carol and I met nearly 20 years ago on the first day of our new job. It was an entry level union job, and we began our climb out of labor obscurity by signing bids on the same day, for reseach and development positions.  We were tested to see, (I reckon <wink, wink>) if we were both as absolutely brilliant as we appeared (at first glance) to be.  Weighed and measured and found to NOT be lacking!  Our intitial education consisted of a Penn State short course in mushroom morpholgy and pathology…

The big point that I must make here is this: (Laughing out loud now),  that we were both deemed to be "trained observers" among other things!!! 

So I say again, "We saw the the grass, the mud, the boat!" lol… 

Ed finally asked, "Don’t you see the conch shells everywhere?"

We were out of that truck and down over the bank quicker than you can say –Conchshellseverywhere!

This part of the parking lot was fill, and a a good use of local resources is seashells as a fill, and as a driving and parking surface–like we use limestone back home!

It was conch Christmas!  Sea shell extravaganza!  All I knew for sure was that Ed’s truck was big enough!!! <silly grin>

I picked out tow conch shells… and carol looked for a long time, but was reasonable in the number that she gathered also. We held down the number after deciding that we really did not want to box up shells and pay to send them home. We would limit ourselves to what we could carry on the plane.

On to the boat… and due to the wind, Ed decided to go inter-coastal rather than heading out to the ocean, via cape may inlet. He told us that the Largest Coast Guard training station is on that inlet, so they do keep it very passable;e. A large fishing fleet docs there also, due to the deep channel.

   

This is ship that was abandoned, and a storm rolled it on its side, notice the boom around it corralling contaminants

  Carol and Ed

These house are built on stilts, right on the Inter-coastal, they looked like doll houses! Some were very crooked!

 

Bridge raised to allow dolphin watching sightseeing boat through:

US Coastguard docked

            

AAA for on the water. Honest to God, I never knew such a service existed, you buy a membership, and they will  tow you in an emergency

 

Next stop–Lobsterhouse. Local landmark, on the cape May website. They have a fresh fish market, an open air bar on the dock on the back, a very nice restaurant on one side, a dock where the fishing boats actually unload and send straight into their on-site processing pant. Pretty amazing to sit and eat so close to those fishing boats that you can nearly reach out and touch them. there was a boat unloading while we were there. Note the tables on the dock– rope reels, painted red and blue, and they still have a pass of rope left on them for atmosphere. Very impressive place. Inside the fresh fish market, Carol bought breakfast for us!  Lobster quiche, creme brulee, death by chocolate cake, carrot cake and canoli. Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first!

We each got forks and spoons, and we tried EVERYTHING… "kids gone wild" I think is what this weekend has turned out to be!

  

Ed next took us to the nature preserve on Coast Guard property. There are natural sand dunes there. Wonder what this beautiful turtle thought when I laid down on the road beside him top get a perfect pic. He never pulled his head in…in fact, poked it out a little further…curious perhaps?

 

   

 

This picture is of the stone jetty that extends along the inter-coastal on the right, and the Atlantic on the left. Note the waves on the Atlantic side?  None on the inter-coastal.

 

Carol is now crowned, "Horseshoe crab rescuer of the year!" That girl must have carried half a dozen of them back to the water from where they were high and dry baking in the sun.  Heck, I don’t know, they could have been laying eggs for all that I know? 😉

 

You know, the conch shell that is four and a half feet down between two giant rocks on the stone jetty, will ALWAYS prove to be the prettiest and of course, the most desirable to posses. We found a long piece of driftwood and it only took Carol five minutes or so to get the shell!

This is Diamond beach, where we found no Cape may diamonds…but the real gem was in the looking…

 

 

We left Diamond beach, and went to a bar that Ed knew served excellent sandwiches.  He recommended pork Florentine, and once again, it was delicious.  Back to Ed’s, he napped while Carol and I took one last trip to the beach. One can never get too much beach, right! The wind was howling on the beach and it sandblasted our legs and feet, so we spent more time in the water today.

Ed must have thought that we were okay because, after he woke, he walked down to the beach, carrying his chair–to hang out with us.

Time to head back to Ed’s to get showers and decide what to do next.

Go to sunset beach for pics. Tonight the no-seeums are out in force. Avon Skin-so-soft does the trick again!

Sunset beach in Wildwood Crescent–which is a dry town–thus very quiet and peaceful.

 

 

The boardwalk Sunday evening…and as all can tell, my camera was just exhausted and refused to take a decent picture.

 

 

Ed treated for pizza on the way back to his place.  Very generous and fun person.

 

I like this plane! Look at those colors, would ya?  Middle pic is of center city Philly from airport. I am deeply disturbed by those twin buildings that look like they have ears…or short horns, or something. Godzilla-like? I am not sure but I really got a bad feeling looking at them… aren’t we silly things?  We humans?

The picture on the right is our Pennsylvania mountains. Our highest point is MT. Davis, at only 3,213 feet. But they are lovely from the air nonetheless.

 

 

Mid state, we are socked in with clouds. I note the sundog below on the top of the clouds. As we began to descend, our shadow appeared and grew larger and larger until we reached the clouds and dropped through.

Flaps up, brakes on… touchdown Pittsburgh!

 

 

Ah, <big sigh> our great adventure is over. I have never traveled without a pile of people in tow. I have always been the one responsible for organizing and coordinating where and when. This was just too danged much fun. I got to spend some serious girl to girl quality time with one of my dearest friends in this world-Carol.  I made a new friend-Ed…and if he ever gets to this side of the state…I hope that he comes for dinner.

I am learning, oh yes, I am learning…"Life is short" and a girl really never can have too much fun!

I have to add here, and I am about to email the link to Willowlive.spaces to Ed, because I told him that I would– after I had posted our story…

The first day and a half that I knew Ed, I kept thinking…he looks like someone, but who?

Then it hit me!  Photos follow, 🙂 and Ed and Carol had never even heard of the guy!

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Wild Hair Weekend segment 3

One hour, just one hour I can spend writing today. Company coming for dinner, house to clean, food to fix…UGH! makes me want to hop on a plane and head straight back to Cape May. So we are at the top of the lighthouse and the view is incredible…and my mind starts to wonder…if you can see seven miles out to sea at sea level…just how far can you see from here?  The wind is just about howling at this height and there is still a bit of morning chill left in the air.

