Slowly she is resurfacing, the Muse that feeds my imagination and nudges the words out of my mind and onto the page. I know the change in weather has something to do with it. For about a week now the days have been warm and full of sunshine, just the right environment to entice me out into my beloved garden to work the soil, scatter seeds, and plant some flowers.
Nature has also responded with much burgeoning growth. Trees are budding out at the speed of light and the St. Augustine grass has gone from hay-colored to fresh spring green in the flash of an eye. Tiny green shoots are poking through the earth, a promise of beauty and color yet to come.
Another deciding factor has been the time change. We sprang forward last weekend and the evenings are lighter longer which always brightens my soul. And even though this afternoon the sunshine slowly disappeared and the sky became leaden grey, I was able to feel very grateful and even lighthearted when the rains came to soak the parched ground.
We have had a very mild winter and we really need some rain. I am especially grateful that it has rained today because this means that I do not have to expend time and energy to water the garden tomorrow. We do not have an automatic system and it is quite time and energy consuming to move the sprinklers all around the garden to their allotted spots to make sure everything gets a good soaking.
So here I sit, in my wonderful lanai, outside yet sheltered from the rain, allowing the thoughts to flow and the fingers to run across the keyboard. The sky is still mostly grey and I think we will probably get some more rain this evening. Everything is a fresh lush green and, even though it is already 7.15pm, it is still quite light. I love moving through spring into longer days. For whatever reason it makes me feel more alive.
I think the change in weather and the change in time have happened just perfectly for me right now because both of these events have helped me to move outside and beyond the prevailing sadness that surrounded me and weighed down my heart. This was due to five deaths that have happened among my friends and family since the end of October last year. Dealing with death, even as I accept it as part of life’s cycle, takes its toll in a physical and emotional way. I am just so grateful that I have strong support systems and the right tools to help me deal with it.
Just as nature cycles through her seasons, so too do we humans. And to appreciate and enjoy the new life we also need to accept and appreciate the dying to the old life. I am grateful to have a faith, a belief in God and in a life hereafter. So once I move past the sorrow of loss I can rejoice and celebrate at the soul’s onward journey. Who knows what joys and what adventures await us in the Big Beyond!!
When Rich and I left Rod and Trish, we headed east out of Missouri towards St. Louis. Rich wanted us to see the “Archway to the West” and as we rode I-64 I was able to get some decent shots of the archway and the St. Louis skyline. Then we crossed the state border into Illinois going almost halfway across to spend the night in Mount Vernon. We attended Mass in the lovely church of St. Mary’s on Saturday 27 August which left us free to have a small lie-in on the Sunday before making tracks for Louisville, KY and Richard’s family.
Like most of the days on this trip, God blessed us with perfect weather for riding as we finished crossing the state of Illinois, clipped the bottom of Indiana, and rode into the blue grass state of Kentucky. I could feel Richard’s excitement mounting as we rode closer to “home”. The plan was to head to his sister Rose’s home, unpack the bike, then head over to the Kentucky State Fair with Rose, her husband Ronnie, and their kids, Megan and Kalin, to meet up with another sister, Robin, and her daughter, Brittany, and his brother, Robert and his wife, Sylvie, and their son, Patrick. Wow, what a reunion!! I had not seen some of these folks since Thanksgiving 2004!
We spent several fun hours at the fair. I found some great HOT dip mixes and some wonderfully decadent fudge, while Richard ate a Krispy Kreme hamburger?????? (yes, that was a hamburger between two doughnuts!!), and later he could not resist trying some “fried Koolaid”. While some of the others went to a concert they had booked to see, Rich and I strolled around the rides for a while. We had fun tempting the “guess your age” guy who made my day and gave me a “prize” after guessing me to be 15 years younger than I am. Whether he was being truthful or gallant in his guessing I’m not sure, but I was happy. Then the tiredness of the ride hit in and we headed home to get a good night’s rest. We needed to get our beauty sleep because the next day we were putting on a Bar-b-q for the family and even more people were coming.
So on Monday we went shopping then got busy cooking and preparing food. By 4pm yet another sister, Rhonda, arrived with her daughter, Ginny, followed shortly afterward by Rich’s step-Mom Ruth, his step-brother Ryan and his step-sister Rachel and her husband Michael with his son in tow. The crowd was rounded out when Robin got there with her son Dustin, and finally we were able to tuck into all that good food. A little later, as we rested full tummies, Kalin took Dustin and they went to pick up Brittany and her girlfriend who had been attending a school sport meet-up. By that time we were ready for some dessert and enjoyed some wonderful concoction that Sylvie had made.
