Posts Tagged With: home

Homeward Bound

Having been in New England for ten of the past sixteen months, I’ve thought a lot about home.

With respect to Robert Frost, home is the place where they’re glad to take me in.

Sally, Jenna, and Julie are home to me, wherever they are.

Home is sleeping in my bed with my wife.

Home is our cat, Caesar, loving me as if I’d never been gone.

Home is grilling salmon on our patio. Home is our bright red Japanese Maple tree.

Home is a hug from the lady at the dry cleaners who missed me. Home is friends at Kathwood Baptist Church welcoming me back.

Home is my Grandson Lake showing up at our house at 6:45 a.m. wanting blueberry muffins on Thursday morning.

Home is my shower, my pillow, and my favorite coffee mug. Home is iced tea with mint freshly picked from our garden. Home is my bookshelves with my books with my favorite passages underlined. Home is being surrounded by memorabilia from Charleston, Cooperstown, Scotland, Italy, Turkey, Kenya, and Romania.

Home, for me, are tigers, tigers everywhere.

Home is driving on familiar roads and walking on familiar sidewalks.

Home is my Dad’s picture on the wall and my Mother’s baking sheets (which we still use to make chocolate chip cookies) in our kitchen cabinet.

Home is my back porch where I eat breakfast and drink coffee as many days of the year as possible, January through December. I love it, especially the sound of the birds singing, the toot of the railroad train not far away, and the kids waiting for their school bus. When Sally, Jenna, Julie, sons-in-law Thorne and Tom, or friends join me, there is no better place in the world.






Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Health, Holiday, South Carolina, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Familiar

South Carolina is home. I loved my half-year in New Hampshire: new sights, new experiences and new friends. Moose. Live Free or Die. Minus seventeen degrees one Sunday. I enjoyed being close to my daughter Julie and her husband Tom for six months. I grew fond of the people at Trinity Baptist Church of Hanover.

But I’m clear, even in 102-degree heat, I love my home state and my home.

I believe in travel, and I believe in getting to know other cultures, other histories, and other ways of thinking.

But I missed the familiar. I missed my wife Sally and my cat Caesar. I missed Sunday night supper at our house with my daughter Jenna, her husband Thorne, and my grandson Lake. I missed old friends who live near enough to see frequently. I missed my church. I missed our back porch and Sally’s garden. I missed the American flag in front of our house (occasionally replaced by a Tiger Paw flag). I missed being surrounded by my books. I missed walking in our neighborhood. I missed the pictures on the wall of my study and the mementos I’ve collected from around the world. I missed our shower. I even missed our dishwasher.

The familiar is seductive. It’s tempting to stay there and never leave, never experience the unfamiliar. I’m glad I resisted the comfort of my nest and ventured out.

Even more, I’m glad to be home.

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Holiday, South Carolina, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Washington, D.C.: The Fifth Leg: July 2015

My grandson Lake missed his class trip to Washington D.C. this school year because he broke his knee playing soccer the day before the trip. That suited him just fine, but I was not a happy granddad. I think kids need to go to the Capital. I took my daughters and I wanted Lake to have the experience.

I gave him a list of options and told him to pick two:

1. Bureau of Engraving and Printing
2. Holocaust Memorial Museum
3. International Spy Museum
4. Library of Congress
5. Mt. Vernon
6. National Air and Space Museum
7. National Museum of the American Indian
8. Newseum
9. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
10. Supreme Court Building
11. Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers
12. Trolley Tour or Duck Tour
13. US Capitol
14. White House tour

He picked the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (the Hope Diamond, dinosaurs, etc.) and the National Air and Space Museum. We also took a moonlight tour of the primary Washington D.C. monuments, a great decision. We took the “Old Town Trolley Tour,” and we highly recommend it. We rode past some sites, such as the Supreme Court, the Jefferson Memorial and the Capitol, but we stopped and spent time at the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. The trolley tour took three hours and was awesome for all ages. Our guide became emotional talking about the last inauguration with 800,000 gathered for the peaceful passing of power from one Head of State to another. Not many countries in the world do that, but we do. I’m proud to be an American. Some want their state to secede when the wrong party wins, or they want to turn their backs on our great democratic nation when their candidate loses. Not me. I’ve suffered through bad Presidents and benefited from the efforts of good Presidents. And, since I’m not God, I am continually surprised at some of the good done by politicians with whom I disagree and vice versa.

Our hotel, the W, was as close as you can get to the White House and the Washington Monument. Lake even took his soccer ball out to the Ellipse one afternoon and kicked it around while I sat on the ground nearby, leaning against a tree, and smoked a cigar.

We drove home to Columbia the next day and were happy to be back. My attitude is almost always that I’m glad to go and I’m glad to get home. Right now, I really don’t want to go much farther than West Columbia. It’s good to be with Sally. We went out last night for hamburgers and cooked hot dogs for lunch today, in honor of National Hot Dog Day.

The End

Categories: Family, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Launching Pad


The house in which I was raised consisted of four rooms:  a living room, two bedrooms and a kitchen.  Why isn’t the bathroom ever counted? My brother Edmund and I shared the same bed until we were teenagers.  Two years older than I am, he eventually carved a bedroom out of our basement, giving us both a bit more space.

 Dinner conversation at our house was not scintillating.  Much as I love my parents, our world was not that of literary figures who sit in a spacious dining area discussing Great Ideas or even lowly politics.  I guess we talked about church and sports.  Edmund and I were all boy.

