Life and Times at Cranberry Lake

This blog is about the life, wild and otherwise, in this immediate area of Northeast Pennsylvania. I hope you can join me and hopefully realize and value that common bond we share with all living things... from the insect, spider, to the birds and the bears... as well as that part of our spirit that wishes to be wild and free.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Journal entry July 14, 2009

First entry in a new notebook back in 2009:

I have been having a problem with "worth" lately.  It seems as if I need something -- charity work or Volunteer work-- to get me outside of myself in order to feel worthy of this life I'm leading.  However, since I stopped riving for meals (HDM), I've wanted to make this time off from doing the philanthropic things and to now work for self and family.

I've wanted to sort through my ton of notebooks to weed out that which isn't worth keeping, if that's only to keep whomever draws the short straw, when I pass, to chucking the whole business.

Those notebooks are my life, but don't reflect the underlying happiness that is normally felt.  Those notebooks poured out the sticks and stones which were blocking my road to happiness.  So they are mainly a way of clearing away the debris so I could move on and enjoy each day to the fullest.  But to the reader it could seem a list of complaints of life's way of treating me.

Hopefully I'll have said something of value to future generations or to any public who could profit from my insights.

Another mission is the albums...and the photography.  I want my albums at hand, and to be 'looked' at and enjoyed for what they are: a picture book of my family and the life around us.  That task is a list toxic one than the sometimes wading through the complaints and depressions that got in the way of what could have been a more perfect life...But, like I said, it was m way of clearing that path and making my life more enjoyable.

The pictures are like life free of that debris.  We pose for the shots or keep those that depict that happiness we see when looking back--like seeing the high hills from an even higher hill, not those valleys in between.

But in the darkness of the night, one sees lights in those valleys.  Sometimes we need the darkness in order to see those lights--to be able to peer into the windows of those memories and see how we managed to survive and what fortifications we used to stave off the negative.

So, between those two self quests, we will have a reflection  of what life was like for me and my family throughout the years.  Those albums and those snapshot records of our lives, may not depict the mind and soul.  In old Jewish tradition as well as some Native American beliefs they did not want any graven images .. Maybe it wasn't that we'd worship them instead of God, but maybe they don't depict the spirit and soul of the person.  Sometimes we cannot pose or dress for the occasion and expect that other dimension to show.  I remember as a young housewife in Vestal that when I was in a good mood, but my work clothes, and my hair simply drawn back in a ponytail to get the hair out of my face, and I wasn't thinking of anything but getting a task done, and I would 'feel' better feed-back from the public than when I had to go, and my energy was down, so I'd primp and take pains to look perfect, and then feel absolutely shunned by the "outside world".

Calm/assertive comes to me.  Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, always talks of energy and uses that reference so often you want to say, "Enough Already", but it's true.  Take a dog.  He doesn't care how you look or himself looks.  He listens, he sees how you act, and he feels your energy.  I just don't know if that translates in a photo.  Not that I care, but I guess my looks are who I am to future generations, so if my photographs can somehow show my spirit and mindset as well, then I can be happy with that memory "carved in the stone" of a photograph.

But, back to my notebooks: They are so full of "weeds" but I want my words to depict the machete knife cutting my way through life so the weeds won't choke up my life and leave me stranded in my own miseries.  But like my snapshots that don't show my whole soul, I intend to edit that which would hurt others.  ...To rip out those briars of just blowing off steam, and save the wisdom ...IF I find any.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Telescope at the Cottage on Swans Island

That summer vacation on Swans Island, Maine, part of the huge building/cottage we stayed in was once a hardware store.  Inside the store it looked like a mann's typical cellar tool shop, though this was on the level with the land.  Whenever it had shut down, it still had so many tools, nails, screws, as well as shoe polish and just about anything a general hardware store had, whenever we had such a need, we would go there for something to hammer, saw, polish, etc.

In a nook underneath a stairs, I found an old telescope.  It was the most magnificent telescope I ever held, and from its age and size, I usually lay down with my back against something, propped it on my knees, and looked out into Bar Harbor, able to recognize a fisherman's boat from a mile away.

