Friday, March 30, 2012

A Letter...

Yesterday, as I do every now and again, I spent some time looking for new genealogy info on my family.  My great-grandmother was born and grew up on Nantucket, Massachusetts. It had been a while since I'd checked the Nantucket Historical Society website, so that's where I spent some of my time.

There's a good bit of on-line resource at that site, and you can search and even print from the site. I found pictures there some time ago of my Gr GrGrandparents grave stones. It's a rare day when I find something on that side of the family, and I really know little about my GrGrandmother and her family on the Island. A few details have been offered to me by my mother's generation, but those stories all took place after she'd married and moved to Long Island,NY.  It's thrilling to me to find each tidbit, to add to my scrapbook and to show my children.

So, yesterday I did a search of the Fisher name, and before long I found a letter, which I was able to view, and to print.  The woman was writing to her son, George, who'd gone off to California during the Gold Rush.The letter was written by Maria C. Fisher in 1849.  I knew that was my GrGr Grandmother's name. I might have wondered if the writer was my family member, had she not signed it as 'your affectionate father and mother, Henry B. and Maria C. Fisher!

I've been at this game of researching our families for more than twenty years now. Piece by piece, line by line, scrap by scrap I will find all that I can in order to put our story together. It never ceases to bore me, and I foresee yself continuing my investigation for years to come.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Mother's Life

As any mother knows, it's a real job to handle.  Under the best of circumstances, with children who are as perfect as any child could be, it's a lot of work to raise children.  I'm thinking of some at the moment, who have larger challenges than most of us do, and their jobs require even more energy and strength.

One mother that I know has a child who was diagnosed with ADHD as a preschooler. She was able to get help for her little one with mild medications and good preschool training, so that when the child was ready to go to elementary school, she was aware of the behaviors that would be expected of her.  As the years passed, her medications have had to be adjusted with her growth. Now that child is nearly a teenager, and is undergoing the changes that come to all kids at that time of their lives. It's not an easy time for any of them, but coupled with medications for a growing individual, it's posing some real times of trial and stress.  This mother is a strong woman, and she deals as well as she's able, as a single mom.

Another I know rode a roller coaster for a few weeks, having been given a diagnosis for her daughter that the 14 year old had cancer.  I can only imagine the thoughts that went through the minds of that mother as she looked upon the child she'd given birth to such a relatively short time before. I would think that she wondered if the dreams she had for her daughter would come to fruition, and what would
lie ahead of them in the future.  Finally, a surgery was done to see what the size of the cancer was, a biopsy was taken and, a week later, the report came that there was NO cancer! (Was there a mistake in the diagnosis to begin with? I choose to believe that it was a answer to the innumerable prayers being said for the child and her family from those all over the country...and perhaps beyond!) I am so happy for that mother and the family! I have no doubt that if the alternative had been the case, they would have done all that was possible to fight for the return of good health for the young lady. What parent wouldn't?

There's another mom whose child is being bullied by classmates. This youngster is only eight years old, and has some social issues, but children can be so very mean. This mother has to fight for her child in that circumstance. She must navigate the school system, reporting what she knows to be violations of the rules and attempt to gather aid from the teachers and authorities in the school. She must determine for herself  how to help her child at home. She listens to this child spill out her feelings of lonliness and hurt because others won't play with her. She tries to develop skills in her youngster which will help her to be a little less sensitive to the cruel remarks directed at her, without causing her to become an uncaring and vengeful child.

I raised five children who are now raising their own.  I didn't have such issues as these to deal with, at least not to some of these extremes.  My heart hurts for these....and other moms who have Autism, physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and multiple untold other situations to deal with.  It isn't easy to be a mom.... or a dad either, I'm sure.  May God grant each one the strength and wisdom that it takes to accomplish their assigned duties and then some.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Random Thoughts: FIVE Days Later....

Where does the time go???  I realized this morning that it's been a few days since I've written...but FIVE days? I seem to have a few random thoughts, but not a whole lot to write I'll offer these.

My husband told me the other day that a bird...I think it's a wren....has built a nest over the 'industrial' type light that is hung over our outside entry to the sunroom. I looked...and yes, there it was, a mud and grass clippings nest, on the top of the light shade. We don't like to disturb nesting birds, so I imagine we'll be walking from front door to back yard for awhile. Not only do we want not to upset Mama Wren, but we don't want to be 'dive bombed' either. I'm not sure that there are eggs in the nest yet, but she was sitting in the nest yesterday....and this morning when I looked, but she saw me through the door glass, and took off.  We'll be watching from inside to see what develops.

