Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My Beautiful Pennsylvania

"PA Grand Canyon"

During my childhood in Wenonah, New Jersey, I found that South Jersey was quite flat. As a family in the 70s and 80s, we would drive to the Jersey shore towards Ocean City or Strathmere. Dad and Mom preferred driving the back roads, winding our way down through corn fields and tomato fields, then through cranberry bogs. Or we would drive through miles and miles of Pine Barrens. Not a hill in sight, just miles of flat fields or, with the Pine Barrens, miles of forests. That's what I grew up with and that's what I knew. The trip to the shore only broken that up in terms of marshes and wetlands. Still flat, but just a different terrain.

When I was a young child of six or seven, my father brought me to the home of his dear friend Dr. Rachel DuBois, an esteemed author and educator, for a summer visit. She was diminutive in stature but enormous in terms of wisdom. Dr. DuBois also happened to live on one of the highest hills in South Jersey. We drove up and up and still further up a long gravel driveway. Why, we were above the very treetops themselves!

How far up are we Dad? I asked astonished.
Well, we are on one of the highest points in South Jersey, He answered surveying the view.
WOW, was all that I could muster...

Years later in the 80s, I would travel to see my grandparents, Leslie and Lavina Haynes, who lived in Pueblo, Colorado. We would drive out through farmland, ranches, and desert as far as the eye could see. I even once say a tornado miles away slowly making its way across the horizon.

The view was suddenly overtaken by the great looming Rocky Mountains running straight through the middle of Colorado. Pikes Peak, 14,000 plus feet in all of its glory, rose up over the prairieland and the surrounding Rockies. It's height was awe-inspiring and at the same time unfathomable to this South Jersey born kid. I had never seen anything like it.

When I turned 21, I moved into Philly. Prior to this my family would take day trips to the Brandywine Valley in Chester County or the Amish County out in Lancaster County. Brandywine farms and fields are interspersed with a forested ruggedness cut through by many a lively brook forcing its way through the lands. Amish country in turn is a patchwork of extremely well manicured farms being worked by the salt of the Earth.

The rolling hills of the coastal plain are dotted by many towns or villages, white or stone farmhouses, barns and silos. The green hills eventually stop at the foot of the last Appalachian chain, the long Blue Mountain. This formidable wall stretches diagonally for 255 miles from Maryland to New Jersey. Beyond that, the old Appalachians continue their drive through the Wilds of Pennsylvania to the top of the state. During one of my many "teachings" and discussions with my father, I specifically remember him telling me of how the Appalachians curved their way northward. And now how ironic that I live in a community named Lake Wynonah nestled between these ranges.

I love my state of Pennsylvania with its ancient mountains rising up North as far as the eye can see, one after another. The rolling hills and farmland of Eastern Pennsylvania are cut in two by the mighty Susquehanna River meandering through the state, ever widening to an impossible width at the southern most portion. Countless waterfalls and rocky, mountain streams eventually make their way into this incredible river.
"Winter in Lake Wynonah, PA"

Due to my frazzled nature, part of me loves Pennsylvania because it always seems to be a safe stable state to live in. Sure we have the occasional rare earthquake or tornado. Major rains and storms barrel through from the West and sometimes floods follow. Heat waves struck in July or August. In fall and winter, a nasty Nor' Easter or a late hurricane spin through the state sometimes causing destruction. Our winter blizzards, ice and snow storms dot the cold winter months. But we seem to be very lucky. I count on the stability of the four seasons and look forward to each one bringing it's own distinct beauty and unique experiences.

I am continuously delighted by the flora and fauna which I come across in my hikes and travels. Eastern hemlocks and mountain laurel abound statewide. I have been lucky to spy or view many of our state's animals in their natural habitats: black bears, countless deer, elk, skunk, raccoons, coyote, porcupines, weasels, beavers, grey and red foxes, flying squirrels, eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, turkey vultures, pheasants, many wild turkeys and our state bird, the ruffed grouse. I have yet to spy a bobcat but have seen evidence of several while hiking. I would also love to see an otter one day, or a mountain lion ... from the safety of my car.

South Jersey will always be my original home state but I've settled quite comfortably in Pennsylvania, now having lived here longer than New Jersey.  I am very lucky to reside in such a beautiful state.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Trying to Call my Dad

July 2017 "Dad and me"

I was watching a movie this past lazy Sunday afternoon, a romantic comedy. The central character's father dies. It's a sad scene tinged with comedic moments as happens in rom-coms. She attends the funeral and gives the eulogy. It's a touching scene.

It made me melancholy thinking about how much I miss my departed Mother but also how much I love my Dad. I wiped away a tear and I decided to call him right then there and tell him I love him. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed his number in California.

A pre-recorded operator answers and states "All circuits are busy, please try your call again later. Welcome to Verizon. Please try your call again later."

I started laughing out loud exclaiming.... "Whaaaaat?".  It just figured.

I called a couple more times to no avail. No calls were going through. Then I got worried. Was there an earthquake which knocked out power? I checked the local media, even the LA Times online website, nothing.

There was one on February 6th, a 4.4, which occurred 13 miles from Arcata. Back on March 22nd of 2018, there was a 4.6 off of the coast. Luckily no tsunami warnings were issued. So, it's always in the back of my mind when I can't get in touch with the Humbolt County Haynes Family.

Maybe they had gone away for the day? Did I pay my cell phone bill? Was a storm happening? Different scenarios went through my mind as the day progressed. I am such a worry-wart.

I finally got in touch with him at around 6 pm East coast time. Their power had just been restored. Dad and Martha woke up to a surprise 6 inches of snow dumped on them the previous evening. Branches were down, the snow was heavy and wet. The power went off and they had no heat for the day. AND Martha's close friend was visiting from San Francisco! Welcome to Arcata!

He was so excited to tell me about the rare snowfall that I completely forgot to tell him half of the things I had been meaning to!

I convinced Dad NOT to shovel. I know my stepbrother Scott will help dig them out. He and I had a nice convo about this health and how he was doing. We tend to talk over each other out of habit, then stop and apologize and urge each other to continue. And then we both start talking over each other again. LOL.

It was great to hear his voice. And I did tell him that I loved him. Make sure you remember to tell your parent(s) you love them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Winter Poems

"Lake Wynonah Snow"

For my 24th Frazzled at Forty podcast
episode entitled, "Snowcast", I discussed all things snow while taking a snow day from work. I hate to say it but when you are an adult and take a snow day, it usually does not mean it's gonna be that fun. It usually comes down to spending your day shoveling at different times to keep up with the snow OR doing housework, dishes, laundry etc.

This particular snow day was no different. I enjoyed my morning coffee and grabbed a bite to eat the day's news but then I got my ass up to work on stuff around the house. I also took a nap for a bit. Well shoveling is exhausting! Or perhaps it was the whiskey I was sipping while shoveling....

At the end of each podcast, I recite a famous quote which is complimentary to the topic at hand. For the "Snowcast" podcast, I decided to do something different and recite a winter poem. I enjoyed researching the winter poetry and read close to 15. I settle on the two below. One by Romantic poet Thomas Hardy and the other by the famed American poet Robert Frost.

Frazzled at Forty Podcast:

The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy  1900

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
     The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
     Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
     Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seems to be
     The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
     he Wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
     Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
     Seemed as fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
     The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
     Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush frail, gaunt, and small,
     In blast-beruffled plum,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
     Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
     Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
     Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
     his happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
     And I was unaware.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost  1922

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.