January 24, 2010

Year starting on a sad note

Well, the new year is starting off with sadness for quite a few folks here in Nockamixon.

First, Blogamixon sends healing energy to the family of Palisades student Aaron Ethier, age 15, who died on Saturday, January 9th. He was the son of Ann Ethier and the late Kenneth Ethier, and lived with his mom in Coopersburg. He attended an Intermediate Unit Class at the Quakertown Freshman Center, and was a member of Trinity United Church of Chrits in Pleasant Valley.

Aaron was preceded in death by his brother, Ryan. Gentle thoughts go out to Aaron's mom, his brother, Kerry, and the rest of their family at this sad time. I can't help thinking Aaron will be especially missed by his beloved dog, Daisy, who won't understand why she never sees him anymore.

If you knew Aaron or his family members, you can write in his online guest books at Legacy or Fox 8.

Memorial contributions can be made in Aaron's name to LifePath, Inc., 2 Life Mark Dr. Sellersville PA 18960.

Photo courtesy MorningCall.com

Next, something none of us ever wants to go through:

On Thursday the 21st, right around lunchtime, I was typing away at my computer as usual, when I looked out to see a column of black smoke rising high into the sky. Last time I saw that, it was an apartment complex in Riegelsville. This time, it was the the home of Ed and Debbie Litzenberger on fire in the 2000 block of Berger Road, Kintnersville.http://www.mcall.com/photos/all-2fire-012110-eeo-pictures,0,5666101.photogallery

Firefighters from companies as far away as Dublin worked to extinguish the fire, but it was too late: the family lost everything. Anyone who's lived in Nockamixon for even a short time knows the Litzenberger family has always been there when our community has needed help over the years. Now they need our help. 

A collection has been started for donations to the Litzenberger family. They need everything from household items such as furniture, towels, clothes, food, appliances, to anything you would need on a daily basis in your home. If you would like, you can also make a monetary donation or donate a gift card to Giant, Kohl's, Lowe's, etc. You can drop the items off at the following locations:
  • Jimmy and Sue Keogh: 4264 Durham Road, Ottsville, PA  18942
  • Carl and Kathy Bahnck: 4064 Durham Road, Ottsville, PA  18942
If you have any questions, please feel free to call Jimmy at 610-636-7076 or Carl at 610-476-9854.

We're a small community of sometimes limited means, but we are generous, compassionate people. I know we'll all step up to the plate to care for our own in their time of need.

Photo courtesy Morsels and More

Lastly, Nockamixon said goodbye this week to a 40-year institution in our community. Przyuski's Family Drive-In is no more. Say bye to those cheeseburgers that still came wrapped on their own little paper plates, complete with pickles. Przyuski's was a place to eat, to meet your friends, to gather for a shake and some fries. It was one of a dying breed of family-run drive-ins that flourished in the years after WWII. In recent years, it was the site of Friday night classic car cruise-ins and some busy flea markets. But the appearance of new competitors nearby apparently was just too much, and the little drive-in quietly changed signs a few days ago.

The restaurant contiues to serve, and the sign now sports the name "Friendly's." Don't know the new owners, but sad as we are to see Przyuski's go, we wish them well in this venture. Anyone who's ever worked in food service knows the margins are thin and there's always a new competitor just waiting in the wings. It'll be interesting to see what changes are made in the building, the staff and the menu.

Rose Strong talks about this all more eloquently than I on her blog, Morsels and More (the photo above is hers). I'd just like to say thanks to Stan and crew for all the years of smiles and sundaes. We'll miss you.

January 10, 2010

Good News! Skippy's home!

Regarding Skippy, the lost cocker spaniel, I am VERY happy and relieved to report that Sharon, one of his humans, left a comment saying that he is back at home, safe and sound, apparently not a lot worse for wear.

She said, "He wandered very far away and ended up in a shelter in Northampton County."

That IS a long way for a little, old, deaf dog to travel and still make it in one healthy piece! So someone was watching over Skippy and now he's out of the cold and wind and back where he belongs. Always happy to share good news, which seems all too rare. So, a bit of holiday cheer left over for us to enjoy.

January 4, 2010

A Glance Back Before Moving Forward

Happy New Year, everyone!

Before embarking on the journey that will be the next year and the beginning of a new decade, I felt the need to take a quick glance backward. After all, who really does that much reflection over the holidays? Be honest. I know I don't. I'm too busy visiting and having fun and sampling all the goodies that come with such celebrations. But it's fitting, especially at the end of an entire decade, to take a look behind so we can get a better idea where we're headed.

No, I'm not about to do some huge retrospective. I'll leave that to all the deejays and entertainment media. I'm thinking more close to home, since that's what Blogamixon is all about. And since it's my blog, I'm going to single out just a few things that have been on my mind.

