Tag Archives: Florida

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.

 

Reading Material(April A~Z Challenge)

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When packing for my trip off the island, I had plenty of things to consider. Reading material should have been the least of my worries. For the bus that would take me from Charlevoix to Flint, Michigan, I was allowed one 50 pound bag, plus one small carry-on. For the trip by plane from Bishop Airport in Flint to Orlando International Airport, I was allowed one 40 pound bag to be checked. No carry-on.

Beaver Island was in the middle of a snowstorm, with ice and freezing temperatures. That storm had already gone through the Flint area. Still, it was April; what the weather would be like tomorrow, or the next day, was anybody’s guess. Do I add a winter coat? What will that do to my weight capacity? Because part of my plans for this trip were also to solicit my sister’s help in filing my taxes, I had to also allow room for several folders of receipts and forms.

When I checked the long-term forecast for the area of Florida we’d be in, it showed cooler temperatures and thunderstorms for three of the seven days we’d be there. Who could tell if that prediction would hold? On top of that, all Florida clothing had to travel well, be versatile, and promise to hide my fat. I know, I was asking a lot.

With so much to consider, I had fallen into procrastination mode until there was no longer any time to waste. I was becoming more tense in every day that went by. The time for making lists and considering options was past; it was time for action! Finally, on the day before I was scheduled to leave, I had two revelations:

  1. I would leave my computer at home. In this day and age, there are computers out there to use, in a pinch. I could check my mail, post my blog and be done with it. No temptation to waste time on social media or in playing internet Scrabble. What a relief to not have to worry about where and how to carry my laptop computer, and all of the cords and accessories that accompany it. How nice to have one less thing to weigh, and carry! What a good time to practice going technology free!
  2. I would weigh my books first!! Because my electronic reader had recently given up the ghost, I had three books set aside to take with me on vacation. Peony in Love by Lisa See, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, and We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter: paperback books that each sounded like they would grab and hold my attention on a plane, on a rainy day inside, on the beach, or before falling asleep at night. Stoking the Creative Fires by Phil Cousineau was the one technical book I allowed myself. A Morning Cup of Yoga  by Jane Goad Trechsel would keep me up on my daily practice. Then, of course, I had to have my journal for writing “morning pages,” my sketchbook to document my trip in pictures, and my bullet journal for keeping track of everything else.

Whew! That did it! Once I made the decision to prioritize reading material, everything else fell into place. Logically, I can say that it shouldn’t have played such a major roll in my decision-making, with all of the other things I had to consider. In the end, though, it seems that having my books with me made all other decisions easier.

 

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.

Pub Trivia

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I mentioned last week that I was going to play Pub Trivia.

This is the follow up.

Pub Trivia works like this: You put a team together, based on the house rules (in this case three to five players) and show up. You pay a small fee to play. Here, the fee is $5.00 per player, and it goes to support an island charity. You select a table and name your team. We were the “Power’s Do It Best Hardware Players.” You are given questions. No cell phones or electronic devises allowed. No help from non-players. Your team puts their heads together, argues, discusses and sometimes just pulls an answer out of thin air. Questions range widely in subject matter and difficulty. Each team is allowed one answer per question. There are ten rounds of ten questions each, with answers collected and scores updated between rounds. Prizes are given for first and second place.

You can’t possibly study for it, and you can’t take it too seriously.

Some questions that I remember, not necessarily from this year:

  • Who were Miss Parker and Mr. Barrow better known as?
  • What performer was known as “the Brazilian Bombshell”?
  • What American company has HOG as it’s three letter designation on the U.S. Stock Exchange?
  • Whose images are depicted on Mount Rushmore?

One year, our team took first place.

This year, first place went to “Dan’s Harem” and second place to “The Einsteins.”

This year, we narrowly avoided last place. Still, we had fun.

When my sisters and I take vacations together, we look for opportunities to play. Even the sisters that don’t love it as much as I do still enjoy the pub atmosphere and the joint activity. Sometimes they come up with the correct answer when no one else can! In Florida, we went to the Three Sisters Speakeasy with our “Seven Sisters” team. In Nashville last winter, we went to Pub Trivia at two or maybe three different locations. There, cheating was obviously going on, with tables of twenty-five college kids, all with cell phones out to research the answers. Once, I mentioned it to the management: when nothing changed, we just let it go. Winning is nice, but it’s not the end and all.

The Pub Trivia on Beaver Island, with sisters Carol Gillespie and Linda Gatliff-Wearn doing the research and all of the work, with the little restaurant freely offering its space and donating prizes, is the most professionally run game I have ever encountered! I only wish my sisters could be here to play!

Summertime…

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“…and the livin’ is easy…”

I love that song. Every word, every sentiment.

It brings me, in my imagination, to a breezy screened room with a sturdy wicker chair and a tall, cool drink. Looking out, of course, on a perfectly groomed lawn and garden. The sun is shining. No obligations hang over me. Warm and comfortable, I may just doze right here.

