Category Archives: Family and friends

To Every Thing There is a Season

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Everyone has gone to bed and, as I sit in the darkness with my laptop while listening to the wind outside my window, thoughts swirl in my head.

There are many who are sad this Thanksgiving.

At Bearing Drift we lost Rick Sincere last week, one of our writers and our on-air radio personality. We are all still in shock over that unexpected and sudden loss. In Utah, a childhood friend lost his wife last week, a youthful mother, friend, sibling, daughter.

What sadness in those two families as we plunge into the holidays.

Yesterday more bad news hit when word spread that the body of Dr. Mark Robbins, an avid cyclist, hiker, marathoner, and all around outdoorsman who had been a pulmonologist at UVa Hospital, Augusta Health, and Rockingham Memorial, had been found in the Rivana Reservoir in Charlottesville. That stunning news of a beloved physician’s death has rocked everyone back on their heels. Mark’s wife and three sons now face the chasm caused by his passing.

Then last night came word that the 23-year-old son of a local family had taken his life leaving yet another family shattered right here at the holidays.

Each of these deaths has left a hole in the lives of those left behind — a hole filled with emptiness, sadness, loneliness….

Pastor John Pavlovitz reminds us, “Everyone around you is grieving. Go easy.”

This week we know of four families whose lives have been devastated. It’s going to be a long, sad holiday season for them. My heart hurts for them all….

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. -Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (KJV)

Mr. Rogers Visits a Cinema Near You

George W. Bush 8 w Fred Rogers

Mr. Fred Rogers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award from President George W. Bush. July 9, 2002. (Official White House photo)

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” –Fred Rogers

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the movie about the children’s television host Fred Rogers starring Tom Hanks, was released yesterday. It is at the top of my must-see list and I’m hoping to get to the theater over Thanksgiving weekend to catch Mr. Hanks’ performance.

A description of the movie in a nutshell notes, “A journalist’s life is enriched by friendship when he takes on an assignment profiling Fred Rogers. Based on the real-life friendship between journalist Tom Junod and television star Fred Rogers.”

Wikipedia adds, “Notable cameos in the film include Rogers’ wife Joanne, Mr. McFeely actor David Newell, Family Communications head Bill Isler, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood producer Margy Whitmer, who appear as customers in a restaurant that Rogers and Lloyd meet in; Fred Rogers makes an uncredited appearance in archive footage of his show during the ending credits, singing the song “You’ve Got To Do It.”

It appeals to me that they took up the telling of the story through the cynical eyes of the Esquire journalist who would become Fred Rogers’ friend.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” —Fred Rogers

My children watched Mr. Rogers when they were young. It was his gentle nature that was particularly intriguing to very little ones who had not entered the world of video games and were drawn to the simplicity of the show with the hand puppets, choo-choo train, and the gentle nature of the man in the sweater. Some might say it was milquetoast. Not to our little toddlers.

And not to this mom.

I truly believe I have come to appreciate Mr. Rogers more the older I become. In an ever increasing political world, I need his kindness, his humble nature, and his quiet ways of teaching goodness.

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.” —Fred Rogers

If you’re worried that a movie about Mr. Rogers could be boring, the reviews have been good, and the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 96 percent rating. Not bad for a pastor who hosted a children’s television show.

Here are a handful of reviews….

“The movie bets on goodness, and wins.” Full review. Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“Many a movie will make you laugh or cry or think. But very few make you want to be a better person.” Full review. Paul Asay, Plugged In

“This drama is a poignant, powerful tribute to the man who’s embodied kindness and love to children and adults for four decades, thanks to Hanks’ fabulous performance.” Full review. Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media

“If most viewers consider it a no-brainer that Hollywood’s nicest actor, for whom wholesomeness is a brand, would play Mr. Rogers, they’d be mistaken to think his performance is technically easy.” Full review. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Loss, Friends, and Life

dscn6522-2A childhood RVA friend — church, school — lost his wife last night. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain he and his family are going through today. A wife, mom, daughter, sibling … still young and vibrant … gone, and a family brokenhearted.

