Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful for all I have

Before I went into the grocery store, I took a twenty out of my wallet and put it into my coat pocket. I just had a feeling. I had a list a mile long and started the task of picking out the right vegetables, the ten pounds of sweet potatoes that never seems to be enough for my carb-crazy family, the little extra snack items that you seem to need when you have a houseful of people for four days.

I saw her a couple of times looking over items, picking them up and putting them back, then choosing the least expensive items she could find. She didn't look sad or stressed, but it was plain to see that she was stretching every penny, trying to come up with a nice Thanksgiving for her family, or maybe just for herself.

As I finished up my shopping, I turned around to where I had just seen her. I palmed the folded bill and walked over to her as if greeting a friend. I said, "Ma'am, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving" and took her warm, weathered hand in both of mine.  I could tell that she was trying to remember who I was as I pressed the money into her hand. As her startled eyes looked into mine, she said thank you and God bless. I smiled and walked away, wishing I had done more.

I wish all of my wonderful friends who visit me here a blessed Thanksgiving Day spent with the ones you love.

*photo taken from American Corners in Hungary website

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It started last year

It seems I now have a collection of Made in Japan cream pitchers (it says so right on the bottom). Anyone who was here last November knows that I found the first one on our annual couples weekend to the Hocking Hills. This year I found two of the little beauties!

Last year's find is in the middle.

And I added a couple more at other times during the year. Both found at Goodwill.

I like the blue tones in these and the more vibrant colors.

But the main reason for our weekend wasn't about buying antique cream pitchers. It was about relaxing, communing with nature and connecting with family and friends.

The other couple participating in our annual getaways is Mark (David's first cousin) and his wife, Cindy. Cindy is one of my dearest friends. She has been there for me in times of deep joy and immense sorrow...feeling my happiness and despair as if they were her own. And it hasn't been one-sided. I've run to her side when both her parents died suddenly and when she thought their soon-to-be-adopted daughter was going to be returned to the birth parents. We've sobbed in each other's arms and laughed hysterically over things that only the two of us think are funny. We have a silly name for my role in her children's lives...Cant Susan (part cousin, part aunt). I'm the fun "cant", but also the one to have serious talks with them.

This annual event is so important to us that we aren't willing to give it up, no matter what. This year Mark was let go from his job and that's a tough position to be in when you're 55. Cindy bakes for a local flower shop and she took on extra baking to help pay for their part of the cabin we rented. Mark worked this summer installing roofs and doing home repairs. He's very good at it, because he has built two of their homes, doing most of the work himself.

This year we had to rent a different cabin than last year. I waited a little too long, not knowing if we would be able to go or not, and the cabin we had last year was already booked. (The secluded ones go fast.) But I think we like this new one even better. No stairs to climb and the kitchen was larger. I was a little bummed that there was a gas-log fireplace instead of the wood-burning one, but it worked out fine. It was very realistic and oh-so convenient. Turn a switch and it's on. Turn the switch again and it's off! Magic! Of course, I still love the crackle and smell of the wood-burning fireplace in my home and would never change it, but this one served its purpose well.

One of the reasons we liked this cabin so well was it's location. Right around the curve about half a mile was this gorgeous hiking trail leading to a rockhouse. It is a fantastic outcropping of sandstone and granite and really huge. I'm sure Native Americans (Shawnee, most likely) used it for shelter.

So, how about a little tour.

Watch that first step, it's a doozy!

Cindy giving a little perspective.

Mark and David know how to do it, too.

Inside the rockhouse.

Looking back to the approaching trail. It was hard to see beneath all the fallen leaves.

What do you see?

I love the colors in the rocks. The red indicates a lot of iron and I'm told that the green is copper. There are thousands of name and initial carvings, some dating to the early 1800's.

Looking out the other end to the forward trail. It's a long way down!

Lots of pigeons roost inside on the ledges and crevices. As you can imagine, there are also a lot of bats.

Getting ready to descend the steps to the lower trail.

A beautiful rock bridge that has been covered by a wooden one to preserve it. These trails are heavily used and it was in danger of collapsing.

Looking straight up from the bottom of the ravine. I was really dizzy and had to sit down after this shot. Large cliffs and dizziness are not a good combination!

Taken from the bridge. See those teeny-tiny people up there about halfway? Those are really full-sized adults!

See the elderly couple at the bottom left of the picture? His name is Tom Hanks and her name is Dottie West, which he delighted in telling us! They needed a little help getting back up the trail out of the ravine. He was in his 80's and she looked to be in her late 70's and had just had knee replacement surgery a couple of months ago! How they ever got down there, I haven't a clue! David and Mark helped them climb out and find the right trail back to the parking lot. Tom was a real talker and was such a cutie-pie! He told us they are just "friends". Isn't that sweet?

It's always hard to leave on Sunday and return to family responsiblilities, but we know reality is waiting for us at the end of the road. And if it weren't for reality, this wouldn't be nearly as sweet. Until next year....

To find out more about this beautiful area of Ohio, please click here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Son Shadows

I am not a small woman
feeling at times Amazon-ish
among other women.

My two sons made me feel,
when beside them,
petite and somehow more feminine.

The older one intelligent
and burning with the thirst for knowledge,
sensitive and quiet,
giving warm, enveloping embraces.

The younger one burning,
just burning,
feeling too deeply,
in your face making you be honest with yourself.
Nothing too scary, too fast
or too insurmountable,
except for life.

The older one's shadow
still giant-like
beside my lesser one.

The younger one's shadow
is a ghost
I chase in my dreams.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I want one of these

Let me restate that: I need one of these. My butt is growing ever bigger from lack of exercise due to sitting in front of my computer. And yes, I'm blaming you, and you, and you over there for writing such fascinating words for me to read and gorgeous pictures for me to sigh over.

I think this little number would do the trick, because watching TV while I'm doing the treadmill doesn't cut it. I still keep looking at the time and wondering how much longer I can possible stand to stay on that boring machine from hell. Oh, what? It's only been 15 minutes? Ugh!

The only problem would be the fact that my desktop wouldn't exactly work on this nice little stand (only $479 on sale!), so I would also have the expense of a new laptop. Hmmmmm, do you think Santa is feeling extra generous this year?

p.s. The Hallowe'en candy isn't helping...not one little bit.