Delights: September 2 to September 8

September 2: On Wednesday, as Jeremiah and I entered the movie theater, we bumped into an acquaintance who had taken herself to the earlier showing of Spirited Away. “I’m pretty good at predicting storylines,” she said, “but this film constantly surprises me. You’ll enjoy it.” I did.

Prior to Wednesday, I hadn’t seen my acquaintance in years. Yet we crossed paths again this morning, just two days later. We laughed at the coincidence — and resumed our conversation about Spirited Away. For ten minutes, we traded insights and appreciations. We didn’t catch up on each other’s lives; but when we bump into each other again, we’ll have a new starting place for friendship.

Bonus: At our local brewery on Wednesday night, Jeremiah and I also bumped into dear family friends, who recounted their trip to Mount Rainier and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. They graciously shared with me this photo of Mount Rainier (above). Photo by Bill Stewart.

September 3: A busy day at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens left me parking beyond the orchid greenhouse. As I trundled the long way to the museum house (Hillwood’s owner, Marjorie Merriweather Post, had an extraordinary eye for the decorative arts), I encountered a garden tour. Despite many joyful meanderings among Hillwood’s gardens, I’d never taken a tour. With the guide’s permission, I tagged along. 

Favorite moment #1: The lovely wall fountain in the French parterre garden was fashioned by a sculptor from Greece who had emigrated to the United States to carve gargoyles for Washington’s National Cathedral. Our guide also remembered him fondly as her neighbor.   

Favorite moment #2: Marjorie Merriweather Post oversaw the creation of Hillwood’s formal gardens and viewsheds. She was a businesswoman, philanthropist, owner of General Foods Corporation (and original owner of Mar-a-Lago). She also had Washington, DC, connections. Gazing from her back lawn to the distant Washington Monument nestled in a dip in the trees, she reportedly wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior asking if the monument could be moved just a smidge to the left. 

A view of the Japanese garden at Hillwood (and an inquisitive toddler).

Bonus:  Hillwood is filled with French and Russian Imperial porcelain and furnishings. The dining table is set for dinner, the morning room for breakfast, and the expansive lawn invites luncheon parties. Whenever I visit Hillwood, I dress with care. (Definitely no sneakers and jeans.) To my surprise and delight, I saw that nearly every other woman visiting today dressed likewise. Far from being tourists in a museum, we were guests in Mrs. Post’s home. Thank you, Mrs. Post, for the lemonade, cookies, and lovely day.

Hillwood dinner bell.
Mrs. Post requests the pleasure of your company for dinner. (The Venetian glass and place-settings rest on a magnificent Florentine pietra dura tabletop.)

September 4: When our neighbor Dave moved to California six or seven years ago, he gave Jeremiah four crates of vinyl records, mostly dating from the 1970s and 1980s. I still have Dave’s mobile number from the days when our sons played together and our lives overlapped. I’ve often thought about texting Dave when I slip his Van Morrison records onto the turntable. But I don’t.

Then, to my delight, Dave left a comment on my last post. (Yay, Bull Durham.

The years and distance have collapsed. Thinking of Dave, I watched Bull Durham twice tonight. As the film reminds me, baseball is a simple game: you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. And sometimes it rains. 

And sometimes old friends pop up and bring sunshine.

More fungi from the Madera Canyon near Tucson, Arizona. Photo by Anne Ryan

September 5: I allowed myself to be afraid this morning. And I got on my bike anyway.

A gentle descent is lovely, isn’t it? I wobbled along, stopping only to admire a falcon resting atop a stump and to fetch a runaway water bottle. Our local creek (and my companion) Four Mile Run widened imperiously until it joined the Potomac, and I followed the river south to my destination: a scone and a cup of coffee in Old Town, Alexandria. 

I huffed back uphill. By 9:30 am, the trail was crowded; bikes whizzed past me while I teetered around two-abreast walkers. And then I fell. 

Two pedestrians helped me to the verge, and a cyclist slowed down. “Are you ok?” he asked. “Yes,” I said, although I wasn’t. He looked at me and dismounted. Then he threw open his arms. I fell into his hug, sobbing. “Is this your first fall?” I nodded my helmet against his chest. “It’s scary, isn’t it?” I sobbed and bumped his chest again. 

He released me. “Let’s check you out,” he said. “Ankles? I see that scrape on your knee. Anything else? Hips, elbows, wrists — good for you for wearing gloves! — shoulders?” I was astonished to see that I was fine. “Can you get home ok?” Yes, I said. I only had about five miles to go. With a gentle pat on my back he mounted his bicycle, wished me well, and disappeared.

I returned to the trail, still crying a little. I saw a steeple in the distance, reaching above the trees. “God,” I whimpered, “please help me get home.” God replied, “I already did.” 

