Sunday, December 20, 2015

Minimal?


2015 Dec 19

My friend Grace asked: "You are really into this minimalist thing, aren’t you?" 

I’m not sure either Raymond or I would describe ourselves as minimalist. But, we are definitely no longer collectors, or hoarders. We rarely make unnecessary purchases. I no longer troll yard sales and Ebay for things I didn’t know I "needed" until I saw them! We have what we need. We don’t want much. We don’t accumulate. We have mostly items for which we see a clear, present use, or function.

We do have, according to my brother, "too many books". In our defense, we gave away multiple boxes of books when we left our previous house. I attempted to stop buying books and only use the library, for a couple of years before we moved into our RV. I tried using electronic books, exclusively. In the end, we realized that we both like books, and enjoy holding actual, physical books, in our hands. We are more selective than we used to be, but have decided that it is OK to have what my nonreader brother considers "too many books". To that end, we opted to forgo a dining room in our new house. Instead, we have a den, which is where our books and laptops will reside. 

The two extra rooms of our new house currently have nothing in them. We envisioned at least one of them as a guest room, but we are in no hurray to furnish them. Does that make us minimalist? No, that just means we’re taking our time before deciding what those rooms will evolve into. 

As to all the stuff (and there were boxes and boxes!) that we got rid of when we left for our adventure, I don’t think we miss any of it. We sold a couple of things, but most of it we gave away, or donated. With the exception of those incredibly heavy IKEA Billy bookcases, the crystal cross that my Daddy gave me, and the doggie angel Christmas collectibles, I can’t say I miss any of it! In fact, as I sorted through a couple of bins that Vinny and Davey brought over, I asked myself, "Why did you feel such an attachment to this that you HAD to keep it?"  Only one thing is still MIA that I was truly looking forward to having and displaying, and that is my collection of Hallmark Lighthouse Christmas ornaments. I thought I had "loaned" them to Vinny, or stored them in with some of the Christmas ornaments we kept. They have not yet turned up. But, they may be in a bin in our basement, since not all of those have been emptied yet.

Getting back to what Grace asked … I don’t think Raymond and I could’ve stayed in our old house and gradually downsized to get to where we are now. For us, the process was too overwhelming. It was better for us to simply get rid of our accumulated stuff in one fell swoop. It was better for us to walk away. It was better to move absolute essentials (or what we thought were absolute and essential) into our RV, and learn to live in a tiny space. That experience required us to become more organized, to own less, and to be content with what fit in less than 200 square feet. 

And, truthfully, while we were traveling, we were fine. Discontent set in when we spent 20 months in one place. It was during our stationary time in North Carolina, that we felt claustrophobic. Our choice, to either continue traveling, or to settle somewhere. We choose to settle down. But, that time in the RV taught us to live with less, to be more organized, and it was a needed lesson. It was also a lesson we took in and made part of us. We no longer have the need nor the urge to buy and accumulate stuff. That is NOT to say that we don’t buy anything. Just ask the UPS, Fed Ex, or USPS delivery person. But, we are more attentive about what we acquire. That circumspection is a direct result of dumping most of what we owned, living in less than 200 square feet, and realizing what is really important.

In some ways we seem to have come full circle, by returning to western PA. In some ways, maybe we have. But, our return is as better human beings, people with a greater sense of self and others, and a deeper appreciation of what really matters in this life. For us the journey home required drastic action before we could click our heels and say, "There’s no place like home".

INSTEAD OF A CHRISTMAS LETTER...

2015 Dec 18

It has been one month, and a couple of days, since our return to the western Pennsylvania area. It has been a month of adjustments, changes, and adaptations, along with new beginnings in old situations.

We have settled in at our new-to-us home, in Ambridge.  We have met a few of our neighbors, and discovered that, in addition to us, there are several other newcomers to our immediate neighborhood. We felt extremely blessed that the weather in western PA was unseasonably warm during our first month back. That made for easier adaptation, after experiencing little true winter weather these past four years. 

