Category Archives: Family

Nostalgia

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It’s after four o’clock on this Sunday afternoon. I should have published a blog by now. It’s time to get outside for a walk with the dogs. The day is practically gone, but I’ve been busy. Because this is my oldest daughter’s birthday, I made sure to set time aside to call her, not too early, in case she worked the late shift last night; not too late, in case she had plans. I also spent quite a bit of time reminiscing about all the lovely times we’ve shared.

I made granola. I don’t eat breakfast, but I like a bowl of cereal with milk after supper. It kind of stands in for dessert. As children, my brothers and sisters and I all liked a bowl of cereal at night, before we went to bed. Yesterday, I paid over six dollars for a box of cereal. It was a smallish box, too, for that price. I’ll be lucky to get five or six bowls out of it. So. today, I got up and made a big kettle of oats, nuts and seeds granola.

When I pulled out the spiral notebook with my tried-and-true granola recipe in it, a dozen or more pages came out in my hands. It is, granted, just an old, cheap spiral notebook, but the recipes it holds are precious. I bought it at the grocery store in 1978, the first winter I spent on Beaver Island. We were renting a big old stone house that had belonged to a retired priest, Father Donahue. It came furnished. The shelves in the dining room were filled with vintage cookbooks. I divided the notebook into sections for appetizers and beverages, breads, side dishes, main dishes and desserts, and started copying down any recipes that looked interesting.

I’ve continued to add to it over the years. That’s where I recorded my mother-in-law’s directions for the best no-bake cookies. My Mom’s rhubarb crisp. My daughter’s broccoli salad. My sister-in-law’s cheese ball. I copied the recipe for “Spicy Perk-a-Punch” from my mother’s Farm Journal magazine, and I make it every year at Christmastime. The pages that have cookie recipes are spattered with evidence of their use. Though I own a large collection of interesting cookbooks, that old spiral notebook is where I turn when I’m looking for a specific recipe that I know I can count on.

Before it’s all lost for good, I decided it’s time to get the recipes copied. Because I never seem able to take the simplest or most direct path, rather than just re-writing the recipes, I decided to type them into the computer. That way, they could be more easily turned into a book, to share with my children and grandchildren.

Because it’s the first complete day off I’ve had in five days, and because I added to my wardrobe with a few good pieces from the Resale Shop, I had laundry to do. Luckily, all of those things fit nicely together. I got the granola mixed up and in a low oven, then started a load of wash. I typed a couple recipes, stirred the granola, then typed a couple more. I got up to put the clothes in the dryer, another stir, a little more typing.

In between, there was the steady rotation of dogs going outside and coming back in. And lots of good memories filling in every pause. From the January night when Jennifer was born, through all of the years, and every single cherished moment. A good Sunday!

Naming

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Sneaking a little peak into David Whyte’s essay on “Naming,” I see that he suggests that we name things in order to control them. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but giving something a title does suggest some kind of mastery.

When I named my children, I wasn’t looking for control, but I certainly examined every other aspect. A good name had to have a shortened version, I thought, for when they were young: a version for snuggling and teasing and playing. A child’s full name should have lots of syllables. When angry or frustrated, calling out the entire name, one emphatic syllable at a time, is much like counting to ten before reacting. It gave me, and the offending child, a moment to think.

I believed their names ought to be something that would adapt well to any situation. So that, if they grew up to be doctors, or lawyers, or the president, for heaven’s sake, the name would hold up to the position. There were no “Bill”s or “Tom”s serving in the highest office of the land! This was before Jimmy Carter tossed that theory out the window. The names of my children would stand up to any possibility, because I believed they would be capable of anything.

Names should not be mock-able. My daughters would take on an unusual surname; there was no choice in that. We were careful, though, to avoid rhyming sounds or alliteration. We considered “Rebecca,” but balked because the shorted version would be Becky. Becky Bonesteel was not a good sound.

Names ought to have a solid and dignified history. Other people that carry the same name can influence how that child is perceived in the world. Which is probably why Adolf is such an uncommon moniker.

