Something occurred to me this weekend. In a way, I am a story teller, telling the day-to-day nonsense that goes on in our lives here on this blog. I know that’s pretty much what blogging is all about and it’s pretty cool how I get involved in other people’s lives and how (I suppose) some of you, dear friends, become involved in our lives. I enjoy telling our stories, for, like sands through an hourglass, these are the days of our lives.
Anyhow, this realization came to me while at an actual concert put on by a real, professional story teller, Lorna MacDonald Czarnota. My friend Granny Sue held a house concert where both she and Ms. Czarnota told several diverse stories and sang ballads. I don’t know if you have ever heard a professional story teller, but if you ever get a chance, go and listen.
Granny Sue is our neighbor so I knew her house. She has a fantastic house in the woods surrounded by trees and birds and flowers. Her home is incredible, filled with antiques and mountain heritage and beautiful glassware and books. She invited us to walk about her house and drink sassafras tea and enjoy a variety of snacks. It was a beautiful arrangement and truly an awesome experience. It’s what story telling was at its beginning…friends and neighbors getting together to tell stories and enjoy each other’s company.
Abigail and I had a great time and she re-told the stories we heard the whole way home. I am not sure I am really much of a story teller, but I am delighted that Abigail had so much fun listening and re-telling stories. I hope she will learn some mountain stories and make up some of her own. However she wants to communicate, the wonderful imagination that will be fed from these mountains makes me happy!This entry was posted in Fun, Thoughts, WV and tagged Appalachia, Family, Fun, Mountains, Not a soap opera!, WV by warren
In addition to licking Abe Lincoln’s leg, we did a few other things on our recent Cincinnati trip. Since the kids were less old than they are today, we have always enjoyed visiting public aquariums. It just so happens that Ohio has a pretty cool aquarium. It’s in Kentucky, but Ohio’s aquarium is pretty awesome! I am always happy that the kids seem to enjoy wandering around aquariums. We often see repeating species but it never grows old. I guess it is a testimony to how incredible nature is. I always stand amazed at the variety of creatures that exist and it makes me sad when I hear how so much of the diversity that exists is in jeopardy due to global climate change, habitat destruction or other abuses of nature.
Anyhow, we very much enjoyed touring the Newport aquarium and spent several hours enjoying all there was to see. We also spent a bunch of time at the Contemporary Arts Center. We had a great time touring the exhibits and what made it especially cool is that we got to interact with the art pieces on two entire floors in the ON! Handcrafted Digital Playgrounds exhibit! When we walked in, I didn’t realize that the place was set up for kids but it couldn’t have been more perfect. Of course, most art is regular museums is hands-off, but the kids and I both enjoyed playing Smash Pong (Ping pong on an artsy table where extreme hitting is encouraged), flying paper airplanes and rocking-and-rolling a patchwork quilt camper at the CAC.
At the Contemporary Arts Center
I think the place that was the most powerful during the trip was the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. I am not sure why it sort of touched a nerve with all of us, but seeing the “slave pen” when you enter the building spoke to us immediately. It’s a simple display but when we walked into the wooden cabin, we all stood with our mouths open, not saying a word. Seventy or so people were warehoused in a a room not much larger than a typical school classroom. They were forced to live in terror, filth and shock until they were sold.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Most displays within the center were simple and straightforward but I think that made it easier to understand the horror that faced slaves each and every day. It seems so simple to see how wrong it is to take someone’s freedom and civil rights. We learned so much about the economics of slavery, the politics of bondage and the bravery of people who worked to protect others. I understand the economics of slavery I guess, but for the life of me, I cannot imagine how people can be so cruel to other people. I cannot imagine treating animals as badly as slaves were/are treated, let along talking, thinking people!? Both the kids and I continued onto the discussion of modern slavery and we were shocked at how extensive modern slavery is around the world and even here in the United States. You know, it is one thing to read about what people did a long time ago…it’s easy to write off as how things were when people didn’t know any better, but now…how can people still enslave other people? I don’t understand it and am pleased that the kids were equally shocked and disturbed.
