Monday, December 4, 2017


     It would appear that finally, fall has fallen away. The true colors of the leaves have given way to a dreary landscape of standing tall grayish sticks on dull brown land, trying to go to sleep. If it snows in the near future, the forest will undeniably be at rest, dormant,  with little movement.
     What is surprising, though, is that even at this late stage of near winter, some salamanders move about-- well, it's really more during moments of winter with a bit of thaw and rain. But in late fall into winter you can still see squirrels jumping about, and if you leave out enough seeds and it snows the red hued, male cardinal will make his presence known. So much most of the forest will be preparing to go off for a winter's nap, but not everything will. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017



           A chestnut tree developing fruit (chestnut nut pods).

         Did you know that chestnuts need to make a comeback?
        There was that ol' Nat King Cole song with the phrase "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" that was popular decades ago. As a young adult I actually "did" roast some (more like "toast") some chestnut tree nuts in a broiler. They were good, and Hot! (But roasting does give them extra flavor.)
        But can you even do that now? Maybe, in the future. In Virginia the "Chestnut Foundation" is trying to bring them back. The East coast was once the home of thousands and thousands of chestnut trees, some as big around as the grand giant sequoias (of the redwood family) in California forests.
        The beginning of the 20th century, a foreign fungus was discovered, some saying it was brought in to the Bronx Zoo in New York City. This "blight" on the American chestnut killed the cambium, the growing layer of the tree inside the bark. The blight, at one time, killed over billion trees! This changed the Eastern forests. No more roasting chestnuts or stuffing them in turkey for Thanksgiving.
        But in recent years tree experts had created a hybrid, an American-Chinese blend of chestnut to withstand the terrible fungus. Today, with 110 middle school students, a rep from the Chestnut Foundation said we were planning (I'm told) fully American chestnut saplings, to hopefully one day become the big, fat trees they were supposed to be from the past. 
        The students I helped supervise at Heritage Park (Blacksburg, VA) seemed more knowledgeable about trees than I was at that age. They told me about having wild blackberry  bushes on their property, and their uncle telling them how to dig and plant a tree. Certainly planting a tree, getting kids outside and around nature, away from all their durn electronic gadgets, was worth the effort.
        After planting the  trees and having a sit down lunch they had brought themselves, we then also did something they don't usually do at school -- we walked through the park. How many students, outside, identifying chestnuts and learning about trees, would benefit from being in the "outdoor classroom" that is a park full of trees, chestnut or otherwise?  In some schools they even give up outside activity for art. Trees are important and so is being outside and exercising. And learning about chestnuts outside seemed like the perfect thing to do.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


                                     One of many brands of eclipse glasses.

    I’d written about this earlier (accidentally pressed delete so am starting all over in Word),

but it is worth noting that certain natural phenomena don’t come around all that often. For a few hours, on August 21, the country decided, hey, let’s have fun for a few hours. Let’s forget about political disagreements, No. Korean craziness, rising oceans, terrorism, and the price of gas. Let’s appreciate a natural experience – a solar eclipse!
    In case you didn’t know, a solar eclipse only occurs once every several years (or more) in the U. S. Since, according to a Radford University planetarium program, the moon has about a five degree tilt or difference in front of the earth it goes around, the moon won’t line up in front of the sun every month. So lining up the moon “exactly” in front of the sun is a big deal!
    People came in “droves” to Radford University (VA.) for free eclipse glasses. A planetarium assistant told me you needed these glasses because looking at even a partially covered sun would tempt you to look at the sun too long. You could permanently damage your eyes’ retinas. They say Sir Isaac Newton hurt his eyes looking at a solar eclipse. So I was determined to look through what looked like those 3-D movie glasses. Though these were much stronger, to keep ultraviolet rays out.
    What a crowd! I got there 15 minutes before the assigned time mentioned online and there were already 60 people in line. Then came the bad news – they’d only hand out the glasses to those going to a planetarium show. You couldn’t just take the glasses and run. With so many people quickly lining up behind me, I was guessing a lot would leave disappointed, though they did have several shows that day.

    In the planetarium itself the hostess spoke with R.U. students who were setting up equipment in Nashville where there’d be a 100 percent solar eclipse. For about two whole minutes. I managed to get a “ticket” for the 11 0’clock showing and went to the college library for a while, then came back (around 10:35 so I wouldn’t lose a place in line).
    In planetarium show they can quickly move things across the inside sky. During the show we were given a view of the earth from the moon, tiny planets that circled the sun during the eclipse, and how the eclipse would pass across the United States. During a solar eclipse it isn’t a dark spot, but more a dark gray that spreads out as it moves across the country. Interesting.
     I knew people who drove several hours away to get to Nashville or some part of Tennessee for the full solar eclipse. Just for those two minutes! During the two minutes of total coverage, it is almost like night. Here in Virginia, at 93 percent coverage, there was a tiny crescent of light at the top of the black circle of the eclipse. And yet, it didn’t seem to affect the light outside. Well, maybe a little bit. It certainly wasn’t anything like nighttime.
     This moment in time reminds  me of what environmentalist Rachel Carson said, that we need to have a “sense of wonder” about nature. As a Master naturalist member, I do.

