Monday, February 13, 2012

For Valentine's Day

She was widowed at 50. They had raised 7 children during the depression years and through World War II. Just as the 50's grew to promise of better days, she was alone. Living in a modest little stone house, she went to work at the hardware store to try to make ends meet.
A local man stopped in quite often, stayed and chatted a while, bought light bulbs and took off. He stopped in more and more as a few years passed and always bought light bulbs.
At 55, she married him. And when she moved into his house, opened a closet - It was jam packed full of light bulbs.
She was my Grandma. And he was the grandpa I knew - my Grandpa Charlie. He spoiled my grandma with anything she wanted. They traveled the world together. I loved spending time with them. They teased each other and laughed a lot. They were very competitive Yatzee players and I learned a little bit about being rowdy with them. Most of all, I knew they loved each other. Grandma told me he was her one true friend.
And when he had a stroke that left him mostly paralyzed, she cared for him 24/7 - except her weekly bingo game that he did not want her to give up. They died just 7 days apart. Those who knew them well know that was because they could not bear to be apart. And now forever more, they are not.
In my life, they set the standard for love and loving life. I am thankful to have lived long enough to find my one true friend. If you have not, don't dismay - pay attention to the one buying the light bulbs.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Difference a Year Makes: Rock on Oil City

I love "Rock On Oil City" because it captured the imagination of so many people. Watching people at "Rock on" events has been great fun. If someone tried putting canvas on a table and asked people to paint, they would be intimidated. But ask people to paint rocks, and they are not afraid.
The idea sprung up from a blog Susan Williams, Venango Chamber of Commerce, read about a mom who got her kids to paint rocks and leave them places for people to find. The family had watched a movie that the mom feared would inspire the children to do random graffiti. So, she channeled their creativity.
The first "Rock On Oil City" event was during the Indy Fest on Seneca Street. Then at the 2011 Oil Heritage Festival we set up a booth in Justus Park, brought paints, brought rocks and expected to stay a few hours. Six hours later, young and old were still coming and painting rocks. Many started going down to the river to gather more rocks - bigger rocks - to paint.
Other local artists and enthusiasts coordinated Rock On events at schools, small events and at the local nursing home. Individuals started painting rocks and sprinkling them around town. Area natives who moved away, painted rocks and sent them home to land somewhere in their old home town.
We have no idea how many people are now painting rocks and sprinkling them around to bring smiles to others. I love it because it's such a simple thing. Leave something behind to make someone happy. I love it because it is something anyone can do, anytime. I love it because it fits well with the Art Revitalization theme "Art Inside". It gives people a chance to open up to creativity and it adds a note of kindness without expectation or external reward.
So - Pick up a brush - paint a happy rock - place it out there for someone to find - Rock On Oil City!!! Visit us at Justus Park during Oil Heritage Festival 2012.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Difference a Year can Make: Front Porch Folk

I look back over the last year with amazement at the great things that developed. Again, I say it's about being positive and being around positive people. I'll name them in the order they happened; Front Porch Folk, Rock On Oil City, CASA and a new organization I'll be talking about soon.
In the next few blogs, I'll take some time to talk about each of them and how I feel about being part of those groups. Each means a lot to me but I'm happy to start with Front Porch Folk - a little hobo band that really started on the Front Porch last year.
By the end of the summer as many as 15 of us crowded the porch singing and playing the old songs I have loved since elementary school music class. We started collecting fun, easy and funky little instruments to get everyone involved. Of course, we have moved inside for the winter AND our singalong has gone on the road.
There is something special happening. It's not tight harmony or amazing instrumental riffs. It's just plain fun. We truly care about each other and want to spread a bit of joy around while sharing memories of songs most everyone knows and loves. It's making a huge difference in our lives because we are lifting one another up while we sing and play. Many in our group are playing instruments they never imagined they could.
It's a bridge that crosses boundaries. We are very diverse in our politics, our religious backgrounds, and family relationships. But we all share a loving spirit and strong sense of community.
The songs are a reflection of our souls. And the funny songs lift our spirits. We see each other and care for each other in new ways. Song has created a bond. If you have not joined us, I hope you will. Be ready to sing and play a funny instrument. Our times together are what I believe heaven is all about.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I am thankful for the sight and sound of a fresh snow.
I am thankful for the warmth of a fire.
I am thankful for the smile of a true friend.
I am thankful for the spirit of singing songs together.
I am thankful for the sweet taste of a home made pie.
I am thankful for the kindness of a stranger.
I am thankful for fond memories.
I am thankful for present times in the company of joyful people.
I am thankful for simplicity.
I am thankful for feeling thankful.