I loved the name Jennifer. Misgivings came from one girl – not in my grade – from elementary school, named Jenni, who wore raggedy clothes. They were over-ridden by another child called Jennifer, who was always clean and neat and had beautiful long dark braids. My husband and I saw the movie, Jenny, starring Alan Alda and Marlo Thomas. I loved Marlo Thomas, too. So, Jennifer was the name chosen for my first child. For her middle name, I chose Marietta. Sister Marietta was my fourth grade teacher, as kind as she was beautiful. Jennifer Marietta. Jenny.

Such an exceptional, successful name added pressure for meeting all of the same requirements when choosing a name for my second child. Just to make it even more difficult, I decided that the number of letters in the shortened version should match up, and that the number of syllables should be the same. Of course, the influences should be just as strong, and all of the rules about dignity and mock-ability still applied.

Katherine Hepburn was one of my favorite actresses. I’d seen most of her movies and loved them all. She was funny, but strong; she never played the fool. She seemed ahead of her time. Katherine was also a family name. My Aunt Katie was named after her grandmother, so it went way back, in my family. Actually, my aunt was named after both of her grandmothers, Katherine Elizabeth. And, after months of torturous experimentation with baby name books, trying out every other possibility for a middle name, we came to the conclusion that no name complimented Katherine as well. A regal name; a name with history; a perfect name for my second daughter. Katherine Elizabeth. Katey.

Now, as adults, they have both gone to using one-syllable names: Jen, and Kate. Sometimes I wonder if their names had nearly as much influence in their lives as I imagined they might. Choosing their names, though it seemed of utmost importance at the time, probably had much less to do with the adults they have become than a million other decisions I made along the way!

An Almost Disastrous Holiday, Part Two

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Little Dog in the Big Woods

On Christmas Eve, instead of spending a leisurely day in my pajamas, as I had planned, I was up, dressed, and out of the house before I’d even had two full cups of coffee. After the cabinet-crushing incident of the day before (the “part one” of the “almost disastrous holiday” series), I had a whole list of necessities to buy, in order to start putting my kitchen back together. So, though days when I don’t have to work are usually spent letting dogs outside and back in, treating them for their efforts, and boosting them up or down from the furniture, I left them home alone and headed for the hardware store.

The falling cabinet revealed a wall that was covered in mold from an old and long since repaired leak in the roof. There were three large holes, two in the wall, one in the ceiling, where the nails holding the cabinet had give way. There was a crooked row of fourteen smaller nail holes; similar sites can be found throughout this house, and tell the story of me “looking for a stud to hang something up” before I learned that there was such a thing as a “stud finder.”

Mold Control spray was first on my list. A small container of spackle, a putty knife, and a sanding block to fill and repair all the holes in the wall. Then, a quart of Kilz stain blocking primer and a quart of white paint. A kit that contained a small roller inside a narrow paint tray, and an extra pack of roller covers. I picked up a white, over-sized outlet cover to replace the cracked one near the door. Finally, I bought a skill saw, as I’d been told that was the right tool to cut through the countertop, necessary for moving the lower cabinet. I came home with my supplies, and went to work.

The dogs were restless. Usually, when I come home, it is after my workday, and the first thing we do is go for our walk. They didn’t understand this change in routine. Also, there were snowmobiles going up and down the road, which kept the girls agitated and barking, and Blackie Chan confused about all the noise. I’d gotten some preliminary work done. While my primer dried, I decided to take them all out for a walk.

Usually, we walk on the Fox Lake Road. Because of the snowmobile traffic, on Christmas Eve we went down the Cotter’s Trail instead. Cotter’s Trail is basically a long driveway, a narrow “two-track” through the woods. From my back door to the end of the trail where the little hunt camp sits, is less than a half-mile. Mosquitos make it an impossible walk in the summertime. When the trail is covered with leaves in the fall, Blackie Chan, with his failing vision, can’t tell where the path is, and stumbles off into the trees and grasses, so we avoid it in then, too. In the early spring, though, and sometimes in the winter, it’s a nice, off-road walk where I don’t have to be alert to possible on-coming traffic.

Because I didn’t have to be alert, I wasn’t. As the dogs romped ahead or followed behind me, occasionally nudging me for a bit of kibble, I was busy daydreaming. I was plotting out the blog I would write about my collapsing kitchen cabinet adventure. I was working out the sequence of events, and putting sentences together in my mind. “An Almost Disastrous Holiday” would be my title.

