Out there, waiting

One of many faraway places I dream of visiting - again, or for the first time? Can anyone guess where this is?

One of many faraway places I dream of visiting – again, or for the first time?
Can anyone guess where this is?

“They say no land remains to be discovered, no continent is left unexplored. But the whole world is out there, waiting, just waiting for me…”Lisa Ann Sandell

There’s a popular saying about never being able to step into the same river twice, presumably because the river is ever-changing.  If so, we can never visit the same place twice, in the absolute sense of the word “same.”

This is both a blessing and a frustration…so many places, so little time!  And almost everywhere I go, I find myself saying “We’ll have to come back here sometime when we have more time…”  Ah, that most frequently cited delusion: “someday when there is more time.”

In any case, it’s no wonder that travel is such an alluring prospect to so many of us.  As I often tell Jeff, it takes a mighty special place to be worth leaving home to visit.  But the world is full of such special places, worth seeing again and again.  And don’t get me started about all the interesting people one could see in all these places!

As accustomed as you may be to your own home, the international community online means that at least a few of the people who read this might think of your home town, state or country as a dream destination or ideal place to visit.  If you’d like to send some photos from your home to share, I will be happy to post them here, so we can cyber-visit there for a few seconds.  The wonderful world of blogging has enabled many of us to tour the globe from home.

Whether you visit in real life or only in your imagination, I wish you the chance to enjoy many faraway places with strange-sounding names!

One year ago today:

And then there is…



  1. Is it on the island of Sakhalin, near Vladivostok?

    • Good guess! I do hope I get to go to Russia someday. But that photo was taken at what I think of as the epicenter of eccentricity, San Francisco, where you can always expect to find the unexpected.

  2. That’s a great idea – I shall have to find a picture or two to share …….

    • Thanks Pauline! Our friend who has been literally pretty much everywhere in the world tells us that New Zealand is the most beautiful place on earth, in his opinion. So I would LOVE to see photos from your country! It’s definitely on my dream vacation list!

  3. raynard

    Julia as I’m on my way out the day, the song” I dreamed the dream ” comes to mind. Going on another vacation next month. Head it might be your neck of the woods. Tails it might be Niagra Falls a 7 hour trip from here. Be blessed

    • Raynard are you talking about the one from Les Miserables that made Susan Boyle famous? That is a beautiful song! If you haven’t been to Niagra Falls (or even if you have) it’s a great place to go, and of course, our neck of the woods is pretty nice too. So you can’t lose! I didn’t realize it would be such a short drive to get to the Canadian border.

  4. bobmielke

    In my many trips around scenic places in the Pacific Northwest I never get tired of visiting them again and again. This was evident this past week as I played the role of tour guide to my vacationing friends from South Carolina. When there are hundreds of beautiful places to see and you only have 3-4 days to see them where would you take them in your area? They are on the road heading back home as I write this. They’ll catch up to my emails & stories of our exploits when they check their email or my blog site. It was a memorable week for all. 🙂

    • Bob, I’m so glad your friends had a nice visit. I always think it’s hard to figure out what to prioritize for visitors here in Virginia, but I’ll bet that’s even harder in the Pacific Northwest. When you find yourself with that dilemma you know you’ve picked a pretty nice place to live!

      • bobmielke

        Now if I could only learn to live with people. I would make a very happy hermit.

        • Bob, I’ve always said that Jeff and Drew (our older son) would have made great hermits. I think in some ways we are all training ourselves to be less and less civil, so perhaps we are all a bit less sociable than we used to be. On the other hand, it was decades ago that Charles M. Schultz quoted his cartoon character Linus as saying “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand!” The enduring popularity of that line should tell you that you hermits are not alone! (Pun intended.) Two other favorites of mine are from my friend Ashleigh Brilliant: “Be a good neighbor and leave me alone” and “No man is an island, but some of us are long peninsulas.” (P.S. Ashleigh Brilliant is really his name, it is not made up!)

          • bobmielke

            “I Am A Rock”

            A winter’s day
            In a deep and dark December;
            I am alone,
            Gazing from my window to the streets below
            On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
            I am a rock,
            I am an island.

            I’ve built walls,
            A fortress deep and mighty,
            That none may penetrate.
            I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
            It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
            I am a rock,
            I am an island.

            Don’t talk of love,
            But I’ve heard the words before;
            It’s sleeping in my memory.
            I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
            If I never loved I never would have cried.
            I am a rock,
            I am an island.

            I have my books
            And my poetry to protect me;
            I am shielded in my armor,
            Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
            I touch no one and no one touches me.
            I am a rock,
            I am an island.

