August 30, 2011

Amish Move to New York State



Clip clop. Clip clop. Clip clop.

      While I work on my novel the repetitive sounds of horse hooves along the road beside the Sunnyside of Black Lake housekeeping rooms was a pleasant diversion. It was also a sign that the Amish are settling into their relatively new homeland, Northern New York, along the St. Lawrence River.

   The first Amish districts in New York were established in the Conewango Valley in 1949, but in-migration amounted to a trickle until about a decade ago… As recently as 1991, there were just 3,900 Amish in the state.* However, since the beginning of 2010 the Amish have started ten new settlements in New York. Over the past two years, their population growth has reached thirteen thousand. It is the fifth largest Amish population in the nation, lead by Pennsylvania, first (over 61,000), Ohio (400 less), Indiana, and Wisconsin.* As recently as 1991, there were just 3,900 Amish in the state.

     Over the last forty-five years I have visited my husband’s family at least once annually. The last few years I’ve noticed the increased presence of the Amish. We are familiar with their lifestyle from living in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, which is across the border from the Kinsman, Ohio, Amish settlement.

The Amish began arriving in (more…)

August 28, 2011

Surfing at Hampton Beach (N. H.) With Hurricane Irene




The arrival of Hurricane Irene along the New England coast could prove to be a menace for many in the region, with potential flooding, downed wires and trees, and possible power outages. But it could turn into a carnival for a hardy group of surfers who wait patiently through lackadaisical surf days through the spring and summer for days like today, possibly tomorrow, particularly Monday.

While Irene will bring winds, she will also bring waves, with forecasters predicting clean, above-head waves in some regions of New England.*

     While surfing the Internet I came across this article on surfing at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. I’ve revisited this beach through the years, first playing in its playground and experiencing its mild surf as a child, then whenever my husband Monte and I trek to New England.

     Our first visit was on our honeymoon following our September 3, 1966, wedding. We were there in the early autumn of 2003, the year Monte retired. It was this visit where we stood in a pre- or post-storm atmosphere, watching surfers enjoy their sport.

     The article reported that Jared Hay… 22…was giving surfing instructions to three young girls for the local surf company Cinnamon Rainbows…He may head to Rhode Island today, then return to New Hampshire for more surf Monday, once the chaos of (more…)

Photographer is Caught on Camera



     Although my father was a chief photographer in the Navy I don’t believe he influenced me—my parents were divorced when I was young and I had no contact with him.

     However, I became the family photographer while still a teenager. I recall having a Brownie camera, and taking “fun” shots. One in particular was of my napping mother. I placed a clean toddler’s potty seat catchbasin on her head for a hat and snapped the memorable photograph.

     Like most photographers, I prefer being on the back side of the camera. I don’t consider myself photogenic, and dislike (more…)

August 25, 2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Flowers



The first two flowerpictures were taken of blooms from the bulbs of multicolored lilies that decorated the altar, aisles, and walkway at the church where my daughter was married.


I planted some of the bulbs, and the blooms are fantastic! This is their third year, so I can (more…)

Chad Eric Smith in Movie Black Kerchief



     Chad Eric Smith will end his seven-year stay in Westmoreland County with numerous theatrical accomplishments, the most recent being

  •      an extra, in the role of a Gotham City Police Department SWAT Team Member, on the set of The Dark Knight Rises filmed this month in Pittsburgh. “Of course, there is no guarantee that I will be seen on screen when the movie comes out,” he wrote on his facebook page.
  •      an actor in the role of Charlie in Black Kerchief, a gritty western film. “A good chunk of it was filmed at Fort Ligonier. Other filming locations included random, rural, areas of Western Pennsylvania having no signs of civilization.” It will premiere at the Hollywood Theater in Pittsburgh On Sunday, August 28th, 2011 at 7 p. m.   The trailer:


Chad Eric Smith

     Chad was born and raised in Washington, D. C., to supportive parents Erica Tollett and Jonathan Smith, a multimedia and music producer. He has a brother Zack and a sister Nina Harrison.

     He attended School Without Walls, a public, college-preparatory magnet school in D.C., where he joined an educational group, Teens Against the Spread of AIDS. While  participating in the dramatic skits the group used to present material he discovered  his interest in the theater.

     “I always had a theatrical personality,” he said.

     After graduating he came to Southwestern Pennsylvania to study psychology at the Greensburg campus of the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt-Greensburg). During his four years of study his interest in (more…)

August 23, 2011

Earthquake Affects Western Pennsylvania on August 23, 2011



ON AUGUST 23, 2011

      It was been a quiet day in…Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania.

