Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Need to Find a Graphic Artist to Help Finish the Penniman Manuscript

January 7th, 2017 Sears Homes 9 comments

On April 18, 2016, I left my home at 4:00 am to catch a 5:30 am flight for Boston, Massachusetts, where I’d visit my daughter and her son. After four years of intense research and work, the manuscript on Penniman was finally 98% complete, and now it was time for a graphic artist to assemble the artwork and prepare the book for a printer.

An impressive history-loving group in Colonial Williamsburg had asked me to give my first public talk on Penniman on April 24th.

The morning of the 18th, I was running around the house getting ready for my trip to Boston when my husband asked, “Do you have a coat? It’s going to be cold in Boston.” When I said no, he handed me my favorite beige winter coat and said, “I don’t want you to get cold.” I gave him a big kiss and a hug and said, “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

He dropped me off at the airport and I gave him another big, long hug and then grabbed him and said, “In four days, we’ll be happy again.” He smiled and said, “Yes, in four days, we’ll be happy again.”

For several weeks, Attorney Ringer had been preparing for an upcoming trial involving the non-fatal shooting of a woman by a Norfolk cop. As the Chief Deputy City Attorney, it was his case, and he felt responsible for its successful outcome. The trial started on April 19th (Tuesday), and I kept reassuring him, “This will end, and we’ll be happy again and then you’ll retire 30 days later. It’s been a long road but we’re on the home stretch.” I shortened this refrain by saying, “In four days, we’ll be happy again.”

When he seemed especially tuned out, I’d sit down beside him with my laptop and show him pictures of other trips we’d taken. I told him, “We’ll go back there after you retire and I’ll teach you the fine art of traveling cheap and we’ll have a good time.” He said flatly, “I’m looking forward to that.”

As soon as he’d found out that I’d landed in Boston, he left his office at City Hall and committed suicide. Within an hour of landing in Boston, I received a phone call that my husband was dead, by his own hand. The day of my “big talk” in Willliamsburg turned out to be the day of my 63-year-old husband’s funeral.

Since then, I haven’t been able to look at the Penniman manuscript. Even now, it’s hard to look at these photos, but I know - after talking with other “suicide widows” (as we’re known) - that there comes a day when you have to push past the agonizing emotional and physical and spiritual pain and try to do one small thing. And yes, there is agonizing physical pain. I suffer from unrelenting and at times, crippling chest pain. It’s my constant companion.

Writing this blog and asking for help is my “one small thing” today.

This morning, after talking with “Leslie,” (a fellow writer and suicide widow), I realized it was time for me to climb back into Penniman and get this book finished. And that’s where I need some help. I’m in need of a graphic artist that can help me assemble the manuscript (22 chapters and 37 photos) into a print-ready document.

If you know of anyone who’s willing to help with this project, please leave a comment below.

Thanks so much.

To read more about Penniman, click here.


The story of Penniman is an amazing one. Penniman was a boom town about six miles from Williamsburg (Virginia), where TNT was loaded into shells for The Great War.

The story of Penniman is an amazing one. Penniman was a boom town about six miles from Williamsburg (Virginia), where TNT was loaded into shells for The Great War. This is a picture of one of the shell-loading lines, courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.


One of the little bungalows at Penniman, named The DuPont. This very model is what drew me into this story of Penniman. After Penniman closed, 18 of these houses were taken to Norfolk by barge.

The little bungalows at Penniman were built at several DuPont sites, and were named "The DuPont." These hipped-roof bungalows sat near the York River (not far from where Cornwallis surrendered). This very model is what drew me into this story of Penniman. After Penniman closed, 18 of these houses were taken to Norfolk by barge. Photo is courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.


This photo is from the Norfolk tax assessors office. It is from 1949, and shows The DuPont in largely original condition.

This photo is from the Norfolk tax assessor's office. It is from 1949, and shows "The DuPont" in largely original condition.


The people of Penniman are part of what make the story so compelling. There was a 312-man army detachment at Penniman known as The Shell Inspectors. It was their job to make sure that, at every point and turn, the shells were correctly loaded and stored.

