Nora At Rest

IMG_2248On Thursday, November 9, 2017, we said a final goodbye to Nora. She was almost nine years old and died of kidney failure after living with Cushing’s Disease and blindness for more than two years. Even with these health challenges, her quality of life was quite good until she became sick a few weeks ago and declined like a roller-coaster car. We had hoped to let her pass at home, but when it became clear that she was suffering, we took her to the vet and stayed with her while he and the staff helped her peacefully along her way.

It was just over six years ago that Nutmeg and Nora came to live with us. They had been adopted by a husband and wife, and when the wife died, the husband could no longer care for them. He asked their veterinarian to euthanize them, but the vet refused, and a friend suggested that he place them with a rescue organization. We discovered them on They had been living in a kennel for two months and had forgotten any training they may have had. Our first few months with them were certainly a challenge.

Nutmeg and Nora (r) Photo Credit: Eric Smyklo

Nutmeg and Nora (r)
Photo Credit: Eric Smyklo

Nutmeg and Nora never stopped being a challenge, but we loved them instantly and will love them forever. We had fallen into a nice rhythm when in the spring of 2015, Nora started acting differently. She was having accidents in the house, was panting, her belly was bloated, and she was restless. It turned out that she had a serious bladder infection, but worse than that, she had Cushing’s Disease.

Cushing’s Disease is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland or an adrenal gland. The net result is that too many hormones being produced and this makes the dog anxious, while creating many other symptoms. Cushing’s can be managed with medication and requires periodic bloodwork to determine if the medication needs to be adjusted. Dogs can live out their normal lifespan with the disease. That’s what we hoped for our pup.

Then, just a couple of months after her diagnosis, Nora went blind. After doing lots of research, I discovered that blind dogs can manage very well, and that sight is not their most-important sense. They can “see” with their ears and noses.

In the more than two years after Nora lost her sight, she adapted very well. It was amazing how she could zig zag her way through the house, traveling inside and outside, with just a few mishaps here and there. We would direct her with our voices when she headed toward a wall or a piece of furniture. This would usually occur when she had just awoken or was tired.

A month or so ago, Nora’s legs seemed weak. It was subtle. After observing her and trying to determine which leg was giving her trouble, I took her to the vet. It didn’t seem that there was a problem with the legs themselves, so we did some bloodwork and found that many of her values were off. Another batch of blood was analyzed to see if something was going on with her kidneys. We also did an ACTH stim test, to see if her Cushing’s medicine needed to be adjusted.


The word came back that the Cushing’s wasn’t the issue. Nora was in end-stage kidney failure. Even with a dire prognosis, we had no idea we’d lose her within two weeks’ time. She started getting sick to her stomach and was given something for nausea. She was prescribed something for her kidneys, which wouldn’t cure her disease, but would make her feel better. Unfortunately, that medicine made her more nauseous and had to be stopped. She then started with lower GI symptoms, and we talked with the veterinarian and staff about signs that a decision might need to be made instead of letting her pass at home.

When Nora started with lower GI issues, the poor thing would have to go out every two hours or so. She’d squat over and over with not much happening except the evidence of bleeding. She’d hop back in the door, hesitate a moment, and then go back outside for more. It must have been exhausting for her to repeat this so many times a day. It was heartbreaking for us to watch.

On Monday, November 6, we took her back to the vet. She wasn’t eating or drinking very much. She was given meds for nausea again and an antibiotic for the lower GI symptoms. She had already started refusing her Cushing’s meds, so it was hard to get her to take the nausea medicine. I never did get her to take the antibiotic.

Over the next three days, we were sometimes able to get her to drink water, but she was not hungry. She tried to eat the hamburger/rice mixture the vet recommended, but after one small meal, she refused that, too. She became uncomfortable because she wasn’t taking her Cushing’s meds, and one time, I dissolved one pill in water and squirted it into her mouth with an eye dropper.

I slept on the floor in the living room with her three nights in a row, thinking/hoping each would be her last, so that we could be spared the ultimate decision. I asked Happy, Scout, Tina, and Easy to meet her, but they didn’t come. I asked her previous owner to meet her, but she didn’t come, either. I wanted to let her pass at home, the way my cat had done in my arms when I was a child.

Nora became so weak that it was difficult for her to walk anymore. Her body was tense and she had started to shiver. She refused water as if it were an insult.

On Thursday, November 9, finally called the vet’s office and told them I thought it might be time to let her go. I gave her a warm bath, which I think gave her comfort. She laid on the bathroom floor while I ran the warm blow dryer over her soft fur.

A few hours later at the animal hospital, her veterinarian reviewed Nora’s symptoms and prognosis with my husband and me, and we all agreed that helping her along her way was the best thing to do for her.

I’ve been present for three other pets’ euthanasia. One was a hamster with a huge tumor whom I couldn’t watch suffer anymore. One was a dog who went peacefully, and one dog not so peacefully. I was afraid for Nora, and I had wanted her to die in the night. The vet said everyone hopes that, but it rarely happens.

Nora slipped away so gracefully. Our vet’s procedure involves starting an IV and administering a strong sedative first. This is like when you go under for surgery. All awareness stops. When he was certain that she was completely sedated, he administered the second drug through the IV. Her passing was so subtle that I didn’t even realize it was over until he told us she was gone.