It’s interesting how Facebook brings people’s lives across our computer screens. It has helped me reconnect with many classmates and childhood friends. Every day I see people celebrating or grieving, or building new houses or welcoming new grandchildren.

But today struck me a bit differently. Another high school classmate who has never married has found love after reconnecting with a longtime friend. He is happy and seeing life through new lenses.

Today I saw his joy and my other friend’s heartache. It’s ironic how Facebook’s window into everyone’s lives brought together the good and the bad on the same day. I passed along my condolences to one and am so very happy for the other.

Earlier this week a colleague at Bearing Drift died in his sleep. I learned of his passing on Facebook through his sister who posted the sad news. It was totally unexpected and left everyone in shock; at Bearing Drift we have a hole in our little online family.

Never miss a chance for those you care about to know it. We may not have a second chance….

Holiday Prep

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The porch still looks like autumn while inside we are working on Christmas.

The holidays are temporarily colliding at our house.

“A little to the right,” I said as Mr. Mitchell held the Christmas tree in place. He adjusted, I cocked my head to eyeball it again, and gave the thumbs up. Perfect! Its spot in the living room had been secured.

Does it seem early to be decorating for the holiday season? Not at my house. We have so much going on that it’s imperative we be finished by Thanksgiving. After that, between entertaining at home and taking part in area activities, we don’t want our time spent decorating the house. I plan to play!

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An autumn field in the beautiful mountains of Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

This year is the shortest amount of time between Turkey Day and Christmas — four fleeting weeks — so they will be jammed even more than usual. I intend to enjoy them. This is, after all, my favorite time of year.

So the weekend has been busy with spring-cleaning-for-winter, washing curtains and bedding, finishing up yard maintenance, and storing away outdoor furniture. This week we will hang white twinkly lights on the porches and trees, taking advantage of our fingers actually being flexible enough in the warmer temps. Trust me, I’ve had those years stringing lights in frigid temps with frozen fingers and it certainly drains the fun out of it! Brrr!

This fall we had new counter tops installed in the kitchen and additional cabinets added to a bare wall so I’m still working on organizing and moving pans, dishes, and everything else in the kitchen to new storage spots. That’s been a chore but I’m certainly looking forward to the extra counter space during baking season. Bring on the gingerbread men, fudge, and toffee!

Autumn 10 Bill, Matt 2019

Mr. Mitchell had a helping hand from our son when he cut down a worrisome tree in the yard.

Oh, and Mr. Mitchell revved up his chainsaw and downed a bothersome tree this past week that will provide much firewood but also has more limbs than Jack’s bean stalk so clean-up has been ongoing.

Did I mention it’s been a busy week? And that Christmas tree we straightened up so carefully? It’s still waiting for yours truly to string the lights before we can dive into the ornament box. ‘Tis the season … ho ho ho!

The holidays are on their way to the Shenandoah Valley….

Seasons

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Mom and her girls — my two sisters and me — in 2015 taking niece Em back to the University of Virginia after winter break.

Virginia’s November elections are over and we are hurtling into the holiday season. This morning there’s much to do but I’m also reflecting on the past year and all there is ahead.

I lost my mother this year. While I haven’t talked or written much about it, going into the holidays will be the continuation of all those “firsts” that everyone experiences after someone dies. Since Mom’s passing in July, we have experienced the first Labor Day (we used to go to my Aunt Ruth’s Northern Neck house on the river when she was alive) … first autumn (my mom and dad married on October 23 in 1948 so the season reminds me of the two of them in their youth) … first Halloween (Mom and my step-dad dressed up one year and showed up at a party Mr. Mitchell and I were having at our house in Midlothian) … and even Election Day (Mom used to put out yard signs all over Midlothian and Salisbury, stumping for her chosen candidates).

