Ice Art

When thinking about the mountains where we live, the quote “The only thing that is constant is change” (Heraclitus), comes to mind. A few nights ago, I noted a heavy fog, and when I raised the shade in the bedroom the next morning I was greeted with a winter wonderland. Rime ice had coated every surface on our property.

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I quickly dressed to go for my “run, walk, hike” on our road before the sun melted the delicate art. I stopped on my way up the mountain to take a photo of Mountain Laurel on the edge of the road whose leaf edges were rimmed in ice.


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A Holly on our property looked as if its leaves had been frosted.

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Our Fraser Fir Christmas tree still looked so fresh when we removed the ornaments that we placed it into and old hollow tree stump, and it too, had some beautiful icing.

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In a matter of hours the ice was gone, but what a joy to have photos to remember that beautiful morning on our mountain!

My Home Town

On the day after Christmas, Tom and I divided our trip home to North Carolina from New Hampshire with a stop at our home town of Milford, Ct. Since our move to NC in late 2015, we had only driven through on our way to other destinations, and it was time to visit not only our town, but our dear friend Janie Merola. (More about Janie below.) Our first stop was to visit the cemetery where our parents are buried and to place two arrangements I made from trimmings from our Christmas  tree and mountain laurel branches from our property.

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After a great dinner with Janie and three other dear friends, we decided to take a walk through downtown Milford and Milford Harbor. This photo by Ken D’Ademo, was much better than the one I took while dashing across the green! On another “historical” note, this is the same green where I met Sue Hebert, who was demonstrating weaving in a craft show, and who later taught me to weave!


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About the City of Milford (courtesy of the City of Milford website)

Welcome to Milford, "A Small City with a Big Heart!" Strolling through downtown you get that small town feeling coupled with the charm and the sense of history of an English settlement dating from 1639. Walk over the Hotchkiss Bridge, gaze at the gorge framed by the arch of the Memorial Bridge, stop for an ice cream cone, and rent a bike and tour, then return to have a lobster dinner. Or you might opt for a romantic Victorian setting at a classic New England Inn.

 Seventeen miles of Long Island Sound coastline funnel into our harbor that winds its way to meet the Wepawaug River in the heart of town. The sixth oldest town in Connecticut, 50,000 residents are proud to boast of a meticulously maintained "town green", the second longest in New England. Multiple memorials in honor of those who have served in past conflicts parade down the grassway. A memorial bridge provides a stone passageway of history of our ancestors.

 A feeling of "Milford Pride", along with ample cultural, recreational, educational and employment opportunities make the City more than just a great place to visit.  Many high quality arts and crafts shows, varied festivals and events make Milford a destination for daytrippers.  Water recreation abounds with access from boat launches, the Milford Lisman Landing Marina, multiple city beaches, and Silver Sands State Park.  The Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point offers views of the estuary and Long Island Sound and their inhabitants and an educational program to explain all.  The new architecturally awarded addition to Milford Hospital provides for health care needs as it has for the last 80 years.

 Rounding out our unparalleled quality of life is a strong retail community that provides shoppers with all aspects of consumer goods. From the mall to the varied and diverse shopping opportunities of our small retailers-we sell it all. Boasting an ever-expanding automobile row, furniture stores, specialty shops, restaurants and hotels, ready to fulfill all types of consumer requirements.

 A diversified economy supports manufacturing, retail, corporate office, and a service industry.  Unemployment is at an all-time low.  Home to manufacturers of consumer products, fabricated metals, plastics, as well as dot.com, investment, and hi-tech firms, Milford welcomes all to its corporate, research and industrial parks.

 Milford History

 February 1, 1639, is the date the area then known as "Wepawaug" was purchased from Ansantawae, chief sachem of the Paugusset Tribe. Settlers began arriving shortly thereafter and began to build the town known as Milford. Townspeople played a part in the development of the United States. Adventurers from Milford reached out and founded several other communities and explored afar.

 Buried treasure is said to exist on a small island the Indians called "Poquahaug", just a mile off Silver Sands Beach. It is a recognized fact that Captain Kidd and other pirates sailed and hid along the Connecticut coast. It’s no wonder that iron chests filled with "loot" are rumored to be buried on the land called Charles Island!