It was so hard letting her go, but to keep her with us would have caused her more suffering.

When we got home, Nutmeg was restless and barking. She and Nora had never been the best of friends and had some pretty nasty conflicts over the years, but they went through a lot together before we got them, and they expected each other to be near. That first night, Nutmeg’s attitude seemed to be one of resentment and she isolated herself from us. I think she realized this wasn’t one of Nora’s absences due to her Cushing’s, and that she was not coming back.

It’s easy to say that we should remember the good times. I’ve said that myself. I think it’s easier to do as time passes. I still have heartache over the previous pets we’ve lost, but I’m better able to remember the good times and not dwell so much on the end.

So, when I see one set of food bowls instead of two, when only four paws follow me down the hall instead of eight, when only one voice howls, I’ll try to remember the good times. Maybe I’ll think of how she loved to play in the snow or how she hiked with us on every one of the trails in the Let’s Move Outside project. I will remember that we still have Nutmeg and she is healthy.

We miss Nora so much, and our hearts are breaking. Jim and I are so honored to have known and cared for her, and we know that we will cross the rainbow bridge together someday.

Summer 2016 Photo Credit: Misty O'Connor

Summer 2016
Photo Credit: Misty O’Connor

“For one hour of keen joy out-does pain.” W.E. Dimorier

Ann Silverthorn


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Posted in Daily Life, Family, Nutmeg and Nora

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Day Three!

NaNoWriMoI decided it would probably be better to do these NaNoWriMo updates at the end of the day, rather than the beginning. It’s too easy to get sidetracked before the writing has started.

While these updates may be helpful for someone who’s thinking about doing NaNoWriMo, or informative for anyone who is kind enough to keep good thoughts for me during the month, I hope they will also hold me accountable.

I might not update every day, because there will be some days when nothing happens. For instance, this weekend is busy, hence my furor in word count for the past three days.

On day two, I logged a word count of 2,577, bringing me to 9,306. Today, I logged 2,460 words for a grand total of 11,766. This means I’ve reached more than 20 percent of my 30-day goal in just three days. How do you like that for fancy math from a person who majored in English?

I really like using the NaNoWriMo site, because I can log my words there and it keeps track of the number of words written each day. The dashboard displays how many more words remain until my goal is reached, too.

I also like the word-sprint feature. You enter a period of time, (I chose 60 minutes) and then you see how many words you can add before the timer goes off. It’s encouraging because it counts down the minutes, too. This really keeps me focused.

So far, so good. Everything seems to be making sense in the story, and the characters are filling out.

Thanks for reading this. Comments welcome below!

Word Count: 11,766

Ann Silverthorn





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NaNoWriMo 2017 – Day Two!

NaNoWriMoYesterday marked a great start to NaNoWriMo. I started with 3,874 words and ended with 6,549. That’s a word count for the day of 2,675. My goal was 2,000. It was amazing how easily the words were dripping from my fingers.

This exercise is good for an English major who constantly feels the need to measure up to the great writers she studied. It takes away the constant editing and doubt.

While I don’t want the finished product to be a series of “asdfjkl;” expressions, I don’t feel the need for it to be a masterpiece, or even great. It simply needs to be the best I can do in a 30-day period.

What am I writing? All I can say right now is that the story springboards from a chance encounter in an airport and my fictionalizing what happened afterward! The amazing coincidence of striking up a conversation with a person on the same connecting flight to Philadelphia, with both of us going in different directions afterward, and then reuniting with that person on the return trip is truly stranger than fiction.

Well, I’m off to start day two. Wish me luck!

Word Count: 6,549

Ann Silverthorn


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NaNoWriMo 2017 – Day One!

NaNoWriMoAfter many years of having a profile on the NaNoWriMo site, conditions are finally right for me to participate in the 50,000-word novel challenge during the month of November. NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that sponsors the challenge in which almost 400,000 people participate and only around 34,000 complete.

I hope that posting this will make me more accountable and help me become one of the “winners.”

Around the world, municipal liaisons coordinate in-person writing events and social activities. There’s a group in my area, and there is already a dinner planned–and many in-person writing events, too. I still haven’t wrapped my head around getting together with a group of people at a library or coffee shop and writing, and I think I’d do better on my own. But, I might be wrong.

I’m unlike many people participating in that I don’t work outside the home, and I don’t have any major projects going on right now, so I will have more time to write than most. I’m not sure how people with full-time jobs do it, but I understand there are many words being written by them when they’re supposed to be sleeping.

I have my plot, my characters, a rough outline, and the first chapter written. This means I have a jumpstart of 3,874 words, so to make it fair, I guess I should try to have 53,874 words, right? I’ll be happy if I make it to 50,000.

Wish me luck!

Word Count: 3,874

Ann Silverthorn


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An Evening in Fredonia With Guitarist Pat Donohue

From Pat Donohue's press page.

I stood in the lobby of the 1891 Fredonia Opera House, in upstate New York, passing the time by looking at my phone while my husband sought out our will-call tickets. We were there to see Pat Donohue, Grammy-winning guitarist.

From Pat Donohue's press page.

From Pat Donohue’s press page.

Pat Donohue is well known for the almost-two decades he spent as a guitarist for the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band on Minnesota Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. Now he tours the country giving guitar workshops and concerts.

