Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Day, 2014

Someone wrote to make sure I was all right; I am. My posts have been less frequent this summer,  and in most cases, seem to lack their usual sparkle (my observation, not my reader's).

It feels like a busier summer than usual. Nickel-and-dime busy rather than big bucks busy. Though we certainly did drop some big bucks. We put in central air and have enjoyed it (though this has been one of the nicest summers I can remember). It started out with great concern about a sick friend (who is flourishing as of this writing) and ends with concern about two friends' husbands. Support has been needed by a couple of friends undergoing stressful family situations. Haven't seen as much of my daughter and her family as usual; they've done a great deal of traveling.

Early in the summer I rather quickly put together 4-1/2 tops to turn into lap quilts for veterans in wheelchairs. There they sit. I really want to get at least a couple of them completed for the ingathering we have set for the first week of October. Sewing-wise, Birthday Party sits waiting for me to order the fabric for her final border, I've begun hand-buttonholing nine Monster blocks for my #6 grandchild's 2nd birthday/big-boy-bed quilt (in May), and have all of the fabrics washed and ready to go for the Lady of the Lake Swap. Have learned of a couple of pregnancies, and have some baby quilts in the planning stage.

My blogging mojo has been hiding; I don't think it has vanished. I'm grieving the loss of the autistic school from The Little Church. A vigorous search for a new tenant is underway; possibilities rise and fall, rise and fall. One day one of them will take. Meanwhile, it is lonely in that setting. Monthly lunches with my sweet cousin are still a pleasure, but we see that she is losing more memory and becoming more clumsy. This is the second consecutive summer in many, many years that Labor Day doesn't mean back-to-school for me; perhaps someday I'll get used to that.

Our almost-a-week at Chautauqua was enjoyable despite some snags, and this past weekend we traveled to Baltimore to meet up with Tom and his family. The Inner Harbor area was mobbed and waits at restaurants seemed interminable. The little ones were real troopers. We all enjoyed the National Aquarium.

A couple of really wonderful things that happened this summer are somewhat related. In late May or early June, a friend's daughter applied for a position with the government that would place her overseas for a year. She needed a non-family reference and asked if I would write a letter for her. Then, just a week or two ago, another friend's daughter contacted me to ask if I would write a letter of support as she embarks on an adoption process. Of course I am at the age and stage of life where these kinds of requests should be unsurprising, but I was surprised to be asked, surprised and honored that my input should be valued, and I loved thinking back over the years I have known these two women and how exciting their futures are. A third friend's daughter leaves in a month on a mission trip to India; she didn't need a reference, but I was genuinely happy to help her out financially.

Re-reading this, it appears I'm in A Phase.

Phases pass, thanks be to God.

And thanks to the friend who asked if I'm all right.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Two Good Things

When we were driving on I-86/Rte. 17, from time to time we would see blue and white signs urging people not to text and drive, and telling how many miles to a "Text Stop." Then, the rest stops were re-labeled as Text Stops. This was the first I'd seen this kind of sensible effort and I was mightily impressed.

At the final Chautauqua lecture that we attended, the presenter informed the audience that CVS pharmacies had taken a pledge to no longer sell tobacco. Again, I was impressed.

Way to go, New York State and CVS!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Scant Week at Chautauqua

If you are thinking there is something familiar about this dancer, you are right. The group at the top of my blog dances outside the Hall of Mission at The Chautauqua Institution. This wonderful soloist performs somewhere between the Amphitheater and the Hall of Philosophy, on the brick walk.

We hadn't planned on a major vacation of any kind this summer; we had spent some money having central air conditioning installed and decided that a couple of trips to visit offspring and possibly a Cape May weekend would be our vacation.

Then we found out that Chautauqua had a special program for 55+ -- gate passes, dormitory accommodations, breakfasts and lunches, for Week 9 of the season, Sunday through Sunday, all included. The theme for the week was Health Care: From Bench to Bedside. We decided to go for it, even though I had to work the Saturday preceding and the Saturday at the end of the week. We felt a truncated experience was better than none.

The accommodations were at the North end of the campus, a good mile's walk from the Amphitheater; twin-bedded rooms, very comfortable, sharing a bath with one other room. The meals were very, very good for institutional food, with lots of fresh vegetables and a couple of choices for each meal. The shared bath turned out to be awkward, but we managed. Joe sailed and painted. I attended lectures and read. We both relaxed, napped, and attended evening programs. We decided that although the program had very good value for the money, we both preferred to be closer to the plaza, more in the thick of things, and probably will not repeat the experience.

We heard the Chautauqua Symphony once, went to see "Chef" at the Cinema, got together off campus with an old friend we hadn't seen in 30-some years, and learned about adolescent hospice and palliative care, childhood trauma, advances in nursing, cardiac wellness, efforts to have various medical disciplines communicate and research together, African perspectives on death; we saw a group called Dancing Wheels.

One of the best evening entertainment offerings was a group of Beatles impersonators. They were tireless, presenting song after song after SONG, and urging the audience to sing along. At one point I looked out and saw all these white-haired people singing at the tops of their voices, "We all live in a yellow submarine," and thought it to be comical. But all too soon the group began "Hey Jude," and Joe and I found ourselves belting out "Na, na na, na-na-na NA," and feeling ridiculously sentimental. Our kids would have been amazed.