Sunday’s Barker Lion/Barker Music Parent Club Pancake Breakfast and basket auction is dedicated to the memory of Lion John Hayden, who never missed his chance at the griddle to help local organizations. The March 14 breakfast runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children or $15 for a family with four children. Breakfast includes pancakes, eggs, home fries, sausage, toast, juice and coffee, tea or milk.
Local artist C. Gordon Porter donated an original acrylic painting (value
$495) titled “Zinnia Bouquet” for a special $1 raffle. In addition, Oak Orchard Concrete is donating two Buffalo Sabres tickets for the March 31 game plus a Sabres basket. The $1 special raffle will be drawn at the breakfast. During the morning they will also have musical performing groups, a baked goods sale and a memorabilia table with items from previous school musicals. All high school music students have pre-sale tickets or call Matthew Sweeney at 795-9257 to purchase them. Profits from past breakfasts, thanks to
the Lions, will provide concert dress clothes for grades 4-12 and they hope to be wearing them at the May concert for all to see.


Bring on the bras!! two new events!

“Bring on the Bras” on Saturday for another fun afternoon on the Mammary Mile trail! The Soda Jerks Relay For Life team invites you to come to taboo restaurant and bar in Lockport and add your bra to the project. Decorating materials and extra bras will be on hand, and each bra donation requires a $5 donation to the American Cancer Society. Enjoy a fabulous munchie buffet, door prizes, prize auction, 50/50 split drawing and more. The girls need your help to reach a mile by Mother’s Day. For more information, go to or call Carol Ander at 795-3085.

March 19 is “Girlfriend’s Night” at Hartland Bible Church hall (former St. Mary’s Church site) in Gasport. All ladies are invited to enjoy coffee and cupcakes and share fun and fellowship, beginning at 7 p.m. It’s another stop on the Mammary Mile trail and you’ll be able to decorate a bra to add to the project to benefit the Relay For Life and American Cancer Society. Bring your own old bra or pick one up there, and dedicate it to someone who has faced any kind of cancer, or even a caregiver. There will be prizes and surprises and a chance for a night out with the girls, so go and make some new friends.

Honoring another fallen firefighter

This was posted as a comment to my tribute to two fallen firefighters. It touched my heart and I wanted to be sure that others so it so I am pasting it into the main blog. There are so many who put their lives on the line for us every day, and we must never take their sacrifice for granted.

This is from Kaitlyn,

i wrote this poem for my Daddy.
Allan Roberts died in October O6,
Fighting in the LineOfDuty.
May he, &all the other fallen heroes,
Forever Rest In Peace ♥

If ever there was fear in someones eyes
You’d drop everything you were doing
You’d be there in a hurry,to make sure no one dies
No matter how challenging, you always kept going

You knew the dangers,for you’ve though about them many times
But you didn’t care,this was your dream,all you knew
So whenever you had doubts,you’d look up to the skys
To guide you as you did,what you knew you had to do

I thought you’d return,everytime you left home
You promised me that,and you’ve never broken one before
So i couldn’t believe you left me in this world alone
I couldn’t believe i would see you,no more

I knew you’d been hurt real bad
You couldn’t handle the heat,and so the ground you fell
When the top floor fell,it shocked and trapped you Dad
You knew you needed help,and they knew it as well

I hate to think of your air mask falling off,and your skin that burned
Your brothers were looking for you,but they were taking too long
Just for a miracle, you prayed and yearned
But by the time that they found you,you were already gone

The man i saw laying there, still and cold
Dressed in his best uniform,hat neatly placed
The burns on your face were proof,and yet the truth remains untold
It kills me to think,the fear you must have faced

I still question every detail,No ones story makes sence
What happened that day,i really need to know
The way you lost your life, and all that suspence
You died a hero,but you we not ready to go

I don’t know what to think,as your caskets being lowered
I hear amazing grace,and the pastor praise your name
But in my head,a happy life without you, just can’t be pictured
Because i just cannot accept that you’ve put out your last flame