I looked up from my phone to see a man with tousled white hair approach the table I was near. He arranged stacks of Pat Donohue CDs on the tablecloth, and when he finished, he said hello and walked back into the theater. Why did that man look so familiar?

Most people who know me have heard me say that I never forget a face. For instance, I’m convinced my husband and I had a chance meeting on a street corner when we were pre-adolescents.

It turns out that the reason the CD man looked so familiar was because, well, you guessed it already, I’m sure. Yes, it was Pat Donohue himself, and the last time I had seen him was 13 years prior, the last time he played at the Fredonia Opera House.

Immediately, I wished I had been friendlier to him. Said something witty. Made conversation. Asked for an autograph.

Donohue’s time on stage went by much too quickly for my husband and me. It was a show with just one man and his guitar. My husband is a talented guitarist, himself, so we sat in the front row to appreciate Donohue’s fast-flying fingers up and down the fretboard and across the body of his instrument. He had no set list and played whatever came to mind. The effect was as if he had pulled out his guitar at a family gathering. In between the musical numbers, he told witty and amusing stories.

In addition to being an expert fingerpicker, Donohue’s an accomplished song writer and has even written some parodies. Most amusing is Would You Like to Play the Guitar?, which is set to the tune of “Would You Like to Swing on a Star?” It provides a true view of a musician’s less-than-glamorous life.

In the program insert, I read that Donohue also appeared in the 2006 movie version of A Prairie Home Companion, so on the way home, I added the title to the top of my Netflix queue. Within a few days, we were watching the movie in our living room. This is what I like about the DVD service. There are many more titles to choose from than you’ll find in streaming Netflix. Whenever I want to check out a movie, I consult the streaming first (instant gratification), and if it’s not there, I’ll usually find it on the DVD service.

The A Prairie Home Companion screenplay was written by Garrison Keillor, and the plot takes us inside the workings of the fictional last broadcast of the famous radio show. It stars Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, and many, many other big names, including a young and sweet Lindsay Lohan, before her “career interruption,” as Wikipedia puts it.

As we were watching the film, we frequently spotted Pat Donohue among the musicians on stage. We saw much more of him in the musical extras that are included on the DVD. In fact, the extra content is quite extensive on this rental, even for one produced before such content became restricted. It features many actor interviews and creative insights.

Pat Donohue’s performance at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House was part of the Folk in Fredonia Music Series, which has been sponsored by the Gilman Family for nearly two decades. We hope to see him again soon.

Ann Silverthorn


Disclaimer: I partner with Netflix, which gives me free access to movies. If you sign up with my referral link, I may receive a referral reward.

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7 Things I Learned After Breaking My Dominant Wrist

Smile: compliments of dilaudid.

The day I broke my wrist. Smile: compliments of dilaudid

A few months ago, I fell while running and broke my dominant wrist. The radius was in many pieces, but it somehow managed to stay intact. My surgeon decided to watch and wait, but four weeks later, even I could see on the X-ray that the bone was splitting lengthwise. It was time for surgery. This meant that four weeks after the injury, the plate and screws installed in my arm set me back to a healing stage of “minus one.”

Now that I’m nearly back to normal and have made it past my “lost summer,” I’ve learned some things from breaking my dominant wrist, and I’d like to share seven of them with you:

  1. Pain meds were necessary AND evil. In the recovery room, I rated my pain at a 10. The nurse said that a 10 would feel like I was having my hand sawed off. Okay, a nine, I said, not knowing that the next day, my wrist would feel like someone was taking a steak knife to it. The doctor increased the dosage and frequency of my oxycodone (I had requested this over Vicodin, which had done little for me after the break). The opiate was necessary and made the pain tolerable, but each time I was coming off a dose, I was thrown into a combination of agitation and hopelessness (my poor husband).

    Two weeks after the break, I paid out-of-pocket for a fiberglass cast, which came off two weeks later for surgery.

    Two weeks after the break, I paid out-of-pocket for a fiberglass cast, which came off two weeks later for surgery.

  2. It took twice as long to get half as much done. I’ve always been the type of person to try to get as much done as possible in the least amount of time. During my recovery, I had to resign myself to the fact that if I was going to try to get anything done (taking a shower or working one-handed on the computer), it was going to take twice as long to make half the progress I’d have made otherwise.

    That's the good view of my wrist. You don't want to see the other one.

    That’s the good view of my wrist. You don’t want to see the other one.

  3. There are plenty of Internet resources for one-handed living. Unlike when I broke the other wrist in 2003, the Internet has many hacks for doing tasks with one hand, including some dedicated to operating when your dominant arm is out of commission. I aggregated what I found in a blog post.IMG_2181
  4. I couldn’t do it alone. Well, maybe YOU could, but I never could have done it alone. My husband, who is my hero, became more so during my recuperation. He cooked, made lunches, fetched ice for my swelling, took care of the dogs, and so much more. He even showed extreme patience when I complained about how he did something, letting me know that he was doing A LOT already. And I had to agree.
  5. It was easy to get depressed. In addition to the opiate side effects, realizing that my body isn’t infallible, and being abruptly taken out of my active routine, messed with my mind. I went through periods of wondering if it was all worthwhile and doubting that I would ever be the same. Refer to #1. Then, I would feel dumb, because a broken wrist is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.
  6. Physical therapy was  worthwhile. My surgeon warned me that my range of motion would never be the same. Things were so bad that a week after surgery, instead of putting me in a cast, he sent me down the hall to physical therapy where I was given a removable splint and exercises for fingers that couldn’t even bend. Over an eight-week period, I not only regained the use of my fingers, but my wrist’s range of motion is nearly back to normal.
I never got a second cast after surgery, because of swelling, and fingers that wouldn't work.

