Taking Flight

This morning I read an article about flying taxis in Paris and the synapses in my brain started firing. We are edging toward in the Jetson‘s world, and it’s kind of exciting. Flight is such an intriguing thing, and its evolution is fascinating.

My interest in it was one of the reasons I was so excited about going to the interactive exhibit at the Berkshire Museum earlier this year. It did not disappoint. If you can catch the exhibit on tour, I recommend it.

Leonardo da Vinci - Machines in motion.

Leonardo carefully observed birds and flight patterns. He analyzed the lifts and glides and shifting of weight. The Codex on the Flight of Birds he left showed that he was on to something.

I sit by the pool now and watch the swallows dip and glide at high rates of speed. In my dreams I ascend.

Learning to Fly

I’m soaring.

I’m sailing.

I’m learning to fly.

I’m leaping.

I’m bouncing.

I’m high in the sky.

I’m jumping.

I’m hopping.

I’m up in the air.

I’m dashing.

I’m diving,

the wind in my hair.

I’m swooping.

I’m whooshing.

I’m light as a kite.

I’m flittering,

fluttering,

floating in flight.

I’m toppling.

I’m tumbling.

I’m falling. I crashed.

And, whoopsie,

my parents

new mattress is trashed.  

–Kenn Nesbitt
Copyright © 2013. All Rights Reserved. – https://www.poetry4kids.com/poems/learning-to-fly/

Writing Buddies

Chrissie and Linda Stanek

In my last post I was highlighting a beautiful wedding in Ohio. The next day was incredibly awesome as well. That was the day Chris and I got together with one of my favorite children’s books authors and her husband. Okay, I might be a little prejudiced. She has been my writing partner and friend for over 15 years, but seriously, her writing is amazing. It was such a treat to spend time with her. This visit was the second time I had met her in person, the first time I met her husband, Ken, and it was the first time she met Chris.

Since they were only about a half hour from our hotel, we decided to meet at a restaurant for lunch and then figure out the day. Lunch went way too fast, and we were really enjoying talking with each other so we relocated to their house. It is a lovely dwelling that feels open and cozy at the same time. I would love writing in that environment.

To my delight, Linda has a passion for cats. She often fosters pregnant feral cats as a hobby. I had fallen in love with her last batch of kittens from her posts on Facebook and was hoping to get a chance to meet them. Unfortunately, I just missed them, and they had moved on to find forever homes by the time I got there. However, she did have four other cats of her own. We sat and talked with each other all afternoon, and the cats casually strolled in and out amongst us, stopping for occasional pets — as cats do.  

Linda has written several books and lots of articles, but I have a favorite. It’s called Night Creepers, and I just love science in it. So much so that I asked to purchase a copy for my granddaughter, who is due in early August. Not only did Linda agree to let me have a copy, but she gave it as a gift, signed it, and also gave me some of the other books she and another writing partner of ours (Jen Funk Weber) had written. Is that an amazing friend or what?

Books by Linda and Jen

Perhaps you remember Jen. I wrote about time with her on Marco Island a few years ago.

Back then I had written:

Once upon a time, about 13 years ago, I was an aspiring children’s book writer. On my journey through the world of writing and publishing, I discovered some of the best friends a person could have. It all began on a forum.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: SCBWI forum to be exact.

In the huge, international world of writers, by some random quirk of fate, six of us found each other, and we’ve been close friends and critique partners ever since. Linda Stanek lives in Ohio, Jen Funk Weber lives in Alaska, Linda Covella (we call her Elsie to differentiate her from the other Linda) lives in California, Dale Ibitz lives in Connecticut, Mary Beth Schewitz jumps between Chicago and Florida, and I jump between northern and western NY.

A group does make one stronger. In writing and real life. …

It is such a blessing to me to see how our group has stuck together over the years. It’s true that now we only communicate a few times a year, but we are there for each other always. Case in point – the visit to Linda and Ken’s lovely home.

The afternoon mimicked lunch — it flew by. Ken is super interesting. He was a crew chief for the Goodyear Blimp and had lots of interesting stories to tell. Who knew that when I was a kid watching the blimp on TV as it hovered over Super Bowls and Olympics, a future friend was on board? Life is funny that way.

