Category Archives: Home is Where the Heart Is

Staying Connected in Solitude

Yes, home is where the heart is . . . and where the rest of me is for the foreseeable future. These days many of us are practicing social distancing or actually marooned in our homes as I am, since I’m not 100% healthy.  It really does NOT seem to be COVID-19, but the doctor made me get tested on Friday to prove it was safe for me to come in to have my sore throat checked. Of course, results are currently taking four to six days, so I’ll either be really sick or nearly well by then, but I understand the need for caution. I seem to be on the mend today, so I’m hoping I won’t even need to go in after all. While I’m on (self-imposed) house arrest, I decided to stay connected to all of you in other ways. Here’s what I’ve been up to since my last post just after Christmas.

I took a short trip with Chelsea and Beckett to Washington D.C. the 11th to the 15th of February. I was busy working remotely and being the traveling nanny while Chelsea had work responsibilities, so I didn’t take a lot of photos. Definitely had a great time with this cutie.

Beckett – February 2020

I finally made it to The Phillips Collection to see one of Renoir’s most famous paintings, Le déjeuner des canotiers, or as you may know it, Luncheon of the Boating Party. It was Beckett’s first visit to an art museum. He slept through the whole thing. Probably for the best. I walked the few blocks from the hotel with Beckett in the stroller, but then had some trouble finding it:

The Phillips Collection

Yes, as you can see, there’s a giant sign with “Phillips” on it in all caps and the obvious front entrance, but in the midst of pushing the stroller with one hand, holding an umbrella with my neck and checking the map on my phone, I read only the little white sign you see that mentions some additional part of the museum, so turned left down this alley. I walked literally BETWEEN the two buildings of the museum, but managed to end up on the next block asking directions. Unbelievable.  (Thought everyone could use a good laugh about now. You’re welcome.)

Chelsea kindly took me along with her in the evenings to catch up with as many of her DC friends as possible in four short days. Here she is with friends Travis and Rob.

Beckett is DONE with Happy Hour
Beckett enjoying the middle seat

Traveling with a baby is an almost comical amount of work (and gear–I’d forgotten), so I’m glad I was able to go along and help. We managed to score an empty middle seat on the flight back (yes, row 43 or 4003 or whatever–the last one– but still). Fortunately, he’s a pretty happy little guy most of the time and limited his pterodactyl imitation during the flight to just a few funny squawks.

With Beckett on the flight home

Before and after the DC trip, I was super busy with homework for two poetry classes and weekly French lessons, all of which involved a great deal of searching for inspiration, then writing and rewriting. Those pretty much drained my weekly creativity supply, but now my first two poetry classes are over and the third has been canceled, along with the rest of the semester’s OSHER classes (for the safety of everyone), so I’ve got a bit more time. My French lessons are via Skype every Thursday with my teacher and friend, Natacha, so those continue.  Writing a page in French every week takes me almost as long as writing a poem, sometimes longer, but I love it and I continue to learn.

So here I am in my solitude, but this weekend I’ve talked on the phone with numerous family and friends–now that my throat hurts less and my voice is coming back–so my cup runneth over. I sincerely hope you are all staying healthy. In this worrisome, almost surreal time, I pray for all of us peace, comfort, compassion and grace, regardless of our physical health.

I hope you are keeping your distance but staying connected to your dear ones. Let me know how you’re coping. I’d love to hear from you!

Christmas With Family

On this final day of 2019, I am adjusting to the sudden solitude and so very grateful for my dear ones. We all gathered here once again for another festive family Christmas celebration, still missing David like crazy, but glad to be together.

Chelsea and Brian and baby Beckett live nearby, so I see them throughout the year, but except for a few Chelsea and Beckett overnights, they didn’t stay here during the holidays like the others. Still, they were here Christmas Day.

Brian, Chelsea and Beckett

Here’s Beckett wondering why a stuffed animal is singing to him and flapping its ears . . .

Beckett and his new singing, talking elephant
Brittany and Andy

Brittany brought her boyfriend Andy, who kindly postponed his family Christmas to join ours. He was a great sport in this house full of women. He played games,  worked jigsaw puzzles, helped Felicity learn to fly her mini-drone,  and cooked and cleaned as much as any of us. Andy’s a fun guy so it was tough to get him to quit hamming it up so I could get a normal photo, but he makes Brittany smile, and I love that!

Andy and Brittany

They hit the road early Sunday morning to drive down to Albuquerque to celebrate Andy’s delayed family Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Fortunately they forgot about ten things, so I’ll get to see them again soon.

