Farewell, dear Durham

We have been living in Maryland for just about 3 months now, and I’m just getting around to my good-bye to Durham post. Part of this is because of the busy-ness of the summer and new school year, but some of it has been mental block. I think I’ve gotten to where I can finish it up, though.

House #1 in the winter

House #1 in the winter

House #2 in the winter.

House #2 in the winter.

Of my 32 years, I spent the last 8 in Durham–one-quarter of my life, and over half of my adult life. This may end up being a fairly small blip, depending on where I spend the rest of my years (I certainly hope it has the potential to become a blip!), but right now, in this season of my life, it’s a major part of my experience. It was also a fairly eventful 8 years. During our time in Durham, we bought our first two houses (and sold one of them), earned 2 masters’ degrees and most of a doctorate between us, and had three children. We both had our first professional jobs. We started going to a church because that’s where Mark worked, and ended up with a church family who watched us grow, welcomed our children with us, and let us challenge them and be challenged to grow by them. We made a group of friends that I hope we will keep in touch with for the rest of our lives.

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I thought I would do a “favorite places” post, and I’m going to go ahead with that, with a few caveats. The first is that when I think “Durham” (at least, from here in Maryland), I’m really thinking about the whole Triangle area, and not all of the places I’m including are even there. The second is that I know I will miss some. These happen to be the places that I am missing the most right now (and they are in no particular order):

  • New Hope Presbyterian Church. We are starting to get to know our new church family, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still missing our old one. I learned so much here about being part of a church, even though we never officially joined. So many of our friends are here. Every church has its strengths; theirs are a love of music and worship and a strong sense of community. When we started going there, I wouldn’t have necessarily recommended them to families with kids, but now I can whole-heartedly–just remember that you’ll have to give your gifts to the church, too. If you happen to be looking for a church in the Durham-Chapel Hill area, I recommend that you visit New Hope!
  • NC Museum of Life and Science. I didn’t even know about this place (not really), until our son was almost one, so almost 3 years into our time in Durham. But I can’t imagine the following 5 years without it, and I miss it very much. We always visited at least some of the animals, and my kids knew most of the farm animals by name. I don’t know that there’s any other museum quite like it–both committed to learning for all ages and just plain fun.
    A now long-ago day at the Life and Science Museum.

    A now long-ago day at the Life and Science Museum.

     

  • North Carolina Zoo. Yep, not in the Triangle at all. But such a fabulous zoo, well worth the car trip. We made a point to go there several times a year because we joined as members, but I think becoming members ended up giving us excuses to go somewhere we loved anyway. We’ve recently visited the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, and it was fun, but it just doesn’t compare to the NC Zoo in terms of attractive, large habitats for their animals (although to be fair to the MD Zoo, they are making LOTS of improvements from when I was a kid) and a beautiful natural setting to put it all. [AHH!! I just went to put the link in, and saw that they now have LION CUBS!! If you live in NC, I am officially charging you to go admire them for us.]
    Seals.

    Seals.

    Giraffes!

    Giraffes!

  • Hillsborough Yarn Shop. One of those places I liked to go for myself, and what will forever be the (probably too-high) standard for how I judge yarn shops. They are always friendly and helpful and always welcoming of my sometimes-crazy kids. One of the things I liked most about them is that they stuck to their mission of providing only natural fibers, but were willing to help me find quality materials within my budget–or simply learn how to make things with yarn from my stash.
  • Duke Gardens. I remember this as one of the first beautiful places I found in Durham, and I have a very happy memory from my time in library school of going there for the afternoon just to read with a good friend. The Gardens also became a fun place to take the kids and the pick-up spot for our many CSA deliveries. It was another good place to go if we just needed to get outside.Photo069
  • Sparta, NC. Way out from the Triangle, but one of the places that connects my childhood with my kids’. I loved going here during summer vacations to visit with my extended family, and we were lucky during our time in Durham to go out and visit my aunt and uncle several times a year. I know we will still return to Sparta (and Durham!) many times in the future, but I miss being able to do it, realistically, in a weekend.P1030814

As I said, I’m leaving out a lot. I didn’t mention any restaurants (too many to choose from, with different reasons for loving different favorites), or any universities (three of which we have close family ties to, now). But we miss a lot of places, and especially people, in Durham.

In the last two weeks, I’ve started to feel more settled and at home here in Forest Hill. The start of the school year and getting back into familiar routines has definitely helped with that.  So, of course, has time passing and giving us a chance to explore our new town. I’m sure we will continue to get to know and love this part of Maryland (and remember favorite places in other parts of Maryland), but I just wanted a chance to note how much Durham has come to mean to us over the past 8 years.

So farewell, dear Durham. We miss you a lot, we look forward to visiting in the future, and we will always cherish our 8 years with you.

And now it’s August

We have moved.

I knew blogging would get short-changed during the move, but I didn’t quite anticipate how long it would take to feel settled enough to pick it up again. One post that I still must write is my official good-bye to Durham. There is so much that I love about that city, from living there 8 years (not long in the grand scheme, but a quarter of my life so far, and more than half of my adult life), plus having all of our kids born there, and I want to sum up some of that. But in the meantime, I want to share some of the good things we’ve found in our new home: Forest Hill, Maryland.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, 10 great things about Forest Hill, MD:

1. Centre United Methodist Church.

Ok, I kind of have to put that (it’s why we are here, after all), but it’s also true. We’ve been very warmly welcomed into the congregation here and are starting to find our way in our new church home.

