Happenings in Christine's World

Short stories of life, thoughts, and feelings

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Joy of Autumn: Piling up the Memories

 Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. George Eliot

What a beautiful autumn weekend; first fall weekend of October. The morning started out with an overcast sky, but eventually the sun broke through without a drop of rain. Now the wind is making the leaves dance and tree branches swing. There is a wonderful chill in the air to show that the season has definitely changed from summer to fall.
The sugar maple tree in my backyard has begun to change its green leaves to gold and auburn. Soon the leaves will be completely changed and fallen to the ground leaving the tree bare.
Earlier today with the help of Gabriel and Emily we raked the golden, red, and yellow leaves that have already fallen to the ground just so Gabriel and Emily could run and jump in the pile of leaves – hearing them laugh and throw the leaves in the air
was priceless. 

In the back of the yard along the fence row stands a young tree that bears lots of green shell covered black walnuts. During this time of the year, the walnuts begin to fall. The fallen nuts are mainly collected for the winter by the squirrels that scamper regularly in the yard, however, Dan collects the nuts as well, not to save, but to get rid of so they are not in our yard. He puts them in his wheelbarrow and then dumps them in a field behind our house. This year, I decided that Emily and I would gather the walnuts, put them in a tub and prepare to crack open the hulls at another time. Although, I just read the hulls need to be removed when they are still green, otherwise the favor of the walnut may become strong. So, I need to rethink my idea.
Thus far, the coming of autumn has been a wonderful treat for me. I have always felt a renewal of energy in the fall. I am in awe of the vibrant colors of the changing leaves and I love the crisp coolness of the air. I know there are many who find summer to be their most perfect season, but for me it is fall.
(piece covering events on Oct. 6, 2012)

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Remembering the 4th of July

It was around midnight 37 years ago when the phone call came. It was the Chaplin from Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, North Carolina. He asked to speak to my mother or father. My mom took the call. The Chaplin tells her that around 7 p.m. (July 4th) there was a swimming accident and my brother was taken to a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina where he was unconscious and on a respirator.  Immediately my mom got my dad awake – she did everything she could to get her and my dad to Charlotte as soon as possible so they could be with their son.

My parents finally got a flight to Charlotte on July 5, but by the time they arrived at the hospital it was too late. Jeff had passed on. I answered the phone when my mom called home. She asked for my older brother who was in the barn taking care of the cows. I called out to him through the intercom system. He picked up the phone and I stayed on the line. As my mom told Bud that Jeff had passed away I dropped the phone, screaming out “why God, why”? I believed that God was going to spare Jeff’s life. I believed that Jeff would be okay – after-all, I spent hours in prayer after my parents left for Charlotte – how could God not have spared him. I remember my sister-in-law comforting me as I screamed and wailed. I was devastated.

Just a week before the accident Jeff was home on leave and showing me how to drive stick shift in his fancy little Triumph. Jeff wasn’t always so nice to me, we had our sibling squabbles, but in our later years, when I was a teenager and he was out of school, he became my protector. I forgave him for the mean things he did to me as his little sister – I grew to appreciate him and then he was gone. 

Today, as in years past and as I grew older, I have more of an appreciation of the 4th of July. I now understand and appreciate the sacrifices military men and women have made. I do my best to recognize them on our nation’s birthday – it’s difficult though – because, when I think of this day and those who have sacrificed their lives, I can’t help to think of Jeff. He was stationed at Fort Bragg, Home of the Airborne & Special Operations Unit. He was part of the 82nd Airborne – he was on a 30 day leave, preparing to go to Fort Riley, Kansas. He loved jumping out of planes & helicopters – on his arm he had a tattoo saying “God is my reserve” with a parachute – meaning that God would save him if his parachute wouldn’t open and he had to pull his reserve. I miss my brother with all my heart – I wonder what he would be like as a 58 year old man. Would he have children, be a grandfather? So many things I wonder about him if he were alive today.

