Pope Francis’ Poetic Resolutions

Last year when Pope Francis met before Christmas with Vatican employees, mostly lay people with families, he asked them to do 10 things. The list sounded like suggestions for New Year’s resolutions.

It’s that time of year again, when many of us resolve to do the things we’ve been promising ourselves to do. If you are thinking of New Years resolutions, here are 10 from Pope Francis to consider.

— “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”

— “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”

— “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”

— “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”

— “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”

— “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”

— “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”

— “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”

— “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

— Make sure your Christmas is about Jesus and not about shopping.

Grateful for Home

By Wendy Gooditis

Here comes the time of year when we really count up our blessings, and hopefully find we have a cornucopia of gifts for which to feel thankful. For many of us, our homes are a meaningful part of that bounty—places in which we rest and feel safe, and which we make into comfortable havens for ourselves. They shelter us physically, as from weather, certainly, but they shelter many of us emotionally as well. For me, the gratitude extends to our four-footed family, though the complacent creatures obviously feel the house, barns, and grounds belong to them as much as they do to us.

This poem by Robert Louis Stevenson captures this lighter side of thankfulness and home. I have a feeling it describes many houses in Clarke County!

My House, I Say

My house, I say. But hark to the sunny doves
That make my roof the arena of their loves,
That gyre about the gable all day long
And fill the chimneys with their murmurous song:
Our house, they say; and mine, the cat declares
And spreads his golden fleece upon the chairs;
And mine the dog, and rises stiff with wrath
If any alien foot profane the path.
So, too, the buck that trimmed my terraces,
Our whilom gardener, called the garden his;
Who now, deposed, surveys my plain abode
And his late kingdom, only from the road.


Let this humbling verse remind us that we are not the all-powerful beings we suppose. The smallest mouse fails to recognize our supreme right to occupy space, and insists on sharing it with us. Maybe we should question our righteous feeling about these structures we call home, on these plots of land we claim for our own. Maybe we should examine how it is that we are fortunate enough to occupy these places, while others are not so lucky.

The month of November contains symbolism which seems to apply to the concept of home. First of all, the holiday of Thanksgiving brings many feelings of gratitude and thoughts of the plenty we have. Also, it seems that this month is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. How tragic, this juxtaposition of our celebration of plenty and the attempt to gain recognition for the sad plight of thousands of children and their families who are not so fortunate as to have a dwelling wherein to lay their heads.

In this month of Thanksgiving, I want to bring attention to several organizations in Clarke and Frederick Counties who are making a difference in the lives of people who need help finding or keeping a home.

Help With Housing: helping repair or renovate houses to make them liveable for their occupants: based in Berryville and serving Clarke County residents

Teens Opposing Poverty: helping feed and find housing for homeless people: founded and led by a very special man named Steve Jennings, teaching youth to recognize the humanity of those less fortunate than themselves

Habitat for Humanity: building houses in such a way that they are affordable for qualifying families, while serving to revitalize neighborhoods and grow the local economy at the same time

The Salvation Army: feeding and sheltering homeless people and helping find transitional housing, among the many services they provide for those in need

I know there are others. Maybe the best way I can express my gratitude for my home is to try to help someone who doesn’t have a home. Maybe some readers will feel the same. There are many ways to help, whether the donation be of the wallet, of the flesh, of the clock, or all three.

Wendy Gooditis is a real estate agent on the Chip Schutte Real Estate Team with ReMax Roots at 101 East Main St., Berryville, VA 22611, phone (540)955-0911. Wendy would be happy to answer any questions you may have about real estate, and can be reached at Gooditis@visuallink.com or at (540)533-0840.

A Gathering Of Crows

By Doug Pifer

I was flattening out used cardboard moving boxes and throwing them into the bed of our truck to recycle. A commotion of crows made me look up. About sixty of them circled our upper field and then flew towards the sycamore trees beyond it. Among them I noticed one crow had distinctive white markings showing in the flight feathers of both wings.

Crows are among the most respected birds in Native American culture. In his 2013 book, “Bird Medicine,” Evan T. Pritchard says members of Eastern tribes watch crows very carefully to show them when and where to hold council. Pritchard is a director of Native American Studies at the Center for Algonquian Culture in New York and a descendant of the Mi’kmaq people. In a series of personal testimonies of Natives from different tribes, he presents evidence that crows traditionally gather at certain places each year, and that these places are often sites of historic or traditional Native American gatherings.

