Tag Archives: Loudonville


img716I am now the proud owner of a snowman spoon holder, several pictures, a pink, batman-beaded bracelet that says “Thanks for being my superhero”, and several things that seemed edible – but who really knows. It is teacher appreciation week, even in the after-school programs.

teachers day 2016“By their fruit you will recognize them. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”~Matt 7:16


It’s strange – but I don’t think there was such a thing as teacher appreciation day, 1st gradeor week, or even teacher of the year..although, back in my school days, I didn’t really pay much attention to teacher things, so I could be wrong. But, because of how we were raised, if we had extra apples or oranges, one found its way to a big person’s desk. If we passed pretty flowers on a tree or in a garden, they might have ended up on another teacher’s desk. A simple card made out of colored construction paper and crayon or a letter written in pencil and splashed in tears. A Valentine candy heart was enough to bring a smile to both our faces.

Nice thing about small town was that our teachers were generally involved in more than just our school lives. They read us stories in the morning – usually Bible stories – prayed with us – led us in the pledge, became our Sunday school teachers, our church choir directors, our boy/girl scout leaders, our coaches, our advisors, our safety patrol leaders, honor society leaders, our – extended family.

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.”~Ecc 7:8RF McMullen staff 62 63

One of my “extended family” danced into heaven this past year to join her husband who had also been a part of my extended family since he was in the church choir and a drummer for every minstrel I can remember. I didn’t have her as a “school” teacher, but she still touched my life with hers. Over the years, we would re-connect, visit in the grocery aisle or at the annual street fair and exchange Christmas cards. Still my teacher – still inspiring – still sharing her light with her student.

“Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.”~Ep 5:9

As I look at the pictures of these special people from my own student days, I see the fruits of the spirit. Love wasn’t a noun – it was a verb. I know we say that teachers don’t get paid much, but back in the day – they made even less and did much more. (I know because my beginning salary was $7,600 in C-bus public schools, and my mom thought that was a fortune) As hard as I worked, I know I never did as much as they did, but I tried to give my students as much as they gave me.

I am thankful that G-d put each and every one of these teachers on my life path. In their own way, they helped shape the person I have become. It is the little things – more than the paycheck – more than the things that can be bought. It is the fruits of the spirit offered. It is the fruits of the spirit accepted and passed on to the next generation.

“But the fruits of The Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, sweetness, goodness, faith,”~Gal 5:22img717


loudonville RRSomewhere in this new neighborhood, there is a train whistle. A very loud train whistle. I’ve heard it twice since we have been here. Always late at night. Always loud enough to vibrate through our (mostly) double paned windows (remember – repo here) and into my heart memories. A crazy external “thing” that somehow has become an intrinsic part of my core. You see – I grew up a stone’s throw away from a railroad track and all it entails.

Before I could walk, my daddy carried me down along the railroad tracks. My big brother and mother could have been there, but all i really remember was his voice, his hands and body. I curled my arms tightly around him and tucked my head into his neck just so I could hear his voice and heartbeat rumble through my ears. What can I say? I will always be a daddy’s girl. Teaching me, even then, to have a healthy respect for these big loud machines. More than that – teaching me to love them. The cinders crunched under his feet, and I remember squirming to look down, The loud whistle startled me. (It still does.) A dark wooden platform that creaked as we crossed it to sit on a bench that vibrated under us as the big monster slowed to a crawl and noisily stopped in front of us.

In the 50’s, trains were still a central part of the industrial world. Hauling passengers to far away cities. Carrying supplies to factories that needed them. Oil. Coal. Switch tracks. Long waits for cars at the crossings. Workmen repairing essential parts for the safety of the trains and the people who lived around them. Bridges connecting roads above the parallel rails that seem to drift into eternity. A small neighborhood here and there along side those same tracks. In the old days one of those neighborhoods got the name “Black town”. Mom said it was because of the black soot that drifted down over the houses from the coal burning engines. All I know for sure is that this was my neighborhood. My childhood home.

When I heard the train whistle in our new home, I suddenly realized how much this new house is like my childhood home. A small neighborhood. A corner lot. Mature trees and a few pines surrounding it. A fireplace. Nooks and crannies that whisper to my curiosity. A house number that has the year I graduated from high school tucked within it. And a train whistle that echoes over the hilly ravines around us.

Mom told the story that when she and dad were looking at this house to buy, she asked if the trains were a problem. (I’m not sure why since the McCaskey old brick was literally right beside the train tracks so she should have known even if she hadn’t lived there). The sellers said that they hardly noticed it at all. Believe it or not, we hardly did either.

