Thursday, July 28, 2016

What's inside?

Windows and doors fascinated me while in Spain.
Houses are closed up pretty tight due to the heat. I loved walking past entrances like this one. Imagine what the inside of this place looks like!  Is it spectacular? Just a facade?  
How about these? Not so great on the outside, but magnificent inside?  
Beautiful tiles are a part of the interior in most homes. I peeked wherever I could!

Majestic views and celestial palaces awaited behind some of those doors!  We could see for miles in this "backyard!" What a view. My photos really do not do it justice. How would you like to have a BBQ on that patio! The vibrant tiles glistened in the hot sun, and  I can still hear the sound of water babbling from a built-in wall fountain.
A serene place.  Priests from all over the world come to this captivating spot in Casa Don Bosco, Ronda,Spain.  Peace and rest is in store for them.  

All these photos of doors and windows got me thinking.  Wondering about people.

Looking at a door or window like the ones above, (bars on the window, faded brown door) its easy to keep walking. Worn and chipped, there is nothing special to see. Undesirable. They're not eye catching like the stained glass door. But, walk inside and our perception changes. Immediately.  We have a different view.

What if we really looked at the human race and saw people for their worth? Didn't judge by our first impression? Yeah...what if?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Simon the Pieman

Yesterday I met with my writing group.   Surrounded by men and women who totally get me, they remind me just how much I love to write.  A shared interest. Writing.  
I love the quote, "Remember, we're the normal ones!"   My group. The normal ones. They make me a better writer.

This is the first time I've seen them since my holiday. They asked lots of questions. Questions like, "What was your favorite?" "Did you find lots of research?" "Did you go to Rye?"

My answers..."So hard to pick a favorite." "Yep. Lots of research" "Yes I went to Rye"
After I answered "yes" to Rye, the reasonable next question was, "Did you go to Simon the Pieman?"

"Why yes, as a matter of fact I did go to Simon the Pieman!"

Right then, I knew the content of my next blog!

Beware. You may get hungry!
Like the sign states, Simon the Pieman is the oldest tearoom in Rye. Full of England charm on the outside, I couldn't wait to get inside.
It wasn't hard to tempt me. My mouth salivated looking through the window. How can anyone possibly resist such sweetness! NOT ME! Where's the front door?!
  These cakes date all the way back to the 1600s. They originated from (where else) Eccles, England!
The reason I couldn't  button my jeans when I returned home from holiday! Shortbread. Evil, I say! Evil! I managed to pack on  more than a few pounds stuffing my face with this irresistible sweet. DELICIOUS . We would go for afternoon tea and one of these bars always jumped  on my plate!  I dare you to take just one bite!
 Oh, these too, people. These too! Meringues! I ate the WHOLE thing! They're like an Oreo! Creamy goodness stuffed between two tasty meringues. Yum.
Simon the Pieman is the idyllic English tea room. I felt right at home. You will too.

Have you ever been there before? What treat was your favorite?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Peeps

In many Thursday posts to come, I will be reliving my holiday in Spain. It was magical.  By writing, I get to travel back and vacation  all over again.

Here we go...
I know its kind of a funny picture, but this was me the whole trip. Fully engaged. Present.  I smelled every flower (they were so fragrant), heard the sound of the waves crashing , felt the hot sun, and tasted the most amazing almonds I have ever had. (By the way Paula, I need some more of them-wink wink!)  

Before I can tell you what we did, I need to introduce you to my traveling companions.
This is John. If I hadn't met him, I wouldn't have met his wife, Yvonne (next photo!). Because of John and Yvonne, I met my wonderful England friends,  Marion and Alan (John's sister and brother in law.) And then, John and Yvonne have these lovely friends in Spain. Antonio and Paula. This fairy tale started in the dental office where I work. Because I talked to John, these angelical  people are a part of my life.