I look out to the south east and there is a strange structure on the beach..Ed tells us that it was a concrete fortress that soldiers used during WWII to watch for U-Boats approaching the US coast.  I zoom in and you can see the scale, from the people in the middle pic, that it is simply massive.  We are on a point that the sunset is watched from the other side quite often.  When I take a photo toward the sunset side of the  Cape, I see this massive concrete tower–also used to watch for U-Boats during WWII.

 

Across the parking lot is the trailhead of the wetland nature preserve. Ed asks, "Do you want to walk it?"

Reply…stereo "Yes!" in this pic you can clearly see the beginning of the wetland area, inland from the shore. 

 

Time to step back inside and start down the stairs, dodging people who are climbing as we descend.  As we step outside into glorious sunshine, I think that at least here, we blend in, lol, we are not SUCH tourists!  I can’t help it if I look like a tourist…as Ed has begun to tease us about (just a bit). probably my fault, because I takes pictures of EVERYTHING, but really, Carol is saying "Wow." as often as I am.  It is a bird watching event that has brought many to this beach today. The area is filled with cameras hanging about the necks of what appears to be people on an African safari… you know the look, safari vest (covered with pockets–khaki) and cargo pants and shorts.

I am in awe of just how stereotypical they DO look, however, common decency holds and I do not photograph any of them. They are not, after all, one of the attractions!

I am such a tourist!

 

It takes about an hour to walk the trail, and life is only just beginning to spring back anew in this harsh landscape. We are back at the parking lot–and indulge in a couple of "touristy" pictures!  We walk the stairs up to an observation deck on the beach. They have sown sea grasses on the dune, attempting to establish a natural habitat.  People-no, wildlife-yes.

carol is next to the jawbone of a ?sperm? whale perhaps? I cannot remember and I did not write it down! It is huge!!!

Back in the truck and rolling–we are looking for someplace to have lunch.  Ed makes a suggestion, and Carol and I both go with the flow, and follow the local’s lead. We find ourselves in a mom and pop’s store, local  landmark known for its sandwiches. We order their famous steak and cheese sandwiches and head back to Ed’s.  The recommendation was good, the steak and cheese’s are great. It is now nearly 2:30 and Ed is dozing off–time for his nap. Carol and I head down to the beach. We refused Ed’s offer of a ride, and carry our beach chairs and our beach bags…and look all touristy, lol, as we go. We are busy pointing and talking and laughing. We marvel at the array of landscaping techniques…and just how many houses have stones for front lawns!  Well, I just reckon that it is totally low maintenance!

It really is a different world–and I like it!

Ah, the beach…did I say, "Ah"?  <really big smile!>

it is soooo windy, my coverup is nearly blown off!  It was buttoned until carol gave me hell… and sometimes we all need to be given hell, and thank God for friends who are willing to do it! <big smile>

too good to be real…but the water is COLD!!!!

 We combed the beach for a bit looking for shells, for the elusive conch shell to be precise… and as I walked I heard carol yelling, "Ooh!! Teresa, hurry!  Bring you camera!  Huuuuuurrrry!!!"  She had come across a horseshoe crab…what a find!  What a rare thing indeed!! Take pictures!  How lucky are we?  Oh my God, O cannot believe it!!  Such luck! This probably happens once in a l lifetime! Holy cow, take pictures or no one will believe us that there was a horseshoe crab just there…on the beach…waiting for us to photograph it!!

I am laughing as I type… because…when I get to tomorrow’s pics, you will see!

   oh, the starfish was a find, the only one we saw, it was dead, and is at Carol’s now. 

Looking to our left,I  zoom in on the boardwalk at Wildwood, doesn’t look to be very far??? 

 

We finally change our focus from looking down to looking up and "uh oh!"

as much as we hate to do it, we call Ed and ask him to drive to the beach and pick us up.  Caught by approaching weather! Damn!

 

We went back to Ed’s and decided what the evening’s plans would be.  — then two Margaritas later, Ed said, "I know where we should go to eat tonight!  Tokyo–a Japanese restaurant, and Teresa can try Sushi.

I am not one to be a  party pooper, and honestly, I am game to try new things (within limit) so that was the plan.

Mercifully, I left my camera in the truck…avoiding all touristy type embarrassment for my companions in Tokyo. We were kinda like kids, each ordering two appetizers and then we shared, back and forth. It was okay. I think that the only raw anything that I ate was a smoked eel roll, and I viewed that like it was jerky…which I eat.  interesting food, And I do have a sense of humor, I treated for this one.

When we left the restaurant, it was raining so that put the kibosh on anything else…

Ed was a very good host. He made suggestions (which all turned out to be great) we never sat still, he knew the history of things, he knew the nature and the wildlife in the area.  I am sure that all contributed to what a wonderful (and busy) weekend that it was.

More later…

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second segment wild hair weekend

Before I proceed, I must add that Carol and Ed have spoken on the phone emailed for many months , but have never met in person.  Hmm, so we travel  with the words of warning from her family, still ringing in our ears, "He could be an axe murderer!" Well, yes he could, but I argue the point that you don’t converse with someone for that long and not catch them in a lie…if they are all bull-crap. But in spite of that possibility, I am here…because Carol should not go alone!

So, the poor pilot beside me has been sufficiently interrogated…and has just completely surrendured…he is initiating conversation now 😉  He is a nice guy who Scuba dives, lives in Pgh, used to live in Chicago, hates the cold…and they have a house in FL, which is his first choice for a home… and he  misses his wife. He flies for another airline, <whispering slyly> "This one does not care too much about customer service."  I nod, not having ANY experience under my belt to compare this airline form any other. Our pilot (flying the plane) announces something…and I cannot make heads nor tails out of what he has just said, so I turn to my friendly skies neighbor and ask, "What did he say? I could not understand a word!"  I can tell as I see other passengers turning to hear what the answer is, that that our pilot had truly mumbled, lol… so my neighbor, deadpan, recited monotone, what the pilot had said…and then added, "First thing that they teach you in pilot’s school is to mumble" which drew smiles from those listening in.

 I only hope that his flight was on time and that he gets home (Pgh) to her by Saturday evening, as was his fondest wish!

We land in Philly and now we are told that we are backed up unloading…and we will sit for at least 20 minutes until we  have a gate to go to. We were to be in Philly at 6:10 pm, but we weren’t even out of Pgh by then– due to Philly’s delays.

Carol and I are hot-footing it through the airport. We are a couple of hours late by now.  One quick stop at the ladies room– damned margaritas and chocolate monkeys!  Then back to running. Carol has loooong legs and it is a task to keep up with that girl! I am in decent physical shape, I walk for recreation often, and Carol smokes, lol. A person would have thought it the other way around!

