“THE RICHEST MAN IN TOWN”

Sunday, September 15th, 2013…

For those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning, or those who know me, know that I have always loved the Christmas season, particularly the “sentimental” feelings, and the “true Spirit” of the holiday…of course that includes the “old holiday favorites”, the music, movies and cartoons…one of those favorites has always been “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Frank Capra’s moving telling of the life of one George Bailey…if you’ve never seen it, I recommend watching it this year…if you have seen it, then you’ll understand when I say that “it sure looked like a scene out of that movie at my house yesterday!”…

My previous writing tells of my recent and ongoing battle with some unknown illness, which has me very weak, tired, and short of breath???…and, as summer is now fading into my favorite season, autumn, my thoughts automatically turn to scenic walks, taking photos, and FIREWOOD!…In the tradition of my Grandpa Brumbaugh, my Dad, and my Uncle Butch–I love the sight, smell, and the heat from a wood and coal fire…I will always remember as if it were yesterday, laying on the floor in front of grandpa’s fire–him sleeping on one side, me on the other, and grandma in her chair crocheting…and to this day, my primary heat source remains a wood and coal burning stove…which brings me back to FIREWOOD!…I need to get better fast, ’cause I need to cut more firewood…

Well, Sue, being the wonderful and thoughtful person that she is, without my knowing anything, created a scene right out of “It’s A Wonderful Life” for me…when I returned from a doctor appointment on Friday[the 13th--not superstitious, I was born on the 13th], she was standing in my driveway…originally, my heart sank, thinking something was wrong–perhaps Chloe or Cayden were sick?…but within a few minutes, a fair-sized dump truck pulled into the drive–loaded with FIREWOOD!…CUT–SPLIT–AND LOTS OF IT!…and before I could ask any questions, she said, “I’ll be back–don’t worry about it, you’ll see tomorrow”…she returned with my Mum’s large coffee maker, along with numerous mystery items…

Which sets the stage: Saturday, September 14th, 8AM…

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’ve figured out that those 30 cups of coffee aren’t all for me…and sure enough, I looked outside to find a few of my friends[some also Camp members] walking up the driveway…Tim, Karen, Amy, Walt—and Larry!…and before I could shake all of their hands, Jim, Joe, Dan, Debe, Lakota, Ashley…then another Joe, then another Karen…then some family members, Mike, Isaac—Ma and Pa!

 

VOLUNTEER WOODCHUCKERS-1 VOLUNTEER WOODCHUCKERS-2 VOLUNTEER WOODCHUCKERS-3 VOLUNTEER WOODCHUCKERS-4 VOLUNTEER WOODCHUCKERS-5 VOLUNTEER WOODCHUCKERS-6 VOLUNTEER WOODCHUCKERS-7

Within a few minutes, after a few quick introductions, they started a line of “woodchuckers”…a few at the massive pile of wood–a line of handlers, and Tim, Karen and Joe stacking it as fast as it was handed to them…by 10AM, the entire load of wood was beautifully stacked on my porch!–nearly enough to last the winter!…WOW!

AND, without ruining the ending for those of you will now make it a point to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”, as I’ve said before, like George Bailey, I too am “the richest man in town”–a man that is blessed to have so many friends, a loving family, and of course, Sue, who lovingly [and secretly] made the whole thing happen…I’m not ashamed to say that I was moved to tears several times throughout the day–first, in disbelief that so many were willing to give of their time and money to do this–then, when it “hit me” that “I am really unable to do this for myself” at this time–and again, when everyone had gone to take care of their own obligations, and Sue and I stood there looking at all of that FIREWOOD…

Needless to say, as I set here writing this, there is a warm, crackling fire in the stove this cool, late-summer night…

God Bless.

