Archive for the Friendship Category

The 1st Of A Million Tributes

Posted in Adirondacks, Family, Friendship, Living Simply, Personal History, Soul Food on August 10, 2018 by WanderArtist

We were graced with an amazing day to climb Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain in the Adirondacks to honor Shaun’s memory on August 10, 2018. Just a handful of friends joined me to let fly some of Shaun’s ashes from the fire tower.


The humidity that was dogging us lifted overnight after a dramatic late night thunderstorm. The trail was dry and gorgeous and sparsely traveled when we headed out on our hike up the newly, and beautifully rebuilt old trail.

Chocolate and coffee were passed around at the summit in Shaun’s honor and then I climbed the fire tower alone to scatter ashes to the four directions. After a few private minutes others joined me…

We watched from the tower as six hawks circled the summit and performed acrobatics through the clouds. We all felt Shaun’s spirit soaring above and around us.

Karen’s dog Finn also made a special connection with the young summit steward!


It’s just the beginning of this release of ashes, memories and love for our sweet friend. I hope you can join me for a million more tributes. Love to all… Hug each other.

xo a

Shaun 1952 – 2018

Posted in Family, Friendship, Inspiring People, Personal History on July 19, 2018 by WanderArtist

Born in Plattsburgh, NY on February 13, 1952 Shaun was the seventh child of ItaMary O’Grady Heffernan (an Irish citizen to the day she died) and Thomas True Heffernan (his middle name came from his mother whose was a member of the True family of Saranac and True Brook). He was preceded in death by his parents and four sisters: Marie Johnson, Patricia Nortell, ItaMary Yuncker and Joan Patterson. Shaun is survived by his wife Amanda Palmer; sister Gail Wilson; brother Thomas Heffernan and wife Charlotte; and numerous nieces and nephews. Shaun had a difficult home life and was fortunate to be “adopted” by some local families – most notably the Engelhart, Hartnett, and Russo families. Thank You All.

As a child he was the light in the room for his mother and often recalled his joy in impersonating Elvis for her. This may have influenced his recent purchase of a beautiful pair of blue suede shoes.

Shaun worked many wild jobs over the years including crab fishing in Alaska, oil field ‘swamper’ in Wyoming, bartender, roadie for various friends bands (you know who you are!), and waiter in San Francisco. Throughout those years his passion for photography was a driving force. In 1985 he quit alcohol and drugs, choosing instead a positive life in pursuit of his art. In 1990 he met his soulmate, Amanda Palmer, at San Francisco State University – almost eloping just five days after their first date. In 1994, they moved to his beloved North Country, where they married in 1996. Shaun worked in photography, exhibit design, and ran a thriving card company, Follow Your Bliss cards. For nine years, Shaun and Amanda operated their own gallery and espresso bar, The Oasis in downtown Plattsburgh.

Shaun was an award winning photographer with hundreds of thousands of images spanning five decades in his photographic library. One of his great loves was environmental portraiture. Shaun often said that a portrait was the record of the interaction between photographer and subject – and his images of people reflected the love, compassion and positivity he brought to ALL of his human interactions.

Shaun was a gifted photographer – a master of light. He wove it through his imagery as though with a painted brush. Yet his photography evoked a deeper experience; his photographs were a celebration. He thrust into every image the desire to express joy – to recognize and share the gifts of our planet, the bounty of our surroundings.

Sometimes his images were whimsical to elicit a smile or a chuckle; his portraits provided a glimpse into the inner being. His landscapes captured the vibrancy of a day awakening to a symphony of colors and with the same precision he captured the stillness of a night sky and the mystery of a distant moon.

Shaun was a keen observer. His photographs not only translated the majesty of the landscape but also hidden treasures so often overlooked – the intricate detail of crystals left behind by an evening frost or the delicate petals of a wildflower lifting its face to the warming sun. Shaun was a tremendous lover of music and musicians and had a keen ear for nuance. One of his more remarkable gifts was his uncanny ability to marry music with his images to produce breathtaking and awe-inspiring slide shows whose synergy far exceeded the sum of its parts.

Recognized by National Geographic as a prize winning photographer Shaun’s most recent project was to document birds of our National Parks. Just as his technical skills enabled his capture of fleeting moments, his watchful patience was rewarded with close-up glimpses of those beautiful creatures. But it was his innate desire to express joy that allowed a more intimate portrayal of these rare moments. Birds flutter as flamingo dancers, ponds shimmer with mirrored stately poses and when we look into a hawk’s eye we see our own reflection.