We approached a narrow spot, near the security check-in  and see people waiting.  Ed has just told Carol via cell phone that he is wearing a blue jacket and khaki pants.  We both spot the man at the same time… and are speechless…lol, and before either of us could react… the REAL Ed approaches Carol with his arms outstretched for a hug.  We pass the other man, in a blue jacket and khaki pants… who looked to be all of 90 years old and not moving well…

We would comment on that many hours later… <smiling at the memory> But I can tell you for sure, I thought that Carol had been hornshwoggled! lol… and we were about to take a new twist on the adventure–"sans any men" for the weekend. And that would have been just fine too.

We talk for a few before we head to the parking garage. I am instantly at ease. We load our luggage and are on our way.  He gives us the tour as we head down the highway…crossing the Delaware, mothballed navy fleet to the right, Center City Philly to the left.  It is dark now and we travlled for over an hour when he pointed to the left and said, "Atlantic City."

Okay… new plan–post pics with explanation, or I will never finish this. We crammed so much into two days!

 

Saturday morning, while Carol showered, Ed and I walked the three blocks to the Atlantic ocean-Wildwood Crescent beach-l to R Mussel, Ed and Atlantic

Off to marina in North Wildwood, then to Hereford Lighthouse complete with award winning gardens…

then on to another marina where Ed keeps his boat. He has to check his crab trap… there were a lot but they were green crabs and spider crabs–no good for eating… next stop, Cape May light house where we climbed all 199 steps to the top!

More tomorrow; my alarm goes off in 3 hours, time for some shut eye!

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Wild Hair Weekend

Not a wild weekend by any measure, but a weekend that happened because I got a wild hair, which I have not had in years…

It was Carol’s idea (my friend) and Carol’s invitation… and my round trip ticket as a gift… that initiated the wild hair.  I also had a need to go with that girl and be sure that she was safe…

We went to work on Friday morning to put in a half of a day, and to be sure to leave all of our ducks in a row.  Our desks are approximately ten feet apart in the front lab of R&D, and when we first saw each other Friday morning, we ended up dancing in a circle, laughing and chanting, "Going to the Beach, we’re going to the beach, we’re going to the beach!"  Talk about laughing out loud and feeling giddy!

We both ran late on our half day of work…which put the rush on getting home, getting showers, double checking our lists before we zipped our suitcases closed for the trip.  Back at work by 2:10, (we were supposed to leave for the airport at 2:00) I waited another ten minutes for Carol.

We wasted no time loading up and heading south for the approximately 60 mile trip to the airport.  Slow traffic through the Fort Pitt tunnels, we chose the expressway that took us right through the heart of Pittsburg. As we inch through traffic, Ed is on the cell phone, checking on our progress. He will be meeting us on the Philly end of the flight.

Hurry, hurry, our flight was to leave at 5:00 pm. We parked in long term

 

, caught a shuttle in and were dropped off in the basement.  Up one flight to the security check in.  While we stood in line, I looked at other passengers and the bags that they had…and then turned to Carol and asked, "Why does no one else have a great big suitcase like yours?"

She thought that people just pack light now, so that they can travel fast and easy, then she shrugged.  I started to suspect that we were in the wrong line… and when we finally got to the front of the line, we were told, "Oh, USAir, you will have to check those bigger bags…

Neither of us had ever ridden the shuttle in and been dropped off on the lowest level, so we had missed the check luggage area.  Back up to the top–third level, check our luggage, get boarding passes and back to security.

We cleared security (first time I have flown since maybe 1990) and I enjoyed taking my sandals off immensely! But it is better than being blown out of the sky!

We rode the subway out to the gates and now we were home free, with an hour to spare.

TGI Fridays–here we come!

One chocolate monkey and one pomegranate margarita please!

 

Well, we got to enjoying ourselves far too much… and in the end, after discovering why the waiters all liked carol, (her zipper was down) we had to run almost the whole length of the USAir gates to get to ours on time. Once there, it was obvious that  they had not begun to board yet… we checked the boards, and our flight had been delayed until 5:15 pm.  We finally boarded, and then after everyone was seated and we pulled out onto the edge of the runway, the Captain announced that Philly had a flow problem, and we were not cleared to leave until 6:15 Okay, so I began the task of forcing the indifferent soul seated next to me–to talk  to me.

Turns out that he is a pilot (for another airline) and his copilot and the rest of his crew were onboard too.  I picked his brain about flights and such.

We were finally cleared for takeoff. As I was pressed back into my seat i wanted to shout, "YEEEEEEHAWWWWW!" lol, but after all of this, could not risk having the authorities waiting for me on the Philly end. uh oh!  clouds ahead! but as we neared Philly, the clouds departed! and I got to scope out one of the PA turnpike’s famous cloverleaf interchanges…

 

sorry, I cannot hold my eyes open… and I will try to add to this tomorrow!

