“Love From The Start”

From the pen and perspective of Darlene Liepke:

When I was small, my world how it changed
with just a grandma, I took her name
she kept me with her both night and day
lived in her house, I was there to stay
our house seemed so big, I had my own bed
a beautiful table where she kept me well fed
I didn’t know about a family of three, a mom, a dad, and a little girl… me
But gramma had love for a family of ten
these things I remember from way back then
she let me be spunky, she let me be free
I wrote on the walls, she let me be me
and her friends became family, helped with their hearts
made me one person, from all their parts
I became a grownup way too fast, learned things aren’t fair, learned things don’t last
but the one thing I take with me day after day is that families are different
in so many ways, it’s a mixture of laughs and tears streaming slow
teaching you things from your greats long ago
when I tuck my children tight in bed, hug them, and kiss them on the top of their head,
I will always remember what was placed in my heart,
family is love right from the start

– Darlene Liepke

Beyond The Pavement, Feelin’ Right At Home

The Place Where We Belong

Central New York’s Leatherstocking Country is one of the most beautiful places to live in the world; a statement I have consistently heard from hundreds of people I know who have traveled to almost every country there is.

Within the boundaries of the five counties that make up this sublime chunk of American soil, lies a world filled with exceptional people, places, and things of great significance and deep historical value; and it’s only a stone’s throw away. (Writers aren’t supposed to use clichés, but I didn’t have the time to make up a better one).

Time has moved on, but the villages are still colored with a golden glow, shaded with elms, framed with woods, lakes, ponds, and streams, and they haven’t changed a bit. There are backcountry roads and covered bridges, which will lead you across plowed fields, battlefields, down hidden scenic paths, and hiking trails that will coax you along to places yet to be discovered. The call of Mother Nature still rings out to each and every one of us loud and clear; her voice echoes the beauty, peace, and tranquility she offers throughout all of her four marvelously distinct seasons. 

This place we call home steeped in Iroquois history, succinct fictional stories, celebrated fables, and back roadhouses with one or more gables, is where together as neighbors we can do the most good.

Get out as often as you can and make new friends, new memories, and seek out places and things you never knew existed within the boundaries you set for yourself.  Take your dog along to scare away any varmints, pocket pets, along with a menagerie of other delightful critters you find along the way. Your children will take in a pocketful of miracles and their heads will be chock full of delightful memories that they will unlock someday to share with their children when the time comes. So, rise up with the beautiful sunrise, and don’t come home until the sun sets on the horizon.

Isn’t that what home is really all about anyway? You know, that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you know you belong to someone or something? Especially when your dog and kids have a few smudges of chocolate around their mouths when you pull into the driveway when you get home.  With all of its unmatched beauty, this place is for you and your children to stay put and to call your home. Besides, there’s not one blade of grass in the whole wide world greener than the grass in our own backyard.

Love where you live. It’s the best place there is to call home.

Peace and Harmony On A Country Road

An uncommon Encounter 

After my daily walk through Eastwood last Sunday, I did some writing, then headed out with a sense of impetus to look for a roadside stand that sold a stone statue of the Blessed Mother. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so the decision was made to go the extra few miles and visit some friends in Canastota. Since no one was around, I decided it was time to head back home. My choice at that point was to stay on the main highway or to take the road less traveled. It was an easy choice for me. I turned off the highway onto a secondary road, and a little way up the road I spotted a small cemetery.

As soon as I entered, the feeling of “intent” got stronger. I drove my car to the top of the hill, then walked throughout the cemetery taking pictures of old gravestones, not paying any attention to the ground underneath me. I tripped over a gravestone, lost my balance, and fell to the ground. I got up, brushed myself off, and thought; maybe there was a reason I tripped over that particular stone. I remained a bit curious. It was a very old flat stone embedded in the dirt with a corner exposed just enough to catch someone’s foot. I was going to take a picture of it, but I don’t remember why I didn’t. Everything on it was completely faded and unreadable except for the name Issac.

It was time to leave.      

After a few miles, I came to a fork in the road. I drove onto a secondary dirt road and about a mile down, I pulled my car to the side of the road with a beautiful view of open fields leading up to what appeared to be a good-sized farm. Coming down the road was a horse-drawn carriage with an Amish couple. As they passed by the husband looked straight ahead, while his wife held an infant cradled securely in her lap, glanced at me with an expression of deep determination. I headed down the road into the quietness of the late afternoon countryside, while the serenity of the moment opened up around me with a welcoming voice. 

