Packing it all in

Sometimes I could really use a few more hours in the day but I know by now that’s just not possible. I try my best to make the most of the time I have but don’t always succeed. So this is a very short blog because I’m packing it all in but can’t quite zip the suitcase without sitting on it first…

Mrs. Santa Clause

christmas decorations

My mother is an amazing woman. We don’t always see eye to eye but I wouldn’t be who I am today without her. Her house always looks so neat and organized and everything has a place. I strive to be like that but it doesn’t always work out that way. My mom gave me a little plaque that says “Creative Minds are Seldom Tidy” and it seems appropriate.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has had a flare for holiday decorating. She knows just where and how to place decorative items to add just the right seasonal touch to every room. This year is no exception. As soon as the girls and I stepped in the back door this afternoon we were greeted by the sight of tinsel, holiday banners and colorful strings of lights. It’s a very welcoming and warming feeling to step into all that.

Over the oven...

Over the oven…

In the kitchen...

In the kitchen…

In the living room...

In the living room…

When I was younger I used to think that my father would make a great Santa Clause. He had the beard, giving spirit and hearty laugh. I imagined him dressing up in the red suit and pretending to be Santa Clause for my future children. My girls were very fortunate to have him in their lives for a few years and while he never dressed up as Santa Clause, they knew and now remember his merry spirit.

If my father was Santa Clause then surely my mother is Mrs. Santa Clause with her talent for holiday decorating and making my daughters and I so happy. She knows how to make everyone laugh and there’s always lots of goodies in the form of food and toys at her house. She loves to give and receive hugs and has a kind, giving spirit. My daughters are still of an age when presents of toys are what they focus on but for me, having the gift of my mother in my life is one of the greatest presents in the world.

Missing the Point

burning-christmas-candles-1024x640

I thought I needed a few things at and near the mall this afternoon. I was wrong. The mall is already over crowded with swarms of shoppers searching for gifts in a less than warm and fuzzy way.

I loaded my girls in the car as the snow began to fall and we drove through the whipping winds and blowing snow. We managed to find a parking spot as someone else pulled out and in we bustled. Seeing the massive amount of people inside, I decided to scrap my shopping plans and just take the girls to the toy store so they could look around and get Christmas gift ideas. The girls loved that idea!

My best friend was in town on a short visit so she and another friend met us in the store and wandered around with us. She was kind enough to buy my girls the last two Equestria Girls they don’t own and they were over the moon in happiness! They’ve been playing with them from the moment we got home.

When we parted from my friends, we headed back toward where we’d come in and I decided it was time to go home. There were more necessities I wanted to get but I just couldn’t handle the crowds and I wanted to be home with my girls doing fun, relaxing things. So home we went and I started making Chex Mix.

It seems to me that a majority of people these days are missing the point of the holidays. They think the spirit of giving means buying as many gifts as possible and outdoing each other. I will always believe that the intangible gifts are the ones that really matter. Time with family and friends, a roof over my head and all my basic needs satisfied. You can’t wrap my favorite things up in a bow or stuff them in a sparkly box, my favorite things are always safe and warm within my heart.

Rainbows without Sunshine

Photo courtesy of Food Network

Photo courtesy of Food Network

The sun never came out today but to me it was a bright, beautiful day! Something that I’ve been waiting a long, long time for finally happened today and a great burden has been lifted from my shoulders. It is an amazing gift just in time for the beginning of the holiday season and I’m going to spread the sunshine I feel within me wherever I go!

I’ll finally have more time to write in Unbroken Flames and my New England stories. I can get my house all reorganized and start knitting, crocheting and painting again. I’ve missed expressing all of my creativity and it’s eager to escape in every way possible now!

I did a lot of running around today and tying up loose ends that have been tripping me up for months. By the time I reached my second to last stop of the grocery store, I was starving! I grabbed some food from the store’s cafe, ate enough to curb my hunger and then headed into the aisles for the few items I needed there.

In the bakery I saw a delicious looking rainbow in the form of cookies on a shelf. I love rainbow cookies and they seem to pop up all over the place this time of year. I decided to give myself a little treat and buy a package. There was no sunshine out today but those cookies were bright, beautiful and eager to be eaten! I sampled one on the drive home and it tasted like a little bit of heaven!