            And a rock feels no pain;
            And an island never cries.

            • I love that song. I’ve sung it frequently to Jeff over the years, but as much as I like to talk of how it describes him, I really like it because it describes me, especially the part about the books and poetry being a form of protection. Of course, it’s just an elaborate paean of wishful thinking, isn’t it? In my opinion, Paul Simon is the single greatest musical genius of our era. After all, there were four Beatles, but only one of him, and though Garfunkel has one of the most angelic voices of all time, it’s Simon’s poetic lyrics that stick with me.

              • bobmielke

                This particular song has been my mantra for life. It describes my inner self, crying out for attention I’m afraid to accept.

                • Yes, I think a lot of people identify with the song, or at least know someone who does.

  5. Julia,
    Loved the post. Your line, “it takes a mighty special place to be worth leaving home to visit,” prompted a thought; besides Dorothy’s-“There’s no place like home,” from the Wizard Of Oz.

    Years ago we were thinking of moving from our first owned home. We struggled with the idea because we were so secure where we were, yet were seeking a change.

    So, instead of moving, we made renovations to the house. And were satisfied when we found an exciting new environment without moving an inch. The physical alterations gave us a completely new dwelling and, as well, more and larger windows, gave a new perspective on our property. Views of trees, the river bordering our backyard and gardens, once blocked from sight over the years, were now open to be enjoyed. We accomplished the change we sought, without the burden and anxiety that accompanies moving.

    • Alan, as military wive, I always dreamed of being able to live in one home long enough to “fix it up” to be just how we liked it. Your story sounds like an ideal situation to me. That’s why we decided to keep our York home while Jeff is up here in DC – we love the lot, trees, neighbors, and general bones of the house, and after living there six years — longer than we had ever lived anywhere — it REALLY felt more like home than any house ever had. We have a few improvements we want to make if possible, but in the meantime, we are quite content to imagine staying there. The Wizard of Oz is tied for my favorite movie of all time, largely because of Dorothy’s famous quote which is really one of the main themes of the movie.

  6. Julia, I forgot to mention: a Michael wrote yesterday’s UR message. Is it the same Michael that you’d been waiting to read?

    • No, that was not “our” Michael, but it was a good message nonetheless, and of course I could not get away from there without reading whatever news was posted this morning. Thanks for the heads up! Michael, if you read this comment, please remind me when your devotional is due to be published?

  7. Michael

    Of course it would have to be San Francisco. I was going to say Budapest. Saw your thoughtful post on UR site today. And Jeff is still working every day- pretty amazing. I hope one of these days you all will be able to take a right nice little cruise.
    Right now we are planning our September trip down to Atlanta anticipating the arrival of our second grand daughter. I am blessed. Did not get the interview in Atlanta at Grady. I think I may have to move there first as it is very difficult to job hunt from a distance-albeit west coast to right coast.
    NPR had a program today about the current suggestion of reading to your child from birth and those kids who do get read to have major differences in brain development as compared to group B- those who don’t- from nine months out.
    That’s funny -“some of us are long peninsulas.” Who was it who said,” Hell is other people?”
    Not Lewis?

    • Michael, I think it would be extremely hard to job-hunt from a distance; it’s tough enough when one has all day everyday in the same town to go looking. Did you see my earlier question in a comment to someone else about when your devotional will be published at UR? I did a search and could not find it there yet so I am thinking you told me July? YES, reading (and talking) to young children makes a HUGE difference in how their brains develop. I hope you are able to spend lots of time with your grandchildren, reading and talking and doing all those fun things that make being a grandparent such a great reward for parenting. Re: the quote – supposedly Sartre said it. Which explains a lot, IMO.

  8. Michael

    Yes it is coming up July 9th a Wednesday which is kind of cool in that our men’s Bible study group meets that day and we use the Upper Room as a group starter. Also it is our pastor’s birthday so he wants a cake.
    Also the Wednesday selection has a group of questions for group discussion so I was thrilled about that. I think your blog is helping me become a better writer. So I will have to send in another devotional for the UR. You said they are always looking for male writers and male orientated themes.
    I do have a couple of chaplain contacts in Atlanta who I have talked to about job openings. Recently I was thinking it would be cool to work at Atlanta Botanical. My B.A. is in biology and I have recently taken a bunch of horticulture classes. I am so enjoying our garden this summer after missing it last year- four months in NYC.
    Yesterday we did some Skyping with Norah, but that is not the same as actually being with her and reading a little story. It is not the same at all. She is kind of a little fireball of energy, not unlike our firstborn.
    I think the new UR edition is coming out this week.