The next stop on the Mammary Mile Express will be VIZCARRA VINEYARDS & BECKER BREWING COMPANY in Gasport! Join us from 1 to 5 p.m. and help us reach our mile long goal! $5 admission gets you wine tastings of local Vizcarra Wines and munchies. Donate a bra and $5 to the American Cancer Society and get a chance to win some great prizes. There’ll be fun and surprises for everyone! Pre-sale ticket purchasers will get a chance to wine a bottle of Vizcarra Wines of their choice! Get tickets at Thee Barker Store, 795-3085 or call Julie at 795-9262. If you’d like to try a tasting of the home brewed beers at Becker Brewing Co. it’s only $3 additonal. We hope to see you there!!

Grateful for ordinary heroes; a tribute to our fallen firefighters McCarthy and Croom

When others are running from danger, what kind of man or woman chooses to run intodanger instead? How many people ever stop to think of the job our local firefighters and policemen do? I watched, at length, the funerals in Buffalo NY today for two brave firefighters who died in the line of duty. About 6,000 firefighters from across the country and Canada came to pay respects, a solid line of blue uniforms and white gloves raised in salute or covering hearts. Lt. Charles McCarthy and Firefighter Jonathan Croom heard that there was someone trapped in the basement of a fire and they did not hesitate to go in to search, to try to save someone from the raging fire. When the floor collapsed, McCarthy and Croom were trapped and became victims of the fire themselves. It is a sad irony that no trace of another person was found in that basement. There was no need for them to have gone in; no need for them to have died. Some will say they should have waited to be sure, but they did what they were trained to do. When fire takes over, every second counts and firefighters don’t have a lot of time to sit and weigh the consequences. In those who have chosen to serve and protect, it is instinctive to face the danger head on. It is an extraordinary gift to have the heart to put another life before your own. these brave men and women are ready every day to do just that and we often give little thought to what that means, or how valuable they really are.

After 9/11, firefighters were revered and respected and we could not say enough about the sacrifice of those men following the destruction of the World Trade Centers. There were honors and parades and tributes, all richly deserved. A new respect for boys in blue, both policemen and firemen took hold. It was good. Eight years later we may have slipped back into our complacency. There have been no national disasters to rally our patriotism and gratitude. As we mourn and honor two men who made the supreme sacrifice, we really need to honor those who serve and are willing to take that same risk every day.  Let’s give  them our thanks while they are here to hear it.

Growing up on the east side of Buffalo in the 1950s, I have fond memories of the local fire houses, where the firemen would often be sitting outside. They took time to answer silly kid questions, show us the firetrucks or even join in a game of  jacks. We thought it was pretty neat that they got to hang around during the day while our dads were off to the steel plant or auto factories. They acted as neighborhood guardians and we were taught to give them unflinching respect. If there was a neighborhood fire in those days a crowd would gather, but it had a different feel then- it wasn’t some exciting show to watch.  Neighbors were standing by to aid the victims, wrapping them in blankets and offering to make phone calls (noot everyone had a home phone and cell phones were a Dick tracy fantasy). The older ladies stood in prayer, clutching rosary beads and making the sign of the cross. Someone would always bring cold drinks in the summer or hot coffee in the winter to weary firefighters. It was an honor and a duty to assist in any way possible. We were in awe of those men (no ladies back then) who braved the smoke and fire no matter what the weather or time of day. Those were the heroes of my generation.

