Tag Archives: Amy

Keeping the Feeling

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I’m not sure why I look “legless” here, but it’s a good picture of the five sisters. From the left: Amy, Cheryl, Robin, Brenda, Cindy

I am freshly back from twelve days away from home that included a seven-day vacation in Florida with my sisters. We marvel, still, at how well we get along, and how much we enjoy each other’s company. This vacation was no exception. What great fun it was! We had plenty of time for exploring, shopping, and trying out new adventures. There was also time for relaxing in a dozen different ways. It was a wonderful trip!

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A morning of putt-putt golf. From the left: Amy, Robin, Cheryl, Cindy, Brenda

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Cheryl snapped this picture of four of us: Brenda, Robin, Cindy, Amy

The day after arriving back in [cold, but not frigid, and showing some signs of spring] Michigan, I met my daughter Jen and her son Patrick for a good visit over lunch. My daughter Kate had a work conflict, so we were unable to get together that day, but the next day – yesterday – Kate and her husband, Jeremy, drove me up to Charlevoix where I would catch the plane to come home. That gave us a chance to catch up on things, too.

Last evening was spent hugging my dogs, unpacking, and doing laundry. Today, I’m starting slowly. I have calls to make and things to do. Now that the snow is almost all gone, the yard and flower beds need attention. There are projects to attend to in the studio. There is still laundry to be folded and put away. Tomorrow, I’ll be back at work.

This morning, though, I’m just trying to savor all the wonderful memories, remember all the conversations, and hold on to the good experiences. As I pour another cup of coffee and go through my pictures, I’m concentrating on holding on to that “vacation feeling” for just one more day.

 

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Travel

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On the last day of November, I loaded my luggage into the car, brought the dogs to Andi’s kennel,  stopped at Aunt Katie’s to say good-bye and pick up the car keys and went to the airport. I was going on a trip!

I’d been unable to leave the island over Thanksgiving, but still wanted to get visits with my brother, sisters and daughters before the weather turned bad. My friend, Bob, hosts a Christmas Party on the first Saturday in December, so I planned my trip around that. Complications caused him to have to reschedule his party, but my travel dates had to remain the same.

My flight was at eleven 0’clock. This time of year, the water temperature is often warmer than the air. Steam rolls up from the water.  As I flew over it, the shoreline was completely obscured by huge masses of fluffy clouds beneath us; I couldn’t see the big lake until we were halfway across it. It was a calm day, though, and a good flight.

Upon landing, I retrieved the “mainland car” from the parking lot and pulled around to load my suitcases. Five bags for five days travel: one with changes of clothes: one with pajamas, medicines and my toiletry bag; my computer case, with computer, scanner, and some paperwork inside; one bag of paperwork and reading material; one bag – my purse – loaded to the brim with everything else I might need.

I had one stop to make in Charlevoix, and was then on my way. M-66 south through East Jordan then onto M-32 east to Gaylord. I filled the car with gas there, and went to the Big Boy restaurant for coffee and a late breakfast. I was a little disoriented, as the restaurant has a totally different look. Had I made a wrong turn?

“What town is this?” I asked the server.

“Gaylord.”

“Well, that’s what I thought…Didn’t there used to be a gigantic Big Boy statue outside?”

“Oh, yes,” she smiled, “that has been moved to the Big Boy Museum.”

Well, that explained that.

I got onto I-75 south after my meal, with about three hundred miles yet to travel. Just outside of Flint, I switched to the I-69 freeway, which took me right into Lapeer. From there, it was a quick drive to my sister Brenda and her husband Keith’s house, where dinner was waiting. That would be my “home-base” for the next several days.

Thursday, I drove to Clifford to see my daughter, Kate. As I walked through the door, she handed me her telephone, to say hello to my oldest grandson, Mikey. Kate’s house is cheery, decorated for the holidays and adorned with her collections of art, books and antique toys. She and my son-in-law, Jeremy, took me to Frankenmuth, for lunch and some shopping. I got my glasses fixed. We got back to her house in time to catch up with Madeline and Tommy, just home from school. Kate helped me solve some computer issues.

