If it seems like my recent posts have all been about grandchildren, you are right. Seven of my last ten essays featured grandchildren in some way. These three littles are moving rapidly in time and space, and I want to capture as many memories as possible. I know many of you have older grandchildren (mine are 5,9, and 11), or younger ones, or no grandchildren. Thanks for coming along for the ride regardless of your own situation. I hope I am leaving enough open spaces for you to plug in your own experiences of whatever age and attachments you have.

Recently, my adventures with grown ups have included a two-week (May 16-31) tour of Ireland led by a former student, now professor of history at Eastern Mennonite University, Mark Sawin. Mark is as funny, amiable, and knowledgeable as ever, and so were the others on the trip. We enjoyed the gorgeous green (so many shades!) scenery, the historical, social, cultural history, the many hours of singing and dancing, and the stories. Oh the stories.

Ireland Tour Group, 2022

Ireland Tour Group, 2022

Multiple generations have been on my mind a lot in the last three years while writing a book about grandparenting. But families aren’t the only location of generational awareness. Academics have their own version. In the sciences, graduating doctoral students sometimes receive genealogical trees, with the professors of their professors delineated. It was pure fun to become the student of my student and to make his student my friend.

Shirley Showalter, Mark Sawin, Rachael Penman, three generations of windblown American Studies students. Next to the Cliffs of Mohar.

Mark designed a wonderful tour for us: Dublin, Bunratty Castle, Cliffs of Mohar,Galway, Kylemore Abbey, Sligo, Drumcliff, Derry/Londonderry, Denegal, Corrymeela, Ballycastle, Giant’s Causeway, Belfast, Back to Dublin. Our traveling companions were curious, interesting, and always up for fun — or as they say in Ireland, “craic!”

Since returning home, my attention has turned to visits with family and friends. I have been able to see my three college friends more often since we moved to Lititz. This blog has served as one place to document some of our adventures together. For fun, I used the search function on this page to find six posts about our college group from 2014, 2015, 2018, 2018.5, 20192021.

Since we four have been friends since 1966, our paths have led in many different directions: to NYC, Utah, the gorges of New York, Virginia, Indiana, and other locations on sabbaticals and residencies. But now all of us are back in the state where we grew up, Pennsylvania, and three of us live in our original county: Lancaster. We got together one morning a few weeks ago for coffee and conversation in Mary’s beautiful back yard. Coffee turned into lunch, and after lunch we all toured Mary and her husband David’s bee hives on a near-by field. We were amazed by what Mary and Dave have learned about bees, how much they love caring for them, and how delicious honey tastes when you take it right from the hive!

Gloria, Tina, and Shirley dig in to the fresh honey while Mary holds the tray

Gloria, Tina, and Shirley dig in to the fresh honey while Mary holds the tray

Tina, Gloria, Shirley, Mary

Tina, Gloria, Shirley, Mary. This time our host, Mary, and the bee hives themselves, are visible.

When I am not traveling, visiting with friends and relatives, and planning upcoming book talks, I am indeed writing to or playing with grandchildren. Owen and Julia are coming home from camp this week. Lydia has Bible School and will be heading to Orcas Island with her family. We will all be together the last week of this month in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the new home of our son’s family.

So even though it’s not all about the grandkids, the other adventures of our summer will turn into stories, and sooner or later, we will all be telling each other the stories of castles, a sheep dog roundup, and the taste of fresh honey. What summer adventure are YOU looking forward to right now?

Shirley Showalter


  1. Marlena Fiol on July 11, 2022 at 6:07 pm

    Your travels sound wonderful, Shirley.
    COVID willing, Ed and I will leave for a two-week cruise this Wednesday – UK, Ireland, Greenland, and Iceland. We feel fortunate to be able to travel again after the 2+ year hiatus!

    • Shirley Showalter on July 11, 2022 at 6:22 pm

      What a wonderful itinerary you have ahead of you, Marlena! I hope you and Ed get to enjoy the many wonders of those beautiful places. You will probably visit some of the same cities we saw since Ireland is on your itinerary also. I have never been to Greenland or Iceland. I imagine they will be majestic in the summertime. Bon voyage!!

  2. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on July 11, 2022 at 8:26 pm

    Shirley, honey does have a wonderful taste! A friend of ours is a beekeeper and we buy his honey at the local Costco, with his picture on the container.. We always take a container full to our grandkids in Ontario, but haven’t been there for two years because of Covid! We hope to all be together this summer at a big cottage that hosts three families, eight children in total and an Opa and Oma. Opa has made sure everyone will get their fill of honey!

    • Shirley Showalter on July 12, 2022 at 8:03 am

      I read that local honey is good for our immune systems. I buy that argument and volunteer to test. 🙂 Mary and Dave anticipate about 300 pounds of honey this year. Not sure if they sell it or not. I’ve been the lucky recipient of a generous gift from them in the past. It would be great to be able to buy local honey at Costco. Ours has raw honey, but not local.

      So glad for you, Elfrieda, that you finally will be able to reunite with everyone in a BIG cottage. Better than honey!

  3. Marian Beaman on July 11, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    Last week my youngest grandson and I made two loaves of bread together, him taking the lead. Today we organized the shots I took of him during the process. Soon we’ll have a blog about bread-making accompanied with jazz music. I can’t write much (or travel) as my eyes heal, but I can hang out with Ian. Such a joy!

