Monday, May 27, 2013

in memoriam

I never had the chance to meet my great-uncle Johnny.  He was killed while serving in the US Army, somewhere in Italy during World War II.   My twenty-three-year-old paternal grandmother was carrying out her missionary responsibilities for the Mormon church in the state of Missouri at the time and living over a thousand miles away from her parents and six siblings when she received the long distance call about her brother. The following are the words she shared in her autobiography:
     This was my first experience with the death of a loved one.  I felt all alone, far away from home, with no one there to comfort me.  I put on my coat and went walking, with no destination, just going on whatever street I came upon.  The cold stinging wind on my face felt so good to me.  The numbness of  my face matched the numbness of my mind... it was not until I received letters from the family at home two or three days later that my numbness melted and I could cry and feel relief.

Johnny is our only known relative to have lost his life while serving in the armed forces. I'm grateful he's the only one.

A Revolutionary War cemetery, tucked neatly behind the Paxton Presbyterian church, just minutes from our home, is the resting place for many of Harrisburg's most prominent citizens such as John Harris II, the founder of our city, and William Maclay, the first US Senator from Pennsylvania (a street in Harrisburg proper respectfully bears his name). Many of the Rutherfords lie here as well- it's my understanding that the family members were wealthy landowners that held a considerable amount of real estate in the area.

It is sobering to walk the small grounds, give a try at deciphering the dates on the tombstones- many of which have faded away with the passage of time.  I love the simple tombstone belonging to George Washington which reads:

     George Washington died Aug- 1898.  Born a slave in Georgia.  Came north in 1865 with the 9th PA Calvary and spent the remainder of his life in Paxton Valley.  A faithful Servant and Exemplary Christian.

Not unlike many Americans, we enjoyed this extra day to play.  The truck was loaded with our bicycles and we headed north on 81 to Stony Creek, where we biked to a fishing spot along the trail. Sitting underneath a cacophony of birds, next to the moss covered trees and stones, we replenished our hungry bellies and inhaled the beauty of the creek scintillating below our feet.  Mr. Hero took three of the guys down a bit further where the water deepened, while Mr. Tailor stayed with me and filled me in on the events of his life. I was glad to sit and listen to his happiness, my fingers busy with the knitting needles-content.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail flittered on by as we were held by the vibrance of the moment.  And we were happy- all of us.
Imagine that.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


One would think that the state of Wisconsin would have better things to do than spend tax payers' monies fighting a dairy farmer for "merely distributing products to members of his buying club".  

The trial is this week and there is something you can do about it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Saying 'yes' when Mr. Ninja asks once again for a game of chess.
The pen used to write the checks for the phone and water bills is abandoned for 
pawns, rooks, bishops, and a queen moving discreetly 
across the checkered board.
A knight is his favored piece sanctioning solid protection for a vulnerable king.
My plan of attack with two sneaky bishops fails miserably.  
I lose focus and with three simple moves,
the eight-year-old wins.

Monday, May 6, 2013

maryland sheep and wool festival

When the fleece is in the grease, a little instruction can come in handy before making a purchase.  I was lucky enough to have Lee of Shepherd's Hey Farm and volunteer at this year's Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival  take me under her wing as we sifted through bags and bags of fleece that were brought in for show and sale.  She had a wealth of knowledge to share about the different sheep breeds and was more than generous with her time.  Mr. Hero stood back and watched with amusement as a little group of women leaned in close as she pointed out which fleece was beautiful and why, as well as which ones might be better to pass up.  The price is usually a good indicator of what is good on the table- as the farmer knows the quality of the product being offered and can usually get what they're asking.

If you ever decide to do a little fleece diving of your own one day, Lee advises to take a lock of wool and give it a good tug up by the ear.  Go ahead and listen to the wool, she said.  If it crackles a lot, the fiber is weak and will likely break during processing and pill on the knitted garment.  A good twang on the other hand, made by quickly pulling both ends of the lock, next to the ear, shows that the fiber is strong. Other stuff to consider is the uniformity of the wool( watch for a consistent crimp), and a relatively clean fleece that isn't full of lanolin,vegetable matter, dirt, and sheep waste- although a little bit is normal.

Armed with Lee's fifteen minute lesson in Fleece 101, I felt better prepared to make my final selection that came from Michelle Reilly of Triple "R" Farm, who because she wanted to make a sale at the end of the day, gave me an "oh, mama!" of a deal on seven and a half pounds of her beautiful gray Romney fleece that didn't give even the memory of a crackle, calling it a day.

And what a day it was!