Saturday, August 30

shuttles and service

What a week! We took the kids to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for an fantastic family getaway. While there are Chateaus and Lodges to stay in we booked a townhouse where conceivably we could have cooked some of our own meals. But... we didn't. There were restaurants all over the grounds and once we parked the car, shuttles picked us up and took us anywhere we desired on the resort, so we never had the urge to go to the market. It was too simple really...all we did was lift the phone receiver and dial "0", and someone on the other end would answer, " How may we serve the Huntington Family?". (It was tough driving myself to work yesterday!) The girls and I had hot stone massages one day and did the water path ritual. The next day we had facials. Aaaahhh... Jedd, Thom and I shot sporting clays the first morning. The boy's arm is black and blue from the shotgun he used and nothing could make him more pleased! I think he ended up shooting 75 rounds. That was enough gun-time for me so I backed out of "combat paintball" the next day. Actually, I forget my sneakers and they wouldn't let me go in sandals. So the girls and I rented bikes and rode throughout the hills and animals (there are bears, buffalo, zebras, moose, lions, mountain goats, hyenas and more throughout the resort). Actually I'm so out of shape I walked my bike up most of the hills. They were steep! It was a great time, but 3 nights and 4 days were enough for four of us(not Jedd). We were pretty much ready to come home and back to reality.
We returned home in time for Annie to start her fist history class at Chesapeake College.
Thursday was back to work as usual. Friday brought the unbelieveably happy news (in my opinion) of Sarah Palin being chosen as McCain's running mate. For the first time in this election, I am excited! I mean sparks of thrill coursing through my veins. I feel hope about the future of politics again. I have no idea how she can pull this off with all she has on her plate and I hope her family can withstand the pressure, but I'm sure many others will join with me in praying for her on a daily basis.
I am so thankful for the time spent with my family this week. Bonding time is good. I am thankful my husband got to truly rest. I am thankful for a taste of that good life, which I know pales in comparison to what awaits us in eternity. I ask that God would help me to heed His call daily and that I would willingly answer, "How may I serve you,Lord, today?"

Wednesday, August 20

birthdays and anniversaries

This morning I came down to a bouquet of flowers and a very sweet card from my husband of 19 of today. At 5 p.m. on August 20th in 1989 Thom and I were married at the Molly Pitcher Inn, on the deck overlooking the Navesink River, in Red Bank, N.J. It was a beautiful day and I'm very grateful to my parents for giving us such a lovely wedding. I'm not going to get all mushy over Thom, because you all already know how we feel about each other. I'll just say I'm very, very thankful for my life with him. We've been blessed that after all these years not only do we still love each other, we still like each other. It doesn't get any better than that!
Also, an un-named, and frankly unknown, number of years ago, my mother was born on this day, too. So a very happy birthday to my mom! Thanks for sharing your day with us!

Saturday, August 16

I'm scratchin' out "caucasian"

Last week with the disturbing news that Russia had invaded Georgia, the word "Caucus" came up on the news. Thom asked me, "what are the caucuses?" I replied, "I don't know. Maybe they are having some kind of voting thing right now and that instigated the invasion." I then promptly forgot the conversation.
Well, I'm just sitting here at my computer and the word came up again. And what do you know! There's that word again. I always rather prided myself on my geography skills, but didn't have a clue that Caucasus was a mountain in Georgia and that the Caucuses are the natural dividing line between Asia and Europe. All of the sudden, minutes ago, it struck me that THIS must be where the term, "caucasian" comes from whenever I fill out a form on self-information. So I googled the origin of the word caucasian and sure enough, there it was. Some foolish man, Johann Blumenbach,1752-1840, who must have been related to hitler, thought the people of this region had the most beautiful skulls,and were the most beautiful people and were the Adam and Eve of us all and were white, so he coined the term, caucasian. I've never like ticking that box, and now I like it even less. From now on I'm scratching it out and just writing, "white".