Despite the tone of this writing, these places were each pretty incredible in their own way and I was pleased to visit and learn something in each place. I suppose it is fairly uncommon when you can experience powerful imagery with your kids and even more powerful when it changes how you see the world!This entry was posted in Family, Fun, Thoughts and tagged Cincinnati, Freedom, Learning...is fun?, Underground Railroad by warren
Abigail and I went to the cabin this weekend to do a little work on the place. We started out by planting onions. I like onions so we started with 60 sets. Abigail loves to get dirty and Emily hates it when she does, so it was a perfect opportunity since it was just the two of us. I emptied a few new bags of soil and a bag of manure (yeah, I bought it…I hope some neighbors will help me out with some next time around) into a raised bed we made. Abigail helped me space them out and we got as much dirt as we could under our nails.
After we licked our fingers clean, Abigail wanted to take a walk into the woods. It was such a beautiful day, how could I refuse a walk in the woods? We started down a path we hadn’t walked before and found a really great log down on the ground for sitting. We decided to sit a spell. It took a few minutes, but after a bit, Abigail stopped rustling around and it got really quiet. She commented how quiet it was in the woods. It was nice…she turned back to the woods and just sat and stared over the holler without another sound. I suppose we sat like that for 10 minutes or so. Eventually, we got up and spotted a deer trail off to one side and decided to follow it in to the woods.
We stopped again when Abigail spotted a hole in the ground. It was right where the deer trail went so it was easy to find. We stood still for a second and heard running water. There wasn’t a stream to speak of, but we heard running water down in the hole I suppose we discovered a spring though we never saw it come out anywhere. It didn’t matter…we had already cleaned our fingernails anyhow!
We continued on and spotted a small standing pool of water and another spring and an old bleached out turtle shell. We watched a pileated woodpecker for a few minutes and sat a few more spells on a couple of rocks. We saw some really cool trees that looked like birch trees but they were a a lot larger than any birch tree I have ever seen. We talked and picked out our favorite lichens. I must have brushed up against something on our walk as I now have a rash over my entire body. It’s just the price one pays I suppose. It was well worth it to have this great opportunity to spend some time with my daughter when she told me she wanted to go to the woods. It just doesn’t get any better!This entry was posted in Family, Land, Nature, Thoughts and tagged sit a spell, Woods y'all by warren
My Grandpa was a great story teller and story maker. I have so many thoughts and memories but a few are particularly funny to me…
At the funeral, the preacher told a story about the time he and my Grandpa were preparing for a meeting at the church. A bat flew from the belfry and into the meeting area. Both men grabbed brooms to swat the bat from the air. One of them finally got it and the preacher was about to set the bat under-foot. Grandpa told the preacher to wait a second as he went to gather a pair of gloves. His plan was to set the bat free outside rather than mash an innocent creature. He held the bat up and showed the preacher his big wings and cute little face. The preacher only wanted him gone so Grandpa took him out and returned a few minutes later. When the preacher asked Grandpa what he had done, he replied that he had released the bat…down the street in front of the Presbyterian church!
Another time, there was a neighbor how had a rooster that crowed every morning (and all day too as roosters tend to do) and drove everyone mad. When that neighbor moved, everyone was delighted with the possibility that they may be able to sleep in a bit. Unbeknownst to the remaining neighbors, Grandpa had recorded the rooster and had a speaker set up within a few days. He resumed the morning serenade for awhile to the delight of…only him!
My Grandpa always had a garden in which he spent a great deal of time. Groundhogs invaded one year so Grandpa strung a live 120v line around the perimeter and electrocuted a groundhog or two. Thinking he had cleared the area of the offending beasts, he declared himself the victor. Paying back for the rooster, the neighbors stuffed a groundhog and placed him in the middle of the garden. Grandpa retrieved his .22 rifle and shot the groundhog thinking he would solve the problem once and for all. The groundhog statue remained strong for the next several shots. I think Grandpa probably had his shooting confidence shaken with that episode. He finally figured it out and no doubt, payed everyone back.
One of the best stories is how he tamed a chipmunk…told here.
There are tons more stories but I think one of my favorite lines relates to that time in life when my brother and I were learning to cuss. Thinking that we would show-off or try to impress Grandpa, he shared our new-found vocabulary. He calmly replied that he was impressed but that those were garage words and could only be used there. That wasn’t quite the reaction we were expecting I am sure but it put us in our places!
