Thursday, April 27, 2017

DNA Doesn't Lie - The Railroad Bridge

When I was a kid, I divided my time between New York during the school year and East Hartford, Connecticut during school holidays.  Portions of my family have lived in Connecticut since the 1600's.

In warmer months, I dearly loved to walk across this trestle train bridge in the background from East Hartford to Hartford.  I never mentioned this to anyone in my family, as I did not want them to tell me not to do it.  I am not quite sure what I would have done if a train came by, but it never did.

I was fascinated with the river and the bridge.  For a time I worked in downtown Hartford  If it was nice out, I could walk over the bridge and get to work about a half hour sooner, totally avoiding any rush hour traffic.  It was a lovely commute.

When my friend, Barb, got me interested in researching my ancestry a number of years ago, I went first to this part of my family to discover more about them.

Recently, The Hartford Courant made its archives available via  The Courant is the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States.  I've been searching for information about various ancestors and came across this article about my second great grandfather, Charles McCullough listened under "In General."
My second great grandfather died on that bridge.  How amazing!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

He is not Here; He Has risen! (Matt 28:6)

Was it a morning like this?
When the Son still hid from Jerusalem
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend to the Lord she thought was dead
Was it a morning like this?
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem
And two angels stood at the tomb
Bearers of news she would hear soon
Did the grass sing?
Did the earth rejoice to feel You again?
Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound, "He is risen!"
Over and over in a never-ending round
"He is risen, hallelujah, hallelujah!"

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

And Jesus said, "Mary." (John 20:16)

Most of us find certain Scripture passages which speak to us down deep in our souls. The following passage is one that speaks to me deeply.  Mary Magdalene has gone to Jesus' tomb to tend to His body and finds the tomb empty. Crying, she approaches someone whom she believes to be a gardener.

"Woman, why are you weeping?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” Thinking He was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him off, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.”  Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, Rabboni!" (which means teacher)

Mary was so traumatized by the sad events of Good Friday that she could not see Jesus standing directly in front of her.  For the past three days, she had experienced a world without Jesus in it.  Fear and pain had blinded her to the risen presence of the Lord.

This is the same Mary from whom Jesus cast out 7 demons.  She was known as Mary Magdalene. Despite what we may have been taught, Mary of Magdala was not a prostitute.  

The Hebrew people in 33 AD didn't have a way to describe mental or emotional illness. Perhaps these were 7 actual demons or perhaps Mary had mental health issues which were cured by Jesus. Demons are subject to Jesus and so is mental illness. 

In any case, I believe that she would have been greatly disturbed in spirit because she was standing at the cross as He died, witnessing that cruel and terrible death.

This Gospel passage is not only telling the story of Mary Magdalene, an historical figure of antiquity, encountering the risen Jesus.  The passage is also speaking to all of us in the 21st century who experience fear, stress, horror, isolation, and rejection. 

Israel in 33 AD was a culture with violence all around under foreign occupation.  America in 2017 is a culture with stress and violence all around as well. Mary didn't recognize Jesus because of her pain and stress. I sometimes miss Jesus for the same reason.

Mary had an advantage, though.  Despite the stress, she had followed hard after Jesus for three years. She had reclined at table with Him. She had listened in wonder as he taught in parables or used illustrations from the Old Testament prophets. She sat at His feet. She KNEW Him vs. just knowing his Name.

So it only took that sound of her name, Mary, on His lips to instantly drop the scales from her eyes.

How do we avoid missing Jesus?  Mary's advantage was that she had heard His voice before trouble came.  We can follow her example and also recline at table with Him when we bless our food in His name.  We can listen to His voice when we read His parables and teaching in Scripture. We can sit at His feet in prayer and meditation.

Because I don't want to think it is the landscaping guy when Jesus is standing right in front of me.

Monday, April 10, 2017


I was totally uninspired about dinner tonight.  I do all the cooking. If I haven't planned for dinner in the morning, I rebel against cooking after I get home from work.

Hanging on the open refrigerator door, as one does, I had no plan. Then I decided to imagine that my family was coming to dinner or another important guest. What would I do?

That thought got me moving.  I set some golden potatoes on to boil. I took two slices of bacon put them in a pan to cook.  

We had fresh limes, so I made lime chicken.  I dredged chicken breasts in spiced flour, cooked them in olive oil, and then juiced three fresh limes.  I poured the lime juice over the chicken, with a slice of lime on each, and let them simmer.  

I cooked some squash (I had bought it diced) with the bacon and some sliced onions.  Finally, I cooked a package of grape tomatoes very simply by reducing them over a low flame.  All that was left was to "smash" the potatoes.  I didn't even take the skins off first!

