Tag Archives: Beaver Island

Forward Steps

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It’s another wet, gray day here on Beaver Island. One more in a long week of them. The temperatures have risen, hovering just above freezing. That allows the snow to melt, giving us surfaces that are slippery slush, cold water over ice, mush ice or – rarely – clear, depending on where you are. The King’s Highway, being a wide, paved road, is mostly clear. The Fox Lake Road, my driveway and the paths and trails around it, are a raucous combination of the other choices. I’m drinking my third cup of coffee, debating whether walking conditions will improve if I wait.

Snow melt puts moisture in the air, which gives us gray skies, cloud cover, mist and fog. All of that has been accompanied by intermittent rain. The sun came out – just briefly – over the harbor three days ago, and people stopped in their tracks to stare, admire, and comment. It has been a gloomy week. My mood follows the weather.

Though heartened by yesterday’s activities world-wide, I’m still frightened and discouraged by the political weather. I have always had trust in the strength of our democratic process, and the underlying good in people, no matter what their politics. This election, I have to say, has caused that trust to waver. I’m tired of hearing that genuine concerns are simply a matter of poor sportsmanship  or of being a “sore loser.” I’m weary of being told to wait, that everything will work out. I think I’ve heard all the same rhetoric that the people giving that advice heard, and I don’t have any idea what good things I am supposed to be waiting for.

I have friends and relatives (whose kindness, humanity and intelligence I am certain of) who back our elected president. He also has, as supporters, some of the cruelest, most degenerate and despicable people around, who spout hatred, lies and racism freely, and who believe they have an ally in Donald Trump. His cabinet picks do not encourage me. His inaugural address did not give me hope or soothe my fears. His reelection campaign – already in progress – gives me a sick feeling. Regarding his “Keep America Great” slogan, in his own words:

“I never thought I’d be giving my expression for four years, but I am so confident that we are going to be, it is going to be so amazing. It’s the only reason I give it to you. If I was, like, ambiguous about it, if I wasn’t sure about what is going to happen — the country is going to be great… Honestly, you haven’t seen anything yet. Wait till you see what happens, starting next Monday. A lot of things are going to happen. Great things.”

Again, we are told to wait. I don’t like waiting, especially when the wait is for undefined – and thus frightening – steps to “great”ness. I don’t see greatness in the cabinet choices thus far. I don’t see greatness in the plans for “the first 100 days.”  I don’t see greatness in the rise of blatant and forceful bigotry. I don’t see greatness in the many disparaging comments and attacks caused by any show of dissent or disagreement. Even the arguments, which go right back to comparisons to other candidates or the last administration, lack substance. The election is over. Being “better than…” or “different than…” is no longer enough. Now, it’s time to hold our elected officials to a standard.

Yesterday, in news reports of peaceful protest worldwide, to express support for kindness and consideration of all people, I saw greatness. That, I don’t have to wait for. What I feel like I’m waiting for, on this gloomy Sunday, are all the unknowns. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pull

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I am pulled in two directions.

I’ve always been drawn to Beaver Island. It holds my family history, and it holds my heart. It feels like home to me. Whenever I’ve had to be away from this island, I’ve kept a poem by Langston Hughes close:

Wave of Sorrow

Do not drown me now.

I see the Island

Still ahead somehow.

I see the Island

And its sands are fair.

Wave of Sorrow

Take me there.

Still, as I get older…as issues of companionship, health and capability move more to the forefront…as loss of friends and family becomes a regular part of life…as children grow up and away with hardly a backward glance…I am drawn to my home town. Lapeer, Michigan is where I was raised, and where my remaining siblings still live. My daughters are close by, as are several of my grandchildren. Driving to see other friends is less of an issue when it doesn’t begin with boarding dogs and getting on an airplane.

I join my sisters for an evening of wine, conversation and word games, and I realize how much I miss my family. I chat with my brother in the house that we grew up in…I talk face-to-face with my daughters…I have actual conversations with my grandchildren, and I feel drawn to that place.

Some things hold me on Beaver Island. My little house, in its current state of equity and unfinished disrepair, is probably unmarketable. Even if it were, the struggle to get – and then keep – this small piece of real estate makes it difficult to consider letting it go. My job here is secure, where jobs are hard to come by in other parts of the state. My aunt is in poor health and – though she gets assistance from others who love her, too – she depends on me for help and companionship. Just as I depend on her. My dogs are well suited to Beaver Island. The fields and trails and beaches welcome them. The sky full of stars holds me here…the canopy of trees…the water all around.