I never got a second cast after surgery, because of swelling, and fingers that wouldn’t work.

  1. In the end, I am more aware. For me, the “taking twice as long to do half as much” has made me appreciate each task when I’m doing it. Now, when I’m throwing a load of laundry in the washer, I’m aware of the look of the washer, the sound it makes when I press the buttons, and the whoosh of the water as it enters the machine. It seems that I have a new appreciation for each moment when I’m in it, rather than living in the one that hasn’t come yet.

So, there you have it. Seven things I learned from breaking my dominant wrist. When I think back over those months of recovery, it almost seems like another person went through the experience. I guess that’s quite accurate, because I certainly didn’t feel like myself at the time.

If you’ve broken a bone, or sustained any other sort of activity-limiting injury, I hope these seven things will help you.

Have you ever had a similar experience? Tell us about it in the comments below.

By the end of summer, we celebrated my birthday, I was almost finished with PT, and just about back to normal. That's a genuine smile.

At the end of summer, we celebrated my birthday, I was almost finished with PT, and just about back to normal. That’s a genuine smile.

Ann Silverthorn


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Comparing Today’s Technology to 2001: A Space Odyssey

Comparing today’s technology with the 1968 movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, reveals interesting parallels and contrasts. In some ways, almost two decades after the new millennium began, we have surpassed what the film makers imagined, but in others, we have quite a way to go.

2001 DVD

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Our cellular technology strongly contrasts communication methods displayed in the movie. When Heywood Floyd phones home from space, he’s able to see his daughter on a video screen. His wife is out, though, so Floyd says he’ll call back the next day. Obviously, Mrs. Floyd doesn’t carry a cell phone, and it’s doubtful such technology existed in the minds of the story’s creators, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. After, all, even cordless phones were still years away. In 1968, they imagined video chat, but not mobile communication.

Continuing with video technology, there is one scene in the movie that seemed quite fantastical in 1968. When Floyd travels in a spacecraft for a meeting on the moon, TV screens play movies in the back of the passengers’ headrests. Those video screens are, of course, ubiquitous on commercial aircraft today.

We Have More-Advanced Security, Photography, and Entertainment

High-tech security in the movie included voiceprint recognition to enter a secure area. Today, voice recognition is widely used, as with Google Home, which can recognize the voices of six different users. We’ve also expanded electronic identity verification with the use of fingerprint and facial recognition.

Handheld photography in Kubrick’s flick is primitive compared to today’s technology, which has been largely integrated with our mobile communication. In the film, the astronaut photographer, responsible for capturing images of the monolith discovered on the moon, used a camera the size of a milk carton, which had to be rotated after every shot.

In gaming, the computer-generated chess board in the movie resembled two-dimensional version popular in the 1980s. In 1968, the idea of playing a game with a computer was quite novel, but by today’s standards, the film’s depiction was quite rudimentary, compared to contemporary 3-D interactive role-playing gaming.

Computers Today Have Nothing on HAL

Although the technology in everyday use today is ahead of what the movie predicted, the real-life development of a “conscious entity” computer like HAL hasn’t quite become mainstream. Advances are rapidly occurring in artificial intelligence, and computers have demonstrated the ability to learn, but they have miles to go before they can intentionally go off script.

As for long-distance space travel, the movie astronauts could visit locales lightyears away, thanks to suspended animation. Placing today’s space travelers in such a state has not yet been perfected, and we’re only just planning one-way trips to Mars.

In the 1960s, the new millennium seemed light-years away, and in the 40 years before 2001: A Space Odyssey was made, technological advances had been massive, from Kitty-Hawk to the moon landing. Expectations for future advances in space travel were likely exponential.

Instead of using resources to explore space, more dollars and brain power have been poured into developing faster, smaller, and more affordable technology. Perhaps once a plateau has been reached in that realm, more attention will be paid to worlds beyond our own. Fifty years after its making, 2001: A Space Odyssey still entertains us, in addition to making us wonder about just how far technology will go.

Disclaimer: I am a member of Netflix’s Director’s program, which gives me free access to movies. If you sign up with my referral link, I may receive a referral reward.

Ann Silverthorn



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A National-Anthem Fable

Once upon a time, there was a country called, “Independence.” The citizens of Independence prided themselves on their patriotism, having an appreciation for the long-ago revolution that had liberated them from oppression. The citizens of Independence enjoyed many freedoms, including where to work, where to live, whom to marry, what to say, etc.

Source: Calisphere  Date of access: September 26, 2017  Permalink:

Source: Calisphere
Date of access: September 26, 2017

Various sporting events often brought the citizens of Independence together, and across the nation, fans packed stadiums and arenas to capacity throughout the year. Every game or match was preceded by the Independence national anthem, which was lively, stirring, and very easy to sing. The men took off their hats, and everyone stood with their hands over their hearts. Well, almost everyone. It was a free country after all.

