Saturday, August 7, 2010
Such a city! I have not been here for 30 years and I recall almost nothing from that visit, so happily I am encountering this tres beau city for the first time in most ways. Full of history; wrought iron balcony railings, motorbikes and stinky cheese; the world gathers here and I have been taking great delight in the entirety of it.
Today we wandered Le Louvre. One could spend a lifetime there, of course. It is massive. I think I enjoyed the palace itself as much as the works. I do, however, get more tired in two hours in an art museum than I do in eight hours trekking. My apologies to my artist friends, who are numerous, but I have little stamina for the marvels of paint; brush and chisel. One thing I have noticed in the "relaxed" world of Europe (machine guns in the train station aside), they let the world get CLOSE to the art. We could touch nearly everything save the Mona Lisa, though, of course; we did not. The Rodin pieces one can breathe on and Michelangelos marble could be experienced not just seen if one so desired. Amazing.
The beauty of the city truly is unequaled. Artistic flair is everywhere and a delight for the senses. I find myself enjoying the store windows ( though I have not walked the Champs Elysses) as much as the stone carvings above the doorways. Cest tres stunning!
The two of us have become three with the addition of Ellie who we gathered to us at the airport this morning. An adventure of its own. We will find ourselves at a cafe soon watching the world stroll by.
When can I move?
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Yesterday we were traveling by the sea cliffs. A treat I did not expect. We were met at the Newcastle station by my English friend from 30 years ago, Andy. What a delightful evening to dine with them in their home .. A three story town home built longbefore anything in Ohio! Full of stained glass and modern amenities with the exception of napkins. I am a messy eater I guess as I require napkins !
But, I digress. We looked at photos of us together as 20 year olds and compared empty nest notes. What a gift of time.
Alas. If I keep up my one finer iPod touch blogging I shall miss the sheep of a thousand hills. Paris tonight.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
It's a bit like a highway out there which has been quite delightful. You end up hiking all alone, but with the same folks at the same time. Leap frogging, chatting, taking photos of each other
and then meeting for a pint (or a cup of tea or an Irn Bru -- which I have not tried yet) at the pub in the hotel after the day's journey is done.
Make your miles. Get a shower. Eat. Sleep. Do it all again the next day. Nice rhythm actually!
The sticks: necessary for me to make it down the rocky paths and back up again.
The stones: rough under foot and so you find yourself carefully placing each step to preserve the integrity of your sole. Soul?
72 miles completed! Two more days of walking. One holds the "Devil's Staircase". I trust I will still sleep well knowing this...
One highlight, thanks to Joch (that is how'd you say Jack, though he introduced himself as John), was the telling of the Gospel According to Scots. NO, he didn't call it that... it was merely a bar joke, really, accompanied by the two whisky glasses he got for Dave so he could try a "peaty whisky" (which tastes like wood smoke from the bog) and a more chipper one with hints of cherries... some would say. (But what would I know!)
Anyway... the Gospel involved a truck driver and a priest; one buying the bulk of the pints and shots for the other to earn tickets to heaven. A necessary and added benefit of this particular Gospel presentation is the little carefully folded paper that gets torn and turned into tickets.
In the end at the pearly gates, the priest has little pieces of paper that turn into a word. What word do you THINK you can tear into pieces after a couple of pints, anyway? That's right: HELL. Meanwhile, the truck driver ends up with a very nicely torn celtic cross.
My life in Scotland.
Pictures when I can post em.
Meanwhile. We are at the Kingshouse Hotel waiting for them to crest the hill so we can meet them outside with pints! :) New friends!
Saturday, July 31, 2010
First day with internet service for the past three. I shall take advantage of it and see if I can even get some photos on once our luggage arrives. We carry just what we need for the day and when we arrive at our accomodations, we find our luggage either in our room or some shed from which we lug it to our room. The system is common and works quite well.
We are so far the only Americans we have encountered on the trail. My new best friend is actually named "Leki". Without her assistance, I could not have made the way along Loch Lomond. And, L.L. Bean has been quite friendly to me as well. So nice to have these traveling companions. (OK... Leki "sticks", as people call them along the trail.)
David Hughes of Shrewesbury, England, bought us a pint the other evening at Drovers Inn. He's an accomplished mountaineer.. even traveling on a trek to China with that kid who's trying to climb all the world's highest peaks before he reaches puberty. (An arrogant, rich kid, David added). He was one of our best "mates" thus far. The others have been from Australia, UK, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden and Netherlands. All kinds of fun conversations in the pubs. Just as we expected.
