Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Yesterday's Walk: ~ The more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world.~ Etty Hillesum

I only worked an eight-hour shift overnight Monday as opposed to the usual twelve, so I had more energy than usual after walking home yesterday.  It was a good morning, then, to pack my backpack for a longer walk.  After buying a carrot muffin and some watermelon, I got my bag together, filled my water bottle with iced tea and lemon slices, reapplied my sunscreen and lip balm (this kind, thank you, and I could EAT it, it smells and tastes so good), and set back out into the sun.  At the two-mile mark, I found myself admiring this fountain as I always do.  It is my favorite sculpture in one of my favorite spots in the city.  The University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning stands in the background, another of the city's great beauties.  In the nine years I've lived here, I've spent many hours on the benches that surround this fountain, sometimes with an ice cream cone and sometimes with a book, but always grateful for the oasis this spot provides.  May 2011.  And that a human being created this! 
It was a hot and humid walk, even so early in the morning, but there was a nice enough breeze.  Nature provided hearts along the way, as it tends to do. 
When I last showed you Neptune, his pool was not yet filled with lily pads.  He has a more colorful world to guard now in the summer.
And into the woods. . . .
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Bliss.
The pond wasn't looking its best, and I couldn't take a step on its shores without crossing paths with dragonflies skimming the water.  I passed a man who was out walking and a few young women running through the woods, but it was a quiet park yesterday.  'Too buggy to lunch here, but peaceful.  And breezy enough to give relief, but not so windy as to keep the flowers from standing still for pictures. 
I returned to the park to find a shady spot for lunch. 
The site of what used to be Forbes Field, one of the Pittsburgh Pirates' earliest stadiums, ended up being the ideal place to put down my backpack finally and take a break.  Dappled shade and solitude!  It's another of my favorite places in the city.  It's a quiet and small spot, neatly tucked away into the campus that now surrounds it, but is one with so much history.  In 1935, Babe Ruth hit three home runs here in a single game.  Bill Mazeroski's home run that won the 1960 World Series for the Pirates was hit here too.  I never walk around what remains of the outfield wall without remembering that my grandfather and my dad got to see many of the greats play ball here.  
One set of three-tier bleachers was in full sun yesterday afternoon, but the other made a perfect dining room.  Shade!  The frosting and flowers I spread onto my muffin-now-turned-cupcake were pretty but not quite what I was feeling like after so much walking--it would be eight miles by the time I arrived back at home later--but the iced tea was soon almost gone and I could have happily eaten my weight in watermelon. 
After eating, I wandered around more before starting the walk home and noticed a table and chair set in the distance behind the outfield wall.  I don't remember it having been there before, but it will surely be one of my next lunch spots.  How dear is this! 
A rabbit sat still long enough for me to get its picture as I walked home.  Usually, they're too skittish and disappear as soon as I raise the camera. 
Two miles back to the apartment--
--and soon I was crawling into bed--finally--to sleep away the rest of the afternoon. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Twenty Minutes Straight

The woes of the world have been getting me down this week, and I skipped Sunday's run and then Tuesday's too.  And after such a beautiful run last time too!  Sigh.  I forced myself into my pink shoes and out the door this morning, determined not to let myself slip-and-slide deeper into Ye Olde Depression, figuring I'd run the first five minutes of Week 5's podcast then do a walking break, repeat-til-done.  At five minutes, though, I felt good enough to go for eight, and at eight, I knew I could run ten--and was amazed at what an experience I'd had to push myself to have at all was turning into--and soon enough, my Garmin-watch read "[Time-Run:  14 minutes and however-many seconds]," and I decided I was way too close to twenty-minutes-straight at that point to stop.  ("Now, I figured since I'd run this far," explained Forrest Gump, "maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. . . .")  :)  Maybe everything on my mind just distracted me enough mentally to make it easier to do physically, but I completed the twenty minutes and felt okay at the end of it.  Last month at this time, I hadn't even (re-)started running yet!  It's fascinating to me what the body adapts to and learns.  Onward and upward, then.  Twenty minutes straight! Now we're getting somewhere. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Day Off