Friday, my daughter, Jen, came to Brenda’s. We set up two computers, and spread our paperwork over the dining room table and the kitchen island. We managed to sort out many billing issues for the Beaver Beacon, and plot out the next two issues. Jen helped me solve some more of my computer issues, approved my bookkeeping method, and straightened out my database. We managed a little bit of a visit, too, but agreed that – if time allowed – we’d like more opportunity to catch up on things. Friday night, sisters Cheryl, Robin and Amy came over for a dinner of salad, pizza, wine, with lots of laughter and good conversation.

Saturday, I picked up a small gift, and went to North Branch to help celebrate the first birthday of my grand-niece, Ellie. That turned into a good opportunity to see other nieces and nephews, and more of my family. That evening, Brenda, Keith and I watched movies.

Sunday, I drove out to Lake Nepessing to see my brother, Ted, who has had some serious health issues lately. They were getting ready to decorate the Christmas tree, so his whole family was there. Jen stopped in, too, and we traded ideas around the table on healthy low-fat and diabetic diets before my daughter and I left them to their decorating, and went to have a less-than-healthy lunch at the bar across the road. Brenda and I drove to Cheryl’s house that evening, for dinner and several games of Scrabble.

Monday morning, up at seven 0’clock to start a long, hectic day. First coffee, and write, then pack: dirty clothes separated from clean and crammed back in the suitcases; new acquisitions and gifts put in bags that would endure the luggage compartment on the plane; computer – with all of its cords and paraphernalia – tucked back in its case. More coffee, then, and last minute conversation with Brenda and Keith before the final sad good-byes.

I filled the car, again, with gas and hit the road. My next stop was Gaylord, where I revisited the Big Boy restaurant just off the freeway. In Charlevoix, I topped off the gas tank and handled a little business downtown before going to the airport. Back on the island, I checked in with Aunt Katie and returned her car keys, went to Andi’s to pick up my dogs, then home.

Monday night and all day Tuesday were spent catching up: loving up the dogs; unpacking; laundry; assessing what groceries I need, what bills I need to pay and what other things I neglected in my time away. Rest! I came home with a virus, and no energy at all. Travel takes it out of me. Today, it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

Tuesday: Exercises in Writing #15

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Again, from my new book, The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron:

Open this book to any page and do one of the prompts. Don’t consider if it interests you or is appropriate to your background. As you do it, try to move beyond distracting thoughts and feelings. Focus on the prompt and let yourself go.

Okay…

Anna Quindlen…begins an essay with the sentence, “I was a Paul girl,” meaning that, as a young girl, her favorite Beatle was Paul McCartney. Girls who liked Paul were different than the ones who liked John, George, or Ringo. Describe yourself as a child or teen by filling in the blank of this sentence: “I was a _______girl.” From there, write about your view of yourself as a child by refracting your view through the prism of this favorite person or object.

Now, I was a Paul girl, too, and that’s what I’d like to write about, but since it’s already been done, I’ll try something else.

I was a Jo March girl. My only question was, “why would anyone want to be any of the other girls?” Brenda wanted to be Meg. Meg was the oldest, just like Brenda. She liked to dress up; she worked hard at her appearance. She was obedient and helpful. When I think about it, Brenda kind of was Meg. I thought she was crazy, anyway. Clearly, she was not the most interesting character in Little Women.

Brenda and I read the book at the same time, and both loved it. I felt like I got a little more out of it, though. Brenda’s first mistake was choosing Meg as the character she most related to. Her second mistake was insisting that Laurie (short for Laurence), because he was a boy, was pronounced “Larry.” We got in huge fights about it. “Look at the spelling,” I would tell her, “Larry was not even a normal boy’s name in those days!” She held her ground, countering that Larry was a fine name, and that Laurie was a name for a girl, or a sissy.

Because we were both so taken with the book, and wanted to live our lives in accordance with it, we imagined our mother to be kinder and quieter…more like Marmee. We forced Sheila into the character of gentle Beth, only because that’s where she was in the birth order. Cheryl got the role of Amy. So, I took Sheila under my wing, as Jo had done with Beth. I let her follow me around the yard, and sometimes play in my fort. Brenda, in keeping with the story line, took Cheryl as her charge. She was allowed to watch as Brenda curled her hair or picked out clothes, and sometimes she helped her do the same.