I remember hearing about Linda meeting Ken — she was writing an article about blimps. It was really fun to see the article she wrote for Highlights for Children framed on the wall in her office. (Fun fact: That magazine once paid me for one of my articles, but it’s been over 10 years, and as far as I know, still hasn’t been printed. If you see an article on Edvard Grieg written by Christine Pollock, let me know 😉 ).

blimp article

We chatted the day away – talked about life in general, travels, dreams, writing, art, school talks, public speaking in general — all sorts of stuff. They shared a curio cabinet with us, and I really loved how they collected soil from different places that were special to them. It added a lot as we heard stories about the places. Ken also shared stories and interesting details about the model planes he built.

When we got hungry we headed out for a yummy meal at a nearby Mexican restaurant then still couldn’t finish the day off. Back to their house for more talking. Finally we hit a point where we had to reluctantly say goodbye and get back to the hotel since we had to head home to NY the next day.

That day was a day I will treasure for long time, and I hope we all get to visit together again sometime soon.

** Bonus note – our writing buddy, Linda Covella (the only one in our group I haven’t met in person) recently got an recognized for some of her work:

Linda Covellas book

A June Wedding

Ashley and Spencer's wedding ceremony on June 8.

No matter how stressful life currently is, a wedding flashes me back to my own vows, and suddenly I feel the magic of starting a life journey with another soul again. This is what I witnessed yesterday when Chris and I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of our eldest niece, Ashley. I love weddings, especially those of people close to my heart. They come with the happiness, the smiles, and the reminders of how blessed I am.

The month of June derives its name from Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. It was thought that couples who married in June would be blessed with prosperity and happiness. Did you know that? I didn’t until I found it on a library website.

I am more reminded of the quote from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers:

Oh, they say when you marry in June you’re a bride all your life,

and the bridegroom who marries in June gets a sweet-heart for a wife.

We’ll have to wait a few years on that bride all your life bit, but I know that Spencer already has a sweetheart for a wife 🙂

Last week, after meeting with my team in Atlanta (I’ll write about that another time), I flew into Syracuse where Chris picked me up on his way back from Massachusetts. We spent a day with Mom in NY before hitting the road to Ohio. The weather was great, the traffic relatively light, and it was doughnut day so we each got an unexpectedly free doughnut with our coffee for our travels. That’s how perfectly the trip started.

The wedding was on a farm, and everything was beautiful. It was cloudy and warm (but not hot), and it did not rain. It felt unusual wearing flat sandals with my fancy dress, but I was happy for the warning that it would be an outdoor ceremony on grass. No balancing on my toes to keep heels from digging in 🙂

We wondered what familiar faces we might see and had the normal doubts of where it was proper to sit. Even that worked perfectly. Tim (the bride’s father) and his mom were there greeting people and told us to go sit with family anywhere in the first two or three rows. No bride or groom designated sides. Love that. Let all family and friends interweave.

Surrounded by trees, guests mingled and chatted. There was a beautiful flower-strewn arch in front, and the bride was supported by her three sisters and some friends. Those girls are as close as any sisters I know, and their love for each other just radiated.

Couple agreeing to go through with the ceremony and vows.
You sure you are ready to go through with this?

The officiating pastor was the groom’s dad. I wish I recorded the part where they agreed they wanted to continue with the ceremony even knowing they were pledging to stick together even if they get sick or get old. “Still in?” — “Yes!!!”

Marriage isn’t easy, and that was not hidden in the main message. But it is a beautiful thing. One of the greatest gifts ever. After the ceremony we went in to eat some delicious food and enjoy a lot of dancing. We got to talk with the girls and family, and the evening went by super fast.

The thing about marriage and love is something I also find about having children. You love until your heart is completely full, and feel like you couldn’t possibly love more. But somehow you do. Each day, it just grows.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

—Mignon McLaughlin

I truly hope someday Ashley and Spencer are at the point I am now. Attending weddings 27+ years after their own “I do’s” and knowing that it was one of the best decisions ever.

Escalator Fun

Chris riding escalator next to cart.

I give all you city people permission to laugh at me. But I was completely gobsmacked during a recent shopping excursion to WalMart (of all places). We were in the Albany area and had to grab some stuff. Walking in, we commented to each other that we hadn’t ever been in a two-story WalMart before. Then we casually went on filling up our cart with food.

After we were nice and stocked, we stared at each other in an awkward “Hey, well, we obviously weren’t thinking” moment. The rest of the items we needed were upstairs. What was the best option?

