Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

What is a memorial?

The definition is "something, especially a structure, established to remind people of a person or event.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in our country's armed forces.

So we remember Christian Skoglund and his service in the Army.

Sadly, we all now have a little box with a gold star in it.   And a wonderful memory of a tall, handsome, fun loving, very competitive man who became family with us.

My dad and uncles fought in WWII.  My grandfather in WWI and I recently discovered that he fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive,  a major part of the final Allied offensive of World War I, but terrible trench warfare.

But I've also discovered recently, another figure from WWI, who wasn't an American but a British nurse serving in Belgium.

Edith Cavall.

She was a strong Christian, with a belief in helping people, both the allies and enemy soldiers.  She was credited with helping 200 British soldiers escape to neutral Holland.  She was also a spy, secreting out to the British, German activities.

She was executed by firing squad by the Germans on October 12, 1915.

She was a heroine and a martyr. 

And I was so impressed with her story and courage and strength in a very difficult time.

Imagine my surprise when visiting Moores Hill Lilacs , in Potsdam, New York, and discovering a lilac named after Edith Cavall.

I bought a bush and planted it in my newly established lilac patch in front of our 1885 barn at the Inn.

Perhaps a memorial.....I don't know. 

But she is an inspiration to me.

To live with honor.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


I'm dreaming of gardens!

Probably because it's February; with unpredictable weather, mostly siding on cold, dreary days and icy roads.

But today the sun shone.  And tomorrow it's supposed to be in the 50's.

My earliest memories, perhaps from old pictures or stories retold by my parents, are of our first home, and my father establishing borders, and gardens, and a lawn and planting trees.

7 Terrace Court

It was initially a very common ranch, built on a slab.  Constructed for the thousands for returning GI's and their family's.  We moved there when I was a bit over 2.

It had no lawn, or landscaping, garage or even a driveway.

But it had mud!!

My father remediated that in short order!

The mud disappeared from our property.

 Although the empty lot across the street was a real drawing card for the little 2 year old girl who lived at 7 Terrace Court!

Tales of  me disappearing to the enticing mud property when my mother was hanging the laundry began to be circulated at family gatherings.  And they always ended with the little blonde girl taking off all her clothes to wallow in the squishy stuff.  Coming home covered head to toe with mud,only little blue eyes shining out.  I don't think they ever found my shoes.

We lived there until I was 14.

But I remember the beautiful pear tree that my dad planted.  Magnificent flowers in the spring and yummy golden pears in the late summer.

 And honeysuckle climbing up one side of the house, so vigorous that my dad started claiming it had the characteristics of a weed.  He was constantly pruning it back and I loved the sweet heavy fragrance when I passed by that side.

And the hedge that he planted on the back boundary of  our property. It grew so tall and thick that we couldn't see our back neighbors house.

He didn't have vegetables on that property.  He started a vegetable garden when he moved to his next house.

But he always had a lush green lawn.  Of which I still am jealous.

I just went through the thousands of pictures I have on my phone.   And was reminded....

Soon I'm going to be seeing so many different colors of day lilies, and apple tree blossoms, and pink tulips, and peonies, and lilacs and black eyed susans, and  I'm going to be getting out to my garden house to plant pots of impatiences and tend to my "secret garden" for my granddaughters.

So I'm encouraged.

There's lots of green and red and pink  and yellow and blue and orange under all that white stuff we have around.  And soon they will all awake after their long winter's nap.

And I'm sure I will add more flower pictures to my phone collection.

Only the year will be 2018!!

Monday, February 12, 2018


And just like that we've slipped into another year.

But it's already six weeks old, with so many events, experiences, holidays, family, church, dinners, guests, trips, building, and everyday routines in the past.

And like two years ago we woke up to beauty that frequents the North Country in February.


I wrote this poem two years ago on February 18, 2016 when we awoke to another.....


Diamond necklaces were flung down from the sky last night,

Caught in the tops of our eighty foot maple tree branches.

Or were they crystal chandeliers?

Majestically draped in those tree tops?

Cascading down from the heights,

Constructed secretly in the dark by tears and wind

Glittering, sparkling, captivating in the morning light.

Daggers, long and thin, droop from the low hanging branches.

Spears and swords,

Translucent sculptures,

Transitory art.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Navigating Terrain

I've been spending at lot of time recently navigating the "emotional terrain of our elders", and trying to help out my elderly aunt.  She's spry, healthy, happy, living independently, still driving, but she is 90.

When my own four children were still in high school, I traveled 1100 miles every six to eight weeks shoring up my parents who were trying to live as independently as possible. 

They had moved "south" to avoid the winters we have in the northeast.  They loved the ocean and white beaches.  Our family had vacationed for years on Hilton Head Island.  So it was a perfect choice for them.  They chose a lot and drew up building plans and their dream retirement house was built.

