You already know how exotic any body of water is to a farm kid.

Not only did we not go to the ocean when I was growing up,

we used the crudest of substitutes:

I'm on the left. My cousin Mary Ann's on the right. Probably about 1952.

I’m on the left. My cousin Mary Ann’s on the right. Probably about 1952.

Later our bathtub expanded to a farm pond.

About eight years later we graduated to a farm pond with inner tube in the background.

About eight years later we graduated to a farm pond with inner tube in the background.

As you read these words, I will be exploring south eastern Cuba with my friend Tina.

We are going with a group of Canadians, via Toronto, to Marea del Portillo.

A week later, my cousin Mary Ann, above, will join us.

The world is so much bigger than those little girls in the bath tub ever dreamed.

The one thing that doesn’t change is joy.

The most important ingredients in travel are the same ones we shared in such abundance in childhood:

Curiosity, joy, gratitude, spirit of adventure.

What have you done recently or anticipate doing in the future that brought back one of these feelings? Do you have any bath tub memories, real or metaphorical?

Any plans to visit Cuba?

P.S. November 9, 2015 Here are two photos from Cuba that connect two cousins to yet another body of water — the Caribbean Sea of the Atlantic Ocean.

We shared a tree-ripened banana after we hiked Los Coloradas, a Unesco World Heritage Site of Humankind. Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015

We shared a tree-ripened banana after we hiked Los Coloradas, a Unesco World Heritage Site of Humankind. Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015


We wore red flowers in our hair on the last day of our Cuba trip, Nov. 4, 2015.

Shirley Showalter


  1. Elfrieda Schroeder on October 21, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    This is true. My husband Hardy just got diagnosed with “cold agglutinins disease” a rather rare condition in which proteins clump together when exposed to the cold — the best cure, other than staying indoors all winter (Manitoba’s winters are brutal!) is to go south every winter! This is what the doctor ordered! We have not done that because Hardy loves winter and because it would be impossible financially unless we had good friends and relatives living in the southern climes. There is also a drug he can take, and the side effects are not that attractive. So, for starters, we will go to Texas in February to visit my brother and his wife who live there. I also have a brother in Australia whom we have never visited …hmmm…

  2. Shirley Showalter on October 21, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Elfrieda, I’m standing in line in Toronto waiting to board my plane to Cuba right now. I expect to make many new Canadian friends.

    I hope you and Hardy find some ways to get sunshine in the winter. Texas this winter sounds like a great beginning. Stuart and I have very fond memories of four years in Austin. Especially the winter!

  3. Merril Smith on October 21, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    I will waiting to hear all about about your trip!
    The photos are great, and how wonderful that you get to share another adventure with your cousin/friend.
    I loved this: “The most important ingredients in travel are the same ones we shared in such abundance in childhood:
    Curiosity, joy, gratitude, spirit of adventure.”

    • Shirley Showalter on October 29, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      Hi from Cuba, Merril. After eight days here and six more to go, I can say we are again experiencing all those joys. Some lovely surprises also. More to come! Thanks for adding to the spirit of adventure here!

  4. Laurie Buchanan on October 21, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Shirley — Oh what an Adventure (capital “A”) you’re on! I’m so excited for you and looking forward to everything you’ll share with us, your readers! I love what you said, “The one thing that doesn’t change is joy.” That resonates Spot On with me.

    You asked about anticipatory feelings (curiosity, joy, gratitude, spirit of adventure) about plans we have on the horizon…

    In April I’ll be presenting at the Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison. And while that’s going to be a complete and total blast, I’m particularly looking forward to May when I’m traveling to Munich, Athens, and Istanbul. My traveling toes are already tapping in anticipation.

  5. Shirley Showalter on October 21, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Wonderfully exciting, Laurie! Such good timing to be speaking at a writer’s conference now — when you have many loyal blog followers and before the book comes out.

    I just heard the boarding call!!

  6. melodiemillerdavis on October 21, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Your swimsuits, pond and innertube could have come from our family photo album from Indiana farm days.

