homeward bound

While my trip to visit my Texas family was short, one would never know it by the hours of feasting. Meals, conversations, waterfowl viewing, bingeing on a TV comedy series, time with my grandchildren. Most of all laughter. JOY!

Bluebonnets and wildflowers
Waterfowl feeding time
Sous Chef Jack
Chef Mark
Feast!

Grandchildren time

My last morning. Coffee with a view

I’m blessed by the gift of travel, which in turn, gives me the gift of being present with this family for a time.

Traveling mercies.

gone again girl

This is becoming a habit. A very good habit, indeed.

I’m heading to Keller, TX, to visit the Keller Heckels. The last trip I took to Keller was just weeks before the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic set in. That’s fourteen months ago. I’ve not seen my two older grandchildren for over a year! Oh my gosh, this is way too long!

The scene is set for our family gathering on Sunday. Jack will spend a long day home from college. Georgia, an ER nurse, will join as after her shift. I cannot wait to be with these precious grandchildren.

There will be wonderful family feasting as we gather around the meal table and the family room. We’ll enjoy a feast of laughter, good stories – old and new, and quiet moments just to listen to these young people tell me about their lives.

There will be sounds of geese coming and going, landing in the river just beyond the back yard. After they land, there will be a cacophony of “feed me now” geese shouts. The duck will chime in with their own voices.

I long for all these sounds.

It’s a good morning for flying.

As I walked into the airport, it was immediately clear that air travel is back.

Queues of people lined up to check bags. Queues to go through security.

Queues to board the plane train.

So I walked the distance between several terminals. I saw some familiar sights.

How grateful I am for my walking skills!

Now onboard, it’s really just minutes until I’m met at DFW by the first smile – my son.

Reading materials in my seatback, I’m good to go.

Traveling mercies.

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into the woods

We took a walk into the woods while making four additional spice blends, using all manner of ingredients.

Recipes. Scales, skillets, and grinders.

The mixtures before toasting and grinding were reminiscent of what one might see on a path while walking through the woods.

It was a family affair.

All together we created five spice blends. Baking Spice, Za’atar, Garam Marsala, Barahat, Five Spice.

Yes, it was a woodsy walk in the woods.

The scents created by toasting and grinding were intense. Exotic. Amazing!

This family project was such a delight!

Last night we enjoyed grilled Za’atar chicken. It was SO delicious.

I am now airborne, crossing the Rocky Mountains, watching live women’s basketball, headed home. I’m so blessed to have had this time with my Seattle family. Abundance colored these past five days. Smiles and laughter were constant companions to our conversations. At the heart of all of it was time around the dining table, enjoying incredible meals with those I love.

Traveling mercies.

savvy spice making

According to a recent article in The New York Times, savvy cooks around the world are upping their cooking prowess by mixing their own spice blends. I’ve not previously described myself as a savvy cook, but it appears I may soon be able to do so.

I brought the Times article with me to Seattle. Today the family journeyed downtown to the Spice Market. We planned ahead having made a list of spices necessary to make five specific spice blends.

About a half-hour after entering the wonderfully spice-scented shop, we were on our way.

It was so much fun as everyone, especially the kids, fanned out to gather up everything on our list. The shopkeeper got into the act with directions and explanations.

A short time ago we mixed up the first spice blend. Za’atar. It is from the Middle East and is used in marinades for grilling poultry or meats.

We will enjoy za’atar marinated grilled chicken tomorrow night.

In the meantime, tonight we held a slider grill-off between traditionally raised ground beef and American Wagyu ground beef.

We have a winner! Everyone preferred the Wagyu sliders. Fun dining. Pun intended.

last day of winter

Seattle’s weather report today included this summary: “unsettled finish to winter, with spring beginning tomorrow.” We’re ending this last day of winter with a beautiful fire inside and a tri-tip roast on the grill out back.

It’s been a glorious day in spite of the chilly weather. I’m in need of a new espresso machine and Seattle is THE place to be for all things coffee. I learned how to drink coffee when I visited my son in Seattle about thirty years ago.

I settled on a machine that is as much a piece of art as it is a fine-tuned coffee machine.

As long as we were out and about we decided to take in a car wash. It’s true, I love car washes! I seldom get to enjoy riding through one, but today it was on our agenda.

What fun it was, complete with The Car Wash playing on the radio as we went through the time machine of a car wash.

Math was front and center this afternoon. My grandson’s task was to calculate amounts expressed in grams, multiplied by three, to prepare for a “field trip” to a local spice mart tomorrow. My granddaughter’s school project was to fill out the brackets for both the women’s and men’s Final Four NCAA basketball championships. Few things energize me more than talking about women’s basket ball.

The day culminated with an amazing dinner prepared by my daughter-in-law and son. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say we all were crazy for dinner,

Yesterday I my arrival was greeted by a rainbow. This day was colored by all the shades seen in that rainbow.

gone girl II

Gosh, travel last week felt so good, I decided to do it again! This time I’m going twice as far – all the way to Seattle.

Returning to doing some traveling has brought with it a kind of apprehension I didn’t expect. Examining it more closely, I realize I’ve spent the past year with apprehension as part of my life.

Apprehensive about being safe from the virus. Apprehension about going to the grocery store, to my drive-through pharmacy. Even curbside pickup at Starbucks.