    • Michael, thanks for reminding me about the date. I was thinking it was sometime that week but wasn’t sure. That is really great that it coincides with so many of your church activities. I am very honored if you think this blog has helped you write better – any sort of practice helps, I think, including comments and such. I do encourage you to keep writing for UR. Now that you know the process it will be easier. During the time when I was actively writing for publications I just sent them in to UR frequently — about every two weeks — and forgot about them, because there is such a long time before you can expect to hear anything. Always by the time I would get an acceptance I would have to go back and check my records to see what they were buying! But the great thing about that is it never felt as if I was waiting to hear from them. We Skype sometimes with Grady but you are right, it is not the same thing at all. I hope you are able to get to Atlanta. There is bound to be a job there you would like.

  9. Michael

    Thanks Julia. Did you also submit to other -religious publications- Guideposts? And one time you mentioned a Christian writer’s workshop. I will have to check that out. But like you said earlier-writers write. Do you have set times every day?

    • Hi Michael, I never submitted anything to Guideposts, although I have heard they are a good publication for writers. I did get published in a couple of smaller devotional magazines; I can try to find the current writer’s guidelines and email them to you. Unfortunately, the nature of my responsibilities in caring for Matt’s needs means that my life is very unpredictable, and I have no “set” time to write. The blog has been valuable in making sure that I do write at least a little bit every day, which is therapeutic for me if nothing else. In the summer of 2005, Matt went to camp for four weeks in the Blue Ridge mountains, and during that time, as soon as Jeff and Drew left for work, I would sit down and write for about four hours, sometimes more. By the end of that four weeks I had most of a novel written. Unfortunately, Matt’s cardiac sitution and overall health began to deteriorate that year, and we have been afraid to have him so far from home for so long. That’s the closest I’ve come to knowing what it might be like to have a “normal” life and schedule — whatever that is!

  10. Michael

    Does the Methodist church have family camps in your Area? Neck of the woods. I took my youngest son to camp when he was in high school- but all ages were included. It was a great experience and one of the last times it was just-Kris and I. So I feel some nostalgia about that time.
    NPR had a blip on Gertrude Stein. Someone is doing a musical of her life and there are departments of literature dedicated to her art. I got a kick out of Hemingway’s criticism of her in “A Movable Feast.” Apparently she would never do any rewriting. Hemingway was always trying to get her to rewrite stuff and she was not amenable to his criticism. Perhaps she could have been better, but she was loathe to rewrite or edit and felt her first copy to be pure genius. Good for her. The comment was made that she was trying to do for writing what the painters Matisse and Monet were doing at the time for painting. That I did not follow. I actually have read very little of her work.
    So did you publish your first novel?
    I am not sure Guideposts would be appropriate for me as it seems very much a “prosperity gospel” venue, full of miracles and always with a happy ending- “And they all lived happily after.”

    • Michael, Matt went to a Methodist camp for people with disabilities for several years and really enjoyed it. It’s quite a drive from us, though, and when his health became more precarious, we preferred to have him closer to home for camp, though he may go back someday. The people who ran it were wonderful. Jeff’s mother worked at a Methodist camp as a young girl. The camp is beautiful and is still in operation in his home county: http://www.nacome.org/ – we used to drive past it on the way to the little country church where Jeff preached every Sunday while we were engaged.

      I have never read A Moveable Feast but I really need to. I loved Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein in the Woody Allen movie about Paris that came out a few years ago. I know very little about Stein but I do think she was considered a mentor to many “lost generation ” writers in Paris during that era, including Hemingway. What little of her writing I have read, I don’t care for at all, but apparently she was great at inspiring others with talent.

      The whole story of the Impressionist school is fascinating and I’d like to learn more about it. My personal favorite artist, Pissarro, was supposedly instrumental in bringing the group together as an established school when they were largely rejected by the status quo artists and exhibitions. Just this past week when Jeff and I were at the National Gallery, I heard a docent telling a tour group that it was Pissarro who took Van Gogh under his wing when he first arrived in Paris, and introduced him to the rudiments of how to paint outdoors and use colors. I had not realized that, and it makes me like Pissarro even better. Jeff and I were surprised and delighted to see that the National Gallery has a companion Pissarro painting to the one of which we have a print hanging in our dining room. It is strikingly similar although it’s of a different urban scene. Sometime I’ll have to post some pictures of them here. The original of the one we have is hanging at the L.A. County Museum of Art and I’ve mentioned it here before.

