Posted in Blessings, Pets

Zoey Bit Me and It is Okay!

My dog bit me this week….5 stitches on my pointer finger, which makes typing this blog a bit challenging,  My ‘i’ keeps coming out ‘u’ and my ‘l’ is coming out a ‘k.’ My ‘o’ is coming out as an ‘i’ and it’s druvung (driving) me crazy because I have to keep going back and correcting the letters!

My typing is tripping me up.  Much how my feelings were this week.  Happily feelings are temporal and change quickly; like Zoey going from a docile dog to a fierce animal biting me.

One moment I’m swinging on the porch swing, watching her walk stiffly around the yard.  She comes and sits in front of the swing and licks her back legs.  Thinking a bug might be biting her, I reached down and lifted her next to me on the seat.  Just a few seconds later, I’m holding my finger, with more blood than I care to remember, dripping from my hand.  In a split second, my calm dog had grabbed my finger inspecting her back, left leg, and pierced my skin with those sharp teeth that she’s flashed me many times when she felt fierce.  The older she gets, the more teeth I see.

Shiucjed (shocked) and Dusbekuef (Disbelief) that she actually bit me raced through my mind.  She’s growled and nipped through her thirteen years, but she’s never bitten me.  I actually said, “You bit me!”  (People with pets talk to them as if the are human).

Then I start FEELING the pain.  I cup my finger with my left hand try to figure out how to open the back door with the blood pouring out and the throbbing fingertip.  I’m afraid to look at the actual bite.  Grabbing several paper towels, I wrapped my finger and tried not to see the white paper turn red.  The floor shows my path with drops of blood and I don’t know why that bothers me, but I grabbed a dishcloth and wiped up my trail with my uninjured hand.

There’s more red than white wrapped around my finger, so I exchange the paper towels for fresh ones.  Less blood is coming out.  I feel less apprehensive, but I am feeling every heart beat in my finger.

Zoey’s been acting sad and laying down the last few days before the bite, and she hasn’t wanted to play ball, which is very un-Zoey like.  Her appetite has been poor too, and put that together with her stiff gate, I knew she needed to be checked out.  I called the vet, but they’re closed on Saturday.  First thing Monday morning…

I took a look at the actual bite, and decided I better go see a doctor.  I closed Zoey up in my bedroom and headed out to Hospitality ER.  It’s ridiculous, but now is when I get emotional and start crying.  I’m wiping my cheeks dry and giving myself a pep talk as I drive.  Inside, I can’t stop crying and I’m ushered into a room and the sweetest nurse and P.A. come in and start taking care of me.

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The bite

Why is it around people all the emotions come rolling to the forefront? Perhaps it’s because that’s the way God made us.  The comfort of another person who listens and gives words of encouragement that I’m doing fine, even if from a stranger, is so reassuring.

A half-hour later, I’m getting treatment.  A stinging numbing shot is administered.  My eyes stayed shut throughout the experience as the P.A. stitched me up and a doctor comes in to check them.  I have to say the vocabulary they used while discussing the stitching made me want to faint.  The word, ‘gaping’ should be used sparingly while the patient can hear.  I could feel myself sweating and my body heat was worse than any hot flash I have ever experienced.  As soon as he finished, I laid back on the bed and took deep breaths.

It was here that I felt like a baby.  I thought of Cameron and how many stitches his body had endured and I giggled out loud thinking I’d share my insane reaction with him over five measly stitches.

With a Seven-Up in my good hand, a t-shirt and a gift bag tucked under my arm, I’m back in the car.  That was the nicest experience I’ve ever had in an emergency room!  I may feel differently when I get a bill, but I left with a smile on my face.

Small normal things remind us that no situation is a permanent deterrent,  For example, On the way to Walgreens, I stopped at four garage sales although I didn’t have any cash on me.  One was a church friend’s home.  I found the cutest plates.  She let me shop without money.  (Yes, I did pay her later).

Finally made it to Walgreen’s to pick up antibiotics and bandages for myself and with advice from a friend, baby aspirin for Zoey to give her for pain.

Now days later.  Zoey is now taking NSAIDs for inflammation which has made a huge difference in her disposition.  We’re playing fetch again and she’s back to jumping!

This week, I went through my tenth wedding anniversary without John.  I tried to make plans with people without making it a big deal, but they fell through.  Which is where my feelings teetered back and forth and I felt sorry for myself.  I cried and let sorrow fill me for a while.

Sometimes, I walk stiffly with my feelings hidden like Zoey’s sore joints.  If I had asked friends right out to spend time with me to help me through the day,  I’m sure someone would have come forward, but I hid my need being outwardly dishonest while inflammation was causing me pain on the inside.  Like Zoey, I didn’t handle it well.

When I remember that spending time in God’s word is the NSAIDs that makes me stronger and reduces the inflammation, then I can jump and play fetch and have a happier disposition in knowing that this life is good.  When I don’t, then I hobble and lay about.  (Lessons learned from a dog).

Grief no longer shines brightly on me making me cringe from the overwhelming illumination of what I no longer have and the heart-brokenness that comes from being separated from John.  It comes on faintly like a small pin light and then fades out of sight until a memory rises or a date brings it back closer to shine on the “what ifs” and “what was” and the “might have beens.” My heart is continuing to heal.

My finger is healing.  I feel the twinges around the stitches as my skin is rebuilding itself, closing the gaps.  I am still covering it with a bandage pad to keep the stitches from catching on things and from having to see it.  Occasionally, I lose the bandage and I have to look at it, or I bump it on something and the pain is sharp reminding me of Zoey’s bite.  One day soon, the stitches will be removed and it will perform as a finger does.  I’m sure there will be a scar as a reminder of what once happened.

