Tuesday, August 19, 2014



I'm treading water at a furious pace, but so far am keeping my nose above the surface. Yay me!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Checking in

New job going well. I'm currently working 50 hours a week, dividing my time between two jobs (one full time, one part time), taking on-line courses in my off time. I have commuted an hour and a half to training and and hour and a half back from training twice in the last two weeks.

I've been busy. Not a lot of time for writing, but things are great.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Ghost Stories

My little town is having a Civil War historical event. There soldiers in costumes. There is (erg) a reenactment of a civil war amputation. Apparently, that is a big draw. There is historically accurate music from the era. All sorts of stuff going on.

I am part of the 'ghost walk'. We'll be speaking from different sites in town. I'm speaking from the site of the former Fifth St cemetery, which was the official town cemetery for forty years, until everyone was dug up and moved to the new cemetery up on the hill. 

That old cemetery is behind my house. I love looking up this sort of material. It is fun. 

Here is the story that I will tell:

Up until the year 1823, Warren had no official cemetery. Graves were simply scattered up and down the river bank. An acre was donated from the Jackson farm, but the graves were usually unmarked, or marked by primitive monuments that sadly lacked permanence.

This means that a great many graves were ‘lost’, including the grave of Warren’s very first settler, John Gilson who died in 1811.

When his widow, Patience Gilson died at age 70, on April 4th of 1823, she was buried near the river in a hurriedly cleared gravesite. However, this time, the city of Warren made the decision to purchase two lots in the area of what is now East and 5th St. At the time, if you can imagine it, this was considered ‘remote’ and ‘rural’ and distant enough from the few settlers scattered along the bank of the Conewango river to not cause a problem for them.

A work bee was held and a number of citizens came to help enlarge the clearing from Mrs. Gilson’s new grave, and to create the municipal cemetery.

One of those workers was a high spirited man named Eli Granger. He called ‘dibs’ on a peaceful grave site beneath a hickory tree with a sweet glimpse of the peaceful river rolling by. “This is my spot,” he laughed repeatedly. “This is where you bury me,” he called out to other workers. He went so far as to charge Judge Hackney and Zachariah Eddy, two other of the local citizenry, to insure that he was buried in ‘his’ spot. Within the matter of a few weeks he had drowned in the Conewango Creek. His sad friends ensured that he was buried in ‘his’ spot. He was the first to be buried in the cemetery.

The story of the second person to be buried in the cemetery is no less riveting. Caleb Wallace was murdered. Jacob Hook was a local business man, the owner of vast expanses of timber and 5 sawmills along the Allegheny River. Now Jacob was having a rough week, on the receiving end of multiple lawsuits, including one in which he was accused of lying on the stand. A very ruthless man with a very questionable character. But he was also very wealthy.

One of the lawsuits brought against him was by an employee who accused Mr. Hook of not paying his wages. Both men were convinced that their position was right. A deputy was sent with a warrant for Jacob Hook’s arrest, but Mr. Hook arrogantly refused to accompany the deputy, saying that he’d been into Warren every single day that week, and that the law would simply have to wait until the following week.

This went over like the proverbial lead balloon, and the deputy came back to Warren to form a posse and headed out once again to forcibly remove Jacob Hook from his home. Jacob Hook decided he wasn’t going, and the posse laid siege to his house. Jacob Hook booby trapped his front door with a loaded musket set to go off when the door opened. Young Caleb Wallace was the unfortunate young man. He was almost immediately dead when the musket ball pierced his chest.

Caleb Wallace aged 28 joined Eli Granger in 5th St cemetery, the second person to be buried in the new municipal cemetery, joining Eli Granger. 

Jacob Hook turned himself into authorities the next day. Because the posse was not formed legally, he got away with murder. The prosecuting attorney was so very critical of the verdict that one of the jurors hung himself.

Of course there was a third person to be buried in the cemetery, and a fourth, and so on and so on and so on. It is the way of life. Each person who was buried in this cemetery had their own story. Unfortunately, due to the poor record keeping, we don’t have an accurate count of people buried here. There generally were no monuments, so the graves were poorly marked.