Shaun invites us to stand with him and see what he sees: Wonderment. His magic was not just his technical ability to capture the light: the light within him infused each photograph with inner beauty and revealed a deeper understanding of our world of riches.

Shaun was an inspiration to his fellow photographers and visual artists: his generosity of heart enabled revelatory moments of bliss for a wide world of friends and acquaintances. His legacy will be cherished; we have lost a special voice.

For the last four years Shaun was following his bliss by wandering the United States and taking photographs in many of his most favorite places… along with cultivating new treasured spots. He was overjoyed to have captured photographs of numerous scenes and birds that he had envisioned for years. His plan to “cultivate serendipity” resulted in some lasting and very loving friendships with people met along the way. He knew he was a lucky man, he felt it in his heart and expressed it to those around him frequently.

Shaun loved biking and hiking. A friend named his bike “the green ghost” many years ago and it stuck. Biking was a daily activity for him right up until his last morning when he took a favorite route and rode to a spot he dubbed “the dream spot”. The route stopped at an overpass to the Northway where he and his wife would ride and dream of upcoming travels. He shot a video on his way home and sent it to his wife. (Look for the video below)

Shaun had a devilishly delightful sense of humor, bawdy at times, but always delivered with style, charm, and a twinkle in his eye. Shaun’s positivity, strength, and desire to always be a better human will be sorely missed by his wife and others. He would want to be remembered most for always reaching out to those around him and offering his hugs, love and joy. Hug each other. Into the mystic he goes, leaving the world a much better place for his having passed through it.

Through the end of July some of his work can be seen at the Peru Free Library in Peru, NY. Cremation has been left to Walker Funeral Home and there will be a celebration of his life held in the North Country in 2019.










Posted in flora and fauna, Friendship, Living Simply, Local Roaming, Soul Food, Wanderings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2013 by WanderArtist

This was simply a challenging week for me… the loss of a dear soul… the difficult tasks innate in being someone’s boss… so I went back a few weeks in my photo archives to present to you some wonderful smiling faces!


Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are native to the Americas and grown for their seeds, oil and leaves (the leaves are used as feed for livestock). Until now I had always thought they were heliotropic – that their flower heads would track the sun across the sky during the day… Apparently this is only partly true. The immature buds do this, but eventually the head stops in one place and continues to grow in a stationary position facing East.



The sunflower was first domesticated in the Americas and eventually introduced to Europe by the Spanish. This flower has been thought to symbolize many things, by many people over the ages – the sun, the solar deity of the Aztecs and Incas, the Vegan Society, the aesthetic movement in the late 19th century… clearly these faces resonate with humans!



Spend a little time with these flowers and you may think there is nothing wrong with the bee population in the northeastern US. These sunflowers were loaded with bees busy pollinating every flower… And ignoring every photographer!

Some of the lore surrounding sunflowers is interesting… If you want to know the truth about something sleep with a sunflower under your bed and the truth will be revealed… to protect against smallpox wear a bag with sunflower seeds around your neck… Most revealing for me – sunflowers help relieve sadness, attract joy and lift the spirits!



This lovely Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) growing wild across the road from the sunflowers held it’s own magic for me. This plant made the opposite journey of the sunflower – it was introduced into the Americas from Europe and Asia. Not as showy and loud as the sunflower, this plant has a calming effect on the senses!

Ode to a Lost Friend

Posted in Friendship, Ideas, Inspiring People, Personal History, Poetry, Soul Food with tags , , on August 28, 2013 by WanderArtist

There was once a young man named Chris Blew, he worked in a bookstore in San Francisco – the best bookstore I have ever entered actually – Green Apple Books. We were pals… we watched bad movies together and the occasional t.v. show… always while munching on junk food. We also rode bikes and worked together. When we were in our mid-twenties I lost Chris to cancer (about 19 years ago). Recently I stumbled upon some old, yellowing, typed sheets of his poetry.

In honor of a lost friend I post one of the poems here… let it remind you that life is short and we should all make the best of it… Go outside, get on your bike and take a ride for Chris! And if you happen to be in San Francisco, ride across the Golden Gate Bridge – he loved to do that…

So is it, that in this immense universe,

gazillions of planets thick,

God, the Big G,

chose to watch us?