It’s hard to summarize all of the funny stories in a meaningful way and you may not be as amused by them as I am. Maybe it would help to drink a cup of Sanka before reading. Grandpa drank Sanka every day and I am sure it ran through his veins. Funny how even that word, Sanka, will always mean Grandpa to me.This entry was posted in Thoughts and tagged Sanka = Grandpa by warren
Last Saturday, my grandpa passed away. He was 98 years old and a true gem. I am posting his obit here but will likely write some more over the coming days. His funeral was Wednesday and, as much as I miss him, I was delighted to hear stories people told about my grandpa. He was a character and a great man.
Homer Glenn Wise, 98, of Tionesta, died Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, at Oakwood Heights (formerly the Presbyterian Home), Oil City. He was born March 25, 1914 in Clarion, son of the late LaVern B. and Edith (Hoover) Wise. On April 3, 1935 he married Florence B. (Gardner) Wise in Pittsburgh. His loving wife died on March 21, 2003, after nearly 68 years of marriage. Glenn and his wife owned and operated Wise Sunoco of Tionesta (now Greathouse Body Shop) until 1959. He and his wife also ran a concession stand at the Tionesta Dam along with Wise Boat Livery where he sold boats, motors, chainsaws and accessories. He was a foreman for 20 years at the Evenflo-Crator Manufacturing Plant in Tionesta retiring in 1978. He then went to work for the Forest Hardware also of Tionesta. He was twice Past Master of Olive Temple Lodge #557 Free and Accepted Masons of Tionesta. He was also a member of the Coudersport Consistory and Scottish Rite. He was one of the founding members of the Tionesta Volunteer Fire Co., and was a search and rescue scuba diver. Glenn and his wife were devoted members of the Tionesta United Methodist Church where he held many positions. Surviving are his daughter, Janice Patterson and her husband, Fred, of Tionesta; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents and wife, Glenn was preceded in death by a daughter, Betty Mellon in 1992; a grandson, Jonathan Patterson in infancy; four brothers, Mervin, Hobart, Elmer and Stanley Wise; and five sisters, LeVera Reynolds, Ethel Wolfe, Grace Startzel, Blanche Wise and Doris Cooper. Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today at Norman J. Wimer Funeral Home of Tionesta. A funeral service will be conducted on at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Tionesta United Methodist Church with the Rev. J. Mark Hurst, pastor of the church, and the Rev. Bruce K. Merritt of the Nixon United Methodist Church of Butler, PA., co-officiating. Burial will occur at Mt. Collins Cemetery, Tionesta.This entry was posted in Family, History, Thoughts and tagged Grandparents are wonderful by warren
We have been married for 18 years. I don’t want to say we are post-romance but things are definitely different than they used to be. The last few years, I have gotten Emily some interesting gifts. I guess I just figure that we ought to get practical if we are going to be forced into consumerism. In recent years, I have gotten Emily a muffin pan, a vacuum and a frying pan. We needed each of those things so I naturally figured that there was no better way to show how much I cared than to give something we need.
For some reason, Emily doesn’t see it that way. Anyhow, this year I decided to express my affection in a different way…Emily loves ice cream cakes from Baskin Robbins (and nowhere else) so I got her a cake all for herself. We also lost our local source of Smucker’s apple jelly. There is no apple jelly like Smucker’s so I ordered a six-pack online and had it shipped. Here’s where I get extra credit…I ordered both gifts before Valentine’s day! Anyhow, I think I hit it on the head this year. What do you think?This entry was posted in Fun, Thoughts and tagged Ahhh...romance! by warren
Emily and the kids are off today because of the snow and the cold. It was 11 outside this morning and the roads were a bit of a mess so it was the right thing for the county to call off classes today. I just wish they hadn’t called at 4:35 am. We are very lucky (I think) that the county uses a robocaller to alert teachers and parents to closures, announcements, etc. We just need to work on the clock…
When I was a kid, we had to wait for the tv station to scroll our county across the screen. The closest station was 100 miles or so away. I am not sure it mattered but our little rural area was not terribly important to anyone else. Honestly, they never cancelled or delayed anyhow so there really wasn’t much to watch for anyhow. We just went to school every day. More than once I remember sitting on the bus waiting for a plow truck to come so we could follow it down the hill and get to school. I also remember one time when the bus tried to make it up the hill to the school. As the bus started spinning and sliding (even with chains on), the driver stopped it and we had to walk the rest of the way in the snow (we weren’t barefoot but it was up hill!)