Of further interest is that Native American gatherings usually occur around the autumn equinox and winter solstice, which is when American crows are migrating and gathering in great numbers at their communal roosts. Such roosts are dramatic and often contain thousands of birds.

My wife and I used to watch American and fish crows gather at a roost in a cemetery in Hagerstown, Maryland. On late winter afternoons we would notice flocks of crows headed towards the spot from many directions. The crows would first gather at several sites nearby, and then just before dark they descended upon their roosting
spot in the cemetery. The din of their voices was deafening.

Native American tradition also regards crows as messengers from the spirit world. For example an individual bird might bring a message from a deceased loved one. Such messages are deeply personal and only visible to those who understand them. According to Pritchard, Natives traditionally believe all animals are equal to us, and that it is a mistake to play God with animals and to consider ourselves superior to them. This is because not only have we been animals in our past lives, but we may also reincarnate as an animal in the future.

As I continued flattening and loading up empty boxes, a solitary crow came winging back from the woods where the flock was gathered. As it wheeled overhead, I noticed it looked like the same individual I had seen before with white in its wings.

In light of what I’ve just been reading about crows, I wondered for a moment whether this unusually marked bird had something to say to me.

To Protect A Stream, Part II: Tree Planting

By Doug Pifer

This month the story continues about how we are protecting the stream that adjoins and crosses our pasture and flows into Rockymarsh Run.  In September I described how we protected the stream bank by fencing back our livestock with a thirty-five foot buffer along the stream bank.

When Herb Peddicord, Regional West Virginia Forester, visited our buffer, I learned that the Rockymarsh Watershed has a subsoil containing a substance called marl. A mixture of calcium carbonate and small amounts of clay and organic matter, marl used to occur in extensive wetlands here, along with large deposits of limestone. Farming and development over the past 50 to 70 years have washed clay and other types of topsoil down into the wetlands, filling them in and overlaying the marl deposits. This marl subsoil still supports a variety of plants and animals, some of them rare and unique to this area.

On October 14th I helped the state forestry department drill 75 holes with a two-man auger in order to plant trees in our buffer. As we worked we didn’t see much marl, but noticed some spots had more clay and were harder to drill than others.

On October 16, ten Forestry Department volunteers gathered at our farm. Under Herb’s direction, we distributed trees and shrubs to the spots best suited to their habitat needs.

Starting at the north end of the buffer with neighboring Rocky Marsh Run behind him, Herb started a planting demonstration. Using a pointed shovel, he shaped the augered hole to suit the root system. Loosening and gently pulling the tree’s roots from the pot, he pointed to the root collar, a colorful swelling of the trunk just above where the roots start to grow.

Herb said any roots that twine around the tree trunk need to be trimmed or loosened, lest they damage or even kill the tree as it grows bigger. Potting medium shaken from the roots is mixed with the soil that goes back into the hole. The tree is placed in the hole with the root collar slightly above ground level, which he determined by laying a wooden stake on the ground next to the trunk. The soil and potting mixture is then sifted around the roots and tamped down slightly to remove pockets of air.

After planting all the trees we placed a special plastic sleeve around each tree, gently sliding it over the upper branches and leaves. Vented with air holes so the tree stays cool in summer, the sleeve guards against gnawing rodents and keeps deer from browsing on leaves or rubbing young trunks.

Somebody asked when the sleeve should be removed. Herb said it should stay on, pointing to a line of perforations down the length of the sleeve that will gradually split open as the trunk grows.

Finally, we hammered six-foot wooden stakes about 12 inches into the ground beside each trunk to support and hold the tree upright. Fastened to the sleeve in three places with special plastic zip ties and positioned on the upstream side of the trunk, stakes help to hold the tree in place should the stream overflow its banks.

Thanks to the state forestry department and ten volunteers, our stream bank buffer is now enhanced by 75 trees and shrubs: red oak, swamp white oak, red maple, tulip poplar, American sycamore, river birch, American hazelnut, witch-hazel, spicebush, silky dogwood, basswood, redbud, hackberry, paw-paw and elderberry. Herb also included post oak and sassafras, two native species adapted to dry sites in our buffer.

Shopping the Way It Used To Be

By Claire Stuart

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the biggest shopping day of the year and the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season. It has also turned into the beginning of a season of parking lot rage, shopping cart collisions, and fights and near riots over sale merchandise. This has spilled over into Thanksgiving, with people lined up for hours and even camping in parking lots.

