Friday, September 30, 2011

Made it, just barely

Lots of a long story short.... delayed flight at Newark (normal), missed connecting flight in Montreal, hang around airport for 3 hours, arrived at Heathrow 3 hours later than planned and then no luggage. There was an electrical outage for just about 15 seconds as I was coming in. That made getting the luggage near to impossible. Finally several of the luggage handlers began bringing in the luggage by hand. No luggage for me. So I reported it to Air Canada and hopefully it will be delivered tomorrow at Twinkle Toes. I am now at the Cotswold HOuse, a B and B in Oxofrd. I am going to take the bus to Summertown and look around and get a bite to eat and then come back and crash. I hopefully will have internet access at one of the local pubs when I get to Lower Oddington (Twinkle Toes territory). I pick up the car tomrrow morning.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Well, my bags are packed and I am ready to go!!! Yikes!

One week at home, that's it for me. I am leaving tomorrow at around 5pm for Montreal and then off across the big pond to London. I will then take a bus to Oxford where I will spend the night at a local B and B. Then on Saturday morning, the 1st of October, I will take possession of a Ford Focus and pray that all will go well as I drive the country side to my little stone cottage, "Twinkle Toes". If you can believe it, the weather forecast for Oxford for the next several days is sunny and warm (82/84 degrees). Can you believe it?
On this trip, I will be alone for a week and then Don will join me the second week to celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary. There will be no clocks to tell me I have to get back on the ship at a certain time. There will be more freedom in this part of my sabbatical. I am preparing myself to read more enriching books such as Finding God in All Things: A Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and Meeting God in Quiet Places. Can you see a running theme?
There will be wifi capabilities at the local pubs and the library in a not too distant village, according to the owners of the cottage. So hopefully I will be able to communicate more than I did while on the cruise.
Everyone be well and I hope to tell you what is happening in my little area of the Cotswold, outside Oxford. I will be in the village of Lower Oddington. I will be worshipping with some folks that visited Holy Spirit in the spring on Sunday, October 2nd at their church, St. Bartholomew's in Wootton Bassett. This will be my first excursion driving on the left hand side of the road. I hope to practice some before I leave the car rental place. Pray for me, please.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Well I made it back from my 16 day trip to Europe and beyond

As you can easily tell with my absence from writing on the blog, it was a challenge to access the internet for a variety of reasons. So I arrived back on Thursday around 12:30pm after a 9 hour flight from Munich. Well as you can surely imagine, I saw a lot of new and interesting and unbelievable sights. Each stop on the trip brought new insights and memories into my life. But if I had to declare a mantra for the experience, it would be the following: I went, I saw, I shopped, and I conquered. There were high hills to climb. There were sights that I had only seen in pictures. There were sights that I had never imagined and they took my breath away. There was the immense size of the oceans, the seas, and the straights that proved to me how small I am in the entire scope of the world.

Living on a movable ship for 12 days was very relaxing and refreshing. In fact, I have returned thinking that I was easily gone for 3 years rather than 16 days. Because each town and country was new to me, each day seemed to last longer than the hours and minutes indicated. I didn't have to cook a meal or make a bed for 16 days. Now that is a vacation. I read two books: Sarah's Keys and Cutting for Stone. I walked and walked both on the ship and land. I kept track of how much I walked. Are you ready? 248,543 steps! There was a walking/running track on the 11th deck, so I ended walking there as often as possible, plus of course all our trips on the shore.

My two favorite cities would have been Amsterdam, Brugge, and Athens. I took over 1000 pictures. Both Don and I went through them yesterday. I will consolidate them and put them on a DVD if anyone is so inclined to view them. I kept a written journal as I traveled so that will help bring back the memories.

Touring the Anne Frank House was an unbelievable experience. It gave me chills seeing the actual place where this young girl and her family hid for those two years. Seeing the book case and walking up those stairs was a surreal experience. Listening to her Father explain about his daughter in a recorded video was also incredible.

