A Truly Fantastic Store in Havre de Grace, MD

When I was visiting my family over Thanksgiving, I spent half a day shopping in Havre de Grace. I was born there, and the town is part of my history, my story, and holds so many memories of my childhood. It was odd going back and in some strange way, meandering around the town last week was part and parcel of an ongoing process of healing and reweaving my own past….but I digress. Suffice it to say, I had one hell of a good time. Toward the end of my shopping, I stumbled upon this store, “Glyph”. I was delighted.

I have a love for fine paper, handmade cards, fancy pens, inks, teas, wrapping papers, jars, and the like. These things, like calligraphy, and the craft of letter writing itself are what i like to call grace notes of living. They make the world a more beautiful, more civilized, more enjoyable place. Walking into Glyph, I was in heaven. (I was also kind of shocked because there was *nothing* like this in Havre de Grace when I lived in MD!).

Stores like this are, more and more, a rarity. I was like a kid in a candy shop. The owners, Don Starr and Joseph C. Smith were pleasant, courteous, incredibly knowledgeable, and very helpful. It was one of the most pleasant shopping experiences that I’ve had in a long time. The store is large enough to have a variety of interesting items yet small enough to be cozy and welcoming. While I was reveling in the Italian paper they sold, I do believe they also do custom stationary as well as offering workshops and classes. Check out their virtual tour of the store here.

Like bookstores, fine stationary stores in my opinion should be celebrated and patronized. Nothing makes me sadder than going through an otherwise charming town but seeing no bookstores, no paper stores, nothing that speaks to these arts of the mind, the eye, communication, and contemplation. I think the exquisite yet somehow delightfully quaint elegance they offer is much needed in our world today. They bring a very quiet kind of joy.

Anyway, when I find stores like this, I like to let people know! I co-own a small gallery. I know how hard it is for small businesses to stay in business! So, if you’re interested in nice paper and neat things, check these guys out. They do online business too.

For those of you IN the area, check out these coffee shops as well. I went to both and they were both awesome, comfortable, and the coffee oh so good: Concord Point Coffee and Java by the Bay.



Visiting Family Graves

So I spent my Thanksgiving visiting the graves of my ancestors. I came down to Maryland to see my brother and his family for the holiday and the morning before we all got together, I went around to local cemeteries making offerings for my dead. I’ve been trying to untangle a rather snarled family tree, and my recent focus has been my mother’s paternal line. I made real breakthroughs on this visit.

Firstly, I visited my aunt who told me quite a bit about my grandfather. Many of those stories are personal so I won’t recount them here, but it answered a lot of questions. Then there were the cemetery visits.

I started the morning yesterday by first going to Harmony Chapel Cemetery in Cecil County, MD where I made offerings to my maternal grandmother Linnie Hanna, her parents Lucinda Heffner and Hugh Shoff, and her brother Howard Shoff. (My photos did not turn out well of their stones, so I will be visiting them again later today and will add photos then. Once I poured good, clean water over their stones in offering to their spirits, it obscured the inscriptions. I also laid out flowers and prayed).

Then, I went to Brookview Cemetery in Rising Sun, MD (and boy was it fun finding this cemetery! It’s quite well hidden, which of course makes it peaceful and serene. It’s abutted by a large field and set well off the road, shielded by a long, wooded lane). My grandfather Roland Isaac Hanna is buried here. Last year, I realized that he didn’t have a headstone (he was not the best father, and he carried many, many scars from his own childhood.) so I paid to have a simple one with his name and dates of birth and death erected. I got to the cemetery and realized I had no idea where it was located save tehat it was in the north east section. So, I asked him to guide me to the stone and…walked right to it.

Roland Hanna

After visiting for a time with Roland (and also making offerings to various random veterans in the cemetery – I’m easily distracted in cemeteries) I and my friend A. (who was kind enough to accompany me and help haul offerings and drive) went on to Colora, MD, to West Nottingham Cemetery. I’d always been fascinated by this cemetery as a child but had never, ever visited. I don’t think my parents realized that my mother’s father’s father, his mother, and two of his brothers were buried there.

Again, I had no idea where they were and the cemetery is large. I talked to them, and poured out an offering to the other spirits of the place, and the cemetery itself asking for help and again, walked right to my great grandfather’s stone (the look on A.’s face was priceless when I did so). Again, offerings were made. As I talked to him, speaking about my desire to untangle this family line and deal with the pain and hurt that had festered there for so long, a pale spider kept running along the top of the stone. In some cultures, spiders are psychopomps, and carry messages too and from the dead. I took it as a good omen.

