13-Year-Olds Patrick and Curtis: Not Quite a Bar Mitzvah

Not Quite a Bar Mitzvah

Grandsons Patrick and Curtis, born 7 weeks apart in Chicago, both turned thirteen this fall. If they were Jewish, they would each have observed the bar mitzvah ritual: Bar = son; Mitzvah = law or commandment, able to participate in all areas of Jewish community life. Such a rite of passage usually culminates in a party with gifts.

Neither of our grand-boys wore yarmulkes. Nor did tefellin dangle from their heads or arms. Although these grand-boys have memorized Bible passages, during their birthday celebrations they did not wear religious headgear or black leather boxes (tefellin) on their fore-heads or near their hearts containing sacred scripts from the Old Testament.

 

What They Did Do:

After they turned thirteen, they read letters their Grandma and Grandpa Beaman had written to them when they were newborns and sent in the mail to their parents’ address with a postmark. These letters have been kept squirreled away until a special day.

At his party, Curtis opened a letter his NaNa had written to him with a December 31, 2003 postmark.

lettercurtisnotopen

curtis2003letter

The letter was typewritten, so he breezed through sentences, smiling as he read in his emerging bass voice.

But he struggled to read another letter, which I had dashed off in cursive handwriting, now a dying art, and no longer taught in public schools.

curtiscursive

Then he opened his gifts: a wireless mouse for his hand-constructed computer, and The DaVinci Code book.

curtiscomputermouse

 

Then it was Patrick’s turn:

Grandpa Beaman wrote Patrick’s letter with a similar postmark. It was typewritten, so there was no struggle to de-cipher looped letters. Before Patrick read his letter, Grandpa showed him a photo colláge he made for Patrick when he was a few months old.

Patrick and Grandpa, with matching lopsided grins, check out a photo collage
Patrick and Grandpa, with matching lopsided grins, check out a photo collage

An excerpt from Grandpa’s letter revealed his observations of newborn development:

When we feed you, you suck that bottle down pretty quickly. When it come time to burp, we hear it loud and clear! And then there’s often a big milk shoot-out which sometimes lands on my unprotected shirt and a big white splat a few feet down on the rug.

 

You are also making lots of cooing and other sounds. During the last couple of days when I made sounds, you tried your best to twist your mouth around in odd shapes to mimic some of my sounds. You REALLY want to talk. And someday you will for sure.

 

Patrick’s reading of the letter ended with these words:

He did not open a wrapped present. His birthday request was a gift certificate to Five Guys, a burger place in Jacksonville. Why such a present? Simple: His love for food is in his DNA – a “gift” from his grandpa.

It remains to be seen whether the boys, later as men, consider these “parchments” sacred, letters written to them as infants.

Bar Mitzvah – or not, we wish them Mazel Tov . . . congratulations and good wishes to both as they continue to develop into manhood!

And finally, our hope for them from The Shamá . . .

Deuteronomy 6:5  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

 

Cousins Patrick (3 months) and Curtis (1 month)
Cousins Patrick, 3 months and Curtis, 1 month

 


What can you add to my description of the Jewish ritual, the Bar Mitzvah (Bat Mitzvah for daughters)?

What other rituals or traditions does your family observe with children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews?

 

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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.

Moments of Extreme Emotion: Where’s My Spyglass?

The photo of a pair of transitions eye glasses attached to a scarlet lanyard is still posted on my Facebook page dated April 14, 2016. “Hubby makes a lanyard for my glasses today. He is not being kind. He just doesn’t want to look for my glasses anymore! . . . well, yes, he is being kind.” Those were my words.

“The accompanying script in red and black reads “Forsake not the assembling of your glasses with your body.” St. Cliff 1:1 with date 4.14.16

CliffLanyardGlasses

Comments came from sympathizers and a naysayer: “Funny that I got a store bought one in my Christmas stocking.” “Doesn’t look very practical. I predict you don’t use it much.” ” I can absolutely relate!”

Reading over my Facebook heading again now I sense myself thinking at the time, “I won’t lose my glasses again.” A trace of boastfulness? Perhaps. Presumption? Probably.