Courtney was queen of travel this year, even more than Brittany and Andy. She flew out here on the 22nd and back home Christmas night, just to turn around and drive back with Bailey and Felicity on the 26th. It was a lot, but we weren’t about to leave her alone on Christmas or deprive any of us the comfort of togetherness on the 27th, so she did what she had to do. I made them pose for a photo before I’d let them go Monday afternoon.

Felicity, Courtney and Bailey

I waved goodbye and the house was suddenly VERY quiet. I remember David and I would always say to each other, “Well, back to you and me again,” and we’d have a glass of wine and talk about all the fun of the past few days. He’s been gone now two years, and I still don’t know what to do with myself in those moments.

Two years. Time is such a weird thing. It flashes by at the speed of light when we’d rather it stop and drags when we want it to hurry up. David is beyond time now, and here I am knowing only that two years have gone by and grief is not done with me yet.

But there will be other family times. I wrote a poem in November called “Magic Words” that I think sums it up.  The poem starts with a long litany of the chores and chaos that are part of hosting a crowd over the holidays. You probably know what that’s like, so we’ll skip to the last stanza:

. . . I will say thank you again, once the house is empty and quiet

and the extra shoes and coats,

the kids, the crafts, the snacks,

the phones, the tablets, the chargers,

the dogs, their leashes and dishes, their crates and treats,

have all been packed up and taken away.

I will call all three and say thank you so very much for coming,

for being my dear ones, my family,

for crashing into my silent aloneness

with your exuberant, irrepressible, gloriously loud life.

fromMagic Wordsby Sunny Bridge – November 2019

 

Wishing you a 2020 with lots of warm, wonderful times with your dear ones!

Welcome, Beckett!

Beckett David Johnson, about 12 hours old

Beckett David Johnson arrived at 12:56 a.m. this morning about thirty seconds before Chelsea was to be rushed in for an emergency C-section. He emerged on the last-chance push with the help of forceps, so well done Chelsea, coach/dad Brian, the entire medical team and of course Beckett for finally agreeing to move out of the cozy womb.

He’s 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 19.5 inches long, so we’re not sure what he was waiting for, but he’s here at last. The last few hours were tough on both Chelsea and Beckett (so, of course, worried husband/dad Brian, too), and all Beckett wants to do today is sleep. We all know that feeling, but please pray that he will begin to wake up enough to nurse, which is necessary for many reasons, but at the moment to keep his blood sugar up to healthy levels.

Proud Mama Chelsea and Beckett

Just wanted to share this good news!

*I promise to pass along any well-wishes you leave in the comments.

 

Counting Up and Counting Down

My travels are over for the moment, but what a summer it has been! If you’ve read this blog much or know me at all, you know gratitude is one of my favorite things. It anchors me in the peace of God when worries and sorrows try to knock me down, and a few are trying at the moment, I’ll be honest.

Serenity is seeing a sunset and knowing who to thank.  ∼  Unknown (some say Amish Proverb)

Count your blessings, we’re told. So here’s a visual list of some of the blessings I’m counting.

Tiny moments of peaceful beauty:

Lake Sunapee Dawn — August 2019
Monet’s Japanese Garden, Giverny, France — July 2019
Monet’s Garden, Giverny, France — July 2019
Giverny, France — July 2019
Le Patio, La Rochelle, France — June 2019

Long afternoons and longer evenings of joy with dear ones:

Chelsea, Brian, Courtney, Brittany on the Megalodon — Felicity seeing them off — July 2019
Pascale and Jacky — on our way to Cap Ferret, France — June 2019
Left to right: Felicity, Amy, Ellie (in foreground), Bailey, Catie — 4th of July Weekend 2019
David – August 2011

And always, forever, my beloved David . . . . I’ll never stop being grateful for him!

*******

While I’m counting  up my blessings, we’re also counting down the days until Chelsea’s baby, Beckett David Johnson, is born. He’ll be my first grandson, and the first grandchild who will live nearby.  Any day now!

Baby Beckett, of course, will be one of the best blessings of all. Please keep him and Chelsea and Brian in your thoughts and prayers.

My sun sets to rise again.  ∼ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Wishing you peace and beauty and dear ones to share them with!

Serenity and Celebration

I’m temporarily back in Colorado, but certainly have more photos to share of beautiful France, I promise you!

Whether home in Colorado or here . . .

Dawn, Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire

. . .  I am officially back in the states after spending six and a half very busy weeks in France. I loved it, but I love being here, too.

The first morning at Sunapee, I woke very early. I don’t see many sunrises, since I’m more of a night-owl, but 6 a.m. in New Hampshire is noon in France, so for several days after my return, I was able to catch a bit of this beautiful serenity . . .

Lake Sunapee Sunrise

, , , before the more active lake life begins. This place, like La Rochelle, is a home away from home for me, which is fortunate since I’m headed back soon for yet another wedding in the family.