Perry B Hanna

Then I had to set myself the task of finding his mother. Again, I only knew that she was there so I again asked for help. I kept getting distracted by interesting stones and people but eventually I heard very clearly ‘go over to the building’. I thought perhaps someone was there who could help so I did. Just as I was about to walk out of the cemetery proper and to the main building, something made me look down and to my left and there was my great great grandmother’s grave. (Her husband is buried in PA, in a family plot. He died earlier than she and it seems her children wanted her buried near where they lived so today I’m going on the quest for his grave).

elizabeth johnson

Right next to her are the graves of two of her sons: John T. and Basil Randolph Hanna.

John T Hanna

BAsil Hanna

I made the requisite offerings, thanking them profusely. Later that night I was doing some research and managed to extend that line back several more generations.


Maryann Dabravalskas (nee Hanna) (1947-2012) (and John Paul Dabravalskas 1917- 2005)

Following Maryann’s line:

Linnie Hanna (nee Shoff) (1909 – 1987) and Roland I. Hanna (1903-1991)

Following Roland’s line:

Edna Baldwin (1880-1944) and Perry Barnes Hanna (1876-1949)

Following Perry:

Elizabeth Johnson (1836-1909) and Stephen John Hanna (1832-1897)

Following Stephen:

His mother is Esther Ailes (1798-1887) and father James Andrew Hanna (1800-1874).

Esther’s parents are Stephen Ailes (1771-1816) and Sarah Byland (1773-1830).

Stephen’s parents are Stephen Michael Ailes and Elizabeth Swayne

Back to James Andrew Hanna, his mother is Martha Jenkins (1781-1857) and his father is John Hanna (1773-1857) and…that’s as far as I can take this line.

(if anyone reading this has any information on any of these ancestors or family lines, please please contact me here!)

So all told, it was a very productive visit. I need to come down again, both to research in Baltimore (Edna Baldwin lived and worked there and she is a cipher, a complete mystery in my line) and to go to York, PA where generations of my mother’s maternal line settled. I have many more graves to visit!

Happy holidays, all.

Standing with France.


I find this world very difficult to live in sometimes. This weekend has been one of those times where I find myself grieving and doubled over with pain. I heard about the attacks on Paris very late Friday night and sat glued to the television until my husband pulled me away, tears streaming down my face. My heart goes out to the French, and the city itself is in my prayers.

This is not in any way to diminish the suffering in places like Beirut or Lebanon and frankly I find it rather vile to act as though these cities are competing in their suffering. Paris is special to me because my mother was born there and part of my history is there and I have a relationship with that city that I do not have with any other place. It holds very special memories of a woman who adopted me and transformed my life, gave me life and hope and a future. When I think of Paris I think of my mother and seeing the devastation in that city is very, very personal to me.

I think however that the terrorists underestimate the French. Within *living memory* France endured occupation by one of the worst terrorist governments in the history of the 20th century and with allied help they triumphed. They survived. It is a mistake to underestimate them. I hope it is a mistake Daesh-trash will learn to its destruction. I’m not the only one to remember this history. Today i read this article that brought tears to my eyes, an article that quotes a speech Winston Churchill made to the French in 1940. I think it serves as a reminder that this poison can be driven back, can be overcome if we work together and do not allow fear and divisiveness to win.

In the meantime I do what little I can a continent away: I pray for France, for her people, and in the end for all people who have experienced first hand the evil — not a word I use lightly–of these fundamentalists. I pray also that we may unite and stand together, and that we may be for each other a light in this terrible darkness.

November is for our Military Dead.

November is always a time for me to remember the Veterans in my family, and to honor my military dead. I wish I lived near my family’s graves (I’m several states away). I’d go today to clean the gravestones, pour libations of fresh water over them, set out flags and candles, flowers and incense all to let them know they are remembered and loved. I can’t do it at family graves, but I can do it at my ancestor shrine where i have pictures of as many of my ancestors as I can, and plenty of room for candles.

In the meantime, a thank you to all our Veterans as we begin the slow march toward Veteran’s Day. You are remembered. Your sacrifices mean something. You are part of something so much bigger than yourselves. I wish that as a nation we could look to you and question the devastation of war before we throw ourselves gaily forward into another one. I wish that we could see the price that our Veterans pay and allow that to inform our decisions of how much life we’re willing to expend for our nation’s dubious glory. In the meantime to every man and woman serving: respect.


(Photo by Angela B. Pan — i found it floating around Facebook)