Flowers For A Friend

The blogging community is an interesting place. We make friends with people we have never met in real life, sharing stories that sometimes make us feel like we’re old friends. Many of them are people we would never cross paths with in real life.

That’s certainly the case with Jinjer. Honestly, I don’t recall how or when we met but I have followed along as she has spent recent years working remotely from Arkansas where she cared for her elderly mother.

I never knew her mom’s name but was terribly sad when she died earlier this year. Jinjer shared with her blogging pals that she wouldn’t be able to visit her mom’s grave in Indiana before heading back to the life that was waiting for her in California. Her plate was full closing up this chapter, packing, donating and selling things. She needed to orchestrate the cross country move with an elderly cat and there was no way to justify going that far out of her way.

So when she mentioned that her mom was buried in Marion, Indiana, I knew I could help. That’s because I had been thinking about a trip to that area and this provided a wonderful purpose for going. While I couldn’t help Jinjer get there, I could at least go and take pictures of the grave. It’s a small gesture but I thought it might help.

She’s buried at Marion National Cemetery and I went there late Saturday afternoon, not realizing how enormous it would be. Turns out, I went to the wrong section – I needed section CS and was in section C. The wind picked up, the temperature dropped and rain set in so I surrendered and went into town for Mexican.

Luckily, Jinjer had emailed me a map that day so I figured out my error and returned at sunrise on Sunday morning. It was a piece of cake to find my way around with the map but I would have spent the entire day looking if necessary. It was important to me because I know how hard it is to lose someone important and what it means to visit their grave.

So I knelt on the ground, introduced myself to Jinjer’s parents and told them why I had come. Sadly, you can’t leave flowers this time of year so I just placed the flowers for a few minutes and snapped some pictures for Jinjer.

Jinjer laughed when I said that I apologized to her mom for being unable to leave the flowers. Haha! “After all, I don’t make the rules,” I said.

It’s a tiny gesture but hopefully one that helped my friend. I’m so grateful that I found her mom and the weather cooperated so she could have pretty pictures.

Jinjer’s parents have a beautiful resting place. It’s awe inspiring to be surrounded by these elegant marble headstones as far as the eye can see and to think of all the people they represent.

We all deserve to be remembered after we are gone and the living we leave behind deserve to find peace.

Here are some immortal words from one of the world’s great thinkers, Winnie the Pooh……

If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.

Weaver’s Quilt Block

These pictures are eleven years old but still summon happy memories and much joy.

Once upon a time, I was responsible for wrangling volunteers and funding sources to create a trail of quilt barns in my community. We aimed to have ten but ended up creating 27 over time.

This one is at Weaver’s Christmas Tree Farm, owned and operated by the kindest husband and wife duo you could ever hope to meet. They treated me like I was their own family and were a joy to work with on this project.

Fred and Lois had an antique store as well as the tree farm and Lois was known for her homemade jams and jellies. Then, of course, there were the animals.

I don’t recall the cat’s name but he clearly didn’t know he was a cat.

He hung with the gang as though he was part of the flock!

Of course, this makes sense given the way Fred and Lois always behaved as though there was always time and always room for one more person or animal – all part of their flock.

Fred passed away a few years ago and I have lost track of Lois, two facts that make me sad. That job was hard and time consuming. I don’t miss that part but sure do miss some of the people and the adventures I had along the way.

Adventure Day Antiques and Vinyl

Yesterday was my first day of vacation and I spent it adventuring with a friend. We hit the Heritage Square Antique Mall, Tommy’s Diner and three (count ’em three) guitar stores in Columbus. Plus we still got out of dodge before rush hour.

Heritage Square is well worth your time if you enjoy antique malls. This one is over 50,000 square feet packed full of stuff. For under $30 I left with a like new red gingham Christmas tree skirt, a vintage Santa and two records, one of which I had never seen before in real life.

I also found this Crosley piece that I wish I had a reason to own. Original Crosleys in good condition are hard to find. This one still has the book and not a lot of wear.

Not buying this may turn out to be one of my life’s regrets.