Friday, August 15

life with a cricket bat

Let me squeeze the last tear from my eye. Oh...don't worry. It's a happy tear. I've just finished watching the movie, "Wondrous Oblivion" on Netflix instant view. 1960 England, coming of age for a boy and for a village street full of bigots. So often the gifts we grow by, from lessons taught by friends, are the very gifts that threaten to make us shallow and have us toss those friends aside. I loved this movie. Please watch it....

Wednesday, August 13

the city of sisterly love

After months of planning and delays, my girls and I finally were able to take a shopping excursion with Suzanne, Hayley and Rachel Taylor. Our original plan was a simple trip to an Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie on the western shore. We finally had a day set and then a truck drove off the Bay Bridge and made that route un-enticing with rubbernecking delays. So last minute, Suzanne and I decided to go north to Philadelphia. Turns out the stores are just minutes apart from each other there with an H&M and a Zara thrown between them for good measure.
We plugged in the trusty TomTom for assistance with navigation (this was a waste of time and causes more confusion than confidence, but I feel since we have it I should use it) and headed out with a truckload of excited girls and their mothers. We got to the first town and made an emergency stop for coffee, snacks and the bathroom. I think we'd been in the car for 13 minutes. Then it was on the road again, car reeking of Doritos and sour cream and onion Sun Chips at 10 a.m.
Just over two hours later, we pulled off 95 to a slight backup into Philly and Voila!, we were there! It was so simple to drive into the historic district of that city that I am ashamed to say I hadn't been there since my twenties! We found a parking garage that had a lovely circular center graced with potted plants for their attendants to wait in while business was slow. I've never seen the attempt of decoration in a parking garage before. Nice touch.
First it was down to business. We were all trying to be caring of each others desires while searching out a lunch venue so we wouldn't buy stupidly out of complete hunger frenzy. We had to settle the beast of the belly before getting to the serious shopping. We spotted a packed cafe with wood-fired pizzas resting on diner's tables. It was agreed. Lunch was good! I don't remember the name of the establishment but it was on Walnut Street between 16th and 17th streets on the southside of the street, halfway down the block. It will be the one with packed tables. Suzanne and I shared a simple pizza with green peppers, mushrooms and onions. They're made with fresh mozzarella and the thin crust was crispy with that wonderfully gritty fire-grazed blackness brushed on by the flames. Hayley's and Rachel's had squash, peppers and onions with fresh basil leaves. My girls had the homemade raviolis which looked wonderful, but since they shared there wasn't any extra for my tastebuds so I have to take them at their word that it was tasty.
Then it was on to Urban Outfitters where they could part with summer earned dollars. Overall I think we were all dissappointed in the poor quality and high prices on the merchandise. Yeah, we all still spent money there, but I feel as though they are a really bad version of an Anthropologie wannabe. It felt dirty in there as though everything wasn't just designed to look as though it were from the 70's and 80's, but actually had been sitting in its dust on the same uncleaned shelves since those past decades.
We left there after somehow spending at least an hour if not more, and went to Zara's ( I think that's the name, I don't see a bag lying around) It was a breath of fresh air after the previous store. Fresh and CLEAN. We were giddy with the choices, running up and down the stairs with great excitement. Honestly, we were country bumpkins set free in the city. We weren't even trying to be "city-cool". We bagged some treasures and moved onto the queen of all stores, Anthropologie. When my little shop grows up, I want it to be an Anthropologie.
I swiped more onto my plastic than I will ever confess out loud to anyone and I have NO GUILT over it. My favorite purchase was an oatmeal colored tunic length cardigan with chunky floral embellishments and a fabulous button. There are thin creamy stripes running vertically between what appear to be panels, which give it a graceful twirl. Yes, I am wearing it right now, as I write, in case you were wondering.It is so soft I believe there may be a touch of cashmere in it, but I don't want to take it off to look at the tag. When my camera is charged I will take photos and post them. When my girls and I had shopped ourselves out, we walked across the street to a pretty little park to relax and await our friends. It was bustling and deeply green with musicians playing at the gate ( a truly motley bunch. They were having fun, but I can't say anyone else was bowled over by them). We were exhausted and yes, hungry again.
The Taylors crossed the park to meet us and we decided to start heading over to the restaurant that our visiting pastor Len Stuart had talked about Sunday as he preached. It was an Iranian Hookah restaurant called, The Aromatic House of Kebabs. After we'd walked many blocks with our arms burdened with packages we decided after consulting with a passing pedestrian that it would be wise to hail a cab. In our case two cabs. Suzanne and her girls took off in the first cab. Someone stole the second cab so the twins and I walked 2 blocks before another one came by. We were grateful to sink into its hot, smelly interior. Somehow, even though we walked two city blocks closer to our final destination, our cabbie charged us more for our ride. I'm still mulling that over. Okay, Aromatic house of Kebabs. Small place, one server, one bus boy on duty. People scattered about with long ropes from the Hookah pipes to their lips, fragrant scents enveloped us upon entrance, so it was already living up to the "aromatic" part of its moniker. We served ourselves from the soda case and the Taylors all ordered healthy tea. We dithered over our menu choices not having a clue what we were actually ordering, but we all went with chicken or lamb kebabs served either on large naan style bread flats or with basmati rice or baked potatoes. With a starter of hummus and pita, the food started flowing. The hummus was wiped out by all in record time. The kebabs were juicy and covered in a creamy cucumber sauce flavored with mint. Roasted tomatoes were bursting with flavor from the flames. The bill for all six of us to waddle out of there contentedly was $109 and some loose change plus a tip. That's crazy good for all the food we had! I'll be waiting for the next visit. We took cabs back to the parking garage, plugged the TomTom back in so it could be just as unhelpful as ever and set off home. The moon hung over the city as we left and God was praised for His goodness.