The path of my life continues to head upward in new and interesting ways and I’m never afraid to climb the hills to see the breathtaking view waiting at the top. Blue sky, sunshine and rainbows are always there, even in the rain.

Little Girl, Big Voice

I'm looking rather fierce in my pink fuzzy slippers!

I’m looking rather fierce in my pink fuzzy slippers!

When I was little, I was very shy. So shy that I remember hiding behind my mother when we’d visit her friends’ houses. I didn’t speak up much. I didn’t see a need to when my two older brothers were making enough noise to fill the house.

I didn’t really stand up for myself either because quite often my brothers would stand up for me. Most of the time I just didn’t want to make trouble or draw attention to myself. I had some good close friends that lived on the street of my childhood home and they understood me. Those who didn’t understand me ignored me, avoided me or worst of all, bullied me.

I suffered the worst bullying when I did finally stand up against some mean girls in middle school. I stood up to them because they were harassing my girlfriends and me during gym class. I stood up to them and used my flare with words to call them creatively cruel names. Perhaps not the best course of action but I’d endured more than enough harassment. My girlfriends didn’t stand up with me so I found myself standing alone. Worst of all, those bullying girls reported me to the gym teacher so I had to apologize to them! Their bullying grew even worse after that and had my family not moved that year, I’m not sure what would have happened.

Moving to a bigger school really didn’t help my shyness but I was able to make some good friends who stuck by me. I was so relieved when I got a boyfriend at 16 because he’d stand up for me and he became my voice. I liked having him order food for me because even at that age, I was afraid to speak up and say what I wanted. It took me many years to realize what a mistake that was.

Don’t think that I’m a mute though. Those that know me the best know that I’m a sarcastic, blunt, outspoken woman with a sharp wit who has always been marching to her own beat, even if it was one no one noticed at the time. When I’m not with my family, friends or those I’m really familiar with, I’m still a quiet observer, taking it all in. Have you heard that saying that it’s the quiet ones you have to look out for? There’s some truth to that.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve now found my voice and broken out of the shy shell I hid in for a majority of my life. I still regress now and then because it feels safer there, but I know I’m not helping anyone by clamming up. There are many things I believe in and feel are worth standing up for and speaking on behalf of. I can’t do them all at once but I focus on what I can when I can and put my whole heart into it!

At heart, I’m still a little girl. Hopeful, optimistic, energetic and kind. Now that I’ve found my big voice, I know I have the power to change the world, one word at a time.

Navigating by Moon, Stars and GPS

Chapter Three – Navigating by Moon, Stars and GPS

Two hours after I stopped for dinner I was into Massachusetts driving along the familiar Massachusetts Turnpike. Traffic wasn’t heavy to begin with because it was past midnight and it dropped off even more after Albany when I went toward the Turnpike and not the New York State Capitol. The sky was beginning to clear and I’d catch glimpses of stars in the sky as I drove. For the first time in any of my Massachusetts trips, I headed up 495 north off 90 and this new route northward renewed my excitement and curiosity enough to increase my alertness.

I drove by Worcester, which I didn’t realize was pronounced “Wooster” until my GPS said it and I thought “what?” When it clicked that was how it was meant to be said, I was pleased that I wasn’t actually lost somehow. There was a surprising amount of traffic around Worcester and looking at the lighted not-quite-skyscraper buildings, I realized it resembled Rochester, New York (the closest “city” near where I lived) but that it was much larger and more spread out. I was pleased that I’d seen another new city and could now put a visual with a name on a map.

Jazzmin was alternating between taking short naps and sitting up staring out the windows. I could tell she didn’t understand why we were still in the car when it was dark out and we were usually in bed sleeping at that time. I tried to explain to her where we were going and why and that no matter what happened when we arrived, we’d still have fun. I was trying to convince her more than me obviously, because she doesn’t truly understand many human words. I failed at convincing either of us.