Here’s how the glasses story subsequently unfolded: On Friday, April 29, I went to my power-pump class at the gym. Obviously I wore glasses to drive there and back. I’m nearsighted without them. Why, without glasses I might have a wreck.

That evening, we saw a scary Netflix movie, a British gothic flick “The Making of a Lady.” I must have worn my glasses then. I don’t remember squinting or sitting up close cross-legged to see the screen. I also don’t remember whether my lanyard was around my neck or somewhere else at the time.

The next morning I planned to drive to Curtis’ soccer game at 8:30 a.m. At 8:10 I grabbed my keys and and my glasses. My g – g – g l a s s s e e s s s; where are they? Too embarrassed to ask Cliff for help right away, I scoured the usual places: My computer desk, my dresser, the coffee-table, the kitchen counter. I couldn’t even find my back-up pair usually sitting snugly in the console by the driver’s seat.

Then, I go into full-out search mode. With and without Mr. Red Lanyard Maker, I . . .

  1. Look on every surface without a flashlight.
  2. Check every surface with a flashlight, lifting seat cushions.
  3. Walk outside and check the patio furniture, flower-bed containers.
  4. Re-visit the front porch table.
  5. Repeat steps 1 and 2 at night.  I hoped I’d catch a gleam with my flashlight, after five hours of searching all told.
  6. I awoke with a jolt at 2:00 a.m, with the strong image that my glasses had fallen off my lanyard and into a garbage bag. So I cull through two plastic bags of trash to no avail.
  7. I prayed ardently. After alI, I do remember the story of the Woman with the Lost Coin in Luke 15, a woman who lost one of her pieces of silver, lit a candle, swept the house, found it, and called her friends together to celebrate. I was ready for celebration!

Catholics would appeal to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost items. One online source printed a prayer: “Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, please come around: Something is lost and needs to be found!”  A woman named Madeleine suggested that one call off the hunt as a sign of faith, claiming that “once you say the prayer stop looking for whatever it is you lost.”

Well, I did call off the hunt on Sunday, yet kept an eye out. There is always a chance for a miracle. Maybe those two shiny lenses would spontaneously appear.

Apparently, I am not alone. Hunting for lost or misplaced items is common. According to one source, the average person spends one year of life looking for keys, wallet — glasses. Among the more distressing losses are diamond rings (Oh, I lost one of those too!) and honeymoon tickets (We didn’t need tickets for air travel – just a pickup with a topper.)

Websites about lost items are usually accompanied by blatant suggestions to get more organized and be more mindful going about one’s daily tasks.

Sunday afternoon, the highly-motivated Red Lanyard Maker drove me to LensCrafter’s to fix the problem. After all, Mr. RLM can’t be my chauffeur for the foreseeable future.

At the office, I got an eye examination, another prescription, and new glasses with identical frames promised in a fortnight.

GlassesWink

As I write now, my lanyard is securely hugging my neck with glasses attached. More mindful? Yes, I believe so.

To this day, I haven’t found my glasses. Nor have the back-up pair appeared either. How had some genie or sprite spirited away both sets of glasses? Odd and distressing! If the originals make their appearance, I’ll be thrilled to use them as my spare.

* * *

From my experience, our possessions seem to disappear in direct proportion to their degree of importance in our lives.

How about you? Tales of woe – or discovery are welcome here!

 

My Day of CHANGE @ a Middle School

“Mom, would you like to volunteer for Challenge Day at Mandarin Middle School in a few weeks?” Joel asked.

“I probably would but I would need to know more about it,” I answered.

Then my son proceeded to tell me about an initiative at the school he helps sponsor, “Be the Change,” a movement to help students break down walls of isolation and loneliness and replace them with compassion, understanding and love.

My day of change came on a Tuesday, when student ambassadors greeted me at the door and pointed me to the gym, where I found my daughter Crista, also a volunteer.

Challenge Day Ambassadors
Challenge Day Ambassadors

CristaMeVol

Seventh and eighth grade students filed in under an arch of welcome, volunteers forming a path of entry with our bridge of arms. Later, we found out students thought doing this was hokey.

