Tag Archives: East Lansing

The 52 Lists Project #22

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List your favorite places you have been:

  • Chicago, Illinois. This may be the largest city I’ve ever visited, and I love it: the architecture, the art, the shops and restaurants, and the many things to see and do. I am interested in its history, and our family history there. My grandmother was raised in Chicago. She learned to drive on the old rail tracks. Her mother, as a small child, was one of the survivors of the Iroquois Theater fire. Her father predicted, when he saw buildings being erected on what had been a landfill along the shoreline, that the foundation would erode and compromise the structures. Grandma took great pride, at eighty years old, of telling us that her father was correct, and that recent news stories were telling of all the expense of saving the skyscrapers, which were too heavy for the foundation they were built on. I have good memories of visits to Chicago with sisters and daughters and friends, of good meals, sight-seeing in the daytime, and night-life adventures.
  • East Lansing, Michigan. For the beautiful campus that welcomed and sheltered my little family, and for the experience, growth and knowledge I gained there, this place will always be one of my favorites.
  • Northern California. I flew in to San Francisco, stayed in San Jose, and visited Calaveras County. We drove through the mountains one night at sunset, to Lake Tahoe, and returned as the sun was rising the next morning.
  • Grand Turk Island, in the British West Indies. I spent time there on a working vacation as a laborer on an archaeological dig. I traveled alone. It was a lovely place and I learned a great deal about archaeology, the history of the area, and the Taino people. The trip stands as one of the biggest adventures in my life.
  • Kissimmee, Florida. Four of my sisters and I traveled from Michigan to Florida in the winter after my mother’s death. My sister, Nita, came from Texas to join us.  Brenda had arranged for our lodging in a luxurious resort. The weather was heavenly. We talked and laughed and played games. We walked to shop and see the sights. Mostly, though, it was a sharing and healing time for all of us. For that reason alone, it is one of my favorite memories.
  • Beaver Island, Michigan. This was always my favorite place to visit as a child, and the place I always wanted to live. I have to admit that, having lived here now for over thirty years, some of the magic has faded. This can be a lonely and difficult place to be. Winters are hard; mosquitoes are vicious; everything is expensive. Still, sitting on the beach to watch the sun go down over the water, driving through the woods after dark, or coming around that last curve into town – with the view of the lighthouse and the harbor laid out just like a postcard – can always bring the magic back.
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Moving On

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Tulips and Beaumont Tower.

Tulips and Beaumont Tower.

After the end of winter and all of spring in North Branch, Michigan, my daughters and I went back to Beaver Island for the summer. They had friends to catch up with; I had a job waiting. We had a houseful of belongings, left hastily behind, to make some sense out of.

I paid my friend, Roy, for the time we’d stayed at his Erin Motel. I set up payments (or at least let them know there would be payments…sometime) or made  trades with all the people that had provided materials or labor, in getting our house to the state it was in. The electrician, who had expected my husband’s labor in exchange for his work, was offered a fairly new sofa, a color TV or to  be added to my  list for future payment. He chose the TV set. My cousin, Bob, for his assistance in building and roofing the house, had me draw a scene on a wall-sized mirror, and etch the picture into the glass. I had to learn how to sandblast, but one more person was paid.

One by one, I spoke to people that had given us lumber or insulation or shingles, in exchange for the promise of my husband’s help at a later date. Since I no longer had a husband, they had to deal with me. Some, I was able to pay out of the tips I earned tha summer. Others would have to wait. They all knew I cared, anyway.

At summer’s end, we moved to East Lansing, Michigan, to the Cherry Lane apartment complex on the campus of Michigan state University. There were three family housing complexes on campus: Spartan Village, University Village and Cherry Lane. They were spare, but had everything we needed. Everyone that lived there was either a student, a member of the faculty, or one of their family members.There was a huge library on campus, and many opportunities for cultural experiences from art to theater.

The campus itself was like a park. Walking trails led through well groomed lawns and gardens. Trees from all around the world were tagged with their origin and other information. There was always something blooming.

The entire town was geared toward college students. That was exciting to my pre-teen daughters. There were video game arcades and cute novelty shops, funky restaurants, and young people everywhere.

In the days before they started school – which was three weeks before my own courses began – we wandered the campus, learning our way around. We found the swimming pool, accessible for free, just by showing my student ID. We found the dorm building where free movies were shown. We gathered local newspapers to learn about the town.

Everything was new! These were exciting times for my little family. For the first time since my marriage ended, I started to imagine a future where we’d all be okay.

Pushing Through

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My little dog doesn’t let much of anything stop her.

The other day, after a particularly dense, heavy snow, we walked through the woods on the tracks left by a snow machine. It was a solid path that supported the weight of my little dog (25 pounds), my big dog (50 pounds) and even me (never mind!). The big dog doesn’t like snow, and stayed right on the course. The little dog, to the best that I can figure, saw a particular tree that she wanted to pee on, and set off for it.

Despite the deep snow.

No matter the distance from the path.

So…I waited.

She forged her way out through snow past her chest, sniffed out her spot, did what she had gone to do and, with a little tail wag of satisfaction, headed back toward me.

And the walk continued.

As if she hadn’t just managed a near Olympian feat.

Now, I tackle some pretty large tasks. Sometimes several at once.

I manage to work through almost overwhelming challenges.

The last couple weeks have been like that.

I’ve taught two afternoon art classes at the Community Center. When teaching on a regular basis, I have methods in mind and materials at hand. Since I haven’t taught art since our after-school art program ended last June, it took some scrambling to get everything ready. The night before my first class, I was up until three o’clock in the morning blending paper into pulp!

That class generates a lot of laundry: towels, blotters, felts and couching clothes. It involves a great deal of stuff, loaded, then unloaded from the car. Yesterday, when I went up to the studio to get materials ready for today’s class, I was weaving around and stumbling over things from the first class that had not yet been put away properly.

I traveled to East Lansing to attend a seminar and do a presentation.

While there, I met my daughter for dinner on her birthday, then went to Lapeer to see my brother and sisters. Then back north, to catch a plane ride home.

Driving on the mainland is no longer easy for me. I’m not used to the traffic or the speed. Winter travel terrifies me. I worry about the weather, the road conditions, the other drivers and car trouble. Two weeks ago, a one hundred and ninety car pile-up near Kalamazoo, Michigan was in the news. I’d been having nightmares about my trip ever since. When traveling alone, any problems are larger problems. It was a big, fearful challenge and a tiring trip (the praying, alone, was exhausting) but I did it.

In between trips and classes, I’ve still had all the normal stuff to do: my cleaning job; my job at the hardware store; my mostly-paperwork administrative position. And, oh yeah, my news magazine to put out.

I plod through, just like my little dog pushing through the snow.

Unlike her, when I’m done, I don’t just continue on.

No, when I finish a big challenging couple of weeks…I like to schedule time for an equally impressive collapse!