Looking at her sleeping beside me right now, I’m remembering her sweetness as a puppy and all the comfort she’s brought as a companion.  I will look back on this week briefly as a painful moment with her, but her cuteness, loyalty, unconditional love, and the joy she brings me far outweighs this small bite on my finger.

Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings.

Posted in Changes, Memory

With Love, Paul and David

I started with six brothers.  I’m down to three now.  Three have passed on and all were sudden deaths without a chance to say goodbye.

My family is a blended one.  My dad had one boy and my mom had three when they married.  I’m the actual first child of my parent’s union.  Two boys followed me.  I’d like to say that I had the perfect secure childhood, but I didn’t.  My parents flittered job to job which means we moved more times than children should have to.  I was always the ‘new kid’ at school.  The gaps in our education from moving school to school took their toll on us.  I was the only child out of the seven that actually finished high school with a degree and graduated from college.

My brothers are all extremely hard-working, wonderfully smart, and full of common sense.  My parents made sure we all had a good work ethic.  It’s the only way we could survive in a household of our size.  We all had chore lists to do or if our parents were running a theater, then we’d be the janitorial staff, work the concession stand, and could run the projector.    Our parents both worked, which means we took care of each other a lot.  There never was enough money to go around for bills and food.  My parents did the best they could.

I’m looking backward as an adult and making speculations because as a kid, I never knew that.  We were mostly a happy lot.  We played and fought.  Sometimes the fighting got physical and punches flew or pushing happened.   I remember once throwing a toy at my younger brother, Johnny.  He had that small scar on his eyebrow for the rest of his life.  You should have seen us piled up in our station wagon.  I’m sure we were a sight, filling every seat and hanging out the windows when the car stopped!

I remember the good times.  Running around the neighborhood and playing in the woods, swinging on grapevine.  We’d play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers chasing each other and shooting each other with sticks.  Johnny was the one I remember playing with the most.  I can’t count the number of times, we’d play with those small plastic horses: galloping them on the floor and making neighing sounds.  As my brothers matured and drivers licenses happened, I remember riding with Paul and doing donuts in parking lots.  Timmy giving me a ride on the back of the motorcycle.  That happened just once because Mom was furious with him for taking me for a ride.

Sitting around the table at dinner and the boistious noise that ensued as bowls were passed and all were straining to be heard as we talked over one another.  Cleaning the kitchen was always done in pairs or in threes.  No one ever had to clean the kitchen by themselves.  These are the memories that make me smile.

Steven, the oldest, left the house when I was about ten.  My dad signed for him to join the Marines when he was seventeen because he seemed to always be running away when I was a child.  That decision changed Steven’s life.  He was a career Marine, staying twenty-eight years before retiring from the corp.  Steve would stop back in the family while on leave and I remember small gaps of time with him as I grew up.  The last was when I was a junior in high school.  After that, meetings were brief.  He always called me “Sis” never Becky.    I loved that he thought I was special.

David is the baby.  Enough said.  I think he got away with the most.  He’d say that wasn’t so, but I’d have to disagree.  I don’t remember him having to do many chores.  As an adult, David is precious.  He is generous to a fault and has a wonderful sense of humor.  I love his deep laugh and his love for his family.

Between those two, we have Timmy, Paul, Mike, Me, and Johnny.  The boys used to accuse me of being spoiled.  Maybe it was so, but I don’t believe I took advantage of it.  There has to be a perk to growing up in a household full of boys.

I don’t have much to say about Timmy and Mike.  I have to say I don’t like all my brothers.  Love, yes, love is there.  Some people are hard to connect with and the thought comes to mind, “How can I be related to that person?”   Simply personality differences.  Thankfully, the connection happens in a large group and we are a large family.

Johnny, one below me on the ladder of our family, was one of my favorite playmates as a child.  We shared a room when we were young and would hide under the covers when we were afraid of the dark.  We’d play horses and army men. Later, we were coconspirators.  We’d roll our eyes at our grandparents when they made silly comments.  He liked to tease.  When he hit about fifteen, the girls started to find him attractive.   He had the biggest ego.  I used to say, when he passed a mirror, he’d stop and say, “Damn, I look good.”  He left to join the Army not long after I married.  He was gone for long stretches of time and I missed seeing him mature.  When he did come back as an adult, he loved to cook.  He was the adventous brother.

Paul is the glue that holds us together.  He’s the humorist.  Need to calm a situation?  Humor is the best way to bring it back to normal and he’s good at it.  He doesn’t mind being silly and making us laugh until our tummy hurts.  He smart and can figure out how to fix a problem.  He is the hardest working brother I have.  He always has things to do.  His legacy is all the people named after him.  I don’t know how he did it, but there are so many of his kids and grandkids named after him that I tease him that the world doesn’t need any more ‘Pauls.’  He says, “Oh, no!  There’s always room for another Paul.”  He truly is our rock and I love him deeply.

Now there are three gone.  Timmy died of a heart attack.  Johnny died while scuba diving.  His offical cause of death was drowning.  This week, Steven, died of a heart attack.

My mind drifts back when for a brief time we were young and all lived in the same home.  That ended about forty-four years ago when Steven left and slowly, over time, we all moved away from one another.  It was rare when we were all together at the same place.  There are a few pictures with us together.

When Timmy died, we took a picture of us together after the funeral.  It’s become a tradition to do that after funerals.  Today, there were three of us.  Yes, there should be four and Mike is missing out of the picture and I don’t forsee him ever joining us.

So today, David, me, and Paul, took a picture and we smiled and laughed because we know how precious our time is together.

With love, to my remaining brothers.

Posted in Adventures, Fun Events, Girl Thoughts!, Road Trip

The Best Kind

So when a friend agrees to go on an extended weekend road trip…

What happens?

