Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog!

Well, folks, herein ends the latest chapter of Vol. II of the Happy Times No Hurries, No Worries Tour!  We left Boston and made it to the DC area in a couple of days of pretty hard driving, wanting to take a bit of a circuitous route to avoid NYC at all costs!  But we wanted to stop and see our friends, Megan and Drew, a sweet young couple who Trisha married 2 years ago--Drew is the son of our long-time friend and college classmate, Bill--and their sweet little baby, Harper.  She is such a cutie and we were so happy to get to meet her.  I've said this a number of times in this blog, but one of the greatest thrills of our RV travels is being able to see friends all over the country (and this year Canada as well!), so we try to do this whenever it's possible to make the schedules work.  Fortunately we found a lovely campground in College Park, MD that turned out to be very close and a direct shot to their condo.  And, much to our delightful surprise, they suggested we meet for dinner at one of their favorite local hangouts, an Ethiopian restaurant!  What a stroke of luck, as we've become such fans of Ethiopian food since Jeremy introduced us to it when we visited him during his teaching stint in that lovely country.  So we had a wonderful dinner there, and then went back to their condo where Harper entertained us hilariously with her energetic routine on her bouncy toy.  It was so interesting to see how far the infant toy industry has come in the many years since our kids were that age--our first bouncy seat was just a simple sling that had brackets to fit over a door frame, but Harper's is a multi-media affair, with music, lots of brightly colored shapes and figures to play with, and she had a ball, bouncing away and laughing all the way!  We loved it, and she finally wore here little self out, and went virtually right to sleep when Drew put her down for the night.  What a great visit, and it's always a special treat to see these couples Trisha has married as they have children of their own.  Just a real treasure.

Next stop was Abingdon, Virginia for a visit with our remarkable friend, Helen, who is turning 90 in just a few days.  She is a well known sociologist and expert on Appalachian Studies, having taught at several universities, as well as authoring several books.  She has lived an incredible full life devoted to social justice for the poor and underprivileged everywhere, but especially for those in the coal mines of Appalachia.  She has not just talked the talk, but she has walked the walk her whole life, becoming energized as an activist when she was in college.  I once heard her begin a talk with the declaration that the first time she was arrested was in 1948, for attending an integrated social function in Georgia--and she has been on the front lines advocating for change and justice ever since.  We first met her when we moved to Cherry Log, as she was in our church, and for the years that Trisha was the Director of The Craddock Center she worked closely with Helen each year on the lecture series Dr. Craddock started in Helen's honor, to bring more attention to the lives of those in Appalachia.  She moved back to Virginia 3 years ago to be part of Elder Spirit, a community of folks who are living in a lovely community setting, sharing and growing, and never losing their shared spirit of working for justice.  We got to see her new home, see some of the wonderful flowers and vegetables she has grown, and got to meet some of her lovely fellow community members.  We were especially glad to see how well she's doing, as she sustained serious injuries in a fall a while back, and we're so happy she's doing so well.  She's truly an inspiration to all who are fortunate enough to meet her, and we were glad we could have this visit.

Got back home last Thursday evening, and are now in the midst of getting the RV unpacked, cleaning up the yard and house, and beginning to get ready to head for Thailand to visit Jeremy next week.  Always good to be back home, in spite of all the work to get things back into shipshape.  Made a quick trip to Atlanta over the weekend to visit Shelley and Ken, and to go to First Presbyterian Church, where Trisha served for 14 years, to meet their new pastor, Dr. Tony Sundermeier.  It was great to be back in that lovely church, wonderful music, seeing so many old friends, and hearing a really inspiring sermon on social justice.

And, last but not least, today is little Sophie's first birthday, so we had to do a little celebrating.  We dressed her up in some birthday ribbons and took her to Dairy Queen for a special birthday treat.  She thought she'd died and gone to heaven when she realized we were offering her the ice cream cone!  She didn't hesitate, though, and really seemed to enjoy it.  She's been such a joy to us in the 8 months she's been a part of our family, so we had to mark this special day!

