Tuesday, October 22, 2013


October 22nd - Due Date!
The last ring on the paper chain, started 100 days ago, counting down to today.
Our daughter, Katherine, and her husband, Andy's, first child.

"Only 5% of babies are born on their due dates," Katherine tells me.  So we wait.  Andy at work.  Katherine and I eating cheese dip, watching West Wing episodes.

We don't know whether grandchild #5 will be a boy or girl, or what names Katherine and Andy have picked.  But we do know one thing with certainty. . . this child is already loved.

His/her room is ready.

Family and friends have filled it with gifts.
Mommy and Daddy have decorated it with joyful anticipation.

And Gramma Rose has knitted and quilted warmth and love into every stitch.

As I keep Katherine company this afternoon, my memories reach back 36 years, when I was a day away from our first child's due date.  I remember writing in my journal, "I may become a mother tomorrow!  "How will my life change? How will I know what to do? I've never even changed a diaper."  

There was much I didn't know about the little son who would, indeed, be born on his due date; but there was one thing I knew with certainty. . . he was already loved, as were his sisters in years to come.

And nothing could have prepared me more for motherhood.

How fortunate I am to share this day with my daughter, soon to be a mother.  Wasn't it only yesterday that she was the baby I was awaiting?




Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Dreamy Day-Trip From NYC

When my head nestled into the pillow, I hoped for pleasant dreams.  Fall leaves, smiling pumpkins, expansive views of the Hudson River Valley. The day, after all, had been glorious!  A drive with Drew out of NYC to Sleepy Hollow and Poughkeepsie.  But in the far corner of my consciousness, seconds before sleep, I glimpsed the shadowy outline of a man on a horse, a man. . . without a head.

Sleepy Hollow is the place of legends -- haunted woods, murky swamp, ghostly graveyard, Ichabod Crane, headless horseman, mysterious disappearance.  But on a brilliantly sunny morning, in the middle of town, there was nothing to fear, I told myself.

Whimsical witches, snaggle-toothed vampires, jovial scarecrows and big-headed pumpkins greeted us from lamp poles and atop cookies.
But, could it be that all was not as Disney-esque as it appeared?. . . .

On a hillside in the town's cemetery, lies the author whose Legend of Sleepy Hollow put the little known hamlet on the map in 1820 -- Washington Irving. I wonder if the story might have been his.  Had he been jilted by a beautiful young woman, chased down a deserted road, over a bridge, somehow left alive to tell the tale? Or did the horseman creep into the writer's dreams, to live forever in literary eternity?

Only silence met my questions.

Shaking off the feeling that someone (something) was watching us exit the cemetery gates, I picked up the pace to the car.

Sixty miles north in Poughkeepsie, the Hudson River Valley erased my uneasiness with one sweeping view of her grandeur.

Walkway Over The Hudson, at 212 feet tall and 1.28 miles long, is the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.  We walked its length and back, awed by vistas and engineering.

Drew (far right) begins the walk

Autumn colors tried to upstage one another in the "Wow, look at that!" category.  From the bridge  Drew and I "wow-ed" a flaming beauty at the same time. She dipped her head, with a tinge of pink embarrassment, or was it pride?

Images from the day may have swept through my dreams --
a black-cloaked horseman, perhaps, galloping across a rickety bridge, eating a pumpkin cookie while shouting, "Wow, look at that amazing tree!"

All I know is that I awoke with a smile on my face.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cloudy With NO Chance of Meatballs, Only Wisdom

(Title borrowed from the book, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ronald Barrett)

If I added up the minutes of sunshine during my ten-day trip to Alaska, Washington, Montana and Idaho, I'm guessing it would be 28.  Okay, maybe 30, but that's stretching it. Apparently, a curious cloud had caught wind of my labyrinth retreats in Juneau, labyrinth visits in Seattle, Victor (MT) and Salmon (ID), and decided to tag along.  I know; I should have been flattered.  She was a sizable presence and could have attached herself to any number of worthy travelers, so I tolerated, even welcomed, her company.  Until Lost Trail Pass on the Montana/Idaho border.  Then I lost patience.

But I get ahead of myself.

Juneauites are accustomed to cloudy days.  After all, the city is located in the Tongass National Forest, a part of the larger Pacific temperate rainforest. Some variety of precipitation falls 230 days of the year, on average. So, when I visited Janis Burns Buyarski to hear the story of her labyrinth, she was 
prepared . . .

Janis not only built her own Living Waters Labyrinth, but was one of the creative minds behind the construction of the Merciful Love Labyrinth at the Shrine of St. Therese, a few miles down the road, where the retreats were held.

The cloud's on-again, off-again drizzle didn't phase the women walkers who donned rain jackets and dotted the landscape with multi-colored brightness.


At Tricia Layden's Seattle labyrinth, the cloud kept her distance, still present but aloof, observing, pondering.

She grew bolder, more inquisitive, at Patty Meyer's Redsun Labyrinth in Victor, Montana, dipping her wispy white hair closer to the ground.

Then swirled among mountaintops in Salmon, Idaho, mimicking Rebecca Foster and her new baby, Lilly's (bundled in a carrier), joyful labyrinth dance.

Lost Trail Pass (elev. 7014) loomed as my friend, Mary Toland, and I left Salmon, headed back toward Missoula.  An early winter storm warning for elevations above 6000 feet lay in our path.  With a fear of heights for anything higher than a step ladder, I was nervous, very nervous.  But the cloud had a lesson for me on this journey, one she had been waiting - for just the right moment - to impart.

I inched toward the crest of the pass at 40 MPH, as snow blew across the windshield and accumulated on the road. Mary calmly talked to me about -- who knows?  Her tomato plants, a Starbucks latte in our future, anything.  She even laughed.  She took the pictures. A constant connection.

At the top I felt victorious, until I realized that going down could be trickier.  I slowed to 20 and looked only at the patch of road directly in front of me, not at the drop-off beyond the guardrail.  That's all I was responsible for, the only thing in my life, at that moment, that I could do anything about.
I felt a sense of unexpected freedom, a joyfulness that comes from fully experiencing a moment,
the only moment you have.  

Much like the labyrinth. 
One step at a time.

The cloud smiled.   

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