Not so long ago, people looked forward to taking their kids “downtown” to see holiday decorations (and maybe Santa Claus) and doing some leisurely shopping, strolling from store to store. This didn’t just happen in Norman Rockwell prints—it was true all over America in the days before malls and big box stores.

We can give thanks this holiday season that it is still true in many small towns. They have walkable downtowns and they have managed to hang onto stores with unique character and proprietors who know and love their merchandise and take time to tell you about it.

Shopping locally gives you the opportunity to find items that you do not find in the big chains. Small towns are the places to find specialty shops, antique and curio shops, thrift and consignment shops, galleries and artisan co-ops with work by local people. And, you’ll find dining options other than the usual fast food.

You can make some wonderful discoveries in little shops. Truly thoughtful gifts are not necessarily new or expensive. Someone you know might just love to have that vintage bomber jacket, that blue apothecary bottle, that set of 1950s era tumblers, that old book of fairy tales or that Harry Belafonte calypso album.

Berryville holds a lot in its small downtown. There are gift, antique, artisan, florist and consignment shops. Specialty shops offer local art, collector’s coins and coin equipment, custom gilded picture frames and restoration, used books (especially military history), and children’s and dolls’ clothing (some handmade). You can get custom leatherwork and repairs, and custom embroidery/screen-printed logos or designs on clothing for your organization. And remember that you will find amazing bargains and help Blue Ridge Hospice when you shop in their local thrift shop.

Dining choices in Berryville include Chinese, Greek, Italian, Mexican and, of course, American, as well as cookies and other sweets. Parking meters will be covered for the shopping season by the whimsical creations of local folks. And you can register at participating merchants for the annual cash giveaway—the drawing for prizes will be held December 18.

The Barns of Rose Hill presents live musical performances every weekend, ranging from classical to country fiddling. The Christmas Tree Lighting and free Community Band Concert will be held at the Barns on December 4, and the Downtown Christmas Parade at noon on December 5.

Take a short drive over lovely some Clarke County country roads to Millwood for some antiquing. While you are there, be sure to stop at the historic Burwell Morgan Mill. It will be open weekends through November 29, and they grind on Saturdays. They have buckwheat, yellow corn, whole wheat and other grains to grind, and freshly ground flour, corn meal and grits are available for sale.

It is worth another short drive to visit nearby Shepherdstown, oldest town in West Virginia. There are galleries, antique, gift, florist and curio shops. Specialty stores offer comics and related games; new and used vinyl records and cassette tapes; yarn and notions for knitting, crocheting and fiber arts; healthy running and walking shoes; bikes/canoes/kayaks and accessories; wine and beer; crystals and herbs; and oriental rugs. Dining options include Mexican, Thai/Japanese, Chinese, Italian, German and American.

There is free parking in Shepherdstown on weekends at metered spaces and in the Shepherd University parking lot. Take a walking tour of historic Shepherdstown (map available at the Visitor’s Center). Interested in more exercise? You can walk or bike on the nearby C&O Canal and even go as far as Washington DC or Cumberland, Maryland. The Visitor’s Center can also provide information on musical and theatrical events in town.

Winchester has no doubt outgrown the “small town” label, but its small town heart is still beating in Old Town Winchester. The Pedestrian Mall and historic buildings have been beautifully restored, and just about anything can be found in the many interesting shops. It still boasts the basic stores that used to be found in all downtowns, including fine men’s and women’s clothing, high-quality footwear, furniture and flooring. In addition, besides galleries, gift, antique, and consignment shops, you will find specialty shops with pet foods and supplies, dancewear, Himalayan handicrafts (including singing bowls), stained glass, flags and banners, musical instruments, home brewing supplies, and even a silversmith.

The Pedestrian Mall is lined with pubs and restaurants, including Italian, Mexican, Thai, sushi, and American food (from hot dogs and burgers to fine dining), with outdoor seating as long as the weather holds.

Rediscover how enjoyable shopping can be. Take a stroll in a small town downtown and browse through the shops, have a bite to eat, and maybe catch some live music, and go home relaxed!

‘Tis the gift to be simple

By J. C. Coon

The harvest has not yet been celebrated, and the media is bombarding us with Christmas Holiday reminders.

I have been trying hard over the past years to eat the food that is in season. To enjoy each season as it comes, and to be in that season completely. Enjoy the next season that comes to be, and be a part of that season completely.

It is not an easy task.