Tommy’s is a nice little diner not far from downtown that has a u-shaped counter and lots of stuff to look at. It’s a popular place but their lunch service is pretty quick so they get you in and out. The food was typical diner meals and I won’t make a special trip to go back but would absolutely return if I’m in the neighborhood.

The guitar shops were kind of neat too because they’re filled with pretty guitars and it’s always fun to hear my friend play around with the thing he loves best. But don’t tell him that I didn’t hate it – he will take me to more next time!

We encountered some quirky people in these stores including a fellow who makes customs in his German Village Music Haus.

Check out this guitar that features an old comic strip. That’s all wood!

We also found some bargains at Apollo Records, my current favorite record store. Located in downtown Chillicothe, it’s packed full of potential treasures that are priced to move. I’ve never walked out of there without an armload.

The great controversy of the day is that I beat him to a stash of Flying Burrito Brothers albums that he insists I cheated him out of. I say that I found them fair and square!

If you’re near one of these small businesses, stop by and give them a little love. Supporting a small business means you’re supporting local jobs and businesses that fill storefronts and often support our communities in a host of ways. The online retailers we all love so much don’t even know where you live. They certainly won’t give money to your school band or pass out candy in your Christmas parade.

In all, it was a fun day and I’m glad for it. And seriously, if you enjoy antique malls and haven’t been, find your way to Heritage Square!

A Great Sign And An Even Better Friend

Stardust Motel

If you’re going to travel with a friend, be sure to go with someone who understands your oddities and compulsions. It’s even better if they can appreciate your weirdness too.

I’m fortunate to have a few such friends who wait patiently while I chase covered bridges, vintage signs and great old buildings. My Western Adventure friend Johnna is one such pal who doesn’t hesitate to turn the car around for a picture.

She slammed on the breaks in Newcastle, Wyoming when I swooned over the sign outside the Stardust Motel. We were on the road to Devil’s Tower and had places to be but she was happy to help a gal out for a quick picture.

The Stardust is a classic roadside motel, opened in 1954, and less than an hour from attractions like Devil’s Tower and Sturgis. That’s the extent of my knowledge of this place. Google reviewers commented on how nice the owners are and one called it a great place for “the budget minded traveler.”

That should tell you something.

Johnna’s a good friend and possibly a saint for putting up with me and my camera for days at a stretch. I’m grateful for her and for great vintage signs like this one.

A Mile Shy Of Laramie Peak

One goal for my western adventure was to climb Laramie Peak. Once a landmark for weary travelers along the Oregon Trail, today it is a popular area for recreation as part of the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming.

There is a nice hiking trail up the 10,274 foot mountain and Johnna and I were stoked to climb it. It’s about five miles up so we set out with packs full of water and supplies but felt no sense of urgency as the forecast was for blue skies all day.

This was the view early in the day.

Laramie Peak rocks and sky.JPG

Lovely, isn’t it? The sky was blue and clear, punctuated with puffy white clouds that my friend calls “Simpson’s Clouds.” It was the perfect day for a long hike.

Around mile three, we started running into rain showers. Just a little drizzle but we could see that a dark cloud was settling over us.

storm cloud.JPG

At mile four, the sky turned ominous and the rain picked up.

And then came the wind: wind so powerful that it sounded like a train coming up the mountain and so strong that it could knock you over.

The terrain turns rockier as you near the top, making travel treacherous when the ground and rocks are wet. There’s no cell service here and we saw just one house in the vicinity after traveling for miles without seeing another living soul – even at the campground.

In other words, it would be a long, lonely trip down the mountain to run for help for your friend should someone get hurt. And the rescue undoubtedly would involve a helicopter ride.

We discussed continuing on with our journey and considered sheltering in place if we could find somewhere safe. We had seen a number of natural rock ledges and shelters along the way but none were in sight in that last leg of the journey.

Ultimately, we abandoned our plan and headed back down the mountain toward safety.

It was the right thing to do, even if we were disappointed to abandon our goal. But there will be other trips and other mountains. And we still got in an eight mile hike which isn’t too shabby.

It was a friendly reminder that plans don’t always work out and that sometimes circumstances simply get in the way. We made the best of the day anyway and celebrated eight miles rather than be sad we didn’t make it to ten.

That’s a pretty nice victory too!