Friday, September 26, 2008

late-nite musings from the coast of Ireland

We are awaiting the bus that will take us from the 'Y' in Greystones back to our hotel....we've had a busy day with kate and the kids...discovering Dublin.

OK. Here are things that come to mind so far....
- Paris is a huge city. I thought it pretty clean for such a big, bustling place.
- the bread and crepes in Paris are outstanding. Ditto the cafe au lait.
- the Seine is a most beautiful river, as are the bridges which traverse it.
- when asked what was my favorite thing in Paris, I most remembered the beautiful light at the end of the day, on the Pont (bridge) d'art and around the Louvre. Magnificent for photography. Notre Dame cathedral was spectacular.
- never mind what people say about the French being rude. Most weren't.
- the little town of Greystones, south of Dublin on the Irish Sea, is absolutely beautiful. You can SEE the Irish Sea from Katie's house! The hills rise up in the distance, too.
- Most of all we've seen of Ireland is better than a postcard.
- Katie's bruises have mostly faded, but she still has discomfort inside her nose.

I've gotta go since our ride is here. Having a great time but will be good to get home. Katie says hi to everyone and she loves it here!

Friday, September 19, 2008

ready to go...almost

It's amazing going on a trip overseas. The dog, the mail, the house, the bills, and vacuum the house. Men, don't try to figure this out. Women, you know what I mean. There's no way I'll leave my house totally dirty, even if I do hate housecleaning.

Then there's the matter of coordinating a wardrobe that won't take up six suitcases. PACK LIGHTLY is our mantra. So we think we've done it. The pic here is of my suitcase, packed and nearly ready. Yes, it will close, or I'll take something out. To the right of the suitcase is Katie's wool pea coat. It'll go in, too, if there's room. It's already cool in Ireland and she still has 2 more months there.

I can't tell you how excited we are. My cousin Susan and her husband, Andre, will be our hosts in Paris. Paris! City of Light! What's amazing is that Susan and I haven't seen each other for over 30 years. We're brushing up on our French on the plane...don't laugh. I've got "Speedy French," the best pocket language-helper around.

Then it's on to Ireland for six days with Katie and her group and their parents. Ireland! I don't know why; it's kind of like horses...but I've always had a great desire to visit Ireland. I'm pretty sure some very-great grandparents of mine emigrated from Ireland. So this is a dream come true. And we wonder if Katie's eyes will still be black and blue....

I'll try to share with you whilst on the road, if I can. I'm not packing my laptop, that's for sure. At the very least, I'll journal and take lots of photos.

Guess whose birthday is tomorrow?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

a love of horses

(photo by Lisa Fowler)

Yesterday I strolled through the horse barns at the Delaware County Fair. Horses and their barns beat the rides, elephant ears and corn dogs (OK, maybe not the corn dogs) any day. I might be 53 years old, but once I am in the presence of a horse, I am 12 again. My daughter went through the same love affair a few years ago.

Horses are magnificent. So much bigger than me, they are beautiful in their majestic, sleek power. Their huge, brown eyes mesmerize. And oh, those velvet muzzles: irresistible. One of the horses I was talking to yesterday took a liking to my arm and began nudging, then licking it. He must have just known I'm crazy about horses, and he returned the fondness.

No, I didn't own a horse, ever. When I was in the desperate loving-and-wanting-a-horse stage, my pragmatic father said: "you know, for every hour of pleasure riding a horse, you'll have ten hours of work."

He was probably right, but still. I'd go over to the fair again just to see and pet and smell and visit with those horses. Yum.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

31 hours

The remnants of Hurricane Ike smashed into a cold front on Sunday, bringing winds up to 75 mph. Ohio's version of a hurricane, without the water. News reports said the winds were the strongest ever recorded in Ohio. Branches, trees and power lines came down all over town. No school for two days now.

The 2 million power outages in Ohio were lengthened due to 25% of our electric company workers having gone to Texas to help with the devastation there. Hats off to the big hearts of Ohioans!

We lost power around 5 p.m. Sunday, and though areas of our neighborhood were up and running several hours later, the couple of blocks around us were out for 31 hours. You can imagine the negatives of this, but we saw positives, too:

- I could do no laundry!