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Because I am

Why do I garden?
“Because I am”
It is the only answer I can give that seems to cover it all…
When I was very small, I learned the necessity of gardening, but learned little, if any, of the beauty that is gardening.
Looking back, perhaps the seeds of the beauty of gardening were sown just as assuredly as vegetable seeds were sown–by Annie–my grandmother. She never failed to take a few minutes to hol d my hand and then recite the 90th psalm with me. And there we were…in the sunshine, standing on the fertile earth…lifting our voices in prayer.
Our garden was over an acre in size, and most of what we ate, through the winter, was canned from what was grown in that ‘field’. Oh my God, when I was a little kid, it seemed HUGE!  To tell the truth, even now, when I look at the area that it covered, I still think that it was huge.
It was a proper farm garden.  Big stone steps leading down into it from a corner wooden gate.  Fence the whole way around it, kept the cattle from sneaking in and trying the vegetables…and from consuming the garlic that lined two sides. Two huge apple trees stood at one end, near the barn, and just west of the grainery that edged the garden, was an old mine entrance.
Every spring when the  garden was plowed, then harrowed (which they really do not do anymore) we had to scour the fresh soft dirt, and gather any rocks that we found. They were then thrown onto the mine entrance.  One of the hazards of having your grandfather subsidize his well-baling income with a small family run coal mine. Just one more place that we were not to go…
To the left of the stone steps, there were currentberry bushes, that lined that whole side of the garden edge. There was a gate at the next corner, wide enough for a tractor and a wagon to pull through. It was handy to haul weeds that had been pulled, by the wheelbarrow, across the old lower lane and then dump over the fence of the pig yard.
And every day in the summer, it was a standing chore… “Hoe a row in the garden”  Most days, it was a rushed job, just before mom and dad got home from work…
And then they would look and tell us to do it again tomorrow, “You didn’t get the roots out. They will grow right back again. Try again tomorrow!”
As I sit here, shaking my head.  In Pennsylvania hard packed clay?  Get the roots out?
There are probably still viable roots in the hard packed clay under the pole building (where that field of misery of a garden used to be) that a huge combine sits parked in now!
Huh! Get the roots…
The lower edge of the garden was the best!  A juneberry bush, and a long row of gooseberries, and then the rhubarb… few lasted until they were properly ripened.  We would sneak away from weeding every chance that we could… to pick those Juneberries and gooseberries.
In the dry of summer, watering was added to the weeding chores. There was a watering trough, spring fed, right above the garden next to the ‘chop house’. The chophouse was called that because…hmmm, leave me start here: an attached building was called the boiler house, and in it sat a big old steam engine, when it was not being pulled around to aid in the well-baling, it was used to power a ‘chopper’ that made animal feed out of corn and oats.  Commonly called “chop”.  Cows, pigs, chickens…they all ate it.
We had a piece of garden hose scavenged from who knows where? And we would put one end in the watering trough, and run it down to the garden. Problem was…it did not reach the garden! So we had a couple of buckets, and a slew of 1gallon coffee cans.  One person had to man the hose, to switch between buckets, and the rest of us ran back and forth, with our coffee cans, filling…and watering…filling…and watering…
The coffee cans?  They were rarely idle. They were our berry picking buckets also…
So, as you can well guess, I actually hated gardening while I was growing up. I really never wanted to have one. I walked away from hoes and buckets, and jars of seeds…and never planned on looking back.
I did not garden at all during my teenage years; we no longer had a garden after grandma moved in with my aunt. Over half of my twenties passed, and three children came into my life, before I heard the call.
It would have been the spring when I was twenty seven years old… and I rented a little trailer on a country road… off of the sweetest older couple that a person can imagine.  John and Peg.
John used to mow the grass with my middle child, Natters, on his knee.  And Peg adored all three of my children too. My kids had just lucked into this extra set of grandparents living next door.
One spring morning, while I was hanging clothes out on the line, John walked past on the way to his workshop, and he commented that he and Peg talked about their old garden below the trailer…and if I would like to use it, that that was fine…
And the voice spoke to me… I don’t know if it was my grandmother’s voice, or some ancient wise elder that  lives within us all, but something clearly said, “Yes, plant some seeds, pull some weeds, let your children witness life…”
And the voice of Teresa answered, without missing a beat, “Okay, but there will be no bitching.”
The rest is history, some of it is funny history, and some of it is sweet history, but none of it is bitching history… because…you see–for me– gardening is not a necessity for physical survival…
It is however, a necessity for the survival of my sanity. It is a song that sings to my soul. It has opened my mind, opened my eyes, my heart…and upon many occasions, my wallet.
It was a huge lesson in knowing how much I do not know! 
I missed my grandma’s gardening wisdom, and try though I might have… I could not recall her words in the garden. The only thing that kept coming back to me was reciting the 90th psalm with her… “You who dwelleth in the house of the Most High, and abide in the shadow of the Almighty…”
I had my work cut out for me…so I read every book that I could get my hands on…in fact, I devoured them. I became a non-fiction snob…
And then I dug in the dirt, and learned that a lot of books have it all wrong!  Or perhaps, the truth is, there is no way to get it all right!  What works for one, will not work for another.
I moved back onto the family farm with my mom, after my dad passed way.  My oldest brother farmed the fields, (lived elsewhere with his wife) and he contoured. When the first spring came living back in skunk hollow, he offered me an obscure corner of a field that was just inconvenient for him. Contour farming in hilly country can do this– create incovenient triangles at the edges of sweeping turns in fields..
I accepted… and there it really began. For the next eight or nine years, I moved around the farm each spring, taking a new inconvenient corner that crop rotation produced.
In the process, I developed an attitude, if you will, about organic farming…hmmm… not really thinking about the fact that, unlike other gardeners, I was doing the most serious crop rotation that a gardener can do…and thwarting a lot of insects in that process.  But what I never realized, until I had my own ground, was what I was not developing….
A true sense of gardening, a true sense of being a steward of the earth in the act of gardening.  A connection to the very ground beneath my feet, and the sky above me.  I had somehow managed to become a textbook gardener, yet the truth of gardening had completely eluded me.
It was a slow awakening for me… and one of those beautific bits of wisdom that you can only recognize when you look behind you.  I was still far too engulfed in the ends, the sum, the total of my accomplishments, to comprehend the very awakening of my soul within the confines of earth and sky.
Little did I know that when a gardener stands long enough in the fertile soil, in sunshine and in rain , that the roots of the growers soul are setting down.  Tentatively at first, and then they run deep and wide.
So it was with me.  My no bitching rule was set down on a homemade stepping stone, with colored glass bits embedded as flowers… and the whimsy, and the quirky replaced proper and organized.
I no longer planted 100 tomato plants, I grew two for the table, and then planted dahlias and gladiolas instead. My sweet corn was replaced with broom corn, and my rows of waxed beans for canning were repalced with scarlet runner pole beans, climbing towers of newly cut sumac saplings.  My garden teepees that produced prettier flowers than beans.
The cucumbers were no longer left to sprawl, by the dozens, all over the garden, but instead were invited to climb tomato cages… just for the oddity of it.  I grew zinnias, and strawflowers and statice.  Russian sage and tansy edged the garden and ran away forming a brushy edge.  I gathered all of them, along with sage and marjoram, tied in bundles and hung from the rafters of the tiny garden shed. There they dried and then I made bouquets and gave them away…and what was left in the shed, the field mice shredded for nests!
Rock gardens began springing up, with marjoram and thyme, rhubarb and parsley…garlic and the ever present flowers… No garden should be without flowers!
Sunflowers towered majestically over everything else, and the volunteers that came in later years were permitted to exist in the middle of the strawberry patch.  Never picked or dried, they stood, skeletons, stripped nearly bare by overwintering birds, and when spring found them they were bent over by the elements…and age, like old women.
I learned to measure my successes by the moment, not by the  season.  Two weeks of lush peonies brought more satisfaction than bushels of tomatoes ever did.  
I gained a healthy respect for the birds, for the swooping and darting barn swallows that went on a feeding frenzy just before dusk, and I learned to watch the sky above me. I noted the clouds, whether they were mare’s tails (rain in 36 hours) or whether they were puffy white cumulus clouds (fair weather).  I watched rain fall, and gray days, with gratitude, and I watched the sunset and the moon rise while I walked my weary body back up to the house.
I learned to tell a lamb’s quarter seedling (weed) from a voluteer tomato seedling. In fact, I can look at most vegetable and flower seedlings…and identify whether they are a friend or foe.  That brings me to the most important part of gardening philosophy to me.
I used to believe that gardening was all about nurturing…about growing things…about life.
Never did the thought enter my mind, that gardening is every bit as much about death.
I don’t think that anything can compare with gardening when it comes to deciding…what lives, what dies…
A flower where it is unwanted, becomes a weed…
And a well placed weed, may become a flower…where a divine hand has strewn the seed…
I garden because I am. There is no more or no less to that.  It is my ‘me’ time. It is a time to share  my thoughts, with the Power that is. It is a silent song, sung to the heavens… sometimes in a voice of questioning, sometimes with a voice of unadulterated joy…and sometimes, a tear choked song…
It is a song without reason, and a song that is the reason, it harmonizes with the song of birds, the moan of the wind, it keeps time with the silent flapping of a butterfly’s wings, and the pounding of the rain on the garden shed roof. 
It ebbs and flows with the seasons, it shouts, and it whispers.  It enlivens my soul, and illuminates my mind. 
Gypsies dance in the wind when the dandelion seeds fly, and tiny redcoats march on moss covered rocks.  Sour grass sorel runs through the dirt like a fast spreading fire and thistles have become a beauty to my eyes, rather than an eyesore.
I have moved beyond control.  Control and symmetry have no place in my gardening… or in the song that is being sung.
When I bend over to pull weeds, I am at once, old Annie, pulling, praying, pulling praying…and Teresa, pulling, dreaming, pulling, wondering, pulling…pulling…philosophising… life , death, sunshine, rain, the delicate balance and the miracle that it is…
It all comes full circle to each of us, sooner or later… and for me, it came in a garden…
And sometimes, when I seek the refuge in the shade of the wild juneberry tree, I am the willow–weeping, when the words wash over me…I am not really in the shadow of the juneberry, while in my garden I am “You who dwell in the house of the Most High, and abide in the shadow of the Almighty…”
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At the Bottom of Smith Road