When I started seeing town names with “bury” at the end I knew I was getting closer and my GPS agreed. I drove by several towns whose names were familiar to me only because some of the accounts I followed on Twitter were from businesses in those areas. Again, it was nice to put a mental image with a name on a map even if it was too dark to see anything anymore. With an hour left in my drive, I could finally see the half-moon before me and I smiled because I knew my father was still with me guiding me. I wouldn’t understand why the signs had been pointing me to Amesbury until my adventure ended but I will always believe I read them right.

Upon finally arriving in Amesbury, I discovered it wasn’t anything like I’d expected. I’d been looking at pictures of the town online and businesses in the area but when I drove in at 2am and experienced the roundabout in the center of town, I was somewhat disappointed by my surroundings. The center of the town was hillier than I expected but not big tall hills like where I lived. The hills were smaller and steeper and the streets were tricky to maneuver. Downtown looked quaint enough but it was dark and I was tired and ended up turning up and backtracking several times trying to figure out where I could park and take Jazz out to answer nature.

I wonder how many people noticed my Explorer with the NY plates driving lost around Amesbury. Probably not many because most sensible people were in bed by then and all the bars had closed. I found an apartment complex with a parking lot and stopped just long enough to walk Jazz before she tinkled in my car.

There was supposedly a chain hotel somewhere in the area. When I pulled it up on GPS and on the internet of my phone, I realized it was out of my rather limited price range. Too tired to drive much further, I decided to see if there were any parks around where I could perhaps park my car and sleep for the night. My GPS search came up with a park about 5 minutes from where I was so I hit “Get Directions” and happily followed them out of the main town with its perplexing roundabouts.

I was a bit dismayed when I found the park and discovered the parking for it was just a large pull off area beside the road, but I knew it would have to do. I didn’t like having my car with its NY plates so obvious from a main road but it seemed like my only option.

No Entry Today

One of my favorite English Class memories was when one of my fellow students wrote a poem entitled something like “No Poem Today.” It was a rather well-written and amusing piece that gave various reasons why he couldn’t submit a poem that day when he was in reality, doing just that. The teacher thought it was clever and as it did count as a poem, he passed the assignment.

I’m stealing that clever idea tonight because I’m too tired to write anything sensible or to even repost an old blog from Corbin Creations. Instead, I’ll tease you by saying that tomorrow I will be posting the third installment of my latest New England adventure that begins to describe what happened when I finally arrived in Amesbury, Massachusetts for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect but it wasn’t what I expected…

You’ll just have to wait because there’s no entry today. *wink*

Whirlwind Tour of North Shore – Chapter Two

Last night’s post about my first and most unplanned trip to Amesbury, Massachusetts was more popular than I expected. I decided to redo that post a little bit as that was the first chapter in that particular adventure story. I’d also left off the last paragraph somehow so I fixed that too. Without further ado, here’s Chapter Two!

***

Jazzmin using the center console as a pillow.

Jazzmin using the center console as a pillow.

New England Adventures: Whirlwind Tour of North Shore, MA

Chapter Two – Jules and Jazz

Within an hour of driving east toward Massachusetts the sun had set, which was a good thing because it had been blinding me in my rear view mirrors. I usually just move my mirrors in so I can’t see the bright sun reflecting in them. That technique works fine in the country where I never have to pass anyone but I quickly decided it was unwise on the thruway when looking in my mirrors proved useless for proper lane navigation. My Explorer had enough blind spots; I didn’t think it was necessary to add more.

Jazzmin’s excitement rarely waned as I drove. She would occasionally lay down looking a bit dejected that we hadn’t stopped for food yet and she’d rest her head on the center console twitching her worried eyebrows at me. I’d then pet her and tell her what a good girl she was and she’d perk back up and resume sniffing the vents and sliming the windows.

Driving along with my loyal companion, I concluded yet again that adopting Jazzmin was one of the best decisions I’d ever made. She’d helped keep the loneliness at bay during my many nights at home without my daughters. At two year’s old, she was still very much a puppy but someone had taken the time to train her and she had the sweetest personality. All I had to do was get out her favorite tuggie toy and she’d start tearing through the living room excitedly, even if she hadn’t bothered to take the toy from my hand.