Saturday, August 5, 2017


                           Your common Eastern box turtle, a solitary soul in the woods.

    At Claytor Lake (VA) there is a "discovery center" where I've volunteered as a Master naturalist. And I noticed something about the turtles in the fish tank. First, fellow volunteer Judy M. noted the female box turtles have brown eyes, the males red (though they seem kind of orangy to me). But more than that, it was the way the two box turtles in the small tank interacted -- not that well at all.
    Judy and I both noticed that when Emily the interpretive ranger tried giving both turtles worms that one just stood there, its head facing the tank glass. The other turtle aggressively climbed over a rock to get at the worms and ate them both. When she wasn't eating she was trying to climb on the other turtle, like it was a rock to get out of the tank, making its shell dusty with dirt.
    On this day, Emily put wineberries into the tank that had more dirt than leaves in it (I'm not sure why). Once again, the aggressive female turtle went over to get those berries. The other stood by the glass. Finally, Emily moved the more aggressive one to an open plastic container so she could more easily return the timid one back to the wild. Judy, who owned two snakes and knew a thing or two about reptiles, pointed out box turtles didn't even need to be together. I guessed one the facing the wall, like actress Marlene Dietrich, "wanted to be alone."
     When kids visiting the center asked where the turtles were, I went to get "aggressive Gertie" myself. Not only did she show no fear about being picked up, but she wiggled around and her claws scratched my hand!
    You never think that creatures as instinctive as reptiles would be all that different. But some are bolder than others. Some are more adaptable to different environments. And some are just plain aggressive and "want to get out" of their human environment. That is why we only keep them around a month, to return them to their natural habitat, something they are genuinely used to. And as for box turtles, I hope they are returned to the almost exact location, as they appear to have a territory they want to spend their lives in, much like those who grow up in a small town may prefer to stay there all the time. In that way we might actually be alike.

Monday, March 13, 2017



                                                 Gobble, gobble, the vocal turkey says.

     Simple yet noble is the humble turkey. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin declared the bald eagle "lowly" in nature, while the turkey was more respectable. Columbus discovered this uniquely American bird on his 4th voyage to the Americas, and the Spanish brought them back from Mexico. They found they actually enjoyed eating them.
     So why is an American bird named after a country in Eastern Europe? It seems that once Spain brought over these big birds they began to raise them on poultry farms far and wide. There was an odd but somewhat similar looking bird with white polka dots on its black feathers and flesh over its beak (called a "snood," if you're interested). It was called Guinea fowl, supposedly referring to a region of Africa.
     There was also a bird called a Turkey cock, from the country of Turkey, of course. Somehow, the Turkey cock was brought to England and got confused with our American bird, which they then began calling "turkey".
     Turkeys are funny looking and sociable beings amongst their own kind. The ruffled flesh (partly) around and below their throat is called a "wattle," and changes to red when the male "tom" turkeys are trying to attract turkey hens. But if they are afraid the wattle can actually turn blue!
     Guinea fowl, who they've been confused with, are also good eating, I've been told, said to be low in fat and high in protein. And if you raise the guineas they are said to be guard dogs and keep trespassers out of your yard.
     And this past Thanksgiving two really lucky white turkeys named Tater and Tot had their lives spared. They were pardoned by President Obama, then were transported to some property at Virginia Tech. Lucky birds!
     I'll end this with a funny phrase I learned as a kid: Turkey slipped on Greece and broke some China. (Get it?)

Monday, February 20, 2017

For work

For work I am providing a page with information so that there is a link (because copy and paste is not working)
                                Writing/Work Samples ( in  areas of health, travel, religion, nature) with (an older) Resume to Follow:

Amish Culture   (Written for Ebscohost, which Golson Media told me about)

    The Amish people make up a unique religious community that can be found in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as well as mid-West states and Ontario, Canada. Amish society rejects modern technologies such as cars and electricity, advocating a simple lifestyle that brings them close to God. They began a major migration to America in the early 1700s. Different factions, like the Mennonites and Beachy Amish, have broken with the “Old Amish” to utilize phones, cars, and electricity when needed. In spite of modern challenges such as mental illness and employment issues, few youth stray from this close-knit, simple living community.