“RETIRED…TIRED…SICK AND TIRED…”

September 15, 2013…

Well, obviously it’s been quite a while since my last writing, and for good reason…

My first few months of retirement, being winter months, included some walks in the snow, as seen in the McConnell’s Mill article, and some much needed time by the fire, watching the snow falling outside, looking at the telephone from time to time, and smiling to myself, knowing that it would no longer be PennDOT calling me to go to work!

Springtime brought with it a full schedule of Civil War related events, both with the 62nd PVI Living History Unit, and the SUVCW Camp 43, which also includes the Indiana County Civil War Memorial Committee’s “Rest on Arms” project…I will try to expand on each of those on their respective sites in the near future…but with that full schedule, also came the onset of much fatigue, and, as time would go on, a still undiagnosed illness, with the fatigue being just one of many symptoms…

In June, just as the 150th Anniversary events at Gettysburg were about to begin, I started treatment for Lyme disease, as many of the symptoms seemed to lead us to believe that a tick had been behind all of this…but, after 30 days of doxycycline, I was feeling worse, and the search for the cause has led to testing on my heart, lungs, and of course, many tubes of blood…so, as the title says, in the last nine months, I have gone from being retired, to being extremely tired, to the present condition–sick and tired…

I can remember while I was still working for PennDOT, seeing so many of my fellow employees fall ill, either just before they retired, or just after, some, never even living to receive their first pension check…that was certainly in the back of my mind as I was contemplating my early retirement…well, I guess I made the right decision–the way I feel at the present, I’d be missing a lot of work if still employed…

I have faith that we will find out what’s causing all of this, but in the meantime, I am blessed to be surrounded by many loved ones, family, and friends, which will be evident in my next writing…hopefully, soon I’ll be able to get back to just being “retired!”…

“MCCONNELL’S MILL HIKE”

One of my favorite places has always been McConnell’s Mill State Park…if you ever want to “get way from it all” for a couple of hours, “the mill” is the place to go…that being said, naturally[no pun intended], it was also one of the first places that I wanted to go upon retiring…trips to the mill were difficult to arrange when working–snow meant 12 hour shifts many times, and the last thing you wanted to do after plowing snow all night was go out and walk in it!…

"The Bridge"

“The Bridge”

SO, now that snow is beautiful again, I asked my friends and former co-workers, Larry Smail and Frank Maus, if they would like to travel to the mill for a hike[they have a couple of years' head start on me for such walks]…they agreed to go, and on a cold, frosty, sunny morning, the 8th of January, we embarked on our journey…

"Frankie, Slim, Larry"

“Frankie, Slim, Larry”

Our first priority was breakfast…conveniently, my friend[and bag-piper] Amanda operates her family restaurant, “Hickory Woods”, along Route 422, just a few miles from the park…If you love to eat breakfast, you’ll love “Hickory Woods”, with many traditional family recipes, a relaxing atmosphere, and great hospitality…until his recent passing, I could always count on Amanda’s Dad coming over to sit and talk while we waited on our meal…it’s a great place to meet with friends for a meal, and that’s what we did to start our day…of course, the majority of the conversation[and laughter] this day revolved around our combined nearly 100 years service with Penndot–so many stories, so little time!

"Hey Larry, let's leave Slim at the falls!"

“Hey Larry, let’s leave Slim at the falls!”

Once our bellies were full, it was time to go walk it off…we started at Alpha Pass and Falls, a trail that leads to a waterfall, fed by a mere drainage ditch…the weeks of cold weather had made the falls a series of large icicles, with water still splashing over the cliff…a beautiful display, just a short hike down the trail…

"Alpha Falls"

“Alpha Falls”

Next, it was time to go to the old grist mill, which is flanked by a beautifully restored covered bridge…Slippery Rock Creek feeds the mill, and travels over the dam, and under the bridge…normally, I would climb all over the large rocks above and below the bridge for photos, but the packed snow and ice made climbing a challenge[and Slippery Rock Creek is deep, fast, and dangerous]…and the thing I do best in water is “sink”, so I kept my distance…we would take a short drive up to the cliffs that overlook the creek valley, but again, with deep gorges and slippery conditions, looking out the window would suffice…