Actually, I never lived very far from the tracks. I turned 7 in a house just a couple of blocks north of the railroad. There were no remotes for the T.V.in those days, so I was the one to get up and turn the volume up or down when needed, but (mostly) if moving wasn’t required, I just read the book on my lap, got a snack or talked to the parents or Chico until the train disappeared into the distance. It never woke me up at night and, in fact, became my own comforter that left me lost and sleepless for while when I moved to the city to attend college.

The more I think about that whistle, the more I look forward to hearing it again. I will jump and I will go to the window to see if I can see the train coming down the track. For somewhere deep inside me, I am silently hoping that when Christ returns to earth, that final trumpet will sound a little like a very loud and long train whistle. If it does,I know I will hear my Father’s voice in my ears as He lifts me high into His strong arms, and we can walk the tracks together once again.

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”~1 Cor 15:52dep-OH017


1940 billboard painted by A.B. McCaskey (grandpa)It is national grandparents’ day. Hmmm – – – didn’t even know we had one until FB came along. Then again, I didn’t have much first hand knowledge about grandparents. I envied my cousins who had a set of grandparents and often wondered how it felt. When I got to go with them to visit, I felt like I had entered a 3-D grandparent storybook.

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Prov 16:21

My grandfathers were only black and white, 2 dimensional faces that would stare back at me when I opened the photo album and traced their faces with my nail- img050bitten finger. My maternal grandfather, Alfred Bernard McCaskey, died before my brother or I was born. As I got older, mom’s stories wrapped around those pictures in my mind. There are too many stories to tell here, some not too wonderful.  But there is one funny story: Grandpa would hit the one closest to him at the dinner table when someone misbehaved. – the problem? It didn’t matter if he/she was guilty – he/she was the closest, hence they got the smack. He was a dark haired sign-painting artist (see the above billboard), a roller skate racer, a Cunack – as my mother often referred to her heritage. His DNA gave my mom her artistic eye and skills as he taught her to draw, do lettering, knit, crochet and tat, after all – that is what Canadian Catholics did in the winter to pass their snowbound days.

“Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Is 46:4

Charles Arthur Ferris still remains a mystery to me. Dad didn’t talk to me about Grandma&pa Ferrishim much except to say I had his eyes and thick hair. When I look at his picture, I can’t tell the color of his eyes. but I can see he has a healthy head of white hair, and I certainly have that. Sadly – since I was 18 my hair started graying – I have had that as well. Even though he died shortly after my big brother was born (big bro is 9 years older than me), my brother knows much more about him. The stories that are too nebulous in mine to repeat because they never became real to me.  In my mind, there just are no warm funny stories attached to his picture, and it makes me sad because I wonder what he taught my father or what he would have taught me. I do know – that whatever he taught my father – it must have been pretty great, because my father was an awesome daddy.

“They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” Ps 92:14-15

Mary Mayme Wachtel Ferris died before I was three. My actual memories ofGrandma Ferris and me her are – none at all. Funny – I have three pictures of her. A fuzzy, black and white picture of a gray-haired lady smiling and holding my newborn self in her arms which is – perhaps – my favorite. Another captures her at a much younger age. It hangs on the wall of our living room. Dark hair, solemn, standing in a long dress with two youngsters standing beside her in front of a little home that looks more like a shack than a house. The little girls were my father’s two older sisters. The third picture is the one of her and grandpa together in front of a store in Lakeville. No warm stories surround any of these pictures either. History is lost for wont of a story sometimes, but I am thankful for the pictures.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Tim 1:5

It is Grandma Ruth Marie Shoemaker McCaskey, affectionately called img049Grandma Mac, that embodies the grandparent soul to me. A photo album can not contain the stories that fill my mind when I think of her. I can still feel her lap underneath me as I curled into her warm arms. I can smell her home every time I cook something. The garden dirt caked on my fingers is not much different from her dirt where she taught me the value of life’s sustenance and what you could do with it (not to mention dandelion wine). When I am tired, it is her face at the end of a long shift at the Flxi (Flxible Bus Company is where she went work after her husband died) that gets me moving again. She is my story.  She was my 3-D grandparent.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—” Deut 4:9

Knowledge and wisdom aren’t confined to a book. Knowledge and wisdom can be passed down from generation to generation. If one is lucky, discernment is thrown into that mix as well. I know well that those are traits that my Grandma Mac passed on to my mom. Everytime my mom held my children or sang to them or baked a birthday cake (that she truly never ate), I saw Grandma Mac. Grandma Mac had done the same for me. I’m glad that my Grands have 3-D Grandparents in their lives, and I pray that – someday – my Grands will see us in their own parents.