We have gotten much of what we needed to furnish and make our house functional. Because of the kindness of Martha, we have seating in our den, and side tables in our family room/man cave. In the living room, we have a brand new sofa, thanks to the benevolence of Carolyn. The future family space, or man cave, in our finished basement, has plenty of seating thanks to Barbara, who also, through her generous gift to us, made possible several Craig’s List purchases, and the ability to hire people with trucks to haul Martha’s wonderful donations, as well as the family room furniture. And, dear Pat and Van, supplied us, through their bountiful Home Depot gift card, a new microwave, and large wheeled trash receptacles! The previous owners left us a couple of lamps, as well. All in all, the only things still on our list of needed items are a bed frame and headboard, and more kitchen chairs, and possibly an expandable table, for when more than four people are eating together.


We have a wonderful bunch of friends and family, who made the adjustments that much easier. Dear Laura, who in the midst of her own life altering events, came to North Carolina, as promised, to drive our Jeep back for us. I cannot  thank her enough! My brothers, Vinny and Davey, who loaded all the stuff that had been stored in Vinny’s attic and basement, and brought it to our house AND unloaded it! All before we ever arrived! Again, thank you pales as a response to their hard work. And again, Vinny, on the day we arrived from North Carolina, spent five long hours, helping us unload the RV, and bring all that stuff into our new home. THEN he drove the Jeep, following me to the storage facility where the RV is now living. I am lucky to have such a brother. And Bill & Ann, my brother and sister-in-law, who are Ambridge residents, who have been helping us each step of the journey, though their guidance, their local knowledge, and their kindness. My sweet niece Jennifer, who brought us a beautiful Himalayan Salt candle holder, and offers unending positivity and love. 

On December 1, I began a new beginning, in an old situation. I returned to the family for whom I previously babysat. Another blessing, to be sure! When I was their babysitter in the past, there were two children, now there are three. My previous young charges have grown and changed. The boy, who is approaching nine years old, informed me the other day, while crossing a busy street in a commercial area, that he really didn’t hold anyone’s hand anymore. I explained that while I certainly understood, I was a bit nostalgic for the little boy whose hand I used to hold and who willingly held mine. His response: "That’s what my Mom says, too". The girl child, too, has changed from the tomboy, who happily wore her brother’s hand-me-downs and played in the dirt, to a junior Diva, with a flair for the dramatic, who loves wearing party dresses. The youngest, who came along after my tenure, seems to be a sweet, soft-spoken child. He and I are just beginning to establish a relationship. The only drawback to the job, is my commute. It is a 35-40 minute drive in the morning, which is long, but manageable, since the hour is early and traffic is usually light. However, my return commute is long and for three quarters, usually heavily trafficked. It sometimes stretches to 60-75 minutes, deals with crossing bridges at the downtown area, which any Pittsburgher will tell you, is stressful. I am attempting to learn calmness and developing the ability to go with the flow, even if the flow is only moving at 5 mph.

All in all, I am glad to be back. Nearer to family. In a familiar situation. In a house which is much more manageable than the one we left. And, the lessons we learned along the way, have made us different people than the ones who headed out on the road. Better? Maybe. Wiser? Definitely.






Monday, October 12, 2015

2015 Oct 12


Driving along Hwy 12 today, just north of Buxton, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the area. The clouds, sometimes high, white and fluffy, sometimes grey, heavy and daunting. The sunlight, in its many permutations. The wind, as it danced along the dunes and sea oats. The water, in its many forms, sea and sound, rain and mist. I was so overcome with emotion, I had tears in my eyes.

I will greatly miss the beauty of this part of coastal NC. I will also miss the power of the area represented in the wind and water. I will miss the power of God that seems palpable here on the coast. The reflection of His glory in each sunrise and sunset, will be missed.


Yet, I have had a gift given to me for which I am ever grateful. It has been a blessing to have lived here, on this island for 19+ months, a boon I shall forever cherish.



Saturday, August 8, 2015

GOING HOME?

