Grandchildren, Gratefulness, Nature Photography, Rocky Mountains, Thankfulness

Places I Have Lived and Loved

Today is the 30th.  I promised myself I would write a blog about gratefulness and thankfulness every day in November.  So, today is my last November post.

I’ve actually enjoyed this journey. Writing down the things that you are grateful for is sometimes difficult.  I believe we are all grateful for hundreds of things, but putting everything into words is not always easy.  Today, I am grateful for all of the places I have lived and the friends I have made along the way.

Greensburg House in 1962
This was our house in Greensburg in 1962. I looked much different by the time I moved on–lots of improvements. I can’t seem to find a better photo, even though I have looked and looked.

I was born in Baltimore, MD.  Sometime between being born and being three-years-old, we moved to Greensburg, PA.  I know we lived in a couple other places in between, but I sure don’t remember them.

I lived in Indiana, PA for a couple of years while I was in college, and then in Dayton Beach, FL for about 8 months when a friend and I decided we were going to get out of Greensburg.

When I got married in 1974, we lived in an apartment for about 6 months.  We got free rent because I managed renting the apartments and my husband took care of the yard and maintenance.  I got to know an older couple that lived there–very nice people.  One day, Dorothy (the wife) said they wanted to have us come to dinner at their place.  She was a good cook!  After dinner, Bob (the husband) pushed his chair back and told us they wanted to sell us their house.  It was a 3-bedroom home that they had to move out of because he had a heart attack and couldn’t take care of the 1-acre large yard.  Their kids were living there and trashing the place.

Gahanna House - Cherry Bottom Road
Cherry Bottom Road House – Gahanna, OH

We went out to take a look and asked the local S&L to got out and do an appraisal.  When the appraiser called me, he said we could knock down the house and just the property would be worth the $20,000 they were asking.  We had $1,000, and my husband’s grandfather loaned us the other $1,000 for the down payment.  The place truly was a mess, but with some hard work, new kitchen cabinets and plumbing, new bathroom and appliances, paint, wallpaper and carpet it turned into a wonderful small, cozy home.  The land was bordered on two sides by a city park, but it was all woods in that area–no trails, etc., close by.  The acre was long, and the only neighbors were at the end of the yard–far, far away.  We lived in that home for 5 years.  Our son was born when we lived there.

Newark, OH House
House in Newark, Ohio

In 1979, we bought a home in Newark, OH.  It was a 2-bedroom ranch on 6 acres with a pond in the front yard.  Oh how I loved that house.  So much room for my son and our dog to run, and so much fun to be had.  The living/dining room was surrounded by picture windows, so the view was amazing!  We swam in the pond in the summer, ice skated in the winter, and fished any time they were biting.  There were some good sled-riding hills, and we always had a ton of kids enjoying the snow.

Chicken Coop Youse
Chicken Coop House Today

After 2 years living in my dream home in my dream place, my husband decided he couldn’t handle the responsibility of keeping up the property and raising our son.  So, when our divorce was final, I packed up my things and went to stay at my mom and dad’s house – for 15 minutes.  I then called my sister and went to Wadsworth, OH to stay until I could find a job and a place to live.  It took me 6 weeks, but soon my son and I were settled in a tiny little two-bedroom converted chicken coop.  We lived there for four years. It’s not as bad as it sounds.  It was very small, but they had just converted it, so everything was new.  It wasn’t painted that color. I think that actually makes it look even smaller.  It had a big yard, and that was great for my son.  The landlord was great, and it was really a cute place.

Corner of Neff and Lester in Valley City, OH
Farm House as it Looks Today

By now I was working at a nursing facility in Medina, OH, and my boss offered to rent us the lower level of a beautiful farm house that he owned–for the same rent as the chicken coop.  It had handmade kitchen cabinets, two full bathrooms, a large living room, three bedrooms, a music room where I could finally have my piano, new carpeting and flooring.  It was like heaven.  Not that we didn’t like the chicken coop, but my son was 6 now, and he could barely turn around in his bedroom there.  We lived there for three years.  The house was only 1/4 mile from work, and my boss insisted that I have the school bus drop my son off at work.  He would bring in his books, put them on my desk, and then go into my boss’s office where they read the”funnies.”  Then he went out and spent time with the residents–riding on their laps in wheelchairs, learning to make ceramics and woodworking projects.  It was a privately owned nursing home, beautiful and well-staffed–a perfect place for a young boy to learn to appreciate older folks.