It must have really took my imagination away, as back home when I dreamed of Swans Island, I once dreamt that I could see up and over... like a modern day drone.  It's the only implement I ever handled that to me was magical.  At the end of our vacation, I never was so tempted to take it with me, and actually longed for it after, wondering if anyone would have even missed it, as it was so hidden in the piles of leftover hardware goods in that old shop.

I also added the picture of the sand shark I caught that summer with my brother Jerry's help when we rowed out to a friends lobster boat and fished using the line from a spool bought at a nearby shop for about 15c back then.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chapter Three; My Life... The Teen Years

...Still in pigtails:

When I went into seventh grade I was one of two girls in that whole school still in pigtails.  While I liked the transition to Jr. High, I didn't like "being different" and the following summer, before going to Swan's Island in Bar Harbor, Maine, Mom took me to her friend and hairdresser to have my hair cut and given a perm.  At that time, we had the machine curlers... I really don't know much about those old fashioned things.  A little later, Toni came out with Home perms.  I remember trying to give myself one, and it was the most exhausting feat in my life. I thought my arms were going to drop off putting in all those little curlers, and applying the chemicals which just irritated my eyes, and frustrating me further.  All the work, and it didn't take anyway.  So I ended up transitioning from pigtails to a ponytail from 8th grade on with the exception of one trip to Boston with a friend who was going to go to a beauty salon, and I had my hair cut and permed again, only to begin slicking it back when it came to having to figure out how to make those wavy curls that covered my head and looked good until the first shampoo.  People complemented the look while it was fresh, but after, I had to slick it back in kind of a boy's hairstyle in order for me to be content with how it looked.  It was that age whereas looks meant a lot to a 13 year old until... well... even at almost 75, I still like to look good even if home alone. It makes me feel better even if no one else is here.

When in seventh grade, I think I actually LIKED school.  For one thing, we moved from classroom to classroom to study different subjects.  We could select our subjects according to our curriculum.  One year I had Mechanical Drawing, which became my favorite subject, probably because I was attracted to my teacher, Mr. McCall, a very nice guy who was our mailman during the summer.  I had found out then he was a teacher, but hadn't realized he would be mine when I selected my subject.  Another subject I really enjoyed was Physics.  Mechanics was a natural for me.  I could understand the machinery of mechanical advantage, and finally understood why it was easier to use a wheelbarrow, as not only did it have a wheel, but once you lifted the handles, the slant of the load as well as the weight actually was an mechanical advantage to one who was using it to shift something from one place to another.  I should have used these subjects as a guideline as to what my future should hold, but never did.  It now comes in handy in so many ways on our small farm.

When I was at Swans Island that summer of my 13th birthday, I met my first boyfriend, Joseph Smith, who mainly tried to attract me by doing physical tricks like standing on his head or doing cartwheels.  We rented a cottage which had no electricity or telephone.  It was a neat experience to live for a few weeks in such a way... to get an experience of what the "old days" were like.  There was a cistern in the cellar from which we could use a hand pump in the kitchen to draw up water for cooking, doing dishes and washing clothes by hand with a scrub-board, as well as to take baths.  We had huge kettles on a wrought iron wood stove to heat up the water if needed... but for regular drinking water, one of us had to go out daily to a nearby spring for the community to bring back pure drinking water.

One day while there our family took a walk to a sandy beach on the other side of the island, estimated about seven miles away.  It was a nice time, but between the walking and swimming, picnicking on the beach and walking back in the early evening, we were exhausted.  When we got back, Uncle Henry and family had come to visit in his ChrisCraft, a cabin cruiser with a tuna rig on the front.  He took our family for a ride around Swans Island, and us children took turns sitting way out on the rigging, which was a thrill, as you could feel the swell of the waves, and being suspended above the water like that was thrilling to begin with.

Most of our summer vacations, when I was a teen, were spent on Peaks Island.  Even at ten years old we went for the first time to a cottage called Wanakena.  We were to spend many summer vacations there, and later in life, once married, my family stayed there, while Mom and Aunt Daw stayed at a little cottage below called The Three Twins.  I guess island cottages usually had names.  Their cottage had a pump organ, and a fireplace.  We rented there when in my teens one summer and had such fun playing with the organ... probably drove my mother nuts.  The very first time to Peaks Island, we stayed with a relative.  I don't remember much of it, except we went by train, taxi once in Portland, and then one of the Casco Bay Boats.  Then the next time, we went to that cottage Mom rented.  I say Mom, because Dad didn't always go... or maybe only got one weeks vacation and stayed for part of our vacation.  I'm sure she was the go-getter.  I take after my dad, and feel it's too much trouble to pack and go ...well, anywhere now.  But we have our vacation place in our own home now, and I'm very content with that.