My hearing aid decided to go on the fritz this morning, so my life in Europe is a bit more silent thus far today. Perhaps it is just the 94% humidity from yesterday? I don't know. But, that's one tiny glitch so far... (other than my nearing a bit to close to the edge of a waterfall yesterday, but that's another story).
So, alas. We are warm and almost dry at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. Can't wait for our room to be ready and our luggage to get here! My boots need to be removed. Time for a well deserved lunch. I shall be back if I can snag the computer again later today.
Bye Lassies and Lads...
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I am typing w one finger on an iPod touch by the way. Makes wittiness most difficult.
Our inn keeper probably shouldn't be one though the place is quite nice. :) sun was pouring in our room for a while earlier. I shall not take that forgranted! Dinner at presumably the oldest pub in Scotland. Cozy tiny place. Hostel tomorrow night. They always have a funfeeling about them! Only 14 scenic miles between here and there. Did visit the ruins of an old castle this morning on a side trip. Sorry no way to post pics as they ate interesting!
My finger, alas is tired of typing! Quite certain to sleep well soon on this side of the pond!
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Then I made an amazing discovery as I was thinking about the Celtic NPR music show the Thistle and Shamrock. Thistle stands for Scotland! Shamrock stands for Ireland! DUH????
I never thought about this before. There obviously are good reasons I have been sent to the UK.
I, however, treated pounds like Monopoly money! My first purchase, an ice cream cone of sorbet. Yum. Next some sort of treat, not too sweet (thank you Europe!) with creme fraiche, ginger cookies, lemon and other stuff. Fortunately, they are not required to put calories on the labels. Assuming then, that there are none, I am free to eat whatever whenever. Nice!
Onto the Tomato Onion quiche. Well, not eaten yet, but purchased for the lunch picnic that never happened. Dave indulged in a buffalo burger. Or was in ostrich or venison? I can't really remember. I do, however, remember the little girl carrying a raw chicken under her arm strolling with her dad. It was wrapped!
Plenty of scenes at the market, as always. They are probably my favorite place to go when traveling. I had a nice conversation with the lady from the Royal Bird Society or something like that. Learning the colors of common birds which aren't at all common to me. MUST get a bird guide before we start hiking or I'll drive myself nuts.
Oh, yes. Eating. We wandered from eating venue to eating venue today with a stop at the Scottish Heritage Museum. (I will have nightmares from the guillotine sighting). Top of my list, also not food related, was being the FIRST customer at an art shop which a youngish woman opened TODAY! Naturally, I purchased something and took a photo of her store window. I'll have to send her one when I get home as a congrats for her new venture. Hope it works.
I discovered my new (first, actually) favorite coffe house!! I'm afraid I'm going to have a tough time visitng very often however :( Bummer. The Black Medicine Coffee Co. Belongs in Estes Park, actually, with it's warm pine hand hewn interior. Yummy scones! My first of the trip. Let's hope not the last.
While there, found the current "Foodie" mag. Necessary in Scotland, as pubs don't really have the dining thing together much of the time. We long for greens things... so found a place for later... THE LARDER, full of local everything. PERFECT for a light dinner! Homegrown greens, cheese, tapenade, venison, tomato soup and Blossom Green Tea. Ahh... trying to load up before all we find on the trail is pub food.
Then, off to the Royal Oak Pub for some pub music with a Celtic Twist (" I put some Whisky in my Whisky, put some heartbreak in my heart", etc...). They crammed a good 25 people in a place made for 15, but the music was good. And, you can get your Guinness COLD if you want!
Walked to the B and B in the first rain of the trip. Not bad if you ask me. Two whole sunny days!
Good thing we need to eat. Cheers!
But, I digress...
You know you're an American when....
You RUN across every intersection, no matter how teeny because you have no idea which direction to look before crossing.
You actually WAIT for the crossing signal even though some people are dashing through the street playing chicken with speeding taxis and the abundant busses going in every which way.
You have to ask the waiter what the heck "pongy" means. Look it up. Softish "g" when you're speaking with a Scottish brogue. (is that how you spell brogue?)
You cannot figure out where to find the @ key on the key board.