Now we’re coming up on the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s without her.

On this chilly and overcast Saturday morning, it’s somewhat dreary outside the window, and inside my head. It’s still hard to believe she’s gone. I’ll put on some music — music always soothes me — and go about my day.

As the seasons pass, we check off one more “first” of not having Mom here….

Back in the Homeschool Classroom … Rainy Days

6d7a7-schoolbooksWith rain pouring down outside my window in the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains hidden behind fog and low clouds … dark and dreary but cozy and bright inside … my mind wandered back to rainy days when my kids were little. A drippy day was the perfect time to build a blanket house. Some people call it a fort. Either way, it made hours of fun for little ones who couldn’t go outside and play.

It wasn’t a new idea to me. When my sister and I were young, our mom would take the ladder-back dining room chairs and spread blankets over them to make us a blanket house. We spent hours playing inside, arranging the interior, napping, tending our baby dolls, and whatever else little girls do to entertain themselves by setting up housekeeping under a sagging blanket ceiling.

So when I had children of my own, the memory of those rainy days gave me the idea that my kids would probably like doing the same. And they did.

I would set up a card table and some dining room chairs in the middle of the living room floor. Then with the help of blankets gathered from the bedrooms, the kids and I would drape them over the chairs and table to make a roof and walls, and leave an opening for a door.

The kids would help, so excited they couldn’t stand still. Once the “house” was ready, off they would fly to their bedrooms to gather favorite stuffed animals and books. Katy would usually also be toting a favorite doll baby; Matt would have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

While they were gone, I covered the “floor” of the house with a blanket or quilt, then added a couple of extra blankets or sheets inside along with pillows snatched from the beds. By that time the kids were back with their treasures. Giggling and wiggling, in the door they crawled as they each made a nest from pillows and blankets, and after a fair amount of time arranging to get the house all set up, they settled in.

And that was where they would spend most of the rest of the day. It was something that was done only on some rainy days so the always-new experience kept them interested and satisfied. Sometimes a request was called out through the door for a board game which I delivered, and they would play Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, or Trouble, and as I headed into another area of the house, I could hear their muffled voices and giggles as they rearranged or made plans, or the pop of the Trouble popper and dice.

Afternoon naps took place in the house as each child curled up with a book and then drifted off as rain beat against the nearby windows. Lunch was served in the blanket house which was much like a picnic. Sometimes I would plop down on the floor and join them for lunch; other times I would enjoy some much-needed mom time for cleaning or cooking or even lesson plans once they were in school.

It’s so dreary today that I would love to have little squirmy ones around to make a blanket house, snuggle in together with a book, and then nap. The fun of littles … it’s too bad we’re so busy at the time it happens to truly enjoy it as much as we should.

Memories….

—–
Lynn Mitchell educated her children at home for 16 years and was part of leadership in North Carolina’s Iredell County Home Educators (ICHE) and Virginia’s Parent Educators of Augusta County Homes (PEACH). Her son graduated from Harrisonburg’s James Madison University (JMU) in 2007 with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Creative Writing. Her daughter graduated from Staunton’s Mary Baldwin College in 2012 with a BS in Sustainable Business and Marketing. Lynn and her husband live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Other titles in the “Back in the homeschool classroom” series by Lynn R. Mitchell:

