Summer has come and gone since I've written. But I've been reading my friends' blogs again, and it has inspired me to return.
Since the 3rd of June, my last post, much has happened. I've had a birthday. I've lost 27 pounds. I've been on vacation. It has been a wonderful summer, though very hot!
For my birthday I was in Indiana and Illinois, visiting family. I had a wonderful time. I had delicious strawberry shortcake at an urban church's strawberry festival, a huge affair where over 10,000 desserts were served! I told them about my little church's festival in May, where we serve about 350. But it was the same wonderful feeling of a church doing ministry all together, feeding the whole community.
My sister-in-law's yard was in fine form.
This is looking toward the neighbor's house. SIL has had the landscapers in, and they've worked hard on it all. Here's where I sat in the mornings to write in my journal:
On my actual birthday, I had lunch with 4 high school friends, two of whom I literally have not seen since high school graduation. We were all part of the same crowd in high school, attending one another's slumber parties, crying on one another's shoulders, playing soccer with a crushed up soft drink can in front of the gym, and laughing till we cried on more occasions than I can count. It fed my soul so to see them, and was truly the best gift I've received in a long time. That night I went to dinner with my sister-in-law and her friends at a lovely Italian restaurant located right in the Terre Haute airport. I had chicken piccata that was to die for, as I watched through the huge windows when a huge, bellowing, blowing, lashing rain storm swept across the tarmac. I also watched videos on big screens showing scenes of Italy -- and it was such fun to say, "I've been there -- and there! -- and there!"
I had lunch one day with my brother Paul -- the only one still alive (my brothers were all 12+ years older than me). He seemed his frisky old self, now a year after his beloved wife of many years died. Ramona, we still miss you.
Then, in July, I went to Buffalo for 2 weeks, staying, as always, with my best friend in the world. We had such fun! She has the best little veggie garden on her upper front porch, and we ate a few things from it while I was there.
This is actually a shot from last year, so I got her pretty flower boxes (that we planted together), but not the veggie garden, in the corner where I'm standing to take this shot. This year the porch was even more beautiful than last.
We spend weekdays at the campground, lazing along and barbecuing, going to the beach late in the afternoon and catching up on our reading (I read the first 2 Steig Larssen books, and two books about compulsive eating, which gave me much food for thought).
Oops, ignore that man -- it's Cheryl's partner and my good friend, Tom! But you can see the camping trailer where we stay and the pretty, shaded lot where it's parked. And this is what we saw every night we were there:
Oh, I'm not even sure this is a good example of the best of them! But the campsite is literally steps from the lake (maybe 100 yards?), and after dinner it was delightful to walk down together and feast our eyes on the beauty of it.
On weekends, when the campground filled with noisy campers and many noisy motorized vehicles of various sorts (golf carts, ATVs, go-karts, motorcycles, and the beach with ski-dos and motorboats), we came back into town (about a 45-minute drive) and did city things, such as the stunningly beautiful Buffalo Garden Walk, movies, and parties with the girls.
Okay, this is a shot of Cheryl and her pretty table -- but quite frankly, when I was with the girls, I was having so much fun that I forgot to take the "girlfriend pictures" of all of us together that I love so much!
I drove home a happy woman. We ate healthy, wonderful, fresh food, grilled meats, and drank lots of water (along with other libations!). I maintained my weight -- even lost a couple more pounds. My soul was filled with good friends and happy times. I went to church at two cool churches, and got to talk to two cool priests that were new since I lived there. Ah, it was the vacation that I needed last year and didn't get, because I was too busy in California and too sick in Buffalo.
Yes, I've had bothersome allergies on and off all summer. But I learned to manage them! Triumph! Claritin-D is the antihistamine that works for me with minimal side effects (I believe different ones work best for different people), and also Nasonex nasal spray. I've had to keep my house closed up and the cooling system fan running all the time, which is a great disappointment for me, as I love nothing better than open windows and fresh air blowing through, when it's cool enough. But this is how I managed to keep things well under control, so I did not have a recurrence of the bronchitis that laid me so low for two months last summer.
So now I feel rested and energetic again. This is a testimony for at least one good, refreshing vacation each year, and preferably two. I've continued to lose a bit of weight, though the heat in Tennessee has resulted in me being less active during August, and now even into September. My yoga studio closed, so I haven't done yoga regularly, either. So the weight loss has slowed, and I'm struggling again.
My friend Susan (who's also our parish secretary) gave me a great 18-speed bike she wasn't using, and I've ridden it a few times. Funny, though -- when I was in my 20s I did not own a car, and my only transportation was a bicycle. I rode it everywhere, at first with my daughter in a little seat on the back, and then later, she followed me on her own little bike. My 10-speed bicycle truly was almost like an extension of my own body. It's not like that now in my late 50s, I can tell you! It was a great surprise that riding uphill (on this very hilly Plateau) was difficult, even in the lowest gear! What has happened, except for 3 decades and 80 pounds? Huh?
But I am energized and excited about the season to come at church. We're doing 4 sessions on Sunday morning about Christian healing, and it's a lively group of 6 of us. The Bible study on Wednesday is finishing up our very long study of Exodus, and that's exciting, too. This is the first time we've attempted a formal study of the "biblical theology" of a book of the bible (though I tend to think that's what we actually do each time we meet), and it's exciting to see people finding the theological themes or loci in the book, and learning more about God, more about humankind, more about judgment, compassion, and grace, as we review what we've discussed. We'll soon wrap this up and our next study will be the Gospel of Luke. I've started reading "The Wisdom Jesus" by Cynthia Bourgeault, and think maybe I'll have a book discussion on that for our next Sunday series. Can you tell I'm well rested and ready to roll?
Just the last bit of wonderful news from my autumn is that my friend Sandi got a new Kindle for her anniversary, and she has given me her old one, already loaded with maybe 100 books, mostly detective novels! What fun I'm having with it! What a generous heart, for her to give me such a wonderful gift. So I'm reading Steig Larssen's third ("The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" -- I was waiting for it to come out in paperback), and next is the Sue Grafton "U" book. Yay! Lots of fiction to supplement the nonfiction that I'm also enjoying.
Now the colors are changing in my yard, and I'm about to uproot my dear veggie garden and reduce it in size by about half. I'll keep the rhubarb, grapes, and herbs, and try to coax the asparagus to life again next spring. But it's being reduced from a large, rectangular plot, to a smaller triangle. The dear parishioner who built my gate is going to help me move my fence, and I've got to get out there and weed and remove the raised beds, so the job can be simply done.
I'm sure all of you are stopping to enjoy the fall. Take time just to be in a few delicious moments -- as many as possible. You'll never live these particular days again!