The vegetable garden is underway. Mike has turned the soil over in most of it. I tried to help, and lasted about 15 minutes before the hip slid out of gear, and the shoulder screamed under the weight of the soil on the spade. (Here is where I could growl and grumble about my aches, but why bother. It's pointless.) We bought a few beefsteak tomato plants the other day, and they will be replanted in large pots that are deep enough to make happy, healthy tomatoes.  We'll get our zucchini, crookneck squash, bell pepper, cucumber plants just before we're ready to put them into the ground. We also bought some Bodacious Corn seeds, which we'll plant in a different area in a few short rows. It's a trial on the corn, as we've never tried to plant it before. Next year, we hope to have a much larger area ready to till...with a rotor tiller!

The flower gardens are bursting forth with glorious color!  The trailing verbena is thick and lovely...dark purple. I noticed the other day that the red "Hot Lips" and the lavender "Mexican Heather" are showing their true colors, as is a vine of Wisteria, the first blooms have appeared on this vine that we brought with us from NY 5 1/2 years ago. Now that plant, as much as I love the blossoms, is going to be a challenge to control. It is prolific and and will take over without real guidance and much pruning.  We want to keep it under control, in a 'bush' type of structure, rather than let it trail off and climb trees and other things.  So much is blooming now that it's hard to list it all!  The roses have a milliion buds, so I look forward to their promises fulfilled!

Spring is a wonderful time of renewal....and work!  The lawn requires weed killer and feeding. What started out to be nice, green, weed free sod continues to grow more weed than grass, regardless of the weed killers. I guess it's due to some of our neighbors allowing the weeds to form seeds, which fly and plant themselves in other lawns.  I'm not that fussy, to be honest with you. If it's green, it's fine with me, so long as it's kept mowed.

A few other thoughts occur....but they must be saved for another day. I'll try not to be gone so long next time!

Friday, March 23, 2012


The warmth of dawn drew me from
The shelter of the night.
I entered the damp silver air
And was welcomed by the tune
Of rhythmic dripping from the leaves.
As I wandered about the familiar paths
The light grew stronger.
I looked into the garden on the east side
And was bewildered.
There upon the tall grasses sat white
Strangely shaped structures, still wet from rain.
I went to explore their formations,
Looking much like feathers from a distance.
Nearer to them, I could see that
They were delicate, silken webs.
They sat on low grasses, like faerie bowls
And within the openings of the garden fence
Like tiny bug nets.
And there! There ...strung within the fork
Of the fragile branches of a vine,
Were theads of silver, beaded with crystal dew drops!
Treasures in my garden....awaiting my awakening
And my awareness.
KBW 3-14-2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Written Heirlooms

Today I'm going to 'borrow' a topic from my friend, Ben, who wrote about his grandmother's postcard. I thought for a moment that I had nothing like that, but quickly, the thought was changed, as things tumbled across my mind.

When my grandfather served in the early days of the US Coast Guard, he had many hours to spend entertaining himself while he was not on duty.  He was stationed at different Long Island Coast Guard Stations, which today would not take long to travel to, but in the beginning of the 1920's, they were quite a distance from home.  Grandpa was a craftsman, he built model sailing ships with intricate rigging and sails made of tin cans. He made beautiful macrame items, as well. Mom still has a belt and a ladies pocketbook knotted by Grandpa's hands.  But, another interest he had, which falls under the blog topic, was calligraphy. There are beautifully scribed cards, the size of business cards, which are swirled and feathered with a talented hand and a quill pen.  These pieces not only show that he was good at the art, but what he wrote speaks too, of what was on his mind. Each card reads "Walter and Lillian". My grandmother was on his heart as he 'doodled'.

When my paternal grandfather passed away, in his possession was a 'grocery list'. It has a date on it, which at the moment escapes me, but it was somewhere in the mid-1800's.  My grandfather was one of the younger of seven children, born in 1886.  His father was a steam boat captain, piloting local waters to ferry people from Long Island to  New London, Connecticut. He lived on Shelter Island, and my guess is that he 'took orders' for staples and needful items from his family and neighbors. Then he'd deliver the goods when he returned home.  It's interesting to see the items, much of which we don't hear much about these days....lye soap was popular, and multiple orders of bay rum were among those.

On my husband's side of the family, there is much written material....letters that date back to before the Civil War, more recent letters to an aunt from Edward  R. Morrow. (Yes, THE Edward R. Morrow) There are two books written by his uncle, Samuel Gailey Mortland under pen names. These collections of his poems are indicitive of life as he lived it and understood it. There are his strong opinions of political people, his praises of Teddy Roosevelt, his memories of his boyhood and  thoughts of family and events.