Renting a car and trying to turn RIGHT across traffic would mean an accident. Backing out into traffic from the World's Smallest Parking Spot would mean certain death.
The clerk at the drugstore takes the payment from your palm when you hold out coins to figure out which ones to use.
You assume the bar tender has gotten very skinny all of a sudden when another patron says he recently lost 200 pounds!
You think that the Grassmarket will be a good place for a picnic.
Finally, for some Americans at least, the Gypsy Goddess Frame Drumming and Tambourine Workshop at the Salisbury Centre, is the last thing you'll sign up for!
I'm sure there will be more items to add to the list.
Meanwhile, enjoy your breakfast cereal. They eat Haggis here. (If I ever get a dog, I'm going to name him Haggis)
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Originally uploaded by andicmalbums
Edinburgh. We made it. Sunny and beautiful and chilly. Perfect in our book. Our flights were just fine. Movies, pillows, blankets and dinner at 11 pm and breakfast at 2 am (sort of) on the long flight to Amersterdam. We had to race through that gigantic airport to get to our next flight on time. Made it, but regretfully had to guzzle our Starbucks since we couldn't take it on board. So, security is more important than coffee. WHAT are they thinking!
Lovely B & B, run by, you guessed it, FIONA. No kidding. Our cabbie was probably IAN, but we didn't ask. After seriously needed naps, we've been walking up and down the Royal Mile. Getting the lay of the land, trying to walk in the sun so stay warmish. But, no complaints with the weather.
We have, however, decided to NOT mention the weather to the locals and see how many of them bring it up first. So far, we're two for two! Read about that in guidebooks, in fact.
Indian tapas ( fusion food) coming up for dinner. A couple of fun days jetlagging in this curious city will be enjoyable.
My first foray into the land of internet cafes. So far, so good except I don't know how to load up low res. pics to I can put more on. I will figure it out though.
Aye my bonnie lassies, and lads, i love to have you "traveling with us". Stay tuned!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Originally uploaded by andicmalbums
You know you are loved when your best friend sends a bagpiper to serenade you before you fly to Scotland. Aye, this is exactly what happened!
We were chatting on our front porch, when alas, those of us who can hear well (that would be Dave) heard the low wail of a bagpipe in the distance. Soon enough, we saw a bagpiper coming up the street towards our house! The neighbors were keenly aware of the spectacle as well, which I consider a great blessing to all concerned.
Larry, our new found Scottish Ohio friend, graced us with his skill and presence and winning smile. We are inspired. More! Let us hear more!
Dave, meanwhile, may have decided a degree in Bagpipping is now needed along side the growing list of initials beside his name.
Will I allow a set of bagpipes to be purchased whilst in Edinburgh? (Let's just say I hope they are really expensive... case closed!) And, by the way, for all us outdoor types, they are also lined with Gortex. Don't tell that I shared the secret.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Originally uploaded by andicmalbums
A great time was had by all during our Summer Week Together. Talking for three days straight was a very "girl thing" to do and made us all quite happy. I am posting this photo mostly to see that I've got the Flickr to Blog connection working for our upcoming travels. Let's see if my pseudo technological self got it right....
Saturday, June 12, 2010
The story: I was in a sorority during my undergrad days. If you know me now, that's a revelation. However, the sorority I was a part of had the marvelous ability to allow all the members to truly be themselves. We were not required to conform to some idealistic 'sorority girl image'. I blossomed as part of that group and loved quite a few of those girls quite a lot.
It's been a long time since I've seen most of them. However, Facebook has been a wonderful way to reconnect. And, within the past few months, three of my sorority sisters have joined me in entering their Year of Jubilee! Mine was great. (I have since moved into the 'Jubilee Decade') And, I wanted to pass on the concept of spending one's 50th year 'resting' from some of the demands to which we give ourselves, and saying "NO" more often. Meanwhile, saying "YES" to things we might enjoy but be inclined to put off, indefinitely, i.e.: forever!
So, in order to begin celebrating their Years of Jubilee, I invited them HERE... to Ohio. Therein lies God's idea: To gather four "old" friends together for storytelling, playing, sharing and mutual encouragement. That may not seem like such a big deal, but we live in OH, CT, MI and Japan, so it was a L O N G S H O T. But, miracle of miracles, we found three days we could pull it off! A few vacation day requests, a couple of plane tickets, one rental car, some highway miles,and a BUNCH of FB messages later, we're going to actually get together.