2. About the best blend of rural and urban that suburbia could hope for.

We can see horses from the back of the church, there is a big farm field on the way to church, and a beautiful state park is just a few miles up the road. It only takes a few minutes of driving to feel very much out in the country. But drive a few minutes the other way, and we’re in downtown Bel Air, with both a charming main street and big box suburban strip right around the corner. We haven’t actually gone into Baltimore yet, but we could get to most parts of the city in under an hour. It’s a pretty nice combination of worlds.

3. The post office.

Seriously, the Forest Hill post office is one of the friendliest and easily THE most efficient post office I’ve ever been in.

4. Multiple ice cream options.

We’ve got Wilson’s Corner down the street (the kids’ favorite for the small merry-go-round that is also there…and at 50 cents, it’s the best value ride I’ve come across recently), Broom’s Bloom over in Bel Air (local creamery that also has some lunch options we want to try out sometime), and the Ice Cream Hut next to our grocery store…and those are just the ones we’ve gotten around to trying.

5. The parks

We have a great park with a playground right down the street, and Rocks State Park just a little bit further. We’ve also played at several larger playgrounds nearby, despite some misadventures (a wasp sting at one, and the sheer size of the other one). We are still finding our footing here, but there is no doubt that there are great parks around.

Rocks State Park. There is a better view if you go further out, but it's a pretty steep drop, and I had all three kids along. Nope.

Rocks State Park. There is a better view if you go further out, but it’s a pretty steep drop, and I had all three kids along. Nope.

Another view at Rocks.

Another view at Rocks.

6. Produce options.

As with ice cream, and because of the near-rural location, we have lots of farm options for produce. We haven’t signed up for any CSA’s yet (and I think at this point, we will probably hold off until next spring), but there are several produce stands and farms that sell their produce a short drive from our neighborhood. Additionally, the Bel Air Farmer’s Market is great–we just have to stop forgetting that it closes at 11 AM, not noon!

7. Fun day trips.

We’ve just barely scratched the surface on this so far, but we are in a good location for some nice day trips. We spent one Friday going up to Lancaster County and riding on the Strasburg Railroad. There are lots of places in Baltimore I’d like to check out, and even DC isn’t too far if we plan correctly. We’ve also had friends tells us that we can do day trips to the beach, which we’ll have to try out at some point.

8. Seeing old friends.

Speaking of friends, we’ve gotten to see several friends from college, and I got to have dinner with a childhood family friend and her husband (hosted graciously by my sister!) before they head out to Utah for a postdoc opportunity. We’ve also had several NC friends visit, which reminds me that it’s good to have friends all over!

9. Proximity to the water.

We don’t have a boat and I’m not a big seafood eater. But it’s still fun to be back in a part of the country where you are never very far from the water. The kids and I have gone down to the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center, and Mark and I spent our anniversary going out to Havre de Grace. We’ve all goggled at the Conowingo Dam when driving up to Cecil County. I’m sure the longer we are here, the more we’ll find to enjoy about living so close to the Chesapeake Bay again.

At the estuary center.

At the estuary center.

The lighthouse at Havre de Grace.

The lighthouse at Havre de Grace.

10. Proximity to family.

We knew when we moved that this was going to be one of the high points of coming back to Maryland, and it is. We’ve already benefitted from several day trips down to visit family and several instances of family visiting us. All of our parents came to church for our first Sunday, we’ve gone to a Nationals’ game with my sister, the guys took both grandpas to an Ironbirds’ game, and our three-year-old’s birthday party was as packed as any we’ve had–all family members. Having our families nearby definitely helps make it feel like we’ve come “home.”

Now that we are starting to put down new roots, I hope to get back to blogging more regularly, so stay tuned…

P.S. I’ve reached 100 posts!

Life and other complications

Well, my writing New Year’s resolution has completely gone out the window. February was a busy month. My husband traveled to Maryland and passed his commissioning exams with the Methodist church. Hooray! This means we are moving to Maryland (although we don’t yet know where) this summer. Just before he left (because when I do something, I like to do it thoroughly), I got a bulging disc in my spine. It was not fun, but drugs and physical therapy are helping me heal. This led my parents to come down for a week to help out and enjoy the second snowfall of the winter with us. It also meant that, while I’ve gotten almost no writing done in the last month, I got a good bit of reading done.

Aside from those major events, life keeps trucking on with school, church, library time, music class, birthday parties, etc. Time continues to fly.

My major goals over the next 4 months are to heal completely (or completely enough to get on with regular life) and to get us moved to Maryland (enjoying our time left in Durham in the meanwhile). Writing time will probably continue to suffer accordingly, but I’m not giving up, and I hope to attempt adopting more of a writing routine again when July comes.

For now, here are some pictures from the last month. First, a baking success from my husband’s birthday in January:

Chocolate jelly roll with ice cream in the middle...on the way to being baked Alaska.

Chocolate jelly roll with ice cream in the middle…on the way to being baked Alaska.

The person he has to meet with for his performance reviews is one of the owners of Maple View Farms. Yes, we lead a charmed life. Anyway, she gave him a whole lot of ice cream for his birthday, and we decide the best thing to do was make baked Alaska. I used the instructions from Joy of Cooking (we have the 1997 edition), which included the possibility of making a jelly roll, and then I followed the jelly roll instructions (including things like lining the pan with waxed paper, flipping the jelly rolls several times and peeling off and replacing paper with tinfoil). And, lo and behold, they worked! I was both surprised and pleased.

Next, a few snow pictures:

Snow!

Snow!

 

Snowman (He wasn't melting yet, just really small.)

Snowman (He wasn’t melting yet, just really small.)

 

And finally, we have begun the packing process:

Books in piles.

Books in piles.

Books in the garage.

Books in the garage.

We may do some decluttering in the process of moving, but the books are not on the decluttering schedule, apparently. M. makes the point that we could be placed in a church near a very small public library, so we are simply being prepared.