Jo March was intelligent, spunky, creative, and a bit of a tomboy. She was a writer. She was always running from one project to another. Clearly, she was the author’s favorite. Some experts suggest that Louisa May Alcott modeled Jo’s character after herself. I wanted to be a writer because Jo was. I worked at being spunky, and quit worrying about being a tomboy.

As I read the book identifying with Jo, I was madly in love with Laurie (who was not a sissy at all!), and was broken-hearted when he married Amy instead. I was hugely disappointed when Jo settled for Professor Bauer. It was small comfort to note that Meg – for all of her fancy ribbons and curled hair – had not done that well for herself, either.

Looking at it today, I still identify with Jo, and I still love the character of Laurie. However, from this age, I can definitely understand the professor’s appeal, too!

Assessment

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Now that I’m home from my little trip, let me look at what I did with my two days on the mainland.

  • I had a mammogram. It was overdue, as I’ve neglected to schedule the procedure for a couple years now. It will ease my mind and quiet my hypochondria-fueled fears and imaginings.
  • I walked. More than five miles one day, and at least two the next.
  • I slept. Though the mattress was not the best, I enjoyed both an afternoon nap and a long night’s sleep in my little motel room.
  • I watched Jeopardy. It was the second and last day of the finals in the Teacher’s Tournament, one of my favorites. I knew the answers to the first five questions! Though my success rate dropped of drastically after that, it was still an enjoyable program.
  • I read. I am reading The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan, and it’s a hard book to put down. I also went through several magazines – unavailable on Beaver Island – that I picked up while I was over there.
  • I shopped. A trip through K-Mart resulted in a wrist watch, a canvas purse, B&B cream, toothpaste, disposable razors, underwear, ibuprofen and O magazine. The grocery store yielded items from Aunt Katie’s shopping list, two cans of soup and a Real Simple magazine. From the three bookstores I visited, I came away with three note cards, books: A God in Ruins by Kay Atkinson and Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins, and magazines: American Craft, Dwell, and Spirituality and Health.

 

Now that Labor Day is here, what did I do with my summer?

  • I worked. Long hours and many days each week at the hardware store. I spent too many (yet still not enough) hours working on the Beacon, or doing bookkeeping or other things to support that business. I cleaned at Aunt Katie’s. I gave what I could to my own lawn, garden and house.
  • I managed some creative work. I wrote every day. I completed thirty small paintings. I did my radio broadcast.
  • I walked. With a new dog that likes a walk, I have happily reintroduced walking to my regular schedule this summer.
  • I read. In stolen bits of time over lunch, in the bathtub, or before sleep at night, I managed to get some reading in. I finished a couple good books and have several others underway.
  • I enjoyed time with family and friends. Sue, who runs a seasonal gallery here on Beaver Island, and I have had several good chats and a couple good meals this summer. Mary, my friend since grade school, visited for a long weekend. My grandson, Tommy, came for two weeks and my daughter, Kate, surprised me with a short visit, too. My sisters, Brenda, Cheryl and Amy, came with children and grandchildren, spouses and loved ones for a wonderful week of laughter and fun. Aunt Katie and I managed to squeeze in a few good conversations…a couple of them while eating ice cream. Before the season was over, Lois, Pam, Shirley and I made it out for our annual dinner.
  • Other stuff. With company or on my own with the dogs, I made it to several beaches. I attended two concerts, saw one movie, and went out to dinner a half-dozen times. I had a thrilling, short boat ride out into our harbor to see – close up – the Viking ship that was anchored there. I went on the Garden Tour. Though I have not been swimming or climbed Mount Pisgah, there are still a couple weeks left of summer.

 

Now, already 10:00 on my day off, I’ve accomplished nothing so far except for drinking three cups of coffee and this bit of writing. I’d better get busy, or the end-of-day assessment will be a disappointment!

