Serenity on the Clarion River


Jim and I spent this past weekend in one of our favorite places in the world- Cook Forest State Park, Pennsylvania. We meet up twice yearly with a group of friends and this time we occupied three cabins side by side with a grand total of sixteen people.

We ate all of our meals together and spent most of our time gathered around a perfect campfire. There were lots of good stories, marshmallows and too much food. Believe it or not, there was no alcohol on this weekend and yes, we had a very good time.

Before we left, Jim and I made the decision to head up a bit early on Friday and go for a canoe ride down the Clarion River. We did this once before but took the much longer ride. This time, we opted for a shorter river journey which took about ninety minutes.

Clarion RiverWe had a very nice canoe. I rode in front and Jim took the back seat so he could do the steering. It was one of our shining moments working as a team. Paddling around rocks, shallow water and little rapids, we never once got hung up anywhere. Jim threw his fishing pole in along the way, just for good measure, but the fish must have been somewhere else, probably taking a long nap.

I can’t fully describe for you what the ride was like but I will try. The river was tree lined on each side; great big tall trees, still green but with the promise of autumn in their leaves. A clear, sparkly river with the sun glistening off the surface so much so that it appeared as though diamonds were scattered about. The sound of a red tailed hawk overhead; the sound of my paddle as it glazed the tip of the water.

A couple of times, the sun was warm enough on my shoulders and I angled my hand over the side of the canoe, into the chilly waters of the river. I left it there for a few moments and felt the cool wetness, the temperature of the water being just perfect for the beginning of fall.

There is truly serenity in being among the tall trees, in unspoiled beauty, with clean air and only the scent of pine or a good, smoky fire. My cell phone does not work well in Cook so it’s a good excuse to go unplugged for the entire weekend. The better to enjoy the beauty with.

Sometimes we have to stop and break away. Life is just too busy these days and more and more is expected of us. Making time, pushing ourselves to be in touch with nature should be mandatory, just to clear our heads and refresh our minds. I know it really works for me.

Where’s your favorite place on earth to wind down?

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The Right Place, The Right Time


There is no right time and right place for love… it can happen any time.

Shahrukh Khan

This week we had some serious storms. Rain, thunder, lightning all made their presence known here in Western Pennsylvania. For the first time ever, my family and I went down to the basement because of a tornado warning.

Thankfully, nothing happened. Just a heavy rain, so much rain in fact that it seems the grass and garden grew inches before our very eyes.

The day after the storm, our already fragile old apple tree gave way and a large branch split off. Already filled with young green apples, it was a sight of tangled twigs and green leaves. Jim and Gavin have begun the slow task of making fire logs and cleaning up the mess.

This morning as I was taking my trusty labrador Jordan out to the field, I caught sight of a baby fawn among those apple tree branches. She or he was just a few yards away from me. I hooked Jordan up to her run and walked slowly down to the felled tree.

The fawn perked its head up and looked at me. She still had her baby white spots. She was absolutely, perfectly beautiful.

I went back in the house and grabbed my coffee cup. I set up a chair in my yard and watched a deer family of four in the amazing morning light, prancing about and eating in my neighbor’s yard across the lane from our house, across from my apple tree. The baby fawn was among the family.

As I sat there sipping coffee and watching the deer family, I reflected. I thought about some key moments I had this week.

First, I spent an amazing couple of hours on the phone with a west coast blogger I have friended simply through my own blog. She is Sunday’s Child and if you click HERE, you will have a chance to read what she wrote about our phone conversation. It was so much fun! We talked about many things- writing, blogging, food, chickens- and just imagine, all through meeting in the magic of the internet. I feel like I have a new friend to add to my circle of old and dear friends, and I am blessed with her friendship beyond my own imaginable dreams.

Then, my good friend Cathy came over for a blog lesson. Yes another blogger has been born! As soon as she gets her first post up, I’ll share it with you. While she was here, I have to tell you about something awesome she shared with me.

20130708_161813When we were walking out to her car, as she was leaving, a baby hawk that has been flying around and screeching all week made its appearance just for Cathy. This baby loves to perch on a very tall pine tree behind our house. Cathy and I looked up and squinted our eyes in the afternoon sun just to catch a glimpse of baby hawk. I told her I think there are two of them, born recently and they are screeching to either mark their territory or they are calling their mama for lunch!