Or maybe, we’re the only life out there,

in those gazillions of worlds,

mathematically improbable, but then,

Gods’ in charge of the math.

Perhaps God, in his infiniteness,

infinitosity? infinitude? Bigness?


perhaps God can watch us all, each and every soul,

grasshopper to planaria to Chris,

all the Chris’s, myself included,

on all the gazillions of worlds,

it’d be a lot of work,

but then, he’s God, the Big G.

Or is it that God, the Big G,

is a higher order of life,

but strictly local,

like, “The Milky Way God”,

or some such thing.

And if so,

does God, the Big G.

worship some God of his own,

a Bigger G?

And, there’s also the chance,

that God, the Big G.

was born, lives, and will end,

in that space,

that electro-chemical gap,

between nerve fibers,

where everything we think is born, lives, and ends.

Yes, maybe God is our thought,

a spark of invention,

in some long forgotten cortex,

built into the system,

and resuming his godly stature,

with every firing of the nerve.

So maybe God, the Big G.

is no more than a bodily function of me,

and all the other Chris’s, and the planaria

and the grasshoppers, and the Pope,

what a switch.

If that’s the case,

then I’m really quite sorry,

because there are gazillions of worlds out there,

in this really big, infinite universe,

and me, and the other Chris’s,

and the planaria and the grasshoppers,

and even the Pope,

especially him,

would be very lonely without God, the Big G.


North Country 4th

Posted in Adirondacks, Friendship, Local Roaming, Wanderings with tags , , , , on July 6, 2013 by WanderArtist

One of the aspects I enjoy about living in a rural area are small town parades on the 4th of July. Although I do have one minor critique… a little too much emphasis on car culture. I would love to see more walkers, bands, dancers, horseback riders. My one exception to that is, of course, that I certainly don’t mind ogling a classic car here and there! Here is a sampling of what we saw at the Jay, New York parade.

Ambulance crews, fire trucks, and many other vehicles make up the majority of participants

ambulance crews, ems, fire trucks, and many other vehicles make up the majority of participants – a good chance to give your local emergency crews a hand… many of whom are volunteer in this area

there were many more observers than participants in the parade

in my estimate there were many more observers than participants in the parade – all ready to scramble for candy


dressed up for a Jane Austen play they were promoting

dressed up for a Jane Austen play they were promoting

now these are the sorts of motorized vehicles I love!

now these are the sorts of motorized vehicles I love!

therapy animals - they were all charming miniature donkeys

therapy animals – they were all charming miniature donkeys wearing visors


a cool 1967 Porsche at Jay Craft Center

a cool 1967 Porsche at Jay Craft Center

this awesome car was found after the parade parked on a country road

this awesome car was found after the parade – parked on a country road

loving the details!

loving the details!

she cleans up real nice!

she cleans up real nice!

True Character

Posted in Art, Decorative Arts, Friendship, Inspiring People, Local Roaming, Museum, Wanderings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 by WanderArtist

There were many distinguished visitors who came to enjoy the tranquil setting Alice and William Miner created during the heyday of Heart’s Delight Farm in Chazy. Many of these visitors signed guest books with eloquent messages. One such visitor was James Buchanan Brady. Perhaps you will know him better by his nickname, Diamond Jim.

Diamond Jim Brady was a salesman extraordinaire. He started out as a poor Irish boy in New York City working as a bellboy. Perhaps utilizing his charm and tenacity he secured a job in the railroad business, eventually selling railroad equipment, including Miner equipment. Fortune Magazine called him the “greatest capital goods salesman in American history” fifty years after his 1917 death. Clearly he was a great salesman, and a savvy investor in the stock market, relatively rapidly becoming a very wealthy man, estimated at one time to be worth at least twelve million dollars!

His penchant for jewels is what gained him the nickname Diamond Jim. One of his signature pieces of jewelry was a large ring with the image of a horse surrounded by diamonds. He also prided himself in dressing well and believed that one need look good to be successful, “If you’re going to make money, you’ve got to look like money…” was an oft-quoted Brady axiom.