The cemetery was moved to the present day Oakland cemetery in 1863. Well. They tried. But with no monuments, no records, well…

Be it sufficient to say that there is a house behind Water St that required some repair. When the section of old basement wall was pulled away, the remains of a very old grave were discovered behind it. I’ve no doubt that there are others. Step carefully, my friends, lest your careless feet stir up something more than dust."

I think the story turned out very well, and I am proud of it. I have my long black skirt and my shawl. I have my kerosene lamp. The telling starts at 9 PM. I hope it doesn't rain, but the thunder rattling across the sky will lend a certain mystery to the old stories told by lamp light. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Finding my footing

Cara is now in Afghanistan. After a rough start, I am pretty much settled in with the new reality. Not exactly comfortable with it. I am not sure how to describe it, but it is what it is. The fact that four days after she got there, the airport she flew into was attacked by militants was a big shock. She blithely reported back that it was 'nothing to worry about', and that five of the militants had been killed. 3 days after that there was a suicide bombing on a military outpost. Once again, upsetting to me, 'nothing to worry about' to her. There have been stories of begging women, and the story of a bedraggled and thin little girl who begged Cara to be allowed to shine her shoes made me cry for days. These things affect Cara, I think, but she also realizes that the best that she can do is to help educate the women who will (hopefully) go into this hard place and begin to change it. 

I have been quietly coming to grips with this, and have had two very amazing God moments that have provided me with great comfort. 

Not so comforting are the people who rally around me and say, "Have faith. He will bring Cara safely home." I just smile and try not to reply because my answer would be, "You know, Christian men and women have died over there. No matter how hard a mother prays, that is not a guarantee that God will bring my girl back to me." It makes it sound as if God exists to do our bidding, or worse yet, if something were to happen, I could take it to heart that it was MY fault for not praying with enough faith. I'm impatient with that thinking. I have not felt that amount of irk since the days of cancer when well meaning people would tell me to have faith and God would heal me. I try very hard to keep still and love the people who care enough to try to comfort me and ease my mind. 

Meet Maki. Now Mack. Picture above is from an NPR report (http://wgcu.org/post/british-marines-new-mission-save-all-kabuls-street-animals)

Cara adopted him after going to play with some of the animals there. He will be coming home in a week. The story of their meeting is as follows: Adoption is currently pending for Mack (Maki).  We met early this morning, had a chat about potentially becoming a family, and seemed to come to a mutual agreement.  Mack made a bee line for me when I walked in the door, and cried when I walked out of the cattery.  He should be home with his new kitty mom by next Saturday.  After falling in love with the big galug, I was informed that Mack had recently been on an NPR post.  He is the orange cat featured in the slide show.

I am not sure why this news is such a comfort to me, but it is. 

Oh, and PS: I have a new job that offers me a very exciting opportunity to learn a new trade and become nationally certified. On their dime. To have someone see something in you that warrants such an offer is pretty validating and I am more grateful than words can say. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hard to swallow.

So, Cara has less than 96 hours in country. Really, I've been being pretty brave about it. Praying. Leaving it in God's hands. Etc. etc. I told someone it's like putting on a 'faith face' and praying like crazy that at some point your heart will fall in line.

Been doing okay. Not great. I get those moments where my wheels wobble, but so far I've managed to keep that to myself. Well. Except for when I got sharp with Tim because he wanted to talk about business stuff,  and I. Want. To. Have. This. Precious. Time. With. Cara. I have no choice but to work right now and that is hard, but I can only keep on keeping on, and when I get home, I want to savor every bit of the time we do have. The business stuff can wait for four freaking days. But Tim needs to be told stuff like this. It never occurs to him if I don't tell him. It's just his nature. He is a good man, but the emotional stuff will remain (always) a great mystery to him.

But really, I think that I've done a pretty good job about keeping any fears to myself, other than the night I got sharp tongued with my poor husband.

Today, it hit me. I'm not going to be able to send her letters. I had this idea. Letters were an integral part of it. Sending a letter to Kabul is going to be between $40 and $86.

There's e-mail. And there's e-cards. But no letters.

For some reason that is killing me.

If anybody out there knows how to accomplish this cheaper, I'd surely be interested in talking to you.