Amish culture dates back to the sixteenth and seventeenth century Protestant Reformation in Europe, which produced numerous religious sects in different regions. Swiss Mennonite church leader Jakob Amman felt his church should more closely adhere to Biblical principles, and emphasized a simpler, pastoral lifestyle. His followers broke away from the Mennonites between 1693 and 1697, setting off for America. In this patriarchal society, men made the major decisions regarding church rules, outward appearance, gender interaction and what, if any, technology their community used.
    From an early age Amish girls and boys are dressed differently and given gender specific roles and rules to follow. The girls’ and women’s domain involves childcare, the home and family garden, while boys and men take care of the farm, finances and running the church. Both learn to speak English and German dialects, the latter important at church.
    At church there are also distinct male and female roles. Religious services are always conducted by male ministers or bishops. The women prepare a meal served after the service. Men and women will eat and socialize at the gathering in separate areas. During rumspringa (which loosely translates to “running around”), young people, generally ages 16- 21, gather in coed gangs and socialize away from home, before they decide whether to get baptized and join the church. Although some experience alcohol, ride in cars and carouse around, nearly ninety percent will stay with their Amish community.
    In 1948, seventy-five year old Bishop Samuel Hochstetler was sentenced to six months for chaining his forty-one year old mentally ill daughter to her bed whenever he left home, for her  safety (Nolt 133). Mennonites, an Amish sect able to attend college, have used their education to help open mental health facilities to help Amish members with grief or other issues. In Lancaster County, a “People Helpers Movement” is also working to involve ministers in addressing mental illness.
    With farm prices down or less farms available, some twenty-first century Amish have opened their own businesses, selling everything from custom made quilts and shoo-fly pie to dry goods and cabinetry. Since they only receive eight years of education, some can experience financial difficulties. Thirty-six year old Amish father Marlin Hostetler was laid off from his RV factory job, requiring him to accept a low paid furniture store position. He was later rehired by the factory, but then owed twenty-five thousand in credit card debt (Raley 721).

D. J. Ann Mathews, MS

“Amish.” Encyclopedia Americana. International ed. Vol. 1.2005. Print. 30 vols.
Castillo, Linda. Breaking Silence. Waterville: Thorndike Press, 2011. Print.
Frey, J. William.“Pennsylvania Dutch.” Encyclopedia Americana. International ed. Vol. 21.
    2005. Print. 30 vols.
Hostetler, John A. Amish Society. 4th ed. Baltimore: John Hopkins U. Press, 1993. Print.
Nolt, Steven M. “Moving Beyond Stark Options: Old Order Mennonite & Amish Approaches
    To Mental Health.” Journal of Mennonite Studies 29 Jan. 2011:133- 151. Web. 19 Jul. 2013.
Raley, Gage. “Yoder Revisited: Why the Landmark Amish Schooling Case Could – And 
     Should – Be Overturned.” Virginia Law Review 97:3 (May 2011): 681-722. Web. 20 Jul.
Johnson-Weiner, Karen M. New York Amish:Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State.
    Ithaca: Cornell U. Press, 2010. Print.
Kraybill, Donald B. The Riddle of Amish Culture. Revised ed. Baltimore: John Hopkins U.
    Press, 2001. Print.

                                 Organic-Gardening Expert
To Appear at Garden Faire
By   D. J. Mathews

(This appeared in the Bristol Herald Courier, BristolVA, on April 17, 2008, page A1 and A5)

            At Mike McGrath’s house in rural Lehigh CountyPa., spring brings a morning symphony of chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals and the like.
            He said he’s had chickadees as close as 6 inches from his face because “they feel safe” on his 1.5 acres, which is an organically managed homestead.
            McGrath, organic gardening author and host of the National Public Radio Show “You Bet Your Garden,” will be the featured speaker at this weekend’s 11th annual Mid-Atlantic Garden Faire in AbingdonVA.
            McGrath didn’t come to organic gardening naturally. He explained in a recent phone interview that he grew up in a Philadelphia row house, where he mowed a lawn the size of a “postage stamp.”
            He remembers his mother tending some roses when he was a child. He also recalled hawkers who walked the streets in the summertime, singing out that they had Jersey tomatoes or sweet corn for sale.
            McGrath didn’t go organic until much later in life, when he fell in love. Now 56, he met his future wife, Kathy, at a party when he was in his late 20s.
            He said she raved about her parents’ and grandparents’ gardens, where they picked tomatoes, raspberries and herbs.
            She wanted someone to grow raspberries for her, so he did.
            Starting out with “a couple of trash cans of horse manure and a lot of enthusiasm,” McGrath decided against harsh chemical fertilizers for the raspberries and vegetables he’s grown for more than 20 years.
            And he experimented.
            He used suet on his peach trees to attract meat-eating birds like chickadees, titmouses and woodpeckers. The birds stuck around to eat the bugs that emerged in the spring, naturally keeping their population down and his plants healthier.
            Birds are actually a part of one of McGrath’s “Seven Secrets of Organic Gardening,” the name of one of his presentations he will share with local residents at the garden faire.
            Attracting wildlife like birds to your property helps cut down on garden pests in the summer. McGrath said attracting wildlife should also include utilizing the elements of earth, air, water and fire.
            In his sometimes self-deprecating style, McGrath pointed out that he got into writing and radio “because I have no real skills.” Then he added that he won the English prize offered by the Sacred Heart Society when he was an eight grader at St. Bartholomew’s.
            After many years as a successful entertainment editor for Philadelphia’s The Drummer and feature writing for publications like The Philadelphia Inquirer, his interest in explaining the health side of medicine helped him land a position as a health writer for Prevention magazine. He later became editor in chief of  Organic Gardening magazine.
            In his health and garden research he’s learned some interesting trivia, such as the fact that after World War II munitions plants went from producing ammonium nitrate bags for fire bombs to promoting them as fertilizer for farmers.
            The hardwood forests for thousands of years provided mulch and compost for plants, and he thinks people could go back to the natural, organic way of growing plants.
            On his syndicated show “You Bet Your Garden,” now in its 10th year, McGrath has tried to make “everybody feel comfortable gardening…there are no stupid people; there are no stupid questions.”
            His latest book is “Mike McGrath’s Book of Compost,” which he said offers plenty of simple information.
            McGrath said he is looking forward to meeting area gardeners on Friday and Saturday.

