Saturday, July 25, 2009

Forgiving My Father

My father was a Chief Petty Officer (HMC) in the U.S. Navy. He served his country honorably in both World War II and Korea (serving with the Marine Corps.). He was decorated for bravery in Korea. He retired from the Navy after 21 year 6 months.

My father was also an alcoholic...a disease that finally killed him at age 48. His valor and service to his country do not surprise me. When things were tough he managed to stay sober. When thing were good, inevitably, he would fall of the wagon, often spectacularly.

When I was growing up, there was no such thing as "rehab". It wasn't fashionable, or acceptable to have an addiction problem. In fact, my father was probably viewed as just a drunk, not a person who suffered from addiction.

I spent my youth in a state of constant anxiety, worrying about when my dad would get drunk and do something horrible and embarrassing. He was never physically abusive, but certainly got verbally abusive. This behaviour was the polar opposite of how he was when sober. He would do grandiose things like buy me a car for my 16th birthday with a bad check? My mother made that right somehow...didn't she always?

He wasn't at my first communion, my confirmation, my high school graduation, my college graduation, my wedding or at the birth of his one and only grandchild. I grew us with such resentment and hate for my father that it ate me alive and probably ruined almost all of the relationships that I had with men when I became an adult. It has always been so hard for me to trust or to lean on anyone else. I guess I was always afraid that I would lean and no one would be there. I remember when my Mother called me to tell me that my father had died. I replied "Good". And, that's the way I felt for years and years and years.

Now that I am in the autumn of my life, I have begun to remember the good things about my father. He was smart and handsome. He had a lovely singing voice that reminded me a bit of Bing Crosby's voice. He had a great sense of humor. He nicknamed my sister and I "Frosty Joe" and "Eski Moe" because he claimed we were always in the fridge. I was Frosty my sister, Kitty was Eski. He would even write those names on our lunch bags for school. When we lived in Carlsbad, CA back in the day, he built a nine-hole miniature gold course in our avocado orchard. He taught me to play golf. He attempted to teach me to drive, although that didn't go so well. He loved me. He tried. He was human and he failed.

I have found photos of the last ship he served on, U.S.S. Lloyd Thomas. A photo of my father as a young Petty Officer in his uniform. A photo of him in San Diego, taken probably right around the time I was born. And, a photo of my father and his brother in their uniforms. My dad in his Navy uni and my uncle in his Army uni.

It has been difficult to forgive him. I feel like I owe so many people an apology for my inability to let my defenses down. My lack of warmth and intimacy surely hurt many. My husband, Jimmy, has certainly paid the price and I can never repay him for loving me in spite of it all.

So, Daddy, I forgive you and just as important, I am trying hard to forgive myself.

Rest in peace.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Neighbors...Finally

Boy, have I been gone a long time. Just where the heck does the time go? The new development "The Falls & St. Peter's" finally has a resident family. I met two charming little girls and "Bitsy", a miniature dachshund. We were beginning to think that they were never going to sell any houses. It's nice to actually see someone living up there.

I walk that way every day. I've promised Bitsy that I will bring Milk Bones every time I come by. She seemed quite interested. The girls thought the idea was cool!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A 19th Century Village in a 21st Century World

St. Peter's Village is a 19th Century village that grew up to provide housing for workers who were employed at the nearby granite quarry and granite works. The shops that once provided necessities to the inhabitants have now become little, touristy shops. There are about 10 of the original homes in the village, ours being the only twin or duplex. There are some apartments over the shops and a small apartment complex attached to the post office. The total population of the village is under 100 people.

The quarry finally gave up the ghost in 1972. The village is wholly owned by Mike Piazza's father. There is a new development being built in the hills behind our house that is comprised of a group of town homes beginning in the low $300s and single homes beginning in the low $600s. Not everyone is happy about the change, but my husband and I truly believe that without new blood and a bit of development the village will eventually die... and that would be a shame.

The village is built at the Falls of the French Creek and sits in a little valley. The west side of the creek is State game lands so it cannot be developed. It seems to us that this one development is all that there is really room for and should help bring so amenities to the village that will be welcome.