I love sharing times of celebration, but I also deeply appreciate serenity and the two don’t always go together.  Sometimes they do, though.  Soak in the tranquility of this view from the top of the Dune du Pilat, near Cap Ferret in southwestern France . . .

Atop the Dune du Pilat

Here’s what was actually going on when I took the shot . . . .

Dune du Pilat, near Cap Ferret, France (yes, that’s Pascale)

. . . lots of people celebrating this marvel, not to mention the fact they made it to the top!

And another shot from on high . . .

The view from Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire, USA

. . . which was more about celebration than serenity, since we were VERY high up on a chairlift, so not feeling completely serene as we headed down from Nellie and Stefani’s wedding to their reception, but look how beautiful it is!

After the festivities and a few more days enjoying the lake, people started heading back to their regular lives and peace took the place of parties. It was then that I had another wave of missing David so much the sadness threatened to overwhelm the serenity. And I suspect it will continue to do so sometimes. I know I’m “allowed” to miss him and to still feel sadness, but sometimes the sharpness of it catches me by surprise. When I tried to take a walk up the road, I remembered this . . .

David at Sunapee, July 2014, during of our grand year of adventure

. . . and I had a choice to make. I could be sad he wasn’t walking up the road to greet me–and I was, I have to admit–but I could also choose, even while feeling sad, to be grateful that he had introduced me to this beautiful place, and even more, that he had chosen to spend the bulk of his adult life loving me. What a gift.

So I’m finding that sadness, serenity and celebration continue to dance through my life, at times politely taking turns like newcomers at a church picnic, sometimes weaving in and out and joining together unexpectedly, forming intricate patterns more complex and beautiful than the contra dancing I enjoyed at the Folk School. But the music continues to play, and I guess all I can do is dance.

Bonjour La Genette !

After our tour of Bretagne, it was time to give Pascale and Jacky  back their own space. We returned to La Rochelle on Sunday the 26th of May. I was moving into Le Patio on Tuesday, so Monday we had a chance for a long walk around Les Minimes, the  larger beach and port of La Rochelle.

It was blustery but sunny and we walked all the way out to the end overlooking the new port and the channel into the vieux port.

Looking across to La Genette where you see the trees on the other shore.

A channel is absolutely necessary, because here when the tide goes out, it goes OUT.

Low tide from my side

So I’m now on the other side of the port. It used to be about 10 minutes by car, but now much of the central part of town is restricted to buses, bikes and pedestrians, and it’s a LONG way round by car. I  can walk to Pascale and Jacky’s in about 40 minutes, with lots of people watching on the way. They pick me up for adventures involving luggage or events happening on my side and beyond, like our day on Île de Ré (next post).

This, by the way, is NOT where I’m staying, as you know if you read the first Bretagne post. But this gorgeous place IS in my neighborhood, only about a block away, so I walk by it all the time. Most houses come right up to the narrow sidewalk, but a few have a bit of garden in front. It’s more common to save the garden for the private space in back. Still there are lots of tall roses trémières (hollyhocks) growing up from the tiniest cracks where the pavement meets the walls. Excellent reminder to never give up.

David and I used to love the huge marché in the center of town. We rented an apartment about three doors down from it the last time we were here in May of 2017. This year I walk around the corner and inland a few blocks to the cutest little grocery, about the size of my kitchen at home and not much larger than my kitchen here, actually. But it has everything I need, including all the fancy French cheeses, a surprisingly sizable wine selection, produce so amazing I’m always tempted to buy more than I need, and dozens of fascinating little jars of soups and sauces and who knows what.

Marché du Mail — Straight up this street a block and a half, then left to “my” house

I treat the place like a museum. I spend so much time perusing, eventually someones asks me if I need help. I don’t. I’m just enjoying myself too much to leave.

Roses climbing up from the patio 

So like the roses trémières and these roses from the patio, I’m trying to bloom where I’m planted, no matter how temporary. Wishing you the same!

Oops

Apparently, yesterday’s post was not well thought out. Now my girls are apologizing for neglecting me, which was NOT my intent! I was trying to let everyone know I was doing well and had a good day. Plus, I was doing so well yesterday, I wanted to share some love with all of you, with the photos of our family, including a couple fun ones with two of David’s brothers.

So here’s a bit more love . . .

David and Sunny on the Ski Train (a bazillion years ago)

. . . and a little more recently . . .

Sunny and David on Ile de Ré, May 2017

. . . and some extra love for my girls!

Chelsea, Courtney, Sunny, Brittany at Charlie and Catie’s wedding, August 2017

So here’s your extra dose of love!