My last full day had me in the morning seeing the stunning jewels, the expansive grounds, and the massive buildings of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul and in the early evening being a part of the happy, boisterous, unbelievably joyous celebration of the Ocktober Fest in Munich. What a day!
What surprised me during the experience is how many cultures learn several languages; one of the being English. So there were not too many times during the weeks where it was difficult to make myself known. What also surprised me is there was so much graffiti on the beautiful buildings in some of the countries.

I will write more as I reflect during this next week. Until then.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Have arrived safely

After waiting for about an hour and a half at Newark because President Obama was visiting the flooding situation in New Jersey, the airport shut down. Consequently we left late, but we arrived safely only an hour later than our expected time. No problems going through customs, getting our bags, and getting a train into the city. We did discover that the credit cards must have a certain chip in them in order to use them. So we might not be able to use our credit cards here in Amsterdam. The train took only about 15 minutes. We arrived at the central train station and then tried to get the IAmsterdam tickets, but the lines were too long. So thankfully I had written down information on how a hotel shuttle will be at a certain place. It was there and ready to just leave. They took us to our hotel and and that is where we are getting refueled to begin our day. The hotel is beautiful, very modern and we are on the 16th floor with a fabulous view of the town and the water.

More to come later.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Neither earthquake or hurricane or no electricity or flooding can keep the faithful at Holy Spirit down. Today there was a short and very sweet "Sending-off" service for me at church. It was perfect in every way. I so appreciate everyone's kind words, which directly speared my heart. Thank you one and all. Thank you also for the cards and the gift certificate to a spa and makeover place in Annandale. I will so look forward to indulging myself upon my return.

I am almost completely packed and ready to go. I even printed off the express tickets for the cruise.

Tomorrow I will go to St. John's in Somerville to be with one of the communities, which sponsored me for my ordination. I was at St. John's for 2 1/2 years before coming to Holy Spirit. I will see Deacon Joanna George who was with us at Holy Spirit during her internship year. We still see each very often.

Thank you Father Philip for the wonderful "sending of" service. I feel extremely blessed to be your Deacon; more than you can ever imagine. I felt your love and I am humbled by it.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Well, a beginning!

Dear Friends,

Well neither earthquake or hurricane will stop my sabbatical from beginning. It tried awful hard to curtail some of my plans of saying good-bye for three months, which it did to some degree.

On Tuesday, August 23rd while at Edna Mahan Prison, we were sitting there crocheting when two of the women said that they felt their chairs move. A couple of us commented thinking nothing really startling. About a half hour later, an officer came in and screamed "Emergency Face Count" and all the women jumped up like scared jack rabbits and left the room with a few hugs. I had planned to say some meaningful comments on how much they mean to me, but we were quickly escorted out not knowing why the turmoil. As we left the Max parking lot, we overhead an officer say, "Earthquake." We couldn't believe our ears. But we all know that this was true.

Then of course Sunday brought Hurricane Irene with its wind and rain and no Sunday service. I am definitely going to save my sermon for when I return during the first of December.

Well this first week of my sabbatical has been finishing sewing projects and getting ready for my cruise. My friend and I have made two plans for excursions on land. We are going to Mont St. Michael, which I have always thought was so beautiful. It comes with a lunch with wine and a tour. It is a seven hour tour. Then when we get to Athens, we are going on a tour of the major sites for four hours and then have free time with lunch for the other three hours.

My friend from California and I are celebrating 50 years of friendship. Yikes. For those who do not know, we are going on a 12 day cruise from Amsterdam (two extra days here before we leave on the ship), Brugge, Belgium, Cherbourg, France, Vigo, Spain, Gibraltor, Sicily, Athens, Greece, and finally Istanbul, Turkey (two extra days here as well).

I hope to blog while we are on land as to use the internet on the ship costs 64 cents a minute. It is a little pricey to be sure.

If anything happens, between now and when I leave at 6pm on Sunday, September 4th, I'll write to you.

Happy days to all.