In answer to the question, “What have I been up to,” I’m going to write a little summary of the whirlwind of activities that have kept me mostly smiling and always busy for the last eight days. It seems important to get it all down now, while it’s still fresh in my mind.
I flew off the island last Friday, picked up my rental car, and drove south and east to the “thumb area” of Michigan, where I grew up. I went, unannounced, to my sister Cheryl’s house. We had talked about the possibility of me staying with her, but I hadn’t called her back to firm up my plans. Still, she greeted me warmly, welcomed me into her home, fed me, and let me win three out of five games of Scrabble!
The next day, we went shopping. Because I have such limited buying options here on Beaver Island, going into shops and stores is always a treat. We both had short lists of things to look for; when that was accomplished, we went into the downtown area to browse the art gallery, and a few cute little specialty shops.
That evening, I got to see all of my sisters, two brothers-in-law, and a niece: it was Scrabble night at Amy’s house! Cheryl and I swung by Brenda’s house to pick her up; Robin met us at Amy’s, where she and her daughter Kristen were preparing the meal. After an outstanding fish dinner, we settled in for the games. Although the other four sisters are playing a season-long tournament, with scores saved and accumulated over the year, they allow me to play whenever I’m in the area, because they know I love it so much!
The next day, Sunday, Cheryl and I worked on a little Christmas-decorating project, and then I headed out. My next stop was Lansing, to see my daughter, Jen. Because I was fairly certain I would not be able to find her new apartment, I planned to arrive in the city before she got off work. That worked out well.
I caught up with Jen in the middle of a hugely busy day. She was unexpectedly under-staffed, and barely had time to breathe. I retreated to a restaurant across the street while she finished her shift. When she was done, I followed her home. That night, we went out to eat, at one of the restaurants that I’d frequented when I lived in the area. The casual atmosphere and excellent food reminded me of why it was my favorite.
Monday afternoon, I got on a plane. Lansing to Chicago, then Chicago to Albany, New York. My daughter Kate and her husband, Jeremy picked me up there. Anticipating that I might not have eaten, Kate had already investigated restaurants that would still be serving at 9:30 at night. After a good meal, Jeremy drove us to their home in Massachusetts. It was too dark by that time to see much of the countryside, but I could tell by the flickering lights in the distance that we were travelling through mountains.
The next morning, my grandson, Tommy, joined our expedition. We went for an adventurous breakfast (my choice was Eggs Benedict with bacon, avocado and brie!) at a small, locally-owned place. We then enjoyed all the mountain and scenic views as we made our way to New York City. Jeremy is an unruffled driver under conditions that would have otherwise had my nerves on edge. Kate and I had plenty to talk about, and there was always lots to see.
In the city, we located our parking facility (that Kate had wisely reserved and paid for ahead of time), then the restaurant (McHale’s Irish Pub) where we had dinner reservations, then the Gershwin Theatre (right across the street from the restaurant!) where we had tickets to see “Wicked.” Then, we had time to wander the streets, to take in the excitement of the city.
Whole areas were blocked off in preparation for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We saw the famous Copacabana, Times Square, and the ball that is dropped in the New Year’s celebration. We walked all the way down Broadway. Huge movie screens (that seem to have taken the place of billboards) added to the light show that lined every street. Horse and carriage, rickshaws, buses and taxicabs shared space with other traffic. Street vendors and food trucks contributed to the sensory overload.
It was dinnertime before we knew it. The restaurant was a little noisy, first with soccer on the TV screens, later with dart tournaments, but comfortable and accommodating. I was surprised at how reasonable the prices were, and that there was never a line for the rest room. The service was good, and the food was delicious!
The theater venture deserves much more than I have time or space for here. The Gershwin is a beautiful, well-maintained, historical building. Our seats were wonderful. The show was amazing! Every aspect of the experience felt like more than I ever could have imagined, and something I will never forget!
The next day, Wednesday, we visited the Clark Gallery, with its wonderful collection of Impressionist art, then lunch, then sad good-byes (how did this precious time fly so quickly by?), then onto another airplane. This time, I flew first to Detroit, then on to Lansing, where Jen picked me up just after eleven PM. Her son, Patrick, was at her apartment; I was thrilled for the chance to see him, too! I managed to stay up long enough to have one glass of wine, while telling about my adventure, before I gave in to exhaustion.
Thanksgiving Day, we drove in two cars to Lapeer, to Brenda and Keith’s house, for Thanksgiving Dinner. I think there were about forty people there, and more than enough good food for all of them. It was wonderful to catch up with my grown-up nieces and nephews, and their families. My granddaughter, Madeline, stopped by, with her boyfriend. They were making the holiday rounds, with lots of each of their families to see. Though my brother was unable to attend, I had a chance to catch up with each of his children. My sisters were all there, and all contributed to the fantastic meal.
Yesterday, after coffee with Brenda and Keith, I loaded the car and got on the road. The gray sky seemed to hold the promise of snow, but other than a smattering of wet flakes around Bay City, the conditions were dry all the way to Charlevoix. There, I made a quick run through the grocery store, then dropped my packages off at the airport, returned the rental car, and made it back for my 4:30 flight.
I loaded up the car, went to get the dogs, then home. I unloaded the car, then took the dogs for a walk. I emptied my suitcases, washed a load of clothes, and made dinner. Bedtime was early. And, though I had big plans for what I wanted to accomplish today, I haven’t gotten much of anything done so far! After so much activity squeezed in to the last week, I think I need this one day to catch up!