"Mill and dam"

“Mill and dam”

From there we headed for one of the more remote[and often overlooked] areas of the park, called “Hell’s Hollow”…I don’t know the “lore” for how it got that name, but feel it is certainly misleading, as a walk down the trail will lead you to a “heavenly scene”–a three tiered waterfall, surrounded by a forest of beech, hemlock, oak, and maples–not to mention the boulders and rock formations, and the old kiln…what beauty!…and on a crisp, cold morning, the only sounds were the birds calling, and the water rushing over the falls…

"From this..."

“From this…”

We took a break from the “work stories” to discuss more serious matters–”lost pets”…Larry’s dog “Susie” being the most recent to pass,[www.larrysmailart.com], but we all had a similar story, and I think “walking and talking” were “good medicine” for Larry this day…by the time we got back to my truck, we had successfully walked off our breakfasts, and went back to laughing all the way home…we agreed to repeat the journey[or another similar one] soon…

..."to this..."

…”to this…”

For more information about McConnell’s Mill, visit: http://www.visitPAparks.com

..."to the falls..."

…”to the falls…”

For information about Amanda Lazzara, “the lady-piper” go to: http://www.ladypiperpa.webs.com

Larry’s blog/website is: http://www.larrysmailart.wordpress.com or http://www.larrysmailart.com

**All photos by the author…copyright laws apply***

 

 

"Beech leave in snow"

“Beech leave in snow”

 

 

"Three Stooges"

“Three Stooges”

 

 

"A Heavenly scene"

“A Heavenly scene”

“CHRISTMAS 2012″

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

"MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

“MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

I hope that you all had a Blessed Christmas, and that the New Year has been a happy one so far…Christmas was filled with countless blessings in our family, all wrapped around the true meaning of the day and the real Spirit of the holiday…“Go, Tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, Go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born!”…

On the 16th of December,  Mum, Sue and I, attended a beautiful Christmas cantata at the Harvest Baptist Church[just off the Millerstown exit on Rt.28]…we were invited by my good friends Brian and Cheryl Morris, and were very moved and impressed by the program…

"Christmas 'jammies for Chloe"

“Christmas ‘jammies for Chloe”

Christmas Eve, we attended candlelight service at the Harvest Community Church, also a beautiful celebration–“O Great Light of the World, fill up my heart”…it was priceless to watch the look in Chloe and Caydens’ eyes, as they held their candles and looked around at the glow in he church…we then headed to Sue’s for her

..."and Cayden too!"

"A family keepsake"
“A family keepsake”

traditional gift to the kids–Christmas pajamas!…Sue also had a Christmas eve “visitor”–a wooden toy soldier that her Dad had made years ago…we had brought the family keepsake back from Florida with us in October[in three pieces!--to fit in my suitcase]…I re-assembled him and touched him up, and “posted” him outside her front door as a surprise…

"Beth's a happy camper!"

“Beth’s a happy camper!”

Christmas Day was a beautiful day, starting at Ali and Jared’s, with Chloe and Cayden

"Jared"

“Jared”

seeing that Santa had made a serious delivery there!…“Christmas, is for Children”…

"Ali and Cayden"

“Ali and Cayden”

Then we headed for Ma and Pa’s[Bob-Bob and Flo, as the kids say], for a wonderful ham dinner, and, you guessed it, more presents!…I have to admit, I was the one who was surprised this time, with my parents getting me a flat-screen TV for a Christmas/retirement gift…WOW!…let me tell you, a Sharp Aquos has a great picture!…

 

Christmas 2012[ma & pa]