He was literally a larger-than-life figure in the Gilded Age. There are so many legends surrounding Diamond Jim that it is clear he really caught the public’s imagination. He was called a gourmand for his incredible appetite. The legends about the volume of food he would eat at a sitting are truly amazing, and perhaps not totally accurate. Another story about Diamond Jim illustrates how he whole-heartedly embraced the new “safety” bicycles popular in New York City by ordering a dozen gold plated bicycles with diamond-encrusted handlebars for himself, his friends, and his longtime confidant, actress and singer Lillian Russell.


Diamond Jim loved to bet on the horses, and was a regular at Saratoga, New York raceways. Perhaps it was his trips to Saratoga that eventually brought him north to visit his friend William Miner at Heart’s Delight Farm in Chazy. Legend has it that William played a little trick on Diamond Jim by hiding a canteen of orange juice (Jim’s favorite drink), along with a few fancy glasses in the crook of a tree, which they “found” as Will led Jim on a hike about the farm on a very warm day. Will lured Jim into a chat about how nice it might be to have something cold to drink… when Diamond Jim concurred, Will reached around the tree and poured him a glass of orange juice!

William Miner and Diamond Jim both traveled the railroads for endless days selling railroad gear. William sold his own inventions, and Jim sold for others as well as for William. They became good friends along the way. Perhaps they crossed paths at the World’s Colombian Exposition in 1893, where Diamond Jim and Lillian Russell turned heads with the sheer amount of corn they consumed! Diamond Jim was a very generous man, showering gifts on friends and donating a large sum to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where he had once been treated. There are even a few wonderful objects in the collection at The Alice that Jim gave to his friend Will.


In the Miner Room on the third floor are displayed two matching American silver-overlay green glass decanters with stoppers. Made by the Gorham Manufacturing Company around 1895, the silver overlay is a scrolled Art Nouveau design with a monogrammed “WHM”. With matching monograms, the other pieces consist of a four-piece set of men’s hairbrushes made of silver. They are not the overly ornate gifts of legend, just handsome pieces suitable for a less showy person like William Miner. Wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall during Diamond Jim’s visit to Heart’s Delight Farm? Oh, the meals they served, and the enjoyment they squeezed out of life!


Each Day is a Gift

Posted in Friendship, Ideas, Inspiring People, Personal History, Soul Food, Team Fox with tags , , , , on April 14, 2012 by WanderArtist
My fundraising to help find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease began essentially by default. The town nearest my home was holding it’s first ever half marathon, and the founders of the run had chosen to raise the money for Team Fox. I had two friends locally who were fighting the disease… and I had raised money for a few different charities in my youth – March of Dimes, Greenpeace – and I thought this might be a nice way to give back to my community while doing something I loverunning.
After that first half marathon I reconnected with a childhood friend on facebook. When Maralee told me she was diagnosed in 2001 with Parkinson’s Disease I was really upset. I felt like we were too young, it’s just not fair. Of course, Michael J. Fox was diagnosed when he was just 30 years old. What I have seen in talking with my friends, and listening to others, is that everyone approaches a serious disease in his or her own way. My friends have all kept very positive and life affirming attitudes. They are inspirations to us all.
The following blog was written by my grade school buddy Maralee… it offers a detailed perspective from the viewpoint of one who has lived with Parkinson’s Disease for over ten years.

I was diagnosed officially with Parkinson’s Disease in April of 2001 at the age of 34, but the symptoms were present years before the diagnosis. I just had no idea what it was! I was in denial when I first found out and requested a second opinion. I traveled several times to UCSF where I was seen by the head of neurology and observed by several medical students. It was later confirmed that I had Parkinson’s Disease. I have to admit there was a sense of relief that my problem had a name – but I was still terrified! I immediately set out to educate myself. There are several good books out there on the disease and of course the internet is a wealth of information. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is a good source of information and has helped me tremendously over the years. I get their newsletter each month/quarter which keeps me up to date on new trials and findings regarding PD. Michael J. Fox and his foundation have given me hope for the future! My family and I also donate money annually to the foundation. I have a sister and her family and a dear childhood friend who participate in annual runs for PD and raise money towards the cure, Thank you Patty and Amanda!

