Archive for the ‘Summer 2012’ Category


LIFE — it’s what we are all here for.

When we witness a passing, we can’t help but feel sad. However, that we shared a life is something to be celebrated.

Ruby recently passed. My girlfriend called me a few weeks ago with the news that Ruby was in distress.  She went to great lengths to diagnose the problem – heart centered, but unclear – yet Ruby responded well to the meds.  But in less than a month, she turned to the worse and my girlfriend called, tears garbling her words, wondering if she should wait or help Ruby pass. She decided to wait and a few days later, Ruby died in her arms.  It doesn’t make a difference Ruby was her dog. She was her family and there is no escaping the feelings of loss when a beloved family member passes. I could hear my friend nearly drowning in her tears.  I went to her home later that day, the very space where Ruby died, and thought about bringing flowers.  But flowers die, too. So I opted to find a plant that bloomed this time of year: A perennial Hibiscus – ruby red of course – to be planted in a sunny spot – to return every season, celebrating the love of Ruby.

Peter also passed the same week. On the day I brought my friend her Ruby plant, I was on the way to Peter’s wake.  He was the brother of my sister-in-law, Lisa.  He was also beloved. He succumbed to a second round cancer, twenty years after his first battle. And in that twenty or so years, he lived-lived-lived and the wake was a testimony of that.

Next to his casket, was an amazing flower arrangements of a Yellow A (with a certain curl to the font), on a field of Green Flowers — a baseball reference of the Oakland A’s, I believe. I thought it was marvelous to have the flowers used to convey a love of his life.

I was also surprised to learn he was a multi-marathoner – with all his medals on display.

But what was most wonderful to see was the children he created – in the years after he first battled testicular cancer.

At that time in his life, after he beat cancer, he married Marian and decided they would travel the world and be the best Uncle and Aunt ever!  But after his father died, he wanted to try to have children – and Marian agreed (with the help from the invetro medical community) and together they produced 7 children – four who are living today.  That this man continued to strive and try for every bit of life after a serious bout with death – and also be known as “the nicest guy”, – well that’s a life to celebrate.

When I arrived at the wake, my brother’s children – Eleanor and Timmy – were so surprised I came -as I lived 1.5 hours away.

“Ahh, but I had to, ” I said, “According to Papoo (my father, their grandfather) it is imperative to attend: weddings, funerals, confirmations, graduations, (etc), because it’s not about you.”  Dad told me that years ago, and has forgotten he said it, but I haven’t and am glad to pass it on to the next generation.

But the truth is, I love wakes and funerals.  Better than weddings, because people seem more real, more open, more kind at funerals than anywhere else.

Case in point: I arrived around two – stayed until four – made the rounds of the family, inspected the range of photos, spoke to old friends and made some new acquaintances – the latter was Peter’s wife’s sister – an economist from Canada – and her husband. Somehow we got into a wide-ranging conversation about books and the heart and economics and marriage – and somewhere around quarter to 4, I looked up, saw my sister across the room and then recognized what was going on – the room had transformed into a party. Groups of people were gathered all over, chatting up in full voice.  I looked over to Peter, his hands folded on his chest, his face serene, and I felt him grinning — presiding over a happy scene – filled with liveliness  –  the very thing he perused in life as he lived it every, day and … every, every minute. (Thornton Wilder)

Being reminded of that is why I love funeral’s above all other gatherings.

Hope you enjoy every day to the fullest.

xo Laura



Saturday, August 11, 2012 – HOLICONG, PA

Vagabonds. Nomads. Nouns ascribed to us by close friends. Billy. Jeanne. Jennifer  …. and there’s truth to it.

Since returning from Cedar Key in April … and bedding our beloved dog Bucks to the here-after at the end of May … our life has become a whirlwind of people, places and “phun”.

Nomadic? Not quite – We still have a home of our own.  But the amount of time we’ve been spending here has been shockingly low because we’ve been out “a-visiting” friends and family, and renting our house to boot. Cousin Dee coined a more accurate phrase: We have become Universalist: Surfing along as the Universe delivers what we seek.

That sound’s weird I know – but consider this: Since June, we’ve traveled to California, South to North in a convertible …

The Glassons (John’s Daughter’s family) at the Malamut’s Antique Car Museum


Joleen, Harald and Laura at the Bowers Museum in Orange County, CA



Beautiful Barb Malamut in Thousand Oaks, (North of LA) CA.

John and Granddaughter Meredith in Ojai, CA





Dean, Sarah and Ivy Lipoff – at Pt Reyes – north of San Francisco, CA


.. before spending two weeks in Chicago with family (more stories and photos on this, later). All the while, three different, great families rented our house while we were away. A win-win all around.

Greg Sarchet (cousin Dee husband) Chicago

The only one who complained was Daisy – who was left behind at a neighbors for the month.