A dining room sconce at Hillwood

September 6: I sharpened my “substitute teacher” pencils today and returned to school as a fourth grade reading specialist. Two of my three students remembered me from last year. “We had you in music and Spanish!” Oh dear. “Did I tell you a story?” I asked. 

“Yes! The one about the baby’s bottom!” “That’s right!” said the other student. “And you were in college!” Then the third student wanted to hear the story. Sigh.

The story’s not particularly clever. But I guess anything involving babies’ bottoms is funny in elementary school — and unforgettable.

September 7: Yesterday, I teased Kevin about using his Apple Watch to locate his cell phone. I urged him to use his memory instead — and added with considerable self-congratulations, “to keep your mind sharp.” Well guess who lost her cell phone today right here in the house. For a long time. 

I’ve now decided that humility helps keep one’s mind sharp too — and one’s heart soft.

September 8: Despite my scrapes and bruises, I went to yoga class today. (My joints — miraculously— are fine. I mean, same as usual 🙃.) Our focus today was “ease in effort.” 

And I was the only student. That meant lots of hands-on assists, tailored balance challenges (Warrior Three!), and personal coaching. It also meant lots of sweat and lots of laughter. 

I’ve known my teacher for years. And today I felt like we became friends.

The Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool at sunset. Photo by Carolyn Wallace.

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If you’d like to browse my past delights, please consult the “word cloud” featured at the very bottom of this post. Find a theme or two that interests you and sift through the sands. Or learn a bit more about my Blog by visiting my Welcome page. You’ll also see links to four essays that were published in print magazines. I’m glad you’re here!

14 thoughts on “Delights: September 2 to September 8

  1. Ryan, Anne M - (anneryan) September 8, 2022 — 7:48 pm

    Dear Carol Ann,
    I’m sooooo glad you weren’t injured seriously on your bike fall! And grateful for the kindness of the cyclist who stopped.

    On lighter note, I loved your lost cell phone stories!!!!! Humility and humor are grand together!
    Love, Anne

    Get Outlook for Androidhttps://aka.ms/ghei36

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anne, for your kindness and gratitude. As my scrape heals and my two bruises fade, I find myself increasingly grateful for the whole experience, because of the stranger’s kindness.

      And yes, humility and humor are indeed good companions! (Especially because I lost my phone again today….)

      Like

  2. Some fantastic photos…and what a great week apart from the fall. Glad you weren’t hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Barbara. Thanks for your good wishes. The week was indeed full of adventures. And friends with a skilled camera eye!

      Like

  3. So sorry to read about your fall. Glad you are doing well and have had a great week despite of it.
    And that dinner setting. I am not sure that I could eat there. I’d be way too afraid that I would mess something up! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I agree completely about the table setting. I could barely enjoy the fragile beauties while standing beyond the velvet rope. And I am indeed doing well. Thanks for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It seems that months have passed since you were last doing your bit as a substitute teacher. It’s good to know that you’re doing it again…it’s clear that the kids appreciate you, and I’m sure spending time with them (and even talking about bottoms!) raises your spirits too.

    Your fall sounds horrible, but you didn’t let it beat you. Good for you. I chuckled when I read that you “only had about five miles to go”. ONLY??? The words “only”, “five” and “miles” don’t belong in the same sentence, in my humble opinion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your point about substitute teaching, Mr. P. Engaging with the youngsters really does raise my spirits. They are fun to be around.

      And I chuckle about the “only” and “five” and “miles.” (Ok, maybe I was actually 3.5 miles from home.) I was VERY proud — surprised! — to complete my 22-mile bike ride. And Kevin bought be matching bike gloves, so maybe I’ll take my chances again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 22 miles? Wow. These days I need to have a little lie down after driving 22 miles, so I can’t imagine how you must feel after cycling that distance. Well done!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. My heart was pounding with you as I read your Biking account. Good on you! that you made it home despite the scrapes and bruises and fear. To me, this is true courage; to do what you need to do despite.

    On a happier note, I love your account & images of the Hillwood visit – to be transported by the thoughtful & careful displays, to an elegant set table, sigh … so lovely.

    And of course, I have to chuckle at your encounter with the students. I don’t think children need brilliant stories – babies’ bottoms will always do it!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ju-Lyn, for enriching my week with your own observations! Maybe I “manifested” my own fall by starting out with fear; but I like your take: I was also ready to be brave! (And the stranger’s kindness made it all SO worth it.)

      Hillwood is indeed a magical place, and I love how it works its magic on its visitors. The children, meanwhile, are just a hoot. I can’t wait for the day I discuss urban sanitation again!

      Liked by 1 person

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