I'm excited about it. I want to make my house into the Perfect B & B and help them to feel uniquely loved and encouraged! I want to cook delicious food and serve great wine. Above all, I feel as though I'm an actor in a play that the Lord God is directing. I'm ready and eager. The Year of Jubilee continues....
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I was excited to make Upcycled Bag #2 for my dear friend (now my 'old friend') for her 50th birthday! She trekked to the USA from her home in Japan this week, so I didn't have to risk sending my creation across the seas.
I am having fun adding a little bit of needle felting and embellishments to my two latest projects and think I'll keep it up!
After a bit of searching on the internet for information, stories and some sort of "security" with the recent revelation that I may indeed be a viable candidate for a Cochlear Implant, I now know what "CI" stands for in some circles. One of my FB friends referenced a conversation between a FB friend and another about her recent entry into the hearing world once again.... I googled "CI" blogs and found LOTS. Enough surfing for the afternoon, however. It is easy to become quickly overwhelmed.
Will this be a journey I embark on or not? I simply do not know. With apologies to those who have delighted in their CI, I have had a very difficult time simply seeing these devices attached to people's skulls. The thought of having one attached to my own head does not sit well with me in the least. But, as my hearing continues to deteriorate (I am "DNA challenged" when it comes to having a healthy cochlea!) I will have to chose between barely hearing on one side or the possibility of electronic hearing mixed with partial natural hearing with the other ear.
While my family and friends remain supportive of me and do their best to partner with me as I struggle to hear, they grow weary of their efforts, just as I tire from trying to hear. Therefore, part of the answer to the question "to get a CI or not to get a CI" must take into consideration the impact on those I love most and with whom I spend the most time.
I guess I simply decided to put this on my blog. To make this my "CI journey journal" IF, indeed, I end up saying yes to a huge journey such as this one. Right now, the physical concept of the device is unsettling. The idea of losing the little bit of residual hearing I have in one ear is unsettling. The cost is gigantic and while insurance may indeed pick up all or most of it, it seems far too great for "simply" increasing my ability to communicate. Should I just become adept at sign language (all new to me) in order to communicate in the future? (esp. with grandchildren, should they ever arrive... PLEASE NO TIME IN THE NEAR FUTURE, dear children!!!!) Questions floating in my mind.
This week I'll have my first ever CT scan just to check out the condition of my cochlea. I'd rather be sewing.
And next week, a full audiological exam with my hearing aids in. I really like this new found audiologist, however, after 8 years of working with no one with whom I've felt any attachment. A good thing.
We'll see. If you care to, stay tuned. If not, you can skip posts like these and I promise to provide more interesting snapshots of life as I know it!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
In Africa they say "It takes a village to raise a child".
In America, our society full of independent thinking, climb-up-by-your-own-boot straps, I-think-I'll-have-a-deck-in-the-back-instead-of-a-front-porch suburbanites doesn't quite get the whole village thing. It's too bad because raising children isn't easy. If we could internalize the concept into our busy American lives, we'd all be better for it. My opinion, of course, but there is a lot to be said for sharing gifts, burdens, responsibilities and joys. I'll leave it at that for now....
Last night I had a small glimpse of The Modern Village. It made me thoughtful, grateful and happy.
Sitting around my dining room table, dipping fruit and bread into cheese and chocolate fondue were my "Ladies Night Out" friends. An evening glimpse of my village. We've all lived here for upwards of twenty years. A few of these ladies I've known since they were 18 and now we are pushing 50. (Some of us, uh em, have already arrived there...) We began gathering in the early 90s when our sanity required it. Ladies Night Out was just that... No kids allowed (they still aren't) and no set time to be home, just the closing time of the various restaurants at which we gathered.
We don't meet weekly now as our sanity has somehow survived the child rearing years. We are fluffing our various empty nests (whether from children fleeing, abiding singlehood or significant others ousted..). We gather when one of us hits the Big 4-0 (all passed by now) or the coming Big 5-0. It takes ten years for us all to pass those milestones. Last night, it was just the arrival of one LNO members back from her digs a couple of hours away... so we ate fondue. It's wonderful to gather around the table sharing laughter, stories and our collective history.