I grew up just past the last settlement made before one enters no man’s land.  Growing up on a 75 acre farm that spanned from the top of the southern bank of ruff run hollow…the whole way down to ruff run, teaches a person a few things.
 
You learn to understand the way that land lies, the reason that it lies like it does. You learn that on the southern face, there is a warmer world in existence…and that if you live on the north face, ice stays until the end of March, sometimes into April.
 
You become keenly aware of the forces that shape the hills and the hollows, the springs that feed the creeks, and just which feeder creek valleys are the loneliest places on earth.
 
If you walked down across the far west pasture field, and crossed our small, nameless creek that had gouged out skunk hollow over millenia, you would be faced with an exceptionally steep hillside to climb up over.
 
When I was a child, it was the home of giant white oaks, the canopies of which shaded hepaticas and anemones, trilliums and mayflowers.  And the shoemaker lived up there in an old hollow tree… at least that was the story told to little kids round these parts.
 
And from the top of that great white oak woods, you could see Smith Road.
 
At the base of that steep hillside ran our "lower lane".  It ran straighdown alongside the pig pen and at the bottom of the field, crossed our creek over a bridge built of old timbers, and then wrapped around the base of that huge, steep hill.
 
On the backside of that hill, it crossed over neighbor’s property and junctioned with Smith road…a seldom used (by anyone) dirt road. 
 
The lane had been used mostly as access to the church in Coylesville (the Irish Catholic Church) when my grandmother still drove a horse and buggy to church. It cut off miles and miles–rather than her going out the lane proper, and junctioning with the road named after "double sales" …after which she would have to wind around the top of a hill and then follow Smith, road alonside a creek that had cut the next valley over, and eventually pass the end of our ‘lower lane’ on her way to the church.
 
But by the time that i was old enough to recall going to church, we had already switched to the German catholic church…and the lower lane had fallen into a nearly impassable state.  The bridge was all but washed away–10 feet or so, downstream but still intact. 
 
Our side of the property was kept trimmed down, due to a lot of animals grazing, however, that backside, across the property line, had become overgrown with brambles and small witch hazel trees.
 
It was always a bit of a mystery to me. I never went that direction, except once when I was ten years old and my puppy was lost. I  looked everywhere for her. (She found her way home, and lived to be 12 years old) (best dog ever, really, Pokey is great, but Heidi was the best).  It was lonely back there. All that resided in that valley was an old coal tipple, and the house of the Smith’s.
 
It was an old red, shingle sided, tumble down wreck of a poverty dwelling if I ever saw one. Long since abandoned, we were told to just stay away from that place, "No need to go nebbing over there!"
 
And then there was that story that we always got to hear, right after we had been told to stay away from there.  About how after Melie Smith had her baby, my grandma, being neighborly, took over jars of home canned meat and fruit and vegetables. This would have been during the depression.
 
When grandma stopped back a week later to check on Melie and to gather up her empty Mason jars… oh my!  She was told that Melie had not washed them… she had thrown them out in the old mine entrance where they threw all of their ‘garbage’.
 
Grandma claimed to have never said a word about it to Melie or her people…but lol, she said alot about it to us… for many, many years!
 
So there it was, the hollow at the bottom of Smith road, where that small creek met ruff run.  It was a place that we passed only on rare occasions,  when we went to Kittanning to visit my Aunt and Uncle…or if we went past Kittanning, much further north to the banks of redbank creek to visit my other grandma.
 
When I was 12 years old, we drove down Smith road one day to access 422 the shortest way…and much to our surprise, there was a trailer a.k.a. mobile home, sitting on our old lane at the Smith road end.
 
I don’t mean sitting there as if they ran out of time and parked it there until tomorrow. I mean that it was now a home…in that God-for-saken lonely valley!
 
I can still see my mom waving at a man sitting outside of the trailer, and still see him not moving a muscle, then, lol, hear my mom say, "Well, new neighbors…and rude ones at that…and the nerve of them, blocking our lane!"
 
We had not ever used that lane that I could recall… and for someone moving in, it was not even obvious that a lane had been there.
 
Summer waxed and waned, and we heard nothing about the people back on Smith road.  Life went on about its normal way, and we kids in our ‘neighborhood’ visited and they came and helped us put in hay, because they actually thought that it was fun.
 