Real life is a little more hectic, for me, here on Beaver Island in the summertime.

My granddaughter, Madeline, and I went to a concert last weekend.

Claudia Schmidt is a former employer and a dear friend of mine, as well as a wonderful musician and singer. She used to live here on Beaver Island, and it’s always lovely when she makes it back. She performed at the Community Center last Saturday evening.

We dressed for the occasion. Madeline chose the “very similar to the styles that Taylor Swift wears” dress that she’d worn for her own recital (she plays stand up bass). The sash was a bit frayed from the wash, but was elegant nonetheless. I wore the gauzy, tie-dyed “summer of love” dress that I’d purchased when visiting Florida with my sisters. Unaccustomed to wearing dresses of any kind, I managed to briefly flash the people in seats behind me while trying to disentangle my flowing dress from the folding theater seat. Fortunately, my grandmotherly underpants and sixty-year-old fanny caused only laughter, and the evening continued shamelessly.

Claudia intersperses her concerts with anecdotes, reminiscences and commentary. A poet at heart, these bits of information are generally heartfelt, thoughtful and thought-provoking.

One thing she spoke about this time was “Busy.”

That has become the stock answer to any questions regarding how things are going or what one is up to. It’s not an answer, really, but a definition of a condition.

“Busy.”

“Busy, busy, busy!”

“Bizzy!”

It starts to sound like gibberish after a while, she noted.

She avoids that answer, on principle.

To instead answer, “Nothing,” when asked, “What have you been up to?” has value for the looks of horror it evokes.

“What?! NOTHING??”

Generally, though, when activities seem overwhelming, her answer is, “I am living a rich and very full life.”

Wonderful!

So, as I look out from my messy desk on this Monday in July, onto a lawn that needs mowing and a garden that needs tending, trying to plan my week that involves three outside jobs, preparing for and attending an art event, finishing a commission piece for a very patient client, making some progress on housework and yard work, sending out resumes and letters of interest for possible employment, a trip to the mainland to visit the Secretary of State, paying bills that have been ignored too long, repairing my washing machine and finding time for some worthwhile and memory-making activities with my granddaughter, I say…

“This summer, I am living a rich and very full life!”

Reassessing 2012

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I’m thinking I may have been a bit hard on 2012.

I spoke of bad luck and hard times, and how sadly it fell short of my expectations.

How audacious of me, anyway, to decide that 2012 or, for that matter, any year – a man-made measurement of time – was going to be “my best year yet”.

I spoke it in hopefulness, and in the spirit of manifestation (which sounds, as I write it here, a bit like a plague!). I was opening myself up to wonderful things.

It turns out, I was opening myself up to disappointment.

How could any year compete with the golden years that live in my memories?

Jennifer’s second year:  we tilled up a section at the back of the driveway at the little house near the lake, and planted a tiny garden and she learned the joy of growing things; I took pictures every day of my beautiful daughter…trying on her Daddy’s work boots or in her Halloween costume, with her puppy or her plate of freshly-dug nightcrawlers; I sewed sundresses for her, and made seed mosaics and bead curtains and crocheted slippers; it seems like we walked down to the water every single day…

Katey’s first year: at the townhouse in Lapeer, my perfect little family; two daughters in the bathtub, two daughters getting tucked in at night; with Katey in the stroller, we’d go to the park…Jen would walk ’til she was tired, then she’d stand on the axle and ride along; I learned to cook Chinese food and started taking college courses. My husband would play his guitar in the evenings and my daughters laughed and sang…

That first year here on Beaver Island: the heart-stopping, joyous rush every time I rounded the corner into town and was faced with the harbor view; the seasons, each one a new adventure…When a tree fell in a storm that first winter and crushed our car, my husband and I looked at it, turned to each other, grinned and said – in unison – “Firewood!”

But, you see, I’ve forgotten all the bad parts, of all the good years.

Since my memory is selective, there is no competition.

Held up to my standard of “best year yet,” of course last year fell short.

By any other standard, 2012 was a good year.

In my family, we had weddings and births, new houses and new jobs.

In February, my sisters and I went to Florida together for a wonderful vacation. Three sisters, three nieces and I went to Chicago for a lovely Mother’s Day weekend. Three of my grandchildren and my daughter, Jen, came here for a week-long visit in July. Family and friends came to help me celebrate my birthday in August. Other friends came, through the season.

I quit my job in 2012! I could write a litany of difficulties it has caused in my life, but the bottom-line is, I enjoy what I’m doing and I feel good about it.

I have consistently written and posted these blogs through all of the past year. Knowing my habits, I know better than anyone what a huge accomplishment that is, all by itself. On top of that, it has introduced me to a world of good writers, of old and new friends, of support and love and mutual admiration.

I walked every day in 2012.

I laughed every day in 2012.

Looking at it now (eight days past), 2012 was a very good year.