I came out of my reverie to realize I was missing one dog. There was Darla, tail up and ears flopping, zig-zagging up ahead, shaking the bushes for interesting smells. There was Rosa Parks, trudging dutifully along ten steps behind me, her tail sweeping from side-to-side, and a slight smile on her face. Where was Blackie Chan? Was he up in front? When did I last see him? Did he get turned around? Did he stumble off into the deep snow?

I called out his name, once, then again, while standing in one place. I’ve watched him, though, put his nose in the air and turn in circles, trying to figure out where I am and where my voice is coming from, and then head off in the wrong direction. Not wanting to confuse him, I figured it was better not to keep calling out. Instead, I walked forward on the trail until the lack of paw-prints told me he was not up ahead. Then, I turned and headed back toward my house. “He just got turned around,” I told myself, “he’ll be right up here around the next corner.” But he wasn’t.

I continued on, quickly now, toward the house, my heart racing, watching for signs that would tell me if he’d left the trail, praying for his safety, hoping he was home, in the yard waiting for us. Darla bounded ahead, oblivious. Rosa Parks, sensing my distraction, continued steadily jumping on my leg, wanting a treat. “Find Blackie Chan,” I scolded in my mean voice, “you’ll get treats when we find your brother!”

All the way to the house I rushed, then around the house to make sure the little dog wasn’t waiting at the back door. I put the other dogs inside. Three more times, I walked across the road and down the Cotter’s Trail, then back home to circle the house and yard. “Foolish,” I thought, “to leave the other dogs at home. There’s a better chance of finding him if they come along.” Nearly panicked now, I brought the other dogs as I traversed the route two more times.

Exhausted, I told myself to pause, to give Blackie Chan time to come home. Just then, my cousin, Bob, pulled into the driveway. I answered his casual, “How ya doing, Cindy,” with a frenzied, “I lost my little dog!” He shook his head, asked how long he’d been missing, and told me of the many sightings of coyote on his wilderness camera. He had just come from “the forty,” he said, which is south of me on the Fox Lake Road. He was heading north when he left; he assured me he’d keep an eye out for the little dog, and bring him home if he found him.

As soon as I caught my breath, I headed out again. This time I left the dogs at home, and took the car. I drove south, slowly, to where Hannigan Road meets the Fox Lake Road, then home. Again, I walked around the house, hoping that Blackie Chan would be waiting at the back door. No. Back in the car, I drove slowly north, to Loretta’s driveway, then turned and came home again. Another peek around the house, then another walk down the Cotter’s Trail. So sad. Discouraged. Imagining my poor little dog, lost and confused…

Near the end of the trail, I heard a small bark. I scanned the area. There! Way up ahead, a movement. I yelled out his name. I clapped my hands. Yes, that was my little Blackie Chan, running in circles, trying to find where my voice was coming from! I ran to him, grabbed him up in my arms, nuzzled him and told him how happy I was to see him. I carried the little dog all the way home. It was four-thirty when we walked into the house, three hours exactly since we had left for our walk.

Only three hours! It seemed like much longer! I had covered a lot of ground, heart pounding, while chastising myself for my carelessness and imagining every worst-case scenario, I was exhausted! The dogs seemed tired, too. There would be no more progress on my kitchen project today. What was left of Christmas Eve, I’d spend relaxing with my dogs, and thanking my lucky stars that – once again – what could have been a disaster, wasn’t.

Home

Merry, Merry…

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I put up the little Christmas tree early this year. I arranged all of the Santa Clauses on top of a small bookcase that sits in front of the dining room window. I draped the holiday banner over the curtains. The snowman my sister Cheryl made for me became a part of a seasonal display in the kitchen. The nativity set, brought out for the first time in many years, dressed up a stand in the living room. As holiday cards arrived, I taped them onto and around the mirror that hangs over the circuit breaker box on the back wall.

As someone who has dealt with severe depression a few times in my life, I know to be careful. Holidays, like birthdays, can be dangerous times. Sadness and melancholy hide just under the surface of what looks like Christmas cheer, ready to take over if given half a chance. Sometimes a big build-up beforehand leads to an equally large let-down afterward.

