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Friday, June 26, 2009

Do You Know Where You Belong?

My niece and nephew came recently with many questions about their past. They got answers. They met relatives they have never known. They had questions for them, too. They got more answers. They also got answers to questions they did not think to ask. They saw themselves mirrored in our behaviors and mannerisms. They experienced laughter and camaraderie. They found an instant connection.

There is a single stream of love that comes from genetic connections that one cannot explain. Belonging is one of the more basic needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy. It comes just above health and safety. It is at a fundamental level that we experience the mysteriousness of belonging to one another. Familial loving generates that stream of love.

Thank you Pam and Erick for having the courage to come here to change the ending of your life story…to discover the footprints you did not know you were following. I hope you left knowing that you are loved and that you very much belong to this crazy family. Till we meet again....
P.S. Check for lots more photos from your visit in a few days at

Thank you Pam and Erick for having the courage to come here to change the ending of your life story…to discover the footprints you did not know you were following. I hope you left knowing that you are loved and that you very much belong to this crazy family.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kristen's Graduation

My sweet Krissy Kakes recently graduated from high school. Do you remember your graduation night? I do. I’ll tell ya about that later. This blog is for Kristen.

Kristen, I remember when your mother announced to me that you were in her womb and on your way to our lives. I remember getting the news of your arrival. I remember watching you grow from a baby to a toddler to an awkward teenager. I watched you accept that high school diploma. And yet, I don’t remember when you became such a young lady. Did it happen overnight? Did I look away? You must have been on the verge when you, your mother and I were having our girl’s movie nights. How did I not recognize this? Your future, the one where you become in charge of things, has always seemed to me to be a lifetime away. Now it is here. Are you afraid? Does the future scare you? Excite you? Both? Are you eager to fly or do you want to linger in the safety of home a little longer? Maybe you want to ease your way into adulthood? I have been listening to the lyrics of It’s A Climb by Miley Cyrus. I think of you when I hear it. Do you know the words?

There’s always going to be another mountain,
I’m always going to want to make it move,
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I 'm gonna have to loose,
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side,
It’s the climb.

Just remember, when you do climb those mountains, there is usually a downhill. Sometimes it can be a terrible downhill slide. But, sometimes it is a joyous ride. The mountain, whether uphill or downhill is a place where your self esteem will grow. I hope you will want to move the mountain because then I will know that you are becoming a confident, determined young lady who is not afraid to tackle problems or to reach for your goals and dreams. And sometimes you will fail. Don’t ever think that failure is a bad thing. We all fail. We all learn by those events. I try to look at my failings as a gift. It makes you stronger, better, more independent, and a more determined person. When you do fail or simply stumble, we are here for you. To comfort you. To guide you. To hug you. To encourage you to keep trying. To remind you that we, too, have failed. To help you open your heart and mind to the gift you have just been given…to understand the message. If you listen to the life lesson you are given and use those lessons to make better choices in the future, you will soar. We all love you so much.

Your sweet brother was so happy and proud of his little sister on her graduation day.

Mommy Marsh, Rendy and Bradley waited for you to march down the aisle.

And your Dad waited for his Princess to experience this initiation day.

The mandatory family photos got taken.

And you traded places with Bradley for a moment.

Auntie Paulie likes Ryan, the boyfriend.

Please keep the child within...your mother and aunts have...

Remember, it is not the destination, but the journey that affects you. It is the journey, the climb, that you remember and from which life’s lessons come. Now go light your own torch, my sweet thing. And call me if you need me. All my love, Auntie Paulie.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday Morning June 13, 2009