After a while my strapping young man-boy snuck over for a bit of chocolate fruit dipping. The group was enlivened by his clever banter. I watched and marveled that for 16 years, each of these women has had a place in my son's life, just as I have. They are his village. They have watched him grow from wild toddler (taking years off of my life and turning my hair gray) to theatrical young man, full of life, humor and goodness.
They have been there to change his diapers, babysit him, clean up his stomach contents, chase him in the yard, clap at his performances, support his fundraising efforts, feed him cake at birthday parties, reprimand him for mischievousness, give him allergy meds, remind him to get up for school, photograph him before dances, teach him Spanish, feed him pizza and share Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthday dinners.
They've helped to shape this young man's elaborate personality, just as I have. It's been the job of a village indeed. I wouldn't have it any other way. I hadn't thought about it in quite these terms until I watched him comfortably interact and share his true self with these ladies. Not too many 16 year old boys can come to the table and comfortably banter back and forth and help themselves to the food in front of ten women. He could and did.
His village and mine. Modern. Rich. Full and good.
It does, indeed, take a village.
Monday, March 15, 2010
A week from today we'll say goodbye (again) to my mother-in-law as the family gathers for her memorial. I've been creating a special Creative Memories Tribute album for her, to honor her life and remind us of the lovely person she was. I've so enjoyed making it, but it has also made me miss her more. That is as it should be.
She was a gentle, giving soul. Her spirit came alive by the water and she spent as much time there as she could throughout her entire life. Cape Cod was old stomping grounds and because of her, I was introduced to that remarkable place. I love it too, though rarely set my foot in the sand of the National Seashore anymore.
I wanted to share just a few of the pages which give honor to the mother of my gracious and loving husband. How blessed we were to call her "mother", "sister", "daughter", "wife" and "friend".
First a report to follow up on my Upcycling post from a while back. I've happily gathered numerous old sweaters and turned them into felt. Most worked well, but not all. Trial and error. I made my first bag and gave it to my mom. She likes RED, so this one was perfect! I'm happy with the results. Lined it with gray corduroy and put the same on the strap to offer it some stability. There will be more to come. But, a few "transformation photos". Backwards order from finish to start. I'll figure out this blog thing someday!
Mom loved it! And I am eager to create the time to make some more of them!
Next up is my OLYMPIC SCARF. I forgot to mention that pretty much the only time I ever watch TV is during the Winter Olympics every four years. I spent numerous cozy hours, not blogging, but watching athletes strut their stuff while I sat on my duff and created this Upcycled Scarf. It's a tad fragile, but I like it a lot. (Idea from the book Sweater Surgery).
When I take the time, I'm also enjoying perusing others' blogs to see their fab upcycled creations! Thanks to all who share. I'm having fun with these!
Monday, February 8, 2010
I love this stuff. It's so forgiving and I can coat my fingers in it and then just wash it off. It's the perfect medium for messy-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants artists.
Valentine's Day is coming up too. The combination of Mod Podge and Valentine's Day just makes me giddy. (OK, not exactly giddy... but I do look forward to making things). Today's creation is actually a secret... I'm betting that a certain college student with whom I am well acquainted is far too busy to be blog hopping, so I think I'm safe in sharing this here while the actual creation wings its way across the country.
While I'm at it, I'll find a photo of last spring's Mod Podge creation and post that too.
Happy Crafting and sharing your love with those you love this week!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
My word for the day. Upcycled. It's an awkward word, but nonetheless a good word when it comes to taking potentially discarded materials and creating something useful and artsy from them. A sales rep came into work showcasing upcycled hats, scarves, pillows, throws and sweater monkeys. These kind of things make me want to drop whatever I am doing at the moment, rush to the thrift store, load up on wool everythings, run the washer on HOT, and then get busy with my scissors and sewing machine.
I can hardly wait. Everytime I see this artsy stuff, I get the same response. Therefore, the time has come TO CUT UP WOOLEN ITEMS and SEW THEM BACK TOGETHER to make something NEW. I can no longer wait.
The goofy thing is I want to wear this stuff and carry these satchels and basically look like an eccentric middle aged woman. (oh.. that's who I am, isn't it?) I definitely felt that way in my new blue Keen sneakers today. They are not made for and marketed to the over 50 crowd. Tough.