I remember a couple childhood Christmases when I was thrown in to deep despair over a gift that was not exactly right. My poor mother, who struggled every year to make a good Christmas for all us, was forced to take time away from getting several small children dressed for church, to comfort me over tights that didn’t fit right, or the mistaken notion that “everybody else got better stuff than me!” As an adult, I’ve expected all holidays to rise to an impossibly high standard, and self-pity always wants to step in for any shortcomings.

At this time in my life, and the way the world is now, of course Christmas cannot measure up. My children are grown; even my grandchildren are all adults now, and scattered around the country. it’s impossible to be with all of them. In years when I have gone to spend the holiday with family, I left my own traditions behind, for the celebrations of others. And no matter what, there are loved ones missing. Even if we weren’t dealing with a pandemic that makes travel a scary proposition…even if there were a kennel to house my dogs….even if I could afford the time away…still, Christmas would not be the same.

Holidays accentuate any changes. We note who is missing around the table. This island, especially this year, seems to be treading lightly through the Christmas season, for fear that grief will take over. I am not in the center of many of these losses, and it seems somewhat presumptuous to bring them up. It wasn’t my child, after all, nor my spouse, nor my best friends who died this year. Still, I feel it. Many, I’ve known for years; some for all of their lives. And I care about the people, still here, who are newly dealing with the absences. Sadness radiates outward, and touches all of us.

So. I kept my expectations low, as I put out decorations. I wrote holiday cards and wrapped gifts at the dining room table, with the soft glow of tiny colored lights to help set the mood. I didn’t make plans, or expect anything at all. Every card and letter was a sweet surprise. Packages were welcomed with pleasure, and put around the base of the little tree.

I was thrilled when my cousin Bob stopped in for a visit on Christmas morning. I was overjoyed to get telephone calls from each of my daughters that day, and happy to hear from my grandchildren. I opened gifts in the middle of the day. The dogs and I went for a long walk. I spent a good part of the afternoon reading and giggling over a book my daughter gave me. I warmed up leftover pizza for my dinner. Later, I made popcorn and cocoa, and watched It’s a Wonderful Life. All in all, it was a lovely day.

I hope your Christmas was merry, too!

What’s Next?

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As the end of a year draws to a close, I tend to look at what I’ve done, and consider what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. In some years, it’s just a tallying of achievements and memorable events, and a fresh list of New Year’s resolutions. At other times, it’s more reflective. It seems that this is one of those thoughtful years.

I will turn seventy years old this year. Simply surviving in this world for that length of time feels significant. The group of young people I graduated high school with, who I remember as young, strong, and capable, has been reduced by almost a quarter! Two grandmothers, one grandfather, and five of my brothers and sisters died long before they reached seventy. In fact, few members of my family have made it to age eighty. So…

With the “finish line” in my life not yet in view, but perhaps just over the horizon line, and almost uncomfortably close, I’ve been looking at the big picture. What do I want my life to represent, when looked at all through the years? What have I done, and what should I do? How can I do better? How can I bring more contentment and joy into my life?

This isn’t brand new. I’ve been operating with these questions in mind for more than ten years now, since my mother’s death shook me awake to the finite nature of this precious life. It has caused me to pay closer attention. It has made me more thoughtful. I’ve expanded my sense of gratitude and appreciation. I have tried to be happier. Still, with a new milestone in view, and a new year right around the corner, it feels like the time for a fresh assessment. That’s what I’ve been doing.

Some things are just normal adjustments. I cleared off my desk, and made new decisions about the things I keep there. I removed an art photo that I’d gotten tired of, moved several old family photos to a shelf near my bed, switched the location of a picture of my Mom, and brought in a photo of my sisters. These simple, small changes give me a brand-new outlook whenever I sit here.

I moved furniture around in the living room, to give a couple house plants more light during this time of year. I’ve been thinking about changes I can make in the dining room, to make the file cabinet more easily accessible, and to give the table a bit more space. I have a few ideas for the studio, too, to make moving around in there a little easier. I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to make more room in the tiny rooms of my house.

I have plans to move the border of the vegetable garden a few feet to the north, come spring. It will be a lot of work for very little change, but then I’ll be able to mow all the way around the fenced garden spot. That will cut down on the amount of grasses, berry brambles and weeds that continually move in from the south side, that now borders a wild field. I ponder more dramatic changes, like building high raised beds or designing a different enclosure, while I’m at it. I try to suppress those ideas. Too often, the more ambitious the plans, the less actually gets done!

