Sunday, August 19, 2007

Women who dare

Just in case you think that Jenn and I are couch potatoes and spend way too much time on the computer, I'm proud to present a photo diary of our recent getaway in Vermont.

We hugged trees...

Went out on a limb...

Cleared forests, one tree at a time.

We climbed up ...

And we climbed down.

We scaled the heights ...

Crawled over bridges ...

Pushed ourselves to new limits of endurance ...

And showed true grit ...

We met Mother Nature and kicked her butt.

Next time we do a getaway weekend, I'm voting for a spa.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Family reunion

The nine people I love most are together this weekend. I’m not with them but I see them clearly. In my mind. They are thousands of miles away but very much with me. I can envision the teasing looks and wry humor of the four adults. I can hear the squeals of laughter and delight from the younger set … five little grandchildren, five little cousins. Getting acquainted anew.

I sit under the shade of two sturdy oaks, watching the ripples of a lake populated by other people’s grandchildren. But I am really miles away … in a sunlit house where a grown son and daughter, their spouses, and my Ben, Sophie, Olivia, Hannah and Iris are sitting at a table, eating breakfast, enjoying each other’s company. My son is cooking, my son-in-law is probably brewing coffee, my daughter and daughter-in-law are laughing and catching up on almost two years’ worth of family history.

The kids may or may not be sitting down to enjoy the gourmet breakfast. They may be racing through the house, giggling and becoming the fast friends I want them to be - the cousin-friends who will email each other and share news and secrets as they grow up. I never had a sibling but I had plenty of cousins. Cousins are neat. They don’t hang around long enough to annoy you and barge into your bedroom. They are user-friendly.

The grown-ups will be getting re-acquainted too. Distance is a bummer. Brothers and sisters need to be reminded, in person, of just how special a bond they share. They need to hug and touch, laugh and cry. I loved my cousins but, truth be told, I did miss a brother or sister – even if I would have had to share my space.

I wish I could be with them all at this very moment. I am. In my heart.

A sudden breeze ruffles my hair and my gaze returns to the families around me. A group at a picnic table is singing “Happy Birthday, dear Laura ..." Applause. Shouts to the birthday girl to “open your presents”.



Gifts of the heart and mind.

The people I love most in all the world are together this weekend.

I am content. I can live with that.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Getaway, Part Two

I'm waiting for Jenn to spin this tale but she's just given me permission to write about our unusual encounter with the Inn's former mistress, Mrs. Barstow.

Let's face it, spending a night in an old historic inn with my daughter (who dotes on ghosts) wouldn't be complete without a paranormal event.

We drove to Vermont on a bit of a whim, settled in, took a hike, and ate a grand dinner. We then retired to the parlor (think Victorian) for an intense game of Scrabble. Mother and daughter, very competitive. I'm still not sure that "IQ" was a valid entry but I gave Jenn the benefit of the doubt. Luckily, I managed to make a comeback at the end with "jewelry" and won the game by two points! Life was good.

We decided to end the evening with some quiet conversation on the front porch. The other guests had already gone up to their rooms and the owner was nowhere in sight. As we walked through the house and onto the porch, Jenn and I heard three notes struck on the old piano which sat in the sitting room where we had played Scrabble. Three consecutive notes ... a quarter note and two eighth notes, same tone.

It was a warm night and all the windows were open. I looked at her and she looked at me, and we got this odd feeling. Someone at the piano? We didn't see the owner walk back into that room. Jenn turned to me and suggested that I go see who was playing. The lights were still on but we couldn't see clearly through the windows. I padded back into the house, walked into the room and, of course, no one was there. The piano bench was pulled out a bit but empty. After dealing with Mrs. Kitchen and Mr. Pipe and our friend's psychic readings, this lack of a body seemed no big deal.

We sat back down on the porch rocking chairs and soon our host came out for a late-night chat. We, of course, asked him if he had snuck in and played the three notes on the piano. He, of course, did not and seemed surprised at our story.

He had a story of his own. He told us that this inn was built around 1865 by a wealthy businessman named Barstow. He and his wife lived an aristocratic lifestyle entertaining the likes of Thomas Edison and the Rockefellers on their front porch, the one we were now sitting on. Wow.

Mr. Barstow and his wife were philanthropists and good people. They had one son, who died as a young man. They then dedicated a local school in his honor. Mr. Barstow played the organ and piano. Mrs. Barstow may have also entertained on a piano in their Victorian parlor.

By now, Jenn was getting her strange scalp tingles and certain that the Barstows were still around. Actually, Mrs. Barstow - Jenn was getting her lady-ghost tingle. Believe me, when Jenn's scalp tingles, you have guests. The owner of the inn seemed amused but a bit dubious about the three notes on the piano. We, however, weren't.

After he went to bed, Jenn and I continued to think about what we both heard. We could hear the notes so clearly and thought they sounded somewhere in the range of middle "C". Jenn went back next morning and found the right note: the "B" below middle "C".

B for Barstow.

Play it again, ma'am.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Iris had a birthday

Times like these, it's hard to be 3,000 miles away. I can still remember her daddy clamoring for "juice, more juice" in his crib.

Here she is, turning one, and being introduced to a birthday cupcake.

The baby of the clan.

Happy Birthday, Iris!

Looks like the party was a success.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hattie talk

This is the week of the Hattie Belle. I was sitting on the sofa tonight between her and big sis, Sophie. We were watching a Tom and Jerry DVD. She was giggling uncontrollably, squealing at their silly antics.

"I can't hold it in ... I can't hold it in", she kept repeating, mostly to herself. I looked at her in amazement. Out of the mouths of babes. It seemed such a grown-up moment for a three-year old.

She turned to me and felt she had to justify her laugh attack. "Babci, I can't stop laughing. Tom and Jerry are SO funny."

For one night, Barbie Princesses were forgotten as my granddaughter was introduced to the adventures of a cartoon cat and mouse who delighted me as a kid. I shared in her glee. She reminded me of another little girl so many years ago ....