Next will come the flowing, flapping, multi colored, multisensory fashion statement. I don't know when. (I have to get taxes done first) I don't know where. (But I do know that I will refrain from such attire when accompanying my 16 year old son outside of the house). Maybe I'll wait for my next trip to Seattle. ... Having returned from the city merely hours ago, this is part of the energy that spurs me on to UPCYCLE, of course. Portland Saturday Market started it all this summer... Seattle shopping continues it... and today, the hats from Colorado. (SOMEONE in OHIO needs to make stuff like this! May as well be me).
Meanwhile. I post photos of my most current attempt at Upcycling AKA: the T-Shirt Quilt. Of the four in progress, this is the only one completed. It's huge. It's heavy. It's warm. It's DONE. And, it delighted my daughter, the one who wore these t-shirts over the past 16 years or so. Upcycled Love, perhaps.
Yea. That's it. Upcycled love.
More to come.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
"There may be a great fire in our hearts, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke." -Van Gogh
I could contemplate that quote a little more, but I'll leave that up to you. Worth doing, actually.
What's still burning inside me is the lasting heat of spending more than a few hours just sitting by the fire at a get away cabin in Pennsylvania last weekend. Ahh.... It is good for my soul to unplug for a couple of days... good to just sit away from distractions and everyday life. Two days after arriving home, I still feel the glow of the fire inside me.... the lasting affects of time to relax, far too rarely taken. My "tasks" for a couple of days in front of the fire included starting a new knitting project with lovely Alpaca wool I purchased at a farm in Portland, OR this summer; looking through assorted library books, just for fun!; cooking fresh scones; chatting and playing games with my best friend; watching a couple of movies; and enjoying the rain which kept the skis idle.
Idle skis = more time by the fire. This was good.
Words are obviously not capturing the feeling of lasting warmth. Ah well...fire has an elusive quality anyway - universal and elusive.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The best thing she did was to reassure me that moments like this have also happened to her. I've not encountered this sort of thing before. Moments that are missing entirely! Zap! Gone! This brain fart (as they have so aptly been called) was associated with only $36.60 in a missing check, but what if more zeros had been attached to that number! Oh my. Scattered.
That poignant moment came after a good deal of searching for directions to the cabin I am heading to this coming weekend. No luck. No clue how much the guy quoted me for the price or even the name of the place. I do know I have reservations, however. (Or do I?) Computer to the rescue, in this case, since I had the link marked. But, oh, what if I hadn't? And, where DID I put the name and directions for "safe keeping"? Scattered. Scary.
Much of my life reminds me of the childrens' book "If You Give A Moose a Muffin"... In the story one thing leads to another, then to another, then to another.... To me is it the quintessential ADD book, a model of my life, illustrated with charming pictures and sweet characters who come full circle in life. A good life, full of eating, painting, creativity and friendship, all the while living with full out ADD behavior.
My daily tasks are like that. My writing is like that. (In case you haven't noticed!) My parenting is like that. My performance at work is like. "If You Give Andi A Minute...." Amazingly, my good life is full of eating, playing, creativity and friendship, in the midst of all my scattered, scary way of being.
I'm going to sew right now. I am going to stay focused. After I finish my blog and take my hot chocolate mug into the kitchen and clean up the newspapers on the way, and decide to vacuum the carpet after I put away a few more Christmas decorations....
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I have always loved snow. I have always lived where this fluffy white stuff appears periodically and I wouldn't have it any other way. Snow is full of beauty and possibilities for play. It tames us when we think we are in control of our world and it delights us when the call comes "It's a Snow Day!". What a marvelous creative outlet for water molecules. No two snowflakes alike! Ever! Imagine!
My snow memories are abundant, many of them on skis. Winding through snowy trails in the forests and over bridges in Vermont and New Hampshire. (On our honeymoon we arrived in Vermont and it immediately began to snow and didn't stop until there were 16 fresh inches on the ground. We had our skis, an inkeeper to provide breakfast and each other. Talk about perfect!) Backcountry trips in West Virginia, complete with full pack and face plants. Swooshing by on groomed trails at the Olympic ski venues. Racing in Leavenworth, WA.... and on and on. Still waiting to add "inn to inn" ski touring to the list.
Then there are snow memories of building snow people. When I was a kid. When I was a grown up. My favorite have been the snow people in the front yard toasting marshmallows around our snow fire. They mysteriously come to visit some years. Maybe this year?
