Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Secret Spot

"So you see, imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering."
~Brenda Ueland

I'd like to climb this tree, but first I'd pack a knapsack. Then I'd begin my careful climb. I 'd perch myself on a sturdy branch, lean against the nubby trunk, and unpack my stash of treasures.

I'd unfold my quilt, drape it over a branch, and take out my book. I'd have a grand view of the neighborhood and a secret hiding place, all to myself.

From high up in the air, my feet would dangle. Or, I'd stretch them out in front of me. I'd find that perfectly comfortable position and silently watch the squirrels scurry from tree to tree. I'd wonder about their winter preparations.

Ultimately, my imagination would get the best of me. I'd find myself drawn into the delicate world of birds and squirrels and acorns and chipmunks. I'd watch them and wonder and make up little stories in my head.

Oh, to have a house in the trees.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


"Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble."
~ William Shakespeare, from Macbeth

The lamppost just clicked on, delicately lighting the path to our house. What a perfectly snug evening. Munchkin has perched herself upon the arm of the couch and gently chews her paw, my coffee pot hisses, and I'm sitting in complete calm and quiet. This is the life I love.

All I can hear are the sounds of cars rushing by, leaving sprays of water in their wake. Occasionally, the sound of a horn echoes in the distance, or I notice the firing up of the heater as it practices for its winter marathon.

I sip my java and gaze around, taking in the tender glow of flickering candles. How marvelously cozy it feels. I think I'll reach for my handmade afghan and cover my chilly toes. I'll be needing those fuzzy socks sooner rather than later.

My eyes fall upon one of my favorite childhood stories-- a classic bedtime read.

By Frank Asch

Looking at it makes me hope that all the mamas and papas take time to read to their little ones. happy sigh

And I realize, that even from a young age, I expressed possessive tendencies.

I also come to understand that I found it necessary to catalogue my books in my inaginative, personal library. It seems as if this particualr book only got checked out once.

I smile.
Oh gosh. I love that book.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reliving Memories

"Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow."
~Author Unknown

I remember the strangest stuff. Seriously.

Sometimes, I actually amaze myself with the intricate details I can recall from my early life. I'm talking small, tiny, minuscule details...and I can recall them with the utmost clarity. My mama thinks it's almost spooky, and in a way, I tend to agree with her.

Anyway, recently I've been having this nagging memory from when I was a small, small child of perhaps 3 or 4 years old. I would vividly remember (almost relive) this festival we would attend with my grandfather. I remember eating in a large gymnasium type of place and having pancakes with lots of syrup.

So, in a moment of nostalgia, I was filling my parents in on my recent revelation. And, much to my delight, they confirmed my memory. Indeed we did attend such a festival, as it was a Kaufman Family tradition.

You see, every year the Ohiopyle Fire Department holds a fundraiser where it sells buckwheat cakes and sausage and potatoes and apple cider, served family style, of course. My dad attended this lovely festival as a wee-boy and when I was born, we would go with my grandfather.

I knew it. I knew I was not dreaming this stuff up.

So, if you're thinking that we went back to this sweet little festival, you're absolutely right. Last weekend, we all packed into the car and headed to Ohiopyle. Oh my- those buckwheat cakes were absolutely delicious. Not to mention, I had a ton of fun reliving my childhood memories.

And ya know what? My memories were surprisingly accurate. Other than myself, very few things had changed. I grew. I aged a few decades. My husband came with me. But the town? The event? The building? Nada. No change at all.

What a fun, delicious, and memorable evening.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We Get One

"What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the days give us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate."
~ John Binghan

Today marks an important day for me. Today, not one single minute went by that I wasn't thankful or happy or overcome with serene calm.

I'm always amazed how the most ordinary days can hold so much significance. I looked around today and observed so many people in the throes of activity: work, conversation, and basic functions. Had they no idea? Were they totally unaware?

Today, seventeen years ago, I got a second chance.

Seventeen years ago, I lay in the Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital hooked to a heart-lung machine and sporting a fresh, six-inch incision down the front of my chest. I lay there unconscious, unresponsive, and unaware. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I rose from my slumber only to be greeted by painful breathing, excessively chapped lips, and a most disturbing feeling of nausea. Try vomiting with a freshly split sternum and spread ribs. It's not high up on my list of enjoyable adventures.
But, I overcame. I made it.

Five days later I was home, recovering well, and soaking up my new, prosthetic heart valve.

Therefore, the city of Pittsburgh holds a special place in my heart. It always will. It's a spiritual place for me.

You see, I remember looking out the window of my Children's Hospital room and watching people walk and run and hang out on Forbes Avenue. I enjoyed (eye roll) daily 30 minute wheelchair outings, where I envied the people who ambled up and down the streets. Me? I enjoyed months of highly restricted bed rest. Well, bed rest and 30 minutes of wheelchair time each day. Swell. Just swell.
But, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh healed me. The doctors worked their magic and made me healthy.

Then, seven years later, I attended college in Pittsburgh. Those four years go down as some of the best in my entire life. Not only that, but I was given the ability and tools to do what I love most-- work with children. Teach them. Learn with them.
Duquesne University taught me. The University gave me my life's work.

As you can see, between healing me and teaching me, Pittsburgh holds a most special place in my heart. Last year, after I ran the Pittsburgh half-marathon, I knew I wanted more. With each tired step, I thought of how I needed to conquer that city, yet at the same time "thank" it. I knew I had to make the next leap and climb the bigger mountain.

So, today, on the seventeenth anniversary of my open heart surgery, I signed up to run the Pittsburgh Marathon,all 26.2 miles.

We only get one spin on the merry-go-round of life.

That's all.

Make it a most amazing spin.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Big, Long, Happy Sigh

"Listen! the wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves!"
~ Humbert Wolfe


October, my most favorite month, how I love you.
How I welcome your short days and cold, clear nights.
And find delight in your frosty mornings.
Oh October, I'm so glad you're here.
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