    Enjoy Cuba–have you ever seen the children’s video Rhythms of Peace which Jerry Holsopple filmed in Cuba in the very early days of tourists coming back? You would enjoy it. I’m sure you are in for a fantastic time there and I’m looking forward to an armchair visit.

    • Shirley Showalter on November 12, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      Melodie, your comment got buried in the avalanche of activity during and after the trip.

      I’ll have to check out the video. Sounds like fun.

      Glad you like armchair visits. I’ll try to give you a series of them in the next weeks, boiled down to essence, if possible.

      And yes, our vintage photos have a lot in common. Must be why I enjoy yours so much.

  7. Marian Beaman on October 21, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Thank you for inviting us into your ever enlarging pool of friends today. You continue to amaze me with your large stock of photos too.

    Yes, I remember a similar galvanized tub hardly big enough for one. It seems my mother took a photo of me sitting in it. Now I’ll have to go on a search – ha!

    Oh, the wild abandon of those little girls sitting on the bench enjoying care-freedom. I well remember the squishy bottoms of farm ponds too, Yee-haw!

    A weekend getaway to Brunswick, GA and the Golden Isles is in the cards for us soon. Otherwise, we’ll stay warm and toasty in Florida this winter with probably at least one trip to see Aunt Ruthie and my PA sibs.

    May your travels be joyful, safe, and adventuresome. We’ll be waiting with bated breath!

    • Shirley on October 31, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Ëver widening pool indeed, Marian. The one a few yards from me now is glistening in the moonlight.

      Very limited time on this computer, however.

      Look forward to more connection next week.

    • Shirley Showalter on October 31, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      Oh Marian, I lost my response to you. Trying to use iPhone for blogging is less than satisfactory. Hope you can find a tub picture in your vast collection.

      You don’t have to go south for the winter. You’re already there. Hope your getaways fulfill all the promise of the name.

      I love how you pick up on language and imagery. It’s fun to see how you embroider and play with found nouns and verbs. Keep plunging in!

  8. Sue Byler on October 22, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Indeed I have bathtub memories! Of course the galvanized tub was used weekly when Mom did the laundry, however it was also used for the weekly bathing of the whole family on Saturday night! It was placed in front of the wood cook stove in the farm house kitchen (the warmest spot in the house!); then a couple inches of water heated on the stove was poured into that tub and in turn starting with the youngest of 6 children and our parents in turn bathed in that tub! Each each of us, hot water was added to keep the water warm, but being 2nd from the youngest I have no recollection IF the tub was emptied after several baths or not–I doubt if it was more than once or twice since we didn’t have indoor plumbing! The luxury of indoor plumbing and a REAL bathtub didn’t come until I was a Senior in High School–what a joy and blessing that was!!

    • Shirley Showalter on October 31, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Sue, thanks so much for sharing this collection of lovely vignettes. You remind us that it was not too long ago that many of us lived without modern plumbing. I can just see you entering the tub with its cool, cloudy water. But you got to enjoy your own bathroom time as a senior in high school. Just in time for your most important year!

  9. Gayle Frame on October 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    LOVE the galvanized tub picture! We have a similar one of my husband and his sister in one when he was about 3, and she was 6. And, my parents had many home movies (old Kodak 8 mm) of my siblings and I playing in a tub in the backyard in the mid 50’s. What wonderful memories your picture ignited.

    My bags are packed with anticipation for a 6:30 am flight tomorrow for the beginning of a 29-day work trip–Bangkok, Cairo, and Dubai–that required an around-the-world ticket. (Just saying “around the world” ignites the four descriptors that you used–curiosity, joy, gratitude, spirit of adventure.) How blessed we are to be able to see interesting places up close!

    • Shirley Showalter on November 12, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      Gayle, so sorry I didn’t see this comment until now. But so happy you have a trip around the world!!!!

      I do hope you’ll come back and tell us about it. I considered getting one of those tickets for my book tour. But instead, I’m doing individual trips to different places with different groups.

      Yes, it is a great blessing to see so much of this beautiful world. May God Speed your journey. And you get to do this for work. Double blessing.