            What:  The 11th annual Mid-Atlantic Garden Faire
When:  From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.,Friday and Saturday,
And from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday
Where:  Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center
Off  Exit  14 of Interstate 81
Mike McGrath’s programs:
  • 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Friday – The Seven Secrets of
Successful Organic Gardening
  •  11:45 a.m.  to 1 p.m.
Saturday-- Answers to
 Garden Questions
  • 3:30  to 4:45 p.m.
n  Grow Your Best Tasting
Tomatoes Ever!
Tickets are $5 a day and
$10 for the entire show.
Kids younger than 12 will be
Admitted free.

Work Sample:
Niagara Falls – A Treasure For All Seasons   
By D.J. Mathews                  1415words (later condensed for Bristol Herald Courier, Va, TRAVEL section)

            When 46 year old daredevil George Strathakis went over Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls in 1930 he probably didn’t realize the water at the bottom of the 173 foot falls was deeper than it was tall. His airtight wood and steel barrel made it over the falls intact, but came up and got caught behind the falls’ pounding waters for 22 hours. Strathakis suffocated – but his 150 year old pet turtle survived.
            Many other have successfully crossed the churning waters of the Niagara River by tightrope walking or barrel  riding, or survived a trip over the Canadian side falls. But today’s visitors are not drawn to  just crazy stunts. Named by “The Today Show” the tenth most beautiful spot in America, Niagara Falls, with its natural beauty and many area attractions draws not only for newlyweds but also couples and families of all ages. And it can be as enjoyable to visit in autumn and winter as the traditional summer vacation time.
            Bud Wittenburg, a local speech teacher from Bolivar, New York, has been to Niagara Falls numerous times and never tires of its beauty. He feels “a trip to the falls isn’t measured in how many breaths you take, but in how many moments it takes your breath away.”
            On his most recent visit he stayed on the 32nd floor of Embassy Suites Hotel because his room had “an incredible view of the falls.” On the Canadian side of the Niagara River are the best views of both the semi-circle shaped Horseshoe Falls and the smaller American Falls on the U.S. side of the river. Other luxury hotels on the Canadian side include the Sheraton, Radisson Hotel, Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt Regency. These luxury hotels can offer package deals, which can include such extras as a ride on the Maid of the Mist, casino entertainment, family game rooms and indoor pools, to the tune of several hundred for a few days’ stay.
            Embassy Suites offers a romance package, for example, that includes a dinner for two at the Skylon Tower (an $80.00 value alone). The couple will also receive strawberries dipped in chocolate with complementary champagne, cooked-to-order breakfast and tickets to the casino, falls and shuttle to nearby attractions like the IMAX Theater, Niagara Skywheel, or family oriented Canadian Midway, with some 300 indoor games.
            If you don’t want to spend a bundle on lodging on either the Canadian and American side of the Niagara, rates are cut dramatically  in late September and October. One of the cheapest, at under $49.00, can be found at Howard Johnson’s in Niagara Falls, New York.
            Parks border the falls, and when autumn brings color changes Niagara Falls “has its own special beauty,” according to Wittenburg. Because the waters warm up the land around it “there’s no frost till late in the fall,” Wittenburg points out. Temperatures average 44 to 66 degrees in the fall, and he’s seen geraniums and roses bloom there in November. In winter the mist coming off the falls creates an ice layer that has  a “Fairyland” effect kids and adults alike can enjoy, he says.
            The cheapest way to see the falls is to take Route 81 to Syracuse then take the NY Thruway to the Robert Moses Parkway to reach the free parks bordering the American or Canadian sides of the Niagara River. The U.S. side has 412 acres, including the Niagara Reservation State Park, and on the Canadian side is Queen Victoria Park. Queen Victoria Park officially opened on May 24, 1888, three years after the U.S. Park received its charter, and is part of a Canadian system stretching for 35 miles, up to Lake Ontario. By Queen Victoria   Park you can find the Refectory Restaurant and picnic area, the big hotels, Skylon Tower and renowned Table Rock Pavilion, where you can dine, buy souvenirs, and buy tickets to a tunnel behind the Horseshoe Falls. (Of course, on the Canadian side you now need a passport in order to get across the bridge.)