– Reading out loud to our children (July 2015)
– Did Terry McAuliffe understand the ‘Tebow Bill’ he vetoed? (April 2015)
– The Virginian-Pilot is wrong about homeschool sports ‘entitlement’ (February 2015)
– ’50 reasons homeschooled kids love being homeschooled’ (November 2014)
– Grown son’s first home (April 2014)
– Support group vs Co-op (February 2014)
– Where it all began … blazing new trails (January 2013)
– Grown son’s first home (July 2013)
– Staying in touch with homeschool friends (July 2013)
– New Year’s Eve (December 2012)
– More sleep = homeschoolers happier, healthier than public school students? (April 2013)
– Using Shenandoah National Park as your classroom (March 2013)
– Rainy days (May 2013)
– A chance encounter (June 2013)
– Autumn (October 2012)
– The rain rain rain came down down down (April 2012)
– Why we teach our own (April 2012)
– Casey (April 2012)
– The wedding … letting go (September 2012)
– The pain of grief (August 2012)
– When faced with a challenge … no whining (April 2012)
– The simple wisdom of Winnie the Pooh (August 2012)
– First day of school (September 2012)
– The rise of homeschooling (February 2012)
– Hot summer days (July 2011)
– Constitutional lessons and the Judicial branch of government (March 2012)
– Mary Baldwin commencement 2012 … SWAC Daughter graduates with honors (May 2012)

A Little Girl Named Katy

1 Wearing Pappaw’s hat – age 3.

Happy Birthday to my sweet girl!

In 1987, October 3rd was a Saturday, and just as it does every year, today has opened a flood gate of memories that take me back to that time in our lives.

It had been warm that fall in Iredell County, NC — typical for our western Carolina location — but a cold front was expected to pass through on Friday night, October 2, that would significantly cool down our area located at the base of the Brushy Mountains, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even though I was nine months pregnant, we were preparing to attend the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival on Saturday just as we did every year, located thirty minutes away in North Wilkesboro.

The expected cold front came through that Friday night, and Saturday was overcast and cool, but instead of attending the festival, we began the day with the newest member of our little family — Katy. Three-year-old Matt was at the hospital with us, napping in my room and watching Saturday morning cartoons as he waited to find out if he had a baby brother or sister.

We had two names picked out: Katelyn for a girl, and Andrew for a boy. We got our Katelyn and her dad promptly wrote “Katy” on the name card located in her nursery bassinet.

Katy & Colin at Millie's wedding 2011Katy and Colin

Katy & Matt Braves 9-10Katy and older brother Matt at Atlanta Braves game in D.C.

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Katy and Colin on their wedding day at House Mountain Inn, Lexington, Va.

Katy & sheepBonding with a Highland County sheep.

Katy and Colin 1 year anniversaryAt the beach house in Florida

Katy and Colin at VaTechVirginia Tech game

Katy at Nags HeadOBX

Katy and Emily

Toes in the James River, RVA.

Katy MBC photo 2011My sweet Mary Baldwin College (now University) girl.

Beach 2 Katy, Emily 063Cousins Emily and Katy at the beach house on the Gulf.

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From that day on, our family was complete. Katy and Matt formed a sibling friendship that continues to this day. Ever the big brother, he was helpful with her from the beginning, and she gravitated to him before she could walk.

Homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade, she graduated from Mary Baldwin with honors, and then married in a beautiful ceremony overlooking the mountains of western Virginia, bringing a young man into our family who was loved not just by her but by us.

Today my fun-loving child is a bubbly, organized, and adventuresome young woman who loves the beach and hiking and baking and flowers and autumn, and sheep and cats … and so much more.