Realistically, it’s impossible for everyone to be happy about everything, and sometimes, certain citizens of Independence just didn’t feel right putting their hands over their hearts and singing. Now, remember, the national anthem of Independence was rousing and uplifting, so unless a person was gravely unhappy with the country, they’d sing anyhow, even if they couldn’t sing very well. The crowd’s voices were so enthusiastic and thunderous, that even the most tone deaf fit right in.

One day, at a championship game, when everyone got up to sing the national anthem of Independence, one of the players on the field bent down on one knee. Not many people noticed, that is, until an image of the gesture began to appear on the nightly news and on social media. There was an uproar, but many citizens supported the player, because he was protesting an injustice, and he was free to do so.

Within weeks, other players knelt, too. Some were supporting the original matter, but others protested additional issues, such as unfair taxation of the rich, inadequate healthcare, and the electoral college, which had allowed a president to be elected, even though he had not won the popular vote.

Soon, many fans, supporting the players of their favorite teams, tried to kneel, too, but this was difficult in cramped arena seating. So, they began to stand with their backs to the field.

Still other fans, realizing that there were aspects of the government they didn’t like joined in. Some felt strongly about social issues, others wanted more, or less, gun control, and still others did not like the fact that the government allowed corporations to set up headquarters on foreign soil to avoid paying their share of taxes. The list of grievances went on and on.

Soon, rather than almost bringing down the concrete walls of the various venues around the country from the enthusiastic singing of the Independence national anthem, the decibel measurements plunged. Eventually, so many people had opted out, that the ones who still wanted to sing felt self-conscious, and they fell silent, too.

Eventually, at events that had traditionally featured the national anthem, the only person singing was the one whom had been selected for the honor. Then, it became more and more difficult to find vocalists willing to perform to the backs of fans.

A year after the original protest, at the most-popular championship event in the nation, the one that drew the largest crowd, the most television viewers, the most-expensive commercial breaks, and the highest quantity of chicken wings consumed in the living rooms of Independence, something happened—or rather—didn’t.

The crowd cheered wildly as the teams were announced, and the players ran out onto the field.

The coin was tossed.

And play began.

The crowd, which had been poised to turn their backs, was stunned. Where was the singer? Why wasn’t some poor soul performing the national anthem?

The sound of bewildered murmuring substituted the usual cheers and jeers, as the game progressed through its first segment, and each of the teams scored.

But then, sprinkled throughout the thousands of fans in the arena, voices were heard, alone, in pairs, and in small groups. Others joined, and more and more were added, as if someone had started the “wave.” It was the Independence national anthem.

As the song came to an end, someone started it again, and now, even more people joined in. By the third time through, the players on the field had stopped in place, and they were singing, too. On the fourth go-round, it seemed like everyone was singing. Tears flowed down cheeks, hugs were given and received, men slapped each other on the backs, couples kissed, and children jumped up and down.

For days, accounts of the phenomenon played over and over again on the national and global news. Cell phone videos flooded social media. One, which went viral, began with a panoramic view of the crowd and then rested on the face of a young woman, who looked to be of college age, as she belted the last line of the Independence national anthem.

With moist eyes, the young woman looked into the lens and said, “I guess you were right, Ari. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.”


Ann Silverthorn


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Book Review: College Transfer Guide

The Ultimate Guide to College TransferA few years ago, I met Susan Henninger at the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival. Since then, she and I have loosely kept in touch. She helped me with some key research for my writing project, and I connected her with a source for hers. This is one of the many valuable benefits of conferences in any field.

When Susan said she was co-writing a book with education-consultant Lucia Tyler about college transfers, I mentioned that my daughter might be willing to share her experience. My daughter agreed, and I connected them.

The book, The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer: From Surviving to Thriving, came out recently, and I purchased a copy for myself. I wish it had been written years ago. This book is valuable not just for anyone contemplating transferring colleges. It can help families avoid having to go through this in the first place.

Here are seven takeaways from The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer.

  1. When young adults go away to college, parents are often confused about how to act with them. Some are helicopter parents, and some are totally hands off. Finding a balance between both extremes is key. A student shouldn’t feel totally alone.
  2. Once a student goes off to college, her privacy is protected by FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). If she is having a crisis, this prevents the college from informing the parents. I was surprised to learn that there are FERPA waivers, so that parents are not the last to know if the student has a serious problem. Students may view the waiver as invasive, but it could be a literal life saver for them.
  3. Once it becomes clear that a college is not working for a student, he will certainly have to face his parents and friends. The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer provides tips and advice about how to handle both.
  4. There are many moving parts regarding transferring colleges. What happens to financial aid? Scholarships? How many credits will transfer? Using this guide, there isn’t much that could fall through the cracks.
  5. Doing one’s homework before choosing a college is a no brainer, and it’s the same if a transfer becomes necessary. The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer provides tips for college visits and many sample questions to ask admissions counselors. There’s also a comprehensive pro/con list that can be used to evaluate each prospect.
  6. Tyler and Henninger’s guide provides two handy timelines for college transfer based on spring or fall semesters. This is good for managing all the tasks required without becoming too overwhelmed in what might be an already-stressful situation.
  7. At the end of The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer is a section containing resources for college transfer, including academic, transfer credits, community colleges, gap years, and international student considerations.