            On the American side you can hike or pay two dollars to ride a scenic trolley or one dollar to go up the New York State Observation Tower for some good views. You can also buy tickets for the Niagara Reservation State Park Master Pass ($27.50 for adults, $19.50 for kids 5-12) for eight attractions, including the Maid of the Mist ride, Prospect Point Observation Tower, Old Fort Niagara and the Cave of the Winds.
            An elevator takes you down about 175 feet down to the “Cave of the Winds,” the bottom of the smallest falls, Bridal Veil. Although there is no longer a cave behind the falls, it is still a thrill to take a wooden walkway and come within 20 feet of the falls. Raingear is provided so that the wind and mist don’t totally drench tourists.
            American Falls and Bridal Veil are separated from the much more impressive 2200 foot wide Horseshoe Falls by Goat Island. Horseshoe Falls throws up a much grander mist and spray of water when it hits the river, and creates a continuous rainbow. To get close to this huge falls people ride on the Maid of the Mist.  In existence in some form since the 1850s, the ride now cost about $14.00 and requires that all on board wear a raincoat and hat. Getting as close as they dare, “the falls are so tall it looks like it’s coming down right on you,” says Wittenburg. Bolivar resident David Herne agrees that the Maid of the Mist ride “is one of most powerful experiences of your life.”
            The falls are so powerful that they turn turbines at the bottom of the falls. They are capable of four million kilowatts of electricity, which both countries share. There are free tours of the New York Power Authority for those interested in how it all works and helps the region.
            If you go two miles north of the falls, on the US side, you will enter Whirlpool  State Park.  The park has two levels: you can fish, picnic or take your child to the playground on the first; on the second you go down a series of steps that takes thirty minutes, where you can view the Whirlpool, an oddity of nature wherein rapids in the river gorge are pushed by rocks around in a circle. The Niagara Parkway on the Canadian side has the Niagara River Recreation Trail for hikers and picnickers. It is so scenic that when Winston Churchill visited the area in 1943 he called it “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.”
            Wittenburg says there are tour vans that can take you to historic sights on the Canadian side, where there are old churches and wineries. Or you can go on the “sky screamer” amusement ride at nearby Marineland. Or visit Ripley’s Believe It Or Not or 4D Moving Theater or Butterfly Conservatory. On the American side are a number of reasonably priced museums, such as the Niagara Falls Aquarium, the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, Castellani Art Museum or Mark Twain Museum, the latter 15 miles away in  Buffalo.
            Also reasonable is the eleven dollar elevator ride to the observation deck of Skylon Tower, on the Canadian side of the river. Several years ago Wittenburg actually tutored an at risk student with reward of visiting Niagara Falls if he qualified for a regular diploma and passed all his tests. The school system gave him some money and Wittenburg took the senior to the Skylon Tower for the great views and family center at the bottom, where they rode go carts. They also visited some museums, which was a “very nice experience” for the teen, he says.
            At 520 feet Skylon Tower affords many grand views of the three falls. “On a clear day you can (also) see the skyline of Toronto” over 100 miles away, Wittenburg says.
            With two countries promoting the falls and a variety of cuisine in the area, Wittenburg believes “Niagara Falls has a very international feel.” He has seen a lot of foreign visitors dining at  the French, Korean, Italian and German restaurants around the falls. But because of government taxes and the value of the dollar everything costs more in Canada.
            Crossing over to the Canadian side may be a challenge in January 2008. Then both governments will require you carry a passport with you to help cut down on terrorism. Now a driver’s license and a birth certificate are the recommended I. D. to take. It’s recommended you apply for a passport now if you plan to visit Canada early in the new year.
            A seven dollar mug with an image of the falls on it Wittenburg uses during daily breaks at his school. It is a daily reminder of Niagara Falls, a scenic destination worth the visit in fall, summer or any time of year.                        
If You Want To Go:
General Information:

Attraction Passes:
Great Gorge Adventure Pass
($34.95 for adults) 1-877-642-7275

($38.95 adults/$31.95 kids 5-9)


Grayline Tours


Howard Johnson’s
1-(716)- 283-8791

Embassy Suites

Taking a flight to Buffalo:

Buzzy’s NY Style Pizza & Restaurant
(716)- 283-5333
#### end ###
What follows is my 408    word piece for the Sacred and Mundane column of Orion, about my relationship with nature through chemo. I hope you find it worth reading.