She is definitely my traveling child, perhaps best captured by one of her favorite quotes from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Today we celebrate the day a little bundle of love entered our lives and we were blessed with a little girl named Katy.  Love you, Katy Bee!

~~~

If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.” -Winnie the Pooh

Katy Lord 22Sharing a book with Palmer Kitty

Palmer 3Palmer

Katy 2Gatlinburg

Katy 3The cousins … Shenandoah Valley

Katy Lord 4

Humpback Rock

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Katy Lord 7

Katy Lord 8

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Katy Lord 10Studying

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Katy Lord 18Scott Stadium 2009 for U2

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Katy Lord 23The Homestead, Republican Advance, 2009.

Katy Lord 24Katy with cousin Emily, and homeschool childhood friends Amanda, Vicki, Debbie, and Amanda.

Katy, Colin magazine cover

At Duffs’ maple barn during Highland County Maple Festival. The tourism magazine asked to use my pic of Katy and Colin listening to the sugaring process.

IMG_8295 (2)At Mammaw and Pappaw’s house, 2018.

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With Mammaw and Pappaw, September 2018.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

9/11 Remembered at Bearing Drift

9-11-11-flight-93Please join me at BearingDrift.com today as we remember 9/11 with memories of that day from colleagues and friends, and with live-time timeline of the events that unfolded on September 11, 2001.

I will never forget that day. I don’t want to forget that day. #NeverForget

Taking Time to Reflect

Bearing Drift 2Two years ago I took over at the helm of BearingDrift.com as editor-in-chief when Brian Schoeneman stepped aside to pursue other goals. At the same time Shaun Kenney decided to change paths and also left.

Both had been pillars of the site for years, working with others on the board of directors, such as Norm Leahy, who now writes for the Washington Post and Real Clear Investigations, and Scott Lee who was our radio guy. Heading up all those was Bearing Drift founder Jim Hoeft who had retired from his career in the Navy.

When Brian and Shaun decided to leave, it started a bit of an avalanche. Norm relinquished his board position and also left, and that was followed four months later by Jim, who at that time was serving as Bearing Drift’s publisher, and a few months later Scott left “The Score.”

That’s a lot of changes in a short amount of time.

Meanwhile, I had been a writer with Bearing Drift (while also keeping my personal blog) for a number of years, and also photo editor. When asked to step to the top spot, I was hesitant.

At the very time Brian wanted to turn over the reins, my son was getting married and my parents were moving from their home of 40-plus years to an assisted living community because of my mom’s deteriorating health.

In other words, my plate was already full. Taking over Bearing Drift — an operation with 20 writers, a podcast, “The Score,” and other moving parts under the Virginia Line Media (VLM) umbrella — was going to be a chunk of responsibility.

Respected throughout the Commonwealth and beyond, Bearing Drift had been a leader in online writing for over a decade. During the rise of social media, the best and most talented of Virginia’s political writers became part of the Bearing Drift family to express their thoughts candidly and without censorship. And, I will add, without pay.

Shaun noted two years ago, “As print media continues to evolve in an era of digital media, the line between blogger and reporter has blurred to the point where only the medium distinguishes the two.  As other columnists and writers follow in Bearing Drift’s wake, one cannot help but be proud of what Brian and the rest of the VLM board has accomplished on behalf of Virginia’s public square.” I wholeheartedly concur.

Since stepping to the plate in 2017, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster — both personally and professionally. Losing so much of the original talent was a big hit. The board reconfigured with new members … a new editorial board was pulled together … a managing editor was tapped … Bearing Drift’s IT guru remained, thank goodness. New writers were needed to fill the chasm left with the departures of Brian, Shaun, Jim, Norm, and Scott.

I just caught my breath while rereading those five names. What a loss within months of each other. I suppose I’ve never really stopped long enough to think about it … until now.

At about the time all those changes were taking place, Donald Trump came onto the national scene and our writers were not necessarily on board with someone who did not exemplify what our site, defined as Virginia’s conservative voice, had fought and believed in for its entire existence. We watched as he became the Republican nominee and then president.

For many, our voices were silenced. We lost one of our long-time contributors who left the Republican Party. Thankfully, he returned to BD a year later when I asked if he would bring his voice and opinions back to the table so we could listen to other sides of the issues.