Giggles erupt

Calories forgotten

Bonds formed

Snores ignored

Flowers admired

Driver distracted

Navigator redirects

Coffee consumed

Trails walked

Dessert hunted

Stores browsed

Memories made

History explored

Headlines only

Knowledge gained

Friends lifted

God shines

Thank you, Sally, for being and staying so positive …..with love

Posted in Blessings, Changes, Memory

To Cam on Your 27th Year

For Moms … Babies are precious.  Toddlers are cute.  Preteens are awkward.  Teenagers can be exasperating and fun.  College students are inspiring.  Young adults are humorous.  When the other side of mid-twenties roll around, we stop and take stock of how fast time is moving.  I want to say ‘Stop,’ but then I wouldn’t get to move forward and see all those other stages ahead that, I’m sure, will be equally wonderful!

Cam…. It’s hard to grasp that your twenty-seven today.  Looking backward,   I’ve enjoyed all the stages of your life.  Who knew so many years ago, that time would move so fast?  I know …   All those mom’s who’ve gone on before me!

I’m appreciative of the person you are now.  I miss seeing you.  So much to miss; a hug, sharing meals, teasing remarks, your quirky sense of humor, hanging out watching television and making comments, simple talks, and watching you putter around the house and play with the dog.  I miss that Cameron smile.

Today, I’m remembering and treasuring the precious moments of your childhood.   I’m smiling recalling the joy of your birth and the fun of you growing up.

Your love of Trains and Thomas.  Playing with Legos, Pokemon cards, and all night video games.  Being creative making movies, going to church, and band filling your days.  Your first girlfriends and heart breaks.  Your strength as you grieved your dad.  How much I missed you when you moved away to college, but loved hearing about all you learned as you moved into independence.  Incredible determination dealing with kidney failure and the transplant.  Your first apartment.

I am awed by your positive outlook on life.  I never doubted that you would and will succeed in whatever you set out to accomplish.

That being said, thank goodness for cell phones!  I’m so happy that you share with me your thoughts and the decisions you’re making.  I like hearing about your work and what you’re learning and doing.  I enjoy listening to your views on politics and what’s going on in the world.  Believe it or not, I do appreciate your opinion.  It makes me happy hearing about the small details of your days.  I like talking with you about what you’re making for dinner and how roommate living is going.  Descriptions of Zipps and his antics makes me smile.  I can picture him climbing and scrambling around your room being his cat self, slightly annoying.

I appreciate when I visit, you giving of your time and entertaining me around town.  Sitting with you in coffee shops and having dessert is a ‘sweet’ moment in time.  (pun intended)…. walking our legs off and being a good sport about directing me through subways.  I thank you for these sweet memories.

I am simply a proud mom and I love you!  Happy 27th year of celebrating your birth.

Our ‘traditional’ pose

 I know your dad is proud of you too!

Posted in Around town, Changes

Barking Dogs Doesn’t = Welcome

My new neighbors’ dog is barking once again.  When they first moved in, I wanted to leap over the fence and throttle him.   The dogs … because I hadn’t yet met the neighbor.  He moved his three Pit Bulls in two days before they actually moved into the house.

The barking was constant and as annoying as it could possibly be.  By the time I noticed the U-Haul sitting in the driveway, I was ready to let whoever was unloading it feel my wrath.  My unpleasant self marched right over.

I have to say I’m a bit embarrassed how I ‘met’ the new neighbor.  My first words weren’t ones of welcome and I didn’t have a smile on my face.  Out of my mouth poured my complaint of how ‘Man’s best friend’ was a nuisance and how that barking had kept me awake two nights in a row.  Two of my neighbors had already voiced their complaint to me and had called Animal Control, but that wasn’t a solution.

My ‘neighbor’ didn’t apologize, but met gruffness with gruffness.  “The dogs would stop barking when they became familiar with the yard.”  I just had to be ‘patient.’  Our conversation didn’t end with a smile or ‘nice to meet you.”

To tell the truth, the day I put my “Easter” church sign in the yard, I cringed a bit.  “Hypocrite” echoed in my mind.  I hadn’t shown kindness or forgiveness.  I had let my tongue drip poison.  I knew I hadn’t handled the dog situation correctly.

Thankfully, just a few days later while out in the yard, I was able to actually meet my new neighbors and apologize for the awful way I greeted him the first time.  Justin and his wife, April, moved across town to what he described as a ‘nicer’ neighborhood.  I found out the name of the dog that is staked closest to my yard is called “Pappy.”  He has improved barking less, but hey, he still manages to let me know he’s out there.

Tonight, I heard a knock at the front door.  Two little girls stood there, still in their school uniform dresses.  One about seven and the other about six.  They wanted to say ‘Hello’ to their new neighbor….me.  I introduced them to my cat, Pippin, and my dog, Zoey.  They seemed more impressed with Zoey’s smallness than Pippin’s largeness.   Aliah and Peyton wanted to make my mom and I an Easter card.  “Would we mind?”  Those two tiny girls sweetly reminded me how neighbors should meet each other.

I feel a cookie baking spree coming on.  I think I’ll shower a few of my neighbors with sweets this weekend.   At this point, I don’t mind the occasional barking of “Pappy.”  Good Friday is a ‘good’ day to show kindness and welcoming.

Isn’t it funny how small things can make us smile or rile us up?

On Sunday, our pastor reminded us that God is always good.  He’s good in the good times and he is still good when times are tough.  God doesn’t change.

Our perspective changes due to circumstances.  How wonderful it would be to look beyond ourselves and our view of our own tiny life to see the amazing view God has of our world and how His plan unfolds.

I imagine going from a street view on Google Maps to a satellite view and zooming way out.  Only God gets to see the tiny details unfolding and zero in on both the street view and the satellite at the same time.  My mind is so miniscule, I can’t imagine it.

I only see a barking dog…. Thankfully, there’s God.

