Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life just happens!

I'm ready to burst and for a number of reasons!  Happy and frustrating!

Time, for me has always had a very physical sort of feel or sensibility to it.  Days start at a bottom/morning and more upwards to noon/afternoon and slowly (and some times not so!) slide down into evening and the circle round to nighttime and sleep brings it over the top into darkness.  Guess maybe in some way I internalized the movement on the clock..those lovely old fashioned ones with faces and hands and time measured in quarters and the like.  But it truly feels almost like a small roller coaster ride each day.  Swoosh and it's over. Done.

Now the calendar, or as I refer to it the map, does similar things...only over mountain ranges.  Winter is the highest point.  Sharp edgy and slippery.  Dark too, in color sensibility...even with all the white of winter here in the northern part of the States.  The sharp inclines slowly give way to softer slopes with much lower degrees of incline, eventually leading to a lovely valley, that as a child seemed strangely limitless in its geography.  Fall is a slow climb up foot hills, golden and crisp with a special smell to it that is perfume to me.  Finally back to the ever steeper slopes of winter and the jagged ups and downs.

That endless valley of summer gets a little smaller and more clearly defined the older one gets, but there is still a sense spaciousness to it.  At least until this year.  It's feeling a little tighter and cramped, probably for the first time, very clearly defined and in a way, limited.  Why...because life has again given me a very special gift.  Or gifts, at both ends of the valley.  They demand my attention in a way nothing ever has, at least for the last 28 years.

My youngest will become a father in April.  The "due" date is the 11th.  My oldest just told us that he will become one on September 11th!  Both wonders put completely to rest my hopes of a spring or fall Camino!  Which now leaves summer!  That once seemingly endless plain now has clear and sharply defined edges.  Rather like a beautiful high valley as opposed to coastal or midland areas.  But it's still there if you look for it.

I'm sure I'll find my way on this new map.  With happiness at either end of can I fail!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Scallops and Scallop Shells

Shell of Saint James

"The scallop shell is the traditional emblem of James, son of Zebedee and is popular with pilgrims on the Way of St James to the apostle's shrine at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Medieval Christians making the pilgrimage to his shrine often wore a scallop shell symbol on their hat or clothes. The pilgrim also carried a scallop shell with him, and would present himself at churches, castles, abbeys etc., where he could expect to be given as much sustenance as he could pick up with one scoop. Probably he would be given oats, barley, and perhaps beer or wine. Thus even the poorest household could give charity without being overburdened." - from Wikipedia.

Ok..this wasn't what I was thinking about when I started a quick stroll down memory lane!

Once upon a time, about a hundred years ago..or so it feels some days, my boyfriend and I would go out on these things called dates.  Since I lived on the far side of Philly and he in South Jersey, he'd drive up to visit me (I  didn't even own a car!) and we'd go to dinner near by rather than downtown.  It saved gas, time and money.  I was at the time, living on City Line Avenue and in the strictest, most technical of terms, on the "Main Line", the penultimate suburb of Philadelphia.  Ha!  It was a tiny, bachelor apartment, up three flights of stairs, shared by two good friends. You had to be to survive such tight quarters!

There were perks though, 'bout a mile down the road.  Saks 5th Avenue, Lord & Taylor and a restaurant that for us was the height of sophistication, The Magic Pan.  Mind you, we were poor, my roomie and I.  Count your pennies poor.  She was still a student at St. Joe's, across the street, I was working at Temple University in one of the many libraries.  Our forays to Saks and L&T were sale rack only.  But oh what a sale rack it was!  For a real treat, we'd have lunch in the Tea Room (if we could swing it).  Needless to say we walked the mile or so to the store. Once again, no need to waste gas driving if we could walk. We had a blast living up there.  But I digress from scallops.  The Magic Pan had Coquille St. Jacque and I fell totally in love with the dish.  You could count on me ordering it every single time I crossed the threshold.  I can still smell it, the crepes fresh off the pan, the cheese, the sweet scallops!  Pardon while I wipe keyboard.