Now with a clear view of the farm on my left, my eyes caught sight of a small group of people heading down a tree-lined dirt road on the opposite side of the farm. It wasn’t long before I caught their attention. A few more steps ahead and I noticed two people heading back up the road. The others stayed where they were. When we caught sight of each other we shared a cordial “Hello”. They appeared to be a husband and wife and they stood in silence waiting for me to speak. I introduced myself and explained what I had just witnessed in regard to the couple in the buggy. I said that when I realized that they were Amish, it piqued my curiosity.

The husband was cordial, but a bit suspicious. We continued talking, and by then the rest of his family had come and gathered just behind them. Two teenage girls, two girls in their twenties, a boy and girl both around the age of 5. 

They were all in plain dress, very well behaved, and respectful. The father did all the talking. He and I discussed our biblical faith, living a simple life, while both of us holding onto peace as a core value; our belief in a Godly way of life. He asked a few more questions, and from the tone of his voice and facial expressions from the answers I gave, I felt that we had already established a sincere and trusting friendship. 

The more we spoke the more curious I became, and I felt comfortable enough to ask if I could share fellowship with them at another time. He agreed. I felt his gesture of friendship was sincere and genuine; from the heart. I stood wanting more of them and I would like to think they felt the same. I plan on going back next Sunday. Even if our fellowship ended on that day, I would remember the moments spent with these scriptural people and the pastoral land that God made.  

On the surface it appeared their lifestyle to be staid and inflexible, however, it reflects a genuine way of life with an abundance of modesty, obedience, equality, and simplicity. They want to be remembered by the lives they lived and the examples they leave behind, not by physical appearance. My exact thoughts. Thou shall not make unto thyself a graven image. Dressed as not to draw attention to oneself, it is unlikely not to notice.

One more thing.

When I mentioned my little “mishap” in the cemetery, the man said that his great grandfather is buried there. I asked for his name. He replied, “Issac”. I never did get the man’s name.

I guess I’ll just have to go back Sunday and find out. 

My Darling Soldier Girl

My Darling Soldier Girl
Is a source of pride and joy
She marches with the best of them
Keeps up with soldier boys

My Darling Soldier Girl
Loves country, friends, and family
She’s capable and confident
There’s nothing she can’t be

My Darling Soldier Girl
Reaches for the moon and sky
She’s bright, brave, and beautiful
There’s nothing she won’t try

My Darling Soldier Girl
Is so strong, yet gentle too
There’s nothing in this world
That my soldier girl can’t do

– Carol Wood aka Platoon Nana

The Power of One

There are many kinds of pressures that are applied today, to get people to join the “majority of numbers”… to get them to move in a specific direction. There also exists the pressure of appearance, where one who “looks” differently or “sounds” different, is made out to seem foolish or “out of step” with the times.

Then comes the pressure of dogma, where one who thinks differently is made to look and feel like a heretic treading on long-established sacred vows. The pressure of “force”, where one who remains faithful to their own “voice”, begins to feel endangered by doing so through the loss of relationships, work, and financial support. There also exists the pressure of moral conflict—in which those who hold different views from oneself feel equally strongly about the moral integrity and depth with which they hold dear to them. 

The last and most difficult kind of pressure is for a majority of one to contend with are moral truths. 

For moral truths come in many sizes and temperaments, requiring great clarity and great love to see that others who hold different perspectives may also hold a “portion” of the truth, yet be different from oneself.

In the end, a “majority of one” is not an isolated individual, but one who is committed to the future of humanity and seeks to improve that future in whatever ways are possible. This can only occur through the commitment to a way of thinking and feeling that influences the consciousness of others by its very strength and depth, and by the force of its own truth. 

For this reason, it is up to each of us who cares about the future of humanity to live as a majority of one. A single voice of vision and integrity, that exists within the larger majority of numbers. Such a voice arises out of spiritual depth.

With a firm conscience, it continually pursues the deepening of truth and understanding through the seeking of clarity; and through an ongoing effort to align with the source of all truth.