After working about thirty hours of overtime this week:  Finally, a day off.  And with The-World-at-Large seemingly spinning out of control, I feel a bit guilty saying that it has been such a sweet day here.  A big bowl of cinnamon-topped berries this morning.  A nap that didn't leave me feeling groggy.  A small birthday package mailed to my almost-twelve-year-old nephew.  Emails to and from cousins.  A grilled cheese-and-zucchini sandwich for lunch.  A taco salad for supper.  Iced tea with lemon all day.  And ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, best of all, a run tonight that was the first in my life I think I've ever loved.  It was 9 pm when I left the apartment for it, making it the latest I've ever run, and it was like a beautiful dream the entire half-hour.  The sky was setting as I did my warm-up walk, the moon misty behind coral-pink and deep lavender-gray clouds.  Fireflies appeared and disappeared in front of me as if lighting my path the entire run.  One even landed on my shirt.  A cat peeked out at me from a yard's side-gate and didn't make a move toward the street as I always fear cats will even though I'd impulsively cooed, "Oh, pretty!  Hello, Sweet Face" as I passed him.  I ran faster than on all my previous runs since re-starting the running last month.  The trees were soon silhouetted black against a now-all-lavender sky.  A family was playing tag under the lights on a school's lacrosse field.  And I ran so easily tonight, it made up for the harder moments from this past month.  I'm now halfway through the nine-week program, and it is so exciting to feel my own progress.  By the end of next week, I should be running twenty minutes without stopping.  Twenty minutes!  I treated myself to a bouquet of pink roses this evening to celebrate.    And soon will be in bed with a book.  Bliss.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sweet Vickie

This past weekend marked five years since a most-precious reunion.  In July 2011, Vickie of the Red Hair and Sweet Smile traveled from New York to attend my younger brother's wedding, and her visit marked the first time we had seen each other since I was a baby. 
I'd heard about sweet Vickie all my life because she is Mom's best friend from high school, and she and Aunt Laurie have long been dear friends, as well.  Vickie's husband Mark was best friends with my uncle Warren, Aunt Laurie's husband, and my aunt and uncle would eventually name their son after him.  These are bonds that began in the 1960s for them all, and I grew up hearing stories of their friendships.  Mom and Vickie used to ice skate behind Vickie's parents' house, and "Ohhhh, of course, Vickie had this gorgeous ice skating outfit," Mom would remember, laughing.  "She was just darling, a little snow bunny!  And there I was, probably in one of my dad's old sweatshirts. . . !"  Mom always loved Vickie's name too.  "Victoria!  Victoria!!  And I was just 'Chris.'  She always seemed so glamorous!"    I would look through Mom's old pictures and yearbooks and think they were all glamorous, these classic beauties with their sweet smiles and 1960s hairdos. 
"If we can't at least live near each other, we'll keep in touch by writing," Vickie had signed Mom's high school yearbook, knowing my parents were soon getting married.  And it was a promise they kept.  Mom and Vickie have been exchanging letters and cards since 1970.  One winter while I was in college, Mom mentioned to me that Vickie's mom had died, and I asked her for Vickie's address.  My friend Sommer had died the year before, and I had a newly-formed, and already permanent, soft spot for people feeling the particular hell of fresh grief.  I mailed a letter to Vickie, a card back from her soon appeared in my dorm's mailbox, and so began our own correspondence.  Until 2011, though, we all hadn't seen each other since I was a newborn, and Aunt Laurie and Vickie hadn't seen each other since sometime in the 1980s.  Summer 2011, then, what a sweet moment to see, finally, these three high school friends together. 
And I finally got to meet this kind and funny person I'd been keeping in touch with since 1996!  We all spent a wonderful afternoon together the day after the wedding too, visiting some more back at my parents' house.  So much laughter between everyone, and as Vickie, Mom, and Aunt Laurie all noted, it was as if no time had passed.  They just picked up where they'd left off in-person all those years ago♥ 
A few months later, I framed my favorite photo from that weekend's visit and sent it to Vickie with a card.  Could Mom have possibly guessed as she passed her newborn daughter into her best friend's eager arms in 1977 that they, too, would become friends?  But life is sweet, and such things do happen.  And that is the Vickie story, one of promises kept and of love expanded.  
To friendship! 

Friday, July 8, 2016

~Sit. Feast on your life.~ Derek Walcott

At 39, Val realized she didn't have to save the treat of edible flowers just for others.