Monthly Archives: March 2020

Hello from Hawaii


Yes, I am far from home, in Hawaii. Yes, right in the thick of a global pandemic.

Here’s the thing. My daughter Kate is working here this winter, in Hilo, on the big island of Hawaii. She is a traveling nurse, as well as a general “life traveler” and explorer. One of her goals is to visit every single state in the United States. I think she has only three or four left to see. She has plans for experiencing other countries, too, a little farther down the line. But for now, this winter, she is living here, along with her husband and two of her children (her other two boys are grown, with families of their own).

Now, I never thought I’d ever come here. I’ve always known Hawaii was a beautiful place. I’ve read Mark Twain’s stories about visiting here, back when these were called the Sandwich Islands. My friend, Jeffrey, lived here for many years; my nephew, Bob, was stationed here in the service. A couple of my sisters have been here. I’ve always heard good things. Still.

First of all, unlike my youngest daughter, I’m not much of a traveler. I don’t mind staying home; I don’t worry about what I’m missing, or what is out there to explore. Second, any travel from my little home on Beaver Island is complicated. I have to board the dogs; I have to add at least one day to either end of my trip, just for getting to and from the island. I do not get paid vacations, and any absence has to be arranged according to all of my co-workers ability to cover for me. Third, getting to Hawaii involves a long, expensive flight.

However, with Kate here, it suddenly sounded very appealing. My older daughter, Jen, and I started talking about it in December. By January, we had purchased tickets and finalized our plans. Kate was excited, and so were we.

In February, the Corona virus started making the news. As you know, the news accelerated every single day. By March, it was getting daily coverage. As our departure date neared, we discussed the risks. A couple people advised me to cancel or postpone my plans. Many others advised care and safety precautions, but “Go!” I considered everything, and made my own decision.

Jen and I flew out of Lansing on March 16th, and arrived at Hilo Airport in the evening of the same day. I’m so glad to be here! It has been wonderful to spend this time with my family; they have shown us all the best things to see here, on this beautiful island.

As far as the virus is concerned, things changed rapidly from mid-March on. Though it looks like Hawaii is a much safer place to be than Michigan right now, I’m not quite ready to trust any of the statistics. There may be no truly safe havens; the best any of us can do is take precautions, and practice safety procedures. Yesterday, our flight home was cancelled for the third time. We are now scheduled to leave on April 1st, though I’m half expecting to get an “April Fool” call on that day, too!

I’m happy to be here with my family, safe and comfortable. Hawaii is truly a beautiful, welcoming place!

Random Rambling Thoughts


With the temperatures fluctuating, my walk down the Fox Lake Road has turned into a wild and slippery, ever-changing adventure. Just a week ago there was good snow pack to walk on. Yesterday, there was standing water. Snow banked up on the sides of the road, and frost underground, give the melting snow no place to go. In some places, the road becomes a shallow river. Last night, the temperature dropped; today the road is like a skating rink.

It looks like there was a bit of freezing rain overnight, too. In the woods, ice clings to the branches. The sun shining through makes it look like a jewel box, the trees glistening like diamonds.

My car is coated with ice, too. I’m hoping it melts before I have to use it. I’ve had my fill, already this winter, of scraping ice and snow. Today is primary voting day in Michigan, so I will have to make a trip to town to cast my ballot.

Today, I’m catching up on all the things on my list that I didn’t get done yesterday. It includes household chores, bill-paying, and maybe looking at my taxes. And packing. And time to admonish myself for all the time I frittered away over the last two days, leaving me such a lot to get done today.

I’m setting off (again!) this weekend for a second winter vacation. This time, for a week in Hawaii. I know! It’s really too much. I almost never take vacations. Lately, it seems like I’m doing a lot of travelling.

Hawaii has never been a place I was dying to go to. Beautiful, of course, and interesting, but expensive, and very far away. This winter, though, my younger daughter is working there. She is on the big island for four months, with her husband, and two of my grandchildren. That made the place much more enticing; my older daughter and I planned the trip to visit them.

Timing could have been better. This year was the year of my vacation with my sisters. It’s also the year that one grandson graduates from high school. And the year of my own 50th high school class reunion. But, this is the year that I have family in Hawaii to visit, so now is when I’m going.

All the talk about the Corona virus is scary, too. Although I do not have heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, I do, unfortunately, fall into the “elderly” category. I’ll be making my way through airports, and sitting on long flights. Unless things escalate so quickly that I am absolutely forced to cancel though, I’ll be careful, but I’m still going.

That’s about it for my rambling thoughts today. Time to get moving!

Is This Spring?


The bright moon kept me awake last night, and I slept late this morning. When I got out of bed, I remembered that I was going to lose another hour. This is the day to reset the clocks for Daylight Savings Time. “Spring forward,” they say. We “fall back” in the autumn.

Could this be spring? It’s not due to arrive, according to the calendar, for a couple more weeks, but many signs are here.

The sun has shined brightly on Beaver Island for three days in a row. Open water is visible in the big lake. Temperatures are mild. There are patches of bare ground around trees and shrubbery. A warm wind carries the scent of earth and growing things. The Fox Lake Road, which yesterday was covered with a thick crust of packed snow, has turned into a path of mud and slush.

Though I was told my newest dog does not care for snow, he has braved the weather for our daily walks all winter long. Today, it looked like he was going to finally revolt. It seems it’s the wet he doesn’t like. He grimaced at every step, and picked up each paw to shake off the water. He gingerly made his way through puddles, from one side of the road to the other, searching for the driest areas.