I had not seen or communicated with my friend, Ted, for a very long time so it was great to catch up with him Saturday morning. Ted became my friend when I had a Gallery in downtown Staunton. He is a very interesting person with considerable musical and writing skills. I knew Ted had published two books so I thought I would Google him this is what I found in Amazon.
The Ultimate wine reference book, a thorough compendium of wine knowledge in an easy readable format, exactly like a regular word dictionary. For the novice of professional Winequesty, The Wine Dictionary answers questions quickly, informatively and accurately. All the great wines Chateaux, wineries grapes, wine districts, regions, classifications and much more are clearly defined in a concise and consistent form, easy to read and thoroughly cross referenced. The ultimate wine book for todays wine enthusiasts. In 470 fact-filled pages wine lovers will find over 7,500 entries covering 38 wine producing countries, all in alphabetical order.
A comprehensive thesaurus of old and new musical terms, for both student and scholar documented in seven languages, with special attention to liturgical and historical musical terms including rarely presented Spanish equivalents. No other dictionary or thesaurus will feature an equally impressive range of information in the field of music, either as an art, a science, or as a cultural history of man's insatiable craving for additional, expressive ways of coming to terms with musical terminology.
And here is what Amazon says about Ted:
About the AuthorAuthor of the best seller Winequest-The Wine Dictionary, Ted Grudzinski was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and is a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, where he majored in art. He holds degrees in music from both Queens College in New York and the University of California at Berkeley. He taught high school music classes in Nassau County, New York, retiring in 1993 to his gentleman's farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. He is the brother of celebrity author Richard Grudens, author of Bing Crosby-Crooner of the Century and When Jolson was King.

Cool. Ted invited me to join him at Newtown Baking, a place I had heard good things about and had been meaning to try it out. I love finding interesting places to eat and this place is definitely a return-to. I had a delicious Strata with Filone Bread, spinach with garlic, mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese.
The cases are filled with wonderful pastries, breads and muffins. Can you believe it, they get there at 3:00 AM each day to make everything fresh. Their brochure says "Our baking is a labor-intensive love, as alldoughs are made with starters, and loaves are given a long fermentation in the cooler to enhance flavor." Some of their breads take 3 days to make. You can definitely taste the result of all that extra effort. There was a constant flow of customers who seem to have made this a regular stop already.

Ted and I left the relaxing atmosphere of the bakery and headed down to the Farmer's Market. If you want to people watch and socialize on Saturday morning, this is the place to be.
I saw a couple of people I had not seen in a while. Like Al who was getting something good to eat...
and Carmen who was working her booth.
The produce is always beautiful.

There is usually music, which sounds so great in the morning air. This morning Trent Wagler and The Steel Wheels were playing. They perform Original Americana Roots Music. Their acoustic music ranges from old time, country folk, infused with elements of gospel, blues, and rock and roll.
Brian Dickel's voice called to me as it fell sweetly on my ear.
Seems like everyone brings their dog to the Farmer's Market. This gorgeous Grey Hound was my pick of the day.
To end the day, I went dancing in Charlottesville. That was fantastic. West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Cha Cha, Salsa, Country 2 Step and Night Club 2 Step. Oh yeah.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Celebrating My Birthweek

Alas. Another year older. Year after year the birthdays come rolling around. I enjoy them. Especially when they turn in to a birthweek, as mine started doing years ago. This year I drove to Atlanta on Saturday, May 16, to visit my friend, Ellen, with whom I have spent the last few birthdays. The 8 hour drive was done in the rain and in the company of Stevie Nicks, John Denver, a little Willie Nelson, the soundtrack to Hope Floats and a couple of others I am not remembering. I arrived safely so Shawn's gift to safeguard my travel must have worked. Ellen and I visited on the back deck warding off hunger with Brie, apples, grapes, Luna Di Luna Merlot and music from Eddie From Ohio (I must have a copy of that). Ellen is a great cook. She served Vegetarian Fettucine with peas, shallots and herbs and a corn salad with feta and walnuts. Yummy.

