Healing Over

The following is a blog post that I did for another site, but feel it is appropriate for this month.  I am facing the anniversary of my Mom’s death as well as having several friends who are going through equally hard times.

HEALING OVER

August 29, 2014

 The day couldn’t have been more perfect if I had special ordered it from a catalog.  I woke up feeling that it would be a good one despite the event that was to take place.

Seven months had passed since I had lost my mother in an unexpected manner and today was the one I had chosen to celebrate her beautiful life.  A gathering of family and friends that were dear to her, in a place that positively captured her heart.

The Celebration of Life was held on a village green nestled between a harbor filled with boats and rows of cute little vacation cottages.  The same cottages that she had spent a couple of summers renting.  It was mid July and the Maine weather was truly a joy: a few clouds, a comfortable temperature and a breeze that beckoned everyone to enjoy summer.  The ceremony was very simple and filled with things that Mom would have loved: music, the ocean, family and a feeling of love.

At the end, I felt the sadness I couldn’t avoid, but also a sense of peace that Mom would have more than approved.  She would have loved to go out on the sailboat after and that’s part of what made the day more wonderful.

Several of my family members went for an afternoon cruise including my aunt, (Mom’s youngest sister) whom had never been sailing. It always gives me a profound joy to take someone sailing that has never been. I love to see their look of wonder and enjoyment, because it’s the same way I feel every time I am on the ocean. My whole life has been filled with sailing and the ocean. I don’t ever feel completely at peace or at home unless it is nearby. My earliest memories involve the water. The ocean is such an integral part to our family that I don’t think any of us would be able to live happily without it. I remember once my step mother saying about my Dad, “You can take the boy out of the ocean, but you can’t take the ocean out of the boy.”

And as we took to the Penobscot Bay, it was with great joy that we could all be together. My aunt and I put some of my Mom’s and my step father’s ashes into the water along with some blessed flowers. I know deep within my heart that Mom would have found that appropriate. The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying the good company, capturing wonderful pictures and relaxing. Thankfully there were more laughs than tears and my aunt said to me that it was one of the best days she had had in a long time. I won’t ever truly say goodbye to my Mom, but this was a good way to move past the sadness, hurt and anger that I had experienced.

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New Zealand, Part 2.

8.2.17

It was a rainy, dreary day and Clare has the flu.  So, I decided to head up to the War Memorial Museum. There is A LOT there to see and it’s overwhelming.  They have some exhibits called “Scars of the Heart” about WWI and WWII that got a little too real and somewhat frightening for me.  I did enjoy seeing the museum though.  I did also watch a Maori (the indigenous people of NZ) performance that was very good.  There was dance, song and history.  Back at the hotel, I went to the rooftop bar/restaurant and had a late snack.  It was very beautiful to see all the Auckland lights.

8.3.17

Clare was feeling better and managed to make it on time for the bus to Hobbiton.  However, the pickup wasn’t at the right place, so we missed it and the driver had to come back.  No biggie.  We stopped at a café about ½ way there and Clare wanted hot water with lemon-they ran out of lemons, so they just went out back to pick some more-A+ for freshness!  We continued onto Matamata for lunch-I tried a chicken, bacon, leek pie with some sort of sweet sauce.  It was pretty good. I don’t need to have it again, but worth trying something new.  We then went to the “start” of the movie set tour.  We got on another bus (this one is specific to the movie set) that took us to the start of the walking tour.  It is located on a farm that some family owns, you can’t just wander down in there on your own.  Our tour guide was Hori and he was fun!  We walked all over the Shire and I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was to see all the familiar places!  We were able to see Bilbo’s house-only the outside.  None of the houses are finished on the inside-that was all filmed somewhere else. We had a drink at the Green Dragon.  Goodness knows how many pictures I took, not to mention, Clare was using my camera also.  We got back to the city around 9pm and I just hung out in my room.

8.4.17

Did basically nothing today.  Finished some things for work that needed to be taken care of before I start my new job when I get back.  I got food from the little bakery down the street that I think might be vegan.  Dinner at the rooftop restaurant-saw my French bartender, David, again.  Then when I got back to my room, there was a lot of street noise so, I went to the lobby to check it out.  I was told it’s pretty normal Auckland.  It was a a bunch of people playing music and dancing in the street.