2015 Aug 8

In 2010, we began to seriously talk about, research, and plan for a life a full time travel, in an RV.  I was desperate to get out of Pittsburgh’s North Side. Our neighborhood had NEVER felt like home to me. It was never the place I would’ve chosen to live. (I still harbor some unresolved feelings about having spent 20+ years in a neighborhood and house not really of my choosing, but that’s my own personal issue  which I will eventually resolve.) Getting an RV and traveling was my grown up equivalent of running away. But, it also got us out of Pittsburgh, and the North Side, which I do not think would’ve happened without a dramatic exit. Now, I am willing to admit that there may have been better ways of dealing with my desperate unhappiness. But, the way things have played out, haven’t been all bad, or even really bad at all. We did travel and see areas that I had longed to visit for years. Places like Ely, Minnesota. I got to meet, in real life, a few people whom I had only known online. People like Kandy, Anick and Prin. (I missed out on meeting Alexis, Jennifer, and Shelley. But life isn’t over yet!) 

The original plan when we began to travel, was to roam until we found a small town that we both loved. Unfortunately, we haven’t both loved the same places, or even the same climates. A couple of years into the adventure, Raymond began detailing his need of more space and being desirous of "settling" somewhere. The opportunity to be work campers at Ocean Waves Campground seemed to offer at least a partial solution. We had been campers at OWC in the past, both in tents and in our RV. Ray agreed to give it a shot. We have been  here in Waves, NC since March 2014. Being two rather introverted people, living full time, in a 29’ Class C motor home, with no real privacy or personal space, has proven to be a greater challenge than we anticipated. And, while I enjoy my work camping experience, which consists of cleaning bathhouses with my husband a couple of morning each week, and working in the office/camp store a couple of days, my dear husband is not as enamored with his responsibilities. He has become quite adept at bathhouse cleaning, but the two mornings he spends weed whacking and blowing grass cuttings, are, especially in June, July and August, sweat drenched days, that result in muscle spasms. He claims to be ready "to be fully retired". Add that to the fact that he has been wanting to put down roots, and you see why he wants to get off the road, even though, technically, we haven’t moved the motor home since March 2014. 

For me, I am missing family, friends, and familiarity. When I lost my Father, in January 2014, I lost my anchor. No matter where we were, or how far we travelled, my Daddy was always in Pittsburgh. And I always made sure to be traveling somewhere nearby in September, so I could celebrate his birthday with him. All my siblings live in the Pittsburgh area, and since my Dad’s passing, I feel a greater need to connect with them. I never thought, when I pulled out of our driveway in the motor home, that moving back to Pittsburgh would be an option for me. But it is. NOT into the city proper, and definitely NOT to the North Side, but back to an area less than a ten hour drive from family. Back to an area with up to the minute medical care. Back to an area of good pizza, and perogies. Will I regret this move? I hope not. But, there was something very special about having one of my nieces say, when I told her we will be moving back, "WOO HOO!!! Can’t wait to have you guys nearby again!!!.."  There is something special about feeling wanted :) 

In the recesses of my brain, I had thought that we might settle in coastal NC. And I harbored fantasies that some of my siblings might one day relocate there as well. That, it seems was simply fantasy. After spending the last 17 months in coastal Carolina, about 65 miles south of my "happy place", there has been one visit by multiple siblings, and no discussion of anyone relocating. I have been disillusioned by both locals and tourists. I am a Yankee. And, in addition, I am a left leaning liberal. And while normally, I discourage such labels, I mention them here, to illustrate why I don’t really seem to fit in, even though I had thought this to be my happy place. 

I long for a tribe, a group of like minded people, who will understand and accept my quirks. I desire someone with whom to have breakfast, or lunch. I want to have a space where people will feel free to drop by. I want a neighborhood library. I know that I am, for the most part, an introvert. I do best with one or two people at a time. I wish for folks who understand that. I want to live somewhere with options - movies, plays, recycling centers, stuff that I don’t find right now.

In the midst of the beauty of this coastal place, I came to realize that perhaps this is my happy place, but in a 'vacation here a couple times yearly' kind of way, not a 'live here day to day' way. Who knows? I am willing to say that nothing is etched in stone, at this point. 