 

Quiet Morning

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Suddenly, it’s over.

Yesterday, I stopped at the Holy Cross Hall after work to pick up my supper. Volunteers were manning the long outdoor grills, filling the air with the tempting aroma of roasted chicken. Others were hustling around the kitchen doing prep-work and clean-up. At the back of the hall, long tables were set up with the beverages, chicken, side dishes and desserts; ladies wielding large spoons or tongs waited to help each visitor fill their plate.  There were others at the front entry, selling raffle tickets and collecting the very reasonable fee of $14.00 for a half chicken, grilled, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, corn, bread and a lovely dessert. I chose not to eat there, at any of the long tables set up for diners, but to take my meal home to reheat after I’d walked the dogs and settled in. I paid for my ticket, then went around to the kitchen door to pick up my food, packaged for travel.

This is Beaver Island’s “Homecoming Dinner,” offered every year, the second weekend in August. It is a traditional reunion weekend, for all old islanders that have left their home here to live ad work elsewhere. It has changed over the years, but is constant in that it marks the end of our tourist season. Oh, we’ll continue to have vacationers, through Labor Day at least, then color tour visitors and those that come for hunting and fishing, but the huge influx of summer people is now, too quickly, over.

The last of my sisters left yesterday, too. The arrival of my family was divided into three ferry trips over two days last Saturday and Sunday. The week was filled with sunshine and laughter, beaches and games, food and wine. The days sped by! The departures were spread over several days. On Thursday, Nicole, Jim, Hannah, Kristen, John, Danielle, Lily and Cash left on the boat. The next day, it was Todd, Tammy, Cole, Cade and Chloe that boarded the ferry to go home. Saturday, it was Amy and Dennis, with their two little dogs. Yesterday, Keith, Brenda, Cheryl and Joel left on the morning  boat that was the busiest boat of the whole season, carrying people away.

Nicole cried when she was leaving. “I hate good-byes,” she told me. “Oh, Sweetheart, then you could never live here;” I told her. “on Beaver Island, in August, it seems like we’re constantly saying good-bye!” It’s true. Every boat carries people away. Many will be back in the spring, or in the heat of summer for their next vacation. There are always some that we will never see again. The hugs are always heartfelt; the final waves from the rail of the ferry are always sad. No matter how you look at it, it’s hard to say good-bye.

This morning, I woke up slowly. I have no place that I have to go. The dogs watch me suspiciously, still not sure that I won’t run off again, to come back hours later smelling like the water, and whatever my sisters gave me to eat and drink. Today, I’m staying home. I’m going easy on myself, and not worrying about my long “To-Do” list. I’m munching pistachio nuts – a gift from Brenda – for breakfast, and drinking my third cup of coffee. I haven’t yet moved far from this desk chair. Some days, a quiet start is best.

 

 

Tuesday: Exercises in Writing #10

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This morning, looking for writing ideas, I went to amazon.com and used their free browsing feature to check out 1000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder. He has some great ideas! I chose this one:

How were you named? If you feel that your name is boring and the story behind it equally so, make up a name and come up with an interesting story behind that.

My mother had trouble with names. Our dogs, even, lacked imagination. We had, first, Laddie, because Lassie was famous on the big screen, but our dog was a boy. He was followed by Tippy, because his tail had a white tip, who was followed by Tippy II and Tippy III in a smattering of short-lived dogs. We had Lucky and Lady. Husky, because he had a bit of that breed in his mix. Rusty was based on his color.

Naming baby boys was easy. My brothers were given traditional names with a family history. Ted was Theodore George, after his two grandfathers, which was usual for the oldest boy in our German family. Dave was David Robert: David after my mother’s grandfather, and Robert after our father. The baby that died at birth was given Dad’s complete name – Robert William – though we always referred to that baby as Bobby.

Girls were harder, right from the start. Mom pulled girls names from whatever inspiration was around. Brenda was named after Brenda Starr, of comic strip fame. When I was born, a nurse said, “Look at all that black hair, dark as cinders…you should name her Cinderella.” From that comment came my name, Cindy. Not Cynthia. Not, thankfully, Cinderella, though I like to tell folks that’s who I was named for.