But still, I feel the pull.

The 52 Lists Project #41

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List all of your favorite things about fall:

  • I like the colors, of course. Even this year, when the leaves on the trees have only just started to turn, it seems like there’s a changing display every day. In my garden, the grapes are hanging deep purple on the vines across from the Sedum Autumn Joy that brightens the corner with deep crimson. The edges of the woods have mushrooms in all shapes and colors, and swaths of little daisy-like flowers, pale purple with yellow centers. The greens that stay green look more intense, when surrounded by dozens of shades of straw-rust-gold as other things go to rest.
  • Cooler nights. Sleep is best when the air is chill, and I’m tucked under a heavy comforter.
  • Sweaters. I like getting out the fall clothes, adding a blazer as a light jacket, or pulling on a sweater.
  • The fallen leaves. There is something very satisfying about wading through deep, crackly, golden leaves. Not the raking…just walking through.
  • No mosquitoes! Though houseflies and fruit flies can be an annoyance this time of year, most of the insects are gone. A walk in the woods is possible and pleasant without having to arm against biting insects.
  • The pace. Fall on Beaver Island is a slower time of year. After the busy-ness of the tourist season, it’s a welcome change.
  • The harvest. Though I didn’t plant a garden this year, I’ve been enjoying fresh vegetables from the gardens of friends and relatives. I’ve been out picking the wild blackberries regularly, and will soon be harvesting my own grapes. The other day, Aunt Katie gifted me with one dozen perfect pints of stewed tomatoes!
  • Affy Tapple. It’s the perfect caramel apple. It’s a seasonal treat, available only in the fall, perishable, and often hard to come by on Beaver Island. I’ve tried other – even home-made – caramel apples, and none hit the mark as perfectly as this one brand. They make them candy-coated (red), with just caramel, with candy sprinkles or tiny chocolate bits…I like only the classic Affy Tapple: a perfect apple coated in caramel with a nut topping. In the last few years, our local grocery store, McDonough’s Market, has tried different types. They are a small store, and have to make a large minimum purchase; they won’t keep, so decisions have to be made. Even if I begged. Last year, my dentist – in her travels back and forth from the mainland – would bring them to me, as we share that obsession. This year, McDonough’s Market has the classic Affy Tapple, and I am overjoyed! I purchase them three at a time. I have brought twelve of them home already this fall. If someone dares to raise an eyebrow or look at me askance, I say, “Hey, ‘an apple a day….'”

Mushrooms

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After a dry start, summer finished up with quite a lot of wet weather that has continued into September. The roadsides and fields are filling with mushrooms. Last week while blackberry-picking on the family wood lot, I came upon a huge patch of beautiful white ones. “What a shame,” I thought, “that I don’t know mushrooms!”

There are some delicious fall mushrooms. I know, because I’ve eaten them. Gathered and prepared by friends who know how to identify the edible ones, they are rich and flavorful. I hear folks talk about the “shaggy manes” but I don’t know what they look like. I don’t trust mushrooms, or my ability to tell the good ones from the deadly ones. I’d rather err on the side of caution.

In the spring, I look for morels. They are distinctive in appearance and perfectly safe. Even so, one year I gathered a bag full of the brain-shaped “beef steaks,” thinking they were morels that had grown deformed. Though people eat them, it is not advised. They contain a component that is similar to one of the ingredients in rocket fuel. It builds up in the human body. Some people eat them all their lives with no problem. Others enjoy them without issue for years, then suddenly drop dead after a meal. No, thank you!

In the fall, the only mushrooms I know and trust are puffballs. They grow, pure white and stemless, as big around as a basketball. Evidently, my grandfather had a bad reaction to them once, and didn’t allow them on his table. My dad said he and his brothers used to kick them around like a soccer ball when they’d find them in the pasture. I have never had a problem with them, and they pop up annually in by back lawn this time of year.