I fear this writing has been too much stream of consciousness, and not enough structured understanding and explanation. I love that life is not etched in stone. I don't expect people to fully understand any of this. But, I am going home. No matter how much I might have wanted to get away, I am beginning to accept that I am a Pittsburgher, in ways I never realized until I lived away, and on the road. Perhaps I am simply a slow learner. I have lived in other places, Kansas, and Hawaii, come to mind, and I returned to Pittsburgh from both of those areas, as well. And though we are returning to Pittsburgh, we will still travel, visit and explore. We have never, either of us, been to Montana, Washington, or Oregon. We loved the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If our health and well being continues, there is no reason we can't visit Alaska. But, for now, we are going home in November.



Monday, July 13, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RON

2015 July 13

Happy Birthday, Ron.

Today is the birthday of my brother-in-law, Ron, Raymond’s younger brother. I wish him on this day, blessings, joy, love, and cake! I do not really, even after 30+ years, know him well. He tends to be a very private person, not one who shares personal experiences or anecdotes. The things I do know include, but are not limited to: knowing he enjoys his business, I have described him on occasion as a workaholic; he is a car guy; he has a kind heart, though he does not wear it on his sleeve; he attends church more regularly than most, including me; he is smitten with his grandchildren; he has begun to talk about cutting back his hours at work, (which I thought would never happen); he is a creature of habit; he pays attention to his health. There are other things, but these few will suffice for this birthday.

I have never felt really close to Ron, yet he has welcomed us into his home on more than one occasion since we have been "on the road". He places great store in family, though I do not know if this has always been the case, or if it is a function of age and maturity. No matter, it is part of who he is now.

More than anything, when I look at photos of Ron with his grandchildren, I see the joy in his eyes, and I am glad for him to have that experience.

So, to the brother-in-law I may yet have the chance to get to know well, I wish many more years enjoying those boys who call you "Pap", and many more years appreciating and basking in the really important things life has to offer.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY!



Thursday, July 9, 2015

2015 July 8 DREAM



Dream

Upon awakening this is what I remembered of a dream that I had right before I woke up.

First part, I was with Bob, Lois, Brittany and Molly Kuttesch, leaving their home. Bob was escorting me to the North Side of Pittsburgh. Not sure exactly why. But we had a very companionable conversation, which ended at a small house on the NS, which belonged to a very friendly black woman, whom I did not know, but with whom we had stopped to chat for awhile. Wherever I was headed, I parted ways with Bob at this point. The woman went into her house and for a moment, I considered asking her if I could shower at her house. For some reason, I had no idea where my destination was, but I desperately wanted to shower and wash my hair.

Morph to the next part of the dream. I have no idea where I was (as in what or whose home, or what city or neighborhood)

This is the part that REALLY stuck with me when I woke up.

I was looking at myself in a full length mirror, and I can’t remember if I was naked completely, but I definitely had naked arms, shoulders, and most of my upper torso. I was upset by my reflection. The reason for my upset was that I was looking at: 1. protruding bones of my shoulders, neck, scapula, and ribs; 2. I was looking and seeing myself from an odd perspective, in that everything else in the mirror seemed to be at a perspective normal to a person of my non dreaming height, however, my own personage was shorter, much like a little person, if you can understand that (it was like I was looking down on myself); 3. I thought that my boney reflection was the result of having cancer.

I awoke and ran the contents of the dream over and over in my head. Because my DH doesn’t believe in the power of dreams to help you work through issues, I tried very hard to seek reasons that could’ve contributed to the dream. These are instances that the DH would say influenced my dream content: 1. I read a posting on Facebook by one of the K family before going to bed last night; 2.My BFF’s Dad was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer; 3. I had an interaction with a longtime friend last night who is in a lifelong struggle with an eating disorder.


Taking all that into consideration, do any of you have insight into dreams? Can any of you offer any guidance?


Thursday, June 11, 2015





This is Jack. His owners are staying at Ocean Waves Campground. They wanted to take a day trip to Ocracoke Island today, and mentioned they were thinking of putting Jack in a kennel for a day. This conversation happened yesterday, while I was working in the store. Anyway, one thing lead to another, and I offered to dog sit for the day.  In my mind, it was great, because I wasn't working today, and I could get a bit of a canine fix. I failed to remember that we clean bathhouses on Thursdays. Oops. Raymond was quick to point out my error when I mentioned that the Peters would be bringing Jack by to acclimate a little bit yesterday evening.