There were rules:

NormsChallenge

ChallengeValidations

The facilitators, Chris (a guy) and Trish began with games: “Find 10 people you never met before and give them a high five.” All the students were strangers to me, so that was easy. The day proceeded with other forms of friendly physical contact: fist bumps and eventually hugs.

“Now, with your partners, slap the ball to the other side,” students stabbed at a super-sized beach ball to earn points. Music and dance underscored many of the day’s activities: Soul Train, Wildest Dream, Where are You Now? Time of Our Lives . . . .

Then the facilitators turned more serious, referring to parallel lines of blue tape they had previously attached to the gym floor.

“Cross the line if . . .”

  • you have ever been hurt by what someone said about your skin color, religion, or how you dressed.
  • you have been hit, beaten or abused in another way by a parent or other authority figure in your life.
  • someone you know hurts the family because of alcohol or drugs.
  • you have lost someone you loved recently or a long time ago.

Emotion was palpable as students and volunteers alike crossed blue lines. Viewing their somber faces, I intuitively felt students’ dawning awareness of similarities in the lives of their friends and classmates. One of the facilitators shared her challenging life story of abuse and neglect. Students sat agape, eyes transfixed as her startling story unfolded.

Before lunchtime we were assigned to family groups of 4 or 5, two boys and two girls. With guidance, each was ready to share something heartfelt in my group.

  • My parents fight all the time and I think they might get divorced.
  • I don’t know who my dad is and my mother left. I live with my aunt and cousins.
  • My mom died last summer and then we had to put my dog to sleep.

Tears flowed. Each group leader doled out Kleenex tissues.

There was share time, with scenes similar to this photo clip from a Challenge Day video in Michigan, which appeared on Oprah’s website.

ChallengeDayVideoOprah

Most of the students who grabbed the microphone at Mandarin Middle confessed to prejudice or bullying and then publicly asked for forgiveness. More hugs and tears.

The day closed with students writing a thank you note to express gratitude to a special person in their lives. Most chose their mothers. One girl in my group wrote two notes!

* * *

Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John are co-founders of the innovative Challenge Day program and the Be the Change Movement. Rich is a former high school teacher and championship wrestling coach. Yvonne is a gifted speaker, educator, and program designer.

Mark Twain joked, “When a child turns twelve you should put him in a barrel, nail down the lid and feed him through a knothole.” I’m suspicious of the quote because I couldn’t find the attribution on http://www.bartleby.com, a website I trust. Yet, these lines survive in pop culture as does its sequel: “When he turns sixteen, seal up the knothole.”

The leadership at Mandarin Middle School, including my son, doesn’t believe this quip. And neither do I.

 

  • Have you heard of this program or one similar to it?
  • How have you made a change, major or minor, in your life?

 

Coming next: Are You Too Big for Your Pot?

Learning 101 with Ananda and Ben: Role Reversal

My Pilates instructor is a spring chicken, and my writing coach is young too, just thirty-nine years old, younger than either of our children. Still, They are teaching me.

Since childhood, we have been conditioned to think of our teachers as older than we are. Such a perspective probably was formed in elementary school when our teachers were the age of our mothers or fathers. And then in high school, if we’re honest, some of those 45-year-old faculty looked absolutely ancient to us. I imagine I was viewed as an older sister when at Lancaster Mennonite School I was a mere four years older than my senior students. As I aged in my teaching profession, in my students’ eyes I may have passed for a mother or aunt, and later, in my sixties, students at the college must have viewed me as a grandmother or great-aunt.

Now after more than forty years in education, I am well into an encore career as a writer. To support such a sedentary life-style, I need to get off my duff and twist and turn, bob and weave, flexing muscles that get very little use otherwise as I finger the back-lighted black keys of my laptop, warming a pillowed chair. Ananda at Bailey’s Gym helps me do that. On her Pilates mat in front of a class of middle-aged women, she is as flexible as a rubber band, inviting us into poses of bold bends that I can at best only approximate. Gentle and petite in nature, this native of Colombia helps me correct my efforts.