At first, we lost our punch. How do you write when you do not agree with the Republican administration and the 88 percent of the GOP who fell in line behind him?

I have written some criticisms of Trump but to continue on that path was like beating a dead horse. How could I be critical of Democrats when Trump was doing the same or worse? The hypocrisy of trying to carry the conservative banner in the age of Trump was not lost on Bearing Drift’s writers.

So the past two years have been a challenge on a number of levels.

For all the ups and downs with my mom, who passed away last month, Bearing Drift has been my safe haven in the storm. Working with and recruiting writers, editing, and keeping the site updated has become a mark of normalcy.

Although writing has always been cathartic for me, I’ve not had time to do much personal writing since taking over at Bearing Drift. My writing these days is mostly political and technical and, even at that, much of my time is spent on the managing side of the desk.

VLM has been a leader in bringing activist-driven conservative news and commentary to Virginia. That tradition continues. I’m proud to be part of our group of volunteers who continue to hold an honest discussion in today’s political arena.

I need to write. That’s why I keep LynnRMitchell.com for the thoughts that are more personal and less political. I need to visit here more often….

Mom … August 5, 1927-July 18, 2019

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It’s taken a while to get around to posting this on my blog although I shared it with my Facebook friends the night of my mother’s passing on July 18….

In memory of my mom, Eula Osborne Randall Lucy — August 5, 1927-July 18, 2019. ❤️

Mom passed away early Thursday morning from the effects of congestive heart failure, an illness that had slowly taken its toll the past 18 months. She would have been 92 on August 5.

If you ever met her, you know she was one of a kind.

She was a career woman as my two sisters and I were growing up, smashing through the glass ceiling for women in Richmond’s moving and storage business during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. She was their first successful sales woman in RVA, the first woman in Virginia to become a “Certified Moving Consultant,” and the first female in the history of Allied Van Lines to be elected as a Nationwide Roundtable Chairman.

During those years she was a member of several business clubs, and served on the boards of the Sales & Marketing Club and the Export-Import Club. Her successes demonstrated to we girls that glass ceilings for women could be smashed and we could do whatever we chose as long as we worked hard.

Mom was very involved for years as a volunteer with the Chesterfield County Republican Committee until her health prevented her from bushwhacking around Midlothian, with Cal at the wheel driving her from home to home, pushing yard signs into the ground and advocating for her chosen candidate.

She loved Congressman Eric Cantor, attended his events around the 7th District, and served as his representative on the Silver Haired Congress to advocate senior rights and benefits.

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling was another favorite, and my parents appeared in one of his campaign ads. She is pictured with Governor Bob McDonnell whom she supported and solicited yard sign locations from friends, acquaintances, and strangers in her Salisbury neighborhood. Governor/Senator George Allen and Susan Allen, Governor Jim Gilmore, as well as Del. Manoli Loupassi, were others that she respected and worked to elect.

She was active in the days when Senator John Warner was chosen to run after GOP nominee Dick Obenshain was killed in a 1978 airplane crash. She met Warner’s wife Liz Taylor; she worked meet-and-greets and GOP women’s teas. My parents hosted events at their home.

Her great love, however, was President George W. Bush. Through my sister Gail who worked for him, she met Governor Bush in Austin and then again in the Oval Office. Pictures of President Bush with members of our family hang on the walls of my parents’ home.

So many memories, not enough space to share … perhaps when my thoughts settle I will write a piece about having a woman business pioneer as a mother. It was quite the ride!

I still find it difficult to believe she’s gone. We were expecting it and, yet, we weren’t. Not at that time. Not that soon. The hospice nurse had mentioned Labor Day so in my mind I had already decided she would be around until then.

Her memorial service was last week, a remembrance of a strong and independent woman who worked in a man’s world. All four grandchildren had readings, and my sister Gail gave the eulogy which caused laughter in the church. We were grateful to the many who came out, something I shared on Facebook:

THANK YOU. Words cannot express our family’s gratitude to those who supported us with their presence Friday at Mom’s memorial service. It was truly a celebration of a long life filled with family, a fair share of trials and tribulations, triumphs, adventures, and laughter.

Joining us in the sanctuary were family members along with our parents’ friends, church family, neighbors … and then there were childhood friends of my sisters and me (some had been part of the Bon Air Baptist youth group back in the day), neighbors, and political friends.