A friend who had met Jazz said she was just a canine version of me. A youthful little ball of energy that tugged rebelliously on the leash, barked randomly, fretted about things she couldn’t change and chased the road as if it was going to disappear. That’s how I eloquently sum the both of us up anyway.

When I made our first stop to answer nature and get food there were of course other dogs at the rest area and Jazz was very eager to get out and play. Controlling Jazz is still a work in progress for me though so I kept her far away from the other dogs when I took her out. She sniffed the grass, acquainting herself with the scent of thousands of dogs at once and eventually did her business, much to my relief. With Jazz all squared away, I put her back in the car and put the windows down as far as possible without it being possible for her to squeeze her bulk out. It was full dark and cool so I knew she’d be okay for the few minutes it took me to go inside.

This was not my first time entering a rest stop alone on a road trip but it still made me a bit uneasy.  People notice a pretty young woman in a rest stop alone and those of the male persuasion don’t always do so in a very friendly-appearing way. As it was late evening, there were few people at the rest stop so I quickly used the facilities and bought our nuggets, fries and a tall iced coffee something or other to help keep me awake. Eyes ahead and very sure of myself, I returned to my car and Jazz at a brisk pace, keys in hand.

Once inside the car I quickly locked the doors and settled my large iced coffee in the center cup holder.  Picking up my phone, I checked the weather app and saw that it had cleared in Amesbury. I was once again faced with a choice. I was three hours out with five more to go. I could turn back around and drive three hours to home and my comfortable bed or I could keep heading east and face the prospect of spending the night sleeping in my car. Concluding once more that returning home wouldn’t get me the answers I thought I needed I decided to keep going.

Putting my phone back down in the console, I shooed Jazz away for the hundredth time as she tried to climb in my lap for the bag I had sitting there. She had been up my nose the moment she saw the bag of food and smelled what was inside. I told her to sit her butt down in her seat so I could back out and that we’d eat on the way. I’m pretty sure all she heard was “blah blah blah eat” because after I fastened my seatbelt, started the car, shifted it into reverse and pressed the gas she lost her balance momentarily and almost went tumbling to the floor in front of the seat.

Moments later, I was driving on the thruway again at a steady clip on the cruise control. I reached into the bag and handed Jazz a fry and she gingerly took it from my fingers before practically swallowing it whole. I then started taking bites of chicken nuggets and handing her the remains and we shared like that until the food was gone. I’d only purchased the food because it was fast and cheap and as I hated McDonald’s, Jazz ate the majority of the stuff. She gave an appreciative burp before lying down in the passenger seat and she was soon curled into as tight a ball as she could manage and contentedly asleep. I envied her restful state and began sucking down my coffee hoping it would be enough to keep me going for the five remaining hours of the drive.

An Impromptu New England Adventure…

One of my New England adventures was unplanned, unwise and had unexpected results. I learned a lot on that trip and it led me on a journey I didn’t know I was strong enough to take.

***

Chain Bridge Amesbury MA

New England Adventures: Whirlwind Tour of North Shore, MA 

Chapter One – Storms and Rainbows

There were tornado warnings in Amesbury, Massachusetts on the Friday evening I decided to drive up there for the first time. It had been nasty weather all day where I lived too but for reasons that defy explanation, I started packing my bags for an impromptu road trip. It was a crazy thing to do but it was within my means to do it and I was determined to go.

Jazzmin was very excited to see mama stuffing things in a bag because she somehow knew she was coming too. I packed way more clothes than I’d need, which is how I always prepare for a trip. I then started packing Jazz’s stuff by folding up her crate, grabbing her favorite blankie, dog food, bowls and toys.

It was raining out and a thunderstorm was rumbling by but the sun was trying to peak out. I went outside to unlock my car and told myself that if I saw a rainbow that was my sign that I was meant to go. Sure enough, I turned back toward the house and there was a rainbow stretching all the way across the horizon. That’s all I needed, I was definitely going now!

During one of my many trips out to the car with stuff, Jazz snuck out the door and it’s not unusual for her to go running off once she’s free of the house. This time though she stuck right with me and was quite eager to get in the car and go.