Well, it's been a few years,  oh say 33+ years!  Donna, the best room mate ever, is in Connecticut and I'm in suburban Central New Jersey.   I couldn't tell you the last time I had crepes or Coquille St. Jacque.    It just so happens that scallops, lovely large sweet scallops, are in my freezer.  That guy I used to date, now my hubby,  wiped out the local supermarket last week.  They'd gotten a shipment at a terrific price and he came home with six or seven pounds!   So all this is what lead to an internet search for recipes, a Coquille recipe.  Which then brought around the Wiki entry regarding uses of scallop shells as a means of allowing all to participate in acts of charity.  Funny thing how things connect in the strangest of times and places across years and miles.  During those dinners at the Magic Pan, I knew nothing of Sant Iago, nothing of Santiago de Compostella or the Camino.  I remember wondering what the name of the dish meant.  At the time I thought perhaps it was named for a place called St. Jacque.  Little did I know how much time and energy would eventually be given to scallops and scallop shells!

So today I practice making crepes and tonight we'll have crepes with Coquille St. Jacque.  And all the while, contemplating how I'm going to manage a trip to the Camino this year.  I will.  I must. I'm gonna! Sant Iago, it's in your hands!!

Funny thing, I'm back to being relatively poor, courtesy of a job change last fall.  Stranger still, by the standards of most, I've no regrets and am as happy as a clam or is that a scallop!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Steps into silence

It's turning out to be quite a chilly and snowy winter here in the Mid Atlantic states.  This is the third snow storm since around Christmas.  Since my work schedule is is after the major shopping holiday after all...I have more time to walk.  So I've been trying to get out and walk around 3 miles each day.

It's been interesting.  You see few people when there is snow on the ground.  And how cheery most of them are!  It's almost like a small secret society of snow lovers.  We hide, out in the open, in the fresh crisp air, where the moaners and whiners won't see or hear us.

I've come to realize this week, that an answer I gave to a question on a friends blog, about which you prefer more, solo walking or with a companion, may not have been accurate! It's been a while since I've really done a fair bit of solo walking or hiking.  Just sort of happened.  Just as these solo walks have just happened.  I really find I'm loving the silence.

Now most of these walks of late have been here in town, so perhaps silence isn't quite the right word.  There is the sound of traffic (sometimes!).  Tree's creak in the wind.  Ice makes wet drippy sounds.

 Or snow can be crisp and squeaky.

Sometimes it muffles every other sound as it slowly covers everything.  Shovels scrapping and being honed on sidewalks and driveways.  The hum and whoosh of snow blowers.  Very few human voices though.  No music.  No conversation.  Just the smiles from fellow snow lovers passing by...sometimes only the eyes, as the face is covered high with a scarf, but they communicate so much.

I guess the solo walking and training is rather like my running (such as it ever was!)  I prefer not to have an external sound track going.  Most of the runners I know, my own son included, prefer to be plugged in and powered up before they set foot outside the house.  They've got chips in their shoes, GPS's on their watches, and music in their iPods.  When these things malfunction, it's actually quite amusing to watch them melt down.   It's as though they need the validation from the outside sources that they've really done the run.

Not that I haven't done a run with music, because I'd be lying if I said otherwise.  But as much as it can be an aid on occasion, I find most of the time it interrupts my train of gets between me and the tarmac.  My all time favorite run was done at night out in the country side and was pretty long, around 15 miles.  No music, no watch..just a head lamp so see the road.  Only the road directly in front of my feet.  I couldn't tell how much father to the next stop sign and turn.  I had no idea how far I'd gone or had yet to go.  It was just me, the night air and the road.  Totally present, totally now.  A little bubble of light and road, moving forward.  I loved every wheezing moment of it.  I even remember the jubilation of arriving at the end, and actually considering running on past...just keeping on keeping on. That would have really freaked out my fellow runners training for the marathon...who did things exactly by the book!

And so it seems to go with walking.  I'm enjoying just placing one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again.  Hmmm I think it may be time to put my boots back on this morning.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year!

I'm almost taken aback...the "New Year" is here!  This is to be the year I go to walk the Camino...And I'm finding my self nearly afraid.  This IS IT!  Still quite a bit of time to go...but the sheer nervous anticipation is amazing.'s snowing...beautifully...tiny flakes thick in the air, decorating everything in sight.  Going to have to slap on the boots and go out.  Time for a little outdoor work and prayer...all at the same time.  My camino will need's in danger of being derailed!

My greatest newest joy, my granddaughter is due to arrive in mid April.  One of my slightly older joys in this life, my younger brother is due to turn 50 in early October!  Both of which where the times I'd planned to go on Camino.  So..will be giving it all time and prayer and putting it in larger hands than mine.  Perhaps summer is when I'm meant to go, or later in the fall than originally anticipated.

Meanwhile, I'm off for a bit!