     That is, until 3:18 p. m., the telephone roused me from my afternoon rest time.

     It was my sister Nancy in Lancaster, New York, a suburb of Buffalo.  She had just received word that her oldest daughter in Spotsylvania, Virginia, had just been a victim of an earthquake that occurred just before 2:00 p. m. Debbie’s house had things shattered all over it.

     She lived, as I learned, close by the epicenter of the 5.9 (Richter scale) earthquake.

     While talking with Nancy a call bleeped in. I told Nancy I would call her right back. The call was from my friend Fran, who lives forty miles west of me.

     Did I know, had I heard, about the earthquake? she asked.

     I told her I had just talked to my sister, that’s all I knew.

     Jim (her husband) was (more…)

Eulogizing the Deceased



     The time of grief and mourning when a loved one departs this earth is a time when everyone relates stories about how wonderful the deceased was. They were the perfect person, loved by all, willing to sacrifice anything for their friends in need. The deceased is portrayed in such a glorified manner that it makes me wish I had known them. I’m sure that my readers have heard these glorious eulogies.

     Sometimes the stories are just that—stories. The deceased person was actually antagonistic, self-centered, self-serving, and difficult to relate to. It’s amazing how the deceased person’s personality changes at the moment of death.


     Word reached me that the Rev. John D. Mears, an Episcopalian priest in Buffalo, New York, died August 13, 2011. I received the newspaper obituary in the mail, and then looked it up online.  I also scanned the online guest book: faithful, courageous, generous, a true Christian example, able to make you feel like the only one in the world, joyous, enthusiastic…

     Several persons wrote that the Rev. Mears performed their wedding ceremonies. On September 3, 2011, my husband Monte and I will celebrate our 45th anniversary. Rev.  Mears performed our wedding rite at the Good Shepherd Episcopalian Church, where he served as a priest.


     As preparation for the wedding we were required to have marriage counseling.

     Now, I don’t want to mar anyone else’s experience with the Rev. Mears, but it was during one of these counseling sessions that I became determined to (more…)

August 21, 2011

The Verdict on Poppy Seeds is Questionable



     Over the past few years two mothers in New Castle, Pennsylvania, have had their children removed from them at birth because they tested positive to drugs.*

     During the same time period a seventeen year old boy in another community died from an overdose of morphine.**

     The common factor: (more…)

August 18, 2011

If There’s a Robber in Your House Where Will You Hide?




If there’s a robber in your house, where would you hide?

     The game show, Family Feud, was on the television while I cleaned my room. I listened to the answers to the above question:

In a closet…

In the basement…

In the bathrrom…

In another room…

Behind my wife…

     The last two answers struck me, reminding me of an anecdote I intend to use in my novel. The setting is British Guiana, the time between 1804-1811. The characters are Madame Rosalie de Leval, Franco Van Berckel, and a group of their slaves.


     Franco Van Berckel was (more…)

August 16, 2011

Adelphoi Village to Mark Fortieth Anniversary August 18, 2011



AUGUST 18, 2011

     Forty years ago the Rev. Paschal Morlino, then a Benedictine monk at St. Vincent, founded a group home for boys on Mission Road in Unity, he wanted to aid young people in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

     “That’s all I wanted to do was help these kids who were in trouble…When I first started, I saw the need and thought it was something I could do.”

      Throughout the years Morlino’s mission—to reach out to youth—has remained constant, according to President and CEO Blair Kucinski.

     “They really don’t see hope for the future, they have a feeling of hopelessness. We try to offer kids that hope, so they can overcome what might seem like major obstacles to them and allow them to succeed in the future,” Kucinski said.*

     The organization’s August 18, 2011, birthday celebration will include the unveiling of a “Legacy Wall” created to represent the last four decades. Founder’s Day, to be held on August 19, will feature activities and alumni speakers.

     The group home has, over the years, developed into Adelphoi USA. The organization is comprised of several agencies:

  • a charter school
  • a philanthropic foundation
  • programs in 30 Pennsylvania counties
  • Adelphoi Village—an 8-acre campus outside Latrobe that provides care and treatment to more than 2,500 at-risk youth each year.*


     Hanging on my mug rack is one from Adelphoi Village, received at an early twenty-first century Founder’s Day celebration I attended when I was one of their part-time employees.

     On numerous occasions during my time in Connellsville, Pennsylvania (an hour distant from Adelphoi’s home base in Latrobe) persons had suggested that I apply to Adelphoi for (more…)

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