Children’s children …. seed-heirs….. blessings passed from one generation to another….3-D grandparents….

Grandma mac favorite

Memorial Day 2015

memorial day aToday, I finally finished my own memorial to my parents and hubby’s parents. Plants.  Plaques given at their funerals by loved ones.  Bricks.  I can now sit in my garden, study the WORD, listen to the windchimes or God’s creations, and remember those who gave me the best of themselves.

Graveyards are fine. They serve the community as a rallying point to honor those who have sacrificed for our country. It is a place to erect monuments to those who have gone before. A place for speeches, parades and memories. Humans tend to need those things. Communities tend to need those things. I just seem to need something a little closer to home. A place surrounded – not by other monuments – but by God, and the garden where He placed me.

“Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.” — Exodus 23:16

memorial day fThe more I learn about Jewish holidays and traditions, the more I fall in love with the beginnings of my faith. This is not only Memorial Day, it is also the end of Shavuot and also Pentecost. The more I read Jewish traditions and history, the more I believe that nothing is coincidence in God’s timing. Invisible lines intersect over and over in an unending circle of love. Giving us endless clues to His fascinating character.

Shavuot had its beginning as a “first fruits” harvest – the offering of the first perfect,memorial day h unblemished fruits of the harvest being given back to the Father. Later it became the date that Moshe recieved the Torah – the first, perfect unblemished written fruit – from the Father to His children. (Interesting thought always arises in the back of my mind that perhaps this was Rabbi Yeshua’s true birthdate. God seems to like patterns, and I just have to wonder.) Pentecost – the perfect, unblemished gift of the Holy Spirit – from the Father to His children. Memorial Day (although not celebrated anymore on its original date) – a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice – past and present – to return home to Our Father.

May 24 aYesterday, the Grands and family came over for brunch. We laid on the chaise lounge that my father made long ago and identified the shapes of clouds as they drifted overhead – a pig, a dragon, an eagle… Their barefeet walked the path of the cross made of old, imperfect bricks from a long ago Loudonville street. They carefully moved the little elves from place to place in front of the stain glass window that my big brother gave to me also long ago.

Holy-days are special. It is one reason, hubby and I decided long ago to always have our pigroasts on the Sunday before Memorial Day. A day for family. A day to remember. A day to honor sacrifices made long before we were born and those still being made today by those far away. Hope you have a blessed holy-day and remember to honor the first fruits just as He remembers to honor you.grain_offering

5 of 7: JOY

Loudonville nativity5 of 7: JOY. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my JOY might remain in you, and that your JOY might be full.” Jn 15:11

Sometimes, God just up and surprises me. Was deep down feeling sorry for myself tonight. Couldn’t figure out just how I was supposed to write about JOY when I really didn’t feel much JOY. Then He just flings a little miracle my way and suddenly, the soul is dancing, and I’m trying to kick that depression demon to the curb. Love when that happens.

“The disciples were filled with JOY with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52

All it took was a picture. A picture from my childhood. Once (like all small towns and large cities of America) nativities were erected around this time of the year. Ours stood in the central park. It wasn’t the traditional nativity with a stable or many characters. To me, it was perfect – stately, simple and spiritual. I loved it and missed it when it was gone. Today, our local museum posted a picture of it, and the JOY of walking past it every day as I walked home from school came rushing back.

“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting JOY upon their heads: they shall obtain JOY and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Is 35:10

Do you realize that JOY is mentioned 422 times in the Bible (give or take a couple depending on the translation)? I love that God is constantly in our face – reminding us that JOY is always there. Yeah – in this world we are attacked emotionally, physically and spiritually. Founder of the Methodist church/evangelist, John Wesley, described these types of attacks daily in his writings. Once, it was reported that he went on a 3 day fast and prayer retreat when he hadn’t been critized enough.He believed that he would grow more spiritually and in wisdom when he was challenged in his faith . His JOY was trying to live his life spreading the JOY of Jesus Christ.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great JOY, which shall be to all people.” Lk 2:10

Christmas break is here. Time to: Finish onE last Christmas stocking for the Grands. Send Christmas cards. Relax with the piano a little. Spend time talking with loved ones. Read an old book. Play with the dogs. Sit down and wait with JOY for the day of the LORD is almost at hand.

“Therefore you now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart will REJOICE, and no one will take your JOY away from you.” Jn 16:22