Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring at the Capitol

April 10, 2009

Jerry and I went bike riding last night around the Capitol complex. We got some pretty shots of the flowers and the dome.

It was a beautiful evening. I wore a sweatshirt and it was perfect. Lots of legislators cars parked all around the place. I guess they work late as this session winds down in its final days.

This picture below is across the street from the front of the rotunda. Behind Jerry is the Kanawha River.

After riding around the capitol grounds, we went to one of our favorite eating places, Delish Express. They have the best pannini sandwiches I have ever put my lips around. I had a chicken with lots of good veggies and cheese all drizzled with a chipolte mayo that is a tad spicy but adds just the right zing. After our Entertainment Book coupon its about $9 for the two of us. This is the life of living on a budget since one of us is an ol' retired person. We are typically the only two people in the place--us and the two guys working who now recognize us when we walk in and remember what we had the last time.

Last night we ate outside on their deck. It's right on Washington Street so there is traffic going by but the best sight is the dog park across the street.

I am always amazed at how the dogs play together so well. They are racing to catch balls thrown by one of the owners. Never any fighting, just good fun. I think the city dogs have more fun than the country dogs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ahhhhhhh Retirement!

So it has taken me until the 4th week into my retirement to find the time to blog again.

I retired on March 12, 2009. What a wonderful day it was. Jesse and the staff at the Health Care Assn. had a very nice party for me at the office. They did an awsome job of making it special for me. It was so nice to have so many people there to celebrate with me. I received many gifts, flowers, cards and some gift certificates to some very good restaurants. The the big surprise was a new set of golf clubs-Square Two Light and Easy for Women. Also in a gift bag were golf balls and tees and some other golf accessories. I was so surprised. I thought the box with the golf clubs was a decoration as it was covered with pictures of me at different events. Jesse even had a tag engraved for the bag with my name and cell phone number.

When I opened the clock plaque that said "13 Years And A Thousand Memories Frome Everyone At The West Virginia Health Care Association, We Wish You A Wonderful Retirement" I about lost it. I guess it really hit me then. That's my former office behind me and Jesse in the doorway. Does he look like he's guarding the door in case I am tempted to stay?

Here is a nice festive picture of me with my two friends Kathy Lester and Kathy Dent. Besides being my personal friends, Kathy Lester is an investment advisor and Kathy Dent is a partner with Komax Business Machines so they both were there. You can see the desserts in the background and the long stemmed red roses I received from Roger Topping who is the treasurer of the Assn. We had fun working together.

Here I am with Sharon Mullins on my left and Kathy Dent on my right. Sharon and her husband were instrumental in bringing "The Hawley's" to Charleston and our lives have been intertwined ever since. She was the Director of Communications at the WV Div of Culture and History and was responsible for my accounting position there and I referred her to Jesse when she was hired at WVHCA. How nice it was to work with a friend who is such a positive presence and an inspiration to me in many ways.
I met Kathy thru Unity also. Woody used to say, "Kathy is a really awesome person, you need to get to know her" How right he was!

So the party was wonderful. Jerry helped came later in the day and helped me haul everything home. I assembled all the flowers and gifts on my dining room table and then took this picture. My house was like a flower shop for a week. Check out those clubs!

It was a great place to work: A four day week, great co-workers and I had some wonderful experiences. Jerry asks me if I am going to miss the trips to the resorts and the annual trip to the Greenbrier. I might, but I think I will be too busy appreciating the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful days this spring and summer, golfing with my new clubs, the freedome to re-create myself and to pursue my other interests. Thanks for everything WVHCA!

On March 29th there was another WVHCA retirement party for my co-worker Ann Mathews. We got a great picture of the whole staff--oops except for John-- retirees and newbies both.

From Left to Right: Jesse Samples, Debra Anderson, Deatra Adkins, Ann Mathews (the other retiree) Sharon Mullins, Amy Sowards (the brave girl who has my old job), and Karen Finney( Ann's replacement). Missing is John Mullins.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Could my right be wrong?

Heidi Muller is back in town and called last night to invite us to dinner. Excellent timing as Jerry finished his last chemo today and we wanted to celebrate somehow.