Ananda2

“Ma-ri-ann, eez this way . . . extend your left leg a lee-tle further.” And so, I adjust my appendages to comply with her instructions, but not without cringing a little. Yes, though Ananda is ever so easy-going and gracious, I do chafe at being singled out for wrong moves. After all, she called out my name. Everyone else heard that I messed up! Still, I know I will bring out my exercise mat next week and sit for another session with her gentle but precise guidance.

Then, there’s Benjamin, my writing coach. A poet, gardener, and memoir-writer, Ben Vogt is my writing teacher in an online course entitled All in the Family: Research and Write Your Family’s  History. He too is gentle, introspective, always affirming. But he is also incisive, biting into the scripts I send him with loud barks in return, always in caps: HOW BIG IS MEDIUM? YOU’VE GOT TO BE FAR MORE DETAILED AND DESCRIPTIVE FOR US . . .

BenVogtGardener

And on the next page, I see more yelling in loud crescendo as I notice I have missed the mark trying to describe what my Mennonite pastor was wearing: LET’S SEE THE WARDROBE WITH MORE DETAILS – NAME THE CLOTHING PARTS MORE, SHOW SHOW SHOW! To be fair, every once in a while I see that I have succeeded: “GREAT PARAGRAPH!” he shouts in all caps. He is thrilled when I use sensory detail (All five senses now!) to properly develop a scene instead of resorting to flabby adjectives. Then I’m both surprised – and pleased.

What is the point here? I am submitting to tutelage because I want to. I believe there is way more for me to learn. I’m not a finished product, and probably will never be, so I need more priming and polishing from folks expert in their fields. Why? Because I don’t have the insight to see how or where my efforts have gone awry. And, yes, these tutors can be younger, way younger, than I am.

Have you learn’d lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you?

Have you not learn’d great lessons from those who reject you, and brace themselves against you? or who treat you with contempt, or dispute the passage with you?

Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

Of course, neither Ananda nor Ben have ever rejected me or treated me with the slightest bit of contempt, but each has sought to “dispute the passage with [me],” and though it is uncomfortable, even painful at times, I have benefited from these lessons. Indeed, I am learning lessons from them and others. Learning. Still.

Still learning.

Are you are lifelong learner? How or when have you learned from “teachers” of any age? Inquiring minds want to know . . .

 

Coming next: Faraway Friends: Kitsa & Lydia

Ian and Jenna’s A-Mazing Mystery Trip with Nana’s Twisty Turns

Dr. Seuss explores the maze of life in his famous book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! On the first page he assures readers:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

And that’s just what Jenna and Ian did when they visited Conner’s A-Maizing Acres this past October near Hilliard, Florida guiding their grand-parents from one station to the next. (Yes, they did learn “maize” is a type of corn.)

During the one-hour trip in the car, Ian read poems from The Random House Book of Poetry for Children to his cousin Jenna. He didn’t read from Dr. Seuss’ book, though whose wise words weave a web throughout this travelogue.

IanJennaBackseat

Then, a snapshot at the entrance . . .

JennaCutout

The Conner Barn offers much to keep little hands busy . . .

BuildScarecrowBuildLOGcabin

After a hayride to the field, we tackle the maze . . .

Hayride

There were Rules and a Life-Guard at the entrance to make sure we didn’t get hopelessly lost or ejected!

The staff were exceptionally friendly. We imagine the rules were a response to previous infractions.
The staff were exceptionally friendly. We imagine the rules were a response to previous infractions.

LifeGuardMaze

Jenna and Ian steered us away from blind alleys, saving us false steps and loss of sanity. No danger of losing our way with these two at the lead!

WalkingMaze

Like Dr. Seuss explains, it’s easy to take missteps and get lost.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

But we had such good guides, not a chance this would happen to us fortunately!

Next, while Jenna and I shopped for pumpkins, Ian bounced around on the spider web . . .

IanWalkWeb

We also visited the Micro Farm with an aquaponic system:

WelcomeAquaFarm

AquaponicsJenna

Aquaponics: Growing plants in water and gravel, clay pebbles or lava rock.

We learned King Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon with an aquaponic system as a tribute to his wife.

One of their favorite pauses: The horse farm . . .

WhiteHorse2Kids

Dr. Seuss continues . . . I’m sorry to say so / but, sadly, it’s true / that Bang-ups and Hang-ups / happen to you.

