Long Ago & Far Away…

The older I grow, the more memories I have;
the more memories I have, the sweeter they grow…

The Story of Apple Hill Cottage

It’s hard to start writing a brand new blog when it’s, well, brand new. I’m brand new at it also, which makes it doubly hard. But Apple Hill Cottage has come into our lives. It is a cottage with history — combined history for both Michael(Mr. H.C.) and me — and I want to write about it — document it — as we try to… Continue Reading

The Vintage Firetruck and its Story

We’ve been fighting with our stuff these last few weeks. It’s been getting me down. I haven’t written about stuff lately; I’ve been shredding it, organizing it, recycling it, boxing it up, throwing it out, giving it away, … And truthfully? It doesn’t look like I’ve done anything.  Continue reading

August Is Yellow

the august sun shines like a spotlight
on the ten year old joyfully riding her new green bicycle
(without the training wheels)
down the gravel driveway.
like a pro, not even braking,
she leans to the left and whizzes onto the dirt path
packed down through years of truck tires.
through the trees … Continue reading


As I was making tabouleh (or tabouli) today for dinner, chopping cucumbers, tomatoes, a green pepper, green onions, parsley, and mint, my mind wandered back to the first time I was introduced to this delicious salad. I was about ten years old; it was a summer family picnic and Aunt Ethel had brought some stuff … Continue reading

Holding the phone next to your heart

The orange phone has made it into previous posts. We inherited some kitschy items with the cottage, and in 10. Clara’s Kitsch, I conducted a poll to discover readers’ favorites. The orange phone won by two votes. Several readers suggested we hang it in the bathroom by the water closet. Mr. H.C. doesn’t remember having this … Continue reading

Stories from Apple Hill

It is the season of giving thanks and remembering our blessings. And while I have much to be thankful for at the cottage (new windows, new insulation, and lower gas bills) today I’m going to be thankful for those who built and took care of this little cottage before us. My grandfather, Pa, built the … Continue reading

Relics of Time and Memory

Indian Rock

There are big rocks thirty miles to the south in Slippery Rock Creek.
There are big rocks thirty miles to the east in the National Forest.
There are big rocks thirty miles to the north on the shores of Lake Erie.
But here in the rolling farm lands of Black Ash there is … Continue reading

Secrets of This Old Cottage

Old Houses have secrets. Sometimes they yield pieces of answers when layers are peeled away. Sometimes what is revealed only leads to more questions. There have been only three owners of this little house. My grandfather built the cottage sometime in the early forties and used it variously as a farm outbuilding, a weekend cabin … Continue reading

The Mail Came Bringing Me Old Photos

Not much exciting comes in the mail these days. Yet hope springs eternal, and I always walk out to the mailbox with an anticipation that is rarely fulfilled. Until yesterday — the mail came bringing me an unassuming envelope with a hand-written return address from Texas. I knew immediately what it was and who it … Continue reading


It’s a local landmark in our front yard.
“Is that the building with the tree in the middle?” they ask.
We nod and smile.
Only the old folks remember it used to be a fruit-stand.
Bleachers built in a perfect hexagon around the tree for
bushels of gleaming red and glowing gold apples… Continue reading

Clara’s Kitsch

July 12 is the first anniversary of when we buried Clara and cancelled the auction of Apple Hill Cottage. So Clara, this one’s for you…)
Hello Readers, Today we are trying something new. Reader interaction! Most of Clara’s Treasures that she sold in the Gazebo Tree House (you should read the first post –The Story of Apple Hill CottageContinue reading

Dad, Smiling

March 10, 2012. One year ago, Dad, Granddad, Pops, Sam died at the long old age of 90. there are bad memories of that time between when his body no longer worked and when his journey here ended.
they are fading with time.
and today i’m choosing to remember him smiling.
His plane wrecked in training. … Continue reading

old windows

Two Sides to Every Window

I got a new job this past weekend. We are getting close to starting the ceiling. (I know, I’ve been saying that for a month now…) So this weekend we had the lovely task of taking down everything that touched the ceiling. That would be … Continue reading