Unfortunately, of all mushrooms, puffballs are pretty tasteless. They will, however, pick up the flavors of what they are cooked with, so can be a nice addition of texture and protein. I brought a nice one inside last week, with the intention of dicing it, then marinating the cubes in ginger and soy sauce before sauteing them in butter. While it sat on my counter, a large white worm pushed its way out of the surface. I threw it out, then, and find I have now lost my taste for that type of wild mushroom.

This year, I’ll get my mushrooms from the grocery store, and enjoy the wild ones only in photographs!

Tuesday: Exercises in Writing #16

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From The Writer’s Devotional by Amy Peters:

This is my family…

The German, Henry, is my family. He brought his wife, Elizabeth, and his small children to this country in the later half of the nineteenth century. He worked in the coal mines in New York and possibly Pennsylvania. The family grew. They homesteaded in the Dakotas. They moved to Texas, to farm there. For three years, there was not a single drop of rain. They moved on. In Illinois, one young son was killed in a hunting accident. It was in the German parish there that they saw the notice, submitted to the church bulletin by Father Zugelder, that there was land and opportunity on Beaver Island. My grandfather, George, was three years old when they moved north to build their farm here. Henry was an old man at that time, by the standards of the day. His adult sons and teen-aged boys put up the house that is our family farm here on Beaver Island, where my Aunt Katie lives, still.

The carpenter, Joseph, is my family. When he was seventeen, his mother put him, alone, on a ship to America, so that he would not be drafted to fight in the Franco-Prussian War. Raised in the Black Forest area of Germany, Joseph was already a skilled woodworker. He settled in to the community of Grand Rapids,Michigan, where his skills had a place in the budding furniture industry. He also attended  Catholic Church, and saw the notice Father Zugelder had placed in church bulletins. He came to Beaver Island, too, at the turn of the century. He and his wife, Katherine, had a large family. Joseph, Christie, Elsie and Willie are some of the names I remember. My grandmother was their daughter, Otelia.

George and Otelia, my paternal grandparents, are my family. Grandpa George lost his wife when my father was thirteen years old. His second wife, Florence, became family, too.

I have some distant history on my mother’s side of the family, but could not recite it without looking up the facts. My knowledge begins with my maternal grandparents, Ted and Thelma. They are constant participants in my early childhood, and frequent, friendly occupants of the memories I hold now. They are my family.

Bob and Janice, my parents, are my family. Not alone, for I cannot separate them from the brood of children, my brothers and sisters, that they raised: Brenda, Cindy, Ted, Sheila, Cheryl, Nita, Robin, David, Darla, Amy, Bobby. This is my family.

Terry, my husband, was my family for many years. With our two precious daughters, we were a family. All of Terry’s relatives were my family, too. Divorce is like cutting off a limb, for all the loss it entails. It took all of my strength to maintain “family” from the broken shards that were left.We managed it, though. We figured it out.

My daughters, Jen and Kate, are my family. We share history and memories that no one else has. They have a place in my heart that only they can fill.

Their children are my family. These are not the conventions I grew up with. There is greater physical distance and, it seems, larger societal divides. Even in this age of cell phones and social media, it is hard to keep in touch. I take comfort in the knowledge that all of my grandparents were huge influences in my life. I saw Grandpa George and Grandma Florence only a couple times a year, and my maternal grandparents were both dead before I turned ten-years-old. I try. It’s worth the effort.

Aunt Katie is my family. She and her sister, Aunt Margaret, are the last of that generation in our family. They are the link to my father, and to the past. They are also the living connections to a whole string of cousins, and cousins once, twice or three times removed. All are my family.

My friends are my family. Sometimes they fill a need that no one else can, with understanding or words of advice, or they are good for a laugh over an inside joke. Like family, at this age I find there is shared history with most friends, and that adds to the bond.

This is my family: the big dog that walks with me and the little dog that sleeps curled up near my feet. I feed them, talk to them and give them lots of belly rubs. They communicate with bright eyes, wagging tails, whimpers, dog kisses and heads dropped trustingly into my lap. In spite of friends, and all of my relatives – living and dead – there are times when Darla and Rosa Parks are the most heartfelt interactions of my whole day.

One Week Into September

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Seven days into this new month, and everything is fine.

Though we had a very dry summer, the last few weeks have provided several nice rain showers.Nights have been a little cooler, and good for sleeping. Our K~12 students went back to school yesterday. Tourism has slowed, now that Labor Day is over. Many of our summer residents are already gone. Though the daytime temperatures are still plenty warm, there’s a hint of fall in the air.