Oh, there are also been those moments of praying hard while traveling on roads that weren't meant to be traveled on. That's when snow reminds us that we aren't the ones in charge of our universe, much as we like to pretend that is indeed the case. I am thankful for always making it home, or at least someplace for the night (including a church floor in Kansas en route to Colorado one winter).
I also love hiking in the summer snow in the Rockies... shorts and gaiters and the cool air caressing our legs while the summer heat bears down on our shoulders. It's a May and June trekking experience not to be missed.
Snowy night walks are my favorite, right along with snowy night skiing. One New Year's Eve my just-out-of-college-friends and I put on our skis at midnight in the full moon and skied under the Flatirons in Boulder until we were too tired to go any further. Lots of years have passed and I'd still revisit that scene.
Thus, my love affair with snow is strongly embedded in my soul. Last night the conditions were perfect. Fresh powder, in the 20's, that evening "snow light" where everything is aglow though the sky is dark and foreboding. I can't head out for miles from my front door, but I did the next best thing... skiing down the street to the teeny tiny park on the lake and set about 1/10 of a mile track there. I went round and round and round until I could go no more. Smiles on my face, and joy in my sweaty heart.
I am fully aware that there are those who love humidity and sunshine and heat and beaches. You can have them. I'll take my snow. Tonight, however, I'll take the warm indoors as the temperature heads towards zero outside. No skiing or walking as I am too tired. But there is always tomorrow.
The more inches the better.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Twenty Six Years together. When you start this journey, no one really tells you what Year #26 is going to be like. So I will. To make a long story short, I'll simply highlight today's anniversary activities. (no worries...it is G rated)
I woke up early to the scraping of the frozen car windshield since high school kids are the last in line and have to keep their cars outside of the garage. Regardless, the garage door is broken, so all cars in the household (2) are currently gathering much snow and ice outside of the cozy garage. Activity #1: Call the garage door repair man. Activity #2: reschedule life around garage door repair man. Rapid Activity #3: make list of errands and execute them in a timely fashion. Overdue library books returned. Overdue mailings mailed. Joann Fabrics for rest of the T-Shirt quilt backing (overdue). Lowe's for dust mask to avoid asthma attack while cleaning. Activity #4: eat salad. Too many cookies over the holidays. Activity #5: greet garage door repairman, walk him through the house in his snowy boots and find out that he needs to return tomorrow with the correct parts.
I can feel your anticipation as you read... your desire to also enjoy SUCH a delightful anniversary when you reach #26!
Activity #6: begin cleaning horrible dusty, long overdue for a cleaning master bath. Included rinsing off greenery, scrubbing sink, moving very dusty things, etc... Yesterday I started the week long de-soap scumming of the shower. Activity #7: snowy walk with BFF. Lovely, actually. Activity #8: Get quick phone call from hubbie who is with clients in a really fabulous resort lodge two states away. Intermittent phone reception. Him: eager to take his weary "I just lost my mom four days ago" self to bed. Me: trying hard to listen with my hearing disability. A couple of "I love yous" and "Your e-card made me smile" and "Wish you were heres".
Activity #9: Make corn bread (always from scratch, always from the More with Less cookbook, page 70) and share left over soup with teen son. Find some chocolate from the Christmas stash. Eat that too.
Activity #10: spend time on Facebook sharing silly status reports with friends like "Black, Pink, White with Lace, Purple, etc..." Activity #11: update blog to fill people in our the YEAR OF AMOUR 26.
I might trade today. I wouldn't trade Dave.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
'Tis actually a funny word to our western ears, especially in our post modern culture. Most people don't think about Epiphany, nor celebrate it, nor have a clue what it means. In our western tradition, however, it is rich and wonderful and the message of the Magi gives Gentiles, like me, hope in Christ. The wise men journeyed from far away. It may have taken them months and months to follow the star to where Jesus was, in fact, a toddler playing in the hay & dirt and singing & dancing with his parents.
The Magi were not Jews and yet, God spoke to them, sending the message that this infant King was for them, not just for the Jews. So today, I am alive in faith and abundant blessing because they recognized and followed the star centuries ago. I think that is plenty of reason to celebrate and give gifts one to another!! Bring on the feasting!! Bring on the Twelfth Night of Christmas!! Bring on the gifts!!