These Days

“The purpose of art is washing the daily dust of life off our souls.” — Pablo Picasso
The last few weeks there has been a lot of daily dust on my soul. On my body too, as we sweep the city house clean of grime, stuff, and collected junk. Touching every single item that takes … Continue reading

Owed to Dad

This is a special Father’s Day post. The regular Apple Hill Cottage posts will resume next week.
Dad died in March. He was 90 and until he was about 88, he was healthy, happy, and still playing golf. The last year wasn’t so good and the last few months were bad. He had always been … Continue reading

The Attitude of Gratitude: Hannah Coulter and I

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry has just shot up to the top of my Best Books I’ve Ever Read List. As a librarian, I’m asked a lot (mostly by kids) what my favorite book is. I always hedge. How can one pick a favorite book, when there are so many great reads, so many books … Continue reading

Fire in fireplace

A Winter’s Eve

The new fallen snow and ice of winter is beautiful when the sun shines or when it lights up an otherwise dark night or when the icicles glint like crystalline daggers protecting the house within or when I am inside sitting by a fire in the fireplace … a mug of fragrant warmth in my … Continue reading


Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again, and the title has become an often-quoted phrase about change and memory. Yet here I am. Back home in These High Green Hills. Living within two miles of my childhood home. Living on what used to be my grandfather’s orchard. Sometimes a bit like being A Stranger in … Continue reading

Henry, The Model Cat

Henry was whining to me the other day — You haven’t written about me for a long time, he said. You have thousands of pictures of me on your phone; don’t you think it’s about time I get another post of my own? The last time, he just commandeered the laptop and wrote his own … Continue reading

Taking Flight

Before a few weeks ago, I had flown once in my life. Well, twice if you don’t count it as a round trip. And that was a LONG time ago… It’s not that I am was afraid to fly. I just like to drive. Or be with people that I know very well who are … Continue reading

One City House, For Sale…

Seasons change — from spring to summer, from fall to winter… Each time has its own beauty; I am grateful to live in a place where all four seasons are distinct. (Ask me that in late February, and I might not be so grateful…) Seasons of life change too; and sometimes it isn’t so easy to … Continue reading

Cottage Move-in Day!

It’s been a long time coming. We dated our first day of work on the cottage: August 12, 2011. 1,310 days. Sometimes there were days weeks months when nothing happened except, you know, Life. And death. And taxes. There was is so much work to do on this small humble cottage. New windows. New roof. … Continue reading


gratitude for the old cottage

that tests our skills and patience,

but shouts of family to us both

gratitude for the beauty of quiet hills

…Continue reading

the quality of mercy is not strained…

i have a friend who has demons in his head.

oh, you can call it whatever modern scientific terminology you want — schizophrenia, bi-polar or borderline personality disorder, or just mental illness — but the truth is, they are demons. Continue reading

On Writing 50,000 Words in November

It was an up and down affair. Have you ever heard the folktale/joke routine That’s good, That’s bad? Mostly it’s the joke that goes, “Oh, that’s good. No, that’s bad because… Oh, that’s bad. No, that’s good because… Yes. That’s the way my November went. It was good when my characters did things that were … Continue reading

Plus ça change…the circle of life

Life in August and September has been lively: anniversaries, birthdays, the start of school, funerals, a wedding, and two houses that compete for our attention. The start of school means back to work — organizing books, planning lessons, and this year it meant re-organizing the main section of the library after a flood last year. … Continue reading

Blue sky, white clouds


Reblogging this from November 19th a couple of years ago…It’s just a reminder to count your blessings and give something to your local food pantry sometime soon…

Today I worked for the food bank from 8:45 to 2:15. 5 1/2 hours. 330 minutes. 19,800 seconds. Plenty of moments to get a photograph. But I didn’t. I didn’t … Continue reading

Meanderings on Comfort

We used to jokingly call him King Henry The First. He died on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, a cat’s life, well lived.

The Road Winds Around

The road winds around through time —
a gray concrete ribbon now,
edged with yellow and white lines.
But before now, then,
then there was a land between two rivers —
inhospitable high forested hills–
stopped the glacier eons ago.