 Three governors of Connecticut called Milford their home. Fort Trumbull was built to provide protection in the late 1700s during the Revolutionary War. Yes, George Washington dined and rested here! During the Civil War, Milford was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Although primarily agrarian, shipbuilding, oystering, small industry and trade on the open seas from the harbor were part of the local economy. The early 1900's brought the leather industry along with the making of boots, hats and shoes. Milford was also famous for carriages, which were sold throughout the centuries.

 After World War II, the population swelled as GIs returned from the war and bought houses in the suburb of New Haven and Bridgeport called Milford. Industry also developed to support the war effort. Norden, Milford Rivet, U.S. Motors, and Edgecomb Steel were some of the familiar names of the time. Other industry followed most notably the consumer giants of Bic and Schick. Then the completion of I-95 in 1960, with its seven exits and entrances brought easy access. The Connecticut Post Shopping Center and other development followed rapidly. Development reached a peak in the 70s and 80s, leveled off in the early 90s and then picked up again in the late 90s until we reached our present population of over 52,000 and businesses that number over 2,000.

 The Milford Historical Society safeguards three 18th century homes at its Wharf Lane Complex. Among their possessions is one of the finest collections of Native American artifacts.


Below, a framed painting and early map that hang in our guest room.

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A walk past the harbor where the empty docks await warmer weather and boats to be placed back in their slips.



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My sisters and I had a great life growing up in this town and most of our summer days were filled with trips to the beach, where we took swimming lessons as kids and “hung out” with our friends as teenagers. There is no one better than my friend Janie Merola, who is a fabulous real estate agent, and life long Milford resident, to show you the place where all those memories were made:





 

 




 







Change In The Air

Once again, the colors of fall in our mountains have been brilliant. Here are photos I took two weeks ago from the Blue Ridge Parkway just twenty minutes from our home.

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We noted a flurry of bluebird activity and our bird cam took these images of perhaps the first fledglings returning to the bluebird box to scope it out for next spring. It appears that at least one has decided that it will belong to him

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The weather this past Sunday morning was perfect for hot air ballooning. Nice view from our deck!

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Loved weaving a twenty foot long stair runner for a client in Pinehurst, NC. Such warm colors!

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Happy Fall!

March Sightings

March in our mountains has been more lion than lamb thus far. Yesterday we awoke to some snow and today, although it is a beautiful day, we can hear and feel strong winds heading down from the higher elevations. It takes some snow and the sun at just the right angle to see the bride and groom of Mt. Pisgah. Legend has it that a young couple wished to marry, but the bride's father objected. In their wedding clothes they raced along steep trails on the mountain, followed closely behind by her father. In the snow, they slid off the trail and off the mountain to their deaths. Look closely at the photo to see the groom on the left leading the bride with the train of her gown trailing behind her.

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A little snow on our road.

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The good news is that robins are appearing everywhere!

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A turkey buzzard enjoying the thermals

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A pair of bluebirds approving the bluebird box that my husband built

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Spring arrives next week!

Cutting The Cord

After years of having "bundled" our phone, internet and TV with our local cable company, we are now liberated! For those of you who have done this you know what a freeing experience it is. For us, the last straw was an increase of $30.00 per month, for no reason except the company "could". We had the basic service, as TV watching does not dominate any portion of our day or evening. When we called to try to change the cost we were told "nope". Wrong answer.

Our quest for liberation from the cable cord began with perusing the websites of streaming providers including, youtube tv, hulu, and sling tv. Based on our programming interests we chose sling to begin our adventure.

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We ordered three months of sling blue with a couple of add ons, and as a promotion we got a Roku ultra for half price. We wanted to retain our landline numbers, one for the business, and a "home phone" so we opted to port our phone numbers to Number Barn.

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Once we ported our numbers from our cable company to Number Barn, we then forwarded them to our cell phones. Easy Peasy!

Another great advantage of the various TV packages, is that you can cancel them at any time if another provider better meets your TV watching needs. For local stations, (ABC, CBS, NBC) we purchased an antenna for our attic. With the antenna, we also receive PBS (For "Victoria" ) as well as some vintage and local TV shows.