I live in a small, rural community now. Our Barker Fire Department is an all-volunteer operation. We may move at a generally slower pace here in cow country, but when that siren goes off and scanners buzz, we have brave and dedicated men and women who drop what they were doing to respond. They may have been plowing a field, fixing a transmission or peeling potatoes for dinner; it all stops as they race to someone in need. The word “volunteer” may be lumped with amateur or unprofessional because few people realize the amount of training these volunteers must go through to become firefighters. Training in many areas continues while they are members. It is a huge commitment that is embraced by all too few members of the community. There’s nothing rinky-dink about local volunteer fire companies anywhere. They are dedicated people who already have jobs they do to earn a living. They have chosen to serve their community and neighbors as professionals. Our lives and property are in their hands and we rely on them. We can go to sleep peacefully at night, without having to wonder what would happen if lightning hit the house or the garage burned. While we sleep  we are blessedly unaware of the car crash that needed the jaws of life or the dairy cows that were herded out of a burning barn before it collapsed. As I watched those funerals today, I felt a little guilty. Our Barker Fire Volunteer Company, and those nearby who aid us, give me peace of mind. What do I do for them? Yes, I try to be supportive of fundraisers  and events when I can, but when was the last time I said “Thank You?”

I’m saying it now. To every man and woman who wears the uniform of a firefighter, I salute you. I say a prayer of gratitude for your noble service and a continuing prayer for your safety. I pray for those families who have lost loved ones, like Lt. McCarthy and  Firefighter Croom.  I say thank you to all those wives, husbands and children who have had to attend events alone, or have their parent miss a softball game and who wait patiently while their spouse or parent puts the needs and lives of others, often strangers, first. During the services today, Croom’s mother spoke about people saying “You must be so proud…” Her response was “I have always been proud.” That’s a very profound statement. It’s important that we let our public servants know that we are not only proud of those who have given their lives, but of all those who stand willing to make any sacrifice when that siren sounds. Yes, we are proud…and grateful. We’ll try hard not to take you for granted. Thank you for all you do.

Well done, Chip and Jonathan… good and faithful servants, well done.

Shooting stars are a gift to the soul!

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night: to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring …these are some of the rewards of the simple life.     ~ John Burroughs, Naturalist (1837-1921) ~

Take a couple of six-year-olds to the drive-in movies to see commando guinea pigs saving the world and there are bound to be a lot of laughs in between popcorn breaks. Drive-in movies, a memorable part of my childhood, are vanishing. Kids are wired up to daily movies and special effects on television, computers, video games and everywhere. It’s pretty hard to top some of the things they’ve seen.

Toward the end of the movies the Perseids made their way across the sky, tossing an occasional ball of fire into the inky heavens. It was enough to draw their attention away from the Aliens in the Attic for a bit, but there was still too much sensory overload and ambient light to see the meteors.

On the drive home at 1 a.m., I took a detour to the back of town park, where there are no lights except for the starlight and a waning moon over the ball fields of our rural community. Logan and Darian had no idea why we shook them awake, wrapped them in blankets and had them lie on the metal bleachers. “Just lie on your back and stare straight up!” It takes patience to just let go and wait for things to happen in their own time. There are no fast-forward or rewind buttons. You either see them or you don’t. Impatience turned to wide-eyed wonder as they saw the delicate arcs of meteor tails flash across the sky. “Did see that one?!!” If your eyes were on another part of the celestial ceiling, you may have missed that one, but others would follow. We tried hard to all watch the same area of the sky for the shared effect. When they came two or three in the same instant the kids were wishing hard on every shooting star.  Every time they slowed a bit and we prepared to leave, more would come and we were again caught up in the challenge. On this glorious summer night in August, the Perseid Metoer Showers were imprinted in their memories. I knew they would take root and send a reminder every August that it was nearly time to see the sky show. I don’t know what they wished for (I think Darian has her eye on a pony) but I know what my own ‘first star’ wish was. I wished them a lifetime of memorable moments that were inspired by the awesome wonder of nature. I wished with all my heart that they would learn to savor, to respect and to appreciate the beauty all around them. So many things in life are fleeting, popular and ‘in’ for a while and then extinct as we move on to new things. It is in nature that we find the only true and constant things in our lives.