It’s the unfamiliar. It’s also about risk-management. I wonder how much longer these will come alongside my daily life.

Unfamiliar, apprehension, risk-management aside. I’ll soon be on my way.

Seattle smiles await me!

Traveling mercies.

crafting america

The impetus for this trip was the above titled exhibition.

“Craft can have several meanings, but in its essence, craft is skilled making on a human scale.” This exhibit presents craft in the United States from the 1940’s to today. Craft has thrived in the U.S.

I craft. I came to see the work of craft artists of renown.

Some works were done solo.

Ruth Asawa. “Untitled (S.028 Hanging FourLobed Continuous Form within a Form). Wire.

Arlene Shechet, All in All. Ceramic, wood & steel.

Others with partners.

Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, Fruit Bowl. Glass.

Sonya Clark, over five thousand participants, Beaded Prayers Project

Each participant in the Beaded Prayers project created two identical prayer pockets; one to keep and one to contribute to the project, with each containing a prayer.

These few examples are just a taste of the over 100 objects on view.

This was such a impressive exhibit. I found inspiration for crafting works I might want to try.

From the exhibit: “Everyone has a connection to crafts. Handmade objects play a meaningful role in our lives. Almost everyone owns something handmade: a bowl to eat from, a necklace to wear, a quilt for a bed. Craft and everyday life are tightly intertwined.”

I did have a solo show in our hotel room. It’s titled Drying Masks Hanging from Light Fixture.

sabbath keeping

This Sabbath day is non-traditional. Though aren’t many Sabbaths non-traditional in this season of pandemic in which we find ourselves?

So much has changed in how we move about when it comes to eating and drinking. After a short morning walk to Onyx Coffee – masked of course – we entered into a changed space. Arrows painted on the floor directed us through a labyrinth of twists and turns, eventually arriving at a waiting area to place our order.

After ordering we were directed to another waiting area.

Finally, orders in hand, we moved outside to enjoy breakfast.

It was not lost on me that if we had chosen to find a church service this morning, we would be served outside as well.

Meandering through the day, we visited The Momentary. This is a former Kraft Cheese Plant which has been transformed into a contemporary art space. It’s really a wonderful place.

Currently on exhibit is Sarah Cain: In Nature. Her work focuses on observations from nature as a lens to see new possibilities during this sheltering in place time. I was struck by the labyrinth feel in her paintings. Perhaps because of the labyrinths I’ve navigated in the past few days of travel, I’m in tune with these patterns.

Walking through the space of the former cheese factory I couldn’t help but be reminded of labyrinths.

We ended our time at The Momentary with a light lunch. Get this, the iced lattes were delivered hands-free!

After this experience all that was left in the exhibit was to be shown the way to the exit by a reflection.

I do wonder about all the labyrinths in our lives designed for our safe-keeping. Sometimes I strain at masking and sign directions. Don’t you?

contrasts

Looking at my photographs from travel yesterday, I see contrast.

Colors and textures that make one feel safe in the distance.

From a elevation of 34,000 feet.

Descending to land.

On terra firma once again.

I picked up my rental car and drove to the hotel to check in.

I’m compelled to tell on myself. When making a rental car reservation it’s crucial you don’t confuse one Fayetteville with another. Otherwise you could end up with the only car available. In my case, a Dodge Charger.

When I asked the very young Hertz agent if the car was going to make me a badass woman, she laughed and said that yes it would!

Returning to the airport to pick up my traveling friend, these images definitively said how it was to be back on the ground. It didn’t feel so terra firma.

And my favorite. Note the 1st group that is prohibited from riding an escalator.

Meanwhile, upon entering the hotel; temperature checks and masks required for all.

gone girl

So now it begins. The ability to start to travel again. Slowly, with intention to make safe choices when planning a trip, and then during travel.

Just about one year ago- almost exactly to the day – my best friend and I traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas. We were there to see an exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum.

Upon returning home, it was clear there was danger in the air. The COVID-19 virus was beginning to spread across the U.S., having first been identified in Seattle. It would not take long before the entire country faced the threat of illness and death. And so, states began to require sheltering-at-home. It felt, “just-like-that” travel, and many other pieces of everyday life came to a halt.

I won’t dwell upon the past year.

I find my return to this place one year later, filled with fraught.

The same destination.

The same month.

My friend and I have both received the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s miraculous on its own

There is uncertainty as well.

What will it be like to walk into a hotel? And then into the hotel room? How will it feel to dine in a restaurant? What about entering a museum and wandering about?

I’ve no reference. I’ve no clue. Stay tuned as I’m certain to give a detailed report.

It feels right to begin travel in this place.

A recently installed exhibition is the inspiration for taking to the skies once again.

The exhibit is titled Crafting America.

Per Crystal Bridges: “This exhibition celebrates the skill and individuality of craft within the broad context of American art. From jewelry to furniture to sculptures and more, this exhibition is dazzling and full of surprises.

Featuring over 100 works in ceramics, fiber, wood, metal, glass, and more unexpected materials, Crafting America presents a diverse and inclusive story of American craft from the 1940s to today.”

I will love this exhibit!

But first I’ll need to take a seat in my chair in the sky.

Traveling mercies.