Sacred and Mundane – A cancer patient and spring     

By Denise (D.J.) Mathews
Getting through something as difficult and tiring as chemotherapy, prescribed after Dorothy was found to have Stage II breast cancer, made everything seem a bit grayer. She took most of my treatments during the winter months, when the outside world was already brown and drab, trying to survive in its own way the extreme cold, snow and barrenness of the moment. It was not a particularly amusing time, and at one point she was put in the hospital for fatigue and dehydration. That time was discouraging too.
            But she managed to “weather” this internal storm. The hospital doctor gave her medicine to improve her energy and outlook. As Dorothy’s energy level rose she took a few walks in a nearby park with her husband. The steps were tentative; just being outdoors was a tremendous boost to her thoughts of survival and getting through this unpleasant treatment. She wanted to see new life again. She wanted to see spring.
           So it was with more than a little enthusiasm that Dorothy embraced the coming warm weather and all that came with it. She had her last treatment as birdsfoot violets were dotting the ground on her front lawn and at a town park nearby called Oxbow Lake. The burst of white, large-flowered trillium blooms up the park hillside was welcome after her winter of (discontented) illness. The ladder-like leaves of polemonium and upside down “pants” of Dutchman’s breeches amused her on her walks around Oxbow’s mile wide circumference. Everything seemed wonderfully pretty and bright. Dorothy was really appreciating all the little things God and Mother nature had to offer.
            Not long after the April wildflowers’ blooms finally shriveled up, Dorothy visited the cancer clinic where she’d received the dreaded treatments. During a discussion about payment options with the bookkeeper, she pointed out that one of her chemo drugs, Adriamycin, had been so expensive because of where it came from. Adriamycin is flown in from the rain forests of South America. It comes from the soil, and is a tremendously strengthened antibiotic, a red medicine sent through the veins to kill cancer cells in the body. She’d had no idea the woods had anything to do with this.
            Most people don’t make time to have a connection with the woods. In more than one way, without even trying, she had. The woods mean even more to her than before, after what she had experienced.
            And spring will always be her favorite season.


NOTE: This newsletter was two pages but stretched into one in this format:
Knights Times
Glenmary  Council 7853   Anthony Willis, Grand Knight - Phone 395-3063
Volume 2 Issue 2  March/April 2005   D.J. Mathews, Editor  (more below)

Meets 1st and 3rd Sunday,   
Norton, Virginia     7 P.M.

New Officers For 2004-2005
Fraternal Year:
Grand Knight: Anthony              
Deputy Grand Knight: Doug
Chancellor: Charles Johnson
Recorder:    Irvin Bass
Treasurer: Tom Dennison
Advocate:  David Nauss
Warder:    Richard Houchins
Inside Guard: Gerald
Outside Guard: Tom Somers
Trustee 1st Yr:  Irvin Bass
Trustee 2nd Yr:Bob Isaac
Trustee 3rd Yr:Richard

March Birthdays
J.T. Caruso
Robert Isaac
David Nauss

April Birthdays
Irvin Bass
Joseph Moralit
Kenneth Slater

              February guests (L-R): Bruce Shine, State Secretary
                 Michael Lazzuri, Glada Lazzuri, State Deputy Ray-
                 mond Wycoff, and District Deputy Kevin Legge.


     Valentine’s Day our beloved religious and clergy of far southwest Virginia were treated to a special catered dinner, courtesy of K of C members. About fifty people attended the event, including the Knights, their families, nuns and priests. State Knight Council members who broke bread with us included Our Worthy State Secretary Michael Lazzuri, with his wife Glada, and Our Worthy District Deputy Kevin Legge, who came all the way from Roanoke. Our Worthy State Deputy Raymond Wycoff came from even farther away, Springfield being so far north he thought it would take days to fight ice and traffic congestion to reach us. He was pleasantly surprised how quickly he reached our welcoming mountains.

     After a “Glenmary welcome” by District Deputy Kevin Legge, Wycoff provided some statistics on the  K of C organization, whose membership will soon approach 1.7 million members.   (….. continued on back)


      The International Day of the Unborn Child will be observed April 4. It would normally be celebrated on March 25, which falls on Good Friday this year.

Appreciation Dinner  (cont’d)

   He pointed out  Virginia led the country in the highest disburse- ment of charitable funds, with $2.7 million handed out in 2004.  He was
most   appreciative  of
our construction project to help the Turner family of Castlewood with an addition to their trailer for their wheelchair bound son. He proposed going even further, sugg-
esting the Knights set aside a dollar a day during the Lenten season so that the Turners could have a new home.
   Plaques of recognition were handed out by Grand Knight Anthony Willis to Deputy Grand Knight Doug Chute and Knight John Hayes, for all their hard work on the Turner project. Bob Isaacs and J.T. Caruso also received plaques, for organizing Special Olympics picnics the past seventeen years.

