it’s a family affair: who are these kids and why are they calling me mom?

Sunday, August 19:  Today my father and his wife Shirley, who I haven’t seen in a year, drive up from Yorktown to visit; my sister and her two kids, who I haven’t seen in over 2 years, drive from Salisbury, Maryland.  It’s wonderful to spend the afternoon with them, catching up on all our shenanigans from the last year (or two!).

Kelsey, Dad, Seth, Shirley & Joan

Sadly my sister from California and my brother in New Jersey aren’t able to make it.  Hopefully we can have a whole family reunion once I return to the USA!

Kelsey, me, Dad, Shirley, Seth and Joan

My daughter Sarah, who lives in Richmond and doesn’t have a car, wants to come to the gathering, so I dispatch my two sons on an expedition to drive 2 hours each way to pick her up.   I send them at 9 a.m. figuring they will arrive in Richmond at 11 a.m., get Sarah, and then turn around, returning by 1 p.m., when my dad and sister are due to arrive.

Seth, Adam and Alex ~ cousins 🙂

Well.  At some point along the way, the boys decide to make a stop to get something to eat.  I don’t know all the details of this detour, but somehow it ends up with them getting lost. I have no clue how this happens, as the route to Richmond from northern Virginia is a straight one, right down I-95.  As far as I can figure, it is impossible to get lost.   Whatever really happened, I may never know, but I do know they don’t arrive in Richmond until 12:30, an hour and a half behind schedule.

The cousins: Seth, Sarah, Adam, Kelsey and Alex
Kelsey, Sarah, Joan and me

Now for some odd reason, Sarah, despite having had until 12:30 to shower and get fully ready, doesn’t do so.  She calls from the car asking what time everyone is due to arrive because she will need to shower once she gets here!

the cousins and Kelsey’s car: Adam, Alex, Seth, Sarah and Kelsey

In addition to the delay because of the getting-lost-debacle, there is Sunday afternoon returning beach traffic to contend with.  What should have been a 2 hour return trip ends up being 4 hours, inching along as if they are sitting in a parking lot.  Traffic in northern Virginia, a huge suburb of Washington, D.C.,  is always horrible but rush hours and weekend incoming and outgoing traffic are atrocious.

the men and boys of the family, looking like the TV series The Pawn Stars!
Adam, Dad, Mike, Seth and Alex

We are all sitting around talking and laughing, and though I’m enjoying catching up, I’m also getting  impatient that my own children have acted so irresponsibly.  I figure my father has driven about 3 hours to get here, as has my sister, and they may not even get to see my children!!

In the meantime, my niece Kelsey, who recently completed her Master’s degree and works as a school counselor in Baltimore, Maryland, tells us about her upcoming wedding on July 13, 2013.

Kelsey, getting married next July 🙂

My nephew Seth is getting ready to embark on his college life at University of Maryland next week.

Seth with his sister and mom

My dad, who usually keeps busy multi-tasking with numerous house projects says he hasn’t felt like doing anything all summer because of the heat.  They tell how July in Virginia was one of the hottest on record, with temperatures and humidity hovering around 100 degrees and 100% humidity all month.

Dad and Shirley

My sister Joan recently embarked on a new full-time job which she enjoys; all these years she’s been job-sharing and only working part-time, so this career change is a bit of an adjustment.  I always enjoy Joan and her great sense of humor, mostly poking fun at herself.  She tells hilarious stories about her fiascos on the ski lift and snow skiing in general.  As we talk about the high cost of weddings these days, she tells the story of her wedding day when she didn’t have a going away outfit.  She remembers that I ran to the store and bought her whole outfit including the shoes.  Surprisingly, that’s the main thing she remembers about her wedding day.  It makes me happy that she remembers that nice thing I did for her when I can barely remember it myself!

My sister Joan. I’m the oldest, Stephanie (who lives in California) is second oldest, and Joan is the third.  She’s so much fun!