This morning, Jack's owners came by to drop him off at 6AM, on their way to the ferry. They bought his favorite toy, his chewy bone, his food & water dishes, treats, his towel, and his leash and long tie out and his dinner. Off they went, after making sure we had each other's phone numbers, just in case. Jack was fine, until they pulled out and drove off. At that point he seemed a little anxious.




The temperature at 6:30 was already 74F, with humidity at 98%. The question on my mind, and Raymond's was: when will we be able to do the bathrooms? If we waited till Jack's parents returned, it would be too late for bathroom duty, as well as, way too hot. Taking Jack with us made no sense. Leaving Jack alone, even for a couple of hours seemed irresponsible. Especially, since Jack had reacted to his owners' leaving by standing at the edge of the driveway, starring off in the direction they went for several minutes.  









It was decided that I would take the work truck, go and do the ladies side in all three bathhouses. Then, Ray would take the golf cart and do the men's sides. I would go first, since Ray was in the middle of his daily viewing of Mike & Mike, on ESPN. 

Once out doing the bathhouses, I decided to do both the men's and women's at the beach bathhouse and the middle bathhouse. My plan was to then let Ray do the remaining small bathhouse, which is close to our site. That way, he could access everything he needed without having to transfer it to a golf cart. The plan seemed to be a good one. (Leaving aside the details of how awful the ladies beach and men's middle were.) I was happy to get my portion done. I was looking forward to a shower and spending time with Jack. 

When I approached our RV, Ray and Jack were outside. Ray had taken Jack for a short walk and a pee break. Only now, Jack refused to return to the RV. I took Jack's lead, and Ray went inside. I asserted, begged, cajoled, and pleaded, yet Jack simply hunkered down, refusing to walk toward the RV. The sun was baking, and it was sticky hot! But Jack was having none of moving toward the cool air of the RV. So, I thought, let's walk across the street to the shade and grass, which we did. Still, any move to walk anywhere near the direction of our RV, was met with diligent opposition from Jack. I am not sure how much Jack weighs, but he is muscular and when he stops, there is no moving him. So, we walked. Farther from the RV. We got as far as site number 6, where Mr Stuart and Ms Stella are camped. Theirs is a shady site. Jack still refused to turn toward the highway and the direction of our RV. Now his refusal came in the form of lying down in the grass by Stuart and Stella's picnic table. I tried being authoritative. I tried bribery. I tried pleading. Jack was having none of it. 

Finally, Mr Stuart came out. He tried being authoritative. He tried being commanding. Still Jack refused to budge. Stuart went inside and returned with a bribe, consisting of bread. Jack liked the bread, even stood up, but still refused to walk, especially in the direction of our RV. Stuart suggested I go and get the Jeep, while he stayed with Jack the statue. 

I returned driving the Jeep, with Jack's favorite toy alongside me. I pulled up next to where Jack had planted himself, leaned over, opened the passenger door, said, "Come, Jack! I have your toy!" Jack was up, and in the Jeep, almost before I got that out of my mouth!  Stuart closed the door to the Jeep and said, "Well, now we know what this dog likes - he likes to go for a ride."

I drove to our site, got Jack out of the passenger side, after showing him his toy, and talking up how awesome that toy is. I had a minor moment of panic when I thought Jack was going to put on the brakes, but I kept using my excited, playtime voice, and he finally bounded toward the RV. I opened the door and he leaped up the steps, into the cool air inside. He sat sweetly, looking as though none of the previous activity ever took place. Then, he happily took the treat I offered, drank some water, laid down, and went to sleep.



Sleepytime Jack



Thursday, May 28, 2015

Regrets

Watched a phoot essay about Dukey, a black lab whose owners documented his last day. It was filled with love, smiling pictures of Dukey, and his many friends who shared a portion of his day prior to his euthanasia. It broke my heart. I sobbed uncontrollably. 

