Monday, May 31, 2010


"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." 

Memorial Day

My Daddy was not a Medal of Honor winner like Audie Murphy, nor the survivor of a North Vietnamese  prison camp like Jeremiah Denton.  The closest he came to real action in WWII was the night a fleet of warships moved through the Panama canal where he was stationed as an Ensign in the Navy.  He said everyone was issued a rifle and told to be at high alert as the big ships silently slid through the locks on their way to a showdown with the Japanese Navy in the Pacific.  He was given leave a week or so before the rest of his shipmates because his mother lay dying in his hometown.  He walked through the gate just moments after she had joined my Grandfather in eternity.

 "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." 
  Dwight D. Eisenhower

No, my Daddy did not have medals to show for his service to his country, but he kept the ships repaired and ready for those who did.  A simple duty, but a necessary one. He is buried in the Veteran's Cemetery in my hometown, the place to which he moved to marry, start a family, and work to build a future for Mom, my baby sister, and me.

It's important to remember the cost of our freedom.  It's important to remember the sacrifice of so many brave men and women throughout our country's history.  It's important to remember those who currently serve.

In re-membering, we join them, and stand united with them in purpose and resolve. All of us together.


If we chose not to remember, we fall apart, just like other civilizations before us:

"In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security.  They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all -- security, comfort, and freedom.  When ... the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free." Sir Edward Gibbon
"The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life." Teddy Roosevelt

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gathering the Glory

I jumped out of bed and looked toward the window.  The view was distorted by partially closed blinds.  Something didn't look right.  I drew closer and separated the thin slats with my fingers. A heavy fog had descended.  I threw on some clothes and grabbed my camera.

 What lay beneath the damp and dew?


Tall grass bowing under the weight of tiny water droplets.


The first blush of summer.  A beautiful pink rose.


The skeletons of last summer's Queen Anne's lace were closed curiously tight.  They had been open in yesterday's sun.


And then something else caught my eye.

Something fragile, something beautiful.



A tiny engineering marvel.  A spider web.  Adorned with pearls of hydrogen and oxygen in just the right combination to define its symmetry.


 And miraculously, one drop, larger than the others, hovered in the middle.

My camera forces me out into the world to discover the unknown, the ignored, the steady streams of glory still radiating from their Creator.  Still breathing, still yearning for what was lost in that first garden, and promised in the last.

I yearn with them too.

And in the yearning, in between the now and the not yet, I want to gather as much of the Glory as I can.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whistle While You Work

I think I've told you about finding your way in the Frozen North.  How people around this particular geographical area never move.  How several generations of families all live next door to each other.  How difficult it is to break into such a close, small town, closed society.

All the above is the reason street signs are so few and far between (when you've lived somewhere for 17 bajillion generations you don't need no stinkin' street signs.), and driving directions are sketchy at best--"we-e-elll, you go down to the corner by the old tree and make a right.  At the first church you turn left.  Then keep goin' awhile 'til you come to the corner where the BP used to be and take another left."

I think you get the idea.  Even the GPS gal/guy would have trouble finding their way here.  And don't get me started about the detours put up in the summer when PennDOT rolls out every crane, roller, jackhammer, cement mixer, grader, ton of asphalt, and construction worker in the state  to don orange safety vests, grab a cone or two, dig up every major road, and cause traffic jams from here to Timbuktu.   (*deep cleansing breath*,  thank you for listening.)

But what I haven't told you about is the BIG SECRET, the real reason directions are so vague and roads are so hard to navigate in the summer.  (They don't need roadblocks in the winter, Mother Nature spreads snow and ice for free.)

It's a conspiracy to keep us from finding out what REALLY is hidden in the hills, hollers, and abandoned mine shafts of western PA.  Lean in a little closer to the monitor and I'll tell you, but this is highly confidential.  If you breathe a word, my Dear Professor and I will have to enter the witness protection program.

The secret is a place, a BIG place, in a HUGE abandoned limestone mine.  A place so wrapped in secrecy and security that even Jack Bauer, on a good day, couldn't break into it.  A place to which, it is rumored, Vice President Cheney was whisked away during the initial chaos of 9/11.  It's called. . . Iron Mountain.


For the last 19 years I have heard rumors of people "working in the mines", doing "highly classified" government work, but that's all anyone would say.  It's so classified, when I Googled for driving directions, I was led to the end of a dirt road at the back of a state wildlife preserve in the opposite direction.


How on earth was a common home engineer and former accidental corporate terrorist allowed access to this place?  Undercover, attending an employee health fair as the representative of a local physical therapy office.  But, believe me, I was vetted.  A month before the event, "They" required information--my social security number, maiden name, date of birth, place of birth, blood type, shoe size and name and birthdays of all our children.  Okay, I may have exaggerated.  A little.  "They" didn't ask for my shoe size.

My truck was searched for pirated VHS movies, and I was given a "guest id" that had to be swiped by the guard at the gate on entry and exit.   Camera and cellphone were surrendered before gaining access to "the mines", so photographic proof  of this event is very limited.

But the intel I garned is HUGE.  HUGE, I tell ya.


Are you ready for this?  When Disney announces a reissue of beloved films from the Disney Vault, it's coming from an abandoned limestone mine in the wilds of western PA.  Who knows what other valuables are kept in that ten mile, underground, climate controlled fortress. Maybe even Unca Walt himself.  "Their" lips are sealed.

But beyond all the secrecy, what I found most disturbing was glancing down at my "guest id" late in the day and discovering it was red. . .and inscribed with a big capital "V"!!!!

That, and the thought of Cheney, Snow White, the Seven Dwarves, and Bambi frolicking together underground.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Out of focus

It's not just me, it's the weather.  Yes, my prescription lenses do need an adjustment, but it's more than that.  Everything up here in the Frozen North is dripping and has been dripping for too many days.  Once upon a time, what seems like an eternity ago, we were enjoying beautiful, sun-kissed days.

brilliant day

Days that were so warm, the tall spring grass was dry enough to mow.


Robins scanned the lawn for nesting twigs and frolicked on the fence.

robin for real

But that was then. Today we're all wet.

Raindrop perspective

And cold, damp and dreary.


And out of focus.


Spring Cleaning

Please bear with us as we slap on a new coat of paint and move the furniture around for spring cleaning.  A few bits are out of place right now, but that should be fixed shortly. 

In the meantime, feel free to take a look at some previous posts.  But don't stay too long, or we'll put you to work!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The day after Mother's Day

 I can't tell you how long I've looked for it.  Everywhere I've gone I've wondered.  Could this be the day I find out?  How will I know?

I've taken test after test and each one is inconclusive--they always say something different.  But now, finally, I've found it for sure. 

And what is IT, you may ask?

My own peculiar gift.  My reason for being on this planet.  My life's mission.

And this is it.  Replacing the toilet paper roll. But how does one come to the conclusion that their life meaning is wrapped on a round tube of cardboard?

Well, there is a lot of reflection involved, and personality tests do help to some degree.  But ultimately, good old fashioned perspicuity helps.  A lot.  Pay attention to the little things you end up doing everywhere you go.  Sooner or later the sheer volume of repetition will turn on the old light bulb, figuratively speaking.  But then, replacing the light bulb just might be YOUR vocation.

I found mine by realizing no matter where I go, at work, at play, visiting the neigbors, at Walmart--I always end up replacing the toilet paper roll.  And so I bow to my cosmic assignment with humility.  It is my destiny.


Either that or the toilet paper fairies have it in for me.