Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baby Elephants

May 2, 2011

I've never been to an animal orphanage.
I've never seen elephants up close.

On May 2nd, I got to check off both of these objectives at the same time.

For 1 hour each day, this elephant orphanage opens to the public. You stand around the "play area" and watch elephants eat, play and relax. There are two sessions, in fact. One for the little ones (an ironic statement, because they never really seem small; only in relation each other): 3 to 18 months. And a second session for what I've termed "the teenagers": 18 to 36 months.

When the elephants are 3 years old, they leave this sanctuary for another area.
There, they are placed with a group of older elephants to learn the hierarchy and "ways to elephant."

As an incentive to enter the observatory area, the handlers have milk (more akin to human baby formula; I learned that cow's milk is actually very dangerous to their digestive systems)...and the elephants LOVE their milk!

Rain on the Masi Mara

May 4, 2011

It was our first night at the safari lodge. We were settled in, already having enjoyed 2 game drives. We were full to the brim with new experiences and were ready to fill our bellies silly with the local cuisine.

A rain storm followed us from the open area where the animals walk free to the 5 star resort space; and covered all the air around us with water vapor and gray fog. And the view was covered; and the rain came.

And, we felt like kids.
It was the middle of the week, and instead of being at work, we were half a world away splashing in the puddles on our way to dinner.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I had the lovely opportunity to experience mountain-zen this weekend.

I was expecting the fresh air. I was expecting the sweet-mountain water smell. I was hoping for a clear sky full of dazzling stars.

I knew that I would find a lot of quiet time to reflect; and to write. I knew that the greenness of the nature around me would seep into my soul and encourage self-growth.

What completely took me off guard was the laden apple tree in the front yard just off the deck. I didn't realize that such a wealth of nature's goodness would be right there saying: grab and eat. Hmmm...

And, so, I went apple picking this weekend. Completely unexpected and absolutely delightful. Among the 3 of us, we picked enough to fill 4 bags full and the tree is still full of apples...that may be ready in a week or two for more picking.

The apples are tart and crisp. Perfect for baking.
I've already started. I couldn't help myself. I had nature's treasure in my kitchen and it called to me for engagement and discovery.

I learned how to make applesauce tonight; and then manipulated a muffin recipe in order to make use of the applesauce. Wow. I am awed and grateful for this experience.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Discovery is Here

I took Rand to one of my favorite spots recently. Well, it was one of my favorite spots...20 years ago. It seems like just yesterday. But as I surveyed the new growth, the trees and shrubs, I realized that a significant amount of time has indeed passed.

Not that I haven't noticed my birthdays coming and going - it was just a different kind of reminder that time has passed. I have grown, like these trees. I am different, just as this spot (with all its growth and development) has changed. There is new life all around, just as there is a new life with me this time. Life created from life, that will grow and sprout in its own way.

I sat on one of my favorite rocks from so long ago and marked how changed a spot can be - how time can make the exact same place look so different; can add features and fullness. I breathed in my memory of times past and my respect for new growth as the sun warmed the grass.

I savored the delight of my son as he discovered newness around him. His timidity wore off as his curiosity got the better of him - very much like someone else I know. I heard him splash in the water, saw him look for rocks to throw. I saw the light in his eyes grow. I heard his heart beating faster. I felt his mind learning.

And in the process, I learned.
Discovery is here. Around the bend. In familiar spots. In the hearts and minds of the people we love. In the appreciation for how things grow and change. In the honor and respect of times gone, memories savored.

In an innocent moment of passing down traditions discovery is found and treasured.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunset in Virgina

I try to bravely face the end of life-chapters as they come. I'm not always great at it, but I am at least aware that a "grin and bear it" attitude will carry me through it easier than kicking and screaming at each modulation of the change. The end of something can often cause sadness, even fear, to well up within me; and I'm challenged to make a direct choice on how I will move beyond it.

There have been a handful of chapter-ends in my life this year; some that I anticipated with hopeful expectation and some that I only-just survived. I appreciate the opportunity to be challenged, to be forced to accept an end.

However graceful (or not) I chose to live through them, ends come. It's inevitable. An unchanging fact about how change impacts us. Ends are a poignant experience within a complete circle-cycle, because they end with a start: start, middle, end...start again.

That is what I think is the most compelling reason to bear through the particularly difficult ends, the ones that scare me the most or make me cry - it's the knowing that a start will begin. There's often no telling what the start will be (or what part of life it will affect); and it is interesting to note that how we handle the end can impact our new start....for good (hopefully) or for bad (regrettably).

I believe that we have the power to directly influence our lives through attitude and outlook. I, for one, don't really want to prolong any sadness in my life (or fear, for that matter). I accept, stoically, that sadness will come to me through any portion of the circle-cycle; but if it hits me at the end, I have the opportunity to positively affect my up-coming start by how I chose to honor the sadness and/or fear.

All experiences offer a lesson, if we are proactive enough participants in our own lives to learn and grow.

I took this picture on a trip to Virgina, a foreshadow of an end-coming in my life. But I am breath-taken at how lovely this end is and how the beauty of it speaks to my soul. I think of how many sunsets (the end of the day-cycle) speak to me with their loveliness. And that's the kind of reputation I'd like to carry: someone who handles the end of a circle-cycle with so much grace and beauty that others are left awed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

June 2011 Beach Trip

Not much beats the delighted reply from my child, "Really, Mommy? We are going to the beach?!"

Unless, of course, it is the salt-smell that slowly starts to permeate the air as you get closer to the coast. Or the first-glimpse of the ocean on the horizon as you drive past public beach access spots. Or the heat and grit from the sand on the parking lot pavement that immediately finds its way between your toes.

I knew that this year would be different, but I wasn't sure what exactly to expect. And so, I prepared the opportunity for him, hoped he would engage and stepped back to watch the play unfold.

And these are the things I noticed:

He was bigger and a little more confident in his ability to face the ocean waves. He didn't really need his mommy to play, only a board so that he could learn the surf and how it plays on the wet sand. He reached out to other children as they dug deep and built high, realizing (without realizing) that the beach often levels the playing field.

And, it is these things, these advancements in his development that make adventures with my kid so much fun for me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

get ready to commit

And so, Kenya is about to become a reality. As my dear friend always says, "I am not committed until I've handed over the money."

I've received the credit card authorization form for payment on the return flight - RDU to London to Nairobi and back via the same path. All I have to do it fill it out and send it back...and viola! I am booked for a trip to Kenya! I can't wait!

Next up, scheduling a visit at a local travel clinic to get my shots and meds to make sure that I don't get sick while I am there.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

on top of Graham, NC

I try to live an adventurous life, but let's be real. There's not a lot of full-out adventure to be had in Graham, NC. I love calling it home, but for the most part, I have to find adventure in other places.

But, not this time.
I had the opportunity to walk through of the coolest, historic buildings in downtown Graham...and climb up to the roof. The roof had 2 levels; and I took the higher road -- I mean, really?! When am I ever going to get the chance to do this again?!

To be sure, I was a little nervous; but I didn't want to miss out on this random Wednesday afternoon adventure! It was worth it - I know that I've never seen Graham with that perspective and will always consider it a little differently now.