Once Was Lost, Now Is Found

I had forgotten about this essay, written in another blogosphere, 2009. The memory tugs my mouth into a smile, so I pause in my ancestor tale-chasing to share a small moment of my own history.

We had been home from Ireland less than twenty-four hours.  The dogs had been home from Uncle Jim’s Canine Retreat less than twelve hours.  WHAT WAS I THINKING!?!

Like an atomic clock automatically reset to the correct time when it crosses a time zone, Luci sat in front of her food container.  You can take the dog anywhere and she knows when its dinner and where the food will come from.  I obligingly completed the routine, ”Say please.”  All three dogs went down.   I then scooped out the correct portions, (which Luci insists are inadequate), gave the release command “Food” and they scrambled to their appropriate bowls, woofing down the kibble in 30 seconds or less.  Then I  let my posse out for the post-prandial bathroom break.  Like I said…..WHAT was I thinking?

My Three Muskateers

Cappy, Luci, and Fly

Nonchalantly I returned to the matter of finishing our human dinner.  Minutes passed before I glanced at the gathering dusk and thought “Maybe I better get the dogs in before it’s too dark, just in case Luci doesn’t remember the Invisible Fence Boundaries and we need to hunt.  Hahahahahaha.”   I stepped off the front porch whistling into crisp fall air.  No dogs.  I  rounded the garage whistling around its corner and noted the sun slipping just below the Appalachian horizon.  No dogs.  I called “Cappy! Fly! Luci!  COME!”  and walked briskly toward the meadow.  I chuckled at the sight of Cap and Fly, heads buried in the Lupine Patch, obviously enjoying some scat delicacy.  I whistled again, and they hurled themselves  toward me.

 No Luci Freckles followed.  I called “Luci!” again and continued to make a loop around the house. Step, call, step, call, step, call.  Each step coming faster, each call rising in pitch.  By the time I came full circle the neighbor German Shepherd had joined my call, and I figured that his was one less yard to search in. I stuck my head into the house shouting ”I need help finding Luci!” TD immediately exited the house, then the yard to search the neighborhood.

I kept calling “Luci!” at a steady, hollering pace, so that she could find her way home in the gathering twilight.  WHAT was I thinking!? Just letting them out, collars on, no supervision, five months old, aftersupper. WHAT was I thinking?! I seized my highly reactive brain; plan,organize, harness the energy!!!!

(BTW Jerome Kagan is so on to something)

Methodically I moved into the eastern side of the meadow, carefully calling and looking into neighbors’ yards to the left, then searching for movement among the thick patchwork of lupine, milkweed, four kinds of goldenrod, aspen saplings and grasses to my right.

Look left, call.

Look right, call.  Goldenrod stalks stand tall, seed puffs glowing in the dimming light like the pup’s tail I wanted so desparately to see.

Look left, look right.

A rustle and shake of some fur caught my attention, pulling it down a now-dark meadow path.  Hardly daring to hope that the missing caramel-colored pup could actually be just disobediently relaxing mid-meadow, I moved through the towering goldenrod.   “Luci?”  “LUCI!?”  Amid the crunching of leaves I could hear the crunching of teeth on animal bone.  ”Luci?” Lazily, she lifted her head from her rabbit meadow treasure and glanced at my distraught face.  “Uh, yeah, Mom, I’m kinda busy here.  Can I get back to you?”  I slipped the leash on without another word, and Luci-once-was-lost-but-now-is-found reluctantly pranced up the path with me, Cappy and Fly.

As I walked her into the neighborhood to rendezvous with TD my senses were released. For the first time I noticed the sky was streaked with vermillion and cinnabar stripes, pulled west to east, where they disappeared into the eastern dusky gray.   I took great drags of  late autumn air spiced with fallen maple, walnut and oak leaves.  The sky was streaked, not my face.  My throat was full of gratitude, not sobs. And Luci remained oblivious to the search and rescue mission TD and I had launched.

My heart had barely decelerated than I received this email from ITD:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Glad to hear that you guys had a good time and are back safely. I look forward to seeing pictures, and sharing stories with you of your time over there. In recent news, I have decided to spend my funds to do this winter trip with AP . I am in the process of trying to get a new passport, and will be filling out paper work with AP to get a visa with the Syrian embassy. I sent you the itinerary for the trip.blah…blah….blah….I am budgeting 2500 ….my savings…blah…blah…blah…. Let me know if you have problems/concerns with what is going on.(Emphasis mine)……blah…blah…blah…. I have talked not only with AP, but with 5 other people who are from Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan blah…..blah……blah…….Get back to me on the ongoing discussion. Best Regards,

Seriously, my son signed this bombshell “best regards.”

There is a local bridge repair that requires one to enter the expressway with no ramp, from a stop; 0 mph to 50 mph in about 100 feet.  ITD’s email required my heart to do the equivalent.  If it would have been helpful to the cause to jump up, run around the house, through the meadow, and along rock outcrop paths, I would have.  Such is my response.  Instead, I tore through the US State Department web site, pressing copy and paste buttons until I had my first email response.  I then went to bed.

I awoke with new clarity and initiated the day’s exchange with startling insights and careful ruminations.  Pithy one sentence letters -$1000 over 21 days=$48/day- were followed by pithy one sentence affirmations -We are amazed by and proud of you! - and then I concluded my day’s assault by reminding him of already owned STA student travel cards, NEXT  student insurance cards, and SIM phone cards.  Planning and research; it’s what I do when running  won’t yield results.