Once everything was hastily thrown in the car in a vague semblance of order, I loaded Jazz in the shotgun position and she happily sat on the sheet covering the seat, with her nose pressed to the air vent. As it was pouring, I couldn’t have the windows open so into the vent she sniffed and occasionally sneezed from the AC. There’s nothing quite like sneezed back dog breath circulating through the car to make for an aromatic road trip.

It was around 7:30pm on that fateful Friday night when I pulled out of my driveway and turned right. I had visited Massachusetts twice before and I knew the way almost by heart now. Reaching the end of my road, I checked my cell phone again to see if reception had returned (the storm had made it evaporate) and sure enough I had my usual three out of five bars.

I sat there in my car for a few moments and thought about what I was about to do. A more logical person would have turned around, but logic and I don’t usually get along. I pushed the clutch in on my Explorer, shifted into first, lifted my foot off the brake and accelerated taking another right. Jazz wobbled a bit in her seat around the turn but quickly regained her balance and was soon smearing dog muzzle snot all over the windows trying to see out.

As I drove north toward the thruway it was still pouring and sunny at the same time. When I looked to my east I saw a fresh rainbow stretching all the way across the sky and I smiled. My father was telling me to go, I was sure of it! I grabbed my ticket from the thruway attendant and he asked “Did you see the rainbow?”

“Of course! It’s beautiful!” I said before pulling away smiling with excitement and elation. I had embarked on one of the craziest adventures of my life and I was so proud of myself!

Rainbow stretching across the thruway

Rainbow stretching across the thruway

Once on the thruway heading east, I nearly giggled at how bright the rainbow was. The ends of the rainbow seemed to be touching the road in front of me and driving through the archway was leading me right toward Massachusetts. If I was reading the spiritual signs wrong I certainly didn’t care and neither did Jazz. She trusted her mama to the ends of the earth and somewhere in her lovely doggy mind she remembered our last road trip. Long road trips with mama meant sharing fast food and Jazz’s main thought at that point was probably “nuggets and fries!”

Spirit of Giving

My girls and I, Christmas 2011.

My girls (my blessings) and I, Christmas 2011.

Sometimes I wish I knew how to make my voice heard by more people. Especially when it has to do with something I believe to be a worthy cause like volunteering. I do the best I can with the resources I have and know that doing something is better than nothing. I am only one person but I believe that when I give all of myself to something, I make a difference.

Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays growing up. I looked forward to enjoying a delicious meal with my parents and my two older brothers. I always loved watching my father at work in the kitchen as he prepared all the fixings. Sometimes he’d let me help by stirring the gravy but usually it was best if we all stayed out of his way so he could work his magic.

While I have yet to achieve success at cooking the perfect turkey, I’m pretty good at making all the fixings. I have some secret weapons up my sleeve, namely the owl-shaped salt and pepper shakers that my dad always used to use. Every time I use them I think of him and try my best to channel his cooking expertise. I also have the decorative trivets that used to hang in the kitchen of my childhood home. In the picture below of my father cooking you can see the salt and pepper shakers on the back of the stove and one of those trivets hanging above the stove.

My Dad cooking in the kitchen of my childhood home.

My Dad cooking in the kitchen of my childhood home.

Yes, those are Potato Buds in the picture. My dad usually made those instead of dealing with peeling and cooking real potatoes. Somehow when he made them, they tasted gourmet and just as full of love as the scratch kind.

I will never forget the warmth and happiness of the holiday dinners growing up. Before my brothers and I finished school, became adults and started our own families. We started new traditions that are just as meaningful but there’s no going back and recapturing the innocence of our younger years when life seemed so much simpler.

My dad being a goofball on Thanksgiving when I was a teenager.

My dad being a goofball on Thanksgiving when I was teenager. He was making my high school boyfriend and I laugh so we’d have genuine smiles.

This year I’m starting a new tradition and doing something I’ve never done before by volunteering to help serve a meal. I’m a bit nervous that I’ll mess something up but I’m not going to let uncertainty keep me from doing something worthwhile and helpful.