The blackberries are ripening in the woods and fields. If the weather holds out, I’ll be berry picking until frost! I eat a dish of blackberries with milk every single day. I stir them into oatmeal or yogurt; I put them over a bowl of Rice Krispies. Yesterday, I used them in pancakes. I already have four quarts in the freezer, and yesterday came home from the store with a fresh box of zip-lock bags. Blackberries will be a nice reminder – in the middle of the winter – of this friendly time of year.

I’ve been dreaming of making art. Patterns and colors fill my brain. My muscles remember the arc and weight of a loaded paintbrush. Ideas are flowing freely. I know…it has happened before…all of that may come to a stand-still when I actually get into the studio. Still, it’s nice to have the inspiration. From this point, it takes showing up and working to bring the seeds to fruition. As things slow down here on Beaver Island, I’m starting to have hope that I will find the time.

I spoke to both of my daughters yesterday. We used to have a steady telephone date on Sunday afternoon, and I never went more than a week without hearing their voices. Now, with work schedules, travel and other obligations, sometimes several weeks go by without a word. They are always in my heart, though, and often on my mind. It’s a special day when I can have a conversation with each of them, too.

My youngest grandson, Patrick, had his first day in high school yesterday. When I tried to call him, I accidentally dialed the wrong number. A deep, familiar voice said, “Well, hello, Grandma Cindy!” I had a moment of panic that Patrick had grown up overnight…until I realized I was speaking to my oldest grandson, Michael. He’s out of school, and a new father, and we managed to have a good conversation, too.

Seven days in, so far September is going well.

 

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!

 

Across

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I’ve just come back from across.

“Across” is over the water, off the island, to the mainland. It doesn’t matter if it’s no farther than the town of Charlevoix – as my trip was this time – or downstate, or to another state, or to another country, we say, “I’m going across.” Everyone understands. It is treated with the reverence it deserves. People respond with appropriate comments and concern.

“How exciting!”

“I hope everything is okay?”

“What fun!”

“Be careful!”

“Stay safe…”

They don’t necessarily know what the trip is about, and they don’t have to know to have any of these comments feel right. I may counter with facts like, “It’s just for one overnight…a regularly scheduled health screening…just Charlevoix and maybe Petoskey for a little shopping…” I’ll probably even say, “No big deal,” but we all know that’s not true.

A trip across is a Big Deal! Even this one, which was just turning an appointment at the hospital for a mammogram into an opportunity to do a little shopping, go to a bookstore, eat in a restaurant and maybe take in a movie. It is an adventure!

A trip across also entails quite a bit of planning. I had to arrange for time off work. I had to make arrangements for the dogs to spend the night in the kennel, schedule my flights, arrange to use Aunt Katie’s car that she keeps at the Charlevoix airport, reserve a motel room for the night, put together a shopping list for myself and – it’s the only considerate thing to do – offer to shop for Aunt Katie and anyone else I happen to mention the trip to.

Everything would have been easier if this weren’t Labor Day weekend. When I scheduled the mammogram – several weeks ago – it never dawned on me that it was the Friday before the last big weekend up north. It is also the weekend of the Mackinac Bridge walk and many other special events. It is the weekend when it would be hard to get a room at all, and absolutely impossible to get a good deal on a room. When all of the roads would be choked with cars. the sidewalks teeming with pedestrians and all of the shops and restaurants busy.

It’s okay. I’m easy. Any trip across offers new experiences. I’d bring my old computer and take the opportunity to access all of my photographs and upload them onto other sites (WordPress! Facebook!) where I could then access them from my other computer. I’d watch TV! I don’t have television at home. I haven’t seen Jeopardy in years! The Food Channel! HGTVThe Weather Channel in hurricane season! Whatever else is on! I’d read! How luxurious to have time – without distractions – to just read! Add to that my shopping list, and all the bookstores I wanted to browse through, and it would be a fine trip.

I ended up at the Villa Moderne Motel, which was quite the place when it was new…fifty years ago. It is now used mainly by workers. The rooms are clean, but dated and a little worn. The television offered a few stations, but many of them – including the Food Channel that I had been looking forward to – came in as a pixelated mess. There was internet access, but not an outlet for the three pronged plug my computer needs. The lights were barely bright enough to read by.

