Friday Adventure: Slateford Creek Falls

One of the women I went to school with took her kids to Slateford Creek Falls, a place about 5-6 miles from my childhood home. I have never been there. Her pictures left me captivated.

How could something so beautiful exist so close to my former home?

Gayle joined the teenager and I for a morning walk. We did a little web research— apparently not enough.

Gayle drove and I took her on a scenic detour to my childhood home between Tuscarora Inn and Driftstone Campground in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

We arrived at the main parking lot on National Park Drive in one of the first parks that make up Delaware Water Gap.

And we knew from our research that the falls weren’t by the main parking lot but we decided to follow the main trail anyway. Maybe we thought the falls would move just for us.

We were rewarded for our adventurous spirit by seeing two very large woodpeckers with vivid red heads.

Arrow Island Trail Head

Someone gave us helpful directions that the falls were across the street and by the “pull off” between the guard rails. I remembered seeing the pull off on the way in, and I was sure it wasn’t that far.

I was wrong. We followed the road, on foot, down the steep, windy road. And we almost made it, but we weren’t sure how far it was and wasn’t sure we could walk to the falls AND make it up the hill.

Gayle offered to get the car, which didn’t make much sense because Gayle doesn’t do well on hills. Her knees have aged faster than she has.

The teenager volunteered me to go get the car. I asked if she was coming too— she said no, that I would only slow her down. Apparently, the now-16-year-old can’t keep up with me on hills. And I have cerebral palsy!

So I hauled my butt up that hill, huffing and puffing. Gayle and The Teenager almost made it, too!

I didn’t move Gayle’s seat so I was sitting on the edge barely reaching the pedals and then I couldn’t get the doors to unlock but Gayle took over and saved the day.

And when we found the trail, it was intimidatingly vertical. I’ll let Gayle’s blog entry cover the specifics of the trail:

Click here for Gayle’s blog entry .

My Photos

The teenager got to play in the falls, and Gayle and I didn’t end up on the wrong side of gravity although Gayle did bump her head on that tree.

It occurred to me— as the teenager and I gathered slate for future spiritual purposes, climbed among the rocks and fallen trees in the middle of the creek, and enjoyed the peace of the rumbling water—that this moment was full of freedom, nature and life giving resources.

The stats on this hike weren’t accurately counted. The teen got 4 miles, I got 2.5 and Gayle’s numbers were different from those. I got credit for 3 flights of stairs, Gayle got 14.

And perhaps it was no coincidence that I had received notice that I am losing my job with the full moon and “Independence Day” approaching.

With this in mind, I arrived home in time to meet up with our favorite little dog, Sobaka, who is hanging out with us while her “mom” is at a picnic.

Sobaka laid at my feet while I did some public relations work for upcoming events hosted by Aspire to Autonomy, Inc.

I am constantly blessed to work with such a wide range of people with different outlooks and different strengths. I learn something from everyone of them— admiring one person’s brilliance, another’s kind heart, and yet another’s passion and willingness for boots-on-the-ground work.

It’s a lot to think about.

Maybe I’ll get out my tarot cards tomorrow.

Two Loves Connected in Ellicott City

The backstory

My memories of Ellicott City, MD, are vague but happy. I somehow missed the severity of the 2016 and 2018 floods, perhaps due to marital issues.

My college roommate hailed from Ellicott City, and after living in Texas and North Carolina, returned to the Baltimore suburbs. A town neighboring Ellicott.

My college roommate, we’ll call her N to respect her privacy, was part of the same college social circle as my husband and I. Long before my husband and I dated, we did things like pile into N’s black Honda Accord, the car on which I learned to drive a manual transmission while blasting Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill, to swarm into N’s parents’ split level house and spend the weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Faire.

I can’t even tell you for sure what I did in Ellicott City. I know N always took me proudly down Main Street for a walk. I remember a shop with crazy hats, lively colors and the memory of a velvety texture.