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Always Look for the Rainbow

It’s been almost a week since the first day of summer and before we get too far into it I want to write about the wonderful spring we’ve had here in south central PA and where I’m at today. This past winter didn’t bring us much snow, but we had a fair amount of rain in April and early May which helped to make everything lush and green. I can’t remember the last time the area has been so beautiful and spring so delightful. This spring has certainly made it easy for me to appreciate the vastness of God’s blessing

Amongst all the goodness this spring has brought me there have definitely been some challenges as well not related to mother nature. Without going into much detail regarding those challenges I just want to say that with each hurdle I was determined to look for the positive and to remain focused on the end result. Over the years I learned how much negativity sucks energy and is non-productive. Since I was layed off from my day job last summer I vowed to be positive and to fight any force of negativity. I vowed to find the good, the best in everything. It hasn’t always been easy and I still have my moments where I feel like giving up, however, by being able to enjoy the wondrous blessings of nature and its simplicity I’ve been able to deal with difficulties.

Through the difficulties I am reminded often of my years growing up on a farm and how when I had challenges I would take walks along the fence row until I got to the meadow where I enjoyed the seeing the milkweeds and the cat-of-nine tails that grew in the stream. I remember walking through the fields of clover trying not to step on bumble bees as they flew from one purple clover flower to another. So, today as an adult returning to nature as my healer or therapist is only natural.

One thing I’ve been doing a lot of this spring is capturing nature through photography in various forms . At first my reason for taking the photos were so I could preserve moments of my life since I didn’t have the time to write, but now capturing the moments in nature has because more about the beauty and appreciating the simple things in life.

Having material things have never been a top priority with me. For me it’s been more about the needs of people, particularly family and friends. At 15 I lost my brother and that had a major impact on my life and how I see things now. I remember my roots and the roots of my ancestors. I know that nothing is guaranteed in life.  I have asked myself, if I were to lose all things material how would I handle that? And my answer s this this – as long as I have family, friends, and good memories than I have more than money can buy.

(If you like what you read here, please consider following my blog. Your follow would be in inspiration to me to write more regularly. Thank you for your support.)

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Easter in My Corner of the World

Good Morning and Happy Easter.

(a rambling of memories past and religious holidays)

Easter Past and My Mom

On this day I am reminded of the Easters I attended church with my mom. I remember the congregation singing “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known”, The Old Rugged Cross, He Lives and many other songs that are subject to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ –  since that is what Easter is about in the Christian faith.

I remember coming home after church to the smell of baked ham. Soon there would be white mashed potatoes, ham gravy, candied sweet potatoes, and corn to accompany the ham on the table. Mom’s fresh homemade pies for dessert. This is how I remember Easter – with of course the traditional Easter basket stuffed with chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, marshmallow peeps and bunnies, and colored eggs.

For Christians, Easter is a time to fully and consciously reflect on God’s love and what it means – God gave his only son to take on the sins of the world so that others can have eternal life.

I’m not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person and it is holidays like Easter when I am reminded of my mom and her desire for her children to learn about faith. It was my grandmother, my mother’s mother-in-law, who taught my mom about faith. If it weren’t for my mother and grandmother I don’t think I would have the spiritual foundation I have today. I don’t think I would understand the sacredness of religious holidays no matter what the religion, with that said – Happy Passover (a Jewish holiday that celebrates the Israelites release from slavery under Egypt – a mass Exodus that was led by Moses) which started at sundown this past Friday.

Easter Present and My Mom

 this picture taken March 2012

Last night I went to see my mom in a nursing facility. She was diagnosed with dementia several years ago. This past fall, as a family, we decided it was best to place her where she can receive 24 hour care. My mom no longer realizes what day of the week, month or year it is – not even that it is Easter – knowing that makes me sad, however, what keeps me moving forward is knowing what Easter meant to her in the past. I gave her a card last night that said, “Walking with Jesus makes the very best company”. She read the card to me and then looked up at me, smiling, her blue eyes sparkling and said – “walking with Jesus”. I love my mom and even though she may not always know who I am, I know who she is and thankful for all the precious moments I’ve shared with her and continue to share with her.

