I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Vashon Island gathering

Lavender Hill Farm
As I wrote yesterday on my other blog, the six of us bloggers who gathered here last year have come together a year later, to enjoy the wonderful farm house at Lavender Hill Farm and see each other again. Linda was the one who started this whole thing, and we cast about to find the place we wanted to meet. This wonderful farm house is rented out to people like us before it becomes a home again. It is our second time here, and it felt like coming home when we walked through the door on Friday.

We are all a year older, but knowing each other through our blogs means we are aware of much more about each other and how we have fared through the past year than most people do. I guess I'm the most prolific blogger, having two blogs and writing several times a week, while a couple of the others struggle to find time to write in their busy lives. Three are still working, all as teachers or school administrators, and they will be back at work tomorrow morning. They will leave first, while the other three of us will make our way back to our homes at a more leisurely rate. We will probably leave around noon to catch the ferry back to Seattle.

This is the only island I have ever visited where I think I could live here without feeling cut off from the rest of the world. According to this link, it's only 37 square miles with a population of around 10,000, with no bridges to connect it to the mainland. But it's certainly a thriving place, with a Farmers' Market and plenty of places to visit. We explored more of the island on this visit, and I'm hoping that next October we will return to discover even more of it. I would never want to live in a city as large as Seattle, but this nearby little island has won me over.

It's raining outside on this dark morning; we were very fortunate yesterday and during our travels here on Friday. It's nothing like the beautiful weather we had last year, with clear blue skies and views of Mt. Rainier, but it's been so nice to gather inside and share our lives with each other. Sometimes I marvel at how much my life has changed since I retired, although I certainly am busy. Two out of three of the last Sunday mornings I've been elsewhere than my own home to write this early morning meditation.

The other early morning riser, Deb, is sitting in one of the chairs across from me reading, while I write this post. We are in the living room with one of those gas fireplaces that looks so much like a real fire that I want to poke the embers. Last night I laughed as we sat around the room, each one of us with our tablet or laptop. Last year Jann was the only non-Apple person, and this year she showed up with a MacBook Air, just like mine! She loves hers almost as much as I do my own.

Everyone else is asleep and will make their way slowly into the common room, and Sandi will fix us a wonderful breakfast before we start packing up and heading home. Sally has the longest trip back, since she lives in Colorado and will stay in a hotel tonight before catching her plane in the morning. I'll be up at my usual time tomorrow, getting ready to head into town on the bus to visit with my coffee shop friends before going to my exercise class at the Y. And this weekend will become another wonderful memory.

Each of us will no doubt write about our experience on our various blogs, and I'll try to make sure that everyone who is interested can read what we all have to say. One very important lesson that I've learned is one I've learned (and forgotten) before: I cannot eat sugar and not suffer from it. Last night we went out for dinner, which was just right, but two diners decided to bring home desserts. Once we got back, the forks came out and we shared a chocolate brownie with ice cream and a piece of banana cream pie. Although it all tasted incredible, I woke in the middle of the night with my heart racing as if I'd run a marathon. My stomach was also upset, which continues right to the present moment. I didn't think I ate that much, but I don't usually eat this kind of food at all, so I was reminded that a clean diet, free of sugar and wheat, is what will keep me healthy.

Sometimes I think I'm lucky not to be able to indulge without paying a penalty, because it cannot be denied that what I eat has as much to do with my health as does my penchant for exercise. Yesterday Deb and I went much farther on the trail we explored than the others, as we are the only ones who exercise daily. We were like little kids rushing on ahead, afraid that the grownups might require us to return before we were ready. We didn't make it to the end of the trail before we turned around to join the others, but next year we will! Last year Deb was in quite a bit of pain from her hip, which has now been replaced and she is strong and vigorous. She said she must exercise daily to keep her hip working well. I exercise daily because I love the way it makes me feel.

My heart is full from having found this wonderful group of women and having the opportunity to become "skin friends" out of the blogosphere. Each one has mannerisms that have become dear to me and enhance the words they write on their blogs. As I read Sally's blog, I now think of her peering over her reading glasses and lifting her eyebrows the way she does. Jann's sense of humor is very present in her blog, but now I can see her face as she dissolves in laughter. Sandi, the quiet one, flashes her brilliant smile at me and I cannot help but smile too. Linda's mobile facial features punctuate her speech in a very unique way; she will purse her lips to make a salient point. Deb throws her head back as she laughs. As you can imagine, we've had some rollicking good times this weekend. I am always thrilled when one of them writes a new post, so I can get another "hit" of a Vashonista. But right now I'm in heaven. Tomorrow will come soon enough. I'm off to enjoy my friends.