Cathy told me it is a very powerful spiritual sign to have hawks in your area. (Here’s what I said to this– Really??) So I looked it up on the internet and found she is right, yes, that many believe hawks to be a sign of power and vision. Check out the website I found HERE that gives more information about hawk totems.

Then, last night I was again among friends and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I can get choked up just thinking about it but suffice to say, someone needed a shoulder of caring and God put me in a bathroom at precisely the right time.

So between fawns, hawks and friends I have had an amazing week. I am truly blessed to be walking in this spiritual world and I cannot forget what a beautiful world it truly is.

Thank you to my daughter Michelene for the beautiful lily picture!

Anything amazing happen to you this week? Share please!

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Take a Walk with Me

I know how busy you are…this will take just a minute.

After years of going to Cook Forest, I discovered a hidden treasure, a jewel of a place, within the Forest itself.

I want to share it with you. It’s called the Forest Cathedral.

Come….let’s walk.

Told you it would be quick! Now, aren’t you glad you joined me?

Blessings to you and especially to my Cook Forest friends!

(All photos taken by me, Katherine’s Daughter!)

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Early Morning Grace

Dawn in Captiva

I was never an early morning person.

My favorite thing to do (always) was to sleep in. Even when my kids were little, we all loved staying in bed until 10am or so. As they got older and started school, sleeping in became a luxury that was only to be revived during summer vacation.

Lately though I have become an early riser. It started with a job I began over six years ago; a job I needed to rise at 5:30am for. I was fine as long as it was spring and summer but boy, in the dead of winter was it tough!

Fast forward to my new job, the one I’ve had for the last year, the one that is only a seven minute drive from my house. I could easily stay in bed until 7 or 7:30am but I find myself up at 6:30am, almost like clockwork.

Maybe it’s that as I get older, I no longer mind not sleeping in. Maybe 6:30am is really sleeping in, compared to my last job. What I really think it’s about is The Early Morning. I just love The Early Morning.

If you are an Early Morning Riser you know what I’m talking about. The sun slowly comes up, the birds are singing, singing, singing. The world is yawning and so am I. My coffee pot (which I set up to brew before I wake) automatically has made me the most delicious coffee of my day. My yellow lab, Jordan, is so happy to see me because my rising means she gets breakfast and a chance to go outside.

When I walk Jordan outside, I occasionally bump into a deer in the back yard. We exchange a curious look and then he runs off to his next vegetarian meal. I check the sky. It’s baby blue with a touch of white cloud today. I smile at the beauty of it all.

Here Comes the Sun

When I was in Florida last week, I could have easily slept in every day. There was no job to go to, no dog to feed, no clothes to be thrown in the washer. But yet I found myself wanting my coffee on the balcony of our condo as soon as the sun came up. Many a morning I sat there with my mom and sisters, just enjoying the sunrise.

What is it that I love about The Early Morning? I love that it is a chance to be alone with my source of Grace, my Higher Power. I can’t always hear God when my day gets going because well, there’s just too much chatter. Too many distractions. At the beginning of the day, there is clarity, wisdom and opportunity. There is prayer, meditation and connection with the earth and the beauty that abounds in all of nature. I try and not take this beauty for granted.

As you look at these pictures of the sunrise in Captiva, I hope you will feel a bit of the serenity and awe that is present when we take the time to greet the sun. It is so worth it to get up just a bit early and catch something of such great beauty. May you be Graced by an Early Morning Sunrise!

There It Is!
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The Special Grace of Animals

I have to admit, I am a lover of animals.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved dogs, cats, horses, hamsters, birds- most any kind of domesticated animal. Being a nature girl, I am also drawn to wild creatures, especially deer and turkeys (yes, I especially love turkeys!), and beautiful birds like cardinals and hummingbirds.

Most of my friends have pets. If you want to get someone really talking, just ask them about their favorite Lucky or Lady. It’s the easiest icebreaker of all.

A Young Casper

I have a special pet cat. His name is Casper. He was a birthday present to my daughter from her girlfriend, probably sixteen or seventeen years ago. I’m guessing that “Casper, The Friendly Ghost” was probably the big movie hit at that time. We have had numerous other cats and dogs but Casper has survived them all.

What amazes me is Casper was diagnosed years ago with feline AIDS. How he has ever lived this long is a true mystery to us. He is free to roam our large yard, eats mostly dry food, gets plenty of fresh water and sunshine. He has rarely taken medicine. Perhaps this is the key to kitty longevity.

