Posts Tagged ‘living in virginia’

Blame Canada…

January 31st, 2019 Sears Homes 7 comments

Every now and then, I get requests to ship my book out of the U.S., and typically, I refund the buyer’s money (go Paypal), and call it a day.

But last month, this nice fellow talked me into shipping a couple books to Canada, and I hesitantly did so, explaining that the postage would be a lot more than the $5 charged at the website.

He agreed to pay the extra shipping cost, which turned out to be $25.15! And - this is much worse - I couldn’t “click and ship” and send the books out via my mail box, but I had to peel off the bunny slippers, put on real shoes and GO INTO THE POST OFFICE and engage with society.

Unfortunately, Nice Fellow couldn’t get quite manage the extra funds via paypal, so he sent me a money order for $25.15 in American dollars.

Last week, I took that money order to my local bank (again, sans bunny slippers), and I think there would have been less commotion if I’d handed the teller a hastily scribbled note with the words “Give me all your money now.”

After much consternation, I was given $25.15 in cash, per my request.

Today, the branch manager called.

“M’am, did you know that there’s a $50 fee for cashing an international money order?”

I replied as one might expect.

Fortunately, the bank waived the fee this time but it cements my theory that shipping anything internationally is simply not worth the effort.

It just made me appreciate Paypal even more.


My books are shipped right from my house which is very convenient. Here's a stack going out in yesterday's mail.

My books are shipped right from my house which is very convenient. Here's a stack going out in yesterday's mail. No more international sales for moi!


Not a lot of these left anyway!

Not a lot of these left anyway!


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Norfolk and Penniman: A Talk on January 14th! OPEN TO ALL!

January 2nd, 2019 Sears Homes 4 comments

Everyone loves the story of a ghost town, and the story of Penniman is especially intriguing because so little is known about this WW1-era village, which was home to more than 15,000 people at its peak!

And, it’s especially important to Norfolk, because about 70 houses from Penniman were transported by barge to Norfolk and surrounding communities.

Monday night (the 14th), I’ll be giving a fun talk on Penniman for the Colonial Place/Riverview Civic League at the Eggleston Garden Center at 110 LaValette in Norfolk (near the Norfolk Zoo).

The talk (a PowerPoint presentation with more than 140 vintage photos) starts at 6:30 and there will be books to sell (and sign) after the talk.

Penniman is truly an awe-inspiring story about a World War One munitions plant in Virginia that has been forgotten and almost lost to history.

DuPont’s 37th munitions plant was staffed by mostly women, who worked assiduously to load TNT into 155mm and 75mm shells.

All are invited to come out and learn more about this lost chapter of Virginia’s history!

To read more about Penniman, click here.

Learn about one of the war workers here.



The caption on this photo says simply, "Freckles: The Trial of All of Penniman." At a lecture someone asked me, "How do you know that the caption was referencing the DOG?"


Thanks to Steve Beauter, we have pictures like this, showcasing life at Penniman. Steve found this on eBay.

Thanks to Steve Beauter, we have pictures like this, showcasing life at Penniman. Steve found this photo album on eBay.



His initials are "SC" and he started work on Spetember 10, 1918, but who is this young man?



This fob (issued by DuPont) was worn on the worker's lapel, and it also helped quickly identify him as a munitions worker when he was out and about in Williamsburg. Young men who were not at the front were known as "slackers" and it was a pejorative.



After Penniman closed, the houses were put on barges and about 70 of the houses landed in Norfolk.



Penniman was vital to the war effort, and yet its story has been lost to time.



Rose will sell (and sign) books after the talk.


To read more about Penniman, click here.


Schadenfreude and Mudita: Two Very Different Ways of Viewing the World

May 5th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

Here in Virginia, some call it “The Crab Theory.”

In Germany, it’s known as Schadenfreude. It means, “enjoying the misfortune of others.”

Growing up on an estuary off the Elizabeth River, we often went crabbing. And we learned that if you put a lone crab in a bucket, that crab will do all within its power to climb out of that bucket. The trick is to put two or more crabs into your bucket. When one starts to climb out, the other crabs will snag him and pull him back down.

Sadly, there are times when homo sapiens behave more like crabs than human beings.

Years ago, I really struggled and prayed to overcome envious thoughts and feelings. One day, I saw an article in the Christian Science Sentinel about a woman who’d spent decades truly cultivating the habit of gratitude. According to the article, her mother had taught her - by word and deed - that she should learn how to feel genuinely grateful when good things happen to other people, because each “good thing” was a divine promise that, “If it happened for them, it can happen for me, too.”

Buddhists call this Mudita. It’s the practice (and discipline) of finding joy in other people’s happiness and success.

In the anonymous, faceless world of the internet, I’ve noticed that people sometimes engage in very negative behaviors, saying things that are better left unsaid. In short, they’re behaving more like angry crabs than intelligent human beings!

I’m starting to wonder if the anonymity of the internet is making us a little too callous with our words. There are those who seem to delight in “pulling others down,” rather than lifting them up.

Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) is credited with saying that the “kindest thing we can do for our heavenly Father is to be kind to His children.”

I don’t think Saint Teresa of Ávila would be a fan of the ugliness that sometimes appears online. 

Imagine how much sweeter the world could be if we practiced the discipline of “mudita” in all of our communications, both online and in person.

Maybe we need to abandon the crabby habit of schadenfreude and work on cultivating the saintly habit of mudita.

Dogs know a lot about love and joy. Even when theyre forced to wear silly hats.

Dogs know a lot about love and joy. Even when they're forced to wear silly hats.

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To see more pictures of my cute dog, click here.

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