- for 2 evenings, as it got dark inside our houses but was still light outside, the neighbors all wandered outside to chat for an hour or two.

- by yesterday afternoon, I completely cleaned out our fridge. Spotless!

- friends and neighbors helped each other with raking, clearing and loading up piles of limbs.

- I finished the book IRELAND, by candlelight.

- thanks to our gas stove, a steaming pot of beef vegetable soup was ready by the end of the day.

I have a new perception of what hurricane victims suffer. Though we have widespread damage here, I try to imagine 30-foot waves from the Gulf of Mexico washing over us. But I really can't imagine. Horrific.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

hurling hazards

Katie called this morning from Ireland. Hmmm. Only the second time in the four weeks she's been there. Sounded like she has a cold. But no.

"I spent last night in the hospital." Seems she and her friends were playing some baseball, but lacking a baseball, they used a hurling ball. Katie was pitching and the batter smacked one, which came straight back to her nose. A trip to the hospital revealed her nose is broken: in three places! Thankfully, her glasses weren't broken....but she'll likely have a matched set of black eyes.

Katie says a hurling ball is harder than a baseball, though my internet search says the ball is "softer than a softball." Her nose didn't care: it's broken.

Katie's in good spirits, though she's resting today rather than going into Dublin with the group. She said, "well, I survived living with three brothers, then came to Ireland to get a broken nose!"

Sense of humor intact. I like that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Super trouper

Today my hubby, Bill, was a super trouper: he SHOPPED, and I'm not just talking bread and milk!
We went to Columbus to try a breakfast place he'd heard about....then the Girl Scout shop....then Penney's (ok, this stop was for him)...and two more stops before Old Navy, which was a curveball thrown at him in the 9th inning.
I've heard the male/female difference when it comes to shopping: women enjoy the spirit of the hunt, but a man's goal is to bag his prey and get out. You see it all the time: poor men sitting or wandering in a mall with a glazed look in their eyes, waiting for their wives or girlfriends to finish browsing.
I will say that a man on a shopping trip certainly helps shorten the excursion. Good day!
So, thank you, Bill, for enduring today. It was endearing!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rhythms of Rest

Today turned out to be a little crazy for me at church. My turn at the coffee bar and nothing went smoothly. Overflowing teapot. Coffee mysteriously not brewing. Curdled creamer. A meal being prepared in the kitchen so that I got in their way.

I came home feeling I had not really worshipped. God was there, but I wasn't.

After lunch, I reached for a little book on my bookshelf: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne M. Baab. She challenges the reader to review the purposes of a true sabbath. Here are some quotes I underlined when I read the book:

Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.
Exodus 20:8-10

So, that's pretty clear. The passage goes on to say that God rested after creating for 6 days; so should we.

The author's family lived for a time in Israel. There, Sabbath is "kept" in the strictest of Jewish tradition: the work week comes to a grinding halt at sundown on Friday. Families worship, eat, visit, rest. I myself experienced this on a month-long trip to Israel in 1980 and it was startling and refreshing. Back to the book:

If we refuse to rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die. Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished.

We need to dethrone the quintessentially American belief that more time equals more productivity. We say, 'I don't have enough time to get it all done.' Life is not about filling every moment. Life is about embracing and receiving God's gifts. God may want us to be inefficient sometimes in order for us to receive his gifts more fully.

and this, perhaps my favorite . . .

We are human beings, yet we live as if we were "human doings." We move through our days as if what we do mattered more than who we are.

I've been guilty, guilty of filling every moment with tasks, obssessed with my to-do list. That's when I creep dangerously close to finding my value in what I do, not who I am.

How about you?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mrs. Deepa-squalley

Bill and I had another mini-date tonight. This is getting fun and seems so indulgent. We dined at Mimi's, made a quick stop at the mall, and finished by returning something to Old Navy.

On the drive home, a large semi turned ahead of us, the word "PASQUALE " enscribed down its side. I laughed, remembering a neighbor of ours years ago in Detroit, Michigan: Mrs. DiPasquale. She was a tiny Italian woman: she spoke only Italian and turned out fabulous Italian food. She usually wore her hair in a tight bun, but occasionally I'd spot Mrs. D. out in the yard, her hair cascading down her back. Exotic! We had just moved in from Memphis, Tennessee, and my mother found Mrs. DiPasquale to be a wonderful curiosity, the likes of which she'd never met in the deep South.

