Friday, October 25, 2013


It's the last Five Minute Friday of October and today's word prompt is together.

People can exhaust me. Oh, not in the short term, but put me in a large group of people for an extended period of time ... say in JFK terminal 2 where throngs of people gather like cattle to be moved from one gate to another as they wait for a flight that is likely running behind schedule ... and I'm inevitable ready for some quiet time. I work from home, with only the company of my two dogs and I enjoy solitude, maybe a little too much. But here are some ways I've found together to be better.

  • Together, many hands make a quick job of unloading pallets and restocking shelves at the food pantry.

  • Together, marriages become stronger as couples in a small group share challenges and victories and learn from one another.

  • Together, friends gain additional insight when studying the Bible.

  • Together, burdens feel lighter when shared with one who knows your heart and loves you anyway.

  • Together, it's easier to find things to laugh about, even when the road is long.

  • Together, there's camaraderie when addressing issues with aging parents.

  • Together, decades-long friendships grow deeper and stronger when intentionally nourished.

  • Together, celebrating children's achievements is a little sweeter.
Even for someone who savors her solitude, together can be pretty great. I've been surrounded throughout my life with some amazing people, and I'm grateful for all those who are doing life together with me.

Friday, October 18, 2013


For those of you following along, yes, this is the third post I've written today. Overachiever. Not. I missed last week's Five Minute Friday and thus, I'm checking it off the to-do list so I can have a clean slate facing the weekend. October 11's word prompt was ordinary.

I spent October 11 in anything but an ordinary way. I woke on a boat in a foreign country. (The only thing ordinary about the morning was my husband by my side. Always a good thing.) After bagging and tagging our luggage, we set out on a bus (usually my morning mode of transportation is my feet as I walk to my home office or walk the dogs around the neighborhood). Then we pulled up at a most extraordinary house, certainly not the 40-something house I live in. No, this one has seen more than 300 birthdays (I think I have the math right), is painted green and houses a lot of valuable artwork. A lot. From watercolors to oil paintings to sculptures to gold discovered a thousand years ago, the contents of this house were pretty amazing. (In comparison, my house is decorated with family photos and prints from the likes of Pier One and Kirklands.)

We were at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, once the winter palace of the czars and czarinas of Russia. It hasn't been a home for people for nearly 100 years, but home it is to one of the world's most valuable art collections.

The other out of the ordinary aspect of the Hermitage (and I realize there are hundreds) compared to my humble abode is that there is a bored (or sleeping! yes, I think I saw one snoozing!) middle aged or older lady sitting in every room. Many of them were clutching their purses primly in their laps as they sat guard in the corner. I'm not sure what powers these art-sitters have or what they would do should there be an incident, but they wield enough power that no one  tries find out very often. My brother gave me a video that includes a behind-the-scenes look at the people who work at the Hermitage, so I'm interested to learn the back story.

The Hermitage is big, bright, extraordinary. But now I'm back in my comparatively small, somber, ordinary house. Just the way I like it.


At the beginning of 2013, I made two resolutions: 1) I would write for every Five Minute Friday and 2) we would purposefully get together with our dear friends once a month. So far, we've kept number two and I intend to keep number one, even though it's going to mean a bit of make-up work for me since we were traveling for two weeks. October 3's word prompt was write and so here I am two weeks later ... primarily for myself and the one person reading this who knows of my resolution (she's part of resolution #2) and though her accountability would be full of grace and offer me a pass for the two weeks, I shall soldier on. Here I go:

Confession: I have broken every rule of Five Minute Friday. (I just did it again. I cannot help hitting the backspace key and editing myself.) No self-editing is one of the rules and I do it consistently. I've done it at least three times already. I'm afraid I can't help it.

The next rule I break is the foundational rule of writing for five minutes flat. Sometimes I have nothing to say and take fewer than the five allotted minutes; other times I have plenty to say or feel compelled to edit just one more time. In reality, I just don't pay attention to the time. The third rule I've only broken occasionally and that is to leave a comment on a fellow writer's blog. Sometimes it's all I can do to squeeze in Five Minute Friday and I never go back to comment; other times, I look at a blog or two and can't find anything to say. I like my comments to be positive, and sometimes I'm just flat uninspired.

I wonder how many fellow rule-breakers are out there? I'm guessing there are probably pretty many because few of the blogs I have read are filled with typos or end abruptly. (What are the chances, really, of reaching five minutes simultaneous to the end of a sentence?) Nevertheless, I and hundreds of others show up to write pretty regularly and well, here's to the rule breakers. When I set this resolution for myself, it was a way of forcing myself to write on some sort of consistent basis. I've achieved that, but it hasn't propelled me to get much of the real writing done that I think I should be doing.