My father was always volunteering at various organizations and he gave selflessly of himself to help so many people. It is in his memory and honor that I do this and I know he’s proud of me for stepping up and for trying to rally others to do the same.

It never hurts to try and it’s a noble thing to do what needs to be done instead of hoping someone else will do it. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

…Hear Me Roar

zebra print top

My father always used to love to sing the words “I am woman, hear me roar!” somewhat off-key and in a joking way when my mother or I would do something particularly fierce. He did it in an amused and amusing way but I know he was impressed by the power of us Corbin women. You don’t mess with a Corbin woman, we’re a force to be reckoned with.

My force of reckoning was tested this evening as I battled issues with my shower yet again. The pressure to the shower head suddenly reduced to a trickle last night. While many people pay ridiculous amounts of money for waterfall or gentle rain showers, having to wash in what equated to a light sprinkle was time-consuming and frustrating. I was too tired to fight with it last night though so I saved it for this evening after my workout.

The mount for the old shower head had been stuck on the pipe since I moved into the house. I managed to swap out all but that one part with a new shower head. I’d tried wrenches, pleading, grumbling and pouting but that darn thing wouldn’t come off. Well tonight I’d had enough. I could tell the reduced water pressure was being caused by that one part and I was determined to get it off. When I’m determined to do something, best step aside.

With some ingenuity involving tweezers that now bend the wrong direction, I was able to FINALLY loosen that mount enough to remove it! I was so ecstatic, I gave out a triumphant whoop and almost did an end zone dance in my bathroom! I was able to reassemble everything with my newer shower head and ta-da! The water pressure issue was resolved and I had a lovely, full strength shower that washed away my workout “glistening.”

It’s incredibly empowering for me when I accomplish tasks that some more “delicate” women think they need a man for or hire a plumber to deal with. I’ve learned over the years that if you want something done right, you do it yourself!

I’m a unique creature and have barely touched upon the strength I possess. There’s only one me but I wish more women were like me. Willing to embrace their own power, their own abilities, not forever looking for a man to “rescue” them and do all the “hard” work. By always relying on someone else to be their strength, they never realize their own potential, they never see the greatness within themselves. They never give themselves a chance to truly share that greatness with someone else while still being a whole and complete person.

The road I’ve chosen to walk as a single woman, single mother isn’t for everyone. It takes a mixture of faith, luck, stubbornness, tenacity, determination and rebellion. It’s a bold and often misunderstood move to stand up and say that no, I’m not just giving myself over to someone. I deserve someone who will fight for me, all of me, not just the parts they like. Someone who understands that standing on equal footing is the only way to move forward together…well, if he can keep up with me that is…

The Clarity of Cold

The view from my deck this morning.

The view from my deck this morning.

Winter isn’t my favorite season. If it only lasted from December 1st to say, January 15th I’d probably love it but alas it seems to last 6 months in Upstate NY. I don’t ski, snowboard or snowshoe. I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as a snow bunny. I’ll go out and play in the snow with my girls and I enjoy that. The first snowfall of December and the promise of a white Christmas is lovely too. Otherwise I feel like snow’s main goal is to keep me huddled inside under a blanket, covered with animals.

The first real snowfall of the season started falling here last night. By morning there was a thin blanket of white across the landscape. Jazzmin was ecstatic to frolic in it and sniff snort through it trying to find familiar scents in the grass beneath. Jordan thought it was pretty but too cold. Jaycie was very excited to see the snow and wanted to play in it but with wind chills in the teens this morning, she changed her mind. I was happy I’d already dug out my winter boots and coat so I wouldn’t slip down my deck steps on the way out to the bus stop.

Today was one of those confused winter days where it was sunny one moment then snowing and blowing the next. Mama Nature was having fun shaking her snow globe today! None of the new snow accumulated though and the skies cleared enough to reveal a rather pretty sky after the sun set. Even so, I admit that the sudden presence of snow made me a bit grumpy.