    • Shirley Showalter on July 12, 2022 at 8:07 am

      I look forward to seeing this new post, Marian. Thanks for leaving this comment despite your restrictions right now. Ian must be such a joy to brighten your days while having to lie low. You gave me an idea. I wonder if my grandson Owen, age 11.5 and interested in cooking, would like to bake bread with me while we are together. We’ll see. Fresh bread and fresh honey. I think that’s on the menu in heaven, don’t you?

  4. Janet Givens on July 12, 2022 at 6:11 am

    Sounds delightful, Shirley. You certainly know how to milk the best out of life. Woody and I are heading to Canada next week to see the Starkweather side of the family, which includes two professional French chefs. Yum. Our most competent Ugandan asylum seeker guest will hold down the fort for us while we’re away (chickens mostly) and keep an eye on my mom. One thing CoVid has certainly brought home to me, viscerally, is how much we need each other. Connection is vital. I’ll never take it for granted again. I hope.

    • Shirley Showalter on July 12, 2022 at 8:17 am

      Ha! milking is in my DNA. That’s what happens when you grow up on a dairy farm. 🙂 Your upcoming trip sounds wonderful. Are you watching Bear on Hulu? The Escofier-trained chef Carmy returns to his Italian family to try to save the family sandwich job business. He tries to get the sous chef to install a Frehnch brigade system. Hilarious and heart-braking at the same time.

      The lessons of Covid are many. I think you have just given(s) me an idea for a new blog post! Thank you, Janet. And have a lovely trip.

  5. Maren C. Tirabassi on July 12, 2022 at 6:39 am

    Thank you for taking me along (both with the grandchildren and the trips). Such things of mine … planned to be separated in time — have crunched together — a three week visit of grandchildren (who live in Colorado) a move of house after 29 years and a trip to Edinburgh and Iona planned a year ago with three clergywomen friends. I am working hard on inner peace to experience and enjoy them all. Breathe. Your photos give me a big morning smile.

    • Shirley Showalter on July 12, 2022 at 8:26 am

      So many items on your plate, Maren. And such big portions! I have taken a similar trip to Iona, Edinburgh, Lindisfarne, and Durham. Wonderful. And I did the Pilgrims Way to Canterbury (last leg) with two former college president friends. Both so memorable. I send you blessings and my own breath to speed you on your way. Thanks for taking time to write this comment. I know how precious it is.

  6. Norbert Krapf on July 12, 2022 at 9:03 am

    Sounds delightful, Shirley. On the 17rh, it will be 18 years since we moved back to Indiana, where we met and got married in 1970, at Notre Dame, but Katherine is a Louisiana Cajun. And by the way, I have submitted a grant application to take my Colombian-German-American grandson, Peyton, who will turn 8 here in Indy next month, on day trips to visit the three villages and sites where I discovered in the 1970s and 1980s my agricultural day-laborer ancestors lived and worked in the fields of Lower Franconia (northern Bavaria), and also the beautiful nearby town of Lohr am Main, where my Schmitt ancestors lived and worked on boats on the Main River. I want to share these places and experiences with our grandson, give him a chance to ask questions and give his responses, and collaborate with me. How? In a sense, I want to write a book with him about these places which my wife and I saw in the 80s and 90s for the first time. I want to encourage Peyton to tell me what he’d like me to write about to preserve our shared experiences. And we can write some poems together. And I will bring along my collection of poems about Germany, Blue-Eyed Grass, and read to him some of the poems I wrote about these places way before I knew there would be a Peyton! I should add that Peyton and his family, our Colombian daughter and her Franconian husband, live in a 1712 house in Neustadt an der Aisch, another river, in MIddle Franconia.

    • Shirley Showalter on January 7, 2023 at 8:26 pm

      I just now found this comment in my blog dashboard, Norbert. Sorry to overlook it earlier. I hope these travels manifested in just the way you envisioned them — and more.

  7. Laurie Buchanan on July 12, 2022 at 10:09 am

    Shirley — I love the photo of you gals tasting fresh honey with your fingers. Oh, how fun! And your trip to Ireland sounds heavenly.

    I’m looking forward to a week (a whole week!) by myself. Len will be in Madison, WI, for the EAA Fly-In, and Luna will be otherwise occupied. So I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want. Of course, I plan to get into trouble (while the cats are away). Yippee Skippy Doodah Day!

    Then at the end of August, we have a family campout that Len will fly us to in Garden Valley, Idaho. Woot Woot!

    • Shirley Showalter on July 12, 2022 at 10:22 am

      Laurie, you have a zest for living that drips with fresh honey and sends you to rhyme. Love it,

      Your summer adventures sound wonderful. Solitude, play, and then the joyous reunion. I have never tried a family campout since we got rained on in Hannibal, Mo. 🙂 But some of my best friends love camping. Good for you.

  8. Melodie on July 17, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    I missed the boat a bit here, as we were traveling and I had difficulty posting anything. After a 2 week roadtrip to the Tetons and various stops along the way, I’m now facing the adventure of cleaning up the garden after 2 weeks of neglect…. but I enjoy the challenge. Nice to have cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and green peppers to round out our meals. Enjoyed reconnecting with my oldest sister’s large and beautiful family. Very special.

    • Shirley Showalter on July 17, 2022 at 9:32 pm

      Oh the joys of the return to a garden that has had its way for two weeks. It might be fun to dig out those veggies from under the weeds. Or to weed first and then find the amazing plants at the height of their growth. Gardens are an inspiration, and gardeners even more so. I am lucky enough to have many good gardeners like you among family and friends. Also, even luckier to be surrounded by farm markets, making my own non-gardening a non-issue. Thanks for checking in! Glad you got to visit with family.

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