No matter what life throws at me, I am sure that the sun will rise. The moon goes through her many moods, but she is predictable, after all. I eagerly await the return of Orion the Hunter, my favorite constellation, in the autumn and winter sky and rejoice when we get clear skies around August 12th every year to watch those Perseid showers. Oh, Mother Nature can be cruel and the unexpected fury unleashed takes us all by surprise. Still, after the darkness, comes the dawn. Rather simplistic, I know, but it is true in every struggle of our lives.

Before there was man to clear the land, build the cities and try to tame her, Mother Nature took care of herself. Fires in forests took away the old growth to make way for new beginnings. Floods and drought changed landscape and animals and plant life adapted. We came and put our houses and concrete right in the middle of things and we struggle to keep nature and natural disaster at bay. I sometimes wonder what the state of the earth would be if no one ever mowed another lawn or tried to tame a raging river. That would be the ultimate “back to nature” experience.

I thought of the John Burroughs quote while star gazing from the bleachers the other night. I thought about how rich I was in so many ways, to be able to share this heavenly moment (pardon the pun) with my great niece and nephew. Right now they are excited about going into the first grade next month and they still live in a world dominated by razzle-dazzle, but I’m making a prediction. Some twenty or so years from now, they’ll be telling their own children about the meteors, and maybe grandchildren too. It is how it has always been and will always be, if we are smart enough to share the timeless wonders of life with them. These moments are the ones that last. How rich I am… and how thankful!

Are you sleeping yet? Apnea study, cont’d.

Okay, I am now wired up from head to toe, in a strange bed, with a little red light on my fingertip… and I’m supposed to fall asleep. First of all, I’m used to sleeping on my side, curled up, and being flat on my back is strange. Secondly, I somehow managed to get in bed very near the edge (although it was a nice big double bed) and I had the strange feeling that I might fall out of bed. Just go to sleep!

I tried mental games (“My name is Annie, my husband’s name is Al, we live in Alabama and we sell apples…) but it seemed that it was a long time before I could sleep. Each time I was concious of being awake again, I told myself sternly to go back to dreamland. I remember seeing the full moon in the transom over the window, and wishing I could nod off again. I stayed in that spot, flat on my back with the strange mask and hose connecting me to the control room like an umbilical cord. When Mark boomed a hearty “Good Morning” at 5:30 a.m.  I  just rolled my eyes. I had made it through the night without the complications of a bathroom trip, the worst was over and I was sure it was just my usual sleepness night- with no serious breathing problems. It felt good to get the mask off and even better to get the wires and leads off, but I wanted to crawl back under the covers and go to sleep! One more short set of questions and I was set free. I was sure I would not have to keep the second appointment!

The first thing I did when I got to the car on that really foggy Saturday morning was to drink a whole bottle of water. Then I opened the car windows, cranked up the car stereo, put some minty gum in my morning mouth and headed home. I will admit it seemed like a long drive as I wearily made my back to my house. After trudging up the stairs, to be greeted by my cat companion with yowls of “Where have you been all night,” I made my way through the house to my bed. Forget the gobs of glue in my hair and red sticky circles on my extremities…I needed sleep! The phone rang two hours later and I was still longing for more sleep. What a slug!

When the Sleep Center gal called to tell me I needed to keep my second appointment, I was really surprised. She gave me some scary numbers that got my attention. It seems that it had taken me 44 minutes to fall asleep that night, and when I did I didn’t sleep soundly. She told me I had stopped breathing in light sleep an average of 22 times an hour, and in REM sleep it jumped to 43 times an hour! My blood oxygen was below 90% for a considerable time and it dropped as low as 79% at one point! The optimal oxygen saturation level is 95-100. No wonder I was so absolutely tired!!! As bad as that sounds, it’s considered “Moderate” Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It can be much, much worse.

It’s very scary to be told you stop breathing at night, and I let myself become very anxious about it until my return appointment. I never thought I had a problem, but now it was official and I was in a hurry to return. Yep, the wires, glue and ET finger suddenly seemed worth it. The wait was hard.

To be continued…