Paul Robert Van Sickle 11/23/1938 – 10/25/2021

Remembering Paul Robert Van Sickle.

A loving husband, father of three, and a proud grandfather. A brother, a teacher, a gifted musician, gardener, and woodworker.

And our beloved cousin.

Cousin Paul R. Van Sickle, photographed June 2017

We’ve just returned home after celebrating Paul’s life during a Memorial Service at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lenox, Massachusetts last Saturday the 20th. Paul would have loved all the music- the singing, the playing of the organ. It was beautiful. Poignant.

The cousins drove in from Vermont, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. After the service we gathered together at his home to share stories and memories.

Paul built his workshop

I felt moved as I entered Paul’s workshop, behind his home, and inhaled the scent of wood. He could repair things, too. See his tools all lined up? His grandfather’s toolbox on the bench. There’s a wooden toy box in my home that Paul crafted for my son, Mark.

A panorama of his workshop

Paul was a master musician, organist and vocalist. He had a beautiful singing voice. I remember his playing our family piano when he’d visit our home. J.S.Bach was a favorite composer.

Paul’s favorite cookies were my mom’s recipe for Sour Cream Cookies. His wife Susan baked them for the family gathering after the service. My mother baked them for a Paul in the sixties when he’d visit our home. That kitchen was in Morris Plains, New Jersey and he’d visit when he was on leave from the US Army -Ft. Dix, New Jersey.

A sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top, a pinch of nutmeg in the dough. A soft sugar cookie, moist from the addition of sour cream.
Here’s a photo from June 1974.
Paul and his daughter Amy at my wedding.

It’s hard to sum up a life in a few words. Paul was a blog follower and told me one time I was a little heavy on the photos showing decay. You know those abandoned buildings and discarded furniture pieces, the garbage I post? 😂 We’re going to miss his laughter, his kindness, his generous heart- full of love for all of us.

Here’s a link to his obituary in the Berkshire Edge.

Hymn of Promise Author: Natalie Sleeth (1986). pianist Evan Alperone sung by Tim Silva

Shillelagh Maker in Pittsburgh PA

People at Work.  Meet Shillelagh maker, Mr. Patrick Byrne.   Today I got invited to his workshop, Byrne Shillelaghs,  to photograph him making a shillelagh.  Irish Walking Sticks, right here in Pittsburgh.  Made to order.  I got to see a work in progress- A Thumb Stick.  His custom designs are gorgeous.  I saw an authentic thorn stick too, with the thorns still protruding from the column of wood.

We met because we both donated our artistic creations to the Kidney Gift of Life Gala.

Shillelagh makerCustom Branding, Embedded Coins, Gems, Nameplates are all a possibility when ordered your custom made shillelagh.  Here is Pat Byrne holding one made of hard maple.

Here is Mr. Byrne, holding the shillelagh that was given to him by a man who said, “You’re Irish aren’t you?” and went into his house and brought this out and gave it to him as a gift. This first shillelagh started his thinking, I could make this!   And he does, beautifully.  His son does the art work and branding on the shillelaghs and made one with a Celtic knot carved design that was stunning.

Nicholas C. Ridge Free Library on Friendship Avenue

Right across from the hornet nest is one of the free standing libraries I’ve read about.  Right in someone’s front yard.

We walked over and opened the glass door.  Beautiful craftsmanship and the wood unweathered.  

Turns out it was installed just this June.

We didn’t take a book but it was a nice find.  And now we know where we can go to get a book, twenty four hours a day.

The plaque said Nicholas C Ridge  Free Library and if you click on the link you can read the story.  

The light was waning but took a few shots. 

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