This month brought one major development in my life that has been a long time coming: I put in my notice at the hardware store. December 30th will be my last day working there. It’s a change that took a lot of thought and consideration. It’s a little sad. I have been employed there for almost twenty years; it has, mostly, been a good experience. But, the time is right.

With endings, come new beginnings. I’ve started working a few hours a week at the Community Center here. I’m enjoying it very much so far, for the change in scenery and routine, and for the lovely people I work with. Along with my summer job at the Beaver Island Golf Course, my volunteer work at the Island Treasures Resale Shop, my garden, and constant on-going projects in the studio, this ought to be enough to keep me out of trouble!

There are more changes that I’ve been contemplating, many having to do with methods of creative expression. I have many more things to consider, and other decisions to make. That’s enough for today, though. It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes, this one from the Talmud: “Life is so short we must move very slowly.”

Happy Holidays!

Welcome, Snow

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I woke up this morning to about five inches of new snow, and it has given me a whole new perspective on the day.

Yesterday, a storm came through the area, and much of the state got significant snowfall. I’ve seen reports of it from friends and family all around Michigan. There have been lots of comments about “the white stuff,” and how unwelcome it is.

“Ugh!”

“I’m not ready for this!”

“Here it comes!”

“I don’t think it’s ‘pretty!'”

There was plenty of reinforcement for every negative comment. From the sounds of things, nobody wants to see the snow. I understand. Wintertime, in this climate, adds a great deal of work and considerable discomfort. Everything, from a walk to the car to a drive to town, seems to take longer. It’s cold. I get it. Still, I hold a different viewpoint.

First, I live in Michigan. We will always have winter. Second, I live on an island, where the surrounding water provides such good insulation, the snow sometimes hangs around for six months! It seems ridiculous to spend energy despising it, when it comes every singe year. Third, as it covers dead grass and brown earth with sparkling white, I think it is quite beautiful. Finally, I find something magical about that first snowfall.

It brings me back to my childhood, coming home from school to find that my mother had put out the holiday decorations. The kitchen was bright and warm, with lively snowmen, Santa and reindeer hanging in the picture window, a dish of hard candy on the table, and cookies cooling on the rack. The record player was serving up carols sung by Perry Como, Julie Andrews, or Bing Crosby. The living room glowed, quiet and mysterious, from the little light provided by the nativity set, which now sat upon a tapestry cloth on top of the television set. Everything quiet, and warm, and our hearts filled with anticipation.

When the wind is howling, and snow is coming down, I start thinking about comfort. That is the time to put on the warm flannels and fleece, and to slide my feet into the fuzzy slippers. I want to put a pot of soup on the stove, to simmer all day, and set bread to rise. Freshly baked bread and hot soup are the perfect evening meal for a snowy day. I start daydreaming about winter projects. Though I rarely crochet and almost never sew anymore, a snowy day makes the fabrics and yarn sound inviting. Good books, too, are always better when it’s wintry outside.

When the first snow blankets my view, I always breathe a sigh of relief. I can quit, right now, worrying about whether I should give my lawn “one more mowing” before winter. Raking the leaves is now out of the question, too. All of the outside lawn and garden activities that were keeping me agitated as “things I should make time for” are now happily off the table until spring. Snow acts as good camouflage, too. It has covered the leaves that weren’t raked, the grass that wasn’t mowed, and the shrubs that weren’t pruned. It has hidden a hundred little flaws in my landscape.

Though it’s clearly not a very widespread point of view, I have to say, I welcome the snow!

Maturity

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Maturity is one of those concepts whose meaning has changed through my life.

As a child, maturity was something we wanted to achieve. Being mature was equated with acting in a dignified, grown-up manner. In voices dripping with sarcasm, “Oh, that’s really mature,” was a common insult among my brothers and sisters. “You’re being childish,” was another. Other, similar chastisements came from parents, teachers and friends, as well as siblings.

“Grow up!”

“Act your age!”

“Behave yourself!”

“Quit being such a baby!”

So, I strived to be more mature. Through my childhood, and right on into adulthood, I worked to control my temper and my tears. Both have always been my most common responses to frustration or stress. Those, and sometimes a case of the giggles at the most inappropriate times. They still are. Clearly, none are very mature ways to deal with difficult situations. I still try to do better.