8.5.17

Another relaxation day.  Clare is still pretty sick, but she came over and we went to the planetarium together.  Then came back to my room and just had order in pizza.

8.6.17

Last full day here.  As I was getting into bed, I realized I am leaving tomorrow instead of Tuesday like I originally thought.  I had it in my head all week that I was leaving on Tuesday and not Monday.  That sent me a little over the worry ledge.  I have no idea how I got that idea in my head, but so glad that I figured it out in time.  Clare and I picked up Lauren (whom we had met on Waiheke) and we met Erika (Clare’s friend) at the market at Takapuna.  It’s there every Sunday and there are lots of vendors.  We then went to brunch at a Mexican place and were told by the waiter that he loved our accents.  J  We then walked down to the beautiful beach and then back to Clare’s car.  She dropped Lauren and I off at the bus station and I rode the bus back to the hotel.  Lazed around this afternoon, went to dinner at the restaurant at the top of the hotel-delicious.

New Zealand, Part 1.

7.29.17

 

Not much today.  Kind of an early start.  Ate breakfast and headed to the airport.  An uneventful 3ish hour flight and then through customs again.  So glad that New Zealand will stamp your passport-Australia, sadly has stopped doing that.  I do love looking at the stamps in my passport.  Once at my hotel-Grand Mecure Auckland, which I would like to say, has some of the friendliest and most helpful staff that I have ever encountered.  My sister told me that NZ is famous for its’ hospitality and they take pride in it.  She was right!  From start to finish, I couldn’t have picked a better hotel to stay at.  (My travel agent is amazing!!) Anyway, at the hotel, I unpacked and waited for Clare.  It was SO wonderful to see her!  We went to a place for dinner called White and Wong-very loud, but good food.  Tonight, I am staying at the place she is housesitting at in the sticks, outside of the central city.  Tomorrow off for a wine tour.  Interestingly enough, I found out later (after staying in the house) that people in NZ do not insulate their houses and they don’t have heating systems at all like in the U.S. It was a bit shocking to wake up in the morning and see my breath inside.  They are pretty hardcore there.  Just another instance of me noticing how centered upon comfort we are in this country.

 

7.30.17

 

I stayed with Clare at one of her house sitting jobs.  Houses in NZ are generally not insulated, so it was VERY cold.  On the way into Auckland city, we were caught in an accident and missed out ferry to Waiheke Island, but luckily, we were able to catch the one that was 30 minutes later and it really didn’t impact our tour at all.  Yay!  We are at Little Frog Café in Oneroa-it was pretty good.  Cute little town.  We toured a bit of the island-so very beautiful.  If someone had told me I was on of the Caribbean or Hawaiian islands, I would have believed them.  I really do hope that cute little island doesn’t get too popular and overrun with tourists hell-bent on stealing its’ charm.  Our first winery was Kennedy Point.  We had a Sav. Blanc, a blend called Red Trumpet and Syrah. (Also known as a Shiraz) Right before we left, we had a sav oyster shooter.  It was a “work party discovery” that involved an oyster dropped in Sav blanc and you shoot it.  Their advice-“Shoot, shake and swallow.”  I was a little nervous, but it wasn’t bad at all-in fact, fairly tasty. A pretty good story for the 2nd oyster I’ve ever eaten in my life.  We then went to Dellows and had 3 wines there.  (I took pics of all the bottles we tried, full well knowing there wasn’t a chance that I would remember them all)  They had so many flavored vodkas and gins, including a bubble gum vodka.  No thank you.  I didn’t try any of them.  We then went to Batch winery for some STUNNING  views.  We tried 4 wines there and I bought a bottle.  Our tour guide took us to see some of the homes of rich people on the island and then we caught the 1700 ferry back to Auckland.  I just went to my room and relaxed.  I need to take care of some work stuff tomorrow, so it will be a downtime day. I feel guilty, but I do also need some vacation time.

 

 

7.31.17

 

Today was a relax day.  I slept in and went for a coffee.  It has been an experience learning a whole new way to order coffee.  There are so many unfamiliar options, but I quickly learned that I am a mocha girl, not flat white or flat black…mocha.  I then went and tried to get some work stuff done-no dice.  So, I decided to go visit the Sky Tower since it was another (unusual) beautiful, sunny day.  The view was incredible.  I could see both coasts (I think) and it was really interesting.  I stopped at the casino there and ate lunch before I came back to the hotel and hung out.