Delightedly Childish

Living in the present is essential to our well-being, and the child in us is what makes all things possible — all things worthwhile. Here, you may find yourself again living in a world of renewed playfulness, without concerns about money, productivity, or being “cool”. Delightfully candid snapshots of children worldwide will teach us that there are no limits to our imaginations and that everything we need is within our grasp. Children make us better adults. Let the child in you give rebirth to the things you once thought were lost forever, while you take them by the hand and follow them while they guide you to the abundant tranquility you will feel by living in the moment.

Every child is an artist, teacher, and healer. Watch them at play and as they dream with their heads in the clouds, while they paint a new world for you to help you regain your sense of wonder and heal your wounds. 

Fickle Mirror

Each morn I greet a brand new day

My Mirrors look at me and say

“You look the same as yesterday”

Can it be my youth won’t slip away?

I’ll always walk with a peppy gate       

And hold my back and shoulders straight

Father Time will have to wait

For I’ll escape the aged’s fate

Awe, fickle mirror what’s that I see…

Tiny lines where taunt skin used to be’

Silver strands that seem to dance with glee

And mock the youth that remains in me

“It’s not so bad” these frail bones sigh”

“To face the fact one day I’ll die”

In the face of death, my heart behaves,

It’s’ peaceful balm my spirit craves…

To escape the vessel that now enslaves

-from the pen and perspective of Carol Wood/ aka Platoon Nana

A Wave Of Unhappiness

Fretting Children 

What is wrong with today’s children? Why does one in four have experienced a probable mental illness”; which means that one in five has had anxiety, depression, or both? Many kids with horrendous anxiety and self-harm are becoming paralyzed. 

The figures are certainly shocking, but what is driving this global “wave of unhappiness” amongst children?

There is obviously something missing, but how do we address it? How can we make things better? 

We can say they’ve got everything; cell phones, this, that, and the other.. but that’s clearly not enough. The answer for parents is simple; Do something. Talk about it, learn about it, and take a close look at what your child does.

Setting boundaries with this age group is just as important as it is with toddlers. As adults we should know that they need boundaries or they’ll behave in even more dangerous ways until they discover them for themselves; then it may be too late. Look for the signs; kids who harm themselves as a result of social media exposure are saying; help me, it’s out of my control. If your kid is pale, tired, and miserable most of the time, they are asking for your help.

Young people today lack meaning; a sense of connection and belonging. The “rituals of togetherness and family life are slowly melting away. If you’ve got kids, spend “positive” time together. Stop just talking about it. Healthy brains are a result of positive and loving memories. Memories are made of “moments”. Make everyone count. 

Americas Flag, Revisited.

There seems to be an unwillingness to understand why it’s necessary to commit one’s loyalty to a flag.

To understand the importance of this homage, we must first understand its symbolism

Originally the symbol and banner of the thirteen colonies, its form, and colors, were not chosen on the basis of rational thought. Its form and colors were chosen of an intuition infused by truth and guidance, which led to the correlation between the people, and the flag that America came to call her own.

It was on the intention that the founders of this great nation, that its citizens, be ordained the watchful and guiding eye over its destiny. At the time of her birth, America’s flag was simply bands of red and white, and a circle of stars against a background of blue. Yet, in its simplicity, lay a depth of meaning and purpose. The red is emblematic of the blood, that was shed in the war that led to the establishment of our independent republic. The white stripes that accompany the red, signifies the higher realms of purpose that connect mankind. Finally, the blue background against which the stars are placed is a symbol of the eternal being of God.

It represents the Infinite, out of which both America’s identity and the earth itself have been constructed. The blue that represents America’s relationship to God, remains as the assurance that this connection will never change no matter what ideology becomes popular.

It’s why “In God, We Trust” is written on all of her currency, and why in so many other instances, the connection with the eternal has been enunciated as part of America’s most transcendent document. The stars on the blue background identify the composite image showing the many changes from thirteen original colonies, to now representing the much vaster size of fifty states. The number of stars in the original pattern was shaped in the form of a circle, a symbol of unity.

This flag of America is the hallmark of her sacred heart. Her soul is a nation whose spiritual name is love.  

The debate over who made the first American flag may go on forever, but in any case, the Stars and Stripes were finally flown for the first time in September 1777 during the Revolutionary War.

The cost of a flag today is minimal; the value of its true spiritual worth will forever remain incalculable.