 

Posted in Changes, Inspiration

My Boot Camp Experience

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My goal…to have arms like Arlene!

I had dinner with my friend, Arlene, on my fifty-fourth birthday.   We’ve been friends since seventeen.

Not for the first time did she invite me to come to her ‘Boot camp’ exercise class at 5:30 A.M.   I’ve made excuses not to come before, but this time I agreed to come try one class with her.

I do have to say that she is looking wonderfully fit.

Two days later, I showed up on a Wednesday.  Not being a morning person, I had a hard time convincing myself to roll my legs out of bed at 4:30.  I took a shower, brushed my teeth, and dried my hair before class, so that I wouldn’t have much to do when the class was over and it was time to get ready to go to work.  I know taking a shower before working out sounds funny, but heck, I was trying to conserve my time between coming home and going to work at 7:10.

I made it through one day and the next day, I signed up for their special for three months.  I committed myself.  Arlene encouraged and partnered with me.

I tell you, it was a struggle to get myself out of bed that early in the morning for the first three weeks and sometimes, it still is over almost two months later.  If I do over-sleep and miss my morning class, then I make myself go to an afternoon class.  Which by the end of the school day with ten-year olds, I’m pooped and the last thing I want to do is workout.

Boot camp is a gym class with the trainer coming up with strange exercises that I’d never think of doing at home and many I’ve never heard about.  There’s equipment like weight bars, TRX straps, ropes, mats, kettleBells, sandbags, SandBells, Medicine Balls, and those dreaded gliders.

The exercises themselves have unique names.  There’s SandBell Slams, Mountain Climbers, and Russian Twists.

Funniest name…Burpees.  Which by the way, I can’t do.  I can’t seem to jump back two-legs at once, bring them back and jump up.

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The correct way to do a Burpee

Instead, I awkwardly step back one foot at a time and bring them back up, one leg at a time and forget the hop up!  Mine look nothing like they are supposed to do.  Arlene looks terrific doing hers!

Some mornings when I see what we are supposed to do, I want to just go walk on the treadmill to avoid doing some of those exercises.   However, I’ve hung in there and participated in all the crazy moves.

The one I dread the most is pushing SandBells or Sandbags across the gym floor with our hands on the bag.  I can’t get across the floor without falling two or three times banging my knees.  The exercises I enjoy doing the most is using the barbells.

I thought I had done all the exercises with strange names, but one morning, I get there and we do Bear Crawls across the gym width and then do ten push-ups.  Meanwhile, our partner is down on their hands and knees holding a bear Claw on tip-toes.

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Shhhh . . .    I grabbed a shot of those Bear Crawls!

I showed Robbi, my friend a work, these crawls and she burst out laughing!  Trust me…They are hard to do!

Nothing lasts forever, so for less than ten minutes, we do the crazy ‘whatever’ and then move on.  Some days fly fast and the forty-five minutes are over.   There’s a sense of accomplishment actually finishing the classes.

There are challenges and I’m thankful that Arlene is there to encourage me along.  We were working on arms with free weights.  We start at the end of the gym doing ten up-right rows and then move across the gym adding ten every time we stop.

At first it seems so easy, but as the repetitions grow, it feels as if raising arms is torture.  After the rows, comes chest presses starting at fifteen and adding another fifteen as we stop on lines.  Crossing the gym lengthwise for the third time doing first twenty overhead presses and adding twenty each time we stop on a line was our last challenge.

I’m at the last line to lift my final sixty.  When we finish, we are supposed to hold the weights over our head and walk to the other end of the gym without lowering the weights and then class is over.  By the time I hit thirty-five, I’m standing alone struggling to finish my overhead presses.  All the other people have crossed the gym with their arms up holding the weights.  I’m about to throw in the towel, when Arlene crosses the gym and stands in front of me.

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How I felt when finished!

At forty, she says, “You got this.  Do it by five.  Forty-five, roll shoulders…Fifty, roll shoulders….Fifty-five….roll shoulders.”  She encourages me to finish all sixty and then do the easy part by walking the length of the gym.  It felt like a ‘Rocky’ moment. The people who were still in the gym, clapped for me as I walked with the weights above my head.  Heck, I felt like Rocky!

Results?  Thankfully,  yes!  I can almost do ten complete push-ups (Still on my knees and not going as far down as I should), but my body is strengthening.  I couldn’t do one on my first day.  I still can’t do a complete sit-up, but I know my core is stronger.

I’ve had three full body scans.  I stand on a circle stand that rotates and the computer has a camera that scans my body and measurements.  Each time I get one, I cringe at my silhouette and look closely for improvements.  (Heck, NO! I’m not posting a picture).  I’m thankful that clothing covers my rolls.  I’m the apple body type where all my weight sits at my middle, so I resemble a plump blueberry.

I have lost five inches in two months.  It’s enough that I’m inspired to keep going.

More importantly than just losing weight, is to work building muscles, so as I age, I can remain strong.  I hope to avoid the diseases that plague my family; high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and heart problems.  To enjoy movement into my old age, and with God’s grace… live a long life here on Earth, as I age through my fifties and beyond.

Posted in Fun Events, Walking

NYC Christmas Friendliness

I know I awoke with a smile on my lips.  New York City and Cam; a perfect combination.  After breakfast, we walked to the subway station just a few blocks from his apartment.  My heart did jolt a bit when after getting down to the subway, he said, “We’ll have to run!”  Let me tell you, my pace is nowhere close to his and when I stepped into it, I was puffing.

I’m a people watcher and I observed as we stood, moving in rhythm with each other as the car rocked on the tracks.  It is interesting because as intimately close as sardines squished in a can, there is still an isolation from each other.  No one makes eye contact.  It’s like being in an elevator.  Each person knows the connection is not permanent.  This morning, someone got on and say ‘good morning,’ but no one responded.  Some people read books or their phone, others close their eyes, or listen to music.  On the second subway. I sat as a lady stood in front of me and I avoided looking at the section of her body facing me.