First--because time is of the essence--I'd like to make you all aware that there's a missing dog in our midst. Time is critical because Skippy has already been missing for several days and is an older dog who won't do well exposed to the frigid weather we're now experiencing. Skippy is a blond cocker spaniel, and you'll need to do something visual to get her attention, because she's deaf. She belongs over on Berger Road, so if you see Skippy, please call Sharon at 610-847-5718.

Second, I'd like to remind all our neighbors that we have a true hero in our midst, right in Kintnersville. Her name is Ruth Stonesifer, and she'll be the first to tell you she's no hero. But she is. She's a person who overcame her own significant hardship to help make life a little easier to take for others who are suffering. If that's not a hero, I don't know what is.

After losing her son, Kristofor, 8 years ago when his Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a Pakistani airstrip, Ruth found herself deep in grief. But instead of getting lost inside herself, she turned that grief into action that helps other family members who've lost loved ones in active military duty by joining -- and ultimately becoming president of -- Gold Star Mothers.

Ruth Stonesifer with her son, Kristofor; Ruth's current publicity photo

Ruth runs a website about her son and does a lot of other things, too -- including blogging for the Huffington Post -- but you can check out her website to learn more. And pick up a copy of one of the new Suburban Life magazines to read the story about Ruth written by Brenda Lange for the November issue.

The late Jason Gilligan

Next, I extend my sincere condolences to the family, colleagues and students of Jason Gilligan, who passed away suddenly on November 29. Just 29, Jason taught Driver Ed, Physical Ed and was the head wrestling coach at Palisades High School. It's never easy to lose anyone, but it's always so much harder when the person is at such a young age with a life of such promise ahead. You can read his obituary as long as it stays online.

The thought of these young people's passing is an appropriate lead-in to my final thoughts this evening. On New Year's Day, I needed to get some exercise after a week of holiday lounging and rich holiday food, so I took a walk up the road. I found myself at Ferndale's Union Cemetery, so I decided to spend a little time visiting.

Now, some folks might think this is a strange -- perhaps even a maudlin -- thing to do, especially on a holiday. And I'll admit that at one time, I would have agreed. But I long ago stopped being creeped out by graveyards and started appreciating them for the historical treasures they are. And recently, I've come to also regard them as crucial building blocks of any community.

Historically, cemeteries are highly visible, publicly accessible museums. On display are the records, literally carved in stone, of our shared experiences as community members.

As I walked, I saw a large headstone that carried a woman's name and revealed that she had lived only to the age of 21. On close inspection, I saw that her date of passing was just a week later than that of the birth date listed on a smaller stone for her daughter. The mother had likely died of complications during childbirth. Her little daughter, without her mother, failed to thrive and passed on not much later.

I saw evidence of husbands who had outlived not one, but two or three wives, and vice versa. I tried to straighten the small metal stars and other insignia placed on the graves of those who had served in the military during our country's many wars. It was striking to note that WWI insignia says, simply, "World War." There is no number behind it, because when that symbol was designed, no one ever dreamed that mankind would -- could -- be so foolish as to repeat its aggression just a generation later.

For anyone who cared to notice, there was an abundance of stories, very personal, intimate stories that nevertheless have become part of the shared fabric of our community.

No, cemeteries don't freak me out. I don't see them as scary, spooky or lonely places. In fact, I feel at home among the resting places of those who've gone on before us. These places are more sacred than scary.

They are a repository for our communal memories, vaults for our shared stories. They are reminders of the toil, sweat and sacrifice we as neighbors and friends have made for each other. They symbolize what we've built together for so many, many years. They remind us that our time on earth is short, and that we should make the most of it that we can.

And yes, they wait patiently for the time when perhaps we will join our ancestors beneath their hallowed soil for our own well-deserved sleep. They tell us that there will always be a place for us among our own. There's something quietly comforting to me about that.

Whoever designed Union Cemetery was thinking as much of the future as the present and the past. As I stood on the hill in the sun, with a warm January breeze in my hair, I looked across the wooded valley to where I knew the river flowed on to the ocean. It reminded me that I am part of a sea of humanity that flows forward from the depths of history into the future, always interlinked by blood, sweat and tears.

I looked over the treetops into our neighboring state of New Jersey, marveling at how far I could see, and yet how anchored I feel to this place. I'm not from Nockamixon, but it has become my home. And the designer of this final resting place for so many clearly understood that when the living would come to this place over the years, they would see this same view and be unable to remain impassive to its grandeur and serenity.

So, like those long-ago ancestors of so many of my neighbors, I took in that beautiful vista and felt thankful to my bones that I can call this place home. I appreciated their foresight, and cast my own into a future that, though uncertain, is something I'll continue to share with my friends and neighbors here, making our own history. And that made me smile.

Happy New Year, Nockamixon.