Something changed, though, while I was rehearsing conversations, practicing alternate reactions to possible scenarios, and reading up on The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense. I got old! Wrinkles and gray hair would give me away if I tried to deny it, which I don’t. But, you know how old age is referred to? Maturity!

So, maturity has finally found me, though not in any of the ways I went looking for it. I still lose my temper more often than I’d like. I continue to embarrass myself by my inability to control my tears when I’m frustrated by a confrontation. Sometimes, still, I laugh when it is definitely not the proper response. I doubt anyone, though, looking at my wizened countenance, is going to tell me to “grow up,” or “act my age.” Clearly, I have matured. I’m just not yet very mature!

How Do We Go On?

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The photo I snapped this morning, to record our first “sticking” snow of the season, came out almost like a black and white image. That’s fitting, as this place seems to have lost a lot of its color today.

Though there have been a few, always tragic, crashes involving private or charter planes, accidents, here, are rare. On Beaver Island, we have two air taxi services: Island Airways, and Fresh Air Aviation. They make dozens of trips a day between the mainland and our remote island, delivering passengers and packages and mail, and that are, for four months of every year, our only physical connection to the mainland. They serve our needs in a hundred ways, safely and thoughtfully. Both do a wonderful job. Island Airways has been around the longest, having served the island for more than seventy years.

Yesterday, coming in for a landing on a blustery day, one of the Island Airways planes crashed. The tragedy unfolded through the afternoon. In town, we first learned that all of our emergency vehicles and personnel, ambulance, EMT, fire trucks, and sheriff, were headed south. That told us that it was something big; faces reflected the tension as we waited for more news. Slowly, information came, as people came in. It happened at the airport. The Coast Guard sent helicopters. it was a plane crash.

“Wait,” we told ourselves and each other, “you know how facts get garbled.” We reached out hands and gave out hugs, and looked into faces filled with worry and concern and sadness. That bit of connection was all we had, as we waited.

By last night, there were news reports. Three dead at the scene; two airlifted out in critical condition; one of those died. At this time, one young girl is the only survivor. Some names were revealed. They are people we know. We know their smiles, their history, their projects, their families. They all feel like family. The island grieves together. It’s like a thick fog we are stumbling around in. What do we say? What do we do next? How do we continue?

Social media, which is often filled with current events, family pictures and petty grievances, is suddenly awash with images: a candle’s flame. One light in the darkness, posted and shared, sometimes with a few words, sometimes alone. It’s just a small way of reaching out, from whatever distance, to say “I feel it, too,” “I care,” “We are family.” Just a small light, a tiny spark, to help to lead us through. Until we figure out how to go on.

Coming Home

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Though going away can be invigorating, rejuvenating, refreshing, and exactly what the spirit needs, eventually, one has to come back home. And, no matter how well a trip goes, I always look forward to coming home.

I miss the dogs when I’m away, no matter what trusted, conscientious and caring hands I have left them in. For my last trip away, since the island has lost its kennel, my grandson, Patrick, came up to take care of the dogs. Darla and Blackie Chan took to him right away; Rosa Parks was the last, stubborn hold-out. Even though he made every effort to make friends, even stopping in on his vacation last August to let her become familiar with him, Rosa Parks refused to be nice. She continued to respond to his presence with snarls and scowls and constant barking.

Patrick came up here two days before I had to leave, to get to know the routine, and let the dogs get used to him. When Rosa Parks snarled and barked, I closed her in the bathroom for “time out.” After five or ten minutes of that, she was willing to join the group, limiting her bad behavior to a ferocious scowl. On the day after I left, Patrick sent me a message telling me “Rosa Parks is finally warming up…” Great news! Other messages informed me of their behavior, both good and naughty, and let me know that Patrick was taking his responsibility seriously. Even though I knew they were being well cared for, I was glad to get home to them!

I loved having time with family and friends when I was downstate. Leaving them to come home is comparable to ripping off a Band Aid. It hurts! It’s hard to wake up and not have my sister Brenda right there to talk to! I have to get used to not having my family nearby, to not being able to run into old friends on the street. Though I love my solitary life on Beaver Island, coming home is always an adjustment.