As I mentioned earlier, I wish The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer had been written years ago. It would have saved my family a lot of worry and unrest. Our daughter is a successful professional now, but when we were going through these changes, I worried about her future. Tyler and Henninger deftly guide both students and parents through the transfer process and provide tools so families can come out on the other side—speaking to each other.

I believe that The Ultimate Guide to College Transfer should be part of the resource collection in every high-school guidance office. It also belongs in the lending libraries of college admission and counseling offices. You’ll probably want a copy of your own, though.

Ann Silverthorn


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William E. Dimorier: Servant Leader

Day 46: William E. Dimorier project. 10/15/2014

William E. Dimorier

This blog post contains information on the manuscript that resulted from the Dimorier Project.


The Dimorier project began in 2004, when a handwritten journal of original poetry was discovered at a printing-house auction in Erie, Pennsylvania. The journal belonged to William E. Dimorier (1871-1951), an educator, administrator, benefactor, and poet. Born in Afton, New York, Dimorier was the son of a farmer. In his young adulthood, he preached in Baptist churches and evangelized at revivals, yet he didn’t complete high school until he was 25 years old. After graduating from Colgate University at the age of 31, he became a teacher and spent more than three decades dedicating his life to his students and the community in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Dimorier’s life fits closely that described by Robert K. Greenleaf as a servant-leader, one who starts with the desire to serve and becomes a leader, rather than the opposite path.


The original purpose of the Dimorier Project was to publish William E. Dimorier’s poems with a short biography, but it became clear as the research progressed that the man was a poet and much more. He was an educator, but much more than that, too. Gradually, the scope of the project widened and revealed that Dimorier was man of service. Ultimately, the project evolved into the biography of a man for whom fulfillment was found in the work, not the rewards.

The goal of William E. Dimorier: Servant Leader is to share how a person from humble beginnings can lead a life of service, largely unrecognized, but ultimately, one that becomes an influence that stretches around the globe and across centuries.

Residents of Dimorier’s hometown and his adopted city will appreciate his story for the historical value, but a wider audience will be interested in the tale of an everyday person who did much more than was asked of him, without the expectation of reward. Readers will also be found among those looking for inspiration in role models for service to one’s community.





  1. BEGINNING, (1871-1897)
  2. SCHOLARSHIP, (1897-1903)
  3. THRESHOLD, (1903-1906)
  4. ENDEAVOR, (1906-1910)
  5. INSPIRATION, (1910-1912) 
  6. RECOGNITION, (1913-1915) 
  7. ASPIRATION, (1915-1917)
  8. LOSS, (1917-1918)
  9. ADVANCEMENT, (1919-1920)
  10. CONTENTION, (1921-1922)
  11. FUNDRAISING, (1923)
  12. ACCOMPLISHMENT, (1924)
  13. ADVOCACY, (1925-1927)
  14. SPORTSMANSHIP, (1927-1928)
  15. PUBLICATION, (1929)
  16. PERSISTENCE, (1930-1933)
  17. EXPLORATION, (1934-1938)
  18. RELEGATON, (1939)
  19. SEPARATION, (1940-1943)
  20. PRODUCTIVITY, (1943-1944)
  21. MELANCHOLY, (1944-1951)
  22. HOMECOMING, (1951)
  23. LEGACY







Day Book Front Cover

In 2004, a chance visit to an auction preview at a defunct printing company led to the discovery of a handwritten journal of poetry. Inside the well-worn book was a note offering a reward for its return. The journal had spent decades at the printing house, and the poet must have mourned its loss. A compulsion to find the owner set off lengthy research project, which revealed that this poet had been a prominent educator and servant leader. William Edward Dimorier never married, and he never owned a home of his own. He devoted his life to serving his community.


For this project, over more than a decade, many people provided documents, information, artifacts, and encouragement. Some took pity on the unfunded researcher and waived the usual fees. Others went out of their way to find information about the poet. An expression of thanks and a list of many names occupies this section.

BEGINNING, 1871-1897

William Edward Dimorier was the first of four children born into a farming family in Afton, New York. This chapter paints a picture of Chenango and Broome counties and establishes the family’s roots in history. The record of William’s early life is scant, but his early adulthood was recorded in the pages of the local newspaper. Before he graduated from high school at the age of 25, he had earned a reputation as an evangelist and captivating orator.

SCHOLARSHIP, 1897-1903

After high school graduation at the age of 25, William spent two years at college-prep Colgate Academy, before entering Colgate University as a freshman. Likely the oldest undergraduate in his class, William assumed several traditional leadership roles and even pledged to a fraternity. He was reportedly working toward a divinity degree, and at one point during these years, he also served as the pastor of a rural Baptist church. When William graduated from Colgate in 1903 at the age of 31, it was with a degree in English, not divinity. The reason for the shift can only be speculated.

THRESHOLD, 1903-1906

Referred to as “reverend” in a telegram, William traveled to Penn Yan, New York, for an interview at Keuka College. After a year teaching English there, he spent two at Cook Academy, a college-prep boarding school for boys in Montour Falls, New York. One of William’s students was V.K. Wellington Koo, future Chinese ambassador to the United States. On Cook Academy stationery, William jotted a prayer, asking for wisdom, fortitude, humility, unselfishness, and Christian courtesy. In the summer of 1906, William began graduate work at Syracuse University and was recruited to a teaching position in Erie, Pennsylvania.