I don’t know where Mom got the idea to name her next daughter Cherie, but she was set on it when her next door neighbor gave birth first, and took that name for her own daughter. Mom was furious! She had less than a week to come up with an alternate. Though she remained friends with that other mother for most of their lives, Mom never failed to mention that bit of thievery. My sister ended up with the name Sheila.

Cheryl was next; her name, Cheryl Ann, was taken from the side of a tugboat. Nita Louise followed (and later showed a bit of Mom’s desperate ingenuity when she named her own daughter Tina Louise) though I don’t know where the name came from. Robin’s name was a nod to my father, Robert. I don’t know how Mom came up with Darla, but her middle name – Jean – was for one of her best friends.

Carl and Amy owned the hotel bar at Lake Nepessing. The two had met when Carl was stationed in Germany during the war. Amy was a beautiful blonde with a strong accent. Once, when Mom was expecting, she and Dad had them over to play cards  After a few drinks, Amy got a bit maudlin. She was not able to have children, she said, but she loved them dearly.

“And just look at this houseful of children you have here! How is that fair?”

Mom shook her head in sympathy.

“If this baby is a girl,” she offered, one hand on her growing belly, “I will name her after you!”

That was how my baby sister Amy got her name. The adult Amy was flattered, and took the honor seriously, following the life of her little namesake with special gifts for holidays and other occasions.  For Mom, I can’t help but think it was just a relief: one name she didn’t have to struggle to come up with!

Who’s the Boss?

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My mother was always “the boss.” Though only four foot, seven and a half inches tall, Mom packed a lot of authority into her diminutive frame. “Because I said so” was her unapologetic reasoning behind any given directive.

If that wasn’t enough, she had an arsenal of back-up material. She’d threaten to tell Dad, who she allowed us to believe was “the boss,” just because it served her purposes. There was the spanking, or the threat of it. If necessary, that threat would expand to include the belt or the willow switch. There was guilt, and Mom was a master at it.

Mom was in control. If she wanted to go shopping, out to dinner, or to Bingo, she just  said the word. If she was ready to go home, whether anyone else wanted to leave or not, it was time to say good-bye.

When Mom was on her deathbed, heavily medicated and barely aware of her surroundings, my sister Sheila died. The doctor advised us to not even tell her. “Spare her that pain,” was the suggestion, and we tentatively agreed. Yet, as soon as Mom asked where Sheila was, and said, “I want the truth,” Robin and Amy spilled the beans. That’s okay. Any one of us would have done the same. We had spelled it out in the agreement: “We will spare her…unless she demands to know.” Because Mom was the boss.

I’ve never held that much authority. I’ve tended always to cajole, request or beg more than “order.” When I gave my daughters a directive, it was accompanied by a long explanation and a list of reasons. I never wanted to be a “because I said so” Mom. My youngest, losing patience with my wordiness, would clap her hands over her ears and say, “Okay, okay, I’ll do it…just stop talking!” The only time I ever felt like I was “the boss” was the few months before my oldest daughter was due to get her driver’s license. Any misbehavior, and that license was at stake. I felt guilty, but incredibly powerful, whenever I wielded that threat.

Mostly, though, I’ve always tried to be more diplomatic. I don’t like taking orders, and I’m not comfortable giving them. I don’t like the idea that someone needs to be the leader. It would be nice if we could all just talk our way through. However, when a time comes when it’s necessary to be assertive, I have to say, I envy Mom’s style!

 

…and More

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Cindy, Ted and Brenda in the living room, in front of the door leading to the old kitchen

Before Dad started the big project that would become our new kitchen, he had already been remodeling the house. He had already closed off a portion of the living room, on the right side, to create a second bedroom. That became the master bedroom.

The small bedroom in back, original to the house, became mine and Brenda’s, where we slept in matching twin beds with gray vinyl headboards. Then it was ours plus Ted’s, when his big, “two-year” crib was moved in. That was when Sheila and then Cheryl, too, were sharing the other bedroom with Mom and Dad. When Cheryl outgrew the bassinet, there were two little cribs in that small room along with double bed, dresser and cedar chest. When Nita was born, Ted was moved into a big bed, Sheila was moved to the big crib in the back bedroom, Cheryl and her small crib were moved in there, too…and Brenda and I were moved upstairs.

