Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11 Today in our family history! Did I just hear my children yawn???

Today is a BIG day in our family history! What? What!! Did I just hear my children yawn??? Well, guess what, I'm gunna tell this story anyway and someday you will thank me for it when you can tell your own children.

Who am I kidding? If I know you as well as I think I do you'll look it up on the Internet and hand them the iPad and tell them to read it instead. Hmmm, maybe that's not a bad idea...

Alright, in that case I'll just write directly to them!

Dear future grandkids, this is your Gran-Pappy speaking and I just want you to know that this is a Big day in your family history!

...What? Was that a yawn?? No? No, I couldn't believe that you would find this as boring as your parents did when They were young!!!


O.K., enough of this A-typical-Irish-tangent...


On this day: November 11th 1859; our forefather Robert Gilmour stepped off of the ship "Empire State" onto the docks at Castle Garden in Manhattan N.Y.C. We assume he was met by his cousins the Glenn's (his mother's family) and began his life as a Cooper in a shop in lower Manhattan in the area known as "Five Points." Ever see that movie "The Gangs of New York"??? Yep; dem's are our people!!!


On this day: November 11th 1918; Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, became an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)

On this day we remember all our our forefathers who served and/ or fought and died for our country. Most importantly we remember James Gilmour the brother of Robert Gilmour who died in the Battle of Fair Oaks/Seven Pines in 1862 during the Peninsula campaign. If you haven't seen or read his letter's or my transcriptions of them yet: Kick your parents in the A** for me in abstentia!!!!!!


Last but not least...

On this day: November 11th 1925; your forefather (Me Da) James Gilmour O'Brien was born in Brooklyn N.Y. and because it was Veterans Day he always had his Birthday off! This was pretty HUGE to me as you might expect 'cause without him there would be no me. No me; no you! :)


Every year I try to commemorate this day in some special way. This year I have written a poem for my Dad. I found this picture the other day and the truth is I never thought about him as a young man. We all are at one time, but thats not how I personally knew him: so although I realize he like I and perhaps you; was once young and handsome and maybe even "Cool!" I never imagined him that way. Until now:

Hey Dad, is that you?

I'm almost as old
as you were when you retired.
In this picture
you're as old as I was back then.

That was a different time
and Retirement
is a long way off
for me.

Were you really
this young?
This Cool?
Was I ever cool?

You must have been
lest I would not now
be walking
in your footsteps.

I will be
the age you were
when you died.

With luck
I'll enter those woods
Where your footprints

I'll continue
tread those steps
you never walked.

With faith, I will
break new ground
look ahead
and not turn back.


Happy 86th Birthday Da! :')

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Journal of Hurricane Irene and it's aftermath in Clarksville N.Y.

I started out the day (yesterday) wondering if the new sump pump was going to last...

Devin came home from a double shift so I let him sleep for a few hours while I monitored things. Then the power went out. The pump has a battery backup so I didn't bother waking him until it looked like the pump was incapable of keeping up. It turns out the battery only runs the first pump and moves a minimal amount of water so I gave in and woke him up.

We jury rigged power to his truck and he went out looking for an alternate power supply.


Meanwhile I sat and stewed 'cause I was without Internet or him or Sarah.

When he finally got back we assembled the Generator he bought for a price I will not discuss here. ("...Last one in Albany County...")

While it started to remove water (...which by then was halfway up the water tank and boiler...) we headed out for more gasoline.

As we were crossing the bridge at the end of Sligerlands Ave. Just up the street we saw rescue workers preparing an attempt to help someone who apparently got to close to the overflowing creek. ("...if you weren't with me I would stop and help but I know you would worry about me...")


We drove backroads through Onesquethaw and Glenmont to the Walmart's. Devin drives like rescue personal so I spent much of the ride with my eyes closed. We drove through water, around downed trees eventually making it the Walmart's unscathed.


We got backup gas cans and filled up across the street and headed back in due time. Along the way back we slowed for some pics and video.

This is the Selkirk Train-yards.

This is along Rt 296

The battery on my good camera died so I had to resort to using my phone. Once back in Clarksville we turned up the street to "Jake Moons" for a look at where the creek crosses Delaware Turnpike. The quality is not much but the damage was nasty. :(

Mill Road, or whats left of it... Across from Jake Moon's Restaurant on Delaware Turnpike (Rt 442)

The same location looking up the hill in the direction of Stovepipe RD.
This Video, 'though poor quality phone video should put these two pics into perspective:

( they say: "Dramatic Video!" It was actually worse earlier when I tried to go this way and it was washing across the road. Alas I lacked my brain at that point and forgot I had my phone with me! Duh!

I'm posting these now after sending them to my iMac when I got online finally) I couldn't seem to get the iPad to recognize the phone card. :(


I am right now keeping myself busy waiting for the water in the basement to subside while Devin is out "Playing with the Fire Department". (...Doing "Pump-outs" emptying neighbors cellars...)

That is the assembly manual for that new sump pump with a battery backup. ("...Irony...")