We're so excited to be going to Thailand next week.  Jeremy has most of October off between semesters so we'll spend some good time traveling around that country with him.  We've been so fortunate to have had the chance to visit him in the fascinating places where he's been teaching all over the world, and are so thrilled to get to go to Thailand.  We've heard so much about the country from lots of friends who've been, and we know it will be fun, but especially so to be with him.  Since we'll be traveling all over, and packing really light, chances are I won't be able to do any regular posting while there, but I definitely plan to catch up with that once we return at the end of the month; may get a chance to post some on Facebook, but more than likely not have the chance to do regular blogging, just so our faithful readers will know what's going on.

Thanks so much for all who have made such affirming comments on the blog, and thanks for coming along with us!  We'll see you down the road!!

Trisha and sweet little Harper at the restaurant

 Yummy Ethiopian vegetarian spread--batem konjo (Amharic for wonderful, superb, delicious!!)
 Harper with Megan
 Here she is having a ball with her bouncy station!

 Hey Dad, can I use the remote now?
 Trisha's not too happy, getting squeeze on this little cutie!

At Helen's in Abingdon, one of her cats
 In her living room, with a display of wonderful masks over the windows
 She's such a hoot, with all these pink flamingos all around!
 Some of the vegetables she's grown

 And some of her flowers, in her font yard

 More flamingos!

 And her blue bottle tree!
 Here she is with Trisha; for someone who broke her neck and suffered multiple other injuries in a fall last winter, she's really amazing!
 Some scenes as we left this lovely campground, tucked away along the banks of the North Fork of the Holston River, which eventually runs past the farm where Trisha's grandmother lived
 The North Fork
 A cute little log cabin, with real chinking
 And a lovely little church, that appears to have been moved from another location, as it's now sitting on these pilings
 Trisha always gets excited when we enter her home state!
 And her home town!!

Now we're back on the way home, close to Cherry Log
 This view of the mountains on the way from Ellijay to Cherry Log always says "home" to us!

 And our favorite room in the house, our sunroom, off the kitchen, where Sophie has reclaimed her perch!  We so love this room, with the ever-changing view out the windows; we can open the windows and hear the waterfall, and watch the sunrise while we have our morning coffee!  This room is probably what sold us on the house!
 This gorgeous stained glass panel hangs in a bay window in our bedroom, and the sunlight coming through is just beautiful!  So energizing!
 Sophie, getting used to her crate being in our bedroom and not the RV!  If she looks a bit confused, she's not alone--took us a few days to reorient ourselves to be in the house and not the carhouse!!

Shelley and Davi, her Portuguese water dog,
Sophie's birthday!!! Whooopeeee!

 You're serious, Mom, that's for me???
 You don't have to tell me twice!
 Yum, yum, that was sooooo good!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Boston Visit With Family

Said a fond farewell to Canada on Thursday, as we came back to the good old US of A and made our way to Boston, where we spent a delightful weekend with my younger brother and his wife, and also got to visit with their newest grandchild and his family, as well as  our other nephew, who's also in Boston.  Plus, we got to see the family patriarch, my incredible uncle Mac, who, at 98, sets a new record every day as the Senterfitt to have lived the longest on this earth!  He's such a delight and still can show off his rapier wit and vitality from time to time.  Just an amazing man, and such a sweetheart.  He carries his mother's maiden name, McCaskill, and he and my older brother visited Scotland several years ago and found the house on the Isle of Skye that most agree was the starting point for this branch of the family tree.  When Trisha and I were on Cape Breton and Prince Edward Islands, we would see the McCaskill name from time to time in the names of businesses and that brought a smile to our faces.  We were able to bring Mac a beautiful wool shawl/lap blanket from the MacAusland Mills on Prince Edward Island--since he's so thin, the cold weather seems to get to him more and more, so he was glad to get something that he can wrap around his shoulders during these cooler temps.  We picked him up from his assisted living place on Saturday and took him to lunch and then took a several block walk after lunch, before bringing him back to his place.  Pretty impressive for a 98 year old!

We were so glad to meet little Oliver, our newest grandnephew, before he and his family took off for a week's vacation on North Carolina's Outer Banks.  Nephew Marshall is a trial lawyer in Boston and fortunately a big case he was handling just settled the day before, so he can now enjoy his vacation without having to be working on trial preparation the whole time--how well I, and my whole family, remember those kinds of vacations!  Trisha had knitted a cute little hat for Oliver, that looks like a little bird, as well as one that looks like an octopus for Oliver's big sister, Eisa, now 3.  She thought it was a bit warm yet for a knitted hat, so she said she would put it in her closet until it got colder!