Friday night we three sisters sat together on the couch, reminiscing as we flipped through old photo albums and laughing over memories. Meanwhile, in the dining room, our kids were perched around the table animatedly playing board games. Peals of laughter regularly rang out during the evening until well past midnight. It was a time for family, some who are scattered good distances beyond Richmond, to enjoy that brief moment in time before returning to our busy lives.

Thank you to those who reached out in other ways with flowers, food, personal notes and cards, helping wherever needed, and checking to be sure our step-father, Cal, was okay. Pastor Bob Lee and Pastor Rod Hale anchored the service while sister Gail added laughter with her eulogy. Readings from the four grandchildren as well as a duet of “In the Garden” from our cousin Sharon and her husband Don rounded it out.

Years ago when our dad died, we girls were 22, 20, and 13. Now Mom has passed and we are … well, let’s just say we’re considerably older. The World War II parents are quickly leaving and the mantle for preserving family memories is passed on to the next generation. Life goes on….

American author Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty, well-preserved body; but rather a journey into God’s arms, skidding in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘WOW! What a ride!’ ”

That, in a nutshell, was Eula. 

Mom was the youngest and last survivor of 10 children who lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and saw women step from the shadows into the spotlight of leadership – a life worth celebrating.

A son … ‘daring and loving and strong and kind’

??????????“I have a son, who is my heart. A wonderful young man, daring and loving and strong and kind.” — Maya Angelou

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Matt! I have to indulge a bit today since it’s my son’s birthday.

In this picture he was four years old as he held his six-month-old sister. He was my little buddy who arrived three weeks early on a February day … a cheerful first born of a first born of a first born who was the first grandchild and only grandson.

Thoughtful and introspective, and a source of joy since the day he arrived, this tiny six-pound baby became a little blond curly-headed boy who loved baseball and soccer, and grew into a kind, loving, industrious young man who is now almost six feet tall.

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A Valentine’s Day Message To My Children

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A Valentine for my children…

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together … there is something you must always remember.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart … I’ll always be with you.”

— Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

Forgotten Cookies … a Christmas Favorite

A new batch of Forgotten Cookies is in the oven for their overnight sleep which reminded me of this post originally published in December 2008. In the morning we will open the oven and find another Christmas favorite. Shhh … cookies sleeping.

Special memories of the children I worked with at Richmond Children’s Hospital come to mind when baking Forgotten Cookies, a recipe that was passed along by a nurse who worked with me at that hospital years ago.

At Christmas, all the staff members brought goodies to share as we went about our work, and one year she brought these yummy meringue cookies that had an almond flavor with pecans and chocolate chips inside. They melted in your mouth.

When I asked what they were, she said they were called Forgotten Cookies because you put them in the oven at night, turn off the oven … and forget them until the next morning. They are favorites of family and friends, and are gluten free for those on special diets. Enjoy!

Forgotten Cookies

2 egg whites (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add flavorings; mix well. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonsful onto aluminum foil-lined cookie sheets coated with non-stick spray. Place in a 350-degree oven; immediately turn off oven. Let stand 8-10 hours or overnight. (Do not open oven.) Store in airtight container.

Yield: 5 dozen

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Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Christmas Fudge


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It’s that time of year to enjoy the season with family and decorations and cookie baking and candy making and everything else that goes with the holidays. Last week I made the first batch of fudge for a gathering of colleagues and thought I’d share it for anyone who wants to make their own. It’s one of the easiest of the candies I make.

The recipe was passed along by a dear, dear friend many years ago and, though she is no longer with us, I think of her every time I make up a batch of this Christmas fudge that leaves the house smelling like a chocolate factory. Enjoy!