After the wrapping paper was cleaned up, and we were full of ham[and cookies], it was time to head home for a nap!…I got a nice, crackling fire going, and the gang arrived at my house around 7 in the evening…somehow, Santa had managed to get a sleigh- full around the fire and under the tree[a beautiful 8 foot Concolor fir]…the wrapping paper “flew” there for awhile too!…another beautiful Christmas Day, filled with many memories, was done…but, the Spirit, and the memories, would continue in the coming days, with more visits, more fellowship, and yes, another present or two…Dave and MaryLynn would come over for an evening…Nicole[my little brat!] would visit…and of course, we made our annual “rounds”, visiting with family…

Christmas 2012-[my tree]

And, for anyone that knows me, also knows that it STILL looks like Christmas in my house…I love the tree, the lights, and the candles each evening, and[if you read the previous post], having retired on December 29th, I have more evenings to sit by the fire and enjoy it all…in fact, when we went to pick out our trees this year, I asked Bowser’s [Owen and Tim] if they could get me a “dug” concolor…Tim picked a beautiful little tree, and several weeks before Christmas I planted it by the bird-feeder…I call it my “retirement tree”…Lord willing, I will be able to decorate it each year and say “I planted that tree the year that I retired from PennDOT!”…

"Cayden's Thomas the Train!"

“Cayden’s Thomas the Train!”

"Nurse Chloe's new stethascope"...

“Nurse Chloe’s new stethascope”…

 

"Retirement Tree under a full moon!"

“Retirement Tree under a full moon!”

Well, it’s time to put another arm-load of wood on the fire…

MERRY CHRISTMAS, AND “GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE”

**All photos by the author, except “Pap-Pap’s gifts”, by Maw-maw**

 

 

 

"Pap-pap's gifts"

“Pap-pap’s gifts”

 

 

..."the best gift of all!"

…”the best gift of all!”

“RETIRED!”

28 December, 2012…

It was just before Thanksgiving, 1981…I received a call from the offices of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation…I’m sure that at that time, I didn’t realize what a blessing it was to get that interview, but I can remember how happy my Mum was about it!…I took the interview, and got the job…my first day was a very cold day, January 18th, 1982…one of the first orders of business there was to “buy back” the year that I had worked at Crooked Creek State Park…that time would eventually be counted toward my retirement[thanks Janice!]…

So, after thirty-one years of plowing snow in the winter, and running a grader in the summer[the first several years were as a flagman/laborer], I have grown weary of it, and have chosen to take an early retirement…

Of course at 51, I don’t plan to be idle, so you could probably call it a “career change”, but whatever you choose to call it, when it’s snowing in the morning, rest assured, it will be a welcome change, knowing that I can set here by the fire and look out the window, without worrying about the phone ringing…I’m trading in my snow plow for a snow shovel!

 

"My new plow"

“My new plow”

I understand now what a blessing it was to have a good job with good benefits for over thirty years…I made many, many friends in those thirty-one years, and some of those friendships will carry on[literally] in the days to come…I’m looking forward to spending some time with a few of my “already retired” friends…and knowing that I can spend more time with my parents, my family, Sue, the kids and grandkids, will be the biggest blessing of all…

Obviously, this “should” mean a little more time for working on this blog, my photography, some musical endeavors, and my Civil War living history life…hopefully, I’ll get more than two or three posts on this site in 2013, as well as many more photos…

……………did you hear that?….

……a deep sigh of relief!

God Bless, Merry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year!

“Slim”

"The driveway awaits"

“The driveway awaits”

 

“TIME FLIES!”