ENDEAVOR, 1906-1910

As head of the English Department at severely crowded Erie High School, William took on several extracurricular roles, including athletic-association treasurer and debate-club advisor. He was a witty and accessible teacher, frequently and humorously mentioned in the annual yearbook. In 1907, William established an employment agency, the Erie Teachers’ Bureau, most likely modeled after the agency that placed him in his own teaching engagements.

INSPIRATION, 1910-1912

Heavily involved with Erie High’s sports programs, William befriended many student athletes, such as Oscar “Oc” Anderson, who would, along with his brother, Gus, become an Erie sports legend. In 1911, William and the students became inspired to start fundraising for the construction of an athletic field. William’s name soon became synonymous with the project, which consumed much of his time.

RECOGNITION, 1913-1915

Although William was an avid sports supporter, he was also a lover of literature. In 1913, his hometown newspaper, the Afton Enterprise published his lyrical poem, “Sanford,” an ode to the countryside where he spent his early years. In 1914, a Louisiana newspaper reported on William’s classroom project, “Newspaper Week,” a forerunner to today’s Newspapers in Education (NIE) project. That year, William and his students witnessed the dedication of the athletic field, now known as Ainsworth Field, which became the long-lived venue of countless football and baseball games, both amateur and professional.

ASPIRATION, 1915-1917

Now aspiring to publication, William proposed a selected collection of classic poems for memorizing to the American Book Company. This was during education’s progressive movement, when poetry was used to inform many school subjects. After more than a year of back and forth, the publisher declined, citing profitability concerns. During this time, another of William’s poems was published in a magazine, and his essay, “The Significance of Poetry,” was published in the Journal of Education. William also continued in his educator role during this time, designing and implementing a program to encourage students to stay in school after eighth grade.

LOSS, 1917-1918

From the lighthearted account of the theft of William’s bicycle, and the mournful passing of both of his parents, to the many lives taken during the Spanish Flu and the Great War, this marked a period of loss. In 1917, one of William’s former colleagues, Edgar Morris, passed away at a young age, and from the tribute William wrote, the values he held dear come to light, including that Morris had “made the world better by his life of victory.” It was also in 1917, that the cornerstone for Academy High School was set, where William would spend two decades of his career.

ADVANCEMENT, 1919-1920

In the fall of 1919, the Academy High student body was formed, with John C. Diehl transferring from principal of Erie High to that of Academy. William was promoted to the role of boys’ counselor at the new school, which operated in the Erie High building while the new structure was being finished. A promotion to Erie High principal could have led to higher advancement than William achieved in his career, but William’s counselor role extended subtle influence that spans continents and generations. Of course, William did not confine his role to counselor of boys. He was now focused on a new project, that of a grand stadium to be constructed in front of the new school.

CONTENTION, 1921-1922

In 1921, Academy’s principal, John C. Diehl, moved on to the district assistant-superintendent role. William, by now assistant principal with a newly awarded master’s degree from Colgate University, was not promoted. Instead, C.W. McNary, from New Jersey, filled the position, Still, the men seemed to enjoy a good working relationship, fortunate, because this was a period of contention for both. Their integrity was tested when they received negative press regarding the use of athletic funds. Also after receiving a mysterious letter, William requested the swimming coach’s resignation, resulting in the team’s walk-out and public furor. During this time, there was opposition to the expense of the stadium project, but William continued his efforts to bring the bowl to life. It was also during this time that William decided to sponsor the education of a student in China through a Baptist missionary, who was also a fellow Colgate alumnus.


The year 1923 marked the most activity yet in fundraising for the stadium project, with various organizations taking up the cause. By this time, a centralized commission had been created by the school district, and all other committees were released. Funds were generated by the Service Star mothers, whose children had served or died in the World War. They requested that the stadium be dedicated as a memorial to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice. Various fundraising activities included dances, concerts, and festivals. There was even a three-day horseracing event with proceeds donated to the stadium fund. That year, the Academy yearbook, the Academe, was dedicated to William for his work on the stadium project. The tribute included the following: “There are grave doubts that this ambition would have been fulfilled if he had not taken the initiative.”


In May 1924, the stadium committee presented $133,551.44 to the school district. The total cost of the project would be $150,000, so more fundraising would be necessary even after the stadium was in use. That year, the Academe was again dedicated to William. His work on the stadium project was acknowledged, but this year’s sentiment was far more encompassing of his worth as an educator. In part, “He is one whom we respect as a teacher, advisor and a man, the eveready adjustor of our smallest troubles.” On Armistice Day in November 1924, after a parade and numerous speeches by dignitaries in front of 15,000 people, the stadium was dedicated. A football game followed and many, many more such competitions and programs would take place in Veterans Stadium for decades to come. It remains a landmark in the city of Erie today.

ADVOCACY, 1925-1927

One wonders when William had a free moment during this period, when he seemed to act as an advocate for everyone but himself. He brought a music educator to Academy, Morten J. Luvaas, who started a school choir, which William would support as business manager and through his own finances for the rest of his life. William petitioned the school district for more funds to equip the school’s marching band. He chaired regional musical competitions. He acted as a district chairman of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), and organized track and field events. As chairman, he had to take the hard line when member schools played over-age players. He organized debates between colleges, including Colgate, as inspiration for the Academy debate club.


