Archive for May, 2012

Ashland For A Weekend With My Sister

“Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister?”

― Alice Walker

I have been thinking a lot about siblings lately, of the time and distance we share in the lives of some of those we hold our longest ties with. There have been a myriad of stories recently in my life from friends and their siblings– of weddings approaching, changes in life structure, moves, adjustments to how we relate. I had always been fascinated with siblings growing up and I always envied my friends with siblings before I had a sister of my own. When I was 6 or 7 I asked Santa for a sister once, I seemed to think one might appear one day if I just asked and somehow it did. I have vivid memories of the day my sister was born, the call that came and said it was a girl, the speedy drive across town, and the feeling of 8 pounds of new born weight in my arms the first time I held her less than 30 min old. One of my favorite photos is in black and white of me holding my swaddled sister and my mother looking over my shoulder and into my arms.

These thoughts about siblings which have been swimming in my mind for the past few weeks seem to carry through and meet at a fascinating point last weekend as I went to Oregon to visit my sister. I couldn’t run away from work, no matter how hard I tried, believe me—I tried! It followed me up the coast and found its way between my plans despite my determination to leave it behind. We made adjustments to my e-mails and phone calls and I found for a weekend what I found on the day I held my sister for the first time. There are those people who come into our lives and instantly make us feel as though we have come home, in their presence it is as if we have slipped into the comforting structure where we are at once our selves.  It had been a year since I had seen my sister, and yet by her side it felt like we were young girls again on our annual weekend getaway where we captured our mother’s undivided attention for a few short days.

We met up in Ashland at my godmother Annie’s house. We did nothing grand or spectacular but it felt like the most perfect way to spend time. Truth be told the weekend reflected some favorite pastimes and a few sprinklings of other activities throughout. We had fantastic meals starting with my sister’s first burrito from El Metate in almost 2 years. We proved that even at a rest stop along I-5 between Eugene and Grants Pass a burrito that is a day old, but coveted for years could be fantastic!

We had fresh baked goods in the morning with Annie, Mary and their sweet dog Yakut. We went to Morning Glory for brunch, not to be missed if you are in Ashland. We had a belated birthday dinner at Smithfields and I couldn’t get over my sister’s growing spirit of adventure when she ordered Pork Belly for the first time and loved it!

Between meals we strolled the streets of Ashland, poked our heads into shops, bought more cards than I will be able to send (but I do love these cards). We went to Jacksonville and browsed more shops along its pioneer looking streets.

We drove go-karts under gray skies and a faint rainbow, and played miniature golf.

We took drives along scenic roads, we strolled through nature along hills, and in honor of our mother we even paused on a bench in the sunshine amid the Jewish section of a cemetery.

We talked, we laughed. We spent time with new friends and with family.

But above all as Alice Walker said, we found solace once again in each other’s embrace. My sister’s smile will always now mean more than it once did, in her face I see more than just the realization of a dream for a sibling, but now I also see the closest approximation to the link with my mother.


Ra (aka Fillet)


05 2012

Running Away, Kate’s Lazy Meadow In Woodstock

Can’t we just run away sometimes? Doesn’t life get to be so much that all we can do is find a new place somewhere and hide in its unfamiliarity for a few hours or days? Life can get so full and demanding and all I can think sometimes is can’t I escape even for a weekend? I want to leave behind work and e-mails, my worried and over-analyzing mind, the crises that I see in the world. I was in the Bahamas when Baghdad fell and it felt surreal on those sandy tropical beaches to watch the news and know my cousin was in that far off sandy place that was at war. I couldn’t run away my first night in Spain when I got the call that my mother had suddenly died in her sleep at home. I couldn’t run away when I was in Belgium and the London bombs rocked Europe. I couldn’t run away then but sometimes when we are hanging on to life’s branches we can escape even if it’s just for a weekend.

I escaped the other weekend with my friend Gina. We set our sites on just a little time out of the city, some nature close by, a quaint town, and a rock ‘n’ roll motel! This is where you should start to listen to LOVE SHACK because that is where we ran to. Kate Pierson of the B52’s has a small motel that perfectly fit our bill. Outside of Woodstock by 12 miles and along a small river and rolling Catskill Mountains is Kate’s Lazy Meadow. It is a refurbished and completely retro, funky, fun, and oh so fabulous spot to run away from anything that you need to escape in your life.

The weekend was rainy but that didn’t stop us from having a great time. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need – gray skies can seem less gray in a new location. We drove through picturesque settings of mist lifting off of small lakes surrounded by green trees. We strolled around Woodstock and shopped and meandered. We spent way too much time and money at a tea shop, and yet I could have spent a lot more of both (note to self—I LOVE tea shops!). We sat by a fire and drank wine late into the night and talked. We had breakfast at Sweet Sue’s in Phoenicia, oops, I was too excited about breakfast tacos and ricotta orange pancakes with fresh strawberries I never even thought to take a picture.

We had a great time, and I felt the life seep back into me in the sheer space of a new location. Our body and souls know what they need – we know when we are hungry, when we are thirsty, and when something needs to change. It’s not always easy to pay attention to what we are being told and sometimes all it needs is a little nourishment from a flowering tree and birds calling in nature. Sometimes we can run away and then we have to come back to life. Because we may be like the little bunny in Margaret Wise Brown’s book that wants to run away, but life is like the mother bunny that says “If you run away, I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”

Happy escapes to you whatever they are.


PS – on the tarmac at JFK Friday for almost an hour as Enterprise landed atop a 747 right in front of my plane. Sometimes the window seat in life can bring pretty amazing views!


05 2012