Bill Shakespeare Would Be Proud

My grandparents used to take my mom and uncle to Nelson Ledges in the fall when they were young.  My mom carried on that tradition with my brothers and me, every fall if possible.  We typically started our day in the picnic area, enjoyed a lunch together, and tossed around a football or frisbee in the open field for a bit.  Afterward, we all hit the outhouses and then walked across the street from the picnic area to the ledges.  Degree of hiking difficulty here is determined by the group.  Hikers could casually stroll above or around the ledges, or could opt for more demanding descents, climbs, and crevasses through which to crawl.  We usually elected for anything that would challenge us or that looked like it had not been explored before.  If I made it through the Devil’s Icebox without losing my footing – which meant drenching my foot in the cold, orange, mineral-deposited water – then the day was a success.

November ’07 we introduced the state park to the next generation’s boys – four of my nephews.  This month’s masthead is a photo of Brian and the three youngest nephews heading in to the hiking area.

My brother, Tod, explained this sign best as “where your pee would go if you #1’d right here.”

It is customary for our family to stand on this balcony and recite, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?…”  Thanks to Brady, it looks like licking the balcony may become a new tradition as well.

Being silly, I had captioned the photo of Tod, Cliff, and me as “Siblings in love” in a family album.  When my mom was showing the album to my nephews, she asked if they knew what ‘siblings’ were?  Evan, seven years old at the time, said, “Yeah.”  “What are siblings?”  He explained matter-of-factly, “People in love.”

At the end of the day, my mom rode home with Tod and his two boys.  Nate, five years old then, must have been observant of the chatting and laughing that my mom and I did throughout the day, and then saw the hug and kiss we exchanged as I headed back home to Pennsylvania.  In the car he asked, “Granny Joanney, how do you know Aunt Michelle so well?”

Must be all those trips to Nelson Ledges.


Reinforces My Hypothesis

My hydrangea bush continues to flaunt its personality. The massive flower from June that I showed in my last post has faded to a green with rosy tips as it rounds out its life cycle. At its peak it was a pale blue, almost white. The color of hydrangea is dependent upon the pH of the soil, which is why I am perplexed to see this bush produce other flowers that are a deeper range of pinks, blues, and purples. So we have a range of color and color depth. Could the soil vary so much within this small space, causing roots that feed different branches to grow in soil with widely varying acidity? Or is this bush just bizarre?

As I walked around to the back of the bush, I discovered an even more massive flower than the first one. Also green now (and the current masthead), this flower is almost the size of a basketball. Is this normal?

We should probably have testing done…maybe the backyard really is radioactive.



The last weekend of June my family and I traveled to Idaho/Washington for a Cousins Reunion. My mother was looking forward to sleeping in her first morning in Seattle after a long, exhausting day of travel from Ohio to the West coast with my step-dad and grandmother, both in their 80s. Mama did not get her wish. Grams’ memory has been deteriorating for the past five years or so. Alone in her hotel room, surprised that she had slept in until 9:30, Grams called my mom’s room at 6:30 in the morning and spouted, “I don’t know who I am, I don’t know where I am, and I don’t know why I’m here.” Whether she knew it or not, those were profound words for a jet-lagged senior citizen.

I can identify with this mantra – not so much in my existence on Earth, but more like in situations that I thrust myself into, big or small. Whether I’m pushing my limits, responding to a divine calling, or just living life with reckless abandonment, I sometimes stand aghast in new surroundings thinking I don’t know who I am, I don’t know where I am, and I don’t know why I’m here. Like when I found myself swimming in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Like on the first day of my doctorate program. Like when I was asked to take a quiz on Facebook to find out which Disney Princess I am (Cinderella, by the way). And much like now. I have thought about running my own website for quite some time. I eventually want to create a website that has several features in addition to a blog, but taking my first step with a URL and a blog leaves me feeling a bit sheepish and confused. Right now I’m not sure of my place in this cyber world, or exactly why I chose to be a part of it for that matter.

But here it goes…