Yesterday, the little dogs both leaped onto the the snowbanks and ran through the fields on either side of the road. The big dog sank into the deep snow, and could not follow. Today, that snow was too soft to support any of them.

At the hardware store, we have our new seed packets on display, and filled nearby shelves with peat pots, potting mix and other planting necessities. Here at home, I have a stack of seven seed catalogs, that have been showing up weekly in my mailbox since January, waiting for perusal. My neighbors have bright blue bags hanging from their maple trees, to collect the flowing sap.

If Aunt Katie were still alive, she’d be quick to remind me of heavy frosts and April blizzards. “This is just a teaser,” she’d tell me, year after year, “Don’t get your hopes up. Spring is still a long way off.” She was always right. I’m sure this year is no different. Today, though, it sure feels like it might be spring!

Home Again


I am home! Late yesterday afternoon, after more than ten days away and long rides on several large planes, I got on one of the small “eight-seater” airplanes in Charlevoix, and twenty minutes later was back on Beaver Island.

The entire trip was wonderful. It started on Friday, the 21st of February. It was a little hectic getting away. I had to get my dogs in to the vet, who had just arrived the previous afternoon, for a couple vaccinations first thing in the morning. Next, I took them to the kennel for a sad good-bye. Then, I ran back home to complete a few last minute tasks before going to the airport. The flight was on time, but the car was not there waiting for me. A couple phone calls revealed that a flat tire caused the delay. So, I was late getting on the road.

I had arranged to stop in St. Helen for a short visit with a long-time friend (doesn’t that sound better than saying “old friend,” now that we are all pretty old?). On the way, I stopped and purchased a cell phone – my first! With the flat tire weighing on my mind (what if it went flat again, when I was on the road? How would I get help?), I thought it was a good idea. Plus, I was able to call my friend, Donna, to let her know I was running late. It was an unexpected expense, and something I’ve avoided having, but in this day and age, a cell phone is probably a good idea.

St. Helen is right off I-75, so not out of my way at all, and it’s a nice break in a long drive. We had a good dinner, and found plenty to talk and giggle about over too many glasses of chocolate wine. After breakfast the next morning, I got back on the road.

My next stop was Lapeer, the town where I grew up. My sister, Brenda, and her husband, Keith, were graciously putting me up in their guest room for the two days until five of us sisters flew out to Florida. That night, we joined my sister, Cheryl and our good friend, Joel for a night out. We met for dinner, in a nice new restaurant where the old Villa restaurant used to be.

From there, across the street and down the block, where the Lyons & Smith clothing store (where my mother worked, as a teen-ager) and the Pix Theater (where I saw Babes in Toyland about a hundred years ago, and many other memorable movies over the years) have been converted to an art complex, with gallery space, and changing entertainment offerings.

Our tickets were for a show based on the lives and music of “the Carpenters.” It was fantastic! The musicians were all multi-talented, changing out instruments throughout the show. The singer’s voice was spot-on; if I closed my eyes, I’d be sure I was listening to Karen Carpenter. She was also very knowledgeable about the lives and music of the brother-and-sister duo, and peppered the evening with bits of fascinating information. I loved it, from start to finish!

Sunday, after breakfast, I did a little shopping, and went to visit my brother, Ted. Monday, we got up early to head for the airport. Five sisters, Brenda, Cindy, Cheryl, Robin and Amy gathered at Brenda’s house, and our friend, Dick, drove us to the airport. Flint to Atlanta to Panama City Beach, Florida, where our wonderful accommodations were waiting. Because we had started out so early, and gained an hour due to a different time zone, Monday was a very long day!

There was time to check out our living spaces, unpack, and become familiar with the resort and it’s offerings. We got groceries, as the generous kitchen would make it easy for us to prepare some of our meals each day. We were right on the Gulf coast, with a view of the ocean out the window, and a beautiful beach right below. Also right beneath our fourth-floor apartment was a heated pool and a large hot tub.

The resort stood on both sides of the street, joined by a bridge. On the bridge was the SkyBar, where we spent a few fun evenings. One day, our sisters team competed (and won, by one point) in ’50s Trivia. In the area were excellent restaurants, fun shops and outdoor marketplaces. Inside, we had games, jig-saw puzzles and books. Outside, the water, white sand, bright sky. All of that, with my sisters as the very best travelling companions, made it a perfect get-away!

On March 1st, we packed up and headed out. With several hours before our flight, we managed to find a fun breakfast spot, then an “endless mimosa” bar. Next, my sister, Amy, treated us all to an “Escape Room” experience which was a great way to finish off the vacation!

We re-traced our flight on the way home, and got into Flint just before midnight. I had a bowl of cereal, then went right to bed. Yesterday, I got up early, and packed up all my belongings: Florida suitcase (already loaded), two small suitcases with clothes for Michigan weather, a tote of Christmas gifts and other things I accumulated in my travels, and got on the road.

Roads were clear, and traffic was not bad; I made good time. I picked up a few groceries before checking in for my four-thirty flight. Home to Beaver Island, where the warmer temperatures has caused significant melting. The parking lot where my car was parked was ankle-deep in mud. My car had a dead battery. Finally getting it running, I nearly buried it in muck on the way out of the lot! There were plenty of puddles on the way to pick up the dogs, and plenty more on the drive home.

Our evening walk down the Fox Lake Road was a muddy one, too. We cut it a little short, as I still had at least a dozen trips to make from car to house to get everything unloaded. I turned the heat up, unpacked a suitcase and started a load of wash, fed the dogs, and started my dinner. While it cooked, I deleted about two hundred unnecessary Emails, and tidied up messes I’d left in my rush to get out of here. Early to bed, with my dogs close by. It’s good to be home!