  • A) Both check out together, walk to the car, unload the food and come back for the rest? It was a warmish day so we weren’t sure if we wanted the dairy products to sit in a hot car so long.
  • B) Split up and have one take care of the food while the other grabbed the up-stair items? Not ideal since we wanted to discuss purchasing choices.

We edged the cart forward, leaning toward Choice A and deciding to just shop fast then we noticed people were actually taking carts up the escalator!!! There was a mechanism you pushed the cart onto, and it rode up right next to you (actually, it kind of beat us to the top).

Human and cart entries to escalator.

Now that I am experienced in the cart escalator endeavors, I think in the future I will opt to hold my seltzer since it had a bit of a bumpy ride, but otherwise the process was extremely smooth — even on the way down with a card table and chairs overflowing the cart.

Chairs in cart going down escalator

The experience reminded me of when we country folk used to travel to visit my parents on Long Island (where I grew up). I would take my sons to the mall where we would budget at least ten minutes per visit for the kids to ride the escalators. We had to remind them to not whoop and holler on the way up and down. Now I can relate to how hard it was for them to keep quiet when it’s all so much fun 🙂

A Relatively Perfect Day

David, Uncle John, Me, Aunt Anne and Chris

For many, it was a normal Friday. A day to get through before the weekend kicked off. For us, it was kind of like a holiday. You see, may aunt, uncle and cousin’s son were coming to spend a few hours with us in our Massachusetts haven (amazing how close that word is to heaven). Why would they go many hours out of their way to visit us? Because they love us. Which made the day even more incredible.

Expecting them around noon, Chris hit the slopes, trying to catch some runs before it began raining too hard. A tough time of year for us slope-fiends. We embrace the warmth and beauty of spring, but know the fun time on our sloping playground is limited. Then I got a message that they were close, even earlier than expected. Bonus!!!

David, Aunt Anne and Uncle John

It was a bit drizzly when they arrived, but amazing sports that they are, they popped up their hoods and walked outside for a tour of our little ski center. A soaking wet Chris passed us as we headed out, and we said we’d join him soon.

We walked past a small waterfall, which was pointed out to Aunt Anne, since she loves waterfalls so much. Then I showed the lift she vicariously rode on with me and the run we went down together. Strolling past the coffee shop and firepit area and shop, we headed back to the room for our now signature luncheon of egg sandwiches (a fun machine Hudi and Mollie gave us makes those).

Aunt Anne eating our traditional lunch - Egg Muffins
Aunt Anne eating our traditional lunch – Egg Muffins
A few fun finger foods with family
A few fun finger foods with family

Of course I had to take a picture of the handsome chef as well 🙂

Chris making egg muffins

We have to make the sandwiches one at a time, which might bother some, but we were all of a like mind that this gave us plenty of time to talk and catch up on each other’s lives. I shared my new favorite drink of seltzer mixed with berry tea, and Uncle John shared his train magazine. I swear the man knows everything there is to know about railroads. I particularly love how be brought us an article about the new train bridge in Letchworth, a park near where we used to live.

Train Article in Magazine

Aunt Anne is a big fan of Chris’ art so they spent some time looking at the pieces in our place, and Chris showed her some of the processes he goes through in creating — sharing drawings and such. A very pleasant time!

After lunch, we hit the pool and hot tub. And I got a nice pic of this wonderful couple and some other treasures.

Aunt Anne and Uncle John

I particularly enjoyed having the bonus of seeing David. While he and his brother used to spend time with us every other year, his life got busy with college and all (and our kids grew up and moved out). It’s been a bunch of years since we have seen him. Back in the day, we charted him on our growing wall, and he was so small, you couldn’t even see Chris’ name on the wall above him in a standard picture.

Just look at him now! All grown up.

David is as tall as Chris now
David is as tall as Chris now

Although not so grown up, he won’t take time to play in a pool when given a chance (see images of that on Aunt Anne’s Blog post). She got the action, I got the residual hair style, haha 🙂

David's fun hair after a swim
David’s fun hair after a swim

They had to continue the journeys so we wrapped up the day with some coffee final smiles for the gift of our time together. I love this image of Aunt Anne particularly because it shows the twinkle in her eye that is familiar to me. And Uncle John is grinning as if he’s already working on coming up with a new pun. I feel the beauty of their souls really shine through.

