The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Posts tagged ‘Remembrances’

Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day.

I am a Veteran.

I graduated high school in May 1974 and shortly thereafter enlisted in the Army under the Delayed Enlistment Program.  The 6-month delay provided me an opportunity to get ready for my transition to the Army. During this time, I became better physically and mentally prepared before departing for Basic Training.  The only prerequisite I remember having to fulfill before my 6 months were up is that I needed to lose weight in order to enlist in the Army.  I think I had to lose 30 pounds.  I lost the 30 pounds and more.  My Army enlistment began in November 1974, when I was 18 years old.  I served 3 years.

My basic training was conducted at Ft. McClellan (Alabama).

Ft. McClellan, AL
early 1975

I apologize for the poor picture quality.  It is the best scan I could get from a picture taken with 110 film.  This picture was taken on the occasion of my graduation from Basic Training.

From Ft. McClellan I would travel to Ft. Benjamin Harrison (Indiana) for Advanced Individual Training (AIT). I studied to be an Army Stenographer, known as 71C MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). From Ft. Benjamin Harrison, I would travel to Ft. Hood (Texas) and later to V Corps Headquarters in Frankfurt (West Germany).

West Germany
sometime between April 1976 and December 1976

I served in the military both during wartime and peacetime.  My wartime service was short lived.  I joined the Army in November 1974.  The Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975.  I cannot recall even considering that the United States was at war, when I joined the Army.  I wanted to serve my country.  Remember earlier when I said that I needed to lose weight in order to enlist in the Army.  I met that prerequisite.  I wanted to serve my country.

Even though the majority of my military service was during a time when the United States was at peace, I was not out of harm’s way.  While assigned to V Corps Headquarters, I worked in the Abrams Building located in Frankfurt, West Germany.  I was at work during the June 1, 1976 bomb explosions.  An article in the New York Times reported that on June 1, 1976 “Two time bombs exploded … in the headquarters of the United States Army’s V Corps, injuring 15 Americans and a German civilian, two of them seriously …”.

One bomb went off on the main floor of the Abrams Building; the second bomb went off in the Officer’s Club located behind the Abrams Building.  I was riding a paternoster (translates to “our Father”) inside the Abrams Building at the time the first bomb went off.  A paternoster is an elevator which consists of a chain of open compartments that move slowly in a loop up and down inside a building without stopping. Passengers can step on or off at any floor they like, or stay on the paternoster and loop completely around. The sound of the exploding bomb and the vibration caused by the explosion was like a hundred file cabinets had toppled over.

Here is a video that I found of someone getting on and getting off a paternoster.

R.I.P. Patches

We became parents to an adorable little girl on February 19, 2011.  Our little bundle of joy was a calico cat that we named Patches.  She was our first pet that Bob and I chose together. Patches readily became a member of our family and filled our hearts with joy and love.  Patches’ favorite past times included playing with her toy raccoon, running and lying in her tunnels, sleeping in bed with us (most often nestled beneath the covers), playtime with Daddy, lounging on her cat tree, watching the birds from various indoor perches, lying on our laps, and being with Bob and me both indoors and outside.  Patches really liked to sit on the front porch with us, watching the world go by.  Patches liked drinking from her water fountain.  She found our water cooler and sink and tub faucets equally suitable for drinking.  We fed Patches mainly dry food, but she enjoyed the occasional taste of canned tuna and chicken and turkey scraps.  Whenever we brought groceries and other purchases into the house, Patches checked everything out.  She would look up at us, as though to ask “anything for kitty?”, while peeking in the bags and rubbing against other purchases.  Another thing she seemed to say often, whenever food was present, is “kitty can have that”.  Patches loved vanilla ice cream.  She would wait patiently for her turn to lick the bowl.  Patches did NOT like to ride in the car.  She would show us her displeasure vocally!  I don’t think Patches knew what to make of our granddaughters.  She was curious about Harper and Juniper, but she mostly kept her distance from the girls.  We do have a few pictures, though, of Harper and Juniper with Patches.

This past Monday (January 2) Patches fell ill.  We took her to a veterinary hospital, where a blood test was performed.  The blood test indicated that Patches was in kidney failure.  Patches was admitted into the hospital and placed on liquid therapy via IV for 24 hours.  The next day a new blood test was done. Patches’ Creatinine value had come down from 14.5 to 10.3, but was still very high. A normal Creatinine value is 2.1. Another renal function value that is checked was so high it was off the chart. An additional 24 hours of liquid therapy might have helped, but the prognosis wasn’t good for the levels to come down to where needed. I asked what to expect if we brought Patches home, without continuing treatment. The veterinarian said Patches wasn’t going to get better, that she would continue to go downhill and quickly. It was one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make, but Bob and I decided it was in Patches’ best interest to have her put down.