The upstairs consisted of two large bedrooms. Dad was afraid of fire, so neither bedroom was given a door. Over the years we hung drapes over the openings, and argued for doors to no avail. If we mentioned privacy, we were told we didn’t need it, or that we should just respect each others privacy. If we’d had doors, they wouldn’t lock, anyway. Ever since Brenda – as a toddler – had wheeled her baby carriage into the bathroom and locked the door behind her, causing Mom to have to stand outside on a bench talking to her through the window until Dad could be reached to come home from work to take the door off the hinges to save her, none of our inside doors locked.

Straight ahead at the top of the stairs was a simple, square room with a closet. The ceiling was made out of tiles of wood, with the grain going first one direction, then the other. The windows looked over to the grandparent’s house. Around the corner to the right was an L-shaped room with deep shelves built in over the stairwell. The closet led to the attic space under the eaves. The windows looked over the flat kitchen roof, to the garden, the parking lot, the Lake Inn, and Lake Nepessing beyond. That was our bedroom.

It was scary, at first, to be so far away from the hub of the family. Turning off the closet light caused moments of panic, as we rushed from the pull cord to the bed in the dark. We devised a way to link metal hangars together, to form a long chain. One end, we’d hook into the light cord; the other end, we’d bring carefully across the room with us, get into bed, then pull. The light would go off, the links of hangars would fall apart and drop to the floor in a loud, clanging heap, Mom would shout up the stairs for us to keep it down and, giggling, we’d settle in to bed.

I learned quickly to enjoy the quiet and calm of the upstairs. I would sit on the top, deep shelf, away from the fray, with a book for company. I would take a tablet, a doll and a flashlight to the very farthest point of the attic, under the eaves, to sit by myself to write. We’d make imaginary lines on walls and floor, to create separate spaces.

As the little girls moved in upstairs, we helped plan and decorate their room and rearrange their furniture.  Visits to our room were special, and only allowed rarely. Eventually, Sheila, Cheryl, Nita, Robin and Amy all made their way upstairs. A half bath was installed upstairs, to the left of the landing. The little bedroom downstairs, where we had all taken a turn, was shared by Ted and David for the rest of the time that I lived at home.

As the family had grown, so had the rest of the house…

 

Happy Birthday to Amy

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I don’t often make note of birthdays for my brothers and sisters.

Brenda and I celebrate our birthdays together, in the summer when the sisters are here on vacation. The others receive a card from me most years, usually late. Once in a great while I happen to be where one of them are, on or around their birthday. When that happens, they get a gift.  I know when each of their birthdays are; when that day comes around on the calendar, I think, “Oh, I should have sent a card!” They are always very generous with gifts and cards and bottles of wine for my birthday celebration; I should try to do better for theirs. I could at the very least write about each of them on their birthday…but so far, no.

Except for Amy, whose birthday happens to fall in the middle of November, when I am writing every day. What else would I write about today, on my baby sister’s birthday?

Especially this year, when she’s celebrating one of those “milestone” birthdays. Or maybe not; she may be ignoring it.

My parents were good friends with Karl and Amy. The couple had met and married when Karl was stationed overseas. Amy was a beautiful blonde, of German descent; Dad loved to tease her about her broken English. Karl and Amy owned the Lake Nepessing Hotel, which was actually no longer a hotel, but a tavern. They lived in the rooms above the bar. Usually, they were busy running their business, but occasionally, they got away. Sometimes they ended up at our house, having cocktails and playing pinochle with Mom and Dad.

Once, after a few drinks, Amy started going on about all of the beautiful children in our house, mourning the fact that she had none. Mom, pregnant at the time, soothed her by telling her that if this baby were a girl, she would name it after her. Amy was flattered, and always paid special attention to our baby, Amy, sending gifts and stopping in for hugs. For Mom, who had eleven children and always struggled to come up with baby names, it was an easy gift.

