Monday, October 20, 2014

Seattle, Portland and the gift of friends

After San Diego, Coty and I went to Seattle.  Ah, Seattle - this city and its environs and so beautiful.  All the water - the Puget Sound, the lakes, the rivers - and of course, the mountains - the Olympic range to the east and Mt. Ranier, such a majestic backdrop to the city (when you can see it ; )

We visited the Arboretum and, upon the strong recommendation of a friend here, the Japanese Gardens (thanks, Joy).  We went to the Ballard Locks and Gas Works Park and later in the visit, I got to go to the Museum of History and Industry.  We went to the top of Mt. Erie for the views and hiked near Deception Pass and Rosario Beach.  We spent a lovely day in La Conner and watched boats and seals in the Skagit River from our lunch restaurant deck.

Coty left after a couple of days to fly to Indonesia but I stayed for a nice long visit ...













As much as there is to see and do in Seattle, though, this trip was not mostly about seeing the sights.  It was about seeing my friends.  My oldest friend and one of my newest.

In the ninth grade, we were the new girls.  I had moved from Atlanta and she from Philadelphia. We went to a play with our English class and hit it off.  Then we were in the school play together, she the sophisticated northern girl, me the hillbilly hick.  Fitting.  The other morning when I came downstairs to her beautiful kitchen that looks out across the fields to a snow capped mountain, I told her I'd done the math.  We've been friends for 43 years.


I know how rare it is in this day and age to have a friend who's known you for so long.  One who knows your history and your family, who you love even more now than ever, a friend that you laugh with just as much as you did when you were teenagers, a friend that prays for you, and remembers birthdays and significant dates.  Such a friendship is a gift. A treasure.

And then, I got on a bus and rode for three and a half hours to Portland where I finally met, face to face, a friend that I've known via the internet for a long time.  A few people that I told about my trip thought it was a bit odd that I was going to meet and stay in the home of a person I had only known online and through a few handwritten cards.  Someone told me I was brave.  Others were curious.  It didn't feel odd or scary to me.  It was more like a Julia and Avis moment, I told someone.  We've corresponded at length and deeply for a long time and it was time to meet in person.  I was going to the Pacific Northwest anyway.  Why not take a trip to Portland and sit face to face with this dear friend, to fill in the colors of the line drawing of our friendship.

And so we met - on a city street, as I got off the bus.  There she was with her youngest son and we hugged and went to breakfast and shopped for books. A street poet wrote a poem for us. Then we drove the 45 minutes or so to her home among the trees and it felt just. right.


We talked and talked over coffee and tea, we cooked together knowing that we share such similar thoughts and tastes about food, we walked in the woods and along a trail that was familiar to me because I've seen pictures from this place for years.  The rain came in the night, the pellet stove warmed, the ducks quacked, the cat crawled on my lap.  This friendship, too, is such a gift.  This woman, a treasure to me.




Sitting here, thinking about these friends who are physically far away but oh, so near in my heart makes me miss them, makes me wish they were closer, makes me wish we could just drop over for coffee or share a meal together, but, dadgummit, there's a whole, big country in between.  Why do we have to be so far apart!  Ah, well - let me be glad this morning.  I'll not bemoan the distance, but give thanks that I've been given the sweet gift of deep friendship, two times over out there in the Pacific Northwest.  Looking forward to my next trip some future day and urging them both to come soon to North Carolina!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

These beautiful hands

Posting at Make Welcome this evening, thinking of the beautiful hands of the women and children that come on Fridays. Hands that have "seen" so much, now crafting beauty out of scraps, growing in skill and confidence.  Hands that teach and guide.  Hands that help children.  Hands that play.  All these beautiful hands ...


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

About time

It's about time for me to stick my head in the door and say hello.  Really, it's way past time - poor neglected blog.  I do wonder if anyone is still out there reading.  If you are, thanks for bearing with me and checking back in from time to time.  I'm still here but my energies are spent in other places and ways than writing here.  Gone are the days, it seems, when I wanted to post a few times a week. The words come less easily these days, but who knows, maybe a change in the season will signal a change in my proclivity to write.

It has been, so far, a rather busy, eventful fall.  Erin, Clara, and Levi were here for three glorious weeks.  There was no rushing about to fit everything in.  We celebrated birthdays and swam every day til it got too chilly.  We went to the library and the playground.  We had family company two of the weekends. Clara practiced riding her bike, discovered Tinker Toys and Legos, and dressed up in her mom's old "ball gowns."  Levi clapped and waved and smiled and ate and ate and ate.  We read books and sewed, colored and cooked.  We went to the Raptor Center and the shoe store and ate frozen yogurt at Sweet Frog.











Three short days after Erin and the kids left, Coty and I hopped on a plane and headed to San Diego, where we attended a meeting/retreat of the Treasuring Christ Together network of church planters.  It was a sweet time of hearing stories of God's work, and getting to know these folks of whom I've heard so much.  In addition, we got to visit with our old friends, John and Helen, and meet their new baby girl, Ariel.  What a treat!