The first time we rented Wanakena, when I was ten, we didn't have a car, so we had to take the train.  Mom wasn't going to leave Jeanie, our Scotch Collie, but in order to take her on the train, she had to have a muzzle, and stay in the baggage car.  Mom so loved that dog that she took the uncomfortable seat in the baggage car, probably sitting on a suitcase for the trip, as she wouldn't let Jeanie stay in there alone.  I now can understand, as more than us three younger children, Jerry, me and Peter sitting by ourselves, a dog doesn't understand what's happening, and now, I would do the same.  At the time, I thought Mom was a bit crazy to be in an uncomfortable place for such a long train trip.  I can't even understand where she got the courage and wherewithal to plan, pack, and execute such a trip.  We took a taxi to the waterfront in Portland to go on to the Casco Bay Boat, and an old rattle trap of an Island Taxi once on Peaks.  Aunt Daw must have gone also, as we have many pictures of that visit.  [I'll post them if I can find Tom's camera, as my printer doesn't scan into the iMac... used to be able when on a regular PC.]

When we went back to Peakes Island the summers after we'd vacationed on Swans Island, each time we'd leave Woburn, once on Route 1, and on our way, it seemed to rain, and because of it, it felt like a backdrop closing once scene of my life, and opening the next scene at which became my favorite place in the world, Peakes Island.  It was a place where no one knew of my high school days and insecurities.  I blossomed there, and became a wild Island teen... kind of.  I was very much in guard of my virginity, but it didn't stop the Island boys trying to date me.  My cousin, Peggy Doane, who lived on the other side of the Island, would come over to visit, and comb Jeanie while there, and we had a code my mother made up.  Everytime we left the cottage, before we entered again, we had to recite this poem she wrote, using islands in Casco Bay as well as the Casco Bay Passenger/Ferry boats:
Goose, Goslings, Eagle and Crow
Haddrock, Gooseneck, Horse and Brown Cow;
Genet; Maquoit; Cisco; Mericaneque;
Cushings; Diamond; Peakes; and Chabique.
[That's as close as I can remember... I should look up the Islands and Bay Boats to check the spelling.]

Peggy enjoyed the game as well.  We got on pretty well that first summer.  The next summer, she had entered her teens with a vengance.  To her, I was just a kid.  I saw her often, as her family and mine would have weenie roasts out on back shore.  We had red hotdogs.  Nothing ever tasted as good, though the red dye or however they made them was probably objectionable to later health standards.  But they bring back great memories.  Aunt Eleanor, Peggy's mother, would usually make a blueberry cake for our dessert.  Even back then, Mom was environmentally attuned, and objected to one of Eleanor's ways.  She merrily said once dinner was through that she loved picnics by the sea, as she didn't need to clean up,and would toss all the paper goods and wraps into the sea.  Actually it was all biodegradable even by todays standards, as we didn't use plastic ware back then.  I love Eleanor.  She was much younger than my Mom... she'd married my uncle when she was in her teens.  She was pretty and wore glasses so well that I hoped I would wear glasses some day and look somewhat like her.  And her laugh made me think that's what "lilting laughter" was from the song "Peg of my Heart".