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So here's the cost breakdown: Old provider TV, Internet, two phone lines: $182.00 per month.

Our old provider still provides us with internet only at a cost of $64.99, sling tv, $39.99, business phone and home phone, $12.00. Total savings $65.02 (!) and A LOT more channels that we actually WANT. Oh, and might I add, that the picture quality is superior! 

Cable box gets returned tomorrow!!!!!

 

A Chance En(counter)

I’m a Clinique girl, and love their “gift with purchase” campaigns that come along a few times a year in various department stores. I found out that Belk was the next one up beginning February 6th. Knowing that it would be pretty busy during the purchase period, I decided to visit our local Belk in Asheville to do a “pre-sale” which means you choose your products and any choices offered for the free gift, pay for all and pick up at your leisure. I arrived at the counter and met a lovely woman and proceeded to purchase the items on my list. Next, I chose my free gift. You can choose either:

•The Brighten & Glow Gift which includes Take the Day Off Makeup Remover, Turnaround Daytime Moisturizer, Turnaround Overnight Moisturizer, Pop Lip Colour + Primer in Bare Pop, and High Impact Mascara, an exclusive Marimekko for Clinique cosmetic bag and a Marimekko for Clinique credit card pouch or the Marimekko for Clinique mirror .

                                                                   or

•The Standout Eyes Gift which includes Rinse Off Eye Makeup Solvent, All About Eyes, All About Eyes Shadow Trio, Quickliner for Eyes in Intense Ebony, and High Impact Lash Elevating Mascara, an exclusive Marimekko for Clinique cosmetic bag, and a Marimekko for Clinique credit card pouch or the Marimekko for Clinique mirror.

Because I spent more than $55.00 I got to also got to “step up my gift” where you get to choose between:

Refresh Duo (7 Day Scrub and Pop Lip Colour + Primer in Love Pop) or Happy Duo (perfume spray and body cream).

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Once she added my purchases, she noted that I was only $8.00 away from the "Step up your gift even more!"Spend $75 on Clinique and also receive a bonus black and white Marimekko for Clinique tote. How could I resist because it also includes $15.00 in "Belk Bucks" to spend with no exclusions!

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The lovely woman who was taking care of me (and giving me all of these free products!) noted the New Jersey area code for my cell phone number. She told me that she too, had moved to Asheville from New Jersey and we both agreed, it was indeed a small world. She saw that my name was Patricia, and then told me that her middle name was Patricia and that her first name was Lynn. I looked her straight in the eye and said “ My middle name is Lynn!” To say we had a bonding experience was an understatement!

If you don’t have a Belk near you, and you like Clinique too, call or email my new friend Lynn Patricia at 828-298-4970 ext 267 or Lynn_Mcelroy@belk.com and tell her Patricia Lynn sent you!

Turkey Day

We recently had a slight warming trend from our very cold temperatures, and I took the opportunity to go for my run/ walk/ hike on our mountain road. As I was heading up the road I saw our "resident" flock of turkeys eating seeds at the base of our bird feeder.

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They were also on the hunt for anything else they might find in our foundation plantings and slope. On my way back down the mountain, I saw that they were making their usual rounds back down our property before heading into the woods.

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When you're standing right behind them and they can't figure out where the sound is coming from!

December Memories

Indeed, here we are in the middle of January and December is but a memory, but I'm so happy that I took photos of some of the highlights!

Even though predictions were for a "mild winter", we managed to have an 11" snow storm early in the month.

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During the day, the sun began melting the snow on our metal roof,which began its slide down only to refreeze at night.

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The Biltmore Estate is a special place and even more so during the Holiday season.

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Gorgeous winterberry and rhododendron at the NC welcome center! 

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Our extended cold weather resulting in the French Broad River freezing into large chunks as it tried to flow through the Biltmore estate.

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The frozen lagoon at Biltmore

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 A giant, beautifully carved bear spotted in the Lowes parking lot. We met the artist, named Dennis who enjoys carving animals of all sorts. He was taking his latest creation to its new owners. His phone number (which he gave us permission to publish) is 828-435-1980. He is truly gifted!

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The Biltmore Christmas Tree Arrival!