I don't have internet now so I will not be posting this for some time. More than likely the net will not be back up till tomorrow but this is keeping me occupied and keeping my mind off the cost of the new Water Heater and Boiler I am going to have to buy. Ugh! :(


The wind keeps picking up and the trees are not handling it well. We shall see what the next few hours bring. Hopefully less than the previous hours have wrought.


Checked on the basement. Down to about six inches left. I managed to run a power cord to the fridge for the time being so the food in the freezer is safe. I suppose I could light stove with a match for cooking but I'm eating things that require no cooking for the now. We may need the propane later so I'll get by with peanut butter on a roll. As long as we have the Generator there doesn't seem to be a rush.


The Generator has been running through the night and there still is no power in the 'Ville. The Cellar is sumped and the pump is keeping up.

We are only using 14% of the Generators power so I plugged in the T.V. to catch the news. It seems that a neighbor drowned on Slingerlands St. near the bridge when she was looking at the flood waters. No word yet on if they managed to recover the body. :(


Devin came home around midnight and I slept most of the night on the couch. Sarah stayed in Voorheesville overnight. I managed to contact my siblings before bed and they are all alive and "relatively" unaffected.

I had to live in "The Hinterlands" :')


Morning. 30/Aug/11's a beautiful day! Sunny and in the 70's...

Generator still generating, Pump still running, water still coming in, and no power yet. But my feet are dry!

Devin and I waded in several times between shutting things off, trying to collect floating debris and restating the pumps yesterday.

The plan for today is to trace wires and mark them on the panel which the previous owner never got around to doing. If the power comes on I might never know otherwise as I have shut off the Main Breaker since we are unsure as to what breakers go to the Water Heater and The Boiler.

If I get the chance later I will run down to the store for supplies and try to post this from the parking lot on free wi-fi.

Down into the hole once more!


The Power is back on as you can see. I am using my iMac to repost this with video. Needed a break so I figured I would do this and dry out for a bit... Gotta get back to work around here now though! ...and maybe run out to the store. Which road I will take remains to be seen. :')


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Some time back I wrote a blog about Avon N.Y. Which included a poem about my childhood there. It was written in Ullans and featured the Cannons in the village square prominently as a motif entitled "What if the Beave were an Ulster Scot". That blog was reprinted by bIRD in his magazine Rootdrinker. Through that poem and the life it took on I met the Poet John Roche.

bIRD, suggested back then that we should go to Avon and we planned on it. Something came up I can't now remember and he went without me. They did a reading at the Cannons in the village square.

Since then we have had a running joke about how the bIRD sole my childhood...


A week or so ago we all piled into the bIRD Mobile and cruised up the Northway to see John as the featured poet at Cafe Lena. We met at the Parting Glass as is our want and then strolled down the streets of Saratoga to the reading. It was a wonderful night of poetry and John was at his best!

I came home with John's collection of poems entitled "On Conesus" which I consumed rather rapidly as it also figures prominently in the mythos of my childhood. Over the course of the immediate ensuing days I conceived another poem sparked by my memories.

The following is the result:



I am getting into a car
in my mind

I am getting into a surf green
1962 Impala in my mind

I am driving down route 20
in my mind

I am leaving the home
of adulthood

I am driving down the road
of youth
in my mind

Sitting, not driving actually
in the back seat of my fathers
Surf Green '62 Impala

With my family
all of them
alive and in the bosom
of the retinue of love

We are sharing Neco Wafers
and giving all the licorice ones
to my sister

We are passing
the Tepee Giftshoppe
where we never stop

We are entering
Cherry Valley
my baby brother sleeping

We are coming up
on the first
Burma Shave sign

We take turns reading
each sign
as they arrive
and pass by
the car window:

"Don't lose" my father starts
"your head" my brother reads
"To gain a minute" my other brother says
"You need your head" my sister intones
"You're brains are in it" I blurt from memory
for I cannot yet read

BURMA SHAVE! We all shout
Mom joining in

We are passing
the Petrified Creatures Museum
a tourist attraction my father says:
" not worth the money
it would cost
the seven of us to get in."

...all the more change for trinkets
in the amusement park
at long Point
on Conesus lake

I sleep
we nap on and off
Dad leads a round of
"The Bear Went Over
The Mountain."
as the Finger Lakes pass by

We are in Avon now
and the last landmark is sighted!