I parted from Cam in Midtown Manhattan, and I strolled by the Rockefeller Center taking in the Christmas tree.  It seems much smaller than on television compared to the buildings around it.  I watched skaters and snapped pictures.

In just a bit, Cam called to say he was running an errand, I crossed the street, finding a large bag of Hershey Kisses on the ground.  I’m sure they fell off of a stroller or out of a bag.  I picked them up and sat on a bench waiting for Cam to join me.  As I sat there, a young man passed and then turned around and came back.  “Can I ask you a question?  I’m writing a book about advice from strangers.”  He asked me what advice I’d give a young person?  Just coming off the top of my head, I said, “Be a friend.”  We talked briefly and he gave me his card incase I’d like a copy of his book someday.  It was a sweet start of my day; Christmas, chocolate and conversation.

Cam joined me and we headed off toward Park Avenue.  Stopping at Starbucks for a Peppermint Mocha, we walked along sharing our brief morning events.  If you could picture me, I’d have a huge smile on my face.

As Cam went back to work, I walked along Park Avenue window shopping and occasionally going into stores.  I smiled at ladies pushing strollers and passed men in suits.  If I found a church or building open, I went in to explore.

I’ve found when traveling by myself, a smile and a few questions are a perfect start to learn new things.  Christ Church United Method Church is lovely and I hope to attend Christmas Eve service there.  Just a bit further, I found a building with large columns and I entered.  Inside, organ pipes lined the front and a huge chandelier hung from the ceiling.

Coming across the room, I met James.  Built in 1923, it had the original organ, chandelier, and wall sconces.  Now used as an event center, he shared his pride of working there and poured me water that he filtered himself.  He introduced me to Dora, from Dallas, and two energetic dogs.  On Christmas Eve, there will be music and singing there.  Maybe, we’ll drop back by and hear that organ.

Walking along, brown garland and wreaths caught my attention.  They were on the Park Avenue Armory.  I had no idea what it was, but when I entered there was a box office and several people standing in the hall waiting to work.  I asked if I could look around and even though it wasn’t opening time, they let me walk the halls and look in some of the rooms.  It was gorgeous.  Now it’s used for performing arts.  It was impressive.

Next, I walked to Central Park and walked along the park along 5th Avenue.  The pigeons outside of the Plaza hotel were entertaining.  There’s always so many people there milling around.

My next stop was taking in some Christmas windows.  I stopped at Bergdorf Goodman.  Wow!  What a store!  Inside the designer names jumped off the walls.  Some I knew, others, I didn’t.  I started on the seventh floor, which is housewares and Christmas.  Passing the delicious smells wafting from the restaurant, I found the Christmas decorations.  A white Polar bear stood catching my attention, but what really startled me was running into a familiar face that I’ve only seen in the movies.

There standing in the Christmas section was the “inconceivable” guy from The Princess Bride.  I know I stared.  He looked at me briefly and said, ‘hello’ and in a few long seconds, he walked away.  I felt like giggling!  I immediately texted Cam to share my news.

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From The Princess Bride

I had so much fun going through all those floors.  I had a smile a mile wide as I explored.  One sales lady asked if I’d like to smell perfume.  The card on it said, “perfume is an art.”  I thanked her and she asked if I’d like to buy one or two.  As if!  I almost giggled again.

On the floor with furs, I talked to a sales clerk and asked him if he got used to working in such an atmosphere.  He said his first two months were mouth dropping, but now he was used to it and the famous people that sometimes came in.  I told him I’d seen the “inconceivable” guy.  He had no idea who I was talking about, but hey, he was young!

Hunger called and I had a spinach calzone for a late lunch, while I let my phone recharge and then I was back off to see Saks Fifth Avenue windows.  I wasn’t far from Cam’s workplace, so we arranged to meet when he got off.

I didn’t get to see the windows up close because the front of the building comes alive with lights as dusk falls and the crowds are overwhelming.  Saks is across from Rockefeller Center.  As the light show began, a man from Maryland and I ooed and awed togehter the first time it came on.

I crossed the street and waited for Cam next to St. Patricks Cathederal.  That’s a beautiful church.  Waiting there, I met Jerry who lived in Brooklyn, but was orginally from Italy.  We talked about food, the cold weather, and grandbabies.  He had three.  One ten year old boy and a set of one year old, girl twins.  He, also, was meeting someone, but they were going to a Broadway play.  We chatted.  He had lived in Brooklyn forty-three years.  His Italian accent was still strong and it made listening to him interesting.  His someone arrived before Cam did.

Before leaving that area, we squished our way along to take our picture with the tree.  As we waited to get a spot, I told Cam that people had been so nice today and a lady overheard me and laughed.  It was true.  Everyone I came into contact with had been so pleasant.

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Me, Cam, and the tree!

 

Cam and I ended our evening out walking to Bryant Park where there’s a skating rink and shops set up as a market place.  We watched a while and then decided to go to Chick-fil-a for dinner.

Along the way, we came across Lord and Taylor on 5th Ave.  Their windows were animated with enchanted animals.  So very cute.  The Salvation Army bell ringer was entertaing as well.  He was dancing and ringing his bell.

Finally Chick-fil-a sandwiches and fries, and then, home on the subway.  The subway in the evening isn’t as distant as the morning rush, but people still tend to their phones.  On one stop, we had another train stopped next to us.  I was watching people and I made eye contact with a lady about my age.  It was one of those times where communication happens without talking.  We both smiled and then the subway pulled out.  It’s funny how small things touch us.

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Evening Subway

 

Back at the apartment, I looked at my step count.  23,685…not bad for my first day of exploring.  I wanted to get this written tonight, so that I didn’t forget the tiny details of my first day exploring Chirstmas in New York.  It was incredibly good and the people really did make my day memorable.