Part of the reason may be that it was too close to home. It is only 6 months since we had Greyla put down. And Dukey was a black lab, like Greyla.  Yet, the tearing in my heart and the tears rolling down my face feel like tears of regret.

The regret exists bc our timing, mine and Greyla's was always off. It took me years into her tenure with us, for me to fully love and accept her. She was not an easy dog. And she came to us too soon after the loss of Jake, my heart dog, for me to bond easily early on in the relationship. But, eventually we did bond. But my regret was always that it had taken me so long to accept her for who she was. 

Then, there was the regret that came toward the end of her life. I am not convinced that our timing regarding the end of her life was flawless. She was in physical decline for a long time prior to our decision to let her go in mid November. Total strangers in the campground last spring and summer would question our motives regarding keeping her going. I was deeply wounded by those questions. But, we took her back to Pittsburgh in April last year for a complete physical, which showed her to be in metabolic good health. She had some arthritis changes in her spine and hips, but those were not a good enough reason to end her life, we reasoned. These were things treatable with anti-inflammatories and pain meds.  So, she returned with us to NC, and lived out several more months. 

Greyla's vision was poor due to cataracts, but she asked to go out walking in the grass multiple times daily, bc she LOVED sniffing the grass, and the ocean air. We adjusted her meds as necessary in an attempt to keep her paint free, as much as possible. 

Her appetite was good, though odd. For a short period, she would only eat her holistic, grain free, organic dog food IF it was topped with Spaghetti-o's! But she had an appetite. One of our criteria for deciding when to let go of our dogs over the years, included observing their appetite, fluid intake, and pain management. She seemed good on all three counts.

Yet, I wonder still, if we were looking for reason to hang on to our girl.  When I looked at the pictures of Dukey, today I saw a joy that I do not remember seeing in Greyla during her last five or six months on this earth. Perhaps our criteria for keeping her going was too narrow. Perhaps, it was bc of our wonky timing issues. I was so slow to come to love and accept her, that in the end, I was again too slow. This time, too slow to love her enough to let her go. 

I know that I will never have a definite answer to the guilt and anguish I feel about Greyla. I know that life is a crap shoot, that we all make mistakes. And I know that in time, I will probably come to grips with my questions regarding Greyla, and accept that even if our timing was off, it was still OK, bc we erred on the side of caution and love. It's just that I'm not there yet.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Thoughts on the Future

2015 May 3



Lately I have been short-tempered. I find myself irritated by relatively minor things. I have been wondering why.  Yes, I have been sick, but I'm recovering nicely. Yes, the weather has been peculiar, but we have a roof over our heads and the capacity to warm ourselves. We have too many, frequent reminders of how much we miss Greyla. I haven't spoken to my brothers or sister in a couple of months, nor have I spoken to Laura, my dear sister from another mother, in a long time. All these are contributory, I am sure.

However, the major factor causing my short temper and my crankiness, is the uncertainty of our future. 

We have decided that we are done traveling full-time. As part of the transition, we have been here working as work campers on Hatteras Island since March 2014. We even spent the winter here, while the campground was closed. We do not wish to do that again. We seem to have an easier time deciding what we don't want to do, as opposed to what we do want to do. 

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy work camping, especially here at Ocean Waves, where it feels like a pleasant village. I would, if they would have me, come back to work camp here again next year. The problem is my husband,  who has made his preference clear, and he wants to be retired. He wants to work on his time and terms. So, I think returning as work campers at OWC, is a very remote possibility, since more often than not, they like couples as work campers. It makes the future even more uncertain, since it means there is uncertainty regarding both our winter plans and our plans for next year. IF we were returning to OWC, then we could focus on finding a furnished winter rental from November till March or April. 

But, do we plan on a winter rental? Something for just November thru April? That would be feasible IF we were returning to Ocean Waves Campground next year. And I DO want to return. R does, too, but as a camper, which for the most part is NOT financially possible.

Do we look for a long term, 1 year rental? A possibility, but where? We think we might want to simply stay in coastal NC, but NOT on Hatteras Island, due to the isolation of the Island in the winter months.