What I remember most, when I think of our tiny childhood home on Thurmond Drive is the one block long street we lived on and the woods behind our house.  Our neighborhood consisted entirely of boys—the Staleys, the Twelkemiers, and the Aldridges.   Thurmond Drive was a hill with no traffic, so down that slope we raced bikes, soapboxes, and anything else a boy’s mind could imagine. 

Behind us, the woods wandered off to infinity, as far as we knew.  The Horse Creek Valley of western South Carolina covers a lot of terrain.  We picked blackberries, blueberries, plums and some nuts.  We hiked back to the Clay Pits and beyond.  We caught turtles from the swamp and unsuccessfully tried to tame them.  We rode our bicycles through the woods, beyond Beverly’s store to the old Carolina Springs pool.  When it was still open, we dived off the high platform.  Later, after it was deserted, we shot fish somehow locked into the old pool with whatever guns we had with us.

We visited Mrs. Womrath in her old plantation home. Slave dwellings still existed on the site and my memory is that some were still occupied.  A half-dozen of us boys, ages 10-16, sat in her formal living room, politely listening as she told us stories of her past.  I think she had been in the silent movies, but even with Google, I have never been able to verify that.  I was the youngest of the neighborhood boys.  We had climbed the wooden steps to her grand plantation porch and knocked on the massive front door.  She entertained us as if we were visiting celebrities.  I remember her showing us oriental fans that would make the Antique Road Show hosts drool.  We were in the presence of elegance. 

Not much seemed to happen inside our happy little home on Thurmond Drive.  We watched TV.  We ate good meals.  We read books.  Even the books led us to other places.  Robinson Crusoe introduced us to the South Sea Islands.  Robin Hood guided us through Sherwood Forest.  The Jungle Book took us to India.  We boarded Huckleberry Finn’s raft and sailed with him and Jim down the Mississippi.  Jack London led us to explore Alaska.

The house on Thurmond Drive was a launching pad.  Love inside.  The world outside.  It was a good combination.

Categories: Family, South Carolina, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

No Regrets


            Trips to see my mother and my dad as they got older became part of my routine.  They were good parents, and we were never estranged from one another, so these short outings were never a chore.  Mother was a world-class cook, so some sort of pie, cake, fudge or other sweet was usually a part of the experience.  We visited one another regularly but randomly, some Christmases, some birthdays, as well as plenty of no-reason-needed visits.  My life, thank God, has lacked the drama of some families.  Boring can be good!

            During my seven years living in Batesburg, when we lived about an hour from each other, I met Daddy every Friday for lunch at the Holiday Inn in Aiken, South Carolina.  I ordered a patty melt every week.  They still lived in North Augusta so it was a quick commute for both of us.   The memory of those lunches is a treasure.  Mostly we just shot the bull, talking about football and family.  On some occasions, we delved deeper.

            Eventually, Mother and Dad moved into a retirement home in Darlington, an hour and a half drive in each direction from where we now live in Columbia.  They no longer had a car, and I could not make the trip weekly.  I went as often as I could, sometimes by myself, sometimes with my entire family, and sometimes with one of my daughters.

            Dad’s health got better when they moved into the Bethea Home, then it got worse, and then, without much warning, after a bout of pneumonia, his heart gave out and he died.  I was not with him when he died, but I was grateful for the times we had together.  No regrets.

            Mother lived several more years at the Bethea Home, and I continued to visit her regularly.  Jenna was grown and married, but Julie and I often went together to visit her Grandma.  Mother also died when I was not with her.  She had gone into the hospital in Florence, and my brother and I visited her, but since she was in ICU, they sent us home at night.  Middle of the night visits were not allowed.  Though we arrived at the appointed time the next morning, 7 a.m., Mother had died about 30 minutes before we drove in from Columbia.

It would have been nice to be with each of my parents at the time of their deaths, but it did not happen.  You can’t script death. 

            As a pastor, I have seen a lot of remorse when someone dies, especially when there are broken relationships, unhealed wounds and unresolved guilt.

I am grateful that my relationship with my parents was up-to-date and that there was no unfinished business left over to complicate the natural course of grief.   I love my parents, and miss them.

Their anniversary was November 7.  Daddy was a Veteran, so November 11 always stirs up some reminiscence.  Sadness and sorrow.  But no anguish or angst.  No regrets.


Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hospitality: Travel in the Other Direction


All of my travel writing blogs, so far, have been about places to which I/we go. 

 Sally and I also enjoy hosting friends and family in our home, in our community, and in our state.

Since my youngest daughter Julie is coming home this weekend, along with her friend Adair, it occurs to me I ought to say a word about travel in the other direction, when people come to our house, when they come here instead of us going there.

Monday nights, every week, we have our oldest daughter Jenna, her husband Thorne, and their son Lake for supper.  YAY!  They live just three blocks away, but we still love having them.

Julie (by herself), or Julie with her husband Tom, come when they can from Boston, a few times each year.  We always have the light on for them.

Brothers, cousins, uncles, nephews and other relatives make regular use of our guest bedroom.

Our lives are also enriched by people who are not family who come in our direction for a meal or for a semester.

If I start making a list, I will surely leave somebody out, but we have been blessed by Becky, Irina, Sissi and others who feel (to us) as if they are our adopted daughters. 

Lydia Raw came for Thanksgiving one year, all the way from England.

 Just making the point:  Whenever someone goes somewhere, the trip is made more enjoyable by gracious hosts.  Hospitality:  It’s in the Bible.  You can look it up:  “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.”


Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Travel | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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