It is wonderful to look these things over from time to time, as each viewing gives me new insight into those who put their hand to paper so long ago.  I, like Ben, wonder whether anything I've written will survive to future generations, and whether or not they will consider my words to be trash or treasure.
I guess I'll never know for sure!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I Miss...

Most days, I'm extremely content to live here and be surrounded by all that I have been blessed with. There are days, though, when things creep into my thoughts...things that I miss seeing...or doing.

Back home, the ocean continues to roll in, stealing the sand from the shore, spraying salty mist into the air, luring souls to the beach with its song. I miss the sea...and this year, whether I get back to my old hometown or not, we will visit the coast of SC. Being a 'land-lubber' has it's drawbacks, and not seeing that enormous  wet vista is one of them.

This morning, though, I'm missing Lilacs.  We had five or six tall, wide bushes of them when we lived in East Hampton.  They were fragrant and lovely, and never disappointed us.  I miss walking out of the kitchen to the deck and seeing their welcome and smelling their fragrance.  Those variety of Lilacs won't survive the heat of the south, and in order to grow any, we'd have to be very careful in our choosing of the right ones.  It's time. I'll investigate, and then scour the nurseries ....I'm missing Lilacs, so I'll take whatever will grow here, and be grateful for them.

Hydrangea too. There are various ones that will grow heartily here, but I don't yet know which ones. I belive that I can find them...I've seen them in people's yards....large and bright blue, due to such acid soil as we have.  I will have to add those to my 'find' list. 

But, at this moment...I'm going to join my husband with our coffee on the patio, and decide just how we'll spend this 84 degree day.  See you soon!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Honey Do List

Being in the house most of the winter made me lazy.  I couldn't get motivated to do anything that satisfied me.  Now that Spring has come, earlier than the calendar states, my head is full of motivation. Now, we just need to get it to the parts of the body that can do what needs to be done.

I look at the yard and see all that needs to be done, and my mind races to create new areas of  beauty or comfort.  The weeding needs to be done, and the soil needs to be amended and there should be layers of mulch added to the surface.  The Sweet Gum tree stumps that lie on the earth, where we removed offensive growers, need to be killed, or they will return in all their hideous glory, ready to seed the soil with even more of them.  The root of the Mimosa tree, which volunteered to plant itself to near to the septic tank, needs to be dug out, or the fingers of the roots will make their way into the septic drainage piping. The patio needs the fencing surrounding it, and the gardens put in there. The Rose of Sharon bushes and the Mock Orange need to be planted, and the lilies need to be divided. 

The vegetable garden needs to be turned under and the plants need to be chosen and plans placed on paper, so that we'll be ready when it's time to plant them in a few weeks.  I want a stony path from the patio to the shed, and I'd like to have the fire pit built. It's time to plant the Hollyhock plants, which can be placed in the gardens in a few more weeks.

The patio dining set has taken to pitting on the metal arms in a few spots. They need to be ground off and repainted. And oh, we won't even mention the garage clean out!

So much to little strength of body to take it on. We'll never keep up with the speed of my thinking!  Sometimes I feel as if we should just take all of the gardens out and have only the lawn to mow and the hollies in front of the porch to prune. But then I know that I'd miss my blooms.  Maybe I ought to take out everything else, and plant just those wonderful Knock Out roses that take care of themself, for the most part. They are lovely, and bloom for months and months with very little attention.

The Honey-Do list grows rapidly...but the motivation hasn't left the mind...YET.  I'd be willing to do what I can and to hire our strong teen-aged neighbor  to help, but Mike is of the mind that it's more work to 'train' someone than it is to do it himself.  In light of that, I may have to cut back the list by 3/4. I kind of like having him around, and don't want all these chores to work him to death!  Siiiiigh....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fighting For Your Life

A friend of mine says, "Trouble comes in bunches sometimes, like bananas."  Yes...sometimes it seems that way. Right here, right now I'm going to say that I'm blessed and what trouble has come to me has often been of my own creation. Our choices make a lot of difference in what happens in life.....but sometimes things happen without any 'help' or 'hindrance' from us.

One of those things is cancer. It seems to make its own choices about who is hit with it. It's one of those awful circumstances that a person has no control over, except to decide to deal with it the best way possible  and fight every step of the way. It isn't fair that it's come along and chosen that person. Right now,  I know of a mother with a preschooler, an early grade school student, a high school student and a college aged daughter. This is her second fight for her life.  What's fair about that?