When my daughter was 2, yes the teenager, I drove the three hours alone to meet N and my high school best friend who drove three hours up from Virginia. And we took lots of photos on Main Street in Ellicott City. I recall antique stores on that trip.

And I locked my keys in the trunk of the car at a rest stop two hours away from home at dusk.

I also know of another trip where N took me for coffee and dessert at what I believe was a French restaurant one night. Where I taste pear tart tartine for the first time.

I have very key memories of Ellicott City.

Gordon Ramsay

Now, if you’ve been around this blog for a while, you probably know I have a strong admiration for Gordon Ramsay. I also have some rather strong unladylike feelings for Chef.

I can’t help it— I like tall, athletic men with exotic accents and bad attitudes. And I’m a Taurus so food is really important to me.

So when I saw that Gordon filmed an episode of his latest TV show in Ellicott City a few months ago, I did what any fan girl would do: I squealed and texted all my friends. Okay, maybe not all of them. My almost ex-husband and N. I haven’t reached out to N in months but this was important.

The episode aired May 13 and is available on Hulu now.

N said she hadn’t seen it, but most of Ellicott City is still boarded up. She’s heard that the locals feel like Gordon came across as single-handedly taking credit for rebuilding the town.

(They had catastrophic 1,000 year floods two years apart—2016 and 2018.)

Gordon worked with four local businesses and made some cosmetic improvements. And then Covid hit.

I watched the double episode and didn’t feel like Gordon was being an egotistical maniac. He was kinder and more in the background than he usually is.

The story of the episode really focused on the trauma and the struggles and the personalities of the business owners and the community at large.

If anything, it seemed to honor the spirit of the town and the grit of the businesses.

I hope N gets to watch it.

I’d like to hear her opinion.

In the meantime, we need to amend the constitution so Gordon can run for President. He always seems to have his act together. Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger can be his running mate.

Our own Walking Purchase: Forest Bathing

I asked Gayle if she could think of an outdoor, quarantine-appropriate activity for the three of us— herself, me and the teenager.

She suggesting “forest-bathing” at Salisbury Township’s Walking Purchase Park.

According to Gayle’s research, forest-bathing is:

Forest bathing is the practice of slowly moving they the woods involving all senses. As you gently walk you breath deeply and it reduces stress, increase positive thinking, and energy levels.

Why not?

The park features several trails. We walked part of the yellow “Sweet Delight” trail and part of the red “Lenni” trail.

Gayle was disappointed we only walked about 2.5 miles, but I think the last mile was straight up hill— about 18 flights of stairs according to the Apple Health app.

Forest-bathing yielded a very Thoreau sounding journal entry for me.

I am surrounded by unblooming May flowers hearing the buzz of gnats as they swarm into my ears. There are birds chattering like squealing monkeys. The train hollers in the distance: a choo-choo bird.

A breeze cascades across the woods, a floral wave of rain drops and sunlight. I revel in the stillness.

The woods around me has a conversation, but as a human, can I learn the language?

When we got home, the teenager baked her grandmother’s famous corn bake— a recipe I believe she got in high school home ec classes. So it’s got to be 50+ years old.

The end of my birthday

The last few days became so busy, both emotionally and professionally, that I never even finished blogging about my perfectly awesome birthday.

(Gayle’s Portfolio)Art by Gayle Hendricks
(Click image for her portfolio)

That may have something to do with the bottle of Vouvray the teenager and her father selected for me to accompany a most amazing cheese and fruit platter with charcuterie that they provided for my birthday dinner.

The meal came courtesy of a trip to Wegmans and included a block of applewood smoked Gouda, dill ha art I, and intense Brie. The fruits were white grapes and some succulent watermelon. A fresh baguette. Some Italian meats, include prosciutto. (Which I love to say in my best Sicilian accent) and silly cupcakes.

And the morning after my birthday I breakfasted like a princess in chocolate dipped fruits and a cookie and a tea from Dunkin’.