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Here’s what you’ll need: 3 12-ounce packages chocolate chips; 1/2 pound butter, softened (2 sticks); 3 Tablespoons vanilla; 4 1/2 cups sugar; 1 13-oz can evaporated milk. The complete recipe is at the end of this post. Here are step-by-step photos from today.

fudge-2Put chocolate chips, butter, and vanilla in large bowl. Set aside. (Optional: This is the point where two cups of chopped pecans are added, if wanted.)

fudge-3In at large saucepan, combine sugar and evaporated milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and continue cooking for 10 minutes, adjusting heat to keep it at a rolling boil.

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Remove from stove and pour over chocolate chips, stirring until chips and butter are melted and well mixed.

fudge-8Pour into lightly greased pan and quickly spread it evenly.

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fudge-11Let it set five or six hours, then cut into squares and store in air-tight container. Yield: 5 pounds.

Fudge

3 12-ounce packages chocolate chips
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
3 Tablespoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 13-ounce can evaporated milk

In a large bowl, put chocolate chips, butter, and vanilla, and set aside. In large saucepan, combine sugar and evaporated milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove from stove and pour over chocolate chips. Stir until chips and butter are melted and well mixed. Pour into lightly greased pan and let it set 5-6 hours. Cut into squares.

Yield: 5 pounds

Options: Add 2 cups chopped pecans, maraschino cherries, or both, or be creative with other add-ins.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Wreaths Across America … Remembering America’s Fallen Heroes

Staunton National Cemetery (photo by Lynn R. Mitchell)

If you drive by a military cemetery today and see headstones decorated with fresh, handmade balsam Christmas wreaths accented with bright red bows, you will have witnessed the work of Wreaths Across America.

Across the nation and around the world, thousands of volunteers are continuing the twenty-six-year tradition that began in 1992 with 4,000 excess wreaths donated by Morrill Worcester, a tradition that continues each December. Hundreds of thousands of wreaths are reverently placed on military graves as a remembrance of those who sacrificed for our freedom.

Mr. Worcester’s quiet donation all those years ago of 4,000 wreaths for Arlington Cemetery has become an annual gift of love from this Maine wreath maker who recognized that freedom is not free. Because of his generosity and desire to remember those who sacrificed, he started a tradition that was fairly obscure for 12 years until a photo hit the internet in 2005 showing the Christmas wreaths on Arlington’s snow-covered graves.

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This is the 2005 photo that went viral and showed America how a local wreath company was quietly honoring our heroes.

As the photo circulated and spread the Worcester story, an anonymous person added a caption: “Rest easy, sleep well, my brothers. Know the line has held, your job is done. Rest easy, sleep well. Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held. Peace, peace, and farewell.”

Word spread quickly and wreath requests poured in for other military cemeteries around the country which led Mr. Worcester and his family to establish the non-profit Wreaths Across America with a mission to remember, honor, and teach.

What would drive this 65-year-old owner of the largest wreath producing company in the world to give away thousands of wreaths for the past 26 years?

Mr. Worcester recalled that when he was a 12-year-old newspaper carrier, he won a Bangor Daily News subscription-selling contest that sent him to the Nation’s Capital. The lines of white stones in Arlington Cemetery made an impression on him that never left.

Years later, Christmas 1992, the successful businessman’s Worcester Wreath Company had 4,000 surplus wreaths late in the season and nothing to do with them. Grateful that his success was due in large part to the sacrifice of American troops, and remembering the rows of white tombstones, he put in a call to his congressman and secured permission from Arlington Cemetery.

With a handful of volunteers, they drove a truck load of wreaths to Arlington and spent the next six hours distributing them on graves, a tradition continued quietly for years by a man who did not seek publicity. The 2005 photo changed all that and sealed his destiny.

Today thousands of volunteers will lay wreaths at American military cemeteries around the world. National Cemetery in Staunton has been a recipient for a number of years.

On each wreath will be a tag that reads: “Through the generosity and actions of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, this wreath is donated and placed on the grave of a True American Hero. Wreaths Across America … we make it our business to NEVER FORGET.”

It’s once again a reminder that freedom is not free … and a reminder that Americans have not forgotten their fallen heroes. That is the legacy of Morrill Worcester and his Maine balsam Christmas wreaths.

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

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