Monday, April 20, 2009

Travels with Cath Part II

So, now I’m in DC – one of my all-time favorite cities. And it’s raining – just like it was in NJ.

In the interim between Jersey and DC, my husband and I traveled to what I affectionately call “the middle-of-nowhere, Pennsylvania” to see my mother. Mom moved to Lock Haven in the mid-70s and has lived there for the last 35 years. In that time, I have seen the town change and grow more charming as people have moved in and renovated so many of the lovely old houses. The architecture in this small town is actually first-rate, and a walk in the neighborhoods is very pleasant and very interesting. The addition of the picturesque walking path along the river’s levee adds to the attractions of the town. And we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the truly beautiful Carriage House Bed and Breakfast, just a half-block from the river.

Mom lives about 10 minutes outside of town – in a tiny, tiny house on the side of a mountain. The place is modest but becomes quite beautiful in the Spring. (I took pictures and will upload them when I return home to Idaho next week.) Our April weather was gorgeous – cloudless skies and warm temperatures – her property never looked lovelier to me.

The visit was bittersweet, though. Mom has pancreatic cancer and is losing weight. She isn’t in any pain yet, thankfully, but if she doesn’t stop losing, I don’t see how she will last past this Fall -- at 5’2” and 95 pounds, she’s very underweight. Having said that, I also know my mother’s legendary will power – she could live for a very long time yet, conceivably, on will power alone.

My brother and his wife made the long drive out from New Jersey for an afternoon, too – so Mom had both of her kids in the same place at the same time for the first time in 12 years. My sister-in-law made Bolognese sauce and I supplied the gluten-free pasta so that we could have a spaghetti dinner together. Afterwards we walked up the hill to see the neighbor’s horses and walk off our dinner. Mom turned back about halfway because she was tired, but she insisted on returning home by herself. So my brother and sister-in-law, my husband and I continued on up the hill, turning around frequently to watch my mother’s tiny figure disappearing down the road toward her house. Of course she is still completely capable of walking on her own, but we worried anyway. Later we all just sat around talking and looking at some old photographs (I took a bunch home so that I can scan them into my computer).

My mother joined my husband and me for breakfast at the B&B on our last morning. She eats like a horse still and she relished the scrambled eggs, bacon, potato pancakes and muffins that were served up by Sharon, our wonderful host.

And now I’m in DC, after a rotten Amtrak ride from Newark, NJ. I guess Sundays are a busy day on Amtrak – but if that’s the case, why don’t they run more trains and run some express service rather than just the regional trains? Our train was an hour and 15 minutes late, and the on-board personnel were anything but friendly or even courteous. Amtrak on the East Coast needs improvement.

I’m here for a week of workshops, sessions, and meetings. At the end of the week, I’ll be visiting my cousins in Virginia before heading home to Idaho.

‘Til next time,


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