There's another who is older than I am...she has recently been diagnosed with third stage pancreatic cancer. This is a tough pill to swallow for her, having dealt with many surgeries and serious illnesses in the past. Her daughter is attempting to meet her needs and still work to keep the bills paid. What's fair about that?

Now, today I've seen that a friend's granddaughter, aged 14 yrs...just starting her life, really, has been diagnosed with a cancer.  While there's certainly nothing fair about this, there is hope, according to the doctors, that treatments will be successful in taking care of this one.

Sometimes life brings things that aren't fair, and THAT is the one certainty in life. I don't think I can think of a single family I know who has not had to deal with cancer in some way. It may have been themselves, or a relative or a close friend, but it's been someone.  We pray for those who are fighting; we suffer with them, but on a level far removed from their own suffering.  It's the best we can ask for God to be merciful and heal as these fight for their lives.

This day I want to shout, "I HATE CANCER!!!!"

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Running from the Law...

Yesterday at a little after 5PM, I turned on the local news. I say 'local', but it's actually coming out of an area an hour away from us, and basically focuses on that area, but it does report on things in surrounding counties. What was on the screen was a high speed chase, which started in the city closest to us (where we shop) which is about 12 miles away from us. 

Picture this... a guy, reported to be armed and dangerous, steals a car..(.mistake #1) and heads north. It wasn't just 'a car' was a Circuit Court JUDGE's car! (Mistake #2)  He is soon being tailed by a bright yellow highway patrol car, so he speeds up, often reaching speeds above 100 mph on a busy interstate. (Mistake #3)  It is rush hour, and the road is full of cars, so he takes an exit and drives up a less congested major highway.  The yellow patrol car is now joined by three black and white police cars from various counties.  Entrance ramps are being blocked by other patrol cars, in order to keep the drivers from possible danger from this 'armed and dangerous' car thief with little concern about his speed.

We sat glued to the tv, watching this chase, wondering how this will all end.  The news helicopter filmed the entire thing. The police chopper never lost sight of the car. The black and whites kept following the yellow highway patrol vehicle. At a few times the offending car was hit in the rear corner of the bumper by one of the police cars, in an effort to stop him, but the efforts were unsuccessful.  On two occasions, some big rigs attempted to trap him on the two lane highway, but although it did allow the chasers to safely catch up, the criminal got away. At one point two 18 wheelers slowed him down, by staying side by side at a very slow speed, nearly a stop. The SUV driver decided to pass on the left, between the guard rail and the truck, and the semi driver saw it coming, and swerved his cab slightly, nearly causing a crash. Unfortunately, the SUV maneuvered itself  around the semi, and again, he was speeding off. 

This chase spanned a little over an hour of time and five counties.  As soon as the road was clear enough of drivers, police ordered stop strips to be used.  That's how the speeder was stopped...he saw them ahead of him, and stopped the SUV. He still wasn't ready to give himself up voluntarily. As the news helicopter filmed the whole thing, the police men circled the SUV with guns drawn, some of them entering the car from the back seat. They must have been able to unlock the door on the driver's side, because before we knew it, there were a few officers dragging the driver out of the car. He was laid on the ground without incident, handcuffed, and taken to the patrol car.  He was a muscular looking guy who looked like he could have caused some serious damage to one or two men, but he must have known that it would have been a waste of energy, with several weapons pointed on him.

Thankfully, this scene ended with no one being hurt.  We don't know why he chose to steal a car, but I suspect that he wasn't thinking clearly. He now has a string of crimes to be charged with.  I'm not sure he has much of a defense, but I think the courts may have to find an out of state judge to hear the case, because I'm sure all of SC has heard this story!  Forgive me, but somehow, I'm not feeling too sorry for the criminal about that.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Covered in Love

In my stash of family things, I have several afghans.  My favorite one is cream-colored, a knitted one, with patterns much like and Irish knit sweater. There are cables and lacy shells and a lattice pattern. This afghan covers me nicely, being more than five feet long. It is my favorite because of it's color and size and pattern, but mostly because it was made for me years ago by my Mother.

In the closet upstairs, there is a colorful, wool, crocheted Granny Square afghan, which looks much like this one in the picture above. My mother says that it was made by her mother, but it was my aunt who had it in her home for as long as I could remember, and it was she who gave it to me.  It's very warm and it's bright yarns are cheerful on a dull,gray, wintery day.  When I was pregnant with my fourth baby, I made a lighter weight version of this pattern... multi-colored squares of acrylic, sports weight yarn, each square bordered in black.