No, the Hang-up didn’t happen to either Jenna or Ian. It happened to their NaNa. The Cylinder-on-Rollers looked exciting and easy . . . until I got into one and right from the start, felt disoriented and dizzy and not very smart. Still, Jenna and I persisted through to the end – with less than wonderful results.

I’m physically fit and strong for my age (so I’m told),

but when I exited the roller I felt much less bold!

I had to wonder the truth of the Seuss line “You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Yet, I suppose these closing lines below from Dr. Seuss still would apply to us. We made it to the end of the course, more or less . . .

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Seuss’ shouts optimism and assurance on his last page:

Today is your day!

So . . . get on your way!


Have you done something lately to get out of your comfort zone, maybe even made a fool of yourself? Any memories of antics in times past?

Coming next: Quiet Lives Matter, My Brother Mark

Through a Glass Darkly: Anniversary # 48

This week Cliff and I celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary. We are not experts on marriage by any means, but we have learned a thing or two about

  • navigating its mysteries and
  • negotiating the best for both

 

  • PragueCubeSidePragueCube

We sometimes see through a glass darkly

Image captured in a 3-D hologram cube created via laser – visit to Prague, Czech Republic 2006

(Nothing dramatic happened in Prague except black light shows with marionettes. If you want wild and crazy drama, you’ll have to click here!)

I Corinthians 13, American Standard Version
I Corinthians 13, American Standard Version

For now we see in a mirror, darkly . . . But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three: and the greatest of these is LOVE.

* * *

Poet James Dillet Freeman expressed his view of the mystery of marriage In “Blessing for a Marriage” in at least 8 ways:

  1. May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
  2. May you want one another, but not out of lack.
  3. May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
  4. May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another.
  5. May you succeed in all important ways with one another / And not fail in the little graces.
  6. May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!”
  7. And take no notice of small faults.
  8. If you have quarrels that push you apart / May both of you hope to have / Good sense enough to take the first step back.

In the last last stanza he concludes:

May you enter into the mystery which is

The awareness of one another’s

Presence — no more physical than spiritual,

Warm and near when you are

Side by side, and warm and near when

You are in separate rooms

Or even distant cities.

May you have happiness,

And may you find it making one another happy.

May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

Cliff & Marian_Wedding Day_96dpi

Here’s where you can share your own tips or observations.

Jenna’s Rainbow Cake: A Pot of Gold?

Grand-daughter Jenna and I decided to make a rainbow cake on Memorial Day weekend. We were hoping for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but the cake-making process wasn’t that easy!

Here’s our step-by-step process with a few glitches noted:

First, we put on our aprons JennaNanaThen we mix together the ingredients (oil, eggs, and water), Jenna trying hard not to get egg-shell pieces in with the batter from a mix.

JennaMixer

Tricky Part: Dividing up the Batter

We divide the batter into 6 paper cups and begin to add color. Remember ROY G BIV from grade school? Then we use 6 more cups, adding the color in reverse order: violet-blue-green-yellow-orange-red. (No indigo among the colors.) Here Jenna is stirring the green, her favorite color:

ColorMixJenna

Next, we pour batter, one color on top of the other into the first pan. In the second, we repeat the process, pouring the colors in reverse order. Mind you, this takes a long, long time, with several spatulas. Think “art” and finger painting when you are in this step.

PansMixedThe recipe book looks so perfect. Hmm . . .

Pop into Oven: We set the oven to preheat (350 degrees) way too early, so temperature was super hot. The recipe’s suggested bake time of 40 minutes actually turned into 30, so the cake layers became a little brown.

Like her Great Grandma Longenecker, Jenna used a toothpick to check to see if cake was done.

Take cake pans out of oven, cool, and frost. Then . . .

FrostingJenna

SprinkleShakes

Adding sprinkles was probably Jenna’s favorite part. Her expression shows her delight!

SCARY PARTS: Behind the scenes!

* The first gel color we used (violet) made the batter a tepid shade of gray. We both felt  disappointment because we thought the other colors might be duds too!

