hellomarylou

Inklings from within


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Day Fifteen {por fin}

15. Favorite city?

In September of 2003 I spent three weeks in the loveliest city I have ever laid eyes on. Antigua, Guatemala. The purpose of my visit was to go through an intense, one on one, five hours a day Spanish language course in preparation for volunteering at Orphanage Emmanuel in Honduras. I found a willing friend to go with me and away we went.

My pictures of that time are safely archived in a box somewhere, so I’ll just steal borrow a few images from the world wide web.

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{via}We stayed with a local lady who had several rooms she rented out to international students. We had several European housemates; I can’t remember exactly which countries they were from. The photo above looks very much like the street view outside our house. The city is surrounded by three volcanoes and we were afforded beautiful views each time we walked down the street.

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{via} We studied. Studied a lot, in fact, until it felt like our brains would burst from the endless conjugating of verbs. However, the school also offered great opportunities with field trips to coffee plantations, mountain towns, beach towns, as well as providing plenty of time to explore on our own. The ruins of Santa Clara, pictured above, were my favorite place to visit. Santa Clara was a church and convent that were destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. If, or please God when, I go back, I would spend a lot more time here.

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{via} We spent hours in parque-central, watching people, meeting people, and buying handcrafted goods from the locals. We re-named it “parque-sensual,” in honor of the excessive amounts of canoodling, cuddling, and kissing going on all around us. Public displays of affection are everywhere in Antigua. I was not married then, but who knows, maybe if I went back now with my husband we’d find our own kissing bench. :)It’s just that kind of city. So romantic.

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I’ll never forget the smell of the daily afternoon rain shower.

The warm banana bread from the Doña Luisa bakery.

The thrills of discovering city, self, and language.

Salsa dancing with strangers.

Scaring my dear friend Lillian to bits one night as we walked home after dark.

Shopping at Katun.

Walking downtown after dark and stopping to peep into the windows of candle lit restaurants and hotels.

Cobblestone streets and colonial Spanish architecture.

Trying to avoid our “more worldly” European housemates invitations. 🙂 Haha. That makes me laugh, still.

“Buenos noches.”

Street vendor food.

Buying toilet paper and trying to pronounce “papel higienico.”

Going to the Catholic church and lasting about 10 minutes.

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   {via} Oh Antigua. I miss you.

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The Girl from Positano

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There is a girl who lives way up on the hill in the little sea-side town of Positano, Italy, who dreams great dreams of traveling. There are so many places she wants to see and experience- South America, Africa, India, the list could go on and on. But if you were to climb all the way up to the top of the list of all the places she wants to see, there in first place, you would see “The United States of America.” Not Australia or its outback, not the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, not the sweeping, ancient views of China’s great wall, but the United States of America.
How could she ever choose her sight-seeing priorities in the USA? There are the city-scapes of New York City and Chicago she wants to see; she wants to feel small next to the Rockies, hike in the Smokies, feel the Californian sunshine, and have her breath taken away by the Grand Canyon. Maybe she’ll enjoy a hot dog and a beer at Fenway Park, maybe go to a Bon Jovi concert. She wants to soak up the beauty of autumn in New England and kayak in Glacier National Park. There’s Philadelphia and Miami, and Disney World, and San Antonio and Portland. She wants to see it all, but there is a place she’s determined to see most of all.
She leans against the railing on her sun drenched balcony, fixes her gaze on the horizon and then closes her eyes and pictures her dream destination.

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Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She can almost feel the warm, country air beckoning her, inviting her to dig her toes into the rich soil. She’d roll down the windows of her rental car and let the pungent breezes blow through her hair as she leisurely makes her away back and forth across the county. Maybe she’ll stop at a farm stand and get some home-grown produce. Maybe a whoopie pie. Or a homemade root beer. “It’ll be bliss,” she thinks to herself, “pure bliss.” She’ll marvel at the amazing color green of the young tobacco fields she’s passing by, a color she’s never quite seen before. And the corn, everywhere she looks, there’ll be acres of it, all in straight lines and reaching ever more rapidly towards the sun. She breathes deeply, the smell here, something she’s never quite experienced either, but she knows it must just be what country air smells like, and she’s determined to like it. And at night as she falls asleep the rhythmic clip-clop of the Amish buggies rolling by will be the sweetest lullaby she’s ever heard.
“Maria.” She is awakened suddenly from her reverie there on the balcony by the touch of her sister’s hand on her elbow. “Maria, it’s time to go, we’re already late.” She sighs, pulls her scarf around her shoulders against the evening chill, and follows her sister. Lancaster County has been there for many years, most likely it will continue to exist for a while longer. She can wait.


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Toes in Cowpies

Is there a bigger letdown than a cancelled vacation? I know, it’s such a first-world problem, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. Next Saturday morning I was going to be in a car with my mom and sisters on our way to the Outer Banks. It was going to be our first ever ladies only vacation. Sisters, mom, nieces. But Sister Irene, she’s a doozy, and in her fury has pretty much doomed our vacation. And in my grand optimistic wisdom, I declined the travel insurance when booking our house. Yes.

“Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair…” (I was really looking forward to singing that song at the beach.)

It is what it is. And what it is, is a reminder that we can make plans, but God allows our every breath. Every move. It’s humbling, and gratitude inspiring. He has saved me day after day, for 10,950 days. (give or take a few) For some reason, He has not consumed me, with fire or cancer or hurricanes or famine or war. I did not place myself on this earth. I did not self-help my way into being. I did not send in an application requesting placement on this planet. Life is a gift from God to me, completely un-merited and unattainable on my own. Without that gift I would never even know the pleasure of sinking my toes into the sands by the ocean; I wouldn’t have sisters and family that I love to be with. So thank you God. For life.

As far as the vacation goes, we do have a couple of options. We’re considering a mountainside vacation, at my aunt’s vacation-farmette in West Virginia. I don’t have pictures of the farm, but I know there will be a few of these there:

And some of these:

Cows and concord grapes. The ambience would be different – our toes will luxuriate in cow pies instead of sand, but I’m sure we’d still have an unforgettable time.
We’re also considering going to my sister’s house in South Carolina. Poor lady, it wouldn’t be much of a vacation for her to have us all pile in her house, 🙂 but we’re still undecided.
Labor day weekend is this weekend! What are your plans? We have a few possibilities……..I’ll be doing some organizing here at home, maybe a DIY project, (coasters!) a wedding Saturday evening, maybe a visit to the Fonthill Museum, and hopefully a few campfires thrown in there.
Have a blessed weekend!


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August

August- it rushes in with white hot heat, drenches us in humidity, and almost, almost makes us long for the coming season. Autumn is the season I relish most, but this year I’m watching its arrival with equal parts anticipation and trepidation. Anticipation for the crisp weather, apple cider, FOOTBALL, and campfires. Trepidation, because I know that just beyond the beautiful harvest sunsets lurks the icy grip of winter. But today, today I close my eyes, let the summer sun sink into my bones, and thank God for this day.
This day- today is an extra day off for me. I traded a few extra hours last evening for my entire shift today. Yesterday was a long day but today is bliss. I hung the laundry outside and enjoyed the clean, crisp smell of it when I brought it in. I chatted with our land-lady-we were standing in the yard when everyone else felt the earthquake. We didn’t feel a thing. I took my husband a glass of ice water while he mowed the lawn. I chopped up peppers and basil from my garden to put in the pasta sauce I made for dinner. Now DH is gone for the evening and I am reflecting.
Reflecting on August-

The second weekend in August we traveled to Oklahoma for my cousin Tony’s wedding. There were ten of us, assorted siblings, in-laws, Mom, and DH and I. We took two vehicles and had a great time traveling out there. The above photo features a number of us cousins that were lucky enough to be together for a few days. It was supposed to be a serious photo but some of us couldn’t maintain the seriousness. Oklahoma is…….vast. And beautiful. One night we sat out in the prairie watching the most fabulous lightning storm of our lives.

Last weekend DH and I took an impromptu weekend off in Delaware. We left Friday evening, checked into our hotel, then went out to dinner.

Dessert was complimentary coffee and cookies from the hotel. 🙂

{cute pillow}

{good books}

{good company}

The next day we crossed a few bridges, criss-crossing our way from Wilmington, to New Jersey, and back to Pennsylvania. We visited the Brandywine Zoo, (took us about 10 minutes to walk through the entire thing :)), a “farmer’s market” that wasn’t, Swedesboro, NJ for lunch, and then ended our day at one of my favorite stores in the universe.

{love}

{loveliness}

{beautiful $$$$ scarves}

{furniture I want to take home}

{more coffee}

{chalkboard}

{purple}

{love forever}

Lest you think it was an all butterflies and roses weekend…..it was not. It was one of those weekends where even though we were together, DH was being a perfect gentleman, and he played romantic music in the car while the rain came down…..there was something in my heart that was demanding more. More what? I’m not sure I could tell you. It was just this little voice in my head that wanted to somehow shake what I needed out of my husband. It was a demanding voice. And although I restrained it, by Saturday afternoon I felt myself starting to withdraw. I started making a mental list of reasons he was to blame for my discontented spirit.
Friday night I had picked up a book at B&N entitled “Every Woman’s Marriage,” and the small part of it that I had read started to come back to me, and I thought with surprise, “Oh this again.” My spirit was dry because I had not been feasting on living water. I had not been leaning on the only REAL source of fulfillment and joy available to me. Everything else is but a shadow of that source. Forgive me God. Forgive me husband. We put our relationships in rough place when we expect them to meet our every deepest need. Marriage is beautiful….but what gives it its beauty is what it reflects….and that is our relationship with our Creator. And He is so faithful to remind us of that, and not leave us stumbling in the dark forever.

Sunday night we celebrated my brother’s birthday, (pictured here with his gf) with grilled shish-kabobs, grilled veggies, cake and ice cream. And coffee.

We also discovered that his dog has an…..unauthorized pregnancy. Oh dear.

Until next time,
Marylou