Monday, August 11

big, fat, hairy toes

I'll start off just stating this thought... Russia worries me. It worries me that they have started bombing Georgian territory in defense of "Russian citizens". These "citizens" were Georgian until they decided to break away from Georgia. Then Russia offered them "russian citizenship". Do you see how that was simply a way to get their big, fat, hairy toes over the territory lines?
Now, maybe it's just my imagination, but isn't that how hitler started out? I believe he stated he was just going over to take what was rightfully Germanys by invading the Sudenland and "taking it" from Czechoslavakia. The Czechs ceded it over to Hitler rather than fight (when told specifically by Chamberlain that England and France would not stand behind them). One year later Hitler had taken over the rest of Czechoslavakia. The rest is history. Is this a repeat of another madman's plan?
In the eighties we backed Afghanistan against Russia in a war that exhausted Russia and left them depleted. That allowed Reagan to help "encourage" Russia to "tear down the wall" and put an end to the cold war. Back then Russia was in debt and desperate for energy sources. Now the roles have reversed. They have a flat tax of 13% which has boost their economy to phenomonal highs. They have planted a flag and claimed the North Pole as russian territory so they can claim any oil that may be there as well as buying up every energy source they can in Europe, Asia and the surrounding seas. There is one oil pipeline through Europe controlled by Russia. They like it that way and are putting out quiet warnings against anyone who may want to buy or sell to the Georgian government who have a secondary pipeline, if I understand this correctly. (And trust me, I may not.)
On the other hand, even though we are rich in natural energy sources our government keeps us dependent on foreign oil, and forbids us to drill widely on our own resources. (Hypocrites). They also tax us into oblivion, turning us into a socialist country. We are on a teeter-totter and right now we are down and Russia is flying high!
I'm not saying I have a clue what the next step should be...but we need to keep our eyes open, because what seems like none of our affairs on the surface, could very well be a repeat of history. I don't believe for minute that Russia cares about peace or being our friends. We are their enemy and Putin wants to see us trounced in the end.
Meanwhile, I'm praying for our friends in the Ukraine. Could they be next in line? Is their freedom at risk?