(Truth be told, no one is even around tonight and there is no feasting, no Twelfth Night celebration... and the 'only' gifts are gifts of the soul and the real abiding presence of Jesus. Gifts good enough for me, that's for sure!!!) There has been the gift of new fallen snow this week. And I gave the gift of "Epiphany Milk and Cookies" to my teen son upon arriving home from high school--a kind of Mom from the 1950's joke for today, actually.
And, so as the quiet night of Epiphany passes, I offer thanks to the Christ who came to give life to all people, not just as Messiah of the Jews. And now, it's time to pack away my delightful little creche until next December when we shall once again celebrate the Coming of this King.
Work occupied 8 hours of my day. Flitting around helping customers in all sorts of ways, mostly enjoyable. A few conversations... one dear friend who popped in, one guy a new resident to whom I gave the lay of the land for outdoor activities, a lively acquaintance and others... packing away Christmas decorations; organizing; out with the old, in with the new; texting my now-living-across-the-country-again-daughter; arguing with my newly driving son; shoveling snow; opening mail. FRAGMENTED. You get the picture.
The wearing of grief, the intensity of parenting teens with such wildly varying needs, the ability to take what comes and greet people pleasantly, all require that I be CENTERED, however. For me that centering comes through quietly listening to the still small voice of God Himself. He is always there waiting for me to stop long enough to listen to his loving words and advice. Right now, I must stop and listen for if I don't, I will quickly be overwhelmed by all that fragments me. I know He longs to carry me. To offer my soul the space to experience sorrow and gratefulness. To give me the ability to 'let go' of what I want to control when it comes to parenting... and on and on and on...
Tomorrow is a new day. I will ponder more and be less fragmented even as I go about my daily list. Which, by the way, will include some journaling, some exercise (a good time for my mind to ponder), and the mindless and quite necessary Cleaning at home that MUST happen. I could, of course, include a photo as Example A for that latter activity, but I will refrain.
May God grant us all the willingness and strength to be Centered this new year.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
My mother-in-law died this morning, and thus, it is a day of great sorrow. We knew this day was coming after the past 18 months of her life was spent in hospitals... frequently hoping she just might make it home, but then encountering set back after set back... today, she did make it home.
I think this new home will be completely unfamiliar, yet at the same time, a warm, inviting and fragrantly familiar place. She will once again dine and dance and laugh with joy. She was a gentle woman and after this incredibly long battle of hanging onto life, I am happy she can completely rest and feel relief and joy as never before.
Meanwhile, we will feel sorrow. We will mourn and grieve and remember. Isaiah reminds us, however, that Jesus bears that sorrow and grief and was the Only One to once and for all eliminate it completely on the cross. Of course the fullness of that elimination isn't ours to hold yet, this side of the veil. But, oh, it IS for those on the other side. Sorrow for them has passed. They know what we do not. Most of all, they know Jesus himself... in a wonderful, timeless way not bound by earthly perimeters.
Gratefully, our family has had many who have journeyed and prayed with us these many months. The past few days, they have willingly received a few cyber updates I have passed on. Words of encouragement and prayers matter. What follows is merely part of today's update with the news that she is gone.
As I was thinking about how to title this note, I was thinking about the concept of “commencement”. Dave’s Mom’s life on earth ended this morning around 10:15 am, but it is for her a commencement of New Life. I had a strong sense that she was welcomed into the arms of Jesus like a child who is so greatly loved that she has not a care in the world. Indeed, that is the case for her this afternoon. All fear, all pain, all unknowns are gone. Dave, his dad and his aunts were able to be at her bedside at the very end, and the other brothers were not far behind.
She was taken off of life support systems yesterday morning. That decision was very difficult, but they all had agreement about the timing. She rested peacefully from that time on with members of the family at her side round the clock. As you would expect, they are all physically and emotionally exhausted. Dave is grateful for your prayer support and said that he is more physically tired than anything. Once his mom died, he was able to pray with the family as they ushered her into the Kingdom of Life.
Finally I am adding a scripture from I Corinthians 15. It’s paraphrased in the Message which always seems to provide a fresh look at God’s word. May we all be encouraged as our futures are indeed in the loving hands of God. What follows reflects on the mystery of the Resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (The Message)
50I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don't in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very "nature" is to die, so how could they "naturally" end up in the Life kingdom? 51-57But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I'll probably never fully understand. We're not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it's over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we'll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! 58With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don't hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
Thank you so much for receiving these messages from me, on Dave’s behalf.
The love, grace and shalom of Christ be upon you,