As district chairman for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), William was often quoted in newspapers regarding regional sports-event policies. In Academy sports, William arranged a football game against an Atlanta team in one of the country’s first-ever intersectional scholastic competitions. As Academy’s athletic advisor, William made difficult and provocative decisions, including severing the relationship with another district for poor sportsmanship.


In 1929, William self-published a small book of poetry entitled The West Wind and other Verses. Most of its poems are recorded in William’s handwritten journal, discovered in 2004. The book contained 26 poems using classical conventions, scholarly references, and complex themes. Many themes included nature, spirituality, morality, fate, and eternity. At the end of the decade, William’s poetry was used in a choral piece based on an Italian folk song, called “Tiritomba,” composed by his good friend, Morten Luvaas, the Academy choir director.

PERSISTENCE, 1930-1933

In 1930, during the Great Depression, William, and others, believed that a pipe organ would enrich Academy students and the community. A fundraising campaign ensued, and in early 1931, the pipe organ was installed for $12,000. Not all of William’s efforts were successful, and this was one of them. A decade later, the pipe organ had become a white elephant. By this time, Morten Luvaas had moved on to Allegheny College, but William would remain friends with him. The new choir director, Obed Grender, would also become a good friend. William was a frequent guest in both the Luvaas and Grender households, taking a keen interest in the children of both families, who remembered him fondly. William’s persistence proved to be of great value when, for nearly a year, he pursued the opportunity for the Academy choir to perform at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, a performance which earned the group nationwide recognition.

EXPLORATION, 1934-1938

William was an explorer, but documentation of his travel exists only during this period. In early 1935, William took an extended trip southward to visit various high school colleges from Pennsylvania to Florida. In the summer of 1935, he accompanied the Luvaas family on a trip out west, which he extended into a nearly month-long adventure. According to his account of the trip, he traveled 30,000 miles that year. William’s poetry was getting some traction, too, when Maryland composer Franz Bornschein used four of Williams poems in a choral cycle called, “The Sea.”


In May of 1939, the Academy choir appeared at the New York World’s Fair. That summer, William trekked westward again. While in Salt Lake City with friends, he received a letter from the Erie school superintendent, referencing a change in Pennsylvania law, which had lowered the mandatory retirement age. William, at age 68, was relegated into retirement, because the Erie school district, like many others in the nation, was strapped for cash. There was no lead-in to William’s departure. No time to plan going-away parties or send-off dinners.

SEPARATION, 1940-1943 

Although retired, William wasn’t completely absent from school in the early 1940s. The 1941 yearbook mentioned that he was frequently seen in the halls and was still arranging concerts, trips, and making plans for the choir. William had always loved nearby Presque Isle, but now he had more opportunity to spend time there. His servant-leader qualities hadn’t waivered, and a newspaper reported William sweeping a sidewalk there. He said since he used it so much, he might as well maintain it.


Although William was now in his seventies and retired, he entered a period of productivity and creativity, writing and editing poetry that would culminate in his second self-published book of poetry, called Rhymes and Some Reason, published in 1944. The Erie School District superintendent, C. Herman Grose, wrote the preface for the book, stating that William was “fondly remembered as a friend and guide of youth.” In the foreword, William claimed that his verses could not claim to be poems. Instead, he asserted that they were merely reflections from his many years of teaching in the Erie School District. This statement is too modest.

MELANCHOLY, 1944-1951

Five years after William had been forced out of his job as an educator, he still wanted to be involved in the lives of young people. In 1944, he heard there were plans to hire a school counselor for Academy. In a letter to the superintendent, William offered to work for free, citing his 20 years’ experience in counseling. He admitted that his head might not be very good, but his heart was in it. In 1947, if William felt as if he was no longer useful, he was probably heartened to hear from the Baptist missionary, whom had facilitated William’s sponsorship of the Chinese student years before. The student had become a teacher at the high school associated with the University of Shanghai.


When William looked back on his life, he probably had some regrets, as do many men, but in general, he was likely very satisfied with his accomplishments, and any moments of pain were worth the moments of joy sprinkled throughout his life. William was conscious and appreciative of joyful moments, and he even wrote a poem entitled, “Joy,” which appears in Rhymes. For several years, William suffered from arteriosclerosis, and on June 14, 1951, William had a cerebral hemorrhage and entered Afton Hospital. After almost a month there, William passed away at 10:10 a.m. on July 10, 1951.


If William had married and had children, he might not have been able to devote as much time to his students and community as he did over his lifetime. The major projects that captured years of William’s life, Ainsworth Field and Veterans Stadium, still stand today. Both have undergone major renovations, and although they barely resemble the originals, they remain prominent, well-used landmarks. Through William’s work with young people, his legacy continues today, although it cannot be quantified. His life was one of service, and the service itself was paramount to accolades. In these times of inflated egos and celebrity adoration, we can all take a lesson from William E. Dimorier.


This section includes a chronological list of Dimorier’s publications in scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, choral compositions, and self-published poetry collections.


The major publications that informed the project and are judged to be of interest to readers are listed in this section.


Using the Chicago Manual of Style format, the notes section is 25 pages in length. It contains nearly every source of every claim in the book.

Dimorier Project Main Page

Ann M. Silverthorn Resume

About: Ann Silverthorn


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