 

 

8.1.17

 

I started out the day with a city tour that went on Queen Street (most shops on any street in Auckland) and Quay St (pronounced Key) that ran along the harbor.  We went by the War museum, the university of Auckland and Parnell district.  The War Museum is on the Domain.  We also went up to a lookout at the Michael Joseph Savage memorial.  After that was a harbor tour that included a trip out to Rangitoto Island.  I love all the volcanic history!

Australia!!!

I am so fortunate to be able to have gone to Australia and New Zealand this year!  It was a trip of a lifetime.  Below are my journal entries from my time in Australia.  NZ will be to follow.

July 24, 2017

Early start-0500 to run a couple of errands and then to catch the 0730 bus to Boston.  I had to leave early due to a job interview that I had to take that was scheduled for my original bus departure. Got the job too!  Despite doing the interview in the middle of Logan airport!

Uneventful flight from Logan to LAX.  However, LAX to Sydney flight was delayed by almost 2 hours.  I didn’t even really realize it until I had watched almost an entire movie and noticed that we hadn’t moved yet.  As if the flight wasn’t long enough to begin with! And they had us really cramped in those seats!  I was so wishing I could have had one of those space age pods up front!  Essentially, the flight was mostly miserable-the 3 meals they fed us were good.  Arrived in Sydney at 0830ish on 7.26.17.  I can’t say that the airport was well marked.  Well, either it wasn’t well marked or I was just so overtired that I just couldn’t make sense of things.  Onto the Park Royal Darling Harbour hotel.  It’s a nice place and they even had a “Welcome Makesha Mealey” on my tv screen-a first for me.  I went off to find postcards and to the Hard Rock Café for my shotglass.  Then tonight is a harbor cruise.

7.27.17

The harbour cruise last night was okay.  The food was good and the lady singing could sing, but sang some very odd versions of songs.  There was no commentary, so I really didn’t know what I was looking at and didn’t get much out of it.  The only thing I did recognize was the Opera House.

Today started out fairly early with a city tour.  We rode over to The Rocks and did a short walking tour.  The Rocks is where the first street (George St) was in Australia.  It was originally an aboriginal road.  There is quite a bit of history in the area including the first hospital.  It’s the oldest part of the city and it used to be where all the criminals would live.  We then went over to Mrs. Macquaries point.  Great views and saw her chair. It’s also right next to Garden Island-home of the naval base.  Interesting fact-all Australian naval ships have a red kangaroo on them somewhere.  We then went to Bondi Beach-it was quite pretty and fairly busy considering it’s mid-winter there.  Then we drove around for more city views and into the suburbs.  King’s Cross (Red Light district), Double Bay (the driver said it was known as “Double Pay”), Rose Bay and Vaucluse.  We saw Hyde Park as well as the shopping and financial districts.  We also saw Paddington.  Then it was off to the Opera House for a tour.  The tour was really interesting and we went into the concert hall, where we were treated to the end of a rehearsal and I took a picture I wasn’t supposed to.  Oops!  I seem to have a knack for that.  We walked all around it and I was able to touch the sails-so cool!  They are not white like it seems they are from far away.  They are almost gray and are self cleaning.  The history of how it was built is fascinating.

After that, I went to a restaurant and tried a kangaroo burger.  It had a yummy blueberry compote on top.  It really wasn’t too far of a stretch from beef-except leaner.  I liked it.  4 miles of walking and 10 flights of stairs-whew!  Off on the Blue Mountains tour tomorrow.   Oh, and I also took a ferry from the Opera House area back to Darling Harbour- from Circular Quay.  I love how the city is big on ferry transportation-most people seem to prefer it to taxis.