Life NIKE lesson here..."Just do it!" TALK TO PEOPLE! You never know. You  could end up on a jet plane headed to England and Spain!   Who knew!!
My girls. Marion, Me, Yvonne and Paula. 3 countries represented in this photo! WOW! I just now figured that out!  Ha! England, America and Spain. We are so awesome!!
Marion and Alan are from my happy place-England!
Antonio and Paula. Doesn't Paula look like Marilyn Monroe? Seriously.  She came down into the lobby and the first thing I said was, "Hey, you look like Marilyn Monroe!" All she needed was the fan to lift the dress!  

Antonio was our tour guide extraordinaire! He is fabulous. We would have NEVER been able to do all the things we did in Spain had it not been for Paula and Antonio. He is a for real tour guide! We got to sit back and enjoy all of this trip because he was our fearless leader. Who knows the food that would have been delivered to my table if they hadn't interpreted the menu for me! They kept my tummy full of delicacies. Oh, and one time, I saw this woman wearing the cutest pair of pants. I said to Paula, "Can you tell her I love the pants she is wearing?" She proceeded.  No, I didn't speak the language, but smiles and laughter ensued. Kindness doesn't need interpreting! That was really a fun moment.

Yvonne and I. I wuv her.
Hubby, Paula and John. "I think I can, I think I can!" It was a steep hill!  

 These people hold the key to my heart.
Stay tuned...

Monday, July 18, 2016


How would you like a job working six hours a day for six years, wearing diving equipment that weighed more than 198 pounds? PLUS, the water you work in will be murky and thick and ever so dark!
That is exactly what this guy, William Walker, tackled. In the early 1900's, it was found that the cathedral was sinking. Yep. Sinking. So, this dude "dug out the peat deep under the walls, removed the beech rafts from under the foundations section by section, and laid bags of concrete to create a new, solid base underneath the cathedral." Incredible. I know, right!! He was quite a hero.

I think this would fit perfectly under the umbrella of unfavorable jobs.
Water and darkness. Not a great combination.
I was fascinated by this story while visiting the cathedral.

My first  glimpse of Winchester. I know it sounds a bit morbid, but I was very excited to get inside. The grave of a very famous author lies within the cathedral. One of my favorites. Jane Austen. The writer of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility,
Did you know only four mourners attended her funeral? Four. Just four. Three of her brothers and a nephew. Her beloved sister, Cassandra did not attend. "As women were not expected to attend funerals, Cassandra's last glimpse of the coffin was from 8 College Street. She 'watched the little mournful procession the length of the Street' and it 'turned from her sight.'

Jane Austen died about 4 a.m. on Friday 18 July 1817. "Her pillowed head resting on her sister's knee." Grief. There is no greater emotion. Cassandra writes "...I have lost a treasure, such a Sister, such a friend as never can be surprassed-..."
Jane Austen grave.

It felt a bit surreal to be standing over her grave. Under all that stone lies a very talented and beloved author. Nowhere on this epitaph does it mention Jane as a writer. It is said "Jane Austen would have been surprised and amused to discover that, today, her grave is the most frequently visited in Winchester Cathedral."  I believe she had no idea just how much her work would have an affect on millions of readers around the world long after her death.  She died in 1817 and is known today as one of the greatest writers of all time. Now there is a definition of legacy.  
Close to her grave is this plaque. Written  are these words:

"JANE AUSTEN, known to many by her writings, endeared to her family by the varied charms of her Character and ennobled by Christian faith and piety, was born at Steventon in the County of Hants Dec. xiv, MDCCLXXV, and buried in this Cathedral July XXIV, MDCCCXVII. 'She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness.'
(Prov. xxxi, v. xxvi).

I would have liked her. We would have been friends!
Next to the gold plaque hangs this sign.
What a pleasure it was to be able to spend hours in this cathedral. I dreamed of one day visiting. Dreams really do come true.
 My neck was strained from looking up! WOW is all I can say.
Incredible. I didn't want to leave.
The crypt in the cathedral. You can't go in because obviously, it's flooded! It floods regularly. The crypt is the oldest part of the cathedral. 1079. Old. "The crypt was not designed to house the dead but to raise the east end of the cathedral, to make it like the 'holy hill' on which Jerusalem and its Temple were built."
This  sculpture was a gift from artist,  Antony Gormley.  "The sculpture is an encouragement to be still for a moment and to 'sound' the hidden depths of our own spirit."