We need to make a conscious effort to take back our lives. There is a song floating in my head. It is a Shaker tune, Simple Gifts. The words go like this (thanks, Wikepedia)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ‘round right

The key word I am looking for here is Simple. Dictionary.reference.com says as an adjective that means: 1) easy to understand, deal with, use; 2) not elaborate or artificial; plain.

I like both of these definitions. As the Christmas Holiday approaches and the media is encouraging you to buy, buy, buy and family members are making lists longer than your arm of items they must have, I say let’s pause and reflect on “musts.”

How many ‘musts’ are sitting in the back on closets, collecting dust? How many ‘musts’ have broken parts and are awaiting a repair that will never come? How many ‘musts’ have lost their luster?

As our family has enlarged and our daily contact with one another has been reduced to Facebook postings, we often know less and less about each other’s likes and preferences. Our family recently went to drawing names so that we each had only one person who we gave a gift to when the family gathered for Christmas. My son-in-law recently suggested the gifts be hand made. That is a great idea if you are crafty and talented and I strongly encourage following along those lines.

Lets remember to Keep It Simple. Nearby we have great independent merchants and local craft shows. Let’s support them. I think what the tune also meant was to give a simple gift; a gift with thought, a humble gift, a gift from the heart.

Time is a gift also. Rethink the word gift. Give the gift of time. Time to be together, time to have a meal together, time to go to an event together. Simple.

I do not pretend to have the answer as to what ‘simple’ looks like to you and your family, but I encourage you to find a ‘simple’ that works for you.

Time to Move on?

By Karen Cifala

The holiday seasons can be a good time to start some thoughtful family discussions while all together. For instance, how can we help guide our parents or our spouse in the decision to sell the family home when staying is no longer a safe or wise choice? It’s sad but true that too many seniors continue to live in homes which do not meet their mental or physical needs.

The main reason to stay for many is the fear of selling their home. Getting to the root of the trepidations is an important aspect in helping a senior make the decision to sell. People worry about becoming “victims” of the lack of comfort and stability. It’s like people who stay in bad marriages, or stressful jobs: they stay because it’s better than the unknown.

The unknown about the future can be very unsettling, and the two biggest fears for most people about the future are health (44%) and finances (26%). Loneliness also plays a role because aging itself can generate loss of independence, along with the death of a spouse, the absence of companionship when someone is ill, and isolation when one can’t get out on one’s own.

Amazingly 68% of seniors live in their homes for more than 30 years!

Years in home % of seniors
0-20 22%
21-30 10%
31-40 26%
41-50 34%
50-60 8%

Fear of change tops the charts when seniors start to think about moving, along with fear of downsizing, as well as emotional and financial concerns. Another question I have uncovered is this: If they sell, do they need to bring their home up to code? It really depends on who buys the house and if there are safety issues that might need to be addressed to satisfy the buyer’s lender. If someone hasn’t bought or sold a home in 30 years, there will be quite a shock with the number of regulations that have been put in place.

Wanting to move is not generally on an older person’s agenda, but creating a new lifestyle might be. The daunting chore of maintaining a home—or health issues—might be a driving force behind a decision to move.


Recommendations for discussing a move with elders

Acknowledging their fears, and dealing with them in a forthright manner.

Gathering information through professionals who can help. These include a financial planner, a senior real estate specialist, and senior placement services that can offer guidance as to which type of housing would best serve them. At some point, it might be time to consult personal property liquidators like an estate sale specialist, a home organizer or downsizers, and appraisers for valuables.

Common questions families might discuss

When is the right time to begin the move process;

Where is the next home going to be;

How much will it cost and what is actually affordable;

What is the current home worth;

Do repairs or maintenance need to be done;

When is the appropriate time to make the move;

Should we rent or sell the family home.

The short answer: It’s never too early to begin the psychological process just because the actual move may be months or years away. Careful planning, along with consultations with family, friends, and advisors will help formulate the answers to these questions. I can tell you from experience that many wrong decisions are made during a crisis. Whether or not the elder is comfortable or capable of handling the prep work to get the house ready to sell will determine when the move should occur.

When considering renting the home you might think about the plans for the house in the future. Also, whether renting out the property is a temporary solution to give a senior “psychological room” to give up their home. Then there is the question about how you or your family feel about being a landlord, and whether the option is economically feasible.

Try to recognize Fantasy Real Estate vs. Real Estate when undertaking a move with an elderly person. They may say they are ready to sell, but the roadblock signs of negative responses to a sales price or making the home difficult to show means they are not really ready. Have a heart to heart talk with a plan in mind, and agree to not proceed until Fantasy becomes Real.