But I'll keep working at it. One backspace, one Friday, one keystroke at a time.


Time for Five Minute Friday after a two-week absence. Today's word prompt is laundry.

I did 12 loads of laundry this week. An even dozen. A crazy amount for two people, but I hadn't done laundry for two weeks since we were traveling. Not even the in-between-wash-in-the-sink laundry that's a necessity when you're on a trip of some length. B took care of that. I guess I could get credit for a little laundry action since I dried my socks with the hair dryer.

Ah, I won't take any credit since I made up for it upon arriving home. From morning to night, I kept the washer and dryer humming along, thankful for the quiet day to keep things moving and accomplishing the task so we wouldn't be bothered by the clutter of it lingering. It amazed even me how I had that many loads to do since we tried to pack relatively conservatively, but when you throw in delicates, linens from the dog nanny, well-used dog blankets, coats ... it adds up. It's a good thing I don't mind doing laundry. I appreciate the sense of completion when it's nicely folded and put away, and the laundry baskets are empty -- a fact that usually lasts no longer than three hours, but still.

As a bonus, I finished the ironing the next day. That's really the accomplishment, since ironing does nothing to inspire satisfaction in my life. Call it post-trip momentum, because in reality the ironing could have sat neglected for a week or longer.

And so now you know about my laundry activity this week. Ha. Monday starts all over again. Let's hope I fall short of a dozen loads.

Monday, October 14, 2013

13 Places

Dear B,

Today is our 13th wedding anniversary and as this publishes, we're somewhere between St. Petersburg and Philadelphia, via Paris and NYC. We'll be in three countries and five cities on our anniversary, something I doubt we'll repeat very many times.

The last 13 years have been an amazing journey with you by my side. Oh, the places we've been, the laughs we've shared, the tears we've cried. Since this anniversary is a travel day, I thought it would be fun to take a quick look at 13 of my favorite places that we've been together. I'm looking forward to adding many more to the list and continuing to work on our goal of visiting all 50 states together.

Mechanicsburg, the town where you grew up, where I lived when we were dating and where we got married. I love hearing stories of your childhood escapades as we walk the familiar streets and make our annual trek to Rakestraw's for ice cream.
Dillsburg, the home of the famous pickle drop, where we welcomed the millennium together. Fancee! The town where we met and then lived when we were first married; the place the children will forever know as their hometown.

Washington, D.C., the site of our first kiss as a flock of squawking birds flew overhead. Unforgettable.

St. Maarten, honeymoon destination. Beautiful beaches, entertaining bingo callers, a rickety rental car that barely made it around the island, fresh squeezed orange juice that we've yet to find again ... what an awesome time together. Since our honeymoon was a gift, we weren't sure where we'd end up based on time-share availability, but I think we won the honeymoon lottery.

Stone Castle Motel, our very own Bates Motel that deserves a post of its own. Let's just say we don't ever need to repeat this adventure, although I now laugh every time I remember that long, creepy night. Clearly, this proves I'll go anywhere with you.

Hershey, where we now live. I love this stage of our life and the life we have in this town. I know we were brought here for a reason (or 10) and I'm thankful for that. We survived a year of renovating this house together and I'm thankful we've agreed never to do that again! Surely the basement reno won't be as taxing.

The Cabin, where we've created so many memories. One of my favorites was getting snowed in over New Year's 2013. Peaceful, relaxing, it's a blessing.

Aruba, where we parasailed on your 50th birthday. I still can't believe I did it, but I'm glad we did it together!

Banff, one of the most beautiful parts of Canada we've seen. Mixed memories from this trip, since it ended with you coming down with shingles.

Virginia Beach, where we spent my 40th birthday. Special surprise to have the Brennemans join us. Little did we know how special that time together would be in light of the events to come. I also finished this birthday a lot more sparkly than I started it!

Alaska, the trip we took in honor of your 50th birthday. What a wonderful two weeks that was, filled with beautiful sights, ziplining and interesting people. "She's going down! She's going down!"

Cape May, our favorite beach getaway. The first time we went was for our second anniversary. We've been back several times, including for my birthday this year. It's always a fun time putting our toes in the sand, pedaling around town and enjoying a wonderful meal.

Russia, our most recent adventure. I can't say too much about this trip since I'm writing this before we leave, but I have a sense that this trip should be on the Top 13 list. I'm glad we experienced this country together.

Here's to all the adventure yet to come. Happy Anniversary!