We visited with Patches for a short time before she was put down. Patches didn’t seem to know we were even there; she paid no attention to us. Patches was alert to the new room we were in and noises from all over the hospital. I wish there had been a quiet place to go for our last minutes with her.  Bob stayed with Patches, holding her, as she was put to sleep. I left the room, as I could not bear to watch Patches die. I wanted only to remember her alive. We are having Patches cremated. She was an indoor cat. Patches enjoyed her time outside, but only in our presence. She would not have liked lying outside under ground.

Rest in Peace, Patches. You brought so much joy and love into our lives. We will miss you always.

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R.I.P. Les

I met Les in 2012 on August 26, while photographing at the Kinzua Heritage Festival in Russell, PA. We had seen each others’ posts on Facebook, in the “You grew up in Warren PA if…” group but were not friends on Facebook. Les approached me at the festival and introduced Introduced himself to me, saying that we share the love of photography. After talking with Les for a few minutes, I took his picture.

E8263590 4x6

We became friends on Facebook and developed a friendship, based mainly on our mutual love of photography. I will miss you, Les.

Obituary for
Charles L. “Les” Vanderhoof, Sr.
Warren, PA
(obtained from the Donald E. Lewis Funeral Home website)

Charles L. “Les” Vanderhoof, Sr., 66, of Warren, PA, died Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at his home following a brief illness.

Born on January 23, 1950, Les was the son of Gerald Miller and Barbara Ann Prather Vanderhoof. He was a graduate of Titusville High School. Les served with the U. S. Navy in 1969 and was formerly employed as a licensed practical nurse with the Bradford Regional Medical Center, the Warren State Hospital, and was last employed as a nursing supervisor at The Rouse Home. Les was an avid photographer and was a member of the Camera Club in Jamestown, NY. He was also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

R.I.P. Les.  I will miss you.

Blueberry Muffins

I made homemade blueberry muffins this morning.

_LG14271 4x6Freshly baked homemade blueberry muffins

The recipe calls for 1/3 cup sugar.  I substituted the artificial sweetener, Splenda, for the sugar.  I used frozen blueberries, the blueberries being those which I picked this summer with my friend Bonnie. The muffins taste as good as they look.


As I prepared this batch of blueberry muffins, my thoughts went back to another day 12 years ago, when a neighbor’s daughter helped in the preparation of another batch of homemade blueberry muffins.

Preparing Homemade Blueberry Muffins (Jul. 2003)

Preparing Homemade Blueberry Muffins (Jul. 2003)

I can’t recall preparing homemade muffins since that one day in July. Since then, I have purchased store baked muffins or used a ready-to-bake muffin mix.  I have about 2 quarts of blueberries in the freezer.  I will prepare more blueberry muffins in the near future.

Feel the Magic?

Bob and I met on the Internet on Easter Sunday 1998. During the early days of Bob and my relationship, I made a remark about what was happening between us felt magical.

After many Internet connections and several telephone calls, we wanted to meet each other in person. That meeting happened  on May 1, 1998 when Bob drove from his home in Pennsylvania to where I lived in Maryland. On the day that we met in person, Bob had flowers delivered to me.

Photograph of Flowers and Accompanying Card
that I Received from Bob on the Day that we Met in Person

I saw a photograph today on Facebook that brought back to me the memories of Bob and my first meeting.

This beautiful photograph, which I obtained, with permission, from Open Your Heart Photography by Jessica Newman, appears magical to me.  Thank you, Jessica, for bringing back the memories from the early days of Bob and my relationship.

And, yes, in case anyone is wondering I do still feel the magic!

Remembering Dad

Dad passed away 9 years ago today, at the age of 74.  Dad was less than a month away from his 75th birthday.  This morning I pored through photographs from years past.  While looking through the photographs, I recaptured memories of days gone by.  I remembered Dad with smiles not tears.


Please click on photograph to enlarge.

2003 Photo0316

This photograph was taken in June 2003 at a family reunion. As Bob and I were getting ready to leave, I asked him to take a picture of my family. I am so thankful that I have this photograph. This is the last photograph I have of Dad, Mom, my brother, Jim, and I.

Don’t think of him as gone away
his journey’s just begun
life holds so many facets
this earth is only one.

Just think of him as resting
from the sorrows and the tears
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.

Think how he must be wishing
that we could know today
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.

And think of him as living
in the hearts of those he touched
for nothing loved is ever lost
and he was loved so much.

-Author Unknown

On the Anniversary of Mom’s Death

In ever loving memory of Mom


God made the perfect mother,
Compassionate and kind;
With more love and affection,
Than you could hope to find;
He gave this lovely lady,
A heart of solid gold,
And after God had finished,
He must have broken the mould.