There's another heavy coverlet that is in my possession. It, too, is handiwork partly my grandmother's.
It was probably one of her last works, and it is nothing special about it, other than the most important... that she'd knitted some of the plain squares.  By the time she'd knitted these pieces, she couldn't see well enough anymore to crochet patterns, and this gave her something to do as she sat during the afternoon.  I believe that my aunt knitted the other squares, and sewed them together to finish the blanket.  It's not fancy, no, but it is warm, and large and cozy.

There's a zig-zag pattern of scrap yarns crocheted together to make a throw. My daughter made that one and her daughter, my first grandchild, made a fleece throw for me.  The collection of covers is completed by several handmade quilts made by great grandmothers on both sides, by my mother, and by myself.  These heirlooms will one day be handed down to my children. I hope they will treasure them the way I do.

I can definitely say that we are covered in love.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Writing Therapy?

The other day, a blogger buddy mentioned many reasons for writing. One of them was for therapeutic reasons, and today I want to address that reason here.

When I was a young teenager, full of strange and new emotions, I began to write.  Sometimes things were flowery and about nature, sometimes silly crushes on some guy or another, other times they were rather philosophical.  Rarely did I allow anyone to read my words. I was shy about it then, and unsure of myself, my thoughts and my emotions.

As life carried me along through its ups and downs, I found that writing was a very therapeutic thing for me.  I could 'unload' on paper when I was frustrated. I could express fears and worries to this impersonal 'listener'.  I could share my joys and whatever other emotion I felt, and not look wildly insane!  Best of all, I could write all of my anger and annoyance in letters to the one who was irritating me, then burn it in my fireplace, without anyone ever knowing how very hurt or angry I'd been! Once things were out on paper, I could see what I needed to deal with, and figure out just how it should best be dealt with.

Therapeutic?  Yes, I definitely think writing is good for me and my well-being....even i.f  not one other human eye ever reads it.  I suggest that everyone give it a try.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nostalgic Moments...

This morning I had a flash-back. It was a good one, unlike some that grab me. I thought of my Grandpa and his 'griddle cakes'. 

When I had overnight visits with my grandparents, usually it was Grandma who fixed my breakfast, but if Grampa was home, I was treated to his version of a proper morning meal.  Grandpa liked to fix 'griddle cakes'.  The first thing he'd do is get his big black iron skillet out of the pantry. He'd put it on the burner, add a little butter (not margerine or oil) and he'd slowly heat the frying pan until it spit.  While he waited for the temperature to be just right, he'd mix the pancake batter from scratch. Sometimes there would be hot and crispy brown bacon sizzling in that frying pan before the batter took its turn.

Whatever the grease used to keep it from sticking, once the pan was hot, the batter was poured slowly on to the bottom. It was always the right amount... and Grampa would stand watch over his pan until it was time to slide the spatula beneath the 'cake', and turn it over. The timing was everything. The key was to watch the edges for golden and check the 'bubble's on top. If the bubbles weren't popped, it was too early to turn. If the edges weren't golden, it would not have been firm enough.  When everything lined up, Grampa would flip his 'cake' and let it lie against the hot skillet for a few minutes. Then he'd slide it onto a plate. 

This was no 'stack' of pancakes! It was a plate-sized, single pan cake, on which creamy butter would be spread. Usually I'd have a choice of syrup, white sugar or brown sugar as a topping.  Being a youngster, I prefered white sugar.  There was nothing like Grampa's 'griddlecakes'....and boy! were they filling, albeit not terribly good for calorie counting!

So, this morning, I flashed back on those pancakes.  I normally don't eat them, because I always feel so sluggish after I do, but this morning I pulled out my large, cast iron skillet, mixed up some buttermilk batter and I made some for my breakfast.  I opted for Aunt Jemima syrup today, and I must say, as good as it was, it wasn't my Grandpa's griddle cakes.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Random Thoughts

This morning I tried over and over again to sign on to write today's blog entry. I could not access my account in order to write, but I could read the blogs to which mine is linked.

We're trying to move things around a little today. Mike lowered the curtain rods for me in the living room, they've always been to high. We had to move the couch away from that wall in order to reach those windows. Of course, in doing the lowering, he had to spackle the old screw holes in the wall, and then find the matching wall paint so he could patch those places.  In the middle of a ciggy break, our next door neighbor came by for a chat with Mike....and an hour later, he came back inside. I sit, with the couch in the center of the room, awaiting the next step, which is to put the other couch back in the living room, and this one in the sunroom. 

And now it's time to think about I think that some of this mess will wait 'til morning. Oh goodie.  I hate not finishing a project on the day I'd planned to, but what can I do?  It'll get done....some time tomorrow. 

That's all folks!