vi·car·i·ous trav·el·er


End o'lane farm

farm, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

While we were in New Jersey, my mother tood us to a place we had never seen before -her homestead. When my mother was little, her parents moved to this little farm at the end of a long and beautiful lane. She and her sister had to milk the cows each day. When we asked her how many cows, she said, "2 1/2! Ann and i both milked one and we each milked half of another!" Mom milked that cow and a half everyday until the day of her wedding when uncle paul graciously volunteered for duty.

By that time, my grandfather was an alcoholic, dangerous and had brought home "aunt mabel" to live on the farm. When mom left home, her half sister joany wasn't yet a teenager. They haven't been in touch for all of these years, but my mother decided it was time to reconcile the past. She dropped in once last year and returned this week with Kathi and I. We really liked Joanie and her husband. It was also very meaningful to see the property we had heard so much about... and to hear my mom (the missionary) say, "this is the barn where we used to shovel sh#t!".


Dennis-Women, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

it's very odd how we humans learn to cope with difficult things. I had been eager to go up to New Jersey to see my grandmother for weeks. Not long after we crossed the NJ border, my sister mentioned how she hadn't been looking forward to this trip. For a moment, i was puzzled. Then i realized that somehow i had escaped the thought that my grandfather would not be there. I was shocked. then i felt really ill and wondered if i would be sick. it was a long time before i could speak again. i've heard so much about denial but was really amazed to find myself coping this way.

The trip turned out to be very lovely. I also realized for the first time how strong (not in a domineering or aggressive sense but in a gentle, steady and wise sense) the Dennis women are and have been for generations. Grandma was more alert and agile than she was the last time i had seen her. She laughs frequently and loves deeply.


grave, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

My grandma kept getting confused and calling the grave the funeral. I had to smile. The site was different than i imagined. This large Dennis marker stood in the center of a section of graves holding many generations of my family. It was bold and strangely proud. it was not sad at all. grandma told us about the brief histories of several generations, the family feuds, the things they endured.

I was most curious about our family names. I knew that grandpa was Ford Ephriam Dennis, but i didn't know that his father was Ford Akerson Dennis and his father Ford Ephriam Dennis. Other family names struck me... Orrin- grandma's grandfather and also the name of her brother-they were black dirt farmers. I was again reminded of how my family is bound with deep love and deep respect to the earth. it was beautiful to discover these things once again.


bath, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

One reason why i decided to come home was to take a much needed break! i turned off my phone. i left my computer in its case. i milled about the forest with my sister. and then i sat in the tub.

Kathy has a beautiful deep tub-the crown jewel of her amazing country home. With candles lit and soft music playing and a book on reflexology (these are things you find yourself doing at my sisters house.. and youdon't ask yourself why!), i soaked away all my pains and sorrows.

wakeup call

buggy, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

My favorite thing about living in PA has always been the sound of horse-shoes clopping along the pavement and rolling wheels splitting the gravel as the horse and buggies pass by. there is nothing so wonderful as waking up to this little touch of magic... until i heard the wild turkey gobble-gobbling outside the window at the same moment. This was the first time i giggled myself awake!

kath's retreat

kathshouse, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

Kathy and I walked around her property looking at all the wonderful plants and wildlife that makes her home a haven of rest.

japanese-american garden

stones, originally uploaded by staarkidd.


hammock, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

american chestnut

chestnut, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

Kathy is a bit of a natualist detective. She noticed a mound in her woods and thought about excavating it to see what caused it. as time passed by and began examining the area more carefully, she deducted that the mound had once been a giant wild american chestnut tree. A long time ago, these trees grew to enormous and majestic sizes. Then, after the white man had settled in, the trees were attacked with a strange blight.
Kathy believes that the mound was from a giant american chestnut trees that got sick and fell over. all around the path of the trees grave, tiny american chestnuts have begun to spring up. they are beautifl to see, but at a certain young age, they all get the rusty disease and die before they are ever able to produce chestnuts. the trees are now nearly extinct. it was a sad tale and sad to look at the young beautiful trees and know their certain death is just around the corner.

headin home

green, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

There's something that speaks to me of home in the northeast. something beyond the pressence of family. something deeper than memories. It's been awhile since i've been in PA during the springtime and i find myself longing. longing for what, i'm not sure.
I am on the train from philadelphia. it is a warm May afternoon. I am on the rich route. bryn mawr, villanova, haverford.... the homes look like estate-sized country cottages. The dogwoods and cherry blossoms are in bloom. a woman is walking two black dogs. a teenage girl sits on a roof. Green. green. green. i feel as though my eyes cannot hold the weight of the color. it drips from the leaves. it carpets the earth. the dandelions and buttercups burst forth from rich beds of brilliant green grass. i find myself wondering if i will ever return and live in this place. It is so rich. rich with money. rich with education. rich with culture and opportunity. it is saturated. while i love it now, passing so quickly by the window of this train, i know the train will soon stop. I will get off and remember why i cannot stay. until then, these moments of dreaming and longing will satisfy my restless soul.

burn baby burn

burning, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

last weekend 1037 held its last bash. it was in many ways very sad because it has been a hub of so much community activity. The boys burned the token wood single from the house closing a chapter to a long saucy novel... but there are more chapters yet to written, we just have a few more books to read.

one last stand

goodbyes, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

it was sad to see the boys say goodbye. it was also sad that not even one picture from that fateful night did jason have his eyes open . . . and he has such beautiful fawn-like eyes!


MK pets

turtle, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

In our travels to Dalat Academy in Malaysia, we were introduced to more interesting MK pets. This girl owns a cute little turtle. It has two huge tumor on its neck making it appear to have chubby cheeks.

Dan and Andy, i think we found our star!


snake, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

It seems that every MK school needs to have one pet snake.

sugar daddy?

squirrel, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

I don't remember what this animal is called (a sugar flyer or something?). Anyway, it was the cutest little thing, but vicious with it's nails. The girl who owns it has scars up and down her arm.

Monkey love

weird-love, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

On eof the teachers at the MK school in Dalat had a monkey. It was a very odd monkey. It fansied the cat.

Ham or Monkey?

monkey, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

Malaysian Spiders!! EEKs!

spider1, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

spider2, originally uploaded by staarkidd.


engrish, originally uploaded by staarkidd.


burkas-rule, originally uploaded by staarkidd.

Malaysia does the burka a little differently. i loved that this girl was wearing this shirt!