Friday, 29 June, 2012…

Well, here it is the last few days of June already…while attending the “Strawberry Festival” at the Salem Baptist Church two weeks ago, I was reminded by my Aunt Sandy that I hadn’t put anything on my blog since “Christmas”!!…It certainly isn’t because there hasn’t been anything to write about–actually quite the opposite; so much going on that there seems to be no free time for writing…

“The Ball”

So, here is quick recap of the last six months: I made it through my 30th winter with PennDOT…Sue and I attended our first civil war “ball” in February…turned fifty-one several weeks ago…and a list of Civil War events/activities too many to mention has filled up most of the calender…a few of the highlights are: *started a new website on wordpress for the 62ndPVI[www.62ndpvi.wordpress.com];*held an SUVCW meeting[Camp 43] at the Andrew Carnegie Library, in a room first used by GAR Veterans in the early 1900′s, adjacent to the Thomas Espy Room; *held a Veteran’s Appreciation Picnic[Camp 43], a very special afternoon; *spent a great weekend with friends and 62ndPVI members attending “Volunteer Work

“Volunteer Work Day Gang”

Day” at Gettysburg, most of us sharing a log cabin cottage for the weekend;*just returned from a very memorable trip with the 62ndPVI, visiting many Civil War battlefields on our way to Appomattox Courthouse,VA, where we took part in a rare living history on the National Park Service grounds at historic Appomattox, the site of the Wilmer McLean House, where Grant and Lee met to sign the terms of surrender…I will do my best to make time to describe this trip in more detail very soon, as it warrants telling…

“McLean House HQ Camp”

Otherwise, many, many more worthy activities have gone by, which may appear on either the 62nd PVI site, the SUVCW Camp #43 site, the “Rest on Arms” site, or this site in the future, but rest assured, they have all been memorable…

And, of course, there are the everyday blessings shared with family, friends, and loved ones, which are never to be taken for granted…”Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

“Pap-Pap’s Birthday!”

Until next time[hopefully not six months from now]…

“Christmas 2011″

25 January, 2012…

I have always loved Christmas, and the whole holiday season…my parents still laugh about my “playing Christmas records in October” when I was young…many memorable Christmas’ have passed, but I still break out the old favorites[Glen Campbell, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole], and some new traditions[Chieftains, Celtic, Civil War period music], pretty early…the “Spirit of Christmas”, after all, is not to be “boxed up” after the first of the year, but should be a fresh in our minds year round…and although I do love the lights, the tree, and the decorations, traditions that my parents, grandparents and family have always shared, the most important thing I’ve learned, is “what Christmas is all about”-the birth of our Savior, ’tis Christ the Lord!

"Ma and Pa"--priceless!

"Glory to the Newborn King"

This year, for the first time in a number of years, I didn’t have to worry about getting called to work, as Christmas Day was “calm and bright”…so, what a blessing it was, to be able to spend the whole day with my family, going to Sue’s, my parents’, my Uncle’s, and then finally back home, watching smiling faces exchanging gifts at each stop, and of course a delicious Christmas dinner at Ma’s…

I always enjoy watching faces light up when reading a heartfelt card, or opening the perfect present…many wonderful things were given[and received] this year, and one the favorites turned out to be the “Hallmark recordable storybooks” that we gave to Chloe and Cayden…what a great idea-being able to record your voice reading “The Very First Christmas”, or “The Night Before Christmas”….

"Christmas is for Children..."

Another tradition that our family continues to carry on, is that we go house-to-house on the evenings following Christmas, which makes it a week-long celebration of sorts…and this year, Sue’s Mum, sister and brother-in-law were able to come visit from out of town, a very nice surprise[again,the weather cooperated]…I also got to spend some time with Nicole, my “unadopted daughter”!…each of these small gifts of quality time, as the commercial says, “priceless”…

Many families have experienced the loss of a loved one during the holiday season, and ours

"O Christmas Tree..."

is no exception, with my Grandmother passing away several years ago in December…it was especially difficult, as she was the last of my Grandparents, but I know that I was Blessed to have four wonderful Grandparents for so many years…through a strange little “gift from above”, this years’ tree ended up being a gift from them!…so, with that in mind, I adorned the 13 foot frasier with silver and gold, and homemade angels…”God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen,let nothing you dismay, remember Christ our Savior, was born upon this Day!”

"Deck the halls..."

“Merry Christmas Everyone!”

"Happy Holiday's"

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