I have to get used to letters and phone calls instead of in-person visits. On-line shopping replaces quick (though, granted, overwhelming) trips to Meijer’s or Walmart. And, though my time away was short, local prices give me a bit of “sticker-shock” when I first get home.

On top of all that, coming home is exhausting! Or, maybe it was the travel that wore me out, and it just catches up with me when I get home. Either way, I was drained! My first day back, I saw Patrick off on the plane, picked up my mail, and got a few groceries. Home, I greeted the dogs, and unloaded the car. I pulled the clothes from my suitcases, swept the floor, did a couple loads of laundry, and washed the mound of dirty dishes my grandson had left. A walk with the dogs, a simple dinner and an early bedtime finished the day.

The next day, I excused my laziness as a need to catch up. I did a lot of sitting around: a little writing, a lot of reading, and too much time staring at the computer screen. The day after that, I checked the garden, picked what was ready, and stewed the vegetables to process and freeze for soup stock. That was just about all I accomplished that day. The following day, though still spent in lazy restfulness, was also my day of reckoning.

I noted that I had let my good morning exercise habit, developed over many months, drop by the wayside between travel and home-coming. The rest of my well-established morning routine was hanging on by a thread. I had let rain and drizzly weather keep me from walking the dogs two days. My kettle of steamed vegetables was still in the refrigerator, waiting to be processed. My empty suitcases were still sitting at the foot of the stairs. Enough! Time to get back on track!

There have been times in my life when a trip to the mainland has ended with me going immediately back to my job. I’m so glad that wasn’t the case this time! This particular trip demanded almost a year of preparation, and several months of long days and intense labor on my part. Travel is always an adventure, tiring and exhilarating at the same time. And, maybe my present age is a contributing factor. Whatever. In any case, it appears that I need almost a week to recover upon coming home!

Going Away

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I was away for a week. I left the island, and travelled down the state to the town where I grew up. I saw family and friends, and met new friends. I helped set up my artwork in a beautiful gallery space, and attended the opening reception. It was a wonderful time!

I stayed at my sister Brenda’s house, so we were able to get some good conversations in. We also managed a few games of Scrabble, including one night when my sister Cheryl joined us for additional competition. I got out to “the lake” one evening for a visit with my brother, Ted, and he came to the reception at the gallery, too. There, I was able to connect with my brother and sisters, and many nieces and nephews. One of my grandsons came to the opening, along with his lovely fiancee, and my beautiful little great-granddaughter, Delilah.

I met up with my friend, Mary, who I have known since I was six years old. She brought along her son, Jeremiah. I last met Jeremiah when he was about six years old. He’s now all grown-up, handsome, intelligent, and retired after twenty years in the service! Where have all the years gone?

On my way to meet Mary, I ran into my dear friend, Susan, who had just walked through the show. She was, as always, tremendously positive and encouraging. As we crossed the street, I met another Mary. She had just gone to the gallery because she recognized my name. It turns out, we are related! Her mother was Myrtle, who was a sister of my Grandpa Ted! We exchanged phone numbers and made plans to catch up.

Richard, who, like Mary, I first met in the first grade at Bishop Kelley School, came to the opening. So did Darlene and Sue, who I graduated high school with. And Doug, who comes to Beaver Island, and often delivers the hometown newspaper to me there. And my friends Bob and Sue, who I have a summer home on Beaver Island, and who I know through the hardware store.

Joyce, who was once married to the cousin of my ex-husband, was there. She writes a column for the Lapeer paper, and did an article about me, the week of the opening. We’d had several telephone conversations; it was nice to see her in person, to be able to thank her for her kindness. Lois and Kevin perhaps travelled the farthest to attend the opening reception. They are relatives as well as my friends, and they own the Beaver Island Studio and Gallery, that carries my work here. Though I am fortunate to have so many supportive friends and family members, I’m happy to report that there were also people there that I hadn’t met before!

The purpose and the highlight of this trip was the art show, but as any islander knows, any excursion demands that we get as much in as possible. So, going away also means shopping; I bought toothpaste, deodorant, and a new wristwatch, and remembered how much I despise huge department stores. I got a haircut. I had many good meals that Brenda prepared, and a few meals out in restaurants. I spent quality time with family and friends. When going away from home is necessary, I wish it could always go as wonderfully as this trip!