On November 1st, we went to the estate to watch the arrival, by horse drawn wagon, of the 35 foot tall banquet hall Christmas tree. It was an appropriately chilly morning while we waited for the tree and Santa himself. The wagon’s entrance  into the gate was heralded by a trumpeter who was stationed in a turret window in the house.

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Ready to unload!

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Getting the tree through the doorway takes a lot of muscle!

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While many people went into the house to see the actual raising of the tree, we strolled the grounds drinking hot chocolate. Santa and Mrs. Claus awaited the children that came to visit.

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Once the crowd lessened somewhat, we entered the house.

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We loved watching the crew get the tree prepared for decorating. We're going to wait until Thanksgiving to see it and the entire house in full splendor!

The Flip Of A Switch

The remnants of hurricane Irma slowed the arrival of cooler weather here in our mountains.  Only last week I was still dressed for summer when I hit the trails at Biltmore. Yesterday the decision was between a lighter or heavier jacket or cool weather or colder weather gloves. Even though I’m aware we’ve been continually losing minutes of daylight since the summer solstice, it’s not really that noticeable until that first frost.

The sun, due to the earth's tilt away from it, appears lower in the sky. This field of silage awaiting harvest at Biltmore, seems golden in its slanted rays.

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The hanging baskets at Antler Hill Village are dressed in vibrant fall colors.

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A holly tree “decorated” in its own vibrant berries.

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Holiday decorating is also well underway on the estate.

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Next week the 35 foot tall Banquet hall Christmas tree will be brought to the Biltmore house.

Post to follow!

Breathing Room

When we moved to our home in the mountains of western North Carolina, I described our two acre property as a "blank slate." The previous owner build a solid, lovely home, but attempts at landscaping were sadly lacking. Little by little over the past two years, we have been adding plants and generally sprucing up the property. The wooded area was filled with bittersweet vines that were winding around trees and literally choking them. Black locusts were taking over and thorny thickets were everywhere. Our plan has been to remove invasive species thus opening our wonderful view and allowing other trees and plants to thrive. Last fall we had two of the largest (and sickly)  Black Locusts removed. The difference was dramatic.

Before 

Before 

Our view after tree removal

Our view after tree removal

This year we've removed even more trees, and as a result, more light has been wonderful for the growth of so many plants and trees that had been struggling such as Christmas Fern.

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A Dogwood

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Maple trees

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Holly

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Opening up a landscape can reveal some really beautiful Images.

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Can you see the heart?

Beach House Beauty

Thus far, we have designed and woven 16 rugs and runners for this beautiful Long Beach Island, NJ water front home. Our wonderful clients sent us these photos of the last group that we shipped.

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Guest Bedroom

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Boys bedroom. Note the car and boat beds!

Boys bedroom. Note the car and boat beds!

They also sent a photo of the Montauk daisies they planted on their dune.

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We so look forward to working with this lovely couple on their next project and so pleased that over these last months we have also become friends!

Housekeeping

After a few chilly days, yesterday and today have been warm enough to do some outdoor housekeeping chores. The front porch which is covered, needed a thorough power washing to get rid of pollen and dust as well as spider webs. Another semi-annual  job is window washing. I’ve been using a mixture consisting of :

                          ¼ cup white vinegar

                          ¼ cup rubbing alcohol

                          1 Tbsp. cornstarch

                          2 cups warm water

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I mix it all  up in a spray bottle and it seems to work well both on mirrors and windows. I recently saw a great article on window washing on the website Houzz. The tip about how to tell if a streak is outside or inside was one that I hadn’t thought about!

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We’ve recently done a master bath renovation (more to follow in a future post) and I was looking for a non-abrasive and non-toxic alternative for cleaning the tile, glass doors and acrylic base. A mixture of Dawn dishwashing detergent and once again, white vinegar, has been working like a charm.

Into a 16oz spray bottle, I add ½ cup dawn and fill the rest of the bottle with the vinegar.

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Rug cleaning was the next chore. The runner in front of the sink in our last home is one that I wove over ten years ago.

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It has found a new home at the door and hallway to the studio. There is also a door from the basement so consequently, it gets a lot of traffic.