The people of Penniman are part of what make the story so compelling. There was a 312-man army detachment at Penniman known as The Shell Inspectors. It was their job to make sure that, at every point and turn, the shells were correctly loaded and stored.


It is the people of Penniman that make the story come alive.

It is the people of Penniman that make the story come alive. More than 50% of the civilian employees at Penniman were women. They're shown here at the train depot within Penniman, where shells were shipped out on their way to the front. Photo is courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.


A woman worker loads explosive charges into a shell.

Dr. John Henderson (far right) sits with other medical personnel at the Penniman Hospital. Photo is courtesy of the Henderson Family. The names of the other workers are lost to history.



More than 900 wheelbarrows were purchased for the building of Penniman, and a large number of African-Americans were employed in its construction and day-to-day production. Photo is courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.



Those double doors require only a push to open, and on the other side is a long chute, leading to the ground.


See those long chutes?

See those long chutes? Photo is courtesy Hagley Museum and Library.



Melvin Wayne Ringer, 1953 - 2016


To read more about Penniman, click here.


Christmas in Carlinville (Illinois)

January 6th, 2017 Sears Homes 2 comments

In an effort to be “anywhere but here,” I traveled to Illinois for the holidays and spent them in Carlinville, Illinois, home of a large collection of Sears Homes, built by Standard Oil.

It was a treat to find the Town Square all lit up for the holidays.

Carlinvilles Town Square at Christmas

Carlinville's Town Square at Christmas

My Sweet Teddy

December 16th, 2016 Sears Homes 9 comments

Dear little Teddy got into something that caused her to vomit within 1-2 hours, and then she recovered. This happened several times over a span of several months, and yet after each “event,” she seemed okay a few hours later. I’m now wondering if she ingested something toxic.

I’d also be grateful to know what might cause such a reaction in a Sheltie. Could it be mushrooms? Antifreeze? What would cause such an event?

She’s been to the vet several times since then and is in excellent health now. Any ideas what could make a 45-pound Sheltie so sick so fast?



Her good health is my best Christmas present.

Her good health is my best Christmas present.


Teddy as a little puppy.

Teddy as a little puppy (early 2009).


To read about Sears Homes, click here.



November 26th, 2016 Sears Homes 7 comments

Through what has been the worst year of my life - I still struggle to find my way out of the pit. Whilst reading books (and talking with others) on healing the broken heart, I learned that finding reasons for gratitude helps re-wire the brain and pulls us out of the mire of deep despair.

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the many kind comments left here at this website.

During my darkest hours (and there have been many), I lie down in a quiet place and verbally recite the names of those who are praying for me. I also just go into empty churches and sit in the darkened sanctuary and ask God to show me the way back to some semblance of normality and/or peace.

It’s become clear to me that prayers are the highest expression of love that we humans can share with one another.

The last couple of weeks, I was in Carlinville, Alton and Champaign, spending time with friends and family, and my friend Linda shared this image with me which touched me to tears. She asked, “What is your first impression?”

I replied, “Look at how much effort the man from Samaria is exerting to save the stranger.”

Linda said, “That was my first impression, too. Saving someone who’s been given up for dead is hard work.”

My soul feels dead in so many ways, but as my daughter says, “Focus on the love in your life. If you focus on anything else, you’re not going to survive this.”

To every one who has said they’re praying for me, please know that it’s your love that is my focus through these holy days.

“Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.” - Charles Finney


Vincent Van Gogh - The Good Samaritan. Vincent Van Gogh was staying in an institution for the mentally ill (following a psychotic break) when he painted this work, in May 1890.


Almost Six Months Out…

October 13th, 2016 Sears Homes 17 comments

Feels like the second wave of grief has hit. Plus, I busted my leg during a bad fall so I’m not able to move around much.

And were it not for my friend and angel “Milton,” I’d have lost my mind. Milton has stayed right with me for six months, even using four weeks of paid leave from his work during the darkest hours. He also orchestrated the move out of my home in Norfolk into a rental home. He has literally exhausted himself trying to save me, keep the bills paid, find a rental, and relocate to another city. When I start sinking into the mire of self-pity, I make a list of the things for which I’m grateful and I literally - speak out loud - the names of those who are praying for me. Those prayers have also kept me on this earth.