I don’t want to go on about how easy kids have it nowadays, but it was just different. I am sort of jealous though! Anyhow, I am sure that the family is enjoying sleeping in while I slave away at the office! Snow days are special days in my book and I truly hope the kids enjoy a little extra time to relax. Heck, by tomorrow it may be 70 again and we will be outside in shorts (if only we were so lucky)…This entry was posted in Family, Thoughts and tagged Family, Snow days are cool!, Snow Sucks, Thoughts by warren
Just a few days ago, Isaac crossed over into teen-hood. Some folks dread the teen transition, but for us, we see Isaac becoming much more enjoyable. The boy was a bit wild when he was young, but he has settled down into an awesome kid! We give Isaac some room and let him be around us when he wants and be alone when he wants. I don’t know if we are just fortunate or if other folks try to push their growing kid into something they are not. Whichever way it goes, I am so thrilled that Isaac is growing into a pretty great young adult.
Isaac was born under duress. You can read more about that here. When he was born, he was 19 inches. In a mere 13 years, he has grown to 5’8″. That’s is just a little shorter than I am. He wears a size 14 shoe. That’s bigger than what I wear. I am not sure when he will grow into his feet, but I think he is on a pretty wild path!
I don’t know what is ahead of us, but I know that I am so proud of both kids and love them more than anything. I love being able to watch them grow into
real people adults and to be a part of such wonderful lives!
Emily is “slaving away” tonight baking cookies to give to a few folks I will be seeing tomorrow. We have been to the grocery store 4 times today (yeah, I know…not a word from you) getting this and that. Anyhow, Emily asked me if I wanted to put the chocolate kisses on the warm peanut butter cookies. I declined. She fussed a little (only a little…she is well known for her restraint) and it was then that I decided I must be the Grinch.
You see friends, I am the Grinch because I do not really enjoy most of the Christmassy things that I am sure I am supposed to like. I do not like setting up a tree. I do not like decorating a tree. I do not like caroling. I do not like baking cookies. I do not like wrapping Christmas presents. I am ok with unwrapping them though. Anyhow, I really do not enjoy a lot of the traditional things. I am only one pathetic wiener-dog-dressed-up-like-a-reindeer short of being the full blown Grinch!
I always try my very hardest not to be grumpy around the kids but sometimes my Grinchness comes out. But it was 60 degrees today for goodness sake! How come we all aren’t Grinchy? Perhaps some warm cookies and a glass of milk will cure my Grinchy self. It may take as many as a dozen to cure me…This entry was posted in Thoughts and tagged Thoughts by warren
It was a busy holiday weekend…but we were actually most busy at finally relaxing. I mean, we had things we had to do, here and there including the annual turkey gorge which was awesome as always. We also took several naps, stayed up too late watching silly stuff on HBO and slept in every day. I am thankful for so many things this Thanksgiving, but, of course, I am most thankful for my family.
My Dad turned 70 the day after Thanksgiving. He had cancer a dozen years ago and very nearly lost the battle. He has some troubles as a result, but I am thankful that I was able to celebrate his 70th birthday with him and the rest of my family in PA.
It’s funny, the small things that we do when we are with family. In PA, we had a great time shooting a new gun I got. We all took our turn shooting and we all shot about the same…awful. Dad tried to show Abigail some pointers on shooting but she had a mind of her own, of course. Mom got to laughing and her shot was not helped by that at all either. It was really nice just standing around in our funny looking shooting muffs, laughing at each other.
We spent Thanksgiving day with Emily’s people in WV. There were about 20 of us who spent time eating too much and snoozing wherever we could find space. We pretended to watch the Lions lose and we ate too much…did I mention that? Those of us who weren’t comatose took a walk around the neighborhood as we always do. It’s the same neighborhood were Emily’s mom and dad and aunt grew up. I always love to hear stories about how the area was when they were young. We talked about old times and new times and how glad we are to be able to just spend time together.
It’s funny how just a couple of things that we do together as family mean so much to me and to all of us. I love to be where I am and when I am. I am thankful for right now and for all of the people with whom I am fortunate enough to share right now!This entry was posted in Family, Thoughts and tagged Family, Thoughts by warren