 

Posted in anticipation, Changes, Memory

December Has Arrived

It’s hard to believe how time can fly by so quickly.  Another season is about to change while life seems to be puttering by without any major change happening in my life.  The beginning school months have come and gone and the Christmas season is upon us.

As a teacher, August is a whirl of activity preparing for the new school year as summer fades away.  September seems to drag its feet as new routines are taught and carried out. I become more accustomed to early mornings and working on lessons to be taught and the preparation that is involved seems endless.   Summer, now is only a sweet memory, and the next significant time off from school is the Thanksgiving break, which looms off in the distance.  I swear September and May are the longest months in a teacher’s life!

However, September finally lumbers away.  October, with the anticipation of Autumn activities, moves much faster.  Routines are now established and the classroom runs more efficiently, and maybe I have gotten used to those early mornings.

November arrives and the week of vacation beckons for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Counting down the days in anticipation, makes the weeks fly by.  Finally, the Friday before Thanksgiving came and joyously staff and students left the building, knowing how quickly nine days will fly by with activities.

For myself, I looked forward to staying up late and sleeping in without an alarm to prod me out of bed.  I love to watch morning television shows and laze around without any specific task to move me out of the house.

Just as promised, the days moved like The Flash on a mission and school started again.

Smiling, the Christmas break draws near.  Which brings me back to today.  Tomorrow is December 1st!  Fifteen days to our next extended break.

December… a month I get through.  With it brings all sorts of memories; happy and sad.  We’ve had the normal family Christmases and those sweet moments linger in my mind.

A little blond, Cam, singing carols in front of the Christmas tree.  The joy of his face when he got a bike or a train, and then when older, an XBox.  The passing out of presents and watching one person at a time open them, watching with slow smiles as the gift was received.  Hardly ever being able to surprise John with an unknown gift because…One, I have trouble picking out a gift.  Two because John and Cameron (had) have an uncanny ability to guess what I bought by shaking the gift!  So it was rare that I actually surprised those two.

My favorite memories; eating Christmas dinner with his family with all the noise and teasing going back and forth.   After dinner, the gifts and cards were passed out.  The Christmas card always contained a crisp fifty dollar bill from his parents and afterward, we’d go back to the kitchen for dessert.

I try to remember those sweet memories more than the shattering Christmas week that brought the grief.  It’s hard to believe that this year will be nine years since I held his hand and said goodbye.  Missing never stops, but with time comes healing.  The new normal becomes regular life and with God’s help, I learn to count my blessings because I do have joy in my life.

This year, I won’t be here to visit the graveside.  I’m heading to see Cam in NYC.  My ticket is bought and I’m anticipating spending time with him and seeing the city in all of its Christmas splendor.  Having plans does have a way of brightening the immediate future.

My tree is up and I don’t expect to have gifts under it, but I’m enjoying the twinkling lights and the memories of the ornaments on it as I count down the days until the break.  I’m smiling and listening to Christmas music and December is coming.

 

 

Posted in Adventures, Fun Events, Maine, Road Trip

Oh, What a Beautiful Maine Day!

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From Brooksville to Isle Au Haut

What stood out the most on my trip to Maine?  To be honest that’s a very hard question to answer.  There were so many times I stopped along the way and simply stood in awe at the view before me.

One of my favorite days started on the second day I was staying at the Oakland House Cottages by the Sea.  They had cabins spread out and an old family hotel, but I stayed in the Acorn hostel.  I shared a kitchen, bathroom, and sitting room with several other people because there were six bedrooms in the two-story home.The mattress was pretty worn, but the price and the view more than made up for the uncomfortable bed.

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Acorn Hostel in Oakland by the Sea Cottages

It’s a beautiful place, a bit past its prime, but still charming.  Sitting on the water between Penobscot Bay and Deer Isle, it has a lovely view and the flower gardens were spectacular!

I started the morning watching a three-masted schooner pass by on an early morning walk.  That in itself thrilled me!

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My early morning ship!

 

I headed out to Stonington to catch the mail boat to the Isle au Haut.  In Stonington, I parked at a church and inquired in a nearby office how to find the mail boat.  She hurried me along because it was 10:15 and it was scheduled for 10:30.  Down the hill I flew, not wanting to miss the boat!  (Insert giggle)!

I found the ferry, however, they were only running one boat and it wouldn’t go out until 2:30.  I didn’t have a decent breakfast, so waiting wasn’t a problem.  I thought I’d find food and preferably blueberry pie.  I asked the ferry cashier about the town and she said, “We don’t have many shops.”  She did point me in the direction of a cafe.

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Ferry Tickets!

Stonington is on a hill.  A person is either walking up hill from the pier or walking down hill to it.  So off I started walking back up the hill and I had the most pleasant surprise.

Stonington is beautiful with the abundance of its colorful cottages and flowers.   They had plenty of shops to see and prowl through.  I guess the ferry cashier had lived there long enough to be immune to all the quaintness of her town.  There were cafes, a coffee shop, bookstores, and a few stores selling souvenir, art,  and boat items.  No, none were large stores, but all were interesting.

After stopping at a ‘junk’ store where I purchased an old cream pitcher from England for a dollar and visited with a man who was untangling more rope than I’ve ever seen, I stopped at a cafe.

Being a table of one while everyone else is sitting with other people can make a person feel conspicuous and when traveling alone that is a drawback.  If a counter is available, I usually always sit at the counter.  However, this cafe didn’t have one, so I sat at a table in front of the window with a nice view of the street.