Do we look at buying a condo? There are a few in a price range that meets our needs. Do we want to live in Corolla, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, or Manteo?
My heart has always been in Corolla, though I can see some benefit to Manteo.  

There just seem to be more questions than answers with regard to our future.

Throw into the mix the idea that maybe we should head back to Pittsburgh, and I begin to see why I have been feeling irritated and ill tempered lately.


What to do, what to do…


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Welcome February!

2015 Feb 1

Welcome February! 

Historically, I have seen February as the light at the end of winter's dark tunnel. It helps that February is a short month and contains three benchmarks for me: Ray's and my wedding anniversary, Valentine's Day, and my birthday. Three celebratory days when one is encouraged, by custom, to eat cake, contribute to the fact that I enjoy February. 

In the past, when we were living in Pittsburgh, we often took a vacation to Corolla, NC, in the month of February. Now, in our current living situation on Hatteras Island, we are looking forward to other family members taking a vacation to Corolla. Perhaps as many as four of my brothers (but, probably at least two or three), my sister, as well as my adopted 'sister from another Mother', are planning a vacation to the OBX's northern beaches in late February.  I am beyond excited! 

There is also the possibility of a trip to Staten Island in mid February. Pat and Van, two longtime Ocean Waves Campground campers and workers, have invited us to come to visit them. Actually, we were invited earlier in the off season, but were reluctant to leave Hatteras Island until after the holiday season. We then settled on a date in January, which got bumped by winter storm Juno. Then we planned to spend Super Bowl weekend, but again, the weather was uncooperative, as that area of NY is expecting a winter storm with snow, ice and freezing rain. As it stands, we will visit, but not until mid February, and only if the weather cooperates! 

Gosh! February is going to zoom by this year! I am grateful that the month began with warmer temperatures, diminished wind, and sunshine. We have experienced much cold and freezing winds this winter, as well as a few nor'easters. Having celebratory dates to observe, and visits to anticipate, is certain to make the light at the end of winter's tunnel even brighter.



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 Jan 28, Beauty, Joy, and a Certain Peace

Beauty, Joy, and a Certain Peace

Monday afternoon as we returned from a trip to Manteo, NC, I noticed a particular colorful aspect to the clouds. We were headed south on Hwy 12, in the area near Bodie Island Lighthouse. There are, fortunately, patches along that stretch of road to pull over, so we did. I was certain the sun and clouds war about to amaze with a beautiful sunset display. I was not disappointed.

Poor Raymond does not have the same ability to see some of the potential for color in the sky that I have, due to his color deficiency. So, some of the beauty I saw immediately, was lost to him. I often find myself trying to explain what I am seeing, and getting confused looks from him. Some of the pinks that I saw on Monday, appear as yellows to him. But, I digress.

As I took photo after photo, I realized that one of the clouds had what was to me, a distinctive Lab profile shape. The more I watched it, the more distinctive it became. Unfortunately, the only camera I had with me was my phone, but I zoomed in anyway. 

















As the "Angel Cloud Dog" took shape, I began to cry. 

Earlier that afternoon, I had been thinking about our Greyla Girl a lot. I was missing her. But, the Greyla I was missing, was not the frail, elderly dog whom we had allowed to cross the Bridge last November, but, rather, the silly, often goofy, sometimes mean girl we had raised from a pup. The thought plaguing me that afternoon, was whether we had held onto her too long. Had we egotistically made her last months harder than they would've been out of selfishness, because we didn't want to let her go? 


And then I saw the dog shaped profile in the clouds. I pointed it out to Raymond, but it seemed to have much more significance to me. I took it as a sign that Greyla bore no ill will toward the selfish humans who loved her too much. It seemed to me that it was a sign that Greyla was, indeed, at peace and in a joyful place. I took it as communication that there is beauty, joy and peace, if we look for it. Yes, I cried. In fact, I still cry when I look at the series of photos I took that afternoon. I cry because sometimes the beauty in the world is overwhelming. I cry because that beauty, though overwhelming, also brings me joy. And on that particular afternoon, I cried because seeing an "Angel Cloud Dog", brought me peace.