I brought it out to our deck and hosed it down then used a scrub brush to clean it with a combination of Dawn, OxiClean and warm water.

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Dried in the sun and back in place. Not bad for a ten plus year old runner that has spent its life in high traffic areas!

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What are some of your favorite housekeeping tips?

The View From Here

My previous posts are indications of my fondness for all that comprises the Biltmore estate. The grounds are breathtaking and ever changing and I love the fact that it is so close by. The land that surrounds our little neighborhood is also beautiful and indeed, ever changing.  I describe our house and property as being on the side of a mountain, and if you could experience the steepness of both the property and our road, you would understand why! I’ve been doing my “run, walk, hike” as I describe it, since we’ve been here, but a bit of a “bear scare” this past August made me decide, that at least for a while, I should take to the trails of Biltmore. Earlier in the summer our neighbor took a photo of this bear who, as she described it, was laying on our property “as if he owned it.” Except for his size, I wasn’t overly concerned, as we also had bear sightings in New Jersey.

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A month or two later, another neighbor took this photo from her house.

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On August 7th, I finally encountered a bear as I was rounding the bend on our road. He was under an apple tree, presumably having his morning snack. I don’t have a photo as I made my way back to our house in record time. Hence my morning routine moved to Biltmore.

This morning I finally hit our road again, and happily only encountered some deer and these beautiful views.

Heading up our mountain

Heading up our mountain

Mt. Mitchell as seen from the top of our property

Mt. Mitchell as seen from the top of our property

The ridge behind our house in the morning sunlight

The ridge behind our house in the morning sunlight

More Biltmore Views

Late on a fall Sunday afternoon is a perfect time to visit the gardens on the Biltmore Estate. It is certainly less crowded and the glow from the soon to be setting sun is magical.

Fall blooming roses

Fall blooming roses

Jewel toned mums

Jewel toned mums

The American Beauty Berry that first caught our eye a month ago, was in full bloom.

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We loved it so much that we knew we wanted to add it to our landscape. We chose "Pearl Glam" because of its blackish purple leaves that offer interest before the berries are visible. When the berries first appear they are white hence the "Pearl" in the name.

Speaking of where we live, I caught this hummingbird taking a rest on our Canna. I will miss seeing the butterflies and hummingbirds that grace our property, but will look forward to their return next summer!

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Evening Entertainment

Early evening on our deck this time of year is a special time. The sun sets in the front of our house, and we are able to enjoy the changing light on the ridge behind us.

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One evening I heard some rustling noises below me and looked down to see what was going on. Two fawns were playing tag with some wild turkeys at the edge of our woods. The turkeys were not amused!

Biltmore Views

One of the joys of living here in the mountains of western North Carolina is our proximity to the Biltmore Estate. We are pass holders, which for a nominal yearly fee, gives us access to all that the estate has to offer including the magnificent house, gardens and all of the trails on the 8,000 acres that comprise the estate. I love driving onto the estate in the morning to run or walk the trails and be inspired by all that surrounds me. Here are some of my latest views.

Sunflowers on the lagoon trail

Sunflowers on the lagoon trail

Cattle getting some shade

Cattle getting some shade

Iconic view from the lagoon

Iconic view from the lagoon

Monarchs feeding during their migration

Monarchs feeding during their migration

The farm trail

The farm trail

Morning dew on Pink Muhly Grass

Morning dew on Pink Muhly Grass

In Remembrance

The first funeral I ever attended was for Jeffery Maloney. I was just a freshman in high school and he was a Marine Corporal who was killed in Vietnam. He was 21. Jeff and his family were part of our neighborhood. He had a younger brother and sister and all had attended the same grammar school as my sisters and me.

 Jeff had returned to Vietnam after R and R in Hawaii where his fiancé joined him. They were nearly next door neighbors and were to be married upon his return. I remember the day of his funeral as if it were yesterday. What stands out in my mind was his flag draped coffin with a photo of him in his uniform and his helmet on top. It is too simple to say that to men and women like Jeffery we owe a debt of gratitude. We owe them our very freedoms, that so many seem to take for granted. Here is a link to a website created  in remembrance of Jeff.

http://marines.togetherweserved.com/usmc/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=229667&source=fold3