I can’t even describe how wonderful Maine blueberry pie is to you, but once I discovered it, I always had it first.  I loved it warmed up with vanilla ice cream.  This cafe had it sitting in the ‘pie box’ near the counter and I ordered it instead of an entrée.  My phone battery was dying, so I plugged it in near a booth near me and chatted with the man I had to disturb to get it in the plug.  I watched out the window, listened to the conversations around me, and smiled at the three woman at a table close by while I waited for my pie.

It wasn’t long before that scrumptious blueberry pie arrived.  It brought some ‘oohs’ from the ladies and we started visiting across tables.  Two of the three were teachers and the three were vacationing together and had ferried across from Swan Island to sight-see.  One of them noticed a picture hanging on the wall next to me.  She took a picture of me and it.  We visited while eating, which made my ‘oneness’ so much nicer.

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Life & Art

The three hours on Stonington passed quickly while I explored taking pictures of the cottages, boats, and people.  I stopped for coffee and the lobster men coming in with their shorts on and rubber boots made me smile.  I visited the quaint stores and made idle conversation with the workers.  Overall, I loved that fishing village!  It was exactly what I thought Maine towns would look and feel like.  A wee bit touristy, but mostly it felt like it was a working town.

I walked back to the ferry to buy my ticket about 2:00.  when I arrived the cashier apologized to me because although she could get me on the 2:30 boat to Isle au Haut, she couldn’t get me back until the last boat departed from there because the in-between mail boat would be full from passengers from Duck Island.

I couldn’t help but smile.  It was perfect!  I wouldn’t be rushed to hurry and explore that island and I could take my time.  She even gave me a discount for inconveniencing me.  I bought my ticket and waited to board the boat.

There were lots of packages that were loaded first and then the people.  I was at the end of the line, so the outside seats were full and the inside ones too.  I found a place to stand beside the packages inside, near the windshield, across from the ‘captain’ and his deck-hand.   It was perfect for asking questions about the island, lobstering, and simply listening to the banter.

After buying snacks, water, and a soda from the general store, I walked the road and then the path that led to the lighthouse on Isle au Haut which is called Robinson Point in Acadia National Park which is part of that island.

The lighthouse is automated and the lightkeeper’s home is now an Inn, but it’s one of the joys of the island to see.  I literally drew in a breath as I walked through the trees and the view opened up.

After checking out what I could see of the lighthouse, I wandered to the chairs that set around the lawn and enjoyed the view.

I had a diet coke and a snack from the island store, and so I sat soaking up the beauty before me.  The view was breathtaking!  I sat, watching the waves and the light glinting off the water.  Occasionally, I’d hear couples talking.  Someone was sitting in a chair reading a book, facing the ocean.  I thought how wonderful the weather was to experience it on this day, but I wondered what it was like when a storm blew in or winter covered the ground?  I bet it was still breathtaking in different ways.

Back toward the landing, an enterprising group of kids set up a table at the end of their driveway selling sea glass, shells, and homemade postcards.  I bought a few for a dollar and a half.  The small boy beamed when I picked out his painted postcard.  I visited the church and smiled at the postoffice.  The population of the island is less than a hundred people normally, so a tiny post office is all that’s needed.

While walking, I visited with a lobster man setting up his new lobster traps and a park ranger about the large whale bone that was on the porch of the ranger station.

Back on the boat, I visited with a park ranger and her dog coming off of her shift and a grad student who was creating a website about the various people who lived on the island.  I learned that the island school goes from K-8 grade and after that the students get to pick which high school they want to attend on the mainland.

What an idyllic life it seemed as the conversation flowed between the people as we ferried back on that small boat.

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The Mail boat at the landing of Isle au Haut

On the recommendation of the ranger and the captain, I stopped to eat at a Mexican restaurant called El Frijoles near where I was staying.  To be honest, the first time I passed it, I thought I’d made a mistake.  I wasn’t expecting to see a restaurant in back of a home.  I say the ‘first time’ because the traffic was so backed up, I had to turn around three times before I could find a place to park.

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Not like any Mexican Restaurant here at home

The restaurant was in a barn-like building behind a residential house.  They had lights strung in trees and picnic tables were sitting around the yard, so people could eat outside.  The building was full of people.  There was also a screened porch area with tables.  I arrived about an hour before closing time.

I made my way to the counter and placed my order for nachos with shredded chicken and then went outside and sat in a lawn chair waiting for my name to be called.  I watched kids and parents playing badminton and kids swinging on a swing set.  It had a park-like feel as people ate at picnic tables and kids played around the lawn.

As the traffic lightened, I made my way back inside and found a table near the door.  I listened as the workers called orders and chatted with one another and the people eating.  I was sitting alone when my name was called.  He said, “Becky from Texas, who has all the time in the world.”  That was funny because when he took my order and told me it might be awhile since they were packed, I had told him ‘No hurry, I’m on vacation from Texas and I have all the time in the world.’

I picked it up and smiled at him.  Soon, I was joined by a man who asked me.  “Where in Texas?”  I usually replied, ‘East Texas’ since practically no one knows where Longview is, or I’d say ‘Two hours east of Dallas and one hour west of Shreveport, Louisiana.’

What surprised me was this whispered question,  “What is the derogatory name for people from Louisiana?”  Now, I was stumped.  I told him the only one I knew and he said, “Nope, there’s another.”  I couldn’t think of one worse, so I smiled and shrugged my shoulders and he sat and joined me.

I had the pleasure of eating dinner with Bill, the Merchant Marine, who had never been married and had returned to Brooksville to take care of his mom.  He kept the conversation lively and fun.  I had no idea what a Merchant Marine was before visiting with him.  Before I knew it the owner who had called my name, came over and gave me a box for my left overs.  He said, “I’m not saying you have to go home, but you have to go from here.”  which totally cracked me up.  I packed my leftovers, we said goodbye and headed to our cars.