I had boyfriends at home in Woburn.  It wasn't like I wasn't popular there, but I felt I was only popular with really shy boys who didn't dare ask those girls that all the boys were after.  I had a hard time turning down anyone who would ask me out on a date.  Someone willing to spend money to take me to a movie, or go to a play.  I just couldn't hurt anyone's feelings.  My mother, at times, hurt their feelings for me, when she saw something she didn't like in a boyfriend.  Danny Rebel was okay in her eyes.  He took care of some rich person's stabled horses, would bring one over for me to ride.  I always thought riding a horse would be like my dreams... just sailing along on horseback without a saddle, holding on to the horse's mane.  In reality, they seemed too far off the ground, and because Danny was holding the reins as he led me slowly along, and it not having a saddle for me to hold on  the the saddle horn, I had to hold on to the mane or lean forward holding on to it's neck as much as I could reach on each side, and still felt like I was going to fall off the horse.  He finally caught on that I had been more interested in the horses he took care of than I was in him.  As for the procession of boyfriends in my life, that will take another chapter.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Chapter Two of My Life and Welcome into It

How do we learn? What comes naturally and what has to be taught?  Does affection have to be taught? All I knew as a very young child was whatever my 13 month older brother Jerry taught me.  He helped me to stand up in my crib, then when able, how to spring out of that cage by climbing over the bars.  He made me learn early as he wanted a buddy... another child with whom to play, and many games were of his own invention.  It seemed as if we couldn't go a day without being spanked, or at least being shut in our room.  It was a big old room with a window that was above the dining room bow window, which had a little roof.  As soon as we were old enough to lift the window upstairs, we found we could sneak out and sit on the steep little roof.  Once caught, we dared not do that again.  But Jerry had a game of feet off the floor.  We had to circle the whole room without letting our feet touch the floor.  It was bed to window sill to bureau to closet where we'd hold on to the frame above the doors, stretching as much as we could for the bed against the wall, then up to the tall bureau near the door.  When we got that far, we peered through to the hook that locked our room, and Jerry realized we could lift it off the hook with a piece of cardboard slipped through the door.  But... once we unlocked it... how does one lock it again before Mummy finds out we knew how to get out?  I really don't remember that scenario. We probably played ignorant like something else did it.  We had a blamer: the Pink Monkeys.  Don't know how Mom let us get away with that, but maybe it was wise, as we never did unlock and sneak out of the room.  I guess knowing how was good, should there ever be a reason, like the house afire... which, fortunately never happened... until sometime after last time I went back to the next town over where my younger brother Peter now lives with his wife Marie. That was 2011 when I finally got together with my high school friends on just a weekend visit.

I'd just visited Peter before, not looking up friends when my Aunt Daw died, and then in later years when Mom died in her 93rd year.  He took me to my old house while it was still there, and I immediately wished he hadn't.  I found that it whitewashed over the way I remembered it.  Things had really changed.  The little evergreens Mom planted out front were as tall as the house.  The porch where Mom read us The Swiss Family Robinson, and Hedi, was glassed in, and there was no longer a sleeping porch over that used to be porch roof.  I had spent most of my summers sleeping out there.  There were 6 or seven windows around, and screened in so I could keep the windows open and listen the the frogs, croaking from the brook and feel the breeze if there was one cooling off the room after a hot summer's day.  All gone... making me feel like ...well... like I could never go back.

Now, living as I do in rural Pennsylvania, I feel like I've captured that ideal relationship with nature that I learned through Jerry and my experiences of roaming around the paths and following the brook, climbing hills and trees to see how far we could see when a child back in North Woburn.  Maybe we cannot go back, but we can find that lost freedom in retirement.  Tom, who never did have that freedom of responsibility as a child being one of ten on a farm, has learned through me how to let his child out to play.  We both enjoy life to our fullest, and find just staying here all the vacation we need... though he would like to visit Alaska again.  (I think he may have led a previous life as a frontier, tackling and taming the wilderness.) But this is the next best thing: Living on our 10.2 acres of land and his raising beef while I raise the birds: pheasants; turkeys; chickens; bobwhite different times.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

MY LIFE AND WELCOME INTO IT: Myself and Friends of the Past:

How many years ago was it...?? A year after our 50th reunion, I guess.  I began hearing from my old friends from high school.  I had mixed emotions about it, as I had hated school, let alone high school, and thought most of the boys, anyhow, disliked me.  I never did have a good self perception, so how was I supposed to think others saw me?  It's not until NOW, in my 70s, that I've been feeling acceptable to others.  It's about time to accept myself for whom I am.

But hadn't I?  Actually, I've always liked and loved myself... except for short periods of my life where I thought a judgmental God would not like nor love me.  I'm human, and was perhaps hardest on 'myself' for making mistakes.