Thanks to my mother's outgoing personality and Mrs. D's generosity, we were soon treated to delicious breads and savory pastas. I've no idea how mom reciprocated. Fried chicken? Cornbread? Somehow she managed to communicate with Mrs. D. and they enjoyed a unique friendship: southern housewife and elderly Italian mama.

As an 8-year-old, I just couldn't figure out how to spell her name. In my mind, it was something like Mrs. "Deepa-squalley." What a long, funny name for a little woman who didn't speak our language. But one with an open and giving heart.

Thank you, Mrs. Deepa-sqalley, for showing me that differences can be the spice of life.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Conversation overheard

This was a real conversation, spoken by real people. I heard it myself. But I sure don't understand it.

Customer: I had to find my bike lock this morning.

Shopkeeper: Oh, yes. It's so important to lock up your bike!

Customer: Isn't that awful, when you can't even leave your bike without worrying about it being stolen?

Shopkeeper: That's for sure.

Customer: Yes - it's terrible!

Shopkeeper: And I just don't know what will happen after the November election!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom

story time - 1960

Today's my mom's 83rd birthday. She was born September 1, 1925. But there won't be a celebration, because she died at the age I am now, 53.

This post isn't intended to bring tears, but inspiration. Not sad sentimentality, but reflection.

My mom had maybe the best sense of humor of anyone I've ever known. As a child, I loved to laugh with her. So I laugh a lot with my kids. I think people with no sense of humor are missing out.

My mom loved the unlovable, like the mentally disabled (and very unpopular) girl she welcomed into our Girl Scout troop. So I try to be accepting of people such as this.

My mom knew without a doubt that God exists. She pointed this out to me when I was a teenager and questioning the purpose of life. So I have introduced my children to the creator of the universe.

My mom pretty much hated housecleaning. So I have followed suit.

Along the same lines, my mom secretly admired a relative she never met: "Aunt Betty," who was the scourge of the family for PLAYING THE PIANO INSTEAD OF DOING HER HOUSEWORK. So I look for fun pursuits in order to avoid housework.

My mom used to yell at us four kids. So I have yelled at my four kids, too.

One of my mom's favorite summer pastimes was taking us swimming at the town lake and "beach." So, I spent countless hours taking my kids swimming. (good for avoiding housework.)

My mom made the best southern fried chicken. I don't, but I'm sure I could make some since I spent many a dinner hour watching my mom fry chicken.

My mom embraced most new experiences with gusto: moving far away from her hometown, discovering the ocean, camping, road trips, hikes in the woods, welcoming new neighbors, ice skating and color TV. So I have tried to do the same because I think it's a good way to open kids' eyes to the world & people around them.

I'd say my mom was brave and I think I am, too, most of the time. I'd rather be a brave girl than a scared and cowardly girl.

My mom loved my dad. She found ways to express her lifelong commitment. So I learned what committed marriage meant, imperfect as it was.

My mom loved being a mom. I see this now but probably didn't then. Kids don't get that kind of stuff. Motherhood is the best job - and sometimes the worst - ever. And it's not even a job. It's like becoming a new person as you nuture new little persons.

My mom was excited about being a grandmother, but she didn't live long enough. I hope I will.

My mom didn't want a lot of stuff. Though she might have had some unrealized dreams, she was content with who and where she was. I strive for this, but don't often succeed.

I'm thinking of the best birthday gift I could give my mom. And I've decided what she'd like. I will honor her legacy by loving life, my husband and children. And being content. Recognizing God is God. I think mom would like for me to forget the dog hair in the hall and instead walk the dog in the woods.

She'd want me to love her grandchildren for her. So today, David, Dan, Mark, Katie, Jenny and Jill: know that I love you! Sometimes, the need to express this has unbearable urgency. I hope I've mothered - not smothered - you. Maybe, just maybe, God saved mom's unused love for me to pass on to you. So pardon me if I give too much.

And that's my happy birthday to mom.