If you were one of the people praying for me, I am profoundly grateful.

My eldest daughter Crystal calls me every night to check on me. That is another lifeline that keeps me moving forward, one step at a time. And there’s Barbara, who gave me this advice: “Be gentle with yourself. You need sleep and rest. Live 15 minutes at a time. This may take a year or it might take two, but stop pushing it.”

And my Facebook friend “Bev” who contacted me and said, “What can I do to help?” And then showed up to help with The Big Move into the rental. And held me when I wept.

And there’s Tracie - who from the very beginning - spoke words so profound (and on point) that I pulled out my laptop and transcribed the conversation so that I could read it again and again. And Cathy (Wayne’s sister), who has sent me daily texts reminding me that she loves me, and that I would always be part of her family. And Anne and Mike, who took me into their home for three weeks - the three worst weeks - and kept me going.

I’ve found that there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who have known and/or really understand tragedy and those who don’t. It really is that simple.

I’ve also learned that many of your “good friends” disappear while others - often people that were on the periphery of your life -use all of their best energies to pull you out of the icy seas and into the life boat, and put their best efforts into saving you, just because that’s how they’re wired. They open their homes and hearts to a a veritable stranger because, they’re that type of person that knows about tragedy.

And I have learned that way too many people are too comfortable to allow your discomfort into their circle, so they make up stories as an excuse to keep you out of their life. It’s as though they genuinely believe that you’re contagious.

I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen the very worst of Christianity during this crisis, and yet I’ve also seen the very best. There truly are angels walking among us who can still see a shimmer of God shining in your soul when all you can see is darkness. I’ve spent many hours just sitting quietly in churches seeking respite and peace. And kudos to the Catholics for keeping their churches open throughout the day. A priest in Alton, Illinois spent two hours talking to me - a stranger - and explaining that God was still with me. His words brought much comfort.

And there’s Donna in Illinois who has offered to let me stay with her as long as I need to, so that my shattered heart and soul can heal.

I haven’t abandoned this website but I’m not sure what to do with it.

And thanks again to all those who have sent me their prayers and their love.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Finding the New Normal

September 3rd, 2016 Sears Homes 12 comments

Finding the strength to face each day is a daunting and almost impossible task. I don’t know how people do it. I always was a “woman of faith” but now I can’t seem to find my way.

I’d be grateful for any and all spiritual support and loving prayers.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Emails and Such

June 27th, 2016 Sears Homes 9 comments

My husband died a terrible and tragic death 10 weeks ago today.

Well-intentioned people keep sending me emails asking for more information on Sears kit homes.

It’s certainly okay to leave a comment at this site, as a friend is now managing it, but please don’t contact me personally about Sears Homes for now.

Most of my Sears House materials will soon be donated to the ODU Library.

If you’d like to learn more about Sears Homes, please read through the 958 blogs at this site, or join our group on Facebook.

If you’d like to read more about how much I loved this man, just search “Wayne Ringer” at this site.



June 7th, 2016 Sears Homes 15 comments

My husband - the man that was supposed to be the happy ending to my life story - died suddenly and unexpectedly on April 18, 2016. He was only 63.

I’d be grateful for any and all prayers as I adjust to a “new normal.”

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Book Orders Delayed

May 19th, 2016 Sears Homes 1 comment

If you place a book order through this site, please expect a 4-6 week delivery time due to a personal tragedy.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Photobucket is down - again.

April 17th, 2016 Sears Homes 1 comment

When photobucket goes down, all of my pictures disappear. That’s what is happening right now, and it started last night.

If one of my readers could recommend an alternative photo hosting site, I’d be very glad to know about it. One that is easy to use.

I’m currently a “paid” customer at Photobucket, so this is even more disturbing.

I’d like to post a cute picture here but that picture - like the other 5,492 pictures at this site - would not appear.

Thanks so much.