One of my mom’s favorite songs to sing was the ‘Old Rugged Cross’ – so in honor of my mom here is the song in video form with lyrics – sung by Sandi Patti

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Another Year is History

 The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul. 
G. K. Chesterton

It’s the last day of 2011. Tomorrow the world begins a new year. As inhabitants of this earth, we have witnessed many world events together – the fall of Egypt and Libya, the great tsunami that hit Japan, the pulling out of United States troops from Iraq, a royal wedding, and the rage of Mother Nature throughout the United States.

Then there is my own personal events that occurred during 2011 – events that challenged my faith in people and rocked my own confidence. I had to watch my mother as her memory faded and as a family come to the realization that her needs were more than the we alone could handle, so the decision was made to place her in a care facility where she would be cared for 24/7.

In July, I was laid off from a job I held for 5 years. That was devastating to me, but through the loss, I have grown personally.

In October, my oldest grandchild turned 13 – a milestone. Once a small premature baby girl has grown into a beautiful young lady who I am so proud of.

On November 19, my son and his family were dealt a terrible blow when Amy’s father died unexpectedly. Jim’s loss affected many people, but none so overwhelmingly as Matthew, Amy, Rhianna, Gabriel, Emily, and his wife Carol.

Jim left a beautiful legacy to his family and especially his three grandchildren, whom Dan and I share with him. Dan and I feel honored to have known a man like Jim who was selfless and cared deeply for the people around him. He especially cared and loved his grandchildren. He would give them surprises constantly just to see the joy in their eyes. Jim is deeply missed and will be for years to come.

The events I mentioned here along with so many other events that occurred throughout 2011 has caused me to do a lot of pondering about my life and what I can do to make 2012 better. I relearned the importance of compassion, patience and to live each day consciously. 

I am facing 2012 unemployed but with a renewed faith and confidence that I will be able to find a profession where I can use my knowledge and my talents as a researcher and as a writer.

Happy New Year to all my family and friends, may your year be blessed with lots of happiness.

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Joe Paterno Should Have Done More

I’ve never been a Penn State fan and have paid little attention to Penn State’s record. Anytime I wanted to know how Penn State did in a game, I asked my husband. When the news broke this past weekend about Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing young boys, I was appalled, saddened, and angered. Sandusky was the assistant coach to Penn State until 1999 when he took early retirement.

During Sandusky’s time at Penn State, he started a program for at risk children, The Second Mile. The children were from unstable homes or single parent homes. These are the type of children pedophiles prey on. They are taken under the wing of the pedophile where they are given attention and made to feel important. Soon the young boys’ lives are abruptly compromised when the pedophile begins to touch them inappropriately. Apparently, in 2002, this is what one graduate student witnessed Sandusky do in a shower with a young boy inside the Lasch Football Building located on the University Park campus.

Terribly distraught over what he witnessed the graduate student turned to Coach Joe Paterno and in turn Paterno told his supervisors, Gary Schultz (Senior VP of Finance & Business) and to Tom Curley (Athletic Coach); Paterno was not legally obligated to do anything further. Schultz and Curley stated in the Grand Jury report that they handled the matter by telling Sandusky he can no longer bring children on the University Park campus. Penn State’s President, Graham Spanier, was also made aware of the situation and that it was taken care of. No report was made to the University Park Police, PA State Police, or state and local child services.

So, should have Joe Paterno done more when he realized that the “powers that be” was going to sweep it under the rug and go on like it never happened? In my opinion, this is the “good ole’ boy network” at its best.

Joe Paterno, known as JoePa to most Penn State fans, is a sports icon. He has been Penn State’s head coach since 1966. He was recently named as the winningest Division I coach in NCAA history. He has been a role model for all who played for him, still playing and for young boys who hope to play for Penn State Nittany Lions. So, how can something so scandalous be connected to such an icon and possibly be remembered most for what he didn’t do?