Sunday, May 17 was a cold, rainy day in Georgia. Ellen and I enjoyed doing nothing. I finished reading Susan Richards' Chosen By A Horse. My turn-down-pages:
Page 54: "They say you can't escape your past, but I don't believe that. I believe you escape it every day, over and over again, always cognizant of the difference between past and present. ...I luxuriated in the silence in my house, in all the voices that were absent." I have been trying for 3 years now to heal from a 4 year emotionally/psychologically abusive relationship. I do luxuriate in not having to listen to the abuse anymore. I hear the silence in the aloneness of my apartment. And I love it. I love the freedom of that daily escape, every day, over and over again.
Page 121: Susan is driving to meet Hank, her first date in years. She is listening to Etta James sing "Let's Burn Down the Cornfield" when something wild in her "wanted to wear a thin dress and roll around in the dirt with a man." I am not alone when I long for that wild abandon.
You know when you pick up this book the horse, Lay Me Down, will die. You know Susan will have learned a valuable life lesson. Once all you predicted comes to fruition, the author hopes that you will be left wondering, will my heart be closed and hardened, or will it be open and giving. Will my heart still love and be loved after all the abuse that has been heaped upon it? I'm on the fence.

Thank God for dogs. While we ponder these things on this rainy day, we have love in the form of Ringo and Paisley.

Ringo had to have surgery on his ear on Monday so Ellen and I called a road trip to Dehlonega for the day. Playlist: Seal's Soul and Robert Plant/Alison Kraus' Raising Sand. I had to laugh at Ellen when she found a couple old love notes on post-it notes from a love-gone-bad-guy. She told me how she threw out a folder full of his memorabelia when moving to Georgia. As she put the notes back into the hiding place of the purse, she commented "Sometimes it's good to remember that somebody loved you." A priceless moment. Arriving at Dahlonega, we first stopped at the Visitor's Center. I grabbed every brochure ever printed so I can plan my next trip back.

Then we browsed The Humble Cafe where I bought a necklass and 2 CDs.

High Cotton was next and was one of the highlights of the trip because we met Kara Martina from Seattle. We had a very interesting conversation and she recommended her favorite CD, Acoustic Chill 2. She did not have a copy to sell me, but sent me back to The Humble Cafe. Kate did not have a copy to sell me either, but she did sell me the perfectly clean demo copy. She could tell I would not leave town without it. (I also found a great pair of earrings.) The CD is now one of my favorites and I am turning all my girlfriends on to it. Thank you Kara.

Ellen and I stopped for lunch at Wylie's.

We then headed on up into the mountains to visit Black Stone Vineyard where we did a wine tasting. $10 for 8 tastings. The view is incredible. We made plans to come back, rent a cabin and invite Kara to dinner.

Would you like a little chocolate with that wine?

Natalie and Carson were our pourers...and great fun.
On the way back, we picked up Ringo. He was ready for pampering. What a beautiful man.
Tuesday, May 19. Ellen treated me to a fabulous dinner at Maggiano's.

Our waitress noticed when processing Ellen's credit card that her last name is Mauzy. She commented that she is from a small town by that name. Wouldn't you know...that small town is a short drive north of Harrisonburg, where Ellen lived her entire life until recenlty. I keep telling ya, it is a teeny, tiny world.

Ellen doesn't usually go for the chocolate, but I do. It is a must with good red wine. This was the largest serving of cake I have ever seen.

I left happy.

May 20, Wednesay. My birthday. I had a wonderful morning with Ellen and then headed out for a 2 day drive home. Fabulous. The windows rolled down. Picture perfect weather. Scenery that takes my breath away. Great music blasting away. Sweet contentment. What a day. After a good night's sleep, I made my way the 2nd day to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I wanted to see Mabry's Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is the most visited stop on the Parkway. The property is beautifully maintained. I bought another necklace and CD in the gift shop. And I got some great photos. Some of them will turn into a painting soon.

I continued my drive on the Parkway for a few hours and then took I81 on the south end of Roanoke. Continuing this peaceful drive, I drove to Shipman, VA where my friend, Dick, prepared dinner for me.

I love Dick.

What a perfect ending to my birthweek. As I made my way home, I thought warmly about how so many people leave their mark on me. I wonder if I do the same for them. Does anyone think about me when I am gone? Pine for me? Anyone?