Sunday was a lovely sunny day in Boston, so Jimmy and Colleen took us on a tour of some of the in town sights, particularly around the Charles River and the Back Bay.  We walked through the Boston Public Gardens and Boston Commons, and then strolled through some of the beautiful neighborhoods of the Back Bay.  We really enjoyed seeing some of the historical churches there, including the first church in Boston, dating from 1630, now housing a UU congregation.  We also saw a lovely Presbyterian/Congregational Church that has some beautiful Tiffany windows, as well as a gorgeous Tiffany chandelier.  Since First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, where Trisha served for 14 years, has some lovely Tiffany windows, she was especially glad to see these other examples of this lovely art.  The Back Bay area is really a vibrant neighborhood, with some unbelievable homes and lots of neat shops and restaurants.  We had lunch at a wonderful little pizza place, and had a table tucked into a little upstairs bay window overlooking the sidewalk scene--cool!  Sunday evening we enjoyed an absolutely glorious sunset from their upstairs deck, overlooking Boston Harbor.  For a number of years they have lived aboard a motor yacht, both on Long Island and in Boston Harbor, but they've now sold the boat and have become landlubbers--have a gorgeous 3 story place in East Boston overlooking the harbor.  Lots of these typical 3 level houses have decks at various levels.  Their next door neighbors have a deck on a lower level, and on many summer evenings, like this Sunday, they hang a huge sheet on the wall and have a movie party!  Looked really interesting, but we got so engrossed in our lively game of Hand and Foot that we forgot to go out and see what movie they were showing!  But we had great fun.

Leaving St. Andrews

The quickly receding tide in St. Andrews
Another pretty stone church
The little birdie hat Trisha knitted for our newest great nephew, Oliver--isn't that too cute??!!
Coming into Maine
Now Mass.

Here we are with great niece, Eisa, as she's opening the package with her hat
Gram (Colleen) with Eisa
The octopus hat!!
Trisha was so excited to get her hands on little Oliver!

Oliver with Gram and Grandcap
Jesse and Oliver

Marshall and Eisa, getting excited about going to the airport to fly to the beach for vacation
Eisa is so cute, and so precocious, too--after being with us at Thanksgiving last year, one day when Colleen was babysitting her she asked Colleen if Santa could bring her a new baby (before Jesse had announced that she was pregnant).  When Colleen said she wasn't sure if Santa could do that, Eisa said "Maybe Uncle Jack??"  Too funny!

Marshall's not too happy with his new baby boy, huh??

The happy new parents

Jimmy and Colleen's house, the top floor
Wonderful deck out from the living room
 Looking out over Boston Harbor

 Auto carrier in the harbor

 Fish company across from their house

 Beautiful morning for breakfast on the deck!

Front of their house
Some scenes around their neighborhood
Halloween decorations going up!
Nothing says fall like a big display of pumpkins and squash!
Lunch with Uncle Mac, just an amazing man

On one of the bridges over the Charles River, some knitters have decorated the railing with various samplings, here a sort of a quilt.  Interesting.
Visit to the Back Bay, just love the architecture here
The first church in the US, according to the plaque--dating from 1630, now a Unitarian Universalist church

Rooftop garden along the way
Love all these flowers!
Especially the window boxes

Coming into Boston Public Gardens

The iconic swan boats in the Gardens

The hurry gurdy man!

Lovely weeping willow trees
A one man band with his Rube Goldbergesque contraption--what a hoot!

Tribute to those from the area lost on 9/11
An Episcopal Church
Love this philosophy!

This is the Presbyterian/Congregationalist church with the Tiffany windows and chandelier

Above, an interesting variation on the usual mannequin display in a clothing store!
Below, a tribute to 9 fallen firemen who died fighting a fire in a nearby hotel in 1972
These are some beautiful Back Bay homes

How fitting that this is the cross street just up from Jimmy and Colleen's house, as our mother's name was Ruth!
Sunset from their deck, over the harbor

Their next door neighbors getting ready to enjoy the evening's movie on the sheet against the wall--pretty neat idea for a party!