The boys were originally planning to make a vegan dinner for my family, which may have caused some consternation for my dad and the rest.  But since by 4:00 they are still on the road, Mike decides to grill some salmon to go with a vegetable pasta salad he has made.  At 4:45 or so, we all eat dinner and still the boys and Sarah haven’t shown up.  Everyone plans to leave around 5:00 to give themselves time to drive back home.  Since by 5:00 my children are still not here, everyone lingers a little longer.  Finally, at about 5:10, Alex, Adam and Sarah arrive.  Sarah has her dog Bagel in tow and looks a little bedraggled as she didn’t shower or dress up.  She runs upstairs to change and then we all finally are able to visit together for a short time before everyone has to leave!

my three children and Sarah’s dog Bagel

Motherhood!  Isn’t it true that “the first 40 years of parenthood are always the hardest”?

And, I’m baffled:  “Who are these kids and why are they calling me mom??”

share your world: cee’s life questions (week #35)

Sunday, August 19:  Cee took a break for a few weeks from Share Your World, but now she’s back with a new set of questions.

What is your favorite comfort snack food?

Cheese and bread or crackers, preferably warm cheese smothered in cranberries, like this goat cheese appetizer at the Left Bank in Muscat, Oman.  As vegans, my sons would be horrified by this revelation, but some things will never change!

Comfort snack!!

At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

Every time I travel, I feel passionate and alive.  In the RECENT past, I guess it would have to be my trip last November (2011) to Jordan, where I went to Amman, along the King’s Highway, to the Crusader castle Karak, to the Roman ruins of Jerash, to Um Qais, and to Petra.

me feeling passionate and alive in Petra

My trip to Vietnam (Hanoi & Halong Bay) in January, 2011, would have to be the second most recent time.

feeling alive and passionate near Hanoi, Vietnam!

I would say the time in the last several years that I felt most alive was the FIRST time I traveled alone in my entire life, on a two-week trip to Turkey in the summer of 2010.  I never believed I could travel to a foreign country alone, but now that I’ve done it, I actually prefer to travel this way!

alive and passionate in Cappadocia, Turkey 🙂

Basically, I feel most alive when thrust into a new situation, forced to adapt, to go with the flow, to survive!  So of course,  the last two years, living and working abroad in Korea and in Oman, have made me feel passionate and alive (for the most part)!

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

First, being a basically lazy person, it would have to be wandering aimlessly through a foreign city or town and stopping whenever I feel like it to sit at an outdoor cafe and have a snack and a glass of wine.  Wait.  Is that really an outdoor activity?

Any kind of hiking or walking, or even riding a bicycle, outside (especially in a new place) are favorite activities!

ready for an all day bikeride with a Korean fellow traveler in Kyoto, Japan

If you could have your own TV channel, what would it be about?

I know, it sounds like I have a one-track mind, but it would be about travel, about living and working abroad, about different cultures.  It would include programs about spiritual journeys, about personal growth through travel.  It would feature some of my favorite and inspirational travel writers such as Alain de Botton and Pico Iyer!

Related stories:

becoming a nomad… the art of travel

A Jaunt to Jordan

rice paddies and papayas

catbird in turkey

sunday post: black and white

Sunday, August 19:  Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post for this week is Black and White.  He writes: Black and white as a description may be considered something of a misnomer, in that the images are not ordinarily starkly contrasted black and white, but combine black and white in a continuum producing a range of shades of gray. Further, many prints, especially those produced earlier in the development of photography, were in sepia (mainly for archival stability), which yielded richer, more subtle shading than reproductions in plain black and white. Color photography provides a greater range of shade, but part of the appeal of black and white photography is its more subdued monochromatic character.  Now, either adjust your camera or edit your photo using photo editing tools.  Old photographs from the 1950s to 70s works for this challenge too!

Here’s a picture in black and white from Aldie, Virginia, taken in August 2012.

A spot near the Battle of Aldie in the U.S. Civil War which took place on June 17, 1863.

I couldn’t resist, being back home, putting up some pictures from my family here in the United States of America.  This is my father and mother in China Lake, California before they got married in the early 1950s.  My mother passed away in 2002.

My dad and mom in China Lake, California before they got married in the early 1950s.

Here is me in my grandmother’s backyard in Petersburg, Virginia holding my favorite doll, named after my heroine Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. (~ 1961-62?)

me with Dorothy

And finally, me with my boyfriend Paul in a photo booth ~ 1974.

me with Paul in a photo booth, circa 1974