After years of progressing PD symptoms, I have had to change the way I do some things. Unfortunately, there are some things I have eliminated completely. I avoid stairs due to the fall factor! My balance had not been good and I find myself tipping over for no reason. I used to enjoy hiking… no uneven ground for this girl now. I fatigue easily and require a 20 minute nap almost everyday. I no longer work outside the home. I was forced to retire about 3 years ago from my law enforcement job. I was devastated by this at first. I was a Community Services Officer for almost eight years and enjoyed my job for the first time ever. I loved the connection with the community and serving them and I loved my law enforcement family. And, my husband Gregg and I shared something in common… He continues to work there as a Lieutenant Commander of our county jail. This was a tough decision to make. Along with my neurologist we decided it was time. Since then I have made myself busy, sometimes busier than when I worked! We have a twelve year old son who I have enjoyed being a stay-at-home-mom for! I volunteer for projects at his school that I can do from home. I also enjoy giving what service I can to members of my church. I refuse to let PD get me down!

In February 2011, after much thought and research, I decided to have the DBS treatment (Deep Brain Stimulation). I had heard about this surgery in 2003 at a PD conference where a doctor by the name of Benjamin Remington spoke about the treatment for PD – but I wasn’t too keen on someone drilling in my brain. After introducing myself to this doctor I proceeded to tell him I would never have this surgery. He told me I would come talk to him when I was ready, which irritated me at the time. Fast forward 9 years, I sought out this same doctor, changed my insurance for the year just so he could perform the surgery. I had the DBS surgery a year ago and I am forever grateful to Dr. Remington! I have the utmost respect and confidence in him. The surgery was a success. Although this type of surgery is just a treatment and not a cure, I am so grateful for the “time” it has bought me. I still have the disease, it is just masked by my battery operated brain. I am still hopeful for a cure in my lifetime.

Maralee after surgery

I have always enjoyed exercising and prior to surgery was very impatient waiting for my drugs to work so that I could walk with my friends. I have a group that I walk with and they have been so patient and supportive of my needs – often walking around my block an extra time waiting for my drugs to kick in. I never walk alone for fear of falling. Since surgery I have returned to the gym. Exercise, and just plain moving is crucial to PD patients.

Prior to surgery I was taking 16 pills a day (3 types of drugs used for treating PD). Today, I take 6 per day. I no longer shake or have those nasty involuntary movements, or walk with a walker. The best part is I hardly ever fall anymore! I used to freeze up constantly which caused me to fall almost every day. There are a few side effects – and balance is still an issue but it is much improved. One of the side effects of DBS is slurred speech. When I’m tired or talk too fast it is sometimes hard to understand me. I have learned to slow down and annunciate my words.

I attend a monthly PD support group which has been a great blessing. At 44 I’m the youngest member of the group. The majority of them are 60 and over and some are wheelchair users. They have been a huge support to me, and were my cheerleaders through my surgery and recovery. I am proud to call every one of them my friends!

There is no doubt having a debilitating disease is hard on any family, especially one with young children. My kids, now age 22 and 12 have adapted well to having a handicapped mom. They’ve had to chip in with extra chores and fetch things for me when I couldn’t move. They get frustrated sometimes but that’s life. They have definitely become more sensitive to others needs. I think my husband has had to take on the most responsibility. It’s tough being the caregiver. I worry about the burden I must be but I do know how much he loves me… And that makes all the difference in the world.

With PD I have learned to be realistic. I can’t run errands, shop, run kids everywhere, or work like I used to. It takes careful planning and accepting that sometimes you don’t get “it” done today. There is always tomorrow. You have to allow extra time to accomplish things. Time management is the key and accepting your disease is half the battle. And my motto long before PD was “Each Day is a Gift”. I truly believe this, even on the not-so-good days!

They call me a Young Onset PD patient, even though I don’t feel that young! At first I needed help with getting dressed, putting my boots on for work, and sometimes washing my hair. That was in the beginning when I was very stiff and rigid and lacked fine motor skills. Dopamine drugs seemed to help a little, when I remembered to take them. As the years went by I had to depend on these drugs to just get by each day. I have to admit I was depressed a lot and shook my fist at God and said “why” a few times. Now, I thank my Heavenly Father everyday for giving me this challenge because it has made me a better person and a stronger woman and lets face it, there are a lot worse diseases I could have!

Gregg & Maralee

My advice to anyone with PD and to their caregivers is simply – be patient. Allow extra time, love yourself, and love your family for helping take care of you. Exercise is key! Those happy endorphins really work, and fight depression. And remember “Each Day is a Gift!”

The Plattsburgh Half Marathon is Sunday, April 22. If you would like to help me to reach my fundraising goal for Team Fox please visit my personal fundraising page!

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