Karen and Cheryl had moved here from Texas just two years before…and the neighborhood was for all intents and purposes, a girl vaccuum, lol, the only two boys were cousins…so they did not even count!
 
The first day of school came with the expected resignation that the end of summer freedom brings.  This year, Cheryl and I were making the switch to the  high shcool bus—we were off to junior high school which was in the same building as the high school…  Karen, one year older was riding that bus too–on her way to Junior high.  Betty was left behind for one more year in the neighborhood elementary school.
 
The bus stopped and picked us up, and  we sat down and started looking around for familiar faces. All three of us in one seat (safety in numbers you know?)  We saw older boys and girls of local farm families…and there were a few unfamiliar faces of boys we had never seen before.
 
We got through our day…so much newness, too many hours of that uneasy unfamiliar feeling inside.  At the end of the  day, we boarded for our trip home, and I noted that one unfamiliar boy getting on our bus at the elementary school.  Hmm?
 
We once again piled into one seat. We were at the bottom of the food chain here…and any confidence/cockyness was kept in check. It did not matter if the loud mouthed Snyder boys each took their own seat (there were four of them), we were just trying to get by.
 
The students on the bus were really thinned out by the time we reached the end of Keasy, turning onto Stargrill and then passing Smith…
 
"Wait…stop! This is our stop!"
 
Karen, Cheryl and I turned to see two boys coming forward in the bus…to get off.
 
We sat, speechless, as they crossed Stargrill road in front of the bus and headed down Smith road while we pulled away and headed up over Frazak hill.
 
We were each (no doubt) silently  thinking, lol , BOYS!!!!! Living on Smith Road!  BOYS!!!!
 
The next day, my task was at hand…assertaining their names…Woody and Ken.  That would be short for Woodrow Wilson…and Kenneth.
 
I was always friendly and welcoming…and by the time they got off of the school bus, they had been invited over to see the farm, and to meet my family.
 
They must have run down Smith road. I was barely home when I saw them rounding the bottom of that steep hill at the bottom of the fields.
 
Heidi wanted to rip them to shreds, lol, but in spite of that, they were outwardly friendly and anxious to meet us too.
 
Woody was the oldest of five, physically small, shorter than me, and Ken was about my height. They had sandy blond hair.  They laughed easily… but even  one as young as I could see, there was something sad in their eyes.
 
It was a nice visit, and as soon as my sister Betty got home, luuuuuuv was obvious in her eyes.
 
They overstayed their allotted time, and it wasn’t much past that time that we heard a woman’s vouice yelling, "WOOOODY!!!!  KEEEEN!"
 
They took off immediately down the old lower lane and were quickly out of sight.
 
I called karen immediately and told her all about the visit.  Karen, my first cousin once removed, was already, and still is my best friend inthe whole wide world…was on that day, jealous…the only person more jealous than her was her sister Cheryl, who had love in her eyes too…
 
Dang that little fella Woody, had two hearts pounding!
 
The next day I made my way, after having been invited by their mom, to their home to meet them.
 
When I stepped out of the witch hazels and the brambles into the sunshine of their yard, the man was sitting outside of the trailer, as he had been a couple of months befoer when we first saw them.
 
I said hello, and he said nothing. I continued on, with his eyes following me as I moved, but ne never said a word or moved an inch.
 
A woman stepped out of the triler and smiled as she said, "Hi, I am Deet".
 
"Hi, I am Teresa."
 
She looked over at the man sitting outside and yelled, "Wood,  this is our neighbor around the hill, on that farm over there that the boys said they could see from the woods. Her name is Teresa."
 
He never moved or acknowledged that she had spoken.
 
We went inside and she showed me her new trailer.  "The four boys share this bedroom, and Wood has this bedroom and Rosita and I stay back here."
 
Another man emerged from the back bedroom that she had identified as hers, and she introduced him as Ed… "Wood’s brother."
 
The trailer was spotless, and she had the look of a hard working woman.  You just knew that she was a no-bullshit person. And I could respect that.  In the years that she lived back there, I developed an awe for her…and a great fondness.
 
I met Mike, Jack and Rose that day too, after they got home from elementary school.  They all walked me back to the property line. I crossed the barbed wire fence and bid them goodbye, "See you in the morning"
 
As I walked back to my house, another quarter of a mile, I wondered about much of what I had just seen… but never waivered on accepting Deet’s friendliness at face value.
 
Of course Karen and Cheryl were just about beside themselves with questions about Woody’s family.  Poor Ken, he never captured anyone’s heart…he was kind of awkward, but without a doubt, the brightest light shining of that group.  Ken, I adored.  He was a sweet person, I imagine that he still is…living somewhere in Oklahoma last that I heard.
 
Oh, lol, back to the day…
 
Next day on the school bus, after the crowd had thinned out, we alll split up in our own seats. Ken and Woody came and sat next to my seat.  Ken did the talking.
 
"You know who Wood is?"
 
I shook my head as I said, "Nope."
 
"He is our dad. He had a stroke. He can’t talk or even move really."
 
I wanted to cry for them, and I wanted to ask a bunch of questions that I managed to stifle, and now I understood so much about how Deet lived.
 
I knew the  source of the sadness in their eyes… a sadness so deep that Woody, the oldest and his father’s namesake, could not even speak of the stroke.
 
I learned a lot from them while they lived back there. I never knew anyone who had pain like that in their life. 
 
There were no divorces, no separations, no strange living arrangements due to physical infirmaties… in my neighborhood, in my church… and I watched while adult women in my backwoods world, judged and then ostracized Deet…
 
And I watched a good, hard working and honest woman…doing what she had to do to get by…
 
 

That taught me more about human nature than all of the other neighbors that I ever had…and of all that I probably ever will have…
 

And all five of those kids were my friends. We had a blast…and many more stories that include them will likely find a home on this livespace.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Where did my bicycle story go?

I lost it somewhere on my computer. Thought that I had saved it somewhere on my harddrive…but cannot find it.  I can’t even remember if this was the livespace that I originally posted it on.  With summer coming in these parts, it seemed a timely story to post…

I really have been thinking a lot about bicycling of late…what with the warmer weather arriving…and my bicycle collecting dust in the basement for months now.  I never had my own bike until I was 15, and my oldest sister was working… she bought me a bright red ten-speed, that I rode everywhere!  Heck, I saw most of the world on that bike (okay, okay, it was just he local world that I toured) (two mile radius of home) but I was pretty independent on that thing.