Having ITD travel into the very big world yanks my heart like Luci’s venturing to defy the recall whistle.  I can crash through a field of six-foot high goldenrod stalks, dried in autumn sun to a crisp brown. I can find and drag Luci from the object of her rabbit-lust. I can’t very well crash through the tangle of ideas, skills, and ambitions  I so carefully sowed throughout my son’s childhood.  I can’t find and drag my son from the object of his wanderlust.  Both Luci and my son challenge me to grab onto that calm-assertive energy, and become the person I need to be; so my son can become the person he needs to be.

Greensboro, Pennsylvania Yesterday and Today: mappy monday

Today I learned how to add a google map to my wordpress hosted blog, quite a simple accomplishment, actually. The big secret is to access google maps in the classic mode. Open http://www.maps.google.com, and your page automatically loads the New Google Maps. In the lower right hand corner you will find a tool bar. Click on the question mark on the left, and you will have options to take a tour, send feedback, ask questions, or return to the classic mode. That action returns you to the “old” map, and once you have zoomed into your desired location, look to the upper left. Do you see the get directions block? Look to the right and click on the link symbol. Here is secret #2. You must copy the HTML code, not the short code. Return to your wordpress blog and paste the code into your post. Check out the results with a preview!! Finish up your writing, save, and publish!!

Caldwell's Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Caldwell’s Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Caldwell's Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Caldwell’s Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Re-Viewing the Past: Wordless Wednesday

Stuck between some sheet music bearing my grandfather’s signature was a photograph.  A faded copy of a copy, it depicted a mid-19th century cane-carrying gentleman astride a large dapple gray horse.  Establishing provenance of the photograph is almost impossible, but the copy appears to have been among Donald Minor’s possessions, which were then stored by my mother, Marilyn Minor Strickland, and inherited by me.

When first discovered, I posited that this commanding figure was a Minor.(read my first post here)

Found among the sheet music of Donald Minor, this photograph bears no identification, of the rider or the photographer.  From the Marilyn Minor Strickland Collection, 2014.

Found among the sheet music of Donald Minor, this photograph bears no identification, of the rider or the photographer. From the Marilyn Minor Strickland Collection, 2014.

Since that summer day, I have been in communication with two Minor cousins, and was lucky enough to score a new photograph.  This time provenance is known. The original photograph of John Pearson (Pierson) Minor was taken by J. P. Shafer of Morgantown, West Virginia,  held by his son, Samuel, in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and then passed down through that family to my cousin, Ron.

Tin Type of John Pearson Minor, J. P. Shafer of Morgantown, West Virginia, photographer.

John Pearson Minor, J. P. Shafer of Morgantown, West Virginia, photographer; from the Ronald Minor Collection, 2014. 

The figure on the horse bears a striking resemblance to the man calmly sitting for his portrait.  My investigation into my mystery horseman will require additional knowledge of period clothing and hairstyles.  I also think the cane may hold a clue about his identity.  But I am stepping lightly toward identifying the rider as one John P. Minor, circa 1860.

Walking Down May’s Street: mappy monday

May Laura Stevenson lay under covers, listening to eight siblings rustle from bed’s warmth into cold, thick wool layers.  Procrastinating would not reduce her chores or delay the walk to school, so up she sat, throwing off her blankets, reaching for her clothes. In quick fluid movements May covered her shivering little body, and joined the familiar morning jostle.  Ice had to be broken from animals’ water troughs; pigs had to be slopped, and chickens fed.  Stalls needed to be mucked out, and cows milked.  Breakfast had to be fixed, the table set.

May’s early life was spent on Gabler’s Knob, a farm that looked out over the bustling river town of Greensboro, on the Monongahela River in Greene County, Pennsylvania.  Born in 1874, May was the seventh of nine children born to Ellis and Mary Jones Stevenson.

Prints of LightAfter a hearty breakfast the school-age Stevensons set off down the hill, past Dr. G. F. Birch’s orchard, and turned left onto the main road of the Old Glass Works*.  As William, Presley, Permelia, and May walked up the village street, they were joined by young Kramers, McCoys, Mercers, Blacks, and Gablers.  The wind coming off the river hurled the winter damp through their coats, and the would-be scholars hurried past Mr. Neil’s ferry, round the corner, and into the school house.  All together they learned to read, to write, to do their figures.  At day’s end, the group trudged on home, the Stevensons to return to more chores before settling down for the dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Floe on the SusquehannaOn Sunday, the family traveled into town, to attend services at Greensboro Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Clear and Second streets.  The sanctuary was just a block down from the Star Pottery and Tile Works, owned by Frank Hamilton and John Jones,  Mary Stevenson’s cousin. After church service, May and her family walked three blocks south on Front Street, to eat Sunday dinner  with the Jones’.  Uncle David and Aunt Cill ran Greensboro House, a family business handed down from father, John Jones, and the home to the Jones family since the late 1840s. Her double first cousins, Anna and Fannie, would regale May with stories about the latest hotel guests, and the difficulties steamboats had when the river ice grew thick. The girls imagined a day in spring when they would saunter down County Street to the quay, and board the Packet Dean Adams, traveling all the way to Pittsburgh, just to shop for a dress.  Laughter and dreams and family.

That is what I imagine for May, my great-grandmother, as I walk down May’s street in my mind. [click on the maps below for enlarged viewing]

*Some seventy years before May was born, the village on the banks of the Monongahela River had been occupied by the first glass making factory west of the Allegheny Mountains. German immigrants like May’s great-great-granduncle, Adolphus Eberhart, lent their expertise to the making of frontier window glass and bottles.

sNOw more

Perspective–to look through, to see clearly.

This morning’s snow must be endured, says pup one.  Stay within the tracks that someone or something else has laid down.  Do your business. Get back inside. sNOw more.

This morning’s snow is meant to be plowed, says pup two. This stuff is head burying, mole sniffing fun! MOM! Watch me gallop through this stuff!  Hahahahahahaha!! SNOW MORE!!!!

It’s all in how you see it.