   Knights times, continued

Tony Willis and Sister Julia

   Our special guest speaker at the apprec-
iation dinner was Kingsport, TN attorney D. Bruce Shine. Shine joked about being an Anglican Catholic, but was serious in his praise of the work of retiring Sisters Julia Dennehy, Mary Coughlan and Loretta O’Connor. He spoke at length about the life and teachings of Mother Teresa, who said we can’t see Christ to express our love to him and should express it to others.
   These Irish sisters came to this country from England in the 1950s and became part of the staff of St. Mary’s Hospital in Norton. Sister Julia worked in admini- stration,  and Sr. Mary had been an assistant  administrator. All have been for patients’ rights. “We want the total person taken care of  --- body, mind and spirit,” Sr. Loretta said.
   Their hospital has been taken over by the for profit organization Health Management Associates.  Times are now uncertain for those needing affordable healthcare.
From Grand Knight Anthony Willis:

     Inviting a fellow Catholic  to  be   a member    of   the Knights is a wonderful opportunity.
     As Mother Teresa once said:
     “Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

   Some of you may have already received your second notice  for dues for  the 2005  to 2006 K of C fiscal  year. Please remit  this  as soon as possible. Our members  are  impor- tant to us and we do not want to lose any due to nonpayment of dues.
Think Spring!

The Silly Diet Mistakes We Make — What We Really Need to Lose Fat
Written by: D. J. Mathews
Years ago comedic actor Jackie Gleason was asked how he was able to lose weight. He stated that he was losing because he was tired of eating eggs on his diet, so he hardly ate at all. I know what he meant.  I’ve been on a high protein diet once myself, which helps you lose weight, at least for a while.
Dieting for most people is no fun. You have to plan your meals in advance and can’t run out for a mouthwatering pizza when you feel like it. You’re also supposed to exercise along with staying on a food plan that is restrictive and many times hard to stick with. Depending on the diet, most people experience varying degrees of success, but not the healthiest success because of something that is left out.

Did I Say Dieting is No Fun?

Sure I did. Take my own experience with a high protein diet. Years ago I’d “heard” about this food fad called the Stillman high protein diet. It was a diet developed by Dr. Irwin Maxwell Stillman, so it had to be healthy, supposedly. I didn’t know till later that you were supposed to eat three meals and then snack to three meals a day. So the spouse and I stuck to three main meals, and sometimes a snack.
After all, why would you want to eat a lot? The diet was terribly restrictive: lean protein and cheese, mostly. My husband and I wound up eating eggs for breakfast, luncheon meat or a hamburger for lunch, steak or chicken or turkey and cheese for dinner. And lots of water was required, alternating with diet soda or tea. And there was nothing about exercise.
The extra water was a requirement because of a side effect. Eating all that protein all day caused a buildup of urea, a protein byproduct that can be hard on the kidneys.  So you drink a lot of water and scurry back and forth to the bathroom like a dog peeing on every tree it passes. And you do lose weight. But who can stay on diet like this, and no accompanying exercise? So, sure we lose several pounds, but guess what? They eventually came back.

Exercise Should Be a Part of Any Diet, Exception None

Exercise today is becoming more and more a part of a successful diet plan. Whether it’s more high protein (like the Atkins diet) or just calorie counting, dieting alone doesn’t totally work, at least for women, because there is the issue of hormones like insulin and cortisol affecting weight loss. Stress or grabbing the wrong kind of food can spike insulin levels. Yet if you exercise along with a sensible diet that includes good lean proteins and some fats each meal, it can stimulate the liver to produce glucagon to help break down body fats.
But as you get older, your hormones become even less cooperative, and I am finding that as I count “points” on the Weight Watchers plan. It encourages exercise, but isn’t really specific. After twisting my knee recently, making me even less able to exercise, I told my physical therapist I was going to diet so there was less weight on that knee. He said if I really wanted to lose weight and fat, as opposed to needed muscle, that I should be lifting weights as I diet.
Weight lift expert Parnell Dean agrees that weight lifting as you work to lose weight will help you to maintain muscle mass. This applies to weight lifting men and women, but also can apply to women fighting stress and hormones who want to lose fat and not muscle as they lose weight. It’s recommended if you’re going to seriously weight lift that you eat enough protein, like a gram of protein per pound of lean body weight, which you can figure out by knowing your body fat percentage. (See Body Fat Calculator ).
Health experts say aerobic exercise, like running a long distance, fast walking, and swimming, burns calories at that moment. Anaerobic exercise (meaning without oxygen), such as weight lifting, stresses the muscles and will burn more fat in the hours afterwards as your body is recovering from the stress of the workout.
It is recommended as you diet that you lift weights three to four times a week but not every day. Pick a weight heavy enough for 12-15 repetitions four times, or six to eight times if you have been lifting weights already. Rest about a minute between reps. And you should exercise all parts of the body. Contact your local rec center or gym if you have questions on specific exercises to do. We can all afford to gain some muscle mass, and lose fat as we diet, for more permanent weight loss. It’s a sensible way to go.