I have to laugh out loud at the thought…those skinny tires, on these backroads…and 32 years ago, Winfield township was pretty well known for its ‘washboard’ roads.  Well, that was only the black topped roads. The dirt roads rarely had washboard issues, just severe dust issues come summer…but then the township truck would come by and spray oil on the road!

Yep, heard that right, my oh my, how times have changed.  Now, spill a quart of oil and the DEP is wanting you to clean it up, put it in a drum marked "hazardous waste’ and pay to have it taken to a special landfill…

But time was when my siblings and I had one bicycle to share between the eight of us.

It was not your average bike with a bright primary color painted on…and sparkling chrome wheels, Oh my, no!  My father had acquired it from some place other that the local Gaylord’s or GC Murphy’s store…

My dad was a busy guy, and rarely bothered with things such as toys for his kids; that was mom’s doing. Dad was a farmer, a spring maker, and was in charge of maintenance at the local college and seminary. As part of his duties at the seminary, he drove the priests and the brothers out  to Harrisburg for government surplus’ auctions. Being non-profit–the Catholic seminary was allowed to purchase items, and they did quite frequently.

When he arrived home from one of his Harrisburg trips, without ado, he presented a bicycle to all eight of us!  It was fantastic! The day nearly mirrored Christmas!  We were so excited it was all that we could do to take waiting our turns. Oh!  You should have seen it!  My God! I can still see it… in that shade of army green!!!

There was never a finer or a prettier bicycle made…and had a soul said otherwise, i would surely have fought to defend our bike’s honor!

We had to take turns of course…and the truth of it was this: The older kids were big enough ( read, had long enough legs) to reach the peddles, but alas, the younger three of us were a might too short for this big boy… but there was a way!

In fact, there was a way to have three of us ride it at once. One (bigger kid) standing and peddling, one kid sitting on the seat behind them holding their waist, and one kid sitting on the handle bars (desperately trying to keep their feet above that front tire). It helped to have another kid give the bike a push to get it going (carrying such a load).

Imagine how that looked? And then include the other four kids running along after, waiting for the wreck!

Nah, not to pick people up and dust them off, but to grab the bike and take their turn while the victims with skinned knees and elbows cried and shouted indignities at having their bike taken…!

We had that bike for a few years, and it toiled ceaselessly.  We rode it on the lane and up and down the pasture fields, and no doubt dreamed wondrous places that we gliding—while the wind blew in our faces.

Ah, that such a wonderful thing could last forever! But is was not to be.  That poor old bike paid its dues, and finally reached the point that the brakes did not function and that coincided with the bike being capable of being peddled backwards..Oh yes!  Our army green bike now had a reverse!  We did not know how it had happened, but it was way neat!

And along came the reign of Evel Keneivel, did I spell that right?  Not the point anyway, the point being, that my brothers were suddenly enamored of, and fantasizing about the stunt abilities of two wheeled vehicles…

It was a sunny spring day, and if I remember correctly, we were playing ball in front of the barn, the barn made an excellent backstop.  We had one bat, and one ball that was a rock with black electrical tape (pilfered–yes, swiped) from my dad’s workshop, wrapped around it over and over again. It probably would have been cheaper to buy baseballs than black electrical tape!

My oldest brother, fueled by the televising of the latest evel Keneivel stunt, announced that he intended to ride our green bike down over the hill above the corn crib.

Let me describe that hill. It is steep. there was a ‘cow path’ there. Not anything that a person would consider a road. It was only used for planting and growing season access to the lower fields– to save driving in from above, over top of planted fields.

We begged him not to do it; older siblings who knew better, warned him not to do it!  Ah, but he must have been about twelve that year…and bulletproof…

We watched him push the bike up that hill.  Around rocks, and a wide bend…

I was standing on a huge stone that served as a step up into the corn crib…and just past me, at a nearly right angle turn, my three oldest sisters stood, watching…knowing…

They shouted one more warning as he stopped and turned the bike. He stood bedside it, just that moment, for the drama…the suspense to build.

I wondered, will he do it? Or will he chicken out?

My other two brothers, just a bit older than me a bit younger than him shouted encouragement…

He swung his leg up over the crossbar, and then he was on the seat, peddling…slowly…slowly…painfully slow it was to start…and then he got to the really steep part of the hill..and the peddling stopped as his feet were held out to the sides of the bike to clear the peddles that were spinning with an accelerating life of their own.

Oh, forgot to mention that?  Not only did our bike have reverse, but the peddles also never ceased to move turn when you moved forward…always in gear, I reckon!

He was still smiling this silly sort of wild eyed grin…that i had NEVER seen before! And then he seemed to be moving too fast to avoid the rocks…he was airborne at times, as he cleared them, and then he was flying up off of the seat, and then nearly wiped out…and recovered just in…oh, oh my!  How can he hang on to the handlebars?  How does he land back on the seat after flying up like that? I don’t think he is going to…wow! way too fast!!!  "SLOOOOOW DOOOOWN!!! YOOOOOOUUU ARE GONNA WREEEEEEEEECK!!! Holy crap!  Then to everyone, by everyone at he bottom of that hill, ‘RUUUUUUUN!!"

We scattered to the four winds, running for our lives, unsure of just where that bike would stop!

He ran across some big bumpy rocks near the bottom, and he was flying! Nearly got the handlebars straightened again when

"CRAAAAAAAASH"

Right into the big rock step in front of the corn crib.

We all ran back to where he had stopped. The bike wheel was still spinning…kind of crooked, but still spinning…

And there was major damage.  Irreparable damage…

My brother?  I can’t remember if he got hurt or not?  None of us cared! 

It was the bike that was hurt!

The frame was bent, and the rusted black wheels were twisted in an unnatural way too…

And that day probably pointed my brother in the direction of being a farmer by profession, rather than a stunt cyclist!!!

…and just for the record…, when I got my ten speed, I would never have let my oldest brother ride it!

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Happy B-day fuzzy shmo

Ahh, the 21st birthday of my baby!  I remember the day like it was yesterday…and what mother’s heart ever recalls a child’s birthday differently? Twenty one years ago, right about this time, I laid down for the night…and my water broke.  I was no stranger to this; my firstborn was the same way, water breaking at bedtime, two weeks early, and wait all night and no labor…
 
So Good Friday  morning found me going to work to finish some paperwork before I headed to the hospital.  I was mentally set to go, to wing it, this was after all, number three…lol, nothin to it.
 
But alas, my friend of many years already, (and still) Tammy, refused to let me go alone.  Sometimes it is just easier to give in than to argue…
 
I arrived at the hospital on this cold but gloriously clear and sunny day, by perhaps, 10:30 am.   Labor was induced before noon.
 