Heidi filled us in on her incredible creative accomplishments during her say in Joseph Oregon over the winter. Everything from writing three new songs and producing a CD with her song writing group to making quilts and a soft doll. Their descriptions of the Northwest stirred my yearning to visit there. Perhaps meet up with Bob and Heidi at some point and also visit my Aunt Joan who lives near Seattle.

Of course we talked of the Vandalia Festival this weekend at the Capitol. A few of their students from the East End Family Resource Center will be playing in the Youth Dulcimer Competition on Sunday.

Jerry wants to go to the Liar’s contest which got us talking about Bill Lepp, the famous WV liar. His 7 year old son is also competing in the Liar’s contest again this year. Bob had just heard Bill and his son recently and we talked of what a great job this 7-year old does and how he loves to perform. He has his own gigs and will appear on Bill’s new CD.

Bob told us of Bill’s older brother, Tony who was also a fantastic storyteller when he was alive. “I bet Bill’s son is a reincarnation of Tony” Bob half whispered with a slight giggle in his voice.

So, that is the kickoff of my pondering this morning.
Bob’s remark doesn’t even cause a blip on my radar screen since I long ago accepted reincarnation as a strong possibility. I guess I would say I believe in it.

Reflecting back on how Bob said it, I was reminded of how many people would see that as a pretty out there, woo woo, off the edge remark, probably Jerry did and perhaps Heidi. To me, it was very matter of fact.

Reincarnation is a piece of my puzzle. The puzzle I have put together over my life to define my truth. I have my piece about the nature of God, my piece about abortion, divorce, death, meditation, capital punishment, love and sex, peace and justice and more of course.

There is a feeling of satisfaction that you have it all figured out. Like the feeling I get when I complete a soduku puzzle or when I complete my financial statements at work. I have gathered the facts, worked them out and using the best of my skills and knowledge, completed the puzzle. Of course I feel I have the “right” answers. Doesn’t everyone feel that way? It gives you a sense of security that you know the game and have the rules all figured out and the result is a nice neat package. Please don’t tell me I have made a mistake – shit- what a bitch to have to go back and re-work the whole thing.

People get their puzzles done and are so pissed if you mess with it that they might even kill you over it. They will only vote for the candidate whose puzzles look pretty similar to theirs.

But maybe we are all wrong. Jerry just said that there is truth “If I drop this quarter, what will happen? Will it fall to the ground?” “Yes” I said, “But go to the moon and try it and see what happens”.

Perhaps truth is like this poem that was recently forwarded to me….

194. THE AFTERLIFE - Billy Collins

While you are preparing for sleep, brushing your teeth,
or riffling through a magazine in bed,
the dead of the day are setting out on their journey.

They're moving off in all imaginable directions,
each according to his own private belief,
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal:
that everyone is right, as it turns out.
you go to the place you always thought you would go,
The place you kept lit in an alcove in your head.

Some are being shot into a funnel of flashing colors
into a zone of light, white as a January sun.
Others are standing naked before a forbidding judge who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other.

Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they have been doing this forever,
while the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air conditioned room full of food and chorus girls.

Some are approaching the apartment of the female God,
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string.
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door.

There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals--eagles and leopards--and one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit,
ready to begin another life in a more simple key,
while others float off into some benign vagueness,
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere.

There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves.
He will bring them to the mouth of the furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three-headed dog.

The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins wishing
they could return so they could learn Italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain.
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees,
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I am at Ogelbay for our member conference. This will be my last getaway with my co-workers and the members. I arrived on Tuesday night and will leave tomorrow and head for Erie. My room is beautiful complete with a gas fireplace and a nice deck. The king size bed is super comfortable althought not quite as comfortable as the B&Bs we stayed in recently.

I have eaten way too much of the wonderful food and drank more than I had intended. I had good intentions of foregoing dessert tonight until I saw those eclairs. We had a loud band this evening so I stayed and partied for awhile.

I did have some precious moments this afternoon to just sit on my deck and read and do a little writing. I would enjoy it so much more if I could spend a whole day doing just that and swimming in the outdoor pool. I will need to treat myself to a retreat in the near future.

I don't think I will miss these work getaways. The accomodations are always great but I don't get to enjoy them much because of all the meetings etc.

Monday, August 20, 2007

River Ponderings

I wrote this after a tubing experience in July.

