Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Old Year is Done…


I will not say that 2011 was a good year.

This was the year that my Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was the year that my sister, Sheila, died suddenly of a stroke, ten days before disease claimed my mother’s life. My sisters and brother, my daughters, nieces and nephews and cousins and so many dear friends came together during that time…to mourn for and honor Sheila, and to help Mom die with dignity, surrounded by those she loved. I came through it dazed, in awe of my Mother, her courage, grace and strength; amazed at the resources the rest of us pulled from, to make it through, and to do it right.

But, three hundred and sixty-five days could not all be bad, at least not for me.

I live in relative comfort in my own home in the United States of America, in the state of Michigan…and I have a job! My home is in the center of a nice little island with sandy beaches and star-filled skies. I have a wonderful, large family and many good friends. I am appreciated for who I am and for the things that I do. I am in good health. There are many blessings.

I spent good time in the studio during the winter months, so had new work to show in the Spring. The “Meet the Artists” day at Livingstone Studio was a big success, and I made several sales.

In April, my daughter, Jen, along with her son, Patrick, and a couple tag-a-longs drove to South Carolina to visit my daughter, Kate, and her family. We hiked in the foothills; we visited art galleries, novelty shops and book stores; we ate at one charming restaurant after another. There was time to relax, and time to reconnect with my daughters, my son-in-law and my grandchildren. It was a good vacation.

In July, my nephew, Tim, married Candace. We already loved her, and felt she was a perfect addition to our family. The wedding was well planned and beautiful, and another chance for our family to come together for a joyful occasion.

In August, I was invited and was able to briefly attend my ex-husband’s family reunion. Though I’ve been divorced for ages, the years I was in that family – aged sixteen through thirty-two – were formative ones. Those people are important to me, and it was nice to see them.

For the first time in thirty years, I have a puppy!

Though I didn’t put in my usual vegetable garden this year, and the entire plot grew up with weeds and neglect, I was able to harvest strawberries and raspberries though June and July, and grapes through September. They thrived despite the lack of care, and I ate my fill, filled my freezer, and shared with friends.

A business trip with my boss in October was helpful beyond my expectations, and a good experience all around. Later that month, my friend, Linda, and I took a weekend for shopping and catching up.A trip in early December gave me a chance to personally deliver Christmas gifts, and reconnect with family and friends. Christmas was filled with unexpected pleasures and gifts.

This year, for the first time in many years, I spent two whole weeks in the home I grew up in, surrounded by my brother and sisters. Though it was a sad, tragic time, we came together in love and loss; we buoyed each other up. We laughed and we cried together. I realized I have much more in common with them than I ever would have imagined. They are all an integral part of my life, and a big influence on the person I am. I feel lucky to be a part of this family.

So, another year is behind me. The events of this year have reshaped my thinking, altered my focus and changed my attitude. I know I’ve grown stronger for what I’ve experienced, and that I’m a better person for what I’ve seen. I still feel sometimes overwhelmed with sadness, but I’m optimistic, too. I’m looking forward to the new year, and the changes it will bring.

Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays


I had a wonderful Christmas Day!

My family – at the suggestion of my oldest daughter – contributed photos and memories for an album, so that I could have them all with me here in my distant home on Christmas morning. It was perfect! It made me feel as if I were reminiscing with each of my sisters, my brother, my nieces and nephews, my daughters, grandchildren and friends. It made me laugh and it made me cry. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

I had a nice conversation with my sister, Brenda, who was waking up in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. We agreed that this was a different Christmas, but that it could still be a good one. I also talked to my daughter, Kate, who chatted to me about her plans, and assured me that the gifts I’d sent had been appreciated. Her enthusiasm and boundless energy dealing with four children and extended family always amazes me.

I took the dogs for a long walk in the fresh snow. I tied red bows to their collars, and let them run free all the way down the trail to the old Cotter cabin. Back at home, I built a squat little snow person to welcome my guests. A little misshapen with the icy snow, she’s quite attractive anyway with her chrysanthemum flower eyes, little carrot nose and crocheted cap tied under her chin.

I cooked Christmas dinner for four! I was thinking of my mother, recently deceased, who cooked for twenty or more every Christmas for most of her life. How did she ever do it? I planned for days and made five trips to the grocery store. I was hard at it for most of the day, all day, from 8:30 in the morning until dinner went on the table at 6:30 in the evening! What a wonderful diversion it was! The guests were my Aunt Katie, my cousin, Bob, and my friend, Vince. The menu:

Pickled Okra

Pickled Mushrooms

Ham, Onion and Cream Cheese Pinwheels

Homemade Rolls with Butter

Roast Turkey with Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Gingered Carrots

Cranberry Sauce

Cherry-Berry Pie with Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Roll

We all ate until we were full, and I sent leftovers home with each guest. I warmed leftovers for my dinner last night, and plan a pot of turkey soup tonight.

Happy Holidays!