Lately, we have been especially mindful of Casper simply because of his age. He doesn’t see well anymore but he keeps eating and, he keeps performing all of his necessary bodily functions. To me, this means he is doing ok. He doesn’t cry and he still loves to be stroked and scratched lightly.

I have been watching Casper in the morning as he searches for the sun. He will find it and either he sits very still or lays down to soak it up. I watched him this morning and the one word that came to my mind was prayerful.

Prayerful Casper

I can take a lesson from Casper on being still. Sometimes when I am worried about something or a bit knotted up, he reminds me to take it easy, one day at a time. He clearly has the mantra down pat; he is the walking poster child for serenity. In his younger days, he climbed trees and was an excellent mouser. Now he is content to spend his remaining days in luxurious devotion to the sun.

No matter what animal we love, we are the lucky ones, aren’t we? My husband loves the saying, ” I want to be everything my dog thinks I am”. My son John, as a child, would lay down on the ground to be at face level with Casper. He would lightly stroke Casper’s head and look lovingly at him. I believe we can feel the soul of an animal if we are quiet and take the time to connect.

“With their qualities of cleanliness, discretion, affection, patience, dignity, and courage, how many of us, I ask you, would be capable of becoming cats?” –Fernand Mery Her Majesty the Cat

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God Between the Clouds

There was a time when I was afraid of storms. As a little girl, I remember hiding my head under the covers whenever lighting and thunder would strike. I remember telling my kids when they were little that, during storms, God was bowling, just so they wouldn’t be afraid.

Last night, after a whole day in the Pittsburgh suburbs of sun and clouds and clouds and sun, the clouds finally won out. Around 6:30pm, it started to storm. I was meeting some friends at 7:15 and took Route 30 just when the sun was going down and the clouds were letting up.

The sky was so stunning I couldn’t help but stop at a small church and take pictures from the parking lot. Hope you enjoy the shots as much as I did.

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Make Way for the Spring Chickens!

In honor of Spring, I want to invite you over and tell you about our chickens. My husband Jim got bit by the chicken bug a few years ago. A friend of the family happened to give us a baby rooster. That baby rooster somehow fostered a fowl love story for my husband and daughter.

The rooster has long passed on but my husband’s love for chickens has only grown. I have to say, I was not thrilled when I found baby chickens in an incubator in my garage a few years ago. I swore that I would not help with them- ever- because I was so bent on not adding one more responsibility to my full plate. Obviously the chickens have persisted and thrived, due largely in part to my husband’s and daughter’s care. They provide us with ample, or more like an abundance, of eggs.

Initially, I was so skeptical of the eggs that I only used them in cake mixes or as ingredients in recipes. I was a bit nervous about eating them hard boiled, fried sunny side up or scrambled. After a few dozen eggs wasted on cake mixes, I realized my ridiculousness and fried up a few. I was forever changed.

There is something special about the eggs. They are fresh of course but without all the modern things done to the poor commercial chickens, there is a distinctive difference in the taste of them. They are the true definition of Organic. Even their appearance is different. The shells are much thicker and the yolk yellower. Scrambled eggs come out the color of sunshine.

My mother called me recently and warned me about a salmonella scare regarding eggs. She didn’t realize our eggs are salmonella- proof.  There is no way our eggs could have ANYTHING other than goodness.

During warm evenings, Jim lets the chickens out of their coop to run around the yard, scratch and eat bugs. Our trusty yellow lab Ms. Jordan guards them with a sharp eye, her motivation being her daily treat of a delicious egg. Letting the chickens run around the yard like this used to be another source of  annoyance, but “the girls” (nickname for the chickens) have won me over.

As you can see by the pictures, we don’t have the run of the mill white chickens. We have Araucanas and Buff Orpingtons. Their eggs are a beautiful soft green and light brown color. It’s convenient for Easter as we will probably just hard boil them!

If you have a bit of space in your back yard, the motivation and a good chicken book or mentor, there’s no reason you can’t have your own chickens. Just remember to make the coop very secure or intruders like raccoons, possums or foxes will make a delicacy of your chickens.

I have to admit, there is something about being able to live off your own land that makes life a bit more meaningful. When we plant our garden in the summer and have abundant vegetables, I remind myself how lucky we are to be able to grow and provide food for ourselves.  Jim’s newest hobby is bees and he’s put in a couple of hives. I can taste the honey already. I’ll bring you around again when I’m ready for that story.

A big thank you to my daughter Michelene Cain, for these beautiful pictures!

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