The White Horse
there it stands
at the gas station
a sentry guarding childhood

Now we pass the Avon Inn
burned down for the 3rd time
since it's historic beginning

Now Lacy Street
where I was born
and just for fun
once around the Village Circle
where the Civil War
Cannons rest
past the Barbershop
around the sleeping dog
in the road

Then back up the hill
and into the Mulvaney's driveway
right across the street
from the old homestead

Hugs, laughter, and the sound
of Mr Mulvaney's laugh
Mrs Mulvaney's smile

Into the car again
That Surf Green
'62 Chevy Impala

Into the car in my mind
Into the car
and we cross the road
driving slowly
under the umbrella
of trees lining Lacy street
past the old home
for old times sake

the end of the road
the school
the football field
a path no longer open

Back out to Rt 20
then backtrack
to Rochester Road
turning south

We have the key
We have the key to Mulvaney's Cottage

the journey over
the summer about to begin!

down memories road
down the road to the lake
onto Pebble Beach Road

We pull in
We pile out

I smell the water
I hear the boats
I feel the pebbles
teasing and arguing
with my feet

I know
I will fall sleep
to the sound of
Try your luck!
...only 10¢ a ball!"

by trinkets,
and odd shaped rocks

I hear the boats
I know I will wake to fog
and the sound of trolling fishermen

the smell of bacon
and mother
drinking coffee

waiting for the men
to return with Perch
fried up for breakfast

we will all be there
and in the bosom
of family.


*Shunpiker: one who avoids the turnpikes and highways preferring instead to take the slower backroads for the sheer pleasure and relaxation of it.


Then something unexpected happened!

We did a reading at the Pine Hollow Arboretum this past Friday the 12th of august. I opened with the preceding poem. It took on a life of it's own!

A retired couple who are sailing around the world in their yacht came to do the tour of the Arboretum and stayed for the poetry reading as well. Their boat I was told was parked somewhere exotic like the Caribbean and they came to Slingerlands N.Y. to visit by some other form of travel.

After the reading, they came up to me and very enthusiastically told me how much they like my poem! seems they lived in Avon for many years and knew the places I was reminiscing about!

That blew me away, but it doesn't end there... The next day at work I was telling a coworker about it and he stopped me short. "Avon?" he said. "This is the second time this week I ever heard of this place! Just the other day I was talking to a family friend and I asked her where she was. She said she was staying with some family in a place called Avon N.Y.! That's amazing obee!"


The plan at this moment is for bIRD and I to attempt another trip this fall. This time I will make it! ...if I don't go sooner before the end of the summer. ...somehow, I feel I am being called. YAH THINK!?!?


Just in case you think I'm making this up, while I was checking the spelling for Mulvaney I googled the name. Guess what! There is a book available on google books Written by the eldest Mulvaney a contemporary of my eldest brother containing their family tree compete with pictures of their parents whom I mention in the poem. I have found more photos from those summers on the lake not included here with both families swimming and picnicking at the lake. If I ever manage to get in contact with the family I'll have to share those too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I saw the face of God today!

Say what you will. Some things you just have to take on faith alone. This story is one of them. I am not making this up but I have no proof. Well, there was at least one witness to the initial moments of what transpired; but the "ah-ha" was between me a God alone.


I was feeling down. Not my normally "life-is-always-good-self" if you will. All the crazy *#@! going down with the Re-model at work has been weighing heavy. I have been telling my subordinates at work that when all is said and done we are going to be "SO MUCH BETTER!" when everything is finished. Well, to put it as plainly as I can, we are not even on the blueprints; we never were. The Maintenance Department is only a necessary evil. We don't make $$$ and we are a loss from the get go. So: "We don't get nothing."

...I was beginning to feel I had outright lied to them.

Don't get me wrong; things are better: but only marginally. We used to work in a hallway and had to deal with people walking through us and our workspace like we were not even there. Now... We have been pushed into a corner. Literally. There is no place for us or our equipment and sometimes it feels like no-one cares.

Alright; there it is. This is how I got there. Why I was discouraged. You get the picture and I need not whine any more than I already have.

Now for that moment with the universe...


I was in the new entranceway earlier in the day and noticed a distressed Darning-needle fly in through the open doors.

(Call it a Dragonfly if you like, but my Nana always referred to to them as Darning-needles. ...after Hans Christian Anderson perhaps; for that would be my guess anyway.)

So there I was; when a bug fearing female employee from another department saw it as well and said: "Kill that bug before it gets in the store!"

(Obviously she doesn't know me very well!)

...I shooed it outside instead and went back to work.


Later, an hour or so, I was on my rounds again when my manager pointed to the very same creature, fluttering about the front-end near the cash registers; bouncing off the big plate glass windows.

I followed her slowly, cupped my hands, gently scooped her up and walked outside. She peeked between my thumb and forefinger but did not seem to mind my protective confinement.

Soon I was rounding the edge of the storefronts and walking along the building towards the woods.

As I approached the trees I slowly opened my palms. She just sat there and didn't move! Then for some reason only the universe knows; I began stroking her wings with my index finger. She sat down in my palm and relaxed! I stroked her again and said "Hello." in a whisper of amazement....

She tilted her head to the right and peered at me knowingly. If I didn't know any better I would swear she winked! Then she arose ever so slowly, until about my eye level; turned: and flew off into the wood.

I watched as she went, a little stunned: but suddenly at peace with my world.

Evil knows evil. Goodness recognizes itself. Can you look into the face of God? Obviously I think so... (It helps of course to at least be open to the possibility...)

Oh, and when he/she looks at you, you might want to be looking back.

Life IS good!

Sometimes you simply have to look into the face of God; know what you're looking at: and remember!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.