But they didn't live close to family.  And that became too difficult for all involved.

Now. it's only a six hour drive each way, to assist in some of the areas that need personal attention.

For the last few months I've had lunch and dinner with folks in their 80's and 90's in their assisted care facilities, and senior citizen housing.  I've visited with folks in the nursing home.   And I've rediscovered the importance of having a relationship with our elders.

But they all have reconfirmed for me, the importance of time, relationships, humor, family history, and gratitude.

They all said they couldn't believe they were in their 80's and 90's.  Time had passed too quickly.

Hopefully, I have learned some lessons and figured out some readjustments that I can make in my life.

 Lesson 1:  prioritize time and figure out what is important.  Life is a limited comodity

Lesson 2:  we undervalue the courage of the elderly. " How are you?", I would ask.   "Another day older, but I'm still here!"  he said with a smile on his face.  Ordinary healthy people whom this thing called "old age" has broken through on them, personally, and they can not do the things they routinely did.  A loss of power and status.  They all seemed very courageous to me.

Lesson 3:  if asked....they love to tell stories of their lives growing up.   Of their family, friends and neighbor, experiences.  One lady I ate with, grew up in an apartment right off Central Park in NYC.  Lots of stories I could visualize from her descriptions, being familiar with that area.  Another raised horses and was National Driving Champion.  She took me to her room to show me pictures of her and her horses and her awards.  Bill Moyers has said "Once in East Africa, on the shores of an ancient lake, I sat alone and suddenly it struck me what community is.  It is gathering around a fire and listening to someone tell us a story."

Lesson 4:  older people have a good sense of humor.  I never laughed so much as when I had dinner with those 90 years old folks.  For some reason, they don't seem to take themselves so seriously anymore.  And they have had lots of funny experiences, and don't mind "telling" on themselves.  Also, they all came from a time when conversational skills were highly valued and practiced so the "talk" was interesting, and inclusive.

Lesson 5:  the role of a grandparent is still vitally important.  But it's different now.  We all don't live in the same community as where we grew up.  In our family, our children and grandchildren are hundreds and hundreds of miles away.  They can't walk down the street for a cookie or a hug.  I know someone in the community that has made a commitment to see their granddaughters once a month.  For them it's just a three hour drive, but it's important!  I'm hoping I can make that a reality with our changing life circumstance.

Lesson 6.  our faith heritage is so important.  My great grandfather was an itinerant Methodist minister in Western NY.  I remember stories that my grandmother told me about his riding his horse to his different church communities each Sunday.   I have a box of his correspondence, from the late 1800's.     And the letter from my great grandmother in Norway, encouraging my grandmother and grandfather on their 25th wedding anniversary to keep always keep strong their faith in Jesus, through blessings and adversity.

Lesson 7:  I never put much stock in beauty but I did admire intelligence in people.  Now I'm more impressed with kindness, determination and creativity.

I'm sure there are a lot more lessons to learn as I travel myself down this road called Aging.


A little fixing of this room,

A big renovation in that room,

A pulling down of a dilapidated outside porch,

And wall to wall carpeting is removed, and drawers in dressers are emptied in anticipation of moving furniture.

And "things" are discovered because said drawers have not been opened in 16 years.

But they are open now and contents revealed.

And treasures found.

An 1995 A Beka Homeschooling catalog.....funny

Fun little pencil and pen tins that they kept on their desks

Reggie Jackson rookie baseball card, which if it wasn't wrinkled would be worth thousands......okay not really but.....

Books, and papers, a microscope, notebooks, and photos and hockey, riding and lacrosse trophies, and a lot of

fond memories of my four blessings and their years at 42 East Main!

Thursday, November 9, 2017


I promised myself I would write everyday.

Like a journal, keeping track of the days, weeks and times of my life. 

Simple as it might be.

But who knows.....maybe this will turn into something to do with family heritage, letters, relationship, businesses, faith or just living.

I have been "cleaning out".  Trying to organize and throw out, if not used.

But I have come across items that have been stored.  Because, previously I was busy with child care or community activities, or church responsibilities, or business endeavors.  I would put things away until I had time to really "look" at the item and decide what to do with it.

I don't know if this is really the time, but I'm going to try to keep an account of what I have and what I've found out about my family and it's history.  I think it is important for my children or perhaps I'm just getting old and do not want to be forgotten.

The written word keeps things forever. 

Maybe my grandchildren will read this with more interest then I had when I was younger.  I could have asked my grandparents so many questions about where they came from, what they did as children, memories about their parents and grandparents. 

But I was too busy with my own little life and subsequently my children's lives to have time, interest or ability to sit and engage with anyone about ancient history.

Now I'm going to write. 

About days. 

And times.

And loves.