I was always comfortable with myself when I was alone, most likely taking a dog for a walk through the woods.  I was both my own best friend and my enemy, as when I tried to see myself through the eyes of others, I thought about how they teased my 13 month older brother Jerry.  Perhaps his taking over my early upbringing since I could stand in the crib-which HE helped to teach me-had a lot to do with my inability to separate myself from his personality.  We were really very much alike:  We loved nature and animals, and most of my preschool years were spent with him as my best friend doing everything together in all seasons.  We loved the sunshine, the rain, the wind, all animal life including insects and only excluding mosquitoes.  Living near a swamp, those bloodthirsty beings thought my blood was their champagne.  I almost itch just thinking of it.  But, despite putting up with stinging insects, we were more like twins than a year apart, and spent most of our waking time outdoors.  My childhood was GOLDEN... until I had to go to school.  I made up my mind to hate it from the beginning.

In grammar school, the Rumford school in North Woburn, when coming home after my first day, I announced to my mother that I tried it, but didn't like it, so I didn't want to go anymore.  She was sensitive to my feelings and didn't know how to tell me that I had to put up with it for 12 LONG years. One of the saving graces of my schooling was ONE girlfriend from first grade, Judy Clarke.  I was with her the first time I stepped into the town library, which was next door to her house.  However, looking at all those books, I was overwhelmed in thinking I'd probably have  to read them all.  But I got a library card, and took out Dr. Seuss's Horton Hatches an Egg.  Mom loved the book and laughed all the way through while reading it to us children.  At 6, I then had a younger brother Peter who was three.  I remember sitting on the porch swing (we always called it the hammock) while Mom would read to us during the warm evenings of the year.f

I feel I had a good home life, but longed for that freedom of being able to call my own leisure hours... or wanting all my hours to be leisure ones.  It wasn't until I married Tom that I felt that kind of freedom again.  Actually, it wasn't felt truly until we moved up to The Land, our home in Brackney, PA, but from almost two years before my second marriage in 1985 until Tom was recovering from a five-way by-pass in 1986, we'd been looking for a place where we could reside in Pennsylvania, and accidentally found this piece of land for sale, and purchased it the summer of 1986.  10.2 acres of land, with a creek running through it, and following the deer paths through the woods with my then dog, Gayle, a Guiding Eyes Puppy we were to eventually keep because of slight hip dysplasia, we could walk up to quiet Cranberry Lake.  It had cottages along two shores, but even in summer there seemed few residents vacationing there.  Between that, and a beautiful field above our hedgerow that belonged to NYC people who rarely visited their land, I felt like I had regained that WONDERFUL feeling of freedom to become a part of nature again as I had in my childhood.

Even before we married, when I first visited the farm where Tom was raised, I had a wonderful déjà vu feeling on Jurista Drive, when we arrived at the house in which he was born.  I felt I'd arrived home again in a way I could never feel in Woburn.  It was as if I knew this place and had missed it all of my life.  I took an immediate liking to Alberta, Tom's sister-in-law.  I was Home like never before. I've often wondered if I lived there in another life.

Until I married Tom, I had a lot to overcome in the way I felt socially.  I don't know if it was because my best friends in High School all had far neater and nicer houses than I had.  I don't know if it was that I didn't get the great marks that Judy got, or that I only could feel comfortable with younger girls than myself, though I tried in every way to measure up to my High School friends.  It may have been because of the shame I felt when being teased in school for the first time in my life. When lining up two by two, like always after recess in an early grade--girls first and boys following--my being last, I had to be partners with John Duffney, because of an unfortunate odd number of girls, and immediately the kids started teasing John and me.  I got angry, and something that was the most ridiculous thing to do under the circumstances, as I leaned over and kissed John on the cheek.  I have NO IDEA why I did such a thing, but it's how I dealt with my anger at being teased, it was a reaction that still puzzles me. After school that afternoon, it seemed like the streets were ringing- echoing- the mean voices teasing me with their chants, "Mary Jo loves John."  I held my emotions in and they felt like a hard ball in my stomach. Rounding the corner on Williams Court, where I could see my house, I ran in, collapsing in tears, while telling my mom between my sobs as to what happened.  I don't know what she said at that time.  I think she almost laughed at my reaction of having kissed John on the cheek.  I didn't even Know him.  It was out of anger, not affection.