About the Author

D. J. Mathews has been a freelance journalist for several years. A Master naturalist member, she writes about nature, the outdoors, and natural health.

                                                                 Resume                                                Denise J.  “D. J.” Mathews
Phone: 540- 731-1819                                           Blog:
                                                                            (That’s Mathews with “one” t)                                                       

OBJECTIVE -- A position using Editing, Proofreading and/or Educational skills in the writing field.

·         Have worked as a part time professor/adjunct at R. U. teaching writing and logic
·         Experienced editor/writer in many areas, including general news, feature articles, newsletters, PR, some fiction, education, nature, travel, some health.
·         Knowledgeable in computer software, including  PowerPoint 2007, Excel 2007, Microsoft Publisher 2003, Microsoft Office 2007.
·         Have a LinkedIn presence

Have taught logic and writing in Core 201/202 classes at Radford University, Radford, VA. Promoted logical thinking and writing through the application of deductive and inductive logic, used in both research based writing and public speaking. Worked closely with students and edited APA cited student work, especially in textual/argument analysis and working directly with them at research paper conferences and on other assignments. Taught  students  2010-2015. Some knowledge of MLA, Chicago Manual of Style.

Interviewed area residents for freelance feature articles, covered government meetings. Wrote news and some sports. Assisted with layout at The Lebanon News, VA.  Photographed subjects for feature articles for various publications in Virginia and elsewhere. Publications have included The North Country Catholic, Rome Weekly Patriot (NY), Clinch Valley Times, Catholic Virginian, Virginia Libraries, Virginia Wildlife (VA), Appalachian Trailway News (National), Geico (National),, Blue Ridge Country and others.  Also written news and feature articles 2007-2009 as a stringer for the Bristol Herald Courier, Bristol, Virginia. Mostly recently published in Blue Ridge Country, Roanoke, VA and The Roanoke Times( Researched and wrote encyclopedia entries on airline industry for Golson Media (NY), 2013.
Produced, edited and primarily wrote newsletters for nonprofit organizations in past.  Contacted schools and radio stations for yearly local festival.  Promoted local nature preserve with columns in area newspapers in Russell County, Virginia in 1990s. Wrote articles about upcoming aerospace education workshops at area community college.  Spoke to school groups about my book  Let’s Run Our Schools Together.  Editor/reporter for Knights of Columbus newsletter, Norton, Virginia 2004-2006. Created newsletters for the New River Valley Master Naturalists of Blacksburg, VA, 2013-2015.

BROADCAST JOURNALISM Supervised journalists as well as covered my own territory in 1990s.  Recorded special interviews with regional and national figures, reported on meetings and “FOCUS” segments for the next morning.  Live broadcasts of special events, like election coverage, as Broadcast Journalist, WLRV Radio, W. Main Street, Lebanon, Virginia. Directed other journalists. Interviewed public figures, such as Lt. Col. Oliver North and Dr. Arun Gandhi for special segments, and covered governing board meetings. Edited and proofread incoming material for regional and local news stories.  Read news on air. Recorded news segments.
Internet search engines used to assist students with homework. Researched grants online for a student organization Team Estonoa, for environmental funding, 2002.Interviewed area residents for history article and input history information in Excel sheets for local library. Conducted market research by telephone for Issues and Answers; contacted residents for addresses and supervised those who did the same. Attended federal grant research workshop offered by Taryn Chase at Radford University, May 2009.

Master of Science in English, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, 2010.

Major course work in Technical Editing, Appalachian Studies, Technical and Business Writing and American Literature classes, Teaching Writing.

Bachelor of Arts in English, State University of New York at Potsdam in the past.


Co-edited the student newsletter and mentored students for high school Team Estonoa Ecology class in St. Paul, Virginia, 2002-2003.                                              
Author, Let’s Run Our Schools Together, available at
Headed the news department at WLRV radio station, Lebanon, Virginia.
Organized fundraisers for a battered women’s shelter, Norton, Virginia.
Helped edit, proofread journal “Lost State Voices,” published December 2005.
Certificates of Appreciation from Clinch Valley Community Action for PR articles, 2001-2003.
Won Award for R. U. English Club’s “Funniest Horror Story,” October 2009.
Past membership in Sigma Delta Chi, Journalism Fraternity
Present membership in Sigma Tau Delta, English Honorary Society
Present membership in Virginia Master Naturalists’ organization, New River Valley chapter

Present membership in New River Writers’ Group (VA.)