7.28.17

 

Early start again!  0700 pickup by Dane (very nice tour guide-truth be told, I think I developed a little crush) for the Blue Mountains tour.  We started at Featherdale Wildlife Park.  I saw all kinds of birds, fed wallabys from my hand, saw a small kangaroo and got to pet a koala named Noah.  I was beside myself with excitement while waiting in line to have my picture taken with Noah.  I saw emus, wombats, tazmanian devils and some owls.  It was quite an adventure!  We then went to the Blue Mountain National Park.  We saw Lincoln Rock which has a lookout on the Jameson Valley.  There is a natural blue haze in the air because of all the eucalyptus oil in the air.  We then went to Katooma Falls lookout-saw Three Sisters and the steepest incline railway.  There was also a beautiful waterfall called Bridal Veils, and it was so windy, that the water was being swept off to the side of its normal course.  We then went to lunch at the Boiler Room-part of a hydro therapy hotel. (Majestic) We also went to a couple of other lookouts including Govetts Leap.  We even had some champagne while we were there.  We then went over to the Mt. Tomah Botanical Gardens-very pretty.  Then it was back to Sydney by way of Bells Line of Road.  On the way back, traffic out of the city was SO backed up!  We also went across the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  Then, it was back to my hotel-got dinner and then crashed.

Summer ramblings

It has been a rainy spring and summer in Maine. I don’t particularly mind especially considering the drought we had last year. But, it has put a halt to some of the things I do enjoy outside. As I have said many times, summer in Maine is my favorite. I so look forward to it every year and it always goes by in such a short amount of time. I have only been swimming, hiking, doing Trail magic and a variety of other things a few times and those are the things I love to do most. But, I am coming to the close of my current assignment and it looks like I won’t be staying in Maine for the next one. I am hoping for New England, but the life of a traveler is so unpredictable, one of the strengths I need is to be able to go with the flow. Some days I am good at the waiting game and others I am not, just like anyone else. I seem to be more anxious this time around because I am about to leave for a trip out of the country (that’s for a later post) and I will not have the easy access to making calls and what not. I know things will work out and I could have much worse problems; it is just me needing to keep moving forward.

Summer, summer, summer! Yay!

Hiking season is here again…finally!  I may not get excited about it the way other people do because even though I like hiking, I love helping hikers more.  Hiking for me is a process that has involved a lot of mental challenges.  For example, I do not like to hike with other people; I am self-conscious about my abilities (or lack thereof) and have no desire to impede the progress of others.  I am working on that.  However, I do love doing Trail Magic.  For those that are unfamiliar with the term, it can be any form of help that you provide for a hiker; be it a ride, a hot shower, a meal, a place to stay or even something as simple as water to refill their bottle that they don’t have to filter.  Anything that makes their journey a little easier.  My personal favorite is to provide water, soda, fruit and other snacks.  I enjoy socializing and hearing the stories of people.  Trails are great equalizers and that is one of the best things about hiking.  You don’t know anyone’s story until they tell it.

I recently went to Vermont for the weekend to visit my old stomping grounds from when I had an assignment there.  I missed the feel of the place and missed the Appalachian Trail.  On my way into town, I stopped at the trail crossing, not expecting to find anyone there in need of assistance.  I hadn’t been there more than 2 minutes and I found someone who needed a ride.  I was more than happy to provide it.  I know, giving strangers a ride?  Hikers are different; the trail is a place that can restore your faith in humanity if you let it in.   I gave her a ride and showed her around town and she was tickled pink.  She asked me a couple of times if she could pay me, which I would never accept.  I just asked her to pay it forward.

It truly makes me happy to help other people.  I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I went into healthcare.  Kindness is something that makes me feel good.  It fills my heart and I think makes me a better person.  I am fortunate that I am able to do this and there was a point in my life when I could just barely afford to take care of myself.  I think that is a driving force in my need to help people.  I have felt that and don’t wish it on others.  My reasons are simple and there are many people who are surprised or want to complicate it.  But, plain and simple, it brings me joy to help people, so why would I stop?

Baseball’s return!

Spring is here again.  Thank Mother Nature!  Maine had a long, cold winter and any inkling of spring is very welcome.  It was time to make the annual trip to Fenway with Dad for the game on Jackie Robinson Day.  This year marked the 70th anniversary of that historic game.  Dad and I had another perfect day for baseball; game time temperature of 68, sun and some of the best seats I have ever had at Fenway Park.  Although, truth be told, I’d never be unhappy if I was at Fenway.  We were just off center of home plate 7 rows back from the field.  Not much of a chance for foul balls, but a fabulous way to see the game.  The opponent was the Tampa Bay Rays and the Red Sox pulled of a nail biter of a win.  I really couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.  The rain for the day even graciously held off until about an hour after the end of the game.  I’m looking forward to the coming season very much and hope to soon be back at Fenway!