Years later when high school boys found me an easy number for teasing, Mom tried to convince me that it was their way of showing me they liked me... boys just did that.  But it didn't help.  I've hated being teased... who wouldn't?  I hated being reprimanded... making ANY mistakes in school... in life.  Well, I'm human.  Everyone feels that way to some extent, but all my life, I've overreacted to teasing and shame to the degree that I would review it in my mind over and over as if in doing I could undo the hurt.  Then I took it to the nth degree by picturing the worst every time I was to have a social encounter, like shoring up my mind like a fighter tightening his abdominal muscles so it wouldn't hurt if someone gave him a gut punch.

My girlfriends in grammar school were mostly neighborhood friends who were kind of in the same class or life situation as myself... not so neat houses, easier going moms and families.  Comfort friends.  But some became a bit wild and unsavory once teenagers.  My best neighborhood friend, Julie F., whose mother became my 4H leader, and went to her house not only to play, but weekly meetings for Crafts... once when they had a 4H fair which I couldn't go along, next  meeting, Julie just couldn't wait to tell me about how they had such a good time ...going to a neighboring Woolworth's and shoplifting balloons, trinkets, and other 10c articles.  Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing, something I've since read that others go through, but my reaction turned my stomach and I stopped going to 4H.  When my mother asked me why, I told her.  I think it's the first time a mother respects a child when they tell them that they rejected the crowd when their friends did something wrong. (Later, when in High School, I was shopping at some clothing store in Woburn Center after school.  Julie and several girls came into the shop... but didn't see me.  I saw how she had graduated from snitching 5 and 10c store items into scamming off dresses, while one goes in to try on some clothes while another asks the only sales clerk questions about clothing and where such and such is, and "Oh, isn't that nice... are you getting more in soon"... til the other one comes out, seemingly in the same clothes they went in with, and make a quick but smooth exit, and I just knew the girl who went to change and put on the new clothes under her own and left without paying.  I'd heard rumors, and then saw the shoplifting gang at work... again I got that sickening feeling in my stomach.

Soon after, I was in High School, and started hanging around with my friend Judy and those friends she had made once we entered 7th grade. We had sleepovers, joined Rainbow Girls, ate together in the cafeteria, and generally clung to each other for that feeling of acceptance and protection from
loneliness.   I hadn't realized that anyone from High School was interested in getting together with me until after the 50th reunion when we got in touch through one asking to be my Facebook friend. The group of 6 of us began exchanging email, and, in so doing, I began to realize how much we had in common in school.  I don't think Judy had a problem ever with feelings of inferiority, but just about everyone with whom I got in touch had those feelings in one way or another.  How I wish we could have shared those feelings at a gut level when back in high school.  They, like myself, were afraid that the others would think less of them, if they knew.  They, in fact, were completely unaware of my being teased by the boys.  Well... it probably wasn't all that much, according to what we hear these days with harassment and bullying in school, and what hits the news is much worse.  So my name is legion, for there are many.  We all had our awkward teen age years.  It was about time I grew up, in 2009 when we finally got in touch.

Someone said it's not so much what life throws at you, as how you accept it.  I wish I learned that earlier, but in my old age, I'm becoming so much more at ease with whom I've become, and who I was and really wonder why I've held on to that which hurt more  than healed, the wrongs more than the rights... what kind of negative person have I been.  I owe much of that to my husband Tom who still thinks I'm beautiful, and who is grateful that I seem cheerful and try to make him happy.  But then, I still think he's handsome, and he keeps me happy.  He gave me back my dream ...not of returning to my youth, but returning to nature, and realizing that being myself is the only thing I can do well... especially now that I've accepted who I am.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


MARCH 24TH, 1998:

When looking at my list for Home Delivered Meals today, I saw that Mary Ann W. was still off the list.  I asked if anyone knew how she was doing.  Denise said she'd passed away last weekend.  It shook me up.  I don't know if that's why I felt so distracted today ...Forgot to mark meals delivered in the book after my route.  Maybe it was just hunger, as I'd run late and hadn't any lunch yet, but I've been as late and as hungry before.