Overnight side trip to Terre Haute Indiana to visit Jeff and Suzanne Krieble

How did this happen? When John said he wanted to visit his daughter in CA, I put the house on VRBO (vacation rental by owner) and it soon was rented – which paid for the trip and the things we needed to spruce up the house.  John, who was initially skeptical on the VRBO move now crows: “It’s the new economy: Share what you have, get what you need.”

Once we came home, we were happy to enjoy our house again – get our feet on the ground and dive into some projects.  But, two weeks later, we were off again, joining friend’s Cindy and George at their new “camp” cabin for a weekend. What a surprisingly delightful time! (stories and pics to come.)

Cindy and George Saunders at Tripp Lake, PA

View of the Lake from their newly built Cabin.

And the very next weekend, we ended up at our pals Barb and Pete’s farm, about 7 miles from our house – to help out – take care of her horses, chickens and dogs, as her regular help bailed for a previously scheduled weekend away. As we’d already talked about taking care of her brood for a week at the end of August, when they are off to Michigan and we have a house rental, this was fortuitous trial run.

It would be great to stay close to home while renting our house (we are a little travel weary), but we needed to know if we could manage it all.

Good Morning, Horses – time for feed and muck the stalls!

Milly and Mabel – the donkeys – who were the easiest to care for – Hay!


.Horses and chickens and dogs – oh my!  But the opportunity was priceless – because Barb was also going to be away in late August – when we had renters coming – and when I suggested we take care of her house and animals during that time (so we wouldn’t have to travel out of Bucks County again so soon), this would be a trial run – could we actually do it?

“Green Acres is the Place for me! “

My Horse Man


Cleaning Boots after chores


.Barb had us over to dinner before the weekend, to show us the ropes. I was rather nervous around the horses – I was glad John had horse experience and would be with me.  Barb warned me that her youngest horse, Sully, would be quite forward – walking right into the feed barn when we prepped the food – unless we kept the lower door shut.

Suly wants IN to the feed barn. He can smell the oats!

First day on the job, Sully pushed and kicked the door to get in, his huge head looming, and swinging between the hotwater heater in one corner and the other feed bin on the other – stretching his neck to anything he could reach. That got my feathers up. “No” I yelled in my big dog voice and he backed off for a minute.  Since then, my flutters did not return.

Yo, there, big boy! Back it out

After our Friday night feeding, John noted on Saturday morning: “don’t they get smaller every time?” and they do.  I can see them from the window where I type – grazing in the side paddock.  They are each quite nice: Sully, Bergan and Neerie.  So long as we give them a bit of grain right away, they are quite calm. We even had to fix Neerie’s bandage on her leg, which had slid down, exposing a well scabbed but clearly healing cut, with flies abuzzing around it.  We found some “scat” in a small tub – for scatting flies away from wounds – and boy, did that work like a charm.  Must smell it and see if it works on me –  a dab behind my ears.

Pastoral Pastures

The chickens were easy –

Chickens! Here’s some scratch for ya.

clean and fill the water bowls, scatter some corn, collect the eggs (so tiny). Barb had mentioned they like the grass and garden clippings.  So I threw them a big swath of squash vines I’d excavated from the garden – but they hadn’t touched it by morning.  They did, however, devour the beet leaves.  Good to know.

A garden of bounty – tomatoes, cukes, basil! yum

The dogs are on a schedule – a small bulldog and large hound, who, in particular, is the alarm clock for feeding time – AM and PM.  Woooo, Wa-Woooo he bayed when we arrived at 4 in the afternoon and again at 7:30 this morning. Up! Up! Up!  Everyone wanted to eat.

How’s Daisy doing in all this?  Well, I think a little sibling rivalry is a good thing.  She has been a bit sad since we got back from our 30 day trip – even guests at our house mentioned noticing that.  Then most recently, we noticed she was not jumping up in the jeep or truck or bed with the vigor she used to do. First there was a hesitation, then a yelp when she would try, now a refusal.  VET Time: tested negative for Limes Disease so we are going to x-ray on Monday – hips and back.

About a year ago, when I consulted with a medium, she told me Daisy does not like to have her tail stroked when I go down her back.  I wonder if there is a connection. We shall see. I sure do hope it’s not hip dysphasia or something congenital in one so young. But she seems happier now that she is on an anti-inflammatory. (Monday Update: Sadly, Daisy’s right hip did not fully form – no socket. So her right thigh bone has been banging against the hip and becoming rough and engorged.  Surgery will be necessary 😦   Damn!

I also want to mention how beautiful Barb and Pete’s farm is.  He has trimmed all the trees so it has an English countryside look – especially with the pastures rolling down the hill with trees in the distance – and the fence of cornfields surrounding the property.

Sunset off the porch

We so relaxed on Saturday, I took numerous naps.  The actual taking care of the animals was such a little amount of time – 20 minutes for feeding and cleaning up after the horses, 10 minutes for the dogs and chickens each.  The rest of the time was ours to enjoy a pastoral spot of quiet – while the New Hope Auto Show raged just seven miles away.

view from cocktail porch

It was a world away and we were happy to inhabit it for a spell and look forward to our next gig there.

Country Kitchen

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