The worst decision is to do nothing. Do not keep the property vacant—this can be problematic in itself and only delay the decision making.

Most importantly, if you are a senior reading this article, consider this a time that you can look inside yourself and ask if your current lifestyle is what you have worked toward all your life and is one you want to sustain. If it’s right, then by all means stay and enjoy the home for years to come. Unfortunately, we never know how long we will live or how long our good health will last, so think clearly and honestly.

Karen Cifala is a realtor and senior real estate specialist who works for REMAX ROOTS in Berryville. She can help with referrals and practical solutions. Reach her by email at kcifala@gmail.com or call her at REMAX 540-955-0911.

The Thankfulness Attitude

In recognition of the season, we present some awesome quotes on gratitude from Terri Guillemets’ terrific website QuoteGarden.com. Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful for all the good stuff when the tough stuff seems overwhelming. Thanks to Guillmets for sharing these messages to remind us.

As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world. ~Terri Guillemets

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. ~G.K. Chesterton

For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get. ~Frank A. Clark

The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! ~Henry Ward Beecher

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. ~Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

Praise the bridge that carried you over. ~George Colman

If you count all your assets, you always show a profit. ~Robert Quillen

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus

What a miserable thing life is: you’re living in clover, only the clover isn’t good enough. ~Bertolt Brecht, Jungle of Cities, 1924

Gratitude is the best attitude. ~Author Unknown

Letters to the editor

Elect Tom McFillen

We voters in the Berryville voting district are very fortunate this election cycle. That is because both of our candidates for supervisor are wonderful, decent people. I am proud to be acquainted with both Mary Daniel and Tom McFillen. It was not easy at first deciding who to vote for. Also, in a municipal race like this, the party affiliation is absolutely irrelevant. It is the resumes and volunteer records of the candidates that should be the deciding factor for who to support.

During my time on and off attending Grace Episcopal Church here in town, I have gotten to know Mr. McFillen and his family, especially his wife Robin, who does a wonderful job working for the church. They are very connected to and in touch with the community. Mr. McFillen has a distinguished record working on the Clarke County Planning Commission, which has prepared him well for Supervisor.

In terms of the work life of the two candidates, Tom’s is much more directly relevant to municipal issues. He has worked in construction as a project manager for years, so has a deep knowledge of infrastructure. He has managed multiple types of projects including, apartment buildings, hospitals, and hotels. This is valuable knowledge that we should not let go to waste!

Tom is a pillar of the community who has stepped up to serve.



William Bigelow, Berryville

Vote for Mary Daniel

Mary Daniel is running for the Board of Supervisors to represent the Berryville District, and I am very happy that she is willing to take on this opportunity to serve our community. As a lawyer serving for many years on the county planning commission and then elected to represent her neighbors  for eight years on the Berryville Town Council, Mary has gained great experience which has given her understanding of the issues that face Berryville as well as the County at large. She has clear knowledge of the comprehensive plan to wisely manage the growth of Clarke County, and her training in law offers her the skills to understand the multiple issues that are addressed by a County Supervisor. Perhaps most importantly, her experience and working relationships enable her to foster a strong and positive working relationship between the town and county.

I intend to vote for Mary Daniel for the Clarke County Board of Supervisors and encourage you to  consider casting your ballot for Mary as well.


Mary Jane Lee, Berryville


LaRock Stands Against Misplaced I-66 Priorities.

Recently, Governor McAuliffe proposed imposing a $17 toll on I-66 inside the Beltway. Funds raised through this toll would pay for “alternative travel options,” such as bike and pedestrian paths in areas such as Arlington.

What the Governor doesn’t understand is that commuters from outside the Beltway (i.e. Clarke) will bear the brunt of the toll burden, even though they won’t benefit at all from “alternative travel options” built 50 miles away in Arlington. To make matters worse, the Governor’s plan fails to include specific new lane capacities—which is the only thing that would actually reduce congestion in Northern Virginia.

Thankfully, Del. Dave LaRock is standing against McAuliffe’s toll proposal in the House of Delegates. LaRock’s opposition to the toll proposal reaffirms his commitment to 33rd District residents.

By continuing to protect Virginia families from unreasonable fees such as this, Dave LaRock is the clear choice for the 33rd District this Election Day.

Anthony DeFazio, Loudoun