Being the youngest in our family, Amy was adored by all of us. She responded by loving each of us wholeheartedly. Of all of us brothers and sisters, I continue to think of Amy as “the nicest one.” And, though she’s all grown up, with children and grandchildren of her own, I still think of her as “the baby.”

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This Night…

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I was up this morning and ready to write.

My computer was not cooperating.

I’m having technology issues.

Last week, my good computer – the newer one, that had been my sister Nita’s, and that has the design software loaded onto it – started beeping at me whenever I turned it on. It beeped rather than turn on. It continued to do it no matter how many times I turned it off and on.

“Count the beeps,” a friend told me, “That is part of Dell’s self-diagnostics. Then google it to find out what that number of beeps means. Could be something simple.”

Well! My emotions were all over the place, at hearing that! I was upset, of course, that something was wrong; I was hopeful that it would be something simple. I was relieved at having a second computer – the old one that had been my sister Amy’s – with which to google anything. Finally, I was pretty proud of having a computer that could diagnose its own problems!

I turned the computer on again, counted the beeps (7), and googled it. Yikes! Probably a motherboard issue…possibly could be repaired by carefully removing the back panel of the computer…I was getting woozy. Changing the batteries in my camera makes me nervous. Anything to do with a computer is a thousand times worse. I’m going to the mainland next week, with my aunt. It can wait until then. I’ll let a trained professional deal with the problem.

So, life went on. My old computer is not the best for watching Netflix: the screen seizes up every now and then, leaving all of the actors frozen in place for several minutes at a time. Even when the action is moving along, the movement of the mouths, the expressions and body language are several paces behind the sound. It’s okay, though. I’m not profoundly attached to Netflix. The old computer keeps me up to date with my writing and my Scrabble playing, so I’m good.

Or I was…until this morning.

When my wireless modem quit working.

I didn’t panic. This has happened before. I, in fact, have a spare modem that was sent to me the last time it happened. The original – after being unhooked from all of its connection and then hooked up again, miraculously started working again, so I just saved the new one. The question was, WHERE? No time to try to find it before work. It would have to wait.

I was thinking, on the way home, that I’d change clothes and spend some time in the studio…maybe bring a sandwich upstairs, put a movie in the old VHS player and work on some small things.

My blog! I’d forgotten all about it!

And, in order to post a blog, I had to fix the computer modem.

First, try everything one more time, just to make sure it hasn’t fixed itself while I was at work.

No luck there so, second, I had to find that modem. What followed was a search of one file drawer, two wicker totes, a cubby over the washing machine, the entry closet, one set of shelves and the old army trunk. Then it dawned on me – with a clarity that I wish had happened sooner – that of course it was on the cabinet that sits behind a sheer curtain in the hollow under the stairs.

And there it was.

Third, I had to hook it up. I was tempted to call my daughter, Jen. I called her yesterday, to help me do some terrifying copy and paste work with files that had to be forwarded. She laughs at me and says, “I love you, Mom,” and shows extreme patience at my ignorance, but…she is trying to move, and is sick with bronchitis, and I just took two hours of her time yesterday over that stupid file…I would manage alone.

I pulled out the desk and the the bookcase, so that I’d have access to all the wires and plugs. I laid out the old modem to use as an example. The yellow telephone line plugs in to this receptacle…now follow that line from the old modem…unplug the old one, plug in the new. Repeat that process with the line that plugs into the wall outlet. Now…turn it on.

A flash of lights, then nothing. Try again. And again. And again.

After several (maybe twenty-five) attempts at turning the modem on, I turned to the instruction pamphlet:

“While it’s updating, your modem may appear to be unresponsive for a few minutes. Do not turn it off or unplug it.”

Oh.

Okay, so I’ll just turn it on and leave it alone.

Which I did and which – another miracle! – worked.

I fixed the problem! I tell you, I feel like Benjamin Franklin, out in the storm with his kite…like Thomas Edison when his light bulb lit…like Jewell Gillespie, bringing electrical service house by house to Beaver Island!

I did it!