And that sweet little dark haired boy was born at 4:26 pm. ♥  He was 6 lbs. 15 oz. and beautiful. ♥ I had a local, but nothing to numb my mind…nothing to cast a fog over this sweet memory. ♥
 
I brought him home on Easter Sunday…and we spent Sunday night on the family homestead (at my mom’s insistence) and he really did sleep in one of my old dresser drawers!
 
Monday afternoon, it was incredibly warm for so early in the spring, and I took him and Zigzee and Natters home to where I rented.
 
So with the speed of light, 21 years has flown past and my ‘fuzzy shmo’ is still a beautiful sight!  Long curly hair…I suppose that if the curls were straightened out, it might even be longer than mine.
 
He has always been the leader of the pack…and from kindergarten on, he was surrounded by his own universe, and friends were attracted to that universe.  He is shy in many situation, masquerading as indifferent.  But do not be fooled; he misses nothing.
 
His mind is a steel trap for details, and he loves history.  World history, American history, military history, it is what he is passionate about.  😦 but I have yet to convince him that his butt should be in school, becoming a teacher of that history that he holds so dear).  Just last night we had a discussion about lineage…about the Hessians in his line on one side, and Stonewall Jackson in his line on the other side…
 
He loves the PGH Steelers and the Penguins (note the black and gold of this blog!)
 
He loves animals. He is the most tenderhearted person that i have ever known when it comes to animals…
 
Funny, tears to my eyes funny in fact, and quick witted to boot.
 
But the one thing that I am most proud of him for is his sense of justice, equality and fairness…and that he has the backbone to live what he believes… If you met him, you would likely think that he is indifferent about a lot of things, in fact, you might even take away from that meeting, that he is no great lover of people…but the truth of it is this; he is so often dissappointed with the way that people behave…that he guards himself and those that he loves closely.
 
When he was in sixth grade, and all of the students were thrown together in the new middle school for the first year… there was a boy iin his grade that was brunt of every joke, every cruel trick that 11 and 12 year olds could think of…and he had no friends. Josh C. hated the world, hated school, hated himself…all at the hands of other children’s opinion of him.
 
My son got off of the school bus one day, and I asked him, "How was your day?"
His normal response was, (while smiling) "It was a day".
 
But on this particular day, he was thinking…and wondering about people, about other kids and the level of cruelty that they are capable of.
 
He told me that in the lunchroom (200 students, all 6th graders) Josh C. had gotten his lunch, and was wandering from table to table carrying his tray. He would start to sit down and the kids already there would yell at him to leave, just go, "You can’t sit here!"  As he approached D.C.’s (my son) table, D.C. did not even wait for him to give that pleading look. He told him "Josh, you can sit here."
 
It sounds like such a small gesture…and why am I so proud of it?  Because he was the lone student oin that lunchroom with a comfortable self identity perhaps…who understood that Josh really did not have any kind of cooties or curse that could brush off from having him so near…
 
And at that very tender age, he was not afraid to go against the tide…knowing full well that what the other sixth graders said about it, about any of it…Josh, him, his friends…did not make it the truth just because they said it.  That was a tough act in 6th grade…
 
My baby, still in your face honest, independent thinker, smart, handsome, funny..and all grown up!  I love him bunches…and bunches…and bunches… 🙂
 
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Happy spring to all you youngsters

Ahh, spring at last…♥  for two hours already, it has been spring…
 
I just stepped outside onto the back porch for a moment…just a moment, because it is very cold out yet.  But the cold is not all bad.  It maintains a certain silence.  In just another month, the raucous noise of life and hope springing eternal will be a wellspring from which the everpresent noise of the warmer months springs from…
 
But tonight I bathed my soul in the darkness and the starlit silence of a late March night. What met me in the silence of the darkened forest and  field was the sound of rushing water in the valley far below the house.  Almost a hush…not a roar.
 
There is a reality in such nights, a truth voiced by the silence… it waits for us…the dark and the silence and it is never ever very far away. We can drive it away with lights, warmth and laughter, but when all else is gone, there it remains, waiting on us…and the peace of our thoughts.
 
Clarity and focus are the working order of this night.  I could make a list, but it is, just like the everpresent noise of the warmer months. It exists and it is known… and never gets very far from my heart.  My driving force that moves me along…
 
So tonight I am neglecting the task at hand (800+ pages of fiction and counting) and I will write a few words here for those who stop by to enjoy them. Almost 5400 page views to date…please leave me a note when you stop by 🙂 we amateur authors are such a heart on our sleeves bunch…we do LOVE to know who stops by and what you think of our words…
 
My mind meanders back to a time when my heart was untried and my hide was tender…and all that was mysterious and mighty, dwealt just beyond my view and my grasp.  A time when the world was an inviting place where danger and excitement resided side by side…
 
I was standing on the edge of one world…  and waiting on the next…
 
And the stars that I could see beyond the edge of my oh so innocent world, were bigger and brighter and held a promise that I had never seen before. And the wind blew up from that great divide between those two worlds, and ruffled the hair of a girl, and then settled it back down on a woman’s shoulders.
 
The sound of the mourning doves called out, and the whiporwills, and behind me, they sounded silly and harsh, but beyond the edge, their songs were a mixture of pain and beauty, deception and truth, promise and betrayal… the clouds were puffs of haunted cotton that obscurred the moon, but the moment was fleeting. Then in the light of a spring moon, the world suddenly took on a different glow.  It was no longer rose colored, but was tinted and in some odd way, tainted by passionate daydreams that either promised or threatened to spill over into the night.
 
The sounds of spring, the sights, the warmth, the heady smell of lilacs…and green grasses swaying in a sun kissed breeze…
 
What did I know…that the fantasy that lived in my young mind, was never meant to be lived?
 
I still do not believe that. The fantasy is there…and every year when the rains come and waken the sweet earth, and the lilacs start to bud out, and the stars come out and shine…they issue a promise…that it is true, the promise holds true; fantasies really are meant to be lived, love exists as surely as the world continues to turn, and that the world is a place full of excitement and adventure. And if you will just believe, and inhale deeply the air of spring…you will feel it!
 
Young all over again for a moment, and your heart will race, and you will feel the joy, though perhaps you do not comprehend its source…
 
let the breeze ruffle your hair, and the mourning doves and whiporwills will call as ever. listen to them with your heart, and understand that it lives on…the sweetness of youth is never more than a few moments of springtime away…
 
 
okay, late, tired, bed.  lol…
 
 
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