Janet & Marian: A Tale of Two Houses

My writer friend Janet Givens and I have both said Goodbye to houses this summer. She, to a vacation house on a canal in Chincoteague Island, Virginia, and me to our family homestead 12 miles from the beach in Jacksonville, Florida, geographically about 750 miles apart as the crow flies.

JanetMarian

Our meeting in 2014 was also geographical – and digital. I responded to Janet’s post about her Peace Corps experience in Kazakhstan, linking her experience to my trip to Ukraine, both countries with a Soviet-era history. From there the connection continued on each other’s blogs. That was until I, along with 5-6 other writers, were invited to her cozy log house on the Island. You can view the view memories of that magical first trip here.

ForsythiaLogHouse

I know many of the nooks and crannies of Janet’s special place and feel I’m such a lucky duck to accept her invitation not once but twice to the spacious log house for a writers’ retreat. I can understand her bittersweet sentiments as she lets go of it now.

On both trips, we spent time writing, eating healthy food, talking and laughing in the sunroom, and gazing at the sparkly bay, which leads out to the Atlantic.

WriterComputerHealthyFood

Susan Weidener, Janet, and Merril Smith sharing photos
Susan Weidener, Janet, and Merril Smith sharing photos

Ah, and seeing the ponies, personal and close up:

poniesjanet


A Vermonter, Janet is bidding farewell to her second home after 22 years. We’ve lived in our house, our primary residence, for 37 years. Pencil marks on the kitchen door record our kids heights from ages 8 and 9 ½ until they were teens. Photos of our long history there fill family albums.

KillarneyHouse2016

Of course it’s a cliché, but life really is all about trade-offs and feeling gratitude for what is now. I think Janet would agree with the J. R. R. Tolkien quote below. I know I do!

TolkienQuote

Maybe you have had attachments to a house in your past, perhaps a childhood home or one you used to own or visit.

Golly, it could be the one you live it right now.  Grab a cup of something cool or warm and let’s have a chat!    🙂

Above all, do check out Janet’s own thoughts about her love affair with the Chincoteague house here on her blog. You can also find a link to her memoir there: At Home on the Kazakh Steppe.

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White Paper Bags Glowing with Light, a Favorite Thing

Traditional luminaria of the Christmas season have their origins in the culture of Spain. Impressed with the paper lanterns from the Chinese culture, Spanish merchants decided to make their own version when they returned home.

Killarney Shores, our community, has kept this tradition alive during the Christmas season with votive candles seated in 2 inches of sand all enveloped in white paper bags. We space them 3-4 feet apart ringing the curvy streets of Emerald Isle Circle, Leprechaun Court, St. Patrick Lane, and Killarney Drive in the neighborhood.

Recently, the candle-lighting event has become a family tradition too with grandchildren lending a hand in the preparations of bag filling and lighting the votives. Last year it was the Dalton duo, this year the Beaman boys.

ModPlacingBags

Grandboys Curtis and Ian, outfitted as shepherds, placing bags on the curb of the street.

White paper bag glowing from within
White paper bag glowing from within

All done, surveying the view.

LumStreetView

ColorfulSheps+NaNa

A little tipsy – both the boy and a bag!

Lighting dozens of candles is exhausting, we need a snack . . .

BoysLumSnackWhat favorite things do you do this season, maybe like us, repeating year after year.

Join the conversation. Inquiring minds want to know about yours!

Your comments welcome; I will always reply!

Woo-hoo, a chance to play with fire!
Woo-hoo, a chance to play with fire!

To view my entry to the My Gutsy Story Contest, click here. Voting takes place in January 2014.