  10. Lilith Rogers on October 22, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    You’re going to LOVE Cuba. Beautiful, warm, welcoming people and places, too. And great music and food. I haven’t been there since the 90’s but I’m sure it’s still really great!

    Que bueno.



    • Shirley Showalter on November 12, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Lilith, so sorry I didn’t see your comment until now.

      Website malfunction. And my internet connections in Cuba were slow and sporadic.

      However, you were right. I did love Cuba. I just wrote my first blog post post-trip. Hope you enjoy also.

  11. Shirley B Yoder on October 22, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    A galvanized tub in the yard is part of my own childhood memories also. Mother filled it early in the morning and said I must wait for the sun to heat it up at bit. I remember she pinned my hair up on the top of my head so it would not get wet.

    I outgrew that tub, but water has long been a part of what anchors me. It is where I am comfortable, it is where I am at home.

    • Shirley Showalter on October 31, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks, Shirley, for sharing this sensory-rich, vivid memory. I appreciate knowing a natural-born sailor, since I was such a landlubber. Time on the Internet is almost up here. You know what it’s like on trips like this. 🙂

  12. marylin warner on October 22, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Our church organized 2-week service trips, Shirley, including cleaning/painting/planting trips throughout Mexico, tutoring trips to Puerto Rico, and tutoring/repairs/cooking/sewing trips to two reservations in the southwest. I remember those trips well, especially the feeling of having more than I needed when I returned.

    • Shirley Showalter on October 31, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      You’ve had some very comparable experiences, Marylin. The three of us here (Mary Ann’s husband Don came with her) find ourselves talking about other experiences we’ve shared in Central America and the Caribbean. So much to learn from people of other cultures! Can’t wait to share more thoughts in future posts. Grateful for your observation.

  13. Elaine Mansfield on October 22, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    No Cuba. My most joyous prospect at the moment is not leaving my house for more than a day or two until March. I’m ready to settle in for a bit. I hope your trip is/was fantastic.

    A three-week trip to Taiwan in the late 1980s was one joyful trip, especially staying at Fo Kuang Shan, the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan with 400 nuns and 100 monks. Nuns ran the show. They had an orphanage, nursing home, schools, a college, and a building devoted to storage of remains and ritual for the dead. Buddhas were everywhere. Many nuns went to university in the US or England. They bubbled with a happiness that reminded me of the Tibetans.

    • Shirley Showalter on October 31, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      I love the image of nuns bubbling over with happiness. My own personal visits with His Holiness left me with that same impression of lightness and joy.

      I’ve never been to Thailand. So thank you, Elaine, for sharing this great memory.

  14. Janet Givens on October 23, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Hola Shirley, buenos dios.

    Cuba has been on my bucket list for a good many years. But as of yet, no plans. Like Elaine, I’m looking forward to burrowing in this winter, hibernating a bit, and writing. Then, come spring, if the house hasn’t sold, a trip to Chincoteague. But i love the anticipatory excitement of travel, the thrill of curiosity examined, and the joy that almost always follows. Almost. Safe travels. I look forward to your pictures.

    • Shirley Showalter on October 29, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Buenos noche from Marea Del Postillo, in the south coast. You would love this place, Janet. Come back in a week or two for more pictures and a report. Wifi costs 2 pesos/hour. So short messages!

  15. Kathleen Pooler on November 4, 2015 at 12:42 pm


    Thank you for sharing your Cuba adventure with us. What wonderful memories you are making! I don’t travel that much but I sure do love it when I do get the opportunity. BTW, I have a photo with my cousin in the very same kind of tub. 🙂

    • Shirley Showalter on November 9, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      I am finally home again, Kathy, and able to use my laptop to answer you. Much easier than using my iPhone and a WiFi card!

      I chuckled when I read that you have a similar picture of yourself and your cousin in a tub. Must have been a rite of passage for many in the 1950’s. I look forward to writing several blog posts on Cuba. This trip provided many Magical Memoir Moments!

  16. […] most memorable moment in Cuba, Oct. 21-Nov. 4, lasted less than 15 […]

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