Mary Ann was more than just a customer.  She was dealt a bum hand of cards, and was playing them as well as possible.  When I first had her on the route, I couldn't help being aware of her health problems.  From first meeting her, I saw she had a tracheotomy.  That was years before, and I'd thought she died back then because she suddenly stopped receiving meals.  When I inquired at the Center then, they'd said she was going to make her own meals.  I was not only relieved that she hadn't died, but respected her independence in doing for herself.

Eventually Mary Ann was back on delivery.  I think she had diabetes.  She was an enormous woman with beautiful short wavy hair that always looked neat.  But her swollen legs looked un-walkable.  I assumed that since she had also lost some toes, that she was unable to get about, and that she could only sit by her window and watch a swatch of the world go by on the street below.  But, once while passing her place, I saw her sitting on a chair outside on the sidewalk.  Next time delivering meals, I asked her about that, and she said that she tried to get out for awhile every good day.  I hadn't realized she could get down the stairs, let alone get back up to her second floor apartment.

She did latchet hook while she sat in her chair.  Her old low cost apartment wasn't neat, and sometimes smelled like the kitty litter needed freshening, as she had a cat called Midnight, with the most beautiful eyes - If jewels, they could be sold at Tiffany's.  But whether she or the friends she had that helped her, eventually her apartment would get attention.

I'd try to always remember the cat and its preference to Tartar Control Pounce Treats... which I'd have them on hand, as my cat also liked them. After awhile, Midnight knew my days for delivering meals and would come meowing out to greet me whether hungry or not.

Mary Ann's seat next to the window was perfect.  The window was low enough so she didn't have to strain to look out.  In front of her was a chair where I'd place her meal. At other times she's use it for her yarn when latchet hooking lovely rugs.  The window was at the exact angle to receive the most light in the winter, and the least direct sunlight in the summer.

When she wasn't gazing at the world going by, she'd be watching TV--The Price Is Right was usually on when I came by.

We didn't talk much, so I never really knew much about her life, just what she meant to me.  She was the picture of bravery and appreciation of what life she had, and never complained.  She did worry about her tracheotomy, and the Dr.'s office visits, and I could tell she was afraid to die.  I think she was close to God, just afraid of the unknown; afraid of her health getting worse and becoming even more dependent on others.  I think as limited as it was, that Mary Ann loved life.  She, like myself, could see the world in a grain of sand.  She could also overlook the bad in life and not let it block out the good.

Maybe she's better off now.  Maybe she's as thin as a willow reed, and as light as the breeze and can dance and run like she never could in life.  But if she thought her life on this plane was in vain, it was not.  Her domain was much smaller than most people's, but within her life she taught by example how to be noble about illness, and chronic health problems.

Now, I could be wrong.  Maybe I'm the only person who saw Mary Ann in that way, but that is who she was to me.  And I don't want her death to go as unnoticed to others as her life may have been.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Sitting astride the root of a tree bearing a sign: "No Trespassing Here on for any Purposes Whatsoever", I find myself feeling more that the sign's blaring letters are the trespassers--I feel the philosophy of the Native Americans surface from deep within my soul, "How can on 'OWN' what the Creator turned forth?  Can one own the sun the moon, the air?  How then can one own the land except what is built upon, tilled and planted?  How can one own this forest?"

No one has lumbered here for years.  Everything is wild--planned and planted by God alone.

Man says "Do not Trespass"  God says, "Walk here, breathe in the sweetness of Spring, See the golden Sun mix with the green lacy leaves of Spring, casting colorful treasures for the eyes to drink in.  Listen to my chorus of evening-tide as the birds sing praises for the day I molded out of fog and rain only to finish with blue skies and clarity.  Now hear the flute-bird sharing its evening song, heard only here -- deep in the woods-- beyond the crass sign of "No Trespassing..."  That is man's laws.  My laws ask that you pleasure in my sweet gift of Spring.

[Now, so many years later, my paths stretch beyond our owned land, with, fortunately, no signs forbidding my trespass.  It's 36 & 1/2 years later, and as it was in 1978, I'm still finding my connection with Eternity within the woods of this beautiful planet, walking on my paths through the woods of Brackney PA, through the woods of our Creator.]