Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

I’m a little late this week but better late than never! I don’t know why I didn’t think of these photos before, but my trip to Chicago this fall provided lots of “between” photo ops! Here are a few!



Our Glorious Vacation: Days 4 and 5

Day 4: On this day we mellowed!  No traveling, no plays, no sight-seeing; we stayed home put our feet up and relaxed.  Different family members dropped in to chat, and I visited with a neighbor I hadn’t seen in years.  We sat on the back porch and talked about those mundane things that are the glue of relationships: the hot weather, our children and grandchildren, who is marrying who and will so-and-so ever get married, the jobs we love and those we don’t love so much, etc.  By mid-afternoon the summer heat won out, and we moved in doors to air-conditioned comfort, but the talk continued.  Later we prepared a simple meal of garden vegetables followed by a desert of ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup.  It was a simple day, a simple meal . . . a delicious day as we all had a wonderful, relaxing day of enjoying each other’s company. That night we slept a contented sleep which was good, because day 5 would be another travel day.

A few shots from Mom and Dad‘s place.

Day 5: The second leg of our journey took us to Detroit, Michigan. A dear friend’s son is celebrating his Bar Mitzvah and we wanted to join in the celebration.  Before we departed on our trip however, Richard and I stole away to take a stroll along the Ohio River, just a couple of miles from Mom and Dad’s place.  The mist was just rising from the dew-moistened earth, birds were chirping loudly, and we had a peaceful walk.  Due to the recent floods that left debris strewn everywhere, we were unable to follow the path down to the river.  But the walk was enjoyable none-the-less.

My brother, David, stopped in on his way to work to wish us one last good-bye.

Then once again, we hit the road!

The scenery from Louisville, Kentucky to Detroit, Michigan is quite different from what we saw traveling through Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.  Our trip this day took us through rich, fertile farm country.  It was a great day for traveling.  Except for a major traffic backup in Toledo, we had not problems.


We arrived in Detroit around 5:30 pm and were seated at a banquet by 6:00 pm.

For the next three days we will be visiting, feasting and celebrating with our friends.  I will probably not post again until we are back home.  Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you when I get back.  Thanks for taking this wonderful vacation with me!

EEEEEEEK!!! Not Again!

In January of this year, we moved from Maryland to Virginia, from a four-bedroom house to a three-bedroom apartment.  It was not the easiest move in the world, far from it.  Rather, it was one of the worst moves I have ever experienced, and I have moved a lot!  But, as horrendous as the experience was, we survived it and are now living in a delightful, sunny, cheerful apartment.  This is one of those places that fit like a glove. We have made friends quite easily, and even our beloved cat Pele took to this place like a fish to water.  In other words, we love it here even though we’ve been here just one month!

If you are wondering why we made the move, it was to be closer to Richard’s work.  For three and a half years his daily commute was three to four hours (round trip).  If you ever lived in Washington, DC, and braved the beltway, you know what I mean when I say that it was a grueling trek from Silver Spring, MD, to Lorton, VA.  The toll on him physically, mentally and emotionally was something we both worried about.  So, when in November he signed a contract for another year, we decided that living in this rat race was no longer an acceptable way to live out our middle age and senior years.  Life is simply too short, and there is too much to see and do to waste it battling traffic on a freeway.  So, we found an apartment much closer to his work and here we are in the wonderful state of Virginia.  Richard’s round trip commute is now less than one hour.  This month, despite the headaches of moving, has been great.

But as life would have it, things got a little bumpy this week.  Thanks to the Office of the Secretary of State (or was it Secretary of Defense???) the entire research and development team was eliminated (LOTS of jobs).  Deep cuts throughout the District, are wreaking havoc with people’s lives.  The obliteration was brutal and totally unexpected by everyone, from the top position to the lowest.  People in high management, loyal folks who had been with the company since the 1970’s, people with mortgages and children in college, and my husband, too, all got the axe.  (Yes, the imagery is savage, so was the sacking!) There was no time to prepare, no time to consider options or to seek other employment.  No one saw this coming, yet despite that fact, the company has gone to extreme lengths to help as many of their employees get back on their feet as possible. (Kudos to TASC!) Many will be forced to take early retirement.  Others will be relocated to open positions elsewhere within TASC.  Plans to provide job placement services have been set up and go into effect by the end of the month.  Everyone is hurting, and they are pulling together to get through this crisis.  If you are a praying person, now would be a good time!

As to our situation, it’s the “relocate” that causes me some dread.  Talks have already been initiated in an effort to keep Richard with the company, but that will mean moving far away from this wonderful community and lovely apartment. . . and we just moved in.  Packed boxes are still neatly stacked in corners as we continue fitting in to our space.  Those boxes will now remain packed until we find out where Richard will be working.  Along with many others, our lives were just turned “topsy turvy.”

Reflecting on the unfolding events of this past week, I thought of the parsha (Torah reading) of the week of our marriage, Lech Lecha/Genesis 12-17.   Actually, every time we move, I think of our marriage parsha.   It is the portion where  Hashem speaks to Avram (this is before his name change) and tells him “Go forth from your native land, and from your parent’s house to the land that I will show you” (12.1).  Don’t misunderstand me; I am NOT comparing myself to Avram.  It’s the “go” part that gets to me.  Go from your land, go from your family, go to another land.  I never ever in my most far-fetched dreams wanted to be a nomad.  But here I am.  I quit counting “moves” when I reached number 36. A few of the moves were different locations within the same city or town, but a move is a move, and anyone who has moved knows what I mean.  I am very tired of “relocating.”  Enough is enough!

