Long Ago & Far Away…

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

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


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


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




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






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


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




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




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 —
Jonathan Mcintosh Cortland Winesap … Continue reading


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




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

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


“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



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





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





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



Imagine if I hung this sign outside.
Who would stop?
Would the sign slow down an angry world? Continue reading





I think I might have been the first item they purchased for the cottage. I was reduced to being sold for $35 at the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Washington. It was absolutely humiliating, but they were very delighted. She wrote about it in her second post The Sanding Queen, dated May 30, 2012 … Continue reading



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


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



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


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





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


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



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



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



Long ago and far away, I was a children’s librarian. But you know, old librarians never retire, they just get reshelved, checked out, or renewed… Does that mean… Continue reading

The next seven books in my favorite picture books series begins with a Valentine’s Day book, #because love wins…
(You can read my first seven here.) Continue reading


This is the third part of the list. For the first fourteen, see Part One and Part Two.





And here are the last seven eight — I hope you’ve been reading and enjoying… Continue reading…







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



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