When I took Jazz out for the last time tonight, I stepped onto my deck steps, looked up and was greeted by the sight of the half-moon. A smile immediately lit my face and in the clarity of cold and moonlight, my mood instantly lifted. It was as if the moon was telling me that everything will be okay, that even in the darkness and cold, light is always shining. Sometimes even I forget that but thankfully the powers that be are kind enough to remind me.

winter moon

Remembrance and Respect

The Air Force Honor Guard at my father's burial.

The Air Force Honor Guard at my father’s burial.

Today is Veterans Day and while as a child I knew it as a day off from school, as an adult, I have a better understanding of its true meaning. My father was an Air Force Veteran. He served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. He worked on the electrical and mechanical systems of large cargo planes but he never saw action in the war. At his burial the Air Force Honor Guard performed their duties including the flag presentation and the playing of Taps in the distance. Were I able to cry at that time, I would have. I’m sure my father’s spirit appreciated the honor. I appreciate everything he and everyone else in the armed services has done and continues to do for this country.

When I’ve visited my father’s grave, I’ve taken the time to walk around and read nearby grave markers. Every cemetery has a multiple stories to tell of the people laid to rest there. While their physical voices are silent, their spirits are strong and the words written on headstones tell only a small portion of their lives. I like to think that even though I’m not related to them, they appreciate me taking the time to learn a little bit about them.

On my first official, planned visit to Amesbury, MA I stayed at the Fairfield Inn because I wanted to be close to the center of town. It was late June but the weather felt more like late September as it was raining and cool when I arrived. After I settled my belongings in my room, I wanted to stretch my legs after 7 hours of driving. I changed into warmer jeans and boots, grabbed my jacket and umbrella and started walking down Clark’s Road toward the Merrimack River.

I hadn’t walked very far when I came upon a cemetery. It was still raining and the ground was muddy but I walked a short distance into the cemetery and looked around me. Even on such a dreary day there was a quiet beauty present. The 4th of July was less than a week away so the graves of veterans were marked with small American flags to honor their service and show respect. When it began to rain harder I decided to head back to the hotel.

Flags on Veteran's graves in Salisbury Cemetery on Clarks Road, Amesbury, MA

Flags on Veteran’s graves in Salisbury Cemetery on Clarks Road, Amesbury, MA

By the end of that visit to Amesbury and surrounding areas, the weather had transformed into full summer with bright sunlight, high temperatures and humidity. I went to the car show in Amesbury the Sunday morning of my departure and found that a fun experience. On my way out of town I drove by a cemetery I’d seen a few times before on my travels. This time I decided to turn back around and drive in.

I parked my car and started walking around. I didn’t realize how big the cemetery was until I crested the hill and saw it stretching beyond. I walked all over that cemetery reading headstones and watching the birds land atop the markers and in the trees. There were numerous American flags set into the green grass, gently stirring in the light breeze. The only sounds so far back in the cemetery were the songs of the birds and the rustling of the leaves. I was filled with deep feelings of remembrance and respect. I was the only living person there but I was in the presence of countless strong spirits.

Mount Prospect Cemetery. Near where I first parked

Mount Prospect Cemetery, Amesbury, MA. Near where I first parked

I don’t really know how long I was walking around that cemetery but I felt no urgency to leave. I felt a need to be among those stories, those memories, those short verses carved in stone that hinted at the lives of souls now at rest. Everywhere you travel there is a story, if only you take the time to stop, listen and see.

Looking across the back expanse of Prospect Cemetery.

Tales of Amesbury, Massachusetts

Almost a month ago I wrote a post about one of my adventures in Amesbury, MA. The adventure was so inspiring that I had to write about it that very night! I was staying in Seabrook, NH and all I could think about once I returned to my hotel room was writing about what had happened. I eagerly transferred the pictures from that day to my laptop and began furiously writing.

I didn’t finish the post that night because I became too tired to think straight. When I went to work on it the next morning, I was dismayed to discover that the hotel internet was no longer working. This was more than a little exasperating but I refused to be deterred from my goal of publishing the post that day!