Back at my hostel, I chatted with the people in the sitting room; two woman from Cape Cod and the couple from New York City, before heading to my bed.  From beginning to end, my day felt like an adventure.  I crawled on top of that uncomfortable mattress, preparing myself for sleep, feeling so very wonderful about my day!

Acorn Hostel room
My Room
Posted in Adventures, Road Trip, Walking

Chebeague Island

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Chebeague Island near Portland, Maine

Chebeague Island, pronounced Shuh-beeg, has not one single touristy thing to do on the island.  There’s not bumper to bumper traffic.  In fact the cars that go down the road are few and when they pass, everyone waves.  Not a side to side wave, but a simple lift of the arm and back down.  Mary told me when she picked me up from the ferry, “You wave at everyone, whether you know them or not.  It’s how you can tell if the people are local or visitors.”  I waved at everyone.  Even the people passing from behind  wave as they pass.  It’s one of the sweet things I love about this island life and I had the privilege of spending three days here.

Coming over, I parked at the satellite parking in Cumberland and rode the bus to catch the ferry.  It surprised me the amount of items that were being carried onto the boat.  People carried groceries, lawn chairs, and plants from the bus onto the float for the ferry.  There were carts that they could use to transport their supplies.  Two dogs also, rode the bus and ferry with their owners.  I watched and listened to the islanders talk with one another while waiting for the ride over.  It seemed easy to pick out the visitors because we sat apart from the others on the ferry, smiling politely or reading a book.

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Good sandwiches here!

There was one lady and her daughter that seemed to have an awful amount of food, so I asked her if they were bringing food over for a restaurant.  She laughed, nodded at her daughter, and said, “I have three growing teenagers.”  Later in the week, I met her again with the daughter and a son at the small general store.  Height definitely runs in the family.  She was concerned that my stay might have been hampered by the rainy weather.

The hosts of my Airbnb was Mary and John.  Mary is a special education teacher, and has her hat in many volunteer activities from snatches of conversation I heard.  Her love of the island is so evident.  Their home has been in John’s family for generations and was beautifully taken care of and decorated.

She endeared herself to me.  She is a gracious hostess who has a quiet, dry quick wit.  She’s from Connecticut, so she doesn’t have the Maine accent where the ‘r’ sound like ‘ah.’ It’s so interesting hearing their accent that I could truly listen to Mainers speak for hours.

While touring the island in the car, she broke out her Maine accent and entertained me with tidbits about living on island.  I think she sounds a bit like Katherine Hepburn when she speaks ‘Mainah’ (Mainer).  Totally stole my heart!  The homes on the island are lovely and historic.

In her home, I felt like a friend rather than a paying guest.  When escorting me around town, she introduced me as ‘Becky, who is staying with us.’  I felt special in such a nice way.

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Mary & Me

On Saturday, I came across and Arts & Craft fair.  I watched a weaver working on a place mat that was so beautifully done. (I did pick up her card).  There were wooden bowls exquisitely made by David, a well-spoken Englishman who later I had the privilege of watching a soccer game with him and his lovely wife, Melanie. I listened as he visited with Mary about a birthday surprise gift.  From him, I bought a simple wooden ring.  Leaving on Monday, I ran into him again on the ferry and chatted with him on the bus.  He’s a retired professor and quite the gentleman.  He speaks German and French also.

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John’s small screen!

That evening there was a Jazz band playing at the church, so I attended that with Mary.  She shared a story of how the free concerts started.  A gentleman wanted to give his wife a present, so he organized a concert for her and from there it grew.  She pointed them out to me and I spoke to them during intermission.

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Jazz concert at the church Saturday night

So, what did I do on my days playing islander?  I walked and waved.  Exploring the small seashore that could be walked, admiring homes, taking pictures of lovely flowers, and picking up sea glass and shells.  Mostly, however, I simply took in my surroundings and soaked up the personalities that make up the small community.  You’ll have to ask me about my ‘author’ encounter that left me shaking my head because it’s humorous.

A group of Methodists were using Mary and John’s home also.  Breakfast time was one of conversation pinging around the kitchen.  Imagine nine people making breakfast and standing in a small kitchen as eggs, bacon, toast , and coffee come together.  Being befriended is so sweet.

There was laughter, a slight awkwardness, and conversation as we learned to navigate.  Mary didn’t claim the kitchen, but simply joined us, letting control of the kitchen be in the hand of her ‘guests,’ giving slight instructions about the stove or in my case, how to work the coffee carafe.  Sweet camaraderie.  I happen to walk in as they were having lunch one day and they invited me to eat with them.  Of course I did!

My room was absolutely gorgeous!  I had booked the small twin bed that was attached to the back stairs in the kitchen, but when Mary picked me up from the ferry, she said they ‘upgraded’ me.  I had a full size bed, a sitting room, and a balcony.  So much roomier than the one I booked.  It allowed the church people to be in connecting rooms, and I came out feeling pretty special.

Michelle, from Texas, arrived late one night and spent one day with us.  On that rainy Sunday, we explored Small Chebeague because when the tide is low, people can walk the sandbar from Great Chebeague to Little Chebeague.  No one lives there anymore, but before WWII, there were small cottages.  In its heyday, the ferries brought visitors to the Inns on that small island.  Mary fitted us in ‘wellies’ and we donned rain coats, and off we went.  It was so much fun to explore with someone.  We took turns taking silly pictures while fighting off misquotes in the rain.

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Off at low tide

After all the other guests left and I was alone with the family, friends came over.  We watched the soccer match, drank wine, and had chicken stew.  That night Mary gave me a couple of books to read, one about a ghost and the other about the neighbor, who gardens and does sculpture.  After reading the ghost story, I slept with the lights on because it was about a ghost in their house.

No, there wasn’t anything special to do on that small island, but because of the sweet personalities of the people, it is one of the fondest memories I have of my Maine trip.  Relationships are the ties that bind and make life special.