And yesterday I made the birthday Spam by mom brought me. On Wonder Bread for the teenager. Me. Accordion was jealous. He offered me some recipes.

This might be why my Corona weight gain is up to 10 lbs.

The artwork featured above is by Gayle Hendricks.

My friend Gayle appears in this blog from time to time, for our silly adventures, long walks or random road trips. She is a fantastic graphic designer with a very clean style. She specializes in typography and can set books in both traditional and electronic formats. I connected her portfolio to the image above, which she made for me representing my flock. (She altered a stock image in Adobe illustrator.)

Please consider her if you need freelance graphic design and know we are available as a team. I handle the editorial and she handles the pretty stuff. And we’re efficient.

And we celebrated my 40th birthday at a Trampoline Park.

Sky Zone (Gayle’s blog—5 years ago!)

More on our silly adventures:

Niagara Falls

Honey Nut Cheerios

State Parks Weekend

Volkssport Trip to Maryland

Littleton, NC

South Carolina

Birds and beasts in Georgia (This was the day I became interested in birds)

Now today:

But back to more memories:

My first visit to Waffle House

The Juliette Gordon Low House (founder of Girl Scouts)

The teenager buys a bugle

Goals—and how the impulsive selection of a desktop picture breeds hope

My last day in the office was March 17. We were practicing social distancing— not allowed to pass each other in the hall, speaking from inside our offices, wiping down doorknobs and the copy machine.

It was George’s mother’s birthday and he couldn’t go see her in the nursing home. That made him sad.

Tomorrow will be my 13th day of working from home. The fourth day of my second year with the agency. My first full day working on my new laptop. I had to reset windows and I managed to send myself this old picture from my phone for my desktop photo:

Traveling

I took it on the road between Djibouti City and Lac Abbé four years ago. Other than my daughter, I’ve shown one person this photo and they didn’t even ask what it was.

“Some random African photo,” he said when I asked if he noticed it, “I know your fascination with Africa.”

So I explained. “Ah,” he said, “that makes sense.”

This is the original photo that I took in January 2016.

On the Road

There is beauty in that photo, and oppressive dry heat, and the implication of hardship. Where are they going? Is it far? Yet, such color and contrast. Simplicity.

The man in the front is wearing a traditional man’s skirt. They say it helps you stay cool in the heat. The women have such light but colorful layers, lovely hijab blowing in what appears to be a slight breeze.

This photo takes me away when I look at it, and for me, it offers perspective and optimism.

I do have a critical theorist’s fascination with Africa, but my passion is actually post-colonial Francophone Africa and how their colonial experience and subsequent (ahem) immigration issues and Muslim relations provide lessons for American imperialism in a post-9/11 world.

Though recent political upheaval in South Africa may provide an interesting cross-examination of the British colonial experience… and what that means for the next generation of African citizens across the continent.

But I digress… not uncommon.

I have some goals I want to set this week.

  • Have several meals with my daughter at our patio cafe.
  • Take 3 walks.
  • Do 5 push ups tomorrow, 10 on Tuesday, and as many as I can each day as long as it is at least the same as the day before.
  • Care for my nails.
  • Take a bath.
  • Cut the grass.
  • Do a blog series on Tarot cards
Happy Sunday

The Road Trip Home

The witch travels from Washington DC home with Mercury in retrograde

I thought I was on top of everything. I hoped to leave DC around 9 so I could be home by 1.

But then M’s housemates made this lovely kale frittata for breakfast.

I love kale and I love breakfast!

So I enjoyed a slice. And then another.

Everyone followed me out to the car and wished me farewell… and then M noticed a nail in my tire.

M called AAA because I don’t have my membership card. While he did that, I called my AAA home office and asked them to email me a pdf of my membership information. They assured me that I was in the system, but a pdf still made me feel better.

M and I chatted about the international cleaning staples: Lava soap, Brillo pads and Borax powder.

The AAA man came expediently, plugged my tire and sent me on my way.