I knew that Dunkin’ Donuts had free wi-fi and I knew exactly where the closest DD was so I loaded my cargo for the day’s adventure in my car (I was heading to Salem, MA after breakfast) and headed out. I drove to DD, parked my car and went inside with my laptop. After buying a bagel sandwich and some coffee, I powered up my laptop and hooked up to their wi-fi. The post was already all finished in Word, it was just a matter of copying and pasting. Within moments my post was finally live and I exhaled in relief and happiness. That post was entitled Accidental Wandering in Amesbury.

Not many people read that post when I published it but I was still happy I wrote it all out. Today I finally decided to post a link to it on the Facebook page of the location where the most interesting parts of the adventure happened, Jon P. Mooers Artists Gallery and Studio. My intent was to share my story with Jon P. Mooers so he’d know I appreciated his hosting that night’s event. What happened went beyond anything I’d imagined!

Until today, the most views I’d ever received on my blog were under 100. I was happy with that though, I’m happy when I only have one visitor because that means someone is reading my writing. As of the moment I’m writing this I’ve had over 400 views of my blog, almost all because of that one post! Jon was nice enough to link to it on his gallery page on Facebook and the response from that was overwhelming! I’ve had several people from Amesbury leave lovely comments on the post and I’ve responded to all of them because I want everyone to know how much I appreciate their praise and acknowledgment. I feel so very honored that this one little writer’s voice has been heard and enjoyed by so many!

While that post about Amesbury has received the most recognition, it’s not the only one I’ve written about Amesbury. I created a new link on my main page that leads to all the entries I’ve written that have to do with Amesbury. My first visit there was in August of 2012 and it was one of the bravest, boldest, craziest things I’ve ever done. That story may never be fully told but I allude to it in my first post about Amesbury entitled The Best Laid Plans.

Today proved to me that my voice is more powerful than I realized and gave me great hope for my future as a writer and as a resident of New England. I envy the residents of Amesbury and I hope they always remember what an amazingly beautiful town/city they live in!

Holding Sand (Revisited)

I’ve been busy today. I had some writing work to finish up and then long overdue tidying in my house to take care of. It’s difficult to even string those last couple sentences together. As I usually do when I’m trying to keep up a blog streak but too tired to focus, I’m re-posting a blog entry from my Corbin Creations blog archives. Re-reading it I feel that it rings very true for where I am in my life right now. The sand in the hourglass slipped by far too quickly today but trying to grasp it is futile, it’s happier being free to flow.

Holding Sand – 1/29/2013

I adore being on a warm beach. I’m not one to sit out in the sun all day tanning because I believe in being pale and healthy. When I’m at the beach I’m well covered in sunscreen and my toes are in the water. As cliché as it may sound, one of my favorite activities is walking along the beach. Nothing compares to strolling in the shallow waves enjoying the feel of the sand beneath my bare feet. There’s just something beautifully calming about walking on a surface that softens gently beneath me as warm water flows over my toes and ankles.

As anyone who has ever walked on a beach knows, the incoming tide will inevitably wash away all traces of footprints. When I walk in the shallow water my prints are nothing more than indents in the sand below the surface and my passage is quickly forgotten by the ocean. Sometimes I’ll stop, crouch down and pick up a handful of wet sand just to feel it in my hand. It is impossible to hold sand for very long because it falls swiftly from the grasp. Sand of the perfect dampness to create sandcastles will hold its shape for a while but as it dries it crumbles, if the waves do not destroy it first.

Sand has long been used to gauge the passage of time because it flows so swiftly and free. Trying to hold onto sand is a futile endeavor because it is not meant to be trapped. The tighter the grip on it, the faster it escapes, but if you leave your palm open and have just a small pile there, it will remain a while longer. Warm beach sand sparkles in the sunlight and is smooth to the touch and it is happiest when left where it came from. The only way to truly hold sand for any length of time is to transform it into something else. Intricate glass creations can be created when sand is heated and blown by skilled craftsmen.

There is no holding onto true, free, unaltered sand and it is best to remember this. Sometimes holding something even tighter just makes it slip away faster. By opening your palm and allowing something to be as it is you grant it freedom and sometimes in that freedom it will willingly form itself into something that you can in fact grasp. You cannot predict when certain things and people will slip from your grasp. That is a good thing because then when they choose to return as something attainable, it is a blessed and surprising gift.