Be still. Good advice while visiting.  A great place to ponder your place in this big wide world.

I hope you enjoyed this very mini tour of the cathedral. Visit Winchester if you plan to visit the UK. There are other graves, chapels, the Winchester Bible, The Great Screen, and so much more.
You will learn lots and lots of history!

(Information and quotes come  from the guidebook I bought at the cathedral. I tried to write in my journal, but buying the book was so much easier! I have been leafing through it since returning home. If you go, buy the book!)

Thursday, July 14, 2016


As I made my way across the parking lot last Sunday afternoon, the only sounds I heard were the crunch of pebbles beneath my shoes and the faint whisper of one voice to another confirming they brought enough Kleenex.

This was a day I hoped would never come.

One by one we filed into the church. Someone handed me a small leaflet.  I found a spot in a pew towards the back.  I glanced at the program in my lap and then it hit me. He really did die.
TJ was a distant relative of my husband. I remember meeting him years ago at a family reunion. He had a bigger than life smile.

In May of 2010, I heard he was diagnosed with cancer. I know there is some technical term for the type he had, but it was a form of leukemia.  I'm not sure what possessed me, but I felt  I needed to go and see him. I went to Regions hospital and found my way to the oncology department. I didn't spend a lot of time with him, but basically I just told him I would be praying. I meant it.

Ironically, just weeks later I was back at that same hospital.  My mother- in- law was sick. We weren't quite sure yet what we were dealing with, but it didn't take me long to figure out I was on the same floor I had been on while visiting TJ. The oncology floor. I knew right then my mother- in- law had cancer. We buried her three weeks later.

I followed TJ's story from the get go. He was a great communicator through writing. I liked that. He had a Caring Bridge site and wrote the most amazing posts.

"Making a journal entry on your own caring bridge site has been very difficult for me as it is something you never plan on doing. ...spend some time with your loved ones, and just smile..."

He also wrote a book!
It is raw and real. I'm so glad I have a signed copy.

As I sat in the pew waiting for the Celebration of Life to start, I felt like I was intruding on a private moment. Up front, I saw his father bending over the casket, weeping. I imagined his thoughts.

Can I give you my breath? I can't breathe.  Please wake up. Don't leave me.   Don't shut the lid because if it closes, then that means he's gone and I can't see him...

The service began with Hallelujah chorus. The tears started flowing. It was so inspiring. But then, that's who TJ was. Inspirational. It was said of TJ that he "had a determined will. Always there making a contribution. He inspired many."
His parents and family and friends can be so proud of TJ. He was one incredible man. I'm so sorry for their loss.
This picture of TJ was on the inside cover of the program given at the funeral. I am positive he heard the words, "Well done good and faithful servant."

TJ's obituary:

He will be missed.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Where to begin...

Where did the time go?

Can't  believe I am back now a week from  holiday!  Finally, I am feeling  back to normal. Jet lag really got me this time. I've been feeling a bit like  a baby who has her days and nights mixed up. I forced myself to get back on my time schedule. What I really wanted to do is sleep! Have you ever experienced jet lag? Wow. I didn't expect such a hard re-entry!  But, it was all worth it!
Yes. It was more than I imagined.

I will start at the beginning.
Remember the journal I told you about before I left? Yep. Full. I completely filled every single page.  I started writing the minute I got on the plane.
Flight tracker says 40 minutes to land. Happy place, here I come. And then, through the clouds...
my first glimpse.
I'm here!

I had plenty of time to snap a few photos.  We spent a bit of time in queue. That's my new word. Queue. It simply means 'in line.' Passport control moved pretty slow.  Apparently, they didn't get the memo an extreme Anglophile had arrived, and was anxious to see the outside of Heathrow airport terminal! SIGH...
Pinch me. I really was in England.

Want to know more?  Follow along in the coming blogs!