Visits with relatives really are the best.

Enjoying the Slopes with my Aunt and Cousin

Part 1

Warmer weather hit the Berkshires and Chris and I were ready to really enjoy our “weekend” days (Thursday and Friday). Added to the fun, today I got to share the experience with relatives, including my aunt who also loves snow and mountains. I think a lot of you already follow her, and if not, you should check out her site 😉 She is a brilliant writer who takes everyday life and makes it super fun to read about. Anyway, today she joined us on the slopes — virtually. And my cousin joined in later as well.

At the base we met up on Facebook video from my phone. Any video service would have worked, but this was easiest at the time. I popped in my earphone and held the phone as we went to the ski lift and journeyed up. We showed her the slope we planned to hit, a hotel where a relative had stayed recently, our home and a windmill we would see closer in a bit.

This image was actually taken at the end of the run. It's David and Aunt Anne checking out the slopes.
Actually an end-of-the-run shot

She was very patient as I got off the lift and strapped in. We were able to talk even when the video was shaky, then it was time to hit the hill. I went down a relatively easy trail that I knew I could handle. It was a good day for this. Warm, slightly slushy and some patches of ice, but not terrible, and no crowds.

Our piece of paradise is Jiminy Peak Resort in the Berkshire Mountain Range in Massachusetts (answering her questions from her post here). As I went down the mountain, I kept the camera facing away so Aunt Anne could see the run in front of us. She got to see Chris playing around, demonstrating proper snowboard techniques (not my heel-side only stance). I did explain people who do it right mostly point straight down and not keep going side-to-side as I do. haha.

She saw the mountain coaster, the alpine slide and the pool and hot tub in front of our place. Also seeing how close we are to the slopes. When I was nearing the bottom, my cousin’s son, David, joined us for the run.

It was really fun for all of us, and they agreed to let me take the screenshots above. I hope we can do it again sometime.

This was the Ski Tracks app stat summary for our run together:

In her blog post, Aunt Anne commented that I was telling her about toes and heels. The rest of this post is kind of about that. Once upon a time, a bit over 24 hrs ago….

Part 2 of my fun slope days this “weekend”

Yesterday (Thursday) the slopes were unbelievably perfect for a person of my skill level. As Chris pointed out, you could point straight down and not worry about going too fast.

Ice was rare, and the sun was shining. The rides on the chairlifts were like basking in the sun on a beach (but a bit more fun). I heard robins and phoebes and saw some buds on the trees. And even some friendly faces in the woods 🙂

Small stump with a smiley face
If you look closely, that little one has a smiley face etched on it. Kind of reminds me of a tree Gumby.

This is always a bittersweet time of year. Summer temps and longer daylight are wonderful, too, but it’s sad to say goodbye to all the beautiful snow. So we are grabbing all of it we can.

This season I was really working on turning right (toe-side) better.

As you can see in this pic, I’m a rather embarrassing heel-rider. Can you tell which part of the board is closest to my heels?

Bottom of a snowboard

The toe-side turns are kind of starting to happen. I don’t have video from today, but I was able to do it at a much faster pace than in times past. Here are some video clips from last autumn and yesterday. Feel free to mute. Some people like the sound of snow scraping, but it can be annoying if you aren’t in the mood.

Here is a clip from November:

And here is a clip from yesterday (March 14, 2019):

Please note how stiff I was and how flat the terrain was in the first video compared to the second video 🙂 I’m working on relaxing, bending my knees and leaning down the hill before I turn.

If you want to see the entire top half of that run – here it is. Beautiful views at the start:

Jumping back to today. I saw this video of my turns last night. I do see how my right arm is winging out and is quite tense. Today I practiced going down the hill with my right hand pinching the left side of my jacket as if it was in a sling to train myself to not count on it for balance.

Chris noticed I was much more relaxed when holding the phone for my aunt so in my final few runs, I let my right arm hang down, but pretended she was on the other side of a camera and focused on keeping it smooth. It’s really working. Yay!

The Views Here Blow my Mind Regularly

Windmill at hill top
Zephyr, the windmill at hill top
Mountain view
Chris enjoying the view
Clouds and mountain
Clouds extending the mountain view

Yup, God done good! And I’m so thankful to be able to be out enjoying the gifts given.