After 25 miles, while on I-95 about to merge onto 695 outside Baltimore, my tire pressure light came on. I did what I always do, I called my dad and started to freak out and cry.

He advised me to get off the highway and have someone check the tire.

So I got off 695 on the first exit and pulled into a CVS parking lot while I checked the tire visually, then tried to reset the light, and then gave up and used the AAA app to locate local gas stations.

Interesting tidbit, it didn’t tell me which were gas stations and which were actual service (repair) stations.

I ended up at a Sunoco, I believe A.C.E Automotive. I pulled up in front of what looked to be an air compressor hose. I stepped into the office and explained what had happened earlier and asked if anyone could check my tire pressure.

An older gentleman finished writing up someone’s car repair invoice and told me to move my car “by that silver car.”

The silver car was my car.

He checked all of my tires. The back tires were around 26 psi. The drivers side front tire was 31 psi and the freshly repaired tire was 20 psi. The person helping me filled them all and went to get a spray bottle to check the plug.

After it looked like the plug was good, he then told me to drive a mile or two and come back.

I still couldn’t get the light to reset.

So I drove a bit and came back and filled the car with gas. I asked the gentleman his name, and introduced myself. His name was Gary and he reminded me of my dad.

Meanwhile my dad is texting me. My dad encourages me to be cautious and not to hesitate to buy a new tire.

Gary checks all the tires and they are holding pressure. He knows I have 175 miles to go. He tells me to text my dad that I’m fine and I don’t need a new tire.

I try to pay Gary and he tells me I don’t owe him anything because “that’s how people should be.”
I stop at the visitors center right over the Pennsylvania state line and finally am able to reset the tire pressure light. I thought about how much those lights scare me. “Back in the day,” we got in the car and took our chances. We didn’t have warning lights. Cars just broke down.

And now a light comes on and I’m calling my dad in tears terrified I’m going to have a horrible accident.

But at the visitors center, the light goes out. I buy coffee from the vending machine.

And I notice the rest stop has free wi-fi. How cutting edge of Pennsylvania.

I was considering stopping at a truck stop to buy a tire gauge, but I did not.

I also promised myself if I saw a Popeye’s I would get a chicken sandwich. I did not.

I got home at 3.

That was a long day.

For more on my weekend away:

Saturday mini-break in DC

Sunday Funday paperwork

Things I noticed on the bus in DC

Things I noticed on the bus in DC

Today M and I went to Georgetown for Falafel, more exciting adventures in Washington DC with forty-something friends from their university days.

  • A little girl with a sequined backpack and pinstripe pants dancing
  • A woman with big snowflake like costume jewelry stones on her knit ski cap
  • A 20-something lanky young man with crisp jeans rolled above the ankle, extra tight
  • a young boy in the back of a crowded bus while his mother had other children and a baby in the front
  • A young couple holding hands, both of Asian heritage with baggy black pants and colorful hair. She wore thin but enormous gold hoop earrings. Emo, maybe?
  • A lot of people with very similar winter coats
  • Most people absorbed in their phones
  • construction
  • Live music (Music on the way into Georgetown DC)
  • Bell bottom sweatpants
  • An obese woman in crocks with her feet on the seat in front of her
  • A hauntingly beautiful woman with a life’s worth of luggage surrounding her, looking a tad scared, taking pamphlets with maps from the info display
  • A young white woman with a canvas bag and a yoga mat
  • A couple hugging sadly outside a hotel on the edge of a flower garden pretty much standing on the “Keep off the Grass” sign

Saturday mini-break in DC

My day started early when I couldn’t sleep past 5:15 am. I tossed and turned in bed until I finally got up at 6.

I spent some time with my Goffin’s cockatoo, Nala, before pretending to head to work. I was really going to get my nails done and going to visit my traveling companion, M, in Washington, DC.

The teenager is caring for the menagerie in my absence.