When I tube down the river, I can sit back and let the current take me home. There is a place where I stop and swim between two small islands. A narrow sandbar stretches between the two islands where the water depth will barely reach my waist. The current is very mild there. However, right at the back of the lower island, the current is stronger as the water moves from one side of the island to the other. I can touch bottom there but when I swim around the island and meet that current, I can not move forward at all. I can swim and swim, kicking and stroking and I don’t get anywhere.
It is like my job right now. I am swimming and swimming and not really going forward with my life. I know and have known it was over with me there. Like a love affair gone bad. Once it gets to a certain point, nothing can revive it. It is just too late, it has passed out of the view of your life. The current is pushing you to go beyond that experience. It is time to let go.

The current in my life is pulling forward into a new vista of life.
Last month I saw Sr. Molly, “I have this insatiable desire for nature. It feels like a love affair.” I told her. “ When I look at the river or the blue sky through the green trees, I am filled with such joy and elation.” She suggested that I ponder it and ask what the invitation is. When I think of this intense desire in my heart to commune with nature and I consider that God is in the desire and inviting me to something through my feelings, I feel God very close again. I feel God loving me and beckoning me to trust and relax - lay back in my tube and let Her carry me to the next stage in my life.

When I floated in my tube the other night, I realized how I wanted to stay so present and mindful as the beauty passed before my eyes. It reminded me of being on an amusement park ride. It goes so fast and is so intense you try to hold on to every second but it slips through your fingers. Soon the ride is over. So much like life. Life is like floating down the river taken by the current or time. Isn’t it interesting that the name for the flow of water “current” is the same word we use to describe this exact moment.

Not far before I reach home there is a tree whose branch bends down to the water. I grab the branch like the brass ring on a ferris wheel and hold on so I can stay in that one spot and enjoy the beauty all around me. I put my hand into the water and watch the water push my hand and spill over the top of it and I am amazed again at how fast the water is going but when you look at the surface of the water it seems serene. It is similar to getting caught up in the events of our lives while the clock keeps ticking and time keeps moving the seconds keep slipping by. They say time does not really exist. I say Ha to that. Then what are these lines and little bags on my face and that white sprouting on my head.

Looking back on my life I see how the current has taken me down the river of life through so many different places and views of my world. From childhood to young adulthood, a first marriage, a second long marriage, raising my son, moving to another part of the country and then back again to live the life of a minister’s wife. The death of my spouse, a time of grief, becoming a grandmother and now in another marriage and in a place I never thought I could or would ever be. A place with so many blessings and gifts I think I may have already reached heaven and no one told me I died. I may not have died physically, but I have had to die to certain people and places and situations. I have had to let them go. Sometimes I didn’t let go very gracefully or well and sometimes I did.

I have learned in both the river and in my life that the current can be very strong in places and seem non-existent in others. The times when life seems to go on and on in endless sameness is when the current has slowed. But when the tide changes and it is time to get moving, the current gets swift again. You can hold on and try to stay in the same spot or try to swim upstream. You can stay in the same spot if you want but it takes a lot more energy and effort to fight the current than to go with it.

Before I moved to this house, I had no idea the gifts it had in store for me. I liked the house at first sight with all its large windows and view of the river. It has a little park-like setting in the front with two benches, a little waterfall coming down to a fish pond and all surrounded by my plantings and flowers. Inside, I have a room of my own. One that is filled with my numerous books and the things I love. It too has the high double wide window that look down through the trees onto the river. I resisted buying this house because you drive through some undesirable sections to get here including the gas company and some storage tanks. But once you get here it feels like a retreat.

August 19 Float

Now I am off for my float down the river. The river pushes me fast then quietly lulls me for awhile when I move barely at all. I know where the currents are and can maneuver to go faster or slower. There are spots in the middle that are so shallow I can get stuck and have to get out and walk to deeper waters.
Come join me sometime. The ride is fun and beautiful.

Putting in

Here are pictures of me starting out on my tube ride back down to my house. It will take me about an hour. I always stop at one of the little islands for a swim. There are a series of 3 small islands about halfway home. Each has a tree and greenery, and a sandy little beach. The water is shallow in front of them and gently slopes down to deeper waters on each side.

Above me you will see the Mink Shoals. They make a beautiful noise. Sometimes we go in above them and ride downthe rapid on the side.