The traffic was so heavy, I decided to walk to the hospital for my screening. A nice day for a walk…a good, healthy thing to do. I didn’t realize the hospital was two and a half miles away. Though the day had started off cool – which accounted for my long sleeves topped with a light blazer – but had gotten very warm. I was sweaty, tired and a frazzled mess by the time I arrived at the (wrong door of the) hospital.

The technician was cranky; I felt far too bedraggled to assert myself, and was close to tears by the time I got out of there. And proceeded to walk two and a half miles back to my shoddy motel room. I stopped at Pizza Hut for an order of bread sticks and a lemonade, and took it back to my room. Ate while watching a program I didn’t understand. Read a little. Went to bed early. The mattress was not quite as bad as I expected it would be.

Today was better. My room came equipped with a full sized coffee pot. I brewed four cups and drank them all while watching the Today show. I went to K-Mart and the Family Fare grocery store. Took care of most of my list and all of Aunt Katie’s. I drove to Petoskey for my favorite bookstore (McLean & Eakin) and lunch at the Roast & Toast (Chicken Cordon Bleu on toasted sourdough, Cafe Mocha with two shots of espresso). I visited the other bookstore, and then the Grain Train for bulk beans and grains, plus one loaf of 7 grain bread from Stone House Bakery.

I made it back to Charlevoix with plenty of time to fill the car with gas before going to the airport. Back on the island, I loaded my purchases into the car, dropped groceries and  keys off to Aunt Katie, went to pick up my dogs, then home.

“I just got back from across,” we say, with a bit of breathlessness, as if reporting a trip to Paris, the South Pole or even the moon. We say it to explain feelings of exhaustion, jet-lag and culture shock. “Aaah,” others reply, understanding perfectly.

Us

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Here we are, at the beautiful Beaver Island Lodge, for our traditional dinner to celebrate my birthday. From the left, that is Pam, me, Shirley and Lois. This get-together rarely happens on my birthday, but somewhere around it. We’re a little late this year in getting together. Better late than never! We’ve been doing this for, I think, twenty five years now! Aunt Katie used to join us. Now that she’s unable to, I’m happy that Shirley, in her retirement, has become a part of this little assembly.

We are related, though not closely. My paternal grandmother, Otilia, was the sister of Pam and Shirley’s maternal grandmother, Elsie. Lois is Shirley’s daughter, so she and I are cousins once more removed. Lois’s grandmother – Pam and Shirley’s mother – was my dear friend, Catherine, who worked with me at the Shamrock Bar & Restaurant when I first moved to the island. We all loved her, and miss her still. I got to know each of these women through Catherine; though our friendships now stand on their own, we still enjoy sharing stories and memories of her.

As usual, we had good food and conversation. I received lovely gifts. I was treated to dessert. The ladies sang! The best part of the evening, though, was the company of these wonderful women!

Tuesday: Exercises in Writing #12

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Today’s writing prompt comes from the website thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts. The one I chose suits me today, as I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately. According to Professor Richard Wiseman, scientific studies support the notion that simple gratitude is one of the quickest and easiest ways to change the level of happiness or contentment in your life. My mother would agree. She was big on counting blessings. Because tomorrow is my birthday, and I’ve been struggling with the idea of a list, I think this is it!

Gratitude: Write a poem or journal entry that is all about things you are thankful for.

I am grateful for:

  1. my father, who taught me about hard work and hard laughter, who loved children and chickens and growing things, who always tried hard, and maybe suffered from a lack of appreciation and respect. Sometimes it takes a few years to see how important a person is, in the big picture.
  2. My mother, who lived her life without preaching to her children about how we should live ours, but who – when death was near – demonstrated beautifully all the essential elements of a good life: faith, kindness, strength and love.
  3. My siblings, each for their own good reasons, but first Brenda who will always be older than me…I am forever grateful for that!
  4. Ted, my first brother;
  5. Sheila, who loved a daring adventure, and often turned her life upside-down for it;
  6. Cheryl, who truly lives every single day;
  7. Nita, who has given me some of the best laughs of my life;
  8. Robin, who’s enthusiasm is contagious;
  9. David, for – and in spite of – his crazy view of the world;
  10. Darla, who lives forever in my mind as a beautiful pink-faced infant with a Cupid’s bow mouth and deep blue eyes;
  11. Amy, the baby;
  12. and Bobby, the little one we didn’t get time to know, but always loved anyway.
  13. Brad, who – though not a brother – has always seemed like a member of the family.
  14. My former husband, Terry, who was with me through so many moments of my young adulthood, I can’t imagine that I’d be the same person if I’d lived that part of my life without him.
  15. Dena, a sister-in-law, who has always felt like family to me.
  16. Pat and Jack, my mother and father-in-law who were in exactly the right place in my life, when I needed them.
  17. My daughters: Jen, who at her birth forever changed my view of life and what’s important in it,
  18. and Kate, who’s view of the world has often opened my eyes. Both girls have given me more love, laughter, joy and good memories than I would have ever imagined possible.
  19. My grandchildren, each one a joy: Mikey, who called me this morning for a chicken recipe and a heart-to-heart talk;
  20. Brandon, whose stubborn moodiness is overshadowed by his brilliant smile;
  21. sweet Madeline, who loves animals and Paris, and who once told me that I am “the nicest woman in North America” (which, by the way, might be a great line for my tombstone!);
  22. Tommy, whose smile and gentle disposition make me happy;
  23. and Patrick, whose face shows his curious, thoughtful nature.
  24. The aunts and uncles and cousins who shaped my childhood,
  25. and the nieces and nephews that have enriched my adult life.
  26. The friends that I’ve known since childhood, who remind me, by their presence, of who I am based on the child that I was.
  27. The friends that I’ve gained at various points of my adult life, that have helped me form and solidify parts of my character.
  28. Linda, who fits both categories, having come into my life at a young age…and stayed.
  29. Many teachers over the years, but first: Sister Marietta, whose beauty and kindness opened my eyes to a whole new world;
  30. Miss Timpone, who taught me to love literature;
  31. Mrs. Bates, who made Art History resonate;
  32. Doug Warner, who broke down the elements of design so that growth was inevitable;
  33. Tom Nuzum, who encouraged innovation in art-making;
  34. Pat Mishina, who changed all of my ideas about what art could be;
  35. Marcia Watson, who gave me a love of clay;
  36. Noah Alonso, who helped me push all limits in ceramics, and who – years later – kindly related to visiting friends that I was one of the best students he ever had;
  37. Jim Fiegan, who opened my eyes to print-making and all the wonders of Collagraphy;
  38. Mary Blockma, my friend, accomplished writer, artist, entrepreneur and  wonderful teacher;
  39. Jim Stambaugh, who never taught me, but whose lessons I’d overhear when I was working at the school, and whose kindness made my life richer;
  40. and Donna Stambaugh, whose classroom I was honored to work in, for the chance to watch her educate, elevate and inspire.
  41. My dogs, who make me smile every day: Rosa Parks, who presence has given me comfort and joy;
  42. and Darla, who is a wonderful walking companion and has gotten me moving again.
  43. The waters all around me: Lake Michigan, for it’s size and majesty,
  44. offering big waves and sunsets over the water at Donegal Bay,
  45. and long stretches of white sand beaches,
  46. driftwood,
  47. shells,
  48. feathers,
  49. and smooth stones;
  50. Fox Lake, for it’s proximity to my house, with calming water views and colors in the fall;
  51. Barney’s Lake for the surprise it always offers, coming down the hill toward it;
  52. Miller’s Marsh for the water lilies and beaver-chewed stumps, and for the dozens of little frogs that enjoy the cool shore;
  53. and Font Lake for a sweet memory of fishing there with a friend.
  54. My little, unfinished, falling apart house, for the warmth and shelter it provides.
  55. My studio space, for the possibilities there.
  56. My desk and computer and the ability to write.
  57. My big, old, round, wood dining room table.
  58. My mother’s cedar chest.
  59. The funky little coffee table I made from an old suitcase.
  60. My little piece of land here, with the woods and the wildflowers, old maple trees, wild blackberries, and a spot for a garden.
  61. The trees all around me, in every season of the year.
  62. Books: those I’ve read, and the ones I have yet to read.
  63. My dependable little car.
  64. This life, and all it has brought to me so far.