#1Nana said...

My feelings exactly! You've captured what I love about this weekend. I am grateful that the Internet brought us together. Everything happens for a reason and there are life lessons I still need to learn. I am fortunate to have the Vashonistas to share the journey.

Rian said...

I'm so glad that you guys got to get together again this year. It sounds like you have found a wonderful place (both physically and emotionally). And I love reading about your adventures!

Far Side of Fifty said...

What fun for you and all your friends! I can tell you had a wonderful time...even if you did eat too much sugar:(

Linda Reeder said...

Good morning. I last wrote in the wee small hours of the morning. Now it's well past getting up time and the sun is peeking through the clouds. I did get two more hours of sleep! Yay for me. I ate stuff I shouldn't have too, and my tummy is still complaining, another reason for poor sleep.
Wishing you all safe travels today, and tomorrow. I look forward to reading the others' accounts of their weekend.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

What a lovely weekend. And thanks for mentioning the desserts. Even though I KNOW that sugar and wheat are bad for me, and I have been eating less of both, I was eating a cookie as I read this! Good reminder to stick to the plan! Safe travels back home.

Red said...

I am guessing that since you meet , your blogs have much more meaning than other peoples' blogs. You know things that add meaning to what you're reading.
Your account of this weekend is a winner.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I can't believe you eschew sugar and wheat -- the stuff cookies, pies, and cakes are made of. I wonder why you get such a bad reaction. Anyway, I am glad you had a great time on the island. It helps to have compatible friends.

Gigi said...

I'm so glad you all had such a wonderful time! That island sounds enchanting!

Arkansas Patti said...

Those are scary reactions to sugar. If I had those I'd be cured.
You really have such a great group and how nice that you can all make it for the annual get together. Hope you keep it a tradition.

Sandi said...

As I sit all alone at home, reading your words takes me back to this morning, and what a magical weekend we had! You are correct about how fun it is to see and hear each other's voice when reading our blogs since meeting last year.
So glad you were there, DJan!

Linda Myers said...

I'll have to watch those facial expressions. Someday I may want to play poker.

Sally Wessely said...

Finally, I can connect to the internet and read this. I had a hard time connecting here in my room at the hotel. You are all home, and I wait to fly out in the morning. I will be taking home many sweet memories of smiles, hugs, friendships, and magical moments. I just wish it could have lasted longer.

Jackie said...

How wonderful to read descriptions if your blogging friends....their mannerisms. I love this.
Beautiful memories to keep and to share.

Anonymous said...

Friends gathering together and sharing things is very good.

Mel said...

What a wonderful trip. I love the photo you posted, it looks so cozy and inviting. I have the same reaction to red wine as you do to sugar, what an unpleasant way to spend the night. Hope you're feeling fine again and safe travels.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, ever since last year when the six of you gathered and you gave links for all of them, I've followed the five others with whom you gather: Linda, Jann, Deb, Sally, and Sandi. I'm so happy for you and for all of the group that this year was so enjoyable for all of you. Now I'll go to their blogs and read what they have to say. Peace.

Stella Jones said...

A lovely weekend, I can tell that. So glad you enjoyed it so much.

amanda said...

A wonderful tribute to your weekend & the wonderful ladies you shared it with.
I am intrigued with this island, and will pin in on my map as a place of interest to visit some day.

Rita said...

I remember what a wonderful time you had last year. Sounds like it was even more fun and relaxing this year now that you all know each other better. :)

Buz said...

Maybe part of the racing heart thing is hereditary. Sugar can do it to me, but having one drink too many will also ruin the quality of my sleep and cause my heart to pound away at some point during the night. My beta blocker (Inderal) does a pretty good job of regulating my heart beat, so whenever I'm really out of shape and need a good workout, I just skip my Inderal, have an extra drink or two, and let my heart work out during the night. ;-)

Friko said...

I am so envious, you wouldn’t believe it.

Blogging brings us good friends. Every time I meet one - always for a short time - I find that I already know so much about her it’s ridiculous to realise that we’ve never met before.

Yes, I envy you.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Someday I hope to meet with a fellow blogger because it seems so worthwhile. Most of you live far from my home. In fact I have only 4 Canadian followers and only one of them is closer by.
It is such a treat to read your view on how you all have fit together.
About your diet and straying. I totally believe that you have made the wisest choice! Research is backing that up!

Deb Shucka said...

As I sat across from you while you wrote this I felt such a strong sense of family and joy. Our hike was one of the highlights of the weekend for me. You've expressed the magic of our time together perfectly here.