The second morning we were in San Diego, John picked Coty and me up before dawn and took us to La Jolla Cove for an open water swim.  I almost chickened out. The prospect of cold water on a chilly morning and swimming in the open water with seaweed and seals (!) gave me pause.  But thankfully, my adventurous side won out.  We arrived at the cove to the not so fragrant stench of seal and seabird excrement (sorry), walked the long flight of steps down to the gravelly beach, and stepped into the chilly waves.  There was nothing for it but to dive in and start swimming.  We couldn't see the quarter mile buoy when we started swimming, but after a few yards, the slight panic left and was replaced with wonder and excitement.  I'm actually doing this.  Wow!  I loved it the rest of the way and am so glad we went.  It's an experience I won't forget.  Thrilling, really.


This is where we started.  Right where that little person is standing ...


We swam out toward a buoy a quarter mile away, which we could barely see ...


 partway across the cove,


while seals and seabirds watched.


So very glad to have done this swim!

 Then after our breakfast meeting, we headed to the bay and the beach with a very fun group of TCT folks,


 for a paddleboard race between the San Diego and Charlotte pastors.


The old guys won in a photo finish! Yay for Coty and Fred!


And then a few of us women gave the paddleboards a try.


Then a block's walk to the beach for games and swimming and more refreshing conversation and fun.


What a sweet time with our TCT family.

On Thursday, Coty and I headed to Seattle ... but I'll save that for another day!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Birthday dinners

I had the very great pleasure of cooking two birthday dinners this week.  Erin was here with us on her birthday for the first time in a very long time.  I asked what she wanted and she just said, "Something I don't usually have."

So, I made Thai Tom Kha soup and Pad Thai.  For her birthday dessert, we had gluten and dairy free pumpkin pie cupcakes 'cause that's how she rolls - gf and df right now.  The cupcakes were topped with coconut cream with just a bit of sugar, and they were delicious.

We all loved the Tom Kha soup, but I think baby Levi was the biggest fan of all ...




He just kept eating and eating and eating ...

Tuesday was Andrew's birthday. His dinner included Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac n Cheese, Black-eyed peas with avocado cilantro salsa, and garlicky sauteed kale.  For dessert, a Hummingbird Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting.  So good.

Tonight ... we ate leftovers!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Porch time

Porch time is, for me, a treasured time.  We move to the screen porch after the dishes are done and light only candles. Crickets humming as background music, the squeak of the porch swing chain marking the slow rhythm of our conversation, we tell stories, laugh, sit quietly, and then by ones and twos, drift inside and to bed.


Clara was introduced to porch time tonight.  She heard stories about her Uncle Joel getting seven shots at once when he was six years old, her Gramma hooting like an owl in answer to the next door neighbor boy's owl calls, her Mom and Dad's early conversations and house designs when they were but teens in Cameroon.  There were a few jokes.  She told one about cupcakes in the oven and we all laughed.

The porch is a special place.  We all feel it.  We all love it.  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Addendum

It's a big day/week/year for another reason that I was just reminded of ... this young man begins his Ph.D studies today.  (Well, he sort of continues ... Jonathan's at the same institution, the University of Denver where he completed his MA in International Studies last spring).


Thanks to his mother-in-law, Maata ji (aka Kathy Kingsley) who took this wonderful picture back in the summer.

I am amazed and humbled that I have this privilege also ... of seeing my children work hard to discover and pursue what is important to them; to strive through challenges and hardships, to persevere in the ups and downs, toward significant goals.

I don't write too much about my adult children anymore here because, well, they are adults.  Their lives are their own to share or not, with the wide world, as they please.

There are many, many times that I miss the old days; the full house, the noise, the involvement in activities of my children ... horses, chorus, theatre, football, orchestra, movie-making, soccer.  As much as I miss those days, however, I am well content in this new-ish season.  I say "ish" because we only became empty-nesters last fall. I am still getting used to it, still figuring out what it looks like to be a mother-from-a-distance.  That distance is only physical, though - each of my six, and now their spouses and children -  are never far away in my thoughts, hopes, longings, and prayers.


In the Gramma department ...

this is a pretty great week!

Today, we're remembering the arrival of the little girl that made us grandparents for the first time. 

(holding newborn Clara for the very first time)

Later this week, Clara (and her mom and brother, Levi!) arrive for a nice long visit.

And, of course, yesterday we got to spend time with Thomas and Kay and baby David.

I am incredibly grateful for the privilege of being Gramma to the these three little ones and pray for the wisdom to love them well, to encourage and support their parents, and to point them to the beauty and glory of God in all things.  It is a weighty and joyous thing to be a grandparent.

On another note, today is my parents' 60th wedding anniversary.  That's a pretty special and increasingly rare milestone. I am so thankful for their example of faithfulness, support, and love through these many years.

Happy 5th birthday, Clara, and Happy Anniversary, Mama and Daddy!



Monday, September 01, 2014

Sweet, sleeping baby


There is nothing in the world like holding a sleeping baby in your arms and looking down into his sweet face.

So very happy for baby David time today ... and for time with Thomas and Kay.  I do love having children and a grandbaby close enough for a day trip visit.  It's a big plus that Joel is just 20 minutes down the road from them!