Lake Placid, FL House
Our Florida House After Three Hurricanes in just a couple of weeks. I had that FEMA blue roof for almost a year. The wood to board up the windows was a necessity and kept in the shed.

When my dad died, my family decided that my son and I should move to Lake Placid, Florida to help out my mother.  We lived there for 18 years in a home on a canal that connected two large lakes.  We had a boat, a canoe and a paddle boat.  We were on the water all the time.  Notice I said “ON” the water.  You don’t get “IN” the water in alligator infested canals and lakes.  We got out first indoor dog–our first Mini Schnauzer, and we had to have a fence put up to create a run for her.  Alligators can climb fences, but at least it would give us time to grab her.  My mom lived in Sebring, so we were not on top of each other.  After my son graduated from undergrad and graduate schools, he accepted a Ranger position at Zion National Park in Utah.  After three hurricanes came through the center of the state, I took the opportunity to get away from FL and accept a transfer and promotion to move to Texas.

My home in Belton, TX
My Belton, TX Home

I bought a house in Belton, TX on a 3/4 acre wooded lot. It was a new build, and it was wonderful to move into something that no one else ever owned.  It had four bedrooms and two full baths, including a walk-in shower and garden tub in the master.  The back of the house was almost all windows that looked out onto the huge back porch and the woods populated with deer, turkeys, and all kinds of creatures.  This was my absolutely favorite all-time house.  I lived there for six years, and I loved every minute of it.  I had wonderful neighbors and a great job.

My first Aurora, CO House
My First Colorado Home in Aurora

In 2013 my grandson turned 2.  I was in Colorado for his birthday, and I realized I couldn’t stay in Texas where I could only see the kids twice a year for a few vacation days.  I decided to move again.  I easily found a job and house.  I moved into my new home in July of 2013.  It was a tri-level built in the 70’s when they were popular.  It had a large back yard, and the entire yard was well landscaped.  It had been updated with a new kitchen, new flooring and carpet and new bathroom fixtures.  It was like moving into a new house.  In 2014 I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  I finished treatment in February 2015.  After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, I had a difficult time with the stairs.  I still have terrible balance.  My biggest challenge was carrying laundry up and down from the top level to the basement.  I knew I couldn’t stay there any longer without breaking a hip or worse.

Murphy Creek House
My Second House in Aurora

In September 2015, I finally admitted that I had to look for something else.  I found a home in Aurora that was a 2-story with the laundry on the 2nd floor.  I thought if I didn’t have to carry the laundry up and down the stairs I would be able to maneuver better.  Two years and several falls later I called my realtor and told him I had to find a ranch.  There was nothing close by.  We looked for almost 2 months, and everything we looked at was terrible.

Brighton House
Ranch House in Brighton, CO–this is not a great photo, but it’s very cold outside and I just ran out and took this quickly.

My daughter-in-law actually found my current home.  It’s a 3-bedroom ranch with a basement (and at sturdy handrail), a large back deck and a beautiful view of the mountains.  So far, I’ve only fallen here twice–both times on the rocks in the yard–they put those things everywhere–not very stable for a person with lousy balance.  But, other than the rocks, I am quite happy here.  This is where I plan to live out the rest of my life, unless the kids move somewhere else.  But that won’t happen until my grandson is out of high school–12 more years.

I am so grateful to have lived in so many beautiful places. I have been so fortunate that things have just always seemed to work out. And I am thankful that I have been able to share my homes with family and friends.

Over and out for November!

Allegheny River, Family, Nature Photography, Pennsylvania, Rivers and Lakes

Happy Days at The River

After yesterday’s very long and depressing blog, I am sticking to my promise to only post happy nature photos and happy stories – or at least happier posts than yesterday!

Boy and his log
A Boy and His Log

Every once in a while I look through old photos–I’m trying to organize them–there are thousands!  I came across one photo this morning that brought back so many memories!  I call it “A Boy and His Log.”

My Dad had a fishing camp on the Allegheny River near Emlenton, PA.  That’s were we spent almost every weekend starting when I was in 9th grade.  We even went almost every weekend when we lived in Ohio.  It was a special place–a place that my son loved as much as I did.  For a couple of years he had this big log that he would play with in the river.  It was shallow where the dock was, so it was fun to splash around in there.  He also collected shells and other interesting river things.