Mom lost her fight to Alzheimer’s Disease the Monday after Thanksgiving five years ago.   The date of Mom’s death was the same day as today, November 26.  Five years ago Bob and I had spent the Thanksgiving Day holiday with Bob’s sister and our brother-in-law at their home in New Hampshire.   We returned home on Sunday, November 25.  I received the call early Monday morning that Mom had passed away.  I can still feel the anguish, today, that I felt on that day.

I’ve always heard that angels in Heaven can look down on people on Earth.  I hope that is true, Mom, so that you can see how much your family has grown since your death.

Mom, in August 2008, you were blessed with a second great grandchild.  Your great granddaughter’s name is Anna.  Your great grandson, Kaleb, is now 7 years old; Anna is 4 years old.  Kaleb is autistic. We are so proud of his achievements.  Kaleb interacts well among people and is doing very well in school.  I have photographs of you holding Kaleb, when he was a baby.  I am happy that you lived to see the birth of your first great grandson.  Anna is a lively girl.  Anna was diagnosed with Lyme’s Disease a couple years ago.  The disease reappeared in the form of Lyme’s Arthritis.  Please keep special watch over Kaleb and Anna, Mom.  I pray that Kaleb continues to do well in life and that Lyme’s Disease does not curtail Anna’s activities throughout her life.

Your grandson, Michael, recently celebrated his sixth wedding anniversary.   Michael, Kailey, Kaleb and Anna make such a lovely family don’t they Mom?

In October 2011 your youngest granddaughter got married, Mom.

Emily made such a lovely bride.
I wish you could have been there, Mom.

In December 2011 you were blessed with a second great granddaughter, Mom.  Her name is Elise.  Sometimes when I look into Elise’s eyes, I see your eyes.

Emily, Dan and Elise


Elise has grown so much since I took this photograph, Mom.  It is hard to believe that she will be a year old in one month+one day.  Your granddaughter, Emily, recently celebrated her first wedding anniversary.  Emily, Dan and Elise are a lovely family aren’t they Mom?  It is hard to believe, isn’t it Mom, that your youngest granddaughter is married and has a baby of her own.

Mom, you always wanted me to marry and have children.  Well I certainly did get married, Mom.  You would  say to me that you didn’t mean that I was to get married three times.  One time would have been enough.  You would tell me that I should have skipped marrying my first two husbands and just waited for Bob to come along.  I don’t know if fate would have led me to Bob, Mom, if I hadn’t followed my life’s path.   I believe you would agree with me.

So, Mom, I am married and I have a child just as you always wanted.  I am so very thankful that you lived to welcome Bob and Stacey into my life.  I am even more thankful that Bob and Stacey met you.  I know, Mom, that you loved Stacey as a granddaughter, not as a step-granddaughter.  In September 2011, Mom, your oldest granddaughter got married.

Stacey and Michael

I wish you could have been there, Mom.  Stacey’s wedding was held, outdoors, in the most beautiful setting.  Your granddaughter, my daughter, was the loveliest of brides.  Standing proudly at her side, Mike made a very handsome groom.

In May 2012, Mom, I became a grandma.  You never thought it would happen, did you?  You have two more great-granddaughters, Mom…TWIN granddaughters.  Oh boy, just now, your face appeared before me.  I saw the look of delight in your eyes, a look that just lit up your face at the mention of twin great granddaughters.  Oh, how happy you would have been.  I wish you could have been here when Harper and June were born.  Those two girls complete my life, Mom.  You will know what I mean.  Harper and June have brought so much joy and happiness to my life.  Sometimes the love I feel for those two little girls makes my heart feel as though it is breaking.

Stacey, Michael, Harper and Juniper

Your granddaughter, Stacey, recently celebrated her first wedding anniversary.  I took this family portrait a few days ago.  The twins were 6 months old.  Both Stacey and Mike are wonderful parents.   The four of them make a lovely family, and I am proud that they are my family!

Jared was the last of your grandchildren to get married, Mom.  Jared and Sara got married in July 2012.

Jared and Sara

If it is true, as I wrote earlier, that angels in Heaven can look down on people on Earth, you would have witnessed a wedding ceremony centered clearly around Jared and Sara’s belief in God.

It might be a while before Jared and Sara bless you with another great grandchild.  You might have heard that Jared and Sara plan to wait two years before having any children.

Mom, you would be so proud of the men and women that your grandchildren have become.  You would be proud of the lives that they lead and how well they care for and love your great grandchildren.  You have five great grandchildren, Mom.  Imagine that!  You would be so very happy of how well our entire family, both immediate and extended, get along with each other.  We have such a wonderful life, Mom.  My only heartache is that you and Dad are not here to share it with us.

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