Presently we have to pick up our mail at the post office every day. It may sound quaint, but it is a pain in the butt! The village is also a cell phone dead zone. Whaddya wanna bet that we get a cell tower somewhere? As long as it is tucked into the trees, it would be very welcome. Not that we have crime here, but kids come to the creek for whatever it is that kids do in the woods, and speed on the one and only road through the village. You never see a cop! Hopefully that will change too.

In the meantime, the trees are beginning to change color and some leaves have even started to fall. The squirrels and chipmunks are preparing for winter and we haven't seen our resident ground hog in days. So through the cycle of the seasons, this quaint little village moves along. Hopefully, the new people will respect its past and add diversity and flavor to our little piece of paradise.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What a Heat Wave!

Well, we are just coming out of a six-day heat wave. Heat and humidity for six days straight. With the air on constantly and no windows open you begin to feel like your are in SuperMax!

Quite a storm last night. Not as dramatic as some perhaps, but a ton of rain. Today is much cooler, if still a tad humid. All the windows are open with a nice breeze coming in. The stream is gurgling away with a musical sound that we just love. Hopefully, no more extreme heat for awhile. It just gets to be too much.

Since most of the village stores are only open Thursday through Sunday the break in the H&H will be welcome to the shop owners for sure. The only folks who are probably not thrilled that the heat has abated are the kids at the swimming hole.

Next, post...history of the village with lots of photos.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Ole Swimming Hole

French Creek runs right through St. Peter's Village. It dances and cascades over huge rocks and bolders on its downhill journey. For the young and agile, climbing, jumping, scrambling, running and bounding over the rocks is great fun. I did it once and almost crippled myself. If you are up to it and can make it, there is an old fashioned swimming hole where youngsters can still swim and frolic. On hot summer days there is a parade of teenagers past our house on the way to swim. It's a scene that has an almost "Mayberry" quality about it. All that is missing is Opie and his fishing pole!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In the Garden

Our backyard is bounded by a stream on one side and thick woods in the back. We have tons of birds, bunnies, chipmunks and squirrels. We haven't seen deer yet, but we believe that all the construction up in the hills behind us has probably frightened them away.

We have lilies that bloom in June. There are tiny wild strawberries and little, yellow, star-like flowers. We have window boxes on the house and on the shed planted with crawling petunias.

The view out the back is so lovely and peaceful. Here are some photos to give you a flavor of the yard.

In a day or so, we will take our usual walk and will post photos of flowers and fauna encountered along the way.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Our Little Yellow House in St. Pete's

This is our little yellow house in St. Peter's Village. It's a twin and the door on the left is ours.

The first time we saw the inside of the house it took a bit of imagination to visualize what it would look like. The painters were still at it. The bathroom was being renovated. The kitchen was acquiring a brand new floor. Upstairs, the front bedroom had a big hole in the ceiling. The basement was like something out of an old Vincent Price movie...very scary indeed! The attic was hot, stuffy and still full of weird stuff. Yet, under it all, we could see the charm. Of course, the location was nearly perfect. Ah, the peace and quiet of country life in a quaint, century old village!

We have a lovely stream that runs down the side of the property. That's the view in the first photo above. There are woods in the back of the yard. We have a burn pit (which we never use) and a little brick patio that has seen better days. There are wild flowers, day lilies and scads of birds. I have seen birds in our yard that I have never seen ones, red ones, yellow ones and on and on.

Now that summer is here, we have added petunias to the window boxes and a decorative house flag graces the front. The yard is cleaned up, the fireplace in good order, the basement a lot less scary (although I hate going down there) and the hole in the ceiling in the bedroom is now a nice vent. Our furniture looks great and the house is cozy and comfortable. Who could ask for more?

...oh, the peace and quiet of country living! Bulldozers, jack hammers, dump trucks, explosions, banging and clanging all day long, five days a week. They are building an upscale subdivision on the hills behind our house! Across the street, there's an old red structure (like a barn) that is being gutted and renovated. There are piles of dirt and debris piled up nearly across the street from our house. Had we only known! Oh well, this too will pass.

We are happy, you get used to the noise and it is still very beautiful here. Our two cats, Buddy & JB, love sitting at the sliding screen door in the laundry room watching the birds, squirrels and chipmunks in the yard.

Someday the houses will be built, the barn renovated, the pile of dirt will go away. The Village will begin to prosper because of the new people and maybe we will even get mail delivery! And, a cell tower??? St. Peter's is a dead zone...who knew?