Everything turned out great.  I should treat myself as an important guest more often!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Your Word is Like Honey on my Lips

This is my neighbor, Dave Mitchell. showing me how he works with his bee hive.  
Mitch looked into bee keeping to get over a fear of them. I understand this. I walk over the Brooklyn Bridge whenever I am in NY City, because I have previously had a fear of bridges. The Word says, "Perfect love casts out fear (1st John 4:10)."  When I remember this promise, I am not afraid.
Here he is putting on some super-secret sweet stuff to attract the bees. It smelled like peaches, despite the apple juice container.
Mitch is a great neighbor with a generous, godly spirit and the go-to locksmith for the neighborhood and my church.  He and his wife have persevered through tough times and raised a darling, godly young adult, Ahna, who is now living on her own.  Their lives have truly been their witness to our neighborhood.

Honey bees are disappearing, so I am glad he is doing his part to help them out.
Honey Bees Disappearing

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Psalm 119:103

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I've Got Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

What a difficult week. My mother is having some surgery tomorrow to remove three abscesses which has me concerned. I've been not-too-spiffy as well.  Nothing like stepping out of my VSP vehicle and hurling over the side of the 164 bridge. I've been dragging my okole for sure, as they say in Hawaii.

McDonald Garden Center is a happy place for me. Their staff is very knowledgeable and they stand by their products.  McDonald's is a small, family business which I like to support.  I know I'll always perk up if I stop by. Therapy AND gardening supplies!

McDonald Garden Center

I picked out some things and headed home. Looking around my front yard, I felt overwhelmed by the work I needed to get done. Instead of focusing on the entire yard (suffering from winter neglect), I decided to focus on one area only.  My potting bench.
This "bench" was assembled from a variety of discarded objects left out for the trash or given to me by folks who say "I know you can do something with this."  That top red part was a child's homemade doll house left on the curb after a move.  It made me sad, sitting there all forlorn.  I had to use it somehow.

Within an hour and a half I had potted and fed the plants I bought, cleaned up, and cut out the "woody" parts of the sage, marjoram, and lemon balm which have started to bloom once again. That first smell of lemon balm in the new year, so intensely lemony, smells like Spring. And makes me think of lemon curd. Thinking of lemon curd is always a good thing.

I was headed down the sorry ass road of pity.  As my mother always says, the good thing about self pity is that you know it is sincere.  I'd rather look back on a chill and cloudy day and say, "I made sunshine in the front yard."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rails to Trails and Peeps

My friend, Nancy (or should I call her my "unindicted co-conspirator") walked a newly-added portion of the Rails to Trails project over the weekend.  Rails to Trails

We gabbed and walked, stopped for water and apples along Bennett's Creek, and solved all the world's problems. She and I were traveling down the remnants of the old Seaboard Coastline Railroad, which operated until 1971 when the railroad was absorbed by Amtrak.  Not long afterwards, the tracks stopped being used. The "Juice Train" used to regularly traverse where we walked, bringing orange juice from Bradenten, Florida to Kearney, NJ.

Rails to Trails is such a superb idea for getting folks out to walk, bike-ride, roller blade, or even wheel chair down a newly-paved trail which (until recently) had been abandoned railroad tracks. I was delighted to see families out there walking or biking. In my area, this project will eventually become a 41-mile trail throughout the cities of Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach.
We walked on an unseasonably warm March Saturday, listening to birds calling and spring peepers...well, peep.

THIS spring peeper or chorus frog
Just sayin'

Any adventure is not complete in my book until I find the abandoned house.  Not far from the McMansion houses of over 4,000 square feet (which you can see to the far right in the top picture) was the quiet old farmhouse below.

You know what a McMansion is right?  That's the ubiquitous new house with palladian windows and other fake details which I detest. I don't think you build them, you go into a planned development and have them Super Size it as you pass through the drive through. They are over-sized, soul-less, take up too many resources, and just generally annoy me.  McMansion

How can you tell if a house is a McMansion? They end up in a development with a made up name like The Myrtles at Hatton Point or some such. Then, you'll notice that all the street names are cutely coined by marketers who find some tie in with the development's name.

My mother has lived on "Balmoral Trace" and "Winster Fax." Seriously? My sister once lived in the "Cool Amber Forest."  Aren't forests green? My favorite made up marketing name of all time is "Tarleton Bivouac" in Williamsburg, VA. Try getting a pizza delivered there!  What happened to Main, Elm, Oak, or Maple Street?
The end of the trail landed us in Driver, Virginia, a small, quaint hamlet in the larger town of Suffolk. We found this farm stand:
I bought hydroponically-grown tomatoes from nearby Southampton County from this pile:
They tasted divine.