      I am psychologically allergic to the prosperity gospel so you may have pinpointed why I never tried to write for Guideposts. Based on what you said, I think you might want to explore Image http://imagejournal.org/ or the new journal Mockingbird http://www.mbird.com/ – I think these will be more to your liking!

  11. Michael

    Somehow I missed that Kathy Bate’s movie. Will have to look for that. So Pisarro was one of Van Goh’s mentors? And Jeff was a student local pastor in college?
    Next time in NYC I will have to check out something about the Impressionists.

    • The name of the movie is Midnight in Paris and though I’m not a fan of Owen Wilson, I really enjoyed that movie all the way around. But I think Kathy Bates stole the show, as she always does, in my opinion. I had never heard that about Pissarro but presumably a docent at the National Gallery would know whereof he was speaking, and his tour was part of a special Van Gogh exhibit celebrating the loan of one painting and the addition of two others to the permanent collection. http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/exhibitions/2014/celebrating-van-gogh.html

      Jeff was not a student pastor; he was a Biology major who had planned since youth to be a dentist, and preached on the weekends for tiny churches in his home county that did not have regular ministers. In the Churches of Christ, ministers are not ordained so really anyone can perform a minister’s duties. Since every student at Lipscomb in those days was required to take Bible classes AND attend daily chapel five days per week regardless of the additional academic load he or she might be carrying, it was pretty easy for Jeff to come up with sermons. Lots of guys at Lipscomb used to preach for the dozens of small rural churches scattered through the counties surrounding Nashville. The hardest part was probably driving out to these remote locations, but the drives were always pretty, and the people were loving and appreciative.

  12. Michael

    I was thinking of the MET and one of my favorite paintings- El Greco’s ” Christ carrying the cross.” Breathtaking.Inspirational-etc.

    • I am not familiar with El Greco, but my impression of the few works I have seen is that his paintings have a dark undertone to them. I don’t remember seeing the painting you mentioned in NYC – of course, we were there only one day and probably did not see a tenth of all that was there. I would love to go back to New York just to go to the museum again with unlimited time, and take breaks to stroll around the upper East Side, surely one of the most beautiful places to walk in the city.

  13. Michael

    My son Kris lives about three blocks from Central parks upper NE corner on 112th and Lexington- so I easily reach the Museum mile. He is close to the Harlem Meers if you know that body of water. So one day I walked out to the Met and spent almost the whole day there.
    The neat thing was I got a free ticket with my Met admission to the Cloisters which I think I mentioned before I like entering this Medieval monastery in the north section of Manhattan- near Ft.Tyron Park. The corner of the park also has a very nice sculpture of Duke Ellington- who lived not far from there and you probably know already the story about the song “Take the A train.” My son lives off the 6 line.

    • How funny you mentioned “Take the ‘A’ Train” today – I just wrote a reply to Raynard about it a few minutes ago, but I think it was to a comment on a different post. I have read about the Cloisters and really hope to go there sometime. I have never seen the sculpture of Ellington, though, as we did not make it as far that circle in the corner of the park. I do have some nice photos of Harlem Meer. WOW, it sounds as if your son lives in an ideal location. I would be tempted to “visit” for months at a stretch, I’m afraid!

  14. Michael

    Yea he loves NYC- don’t ask me why- and says he will never leave. He prefers Manhattan after five years In Brooklyn.
    Ellington told a friend new to the city-” You first take the A train-then…” One of the cool things about Harlem-besides the Clinton compound is that many of the older churches there were at one time Jewish Synagogues. Some of the buildings still have Jewish alphabet markings including the Star of David. They even have a tour of old Jewish Harlem I hope to take at some point. So even as I say I could not live there I am planning my next trip. I really WANT TO see the old waterfront in Brooklyn -Red Hook area.
    How do you keep up with all these different posting?

    • Michael, we took a cruise to New England that sailed out of Red Hook, passing right under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Quite a thrill because it looked for all of the world as if the top part of our ship was going to crash into the bridge – I have it on video, maybe I’ll post it sometime. The military has some lovely and inexpensive lodging at Fort Hamilton which sits right at the base of the bridge, walking distance to the subway. That part of Brooklyn, as most of the rest of it, is quite charming to me, but if I could live on the upper East side of Manhattan I’d choose that in a heartbeat. Assuming I didn’t have to pay the difference! I’m not sure I keep up with the different posts and comments very well, but there are shreds of my once-legendary memory remaining, and I have a search function I can use in WordPress, though with limited success.

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