  • NaNa (when we began): “Think of making this cake as a combination of art and baking.”
  • Jenna (at this point): “This is a combination of art and baking with a hint of disaster!”

* The cake layers came out of the oven looking like volcanoes (Jenna’s word)! I forgot to take a photo here. Our fix: we sawed off the tops with a bread knife and got our first yummy cake taste.

* The two cake layers did not fit together perfectly. Our fix: Slathering frosting into the gaping parts.

Recipe photo: Courtesy, Mennonite Girls Can CookRecipeRainbowCake

Our cake  RainbowCakeJenna

Before we Started:

We traced the word “cake” in the Bible, Jenna reading the passage from I Kings 17:8-16 about the prophet Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Actually, this woman’s cake was the bread of sustenance, one of survival, nothing like the confectionery concoction we baked just for fun.

JennaBible

* * *

Tell us about your cake-making successes, disasters, or near misses. If necessary, how did you improvise?

Coming next: Two Mennonite Girls on a Cross-Country Road Trip

The Longenecker Sisters’ Road Trip, Part 2

We pile into Heidi’s shiny black Toyota 4Runner in Jacksonville and off we go, zooming across state lines, first Florida, then Georgia, and finally South Carolina, our voices twanging to Doo Wop tunes of the 50s and 60s: All Good Vibrations as miles melt away.

Bouncing along with our luggage are my sisters, Janice and Jean and our daughters, my niece Heidi and daughter Crista, who have masterminded a Mother’s Day retreat for mothers and aunts.

Our faces reflect the weather, begun sunny, a patch of rain, and then bright sunshine again.
Our faces reflect the weather, begun sunny, a patch of rain, and then bright sunshine again. Left to right: daughter Crista, sister Jean, me, sister Janice, niece Heidi

 

Waiting for us in Charleston are historical venues and shops, restaurants oozing Southern charm, and a rented house in Mt. Pleasant on an island close to Charleston where for four days we’ll relax, exchange stories from the past and enjoy the sites.

Kitchen

 

Backrub

There is a separate bedroom for each sister/aunt and a blue attic loft with two single beds and play table and chair, a little-girl hideaway for Crista and Heidi, wives and mothers themselves.

We enter the city in a downpour: flooded streets and a 4-day weather forecast fit for ducks. (I’m talking over a foot of water in the streets grazing the belly of our car!) Fortunately the weather system soon bubbles away into the Atlantic, and we roam the city without umbrellas. A miracle!

The Architecture

narrowHouse

Property taxes were calculated by the number of feet on frontage of the house. Thus, modest homes like the one above were narrow and tall. Fancy, opulent ones were also long, narrow and usually three stories high.

MansionCharleston

Window boxes offer extra garden space for historic homes that don’t have large front lawns. Simply glorious on our first cloudy day.

FlowersWindow1

Flowers2

Charleston with many Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Catholic churches, along with Jewish synagogues, is called the Holy City because of its large number of houses of worship.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Charleston, SC  Open filigree spire to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes.
Church of St. John the Baptist, Charleston, SC
Open filigree spire design built to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes.

 

How We Saw the City: Horse-drawn Carriage and Rickshaw Ride

horse.

Our storyteller/guide with a salty Southern drawl says, “Our horse, Big John, has been imported from an Amish farm in Ohio.” We believe him though we don’t buy his line that he’s originally from The Bronx.

*  *  *

Our handsome bicycler hunk muses, “These ladies look loaded. What’s my tip gonna be?”  (Charleston Rickshaw Company)

rickshawGuy

 2rickshaws

 Shopping

LinensKingCharlesJewelry

The former plain girls’ stash of jewelry and scarves from the Charleston Market on Market Street

Mt. Pleasant Mall on Mother’s Day

Shopping1

“Are these my colors? my sisters ask each other . . . Then I hear: “Remember when we played dress up with Mame Goss’s hats? Or Wedding under the Willows?” Ha ha!

Shopping2

 

Time to Eat

FiveLoaves

Mother’s Day brunch at Five Loaves in Mt. Pleasant with (below) a clearly scripted reminder to reflect and share our bounty:

"There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread."   Mahatma Ghandhi  (Also the mission of Samaritan's Purse and other charities.)
“There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” Mahatma Ghandhi (Also carried out in the mission statement of Samaritan’s Purse and other benevolent groups.)