Our final day in Louisville, Rich went to get his (final?? who knows) tattoo in honor of his retirement. Of his eight tattoos, Lucky in Louisville has created 5 of them. This one he actually created around a small existing one of a dolphin that Rich had done in Washington, DC some years ago. Lucky extended the water/wave line under the dolphin , then added the letters USN over the top of everything with a sunrise and the year Rich entered the Navy at one end, and a sunset with his retirement year at the other. It’s really beautiful.
That evening we hooked up with Rose and Ronnie and the kids, Robin, and Richard’s old school friend and partner-in-crime, Fonda with his wife Sherry. We had a great meal and wonderful socializing at a very good Mexican restaurant, where we all ate a bit too much because the food was great!.
Next day, Wednesday 31 August, it was time to load up our faithful Harley, say our farewells, and hit the road again as we headed towards North Carolina. It had been a good visit with family and hopefully it won’t be so long before we see each other again.
So for the foodies out there I’d like to share our experience in Paducah, KY. As I mentioned in my previous posting, we stayed at a great little B&B in this small Kentucky town. It was a great find and the owners, Robert and Rachel (interestingly for this Brit, Rachel was from Manchester, UK!!), were wonderful hosts. Rachel had an amazing elephant collection which was also rather interesting because our daughter Melissa has an elephant collection too.
But the best part of this B&B was our room. You have to understand that the building looks like a non-descript ranch style house from the outside. As you walk in there is a spacious living area with a dining room and large lounge full of big comfortable sofas. Robert has installed a hi-tech media server that is connected to digital players in each guest room and a large wall-size screen in the lounge. Guests can pick from a vast menu of movies 24/7 and each room can watch a different movie at the same time.
Two of the three guest rooms are quite simple, comfortable but simple, with a small adjoining bathroom. However, there the “simple” stops. They each have another en-suite room that contains one item – a large two person hot tub! Yes, it was ours, all ours, no sharing!! The third guestroom is slightly different in that the bedroom is a little larger and has two big beds and the bathroom is much larger and in one corner there is a large 2-person whirlpool tub. We so enjoyed our hot tub later in the evening. It was such a de-stressor after two days on the bike. I slept like a baby afterwards.
When it came time for dinner Robert had some very good suggestions. He actually said, as he rubbed a substantial but not fat belly, “Anyone with a body like this who recommends a restaurant is probably giving you good advice”. And he spoke the truth. After singing the praises of several eateries in the area, he said the magic words “good Thai food”. Richard’s ears perked up and his eyes brightened. “Pad Thai”, was all he said,
A short time later found us back on Harley and headed into Paducah town proper ready to locate “Spicy Ginger”, one of two Thai restaurants that Robert had named. We were not disappointed. After sharing some of the best Pot Stickers ever and a couple of really good, crispy spring rolls, Richard ordered his Pad Thai and I asked for a Green Curry.
Both dishes came out looking a little different from other Thai restaurants that we have enjoyed, but resting in the enjoyment of our appetizers we tucked in. No disappointment at all. Rich said it definitely tasted different from previous Pad Thai experiences, but that it was “really, really good”. (That’s high praise coming from Richard whose vocabulary over food usually consists in “OK” or “not as good as others”, but “OK” is his predominant assessment!).
My Green Curry was also most definitely different to others that I have eaten, but the “mmmmm’s’” and “aaaaah’s” that ensued as I enjoyed the dish certainly bespoke the deliciousness (I don’t care if that’s not a real word – it fits the moment!). I do not lack in vocabulary when it comes to food, and apart from my audible mewls of pleasure as I ate, I remember telling our server that it was the best Green Curry I had eaten, that it was absolutely awesome.
So, for the travelers out there, Paducah, KY offers Escapes B&B as a very good and unusual place to stay and also has some great eateries.
By the same token, if you ever stay in Bolingbrook, Chicago, never ever eat at or order out from “Golden Palace” Chinese restaurant. We arrived here yesterday at about 5.30pm worn out from 430 miles on the bike, muggy weather, and dealing with several stretches of road works that slowed us down. We were tired and hungry and needed to eat and get to a spiritual concert and meet with friends at St. Dennis church in Lockport (that’s another posting), so we decided to order into our hotel.
As soon as we opened the containers I knew we were in for a bad experience. Trying to get the pieces of chicken out of the thick, sticky, General Tso “goo” was awful. My pot stickers were great clumps of congealed dough, and Richard’s crab rangoon looked greasy and sorry. We were hungry and ate some, but I immediately regretted it and it sat on my stomach for a couple of hours.
Thank goodness the fellowship and sharing God-time we enjoyed later at St. Dennis, along with a couple of slices of decent pizza, managed to wipe out that bad experience. Next time I will go without rather than put bad food in my stomach. I deserve better!!