Heading south again…

Maine winters are hard.  I don’t like them at all and this year has been no exception.  I put up with them because the rest of the year is so great; my favorite being summer.  So when a friend from high school invited me to visit her for a long weekend in Savannah, I  jumped all over it.   I was ready for sun and warm weather-which I got!

I got off work that morning and went home for a quick nap-since I was sure I wouldn’t be getting much sleep that day.  As it turns out, I didn’t.  I went straight to the airport and off I went.  Once there, it was great to see my friend!  The fun thing about her and I is that we’ve visited each other in multiple states and at least 2 countries.  We went out to dinner at a great brewery called Moon River.  We then went to a music festival called the A-town Get Down and saw a band named Cracker.  It was a VERY late night for me and I was exhausted-not that it meant I went to bed early!

The next day involved a trip to Bonaventure Cemetery.  It is beautiful and very popular for tours.  It was used in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”  The statue of the girl from the book/movie is no longer there, but plenty of beautiful and oddly creepy things are there to see.  Savannah is soaked in lore, ghost stories and history.  There is no way to see it all in one weekend.

We then went to try some of Savannah’s famous pizza and check out “Lady and Sons” restaurant, that Paula Deen owns.  We drove around looking at the beautiful houses and we topped the evening off with a hearse ghost tour.  It was pretty interesting, but I think next time I will opt for a walking ghost tour.

Sadly, my time there was pretty short, but I do hope to return soon.

 

Forgotten beauty close by

I recently took a trip to New Hampshire; visiting the same resort as last year at this time to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  We have decided that this needs to be our tradition-for good reason.  The hotel is beautiful and we never run out of things to do.  The service is great and we have met some wonderful people there.  If I had my way, I’d be there once every couple of months, but that won’t be in the budget unless I win the Powerball.  So, once again, we had a great time, including some time in their Tower Spa tub on the 5th floor with 360 degree views of the White Mountains.  It was breath taking-not only the view but to climb all those stairs.  The Mountain View Grand may have the oldest elevator in NH, but it is not convenient to use, nor does it go up to the spa.  It was well worth it though.  After we checked out for the weekend, it was still a great trip.  We decided to take a longer way home and I had forgotten how beautiful NH is.  The raw landscape and how it can still surprise me despite how many times I have been there.  We stopped by a couple of waterfalls, drove by a closed area for hiker-which made me miss hiking season that much more.  I finally saw the Mount Washington Omni as well-that was quite impressive.  And the backdrop was more beautiful than I can find the words for.   I urge people to not discount the things in their backyard.  It can certainly be well worth it!

 

Let’s go tropical!

I have been on one cruise in my travels.  I was never much of a fan of the idea, instead preferring resorts.  But, truth be told, if I’m traveling, the vehicle I use is not to most important thing.  On this cruise, that my travel buddy Joann talked me into, I was going to give it a try.  We were taking the Turner Classics Movie cruise.  They have one every year and Joann had been on one the previous year.  The trip was to leave Miami, stop in Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico.  We met up in Miami and spent the night at this lovely hotel.  We spent several hours by the pool, marveling at how nice it was to sit outside at the end of January.  Once on-board, we had this fantastic room, with butler service!  A first for me.  The room had floor to ceiling windows, that I appreciated right from the start.  We opened our bottle of champagne and reveled in our good fortune to be sitting on the Celebrity Constellation.  We then went up to the top deck where there was a welcome/kick off party.  Some of the memorable guests aboard were Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds and Alex Trebek.  I was later able to shake hands with Mr. Trebek and speak with him briefly.  I am enough of a nerd to think that was a really cool thing!  For the days at sea during the trip, we soaked up the sun, swam, visited the spa and explored the ship. There also were plenty of old movies on the big screen.  For example, I was able to see “Singin’ in the Rain.”  one night there was even a Roaring Twenties party that I dressed as a Flapper girl and got finger waves in my hair for.  That was a lot of fun!  Once we got to Grand Cayman, Joann and I took a tour to Stingray City, where we swam with stingrays and even took pictures of us petting one.  Later that day, we swam and played with dolphins, which had been a lifelong dream for me.  Our dolphin was named Copernicus.  We also tried conch fritters for the first time.  Once back on board, we headed to Cozumel, where we took a ferry to Playa del Carmen and then on a bus to see the Mayan ruins at Tulum.  That was amazing to see.  Then, we were back on board and headed back to Miami.

 

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