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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Winter Doldrums

I am not one of those people who deal with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the winter and that makes it difficult for me to understand people who are affected by it. There are all kinds of advice out there about what one can do to overcome the seasonal depression---meditation, diet, light, and other therapies. I understand different things work for different people and there is not one set answer.
I'm thankful SAD is one problem I've been spared. I don't enjoy the snow like I once did or feel the need to go out and play in it. I'm happy to stay in the warm house and just look at it through the window. Going to fetch the mail is all I care to do out there.
I don't have any sure-fire cures for people who are affected by SAD but I think one of the best antidotes is contained in this quote from Henry David Thoreau: “One must maintain a little bit of Summer even in the middle of  Winter.”
Hmmmm. How do I manage that? I can't go on my daily walks or putter around in flower beds. But I scrapbook my pictures from the previous year, and as I work my way through them I relive the memories made during the summer. I have corn in my freezer that was grown in my garden last summer and I remember preserving it on a hot summer day. (The taste of homegrown sweet corn is far above and beyond anything you can buy in the store.) I have live plants in my house and African violets that bloom all winter. That's the first three that came to my mind.
I always have a list of things I want to do in the winter that I don't have time for in other seasons, and it usually passes by rapidly. I'm making progress on this winter's list and am hopeful I can conquer it by the first of March when it will be time to begin shifting into the next season. As long as my hands and eyes do not fail me, I shall never be bored, even in the dead of winter.
Here's a "sugar plum" from last summer for the middle of winter.


Friday, January 23, 2015

The Gerber Baby

The 2015 Gerber “Spokesbaby” is baby Grace from East Petersburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The photo that featured the charming 7-month-old was selected as the Grand Prize winner from more than 180,000 entries. Grace’s parents will receive a $50,000 prize, one year of baby food, and the opportunity to appear in a future Gerber advertisement. On how she captured the winning photo, Gabrielle, Grace’s mother said, ” She must have  taken her hands out of her mouth and posed them like that for a split second because I didn’t even realize how cute she was posing until after I was completely done taking pictures and looking back at what I had just taken.” A panel of judges reviewed the entries to find children whose photos displayed expressiveness and consistency with Gerber’s heritage.
Isn't she adorable?!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cabin For Sale

My family is closing a chapter in our lives and selling the family cabin in Union County. The auction listing has just been posted on the Internet. If you're in the market for something like this, here's your chance to own an A-frame cabin on 10 acres of land adjoining State Game Land.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Winning The Battle

As reporters and editors, we're constantly on guard for cliches, those oft-used phrases that drown originality. One that grates on me the most - but unfortunately is among the most common - is when a writer uses war metaphors to describe a person's death because of cancer.
You know what I mean: He fought a brave fight. She battled like a warrior. He fell short of defeating this enemy. And, the one used most often: He lost his battle with cancer.
What does that imply? Are we saying the cancer patient "lost" because he didn't fight hard enough and died? Maybe he wasn't tough enough. Perhaps he just gave up. He failed. In my mind, cancer isn't a battle, a fight or even a journey. It's an awful disease, one with the ability to kill people.
I thought about this "battle" thing again upon the recent death of Stuart Scott. The popular ESPN personality lived with cancer since 2007, enduring dozens of chemotherapy treatments. He had remissions and recurrences. He had ups and downs. He died last week at 49.
Many media outlets, including this newspaper, featured headlines about Stuart "losing his battle with cancer." Immediately, I recalled Stuart's own words on the topic, spoken at the ESPY Awards in July.
"When you die, that does not mean you lose to cancer," he said while accepting the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. "You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live." What a great thought! What a great legacy!
For more insight, I contacted Dr. Marc Rovito, medical director of the St. Joseph Cancer Center, who sees and treats cancer patients every day. Many, he said, when first diagnosed, vow with tenacity to "beat this thing." Some do. But, for others, there's an evolution of sorts as they come to terms with cancer, as they come to peace.
What matters is how you define winning, Rovito explained. If winning means not dying, that doesn't always happen. But, if winning means living life the way you want to live it, you can't fail.
"Be good to the people you want to be good to," Rovito said. "Love the people you want to love and give to the people you want to give to."
Cancer treatments fail. People don't. "You don't lose to cancer," Rovito confirmed. "Cancer doesn't kill hope. It doesn't kill love."
By Jim Kerr, Reading Eagle, January 12, 2015
A friend of mine is currently battling cancer. She beat it back once, but five years later it came back. She is winning because her spirit remains strong and she is still the same person she always was. Regardless what cancer does to her body, it has not changed or destroyed her. She is an inspiration to us because she is proving that cancer is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. Here is the key to winning in the battle with cancer.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Winter is a good time to slow down and do things we don't have time for in the summer. Some people like to sit by a fire with a mug of hot chocolate and put a jig saw puzzle together. I put a few of them together in my lifetime but it's been years since I've done one. It always seems like such a pity when it's all finished and you have to take it apart to put it back in the box. Maybe someday when I'm so old I can't drive anymore or my mind is too fuzzy to think about more challenging things, I'll turn to jig saw puzzles for entertainment.
In the meantime, my favorite kind of puzzle is finding a family that has disappeared from the pages of history and bringing them to light. This winter I latched onto one such family. I've known about them for several years but this winter I started going after them in a systematic and diligent way.
I'm referring to the Jacob Good family of Dauphin County. Jacob and his brother Samuel both lived in the Harrisburg area of Dauphin County but no one seemed to know who they were.
A few years ago, a friend of mine in Virginia found the papers related to the estate settlement of Jacob Good who died in Rockingham County in 1805. He was born in Lancaster County but moved to Virginia in 1794. His five oldest sons remained in Pennsylvania. The estate settlement showed that Jacob and Samuel of Dauphin County were his two oldest sons.
Published genealogies say the Dauphin County Jacob "died young," implying he died as a child. Not true! I found documents in Dauphin County which show that, while he died in his low 40s, he lived long enough to have two wives and five children.
After more searching I have concluded that Jacob's oldest son had no children and the two younger ones died before they were old enough to marry. The two daughters married and had children but they did not carry on the Good name. Elizabeth married John Krugh and Barbara married John Stoner. The Krughs crossed the Susquehanna River to live in Cumberland County. The Stoners moved to Livingston County, New York (east of Buffalo).
I found a few family trees which identified the parents of Elizabeth (Good) Krugh, but no one seems to know who Barbara's parents were. Putting the pieces of the Krugh and Stoner family trees together has been a challenging and fascinating pastime. I now have 12 children for the Krughs and lots of their grandchildren, many of them in Mercer and Van Wert counties in Ohio. The Stoners had seven children. All but one of them stayed in New York. I found a website with old newspapers from New York that yielded a lot of obituaries and helped me confirm family connections.
You may be wondering why I would go to all this work for a family that is not my relatives. Like a jig saw puzzle, it's the challenge of finding the next piece and seeing the finished picture emerging. It may help someone else with their "brick wall" and the pleasure of digging out the story is my reward.
I'm still working on this but, eventually, when I'm satisfied I've done the best I can, I will publish it. I won't have to take it apart and put it back in the box. That's my kind of puzzle for a cold winter day!