 

Magnolia Gardens

MagnoliaJan

FoxgloveHalfPpeacock

A magnolia bloom (with Janice), foxglove stem and a peacock about to unfurl fan feathers . . .  in the gorgeous Magnolia Gardens

A Smidgeon of History from Charleston SC, A Photographic Portrait

Founded by English colonists in 1670, Patriots fought–and won–the first decisive battle of the Revolutionary War here [Charleston] . . . .

Decades of growing strife between the North and South erupted at Fort Sumter in April 1861, launching the American Civil War:

Four cadets from the City’s military college, The Citadel, were among the soldiers who fired the first shots of the Civil War across the Charleston Harbor.

The city has also sustained more than one fire and an earthquake.

Good Vibrations

Sisters

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Many thanks, you two!CristaHeidi

 

Research shows that sibling relationships are the longest-lasting relationships any of us will have in our lifetime. In the natural order of things, our parents will die before we do. We can lose partners and spouses through death or divorce. Typically, our siblings remain.

Road trips, siblings – your comments welcome!

 

 

Coming next: My Dad’s Bachelor Trip to Florida

The Longenecker Sisters’ Road Trip, Part 1

Girls’ road trips are part of the landscape of American pop culture. Who can forget Thelma and Louise? Wanting to take a short vacation from their dreary lives, Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) head out from Arkansas to the Grand Canyon in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird. They stop at a roadhouse and it’s all downhill from there. Crime and mayhem ensue until finally the gun-toting girls and their car zoom over the edge of the Grand Canyon. Both Davis and Sarandon received Best Actress Academy award nominations (1991).

Image courtesy Wikipedia
Image courtesy Wikipedia

And what about Oprah and friend Gayle who took off in a much ballyhooed road trip documented on TV and watched by millions . . .

Image Huffington Post
Image Huffington Post

Here’s how the Huffington Post encapsulates their excursion:

In 2006, Oprah Winfrey and her friend Gayle King embarked on what became a much talked-about (and hilarious) 3000-mile road trip across the country. When they weren’t cruising the highway in their red Chevy Impala, the two joined a local game of Bingo in Wichita, met some real-life cowboys on the range and crashed a wedding in Tulsa, surprising and amusing nearly everyone they came in contact with.

In spite of an anxiety-ridden moment on the George Washington Bridge, Oprah and Gayle completed their trip unscathed. When they returned to Chicago, Oprah handed over the keys to that Chevy to a deserving woman named Reola Holdaway.

The Longenecker sisters, Marian, Janice, and Jean are not movie stars or TV personalities. None of us has owned a gun much less aimed one at a policeman as Thelma did. But as siblings, we have done many other things together — playing and fighting as children, working in the tomato patch in Bainbridge, PA, even singing in a trio at church, sometimes with less than perfect results.

Scred Trios_final_7x9_300

The last time any of us can remember vacationing together was back in 1977, the year Daddy broke all sales records at Longenecker Farm Supply, won a free trip to Jamaica and took the whole family including his married daughters and son Mark. We left our husbands and young children behind and frolicked in Ocho Rios for a week — just Mom, Daddy, my sisters and brother Mark.

As married women with children, we have met at least once a year at the Longenecker homestead in Pennsylvania. Recently, we have been clearing out the house after Mother’s death making decisions about her possessions together. And now, as a pause in our separate journeys, we celebrate with a road trip. So, you see, it’s high time to make more memories.

Whee!

The plan: My sisters and I, with two of our daughters, are gathering from Florida and Pennsylvania for a Merry-May celebration in Charleston, SC. We’ll get there by car and I’ll record our adventures here in two installments. It won’t be the Italian Riviera but we can refresh and renew our sisterhood close to the Charleston harbor inlet leading out to the Atlantic Ocean. And it won’t be Thelma and Louise, or Oprah and Gayle, but it will be Marian, Janice, and Jean.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

In the meantime, have you and close family members taken a road trip together recently or long ago? Tell us about the adventure here.