Shells and other interesting river things
Collecting Shells

It’s been many years since I was last at the river.  My dad died and the family drifted apart.  My mother deeded the river to my older sister, and it was never the same.  It became “hers”, not “ours.”

But, my memories of that place are many and sweet.  We water skied when the water wasn’t too cold. We had a canoe and a couple of boats, so there was always someone out on the water.  We spent hours looking for crayfish, frogs, tadpoles, crabs, salamanders, and clams. We screamed when we found hellgrammites–if you don’t know what they are, look them up–gross! We had a big front yard where we played badminton and softball, and a couple miles of dirt road to walk looking for creatures.  My Aunt Max and Uncle Chick would come down from Jamestown, NY and bring my cousins and their kids.  We had many adventures–like the time my cousin Mary Jo went into the outhouse when we were kids, and there was a black snake hanging from the rafters.  My dad had to install plumbing in the cabin because none of the kids would go in the outhouse any more. My other cousin Sally caught a chipmunk one day and it bit her.  She tried to stomp on it, but it managed to get away.

Original Cabin
The Original Cabin

The original cabin was an old log structure with red fake brick stuff on the outside.  There was a large living room with a fireplace, two bedrooms and a kitchen, and eventually a bathroom and kitchen sink with running water.  There were double bunk beds in one of the bedrooms, and all the kids would sleep in there–sometimes squashed, but always too tired from the fun day outside to care.  There was a brick fire pit in front, and I was the one who got to build the fires every night.  The wood pile was always full of garter snakes and no one else would go get wood–I like snakes.  We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and we laid out on the glider and watched the stars and satellites–it was pitch dark there and the night sky was spectacular!  Sometimes the raccoons would come out and sit with us by the fire.

Cabin and string of fish
Daddy with a String of Fish After He Put On the White Siding

At one point, my dad put some white siding on the outside of the cabin when the red stuff started to crumble a bit.  Then one winter, the ice in the river backed up and created a dam. In the spring the ice let loose, and the cabin was washed away in the flood.  We found the boats, canoe and dock, but there was really nothing left of the cabin.  My mother never liked it there, so they bought a mobile home and had it brought down to replace the cabin.  Of course, it was never the same.  But, for a while, until Daddy died, we continued to have happy times–lots of fun and lots of love.

I often think that I would like to go back one more time.  But I think that would ruin it.  I prefer to remember the good times.  Even the time the bear met me at the dock one morning.  Boy, do I wish I had a photo of that!  Talk about scared!!!

The Allegheny River near Emlenton, PA
This photo was taken from the front yard near the dock. It’s looking down-river where the bear went to swim across. I loved that river.

My son was about 5 at the time.  We were at the river alone for the weekend, and it was so peaceful and quiet.  We were going to spend some time playing in the water and then take the canoe up the river, hoping to see the baby beavers in their nest around the corner.  I went down to the dock and spread a blanket.  I turned around and there was a bear looking at me from the end of the dock. I froze.  I looked up and down the river to see if there was a boat or anyone at one of the other cabins.

The Dock at the River
Our old dock at the river with the boats and canoe. This is the dock where I faced down the bear. (Sounds brave, right?)

I yelled “help” a few times and realized it was futile–there was no one around–at least no one who could hear me.  The cabins were far apart and it was rare to hear someone else.  As I stood there my son came out the door and started toward the river.  I yelled at him to go inside and not come out until I told him he could.  Luckily, he was a very obedient child.  He went right back in.  During a time that seemed like forever, the bear slowly started to walk away.  It would take a few steps then turn around and look at me, take a few more and turn around and look.  Finally, it must have decided I wasn’t worth its time and it strolled into the river and started to swim across.

I ran up to the trailer and told my son what happened.  His reaction?  Why didn’t I let him see the bear???  We went outside and he did get to see it swimming to the other side of the river and get out of the water.  But, he was still disappointed – like most kids who don’t want to ever miss anything.

That’s one of my favorite river stories.  Just my son and me and a bear.  It was perfection! Scary, but perfection!

Combined Families at The River
The Jamestown crew with us at the river on the porch of the trailer