On the other hand, I have lived in some very interesting places, places I would never have known about had we not relocated.   I have friends all over this country, and the world due to our many “homes” and various communities.  Every place we have lived has its blessings, and those blessings have always outweighed the curses in life (eventually).  So, we go out to those places that Hashem shows us.

I may be getting ahead of myself though.  There are people actively searching to find Richard a position in this area so that we will not have to move again.  I am able to continue my coursework, and can do so no matter where we live—one of the advantages of an online graduate program.  The job on the other side of this country is not a sure bet just yet, but TASC is working on it.  Richard has an office to work from for another week and a half.  The coming days will be filled with uncertainty.  Lech Lechah, Go, rings in my ears as it has become the theme of our lives.  But lech lecha is always followed by “I will show you.”  Assurance amidst the confusion of leaving.    Gamzu l’tovah/This, too, is for the best.

We got married during Lech Lecha, and we’ve been “going” ever since.  And Hashem has guided our footsteps, showing us the way every time.

A Matter of Perspective

The past week has been hectic, harried and crazy.  We are finally in our new apartment, albeit up to our ears in boxes.  It will be a while before we create order.  My classes are back in full swing and Richard has to go to work everyday.  But at least we are here, achy muscles, fried nerves, testy dispositions and all.  Every part of my body aches and I tell myself that I am too old for this kind of stuff.  As usual with a move, there were many trips to the nearby super market to get the necessary items we could not put our hands on once our belongings were in the apartment.  Normally I would walk, but there were too many things to carry, too many trips to the market, too many times up and down three flights of stairs, so I drove each time. This is too hard, too strenuous, too demanding—physically, mentally and spiritually.  I kvetch without shame, at least for a while, until I think of the lives others have lived.  My discomfort with this move is for a while, then life will settle into a norm again.  I’ve moved often enough to know that this type of chaos and stress is for a short time only.  For others though, my experience is a mere walk in the park.

I am reminded of a story I read in my grandfather’s memoir.  This is one of the many stories from his homesteading days while a youth in western Canada, not too far from Entwistle.  At the time of these events, Grandpa was a teenager.  I decided that for this post I would share what a trip to the market was like for homesteaders in the wilds of Canada in the early part of the twentieth century, a time when one bought provisions enough to get through an entire winter:

Grandpa (far right) and family at old homestead

Our last trip to Entwistle in 1916 (early winter) I shall never forget. We butchered a steer and loaded it on our wagon to sell in Entwistle.  In places the ground was not frozen deep enough to keep us from breaking through the crust occasionally.  When we came to the crossing of the Pimbine River (about 150’ wide) we tested the ice and thought it would hold us (the team of oxen, a loaded wagon, and my brother and I.)  A little past halfway across we broke through in about 3 feet of water.  We uncoupled the oxen from the wagon and after breaking through the ice several times we finally got them to shore where we built a large fire to get warm by.  Then we went back to prepare to pull the wagon out.  We had about 100 feet of pinch rope but the big task was to get the wagon pole out of the 3 feet of water so we could attach the rope to it.  Jesse jumped in the freezing water and attached the rope to the wagon tongue and then by stages of a few feet at a time we finally got it on the bank of the river.  We were exhausted after all this.  We built a large fire in a nearby log shack, brought the oxen inside where it was warm and then curled up in our blankets on top of some old hay in a corner.  We slept little but did get a good six hours rest at least.  By the light of our fire we cooked our breakfast of rabbit that we had killed the day before and with a loaf of bread and gravy we were ready to be on our way.


The oxen were quite comfortable during the night and after getting their fill of hay, they also were ready to hit the trail, none the worse for the rough day before.  Coming back home the next day was the roughest part of our entire round trip.  When we arrived back on the Pimbine River, we carried about 2200 pounds of groceries across the river on our shoulders then pushed the wagon across the ice.  Then we hooked the 40 feet of leather strap to each oxen in the ring in their nose.  While Jesse pulled on the leather strap, I followed using a long black-snake whip to make each ox move along across the ice.  The ice was frozen thick enough to hold each ox, but it was a slow progress getting each one across.  Then we had to load everything we had carried across the ice and by that time it was late in the night.  I might add here that the crossing on the Pimbine was about 4 to 6 miles down the river from Entwistle.  During the day before the sky was clear and during the middle of the day, about 4 hours, the sun came out bright and warm and thawed the snow on the road going up a steep hill.  Thus we could not get the oxen up the hill, so we spent about 16 hours cutting a trail through the woods around the hill then coming back by the road about sunup or about 9 A.M.  Yes we were exhausted, so after a breakfast of oatmeal and bacon cooked over our improvised camp fire, we rolled up in our blanket and slept for several hours.

There were 2 other short hills that were coated with ice and we had to pack part of our load on our backs and reload again at the top.  The team of oxen could not get solid, safe footing with too big or heavy a load.  We were two days going to Entwistle and 3 days going back home. The last night we stopped over at Jim McKinley’s Stopping Place as those places of night lodging were called in those days.

Never did home look so good to two young men and we slept about 14 hours after we unloaded our provisions and put everything in their place.

When I think of Grandpa, and then I look around this apartment and the mess herein, I am thankful for the comforts that I take for granted every day.  The fact of the matter is that there are many people in the world today who live lives very similar to the life Grandpa lived in his youth.  There is a lot that could be said about the privileges we have, but I will leave that to another blog.  For now though, my hope is that I shall never forget that no matter how tired, achy, irritable I am, my life is very easy and I have much to be thankful for.