Beth trimmed my nails and filed off the old nail polish and gave me a fill on my acrylic manicure.

I went with a dark plum with a cat eye for my farewell to winter nails.

Beth was running a little behind so M mentioned not to worry he was occupied doing his federal taxes. So after my appointment I stopped home to get my tax forms. I grabbed my divorce paperwork too.

I was on the road by exactly 10 am and I arrived here in DC at 1:30, with one potty break. I had forgotten how much I enjoy driving, blasting my music, singing and thinking. Traffic is not so fun.

M and I then sat on the couch drinking coffee for FOUR HOURS. I laughed hard and often.

Then at 5:30 we hopped onto the bus and headed to Taqueria Habanero. (Taqueria Habanero) I had a lovely sangria with tequila.

And I ordered the pork and pineapple taco and a salmon taco, which was a really nice piece of fish, and ate M’s mole chicken for him. (For food photos, see instagram.)

The two men beside us at the restaurant were very old and very loud and I think they were meeting for the first time on a Tinder date.

Then we went across the street to the 7-Eleven because M wanted to buy me these chips…

… which I ate on the bus ride home. They start out smooth and ranchy.

I also asked M to buy me cookies, which he did. So now we are relaxing in his living room with cookies.

Friday night & Valentines

This is going to be a crazy lil bit of everything post. I’ll try to divide into topics with subheadings; I want to be good to y’all.

Nala

I bought her some new toys. Anything paper, like the one above, is a hit. But she seems to be afraid of bigger toys of heavier materials.

This is a photo of everything I got her:

As for plucking, it gets worse and better day by day. I’ve noticed three main triggers:

  1. Change in routine
  2. Overstimulation
  3. Desire for attention

Misty and Fog

The kittens certainly get more tired out since we let them run through the house. They pull they towels off the racks in the bathroom. They scatter the wash in the laundry room. They steal Oz’s food and he’s too big and dumb to stop them.

Some of my past kitten posts:

Kitten update

The third kitten

Nails

Tomorrow I get my first fill on my nails. They still look pretty perfect and I can see my natural nails growing in!

For more on my nails:

Nails

Road trip tomorrow!!!!

I joined AAA last weekend specifically because I’m traveling to Washington DC alone this weekend.

My temporary cards haven’t come!

I’m super excited and mostly ready.

I told my work colleagues and they asked if I planned on touring any of the downtown DC sites. I said no, I plan on sitting on my friend’s couch drinking coffee most of the weekend.

The teenager is going out with her dad so I’m on my own tonight for Valentine’s.

Mini road trip

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and for the first time in more than a decade, the teenager and I both have “off.”

We had originally planned to go to DC, visit friends, renew the teenager’s passport and plot an African vacation.

But with a Goffin’s cockatoo still getting adjusted and a new kitten in the house, a three-day weekend away sounded disastrous.

My daughter complained that she was feeling the need to get away, so I suggested a day trip this weekend. I even offered to let her pick and plan it. She declined.

With the snow forecasted for Saturday and the pets already in a semi-routine, she suggested today, Monday, for an outing.

Of course, she didn’t wake until almost 11 (which gave me time to do dishes and a load of laundry). She did her chores and I offered her a choice: a childish little mini-road trip or a girls day out at the mall as we both need a few things.

We started the trip at the ATM and then Dunkin’ Donuts for egg wraps. Imagine the teens surprise when I accidentally ordered her TWO hot chocolates.

The surprise option was the Pocono Reptile and Animal Farm, which the web site said had special hours for the school holiday. When we got there, the door had a sign saying it was closed due to cold.

So I mapped a route to House of Candles in Henryville on Rte. 715, where my mom used to buy her candles.

The teenager is knee deep in my old witchcraft books. She’s reading a lot of Scott Cunningham books. She loved the shop and forgave me for making roads where there were none.

On the way home, we stopped at a different Dunkin’ to use the bathroom and ended up with sour cream doughnuts to finish the day.