For me, Joe Paterno should have done more. This wasn’t about winning a college bowl game or press conferences stating how a game could have/should have been played better. This was and is about children at the hands of a man (well known to Paterno) who preyed on the most vulnerable. This is about a situation that could have and should have been stopped a lot sooner, which would have prevented others from becoming victims.

Paterno had the opportunity to do something that was bigger than winning seasonal football games and bowl games. He could have saved young boys from the hands of a pedophile. He could have saved young boys from feeling uncomfortable when a man they looked up to touched them inappropriately. In my opinion, that is what would have made Paterno a REAL hero and role model.

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Autumn Words

My heart, soul, and mind dance with each coming and going of the Autumn days. I have watched the leaves as they spiral downwards from the Maple trees that held them tight during the summer months. I have walked on the fallen leaves and heard them crunch beneath my shoes. I have smelled the leaves as they decayed on the ground. This is my season. The season I am most alive with the cool wind and frosty mornings. I do my best to document this time of my life through pictures and words. Here is an audio I did reciting poems and quotes of various writers, poets, and artists.

Rockville Bridge in Autumn

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September Love

Today is the first day of September. This is the month that rolls in autumn; days can be hot with lots of humidity or cool enough to require the wearing of a light sweater. I love this month and the season it brings forth. To me there is no other time that is more beautiful than the month of September.

Many people have shared with me the sadness they feel as days turn to September. They tell me they love fall, but not the cold wintry air. I understand that, but I love the seasons and love watching them change, but if there is one season and one month I would like to last it is September and the autumn.

I love when the air turns cool and the leaves turn golden, maroon, and brown. I love finding a prefect maple leaf that has fallen to the ground, it reminds me of Vermont.

September is filled with good memories for me starting with the start of school. It was a month of new beginnings, the start of a new journey. When I think back to my school days I can still hear the ringing of bells telling us that school has begun. We shuffle off to our homerooms promising friends we will finish the conversation later. When I think of September, I am reminded of yellow school buses lined up outside the school waiting to take students to their homes.

September, I love September – how it sounds and what it means to me – new beginnings; new journey.

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Perseverance Spins Success

Perseverance Art Poster Print by Chris Daniels, 36x24

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

 I have so much to write about, so thankfully and hopefully my blog posts will be more regular. 

I will start with what has happened two months ago. On July 13, my position at a local hospital was eliminated and therefore I’ve been without a job since, well, a regular paying job that is. 

I’ve been working with a career management group to help me adjust to the layoff and to help me find a new job. So far, the group has been helpful, however, I am finding myself wanting to go out on my own and develop my own business, which isn’t all that easy and the thought does scare me. 

As I think about what I want to do and how to go about setting up my business I am reminded of my culminating year at Vermont College when I felt the same fear of failure and success.  You see, there are these little voices of self doubt within me that can come on strong and loud. In college I referred to them as gremlins. 

These voices, my fears, threatened my graduating, so as my professor and I talked about the fears, I soon realized that I could overcome the fears and achieve the goals my writing professor set forth for me. I persevered, I succeeded and I graduated. It took a lot of hard work to get me through the semester. I had to overcome a lot of self doubt and I did it.

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Baling Hay in the July Heat

Sometime ago I was at my daughter’s keeping my grandson company while Sarah, Don and Dan worked in the flower beds. The day was full of humidity that even sitting in the shade made you sweat.

As I carried water to the amateur gardeners I had a moment of deja vu. I was taken back to a time when I was a girl of elementary age. My dad and my brothers were in the barn unloading a wagon full of hay. Too busy to leave their job I would carry fresh homemade lemonade to them.

I remembered how my mom would wash and slice fresh lemons and put them in a kettle. She would put a cup or so of sugar on top of them and with an old fashioned potato masher she would squeeze the juice from the lemons. Once she was done she added water and ice. This was such a treat during the summer months especially for my dad and brothers who dealt with unloading bales of hay and placing them in the hay mound until the mound was so high it almost touched the barn roof.

I love these kinds of memories from my childhood. It seems I remember the hot, sultry summers the most.