Tag Archives: Jen

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.

 

Artifacts to Memories: One Photograph

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There’s a photo of my daughter, Jen, that hangs, right now, in my kitchen. Above it is the round kitchen clock, with its sweeping second hand to mark precise time. Below it is a wood-framed photo of my other daughter, Kate, in profile, that I took for a photography class. In other homes, at other times, Jen’s picture has been displayed in living room or bedroom, but it always has a place of distinction.

The photo was taken when Jen  was four years old. My husband’s uncle was visiting us in our townhouse apartment in Lapeer, Michigan. He had an impressive new camera, and fancied himself to be quite a capable photographer. He snapped the picture as Jen stood in front of the sliding glass doors, looking out onto our little patio. Later, he presented it to us, simply framed, as a Christmas gift. It was not my favorite.

Jen had beautiful big eyes and a bright smile. Her dark hair framed her little face perfectly, and her expressions were wonderful.  This picture, taken from the back, shows none of that. She was wearing hand-me-down, elastic-waist denim pants that had a black and brown snakeskin pattern. They were a little long, and bunched awkwardly around her ankles. Her turtleneck top looks rumpled, too. The light from the window emphasizes her uncombed hair. Lost in her own thoughts, the thumbs of both hands, double-jointed, are poking out in odd directions.

Because it was a thoughtful gift, I held onto it, though it wasn’t the best picture of my daughter. As the years went by, it gained nostalgic value.  Oddly, as Jen grew older, this image seemed to capture her true nature more than any other. By the time she was an adult, this photograph was a treasure!

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.

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.

 

Kids and Dogs…and Horses

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Once, it seems like a hundred years ago (at those times when it doesn’t seem like just yesterday…), I was in the esteemed position of raising two precious little girls. They were not quite three years apart in age. Jenny, being the oldest, was usually the first to discover and act on little divergences from our normal acceptable behavior.

Jenny was a good girl, and they were minor infractions. Still, whether it was blowing bubbles in her milk at dinnertime, bouncing on the furniture or arguing about bedtime, there were times when I would remind her of the rules, and suggest the responsibility of being a big sister. She should try to be a good influence for Katey, I would tell her, and show by example the way we should behave.

That’s when Katey, who up to that point had been innocent, would get involved. I could always see it coming. First the slight raised eyebrow, then an expression that showed both thoughtfulness and determination. She’d give me that sideways eye, then proceed to do exactly what I had just scolded her sister for doing!

The message was clear: she would rather be in Jenny’s camp, no matter what the consequences.

I am now in the fortunate position of sharing my life and my home with two nice dogs. I make no excuses for talking to them as we go through the day. Not constantly – we’re a fairly quiet bunch – but enough. Sometimes it’s just random chatter; other times it’s flattery, scolding or reassurance. “Good girls, going outside together,” I’ll encourage them, or, “I think we’re fine, girls,” as they madly bark at the road truck passing by.

Yesterday, we were out in the front yard together. I was gathering sticks and branches that had fallen during the storm, checking the blackberry bushes and taking clothes down from the line. Darla and Rosa Parks were chasing scents: wild turkeys had been in the yard. They each found smelly patches to roll in, so that they could carry that odor through the day. Darla took off, then, through the thick brush beyond the maple trees, with Rosa Parks on her heels. The partridge they were interested in took flight, and Darla came right back into the yard.

“Where’s your sister?” I asked her, “Where did you leave Rosa Parks?”

Rosa Parks is still nursing a dislocated kneecap. Though any exercise she will take is good for her, she can’t always manage to get over, around and up onto things the way she used to. In her enthusiasm to be on a hunt with the big dog, she had managed to get over logs and through brambles. The way back was a different story. “You can’t just leave Rosa Parks behind,” I told Darla as I scrambled through the underbrush to retrieve my little dog, “You have to watch out for her.”

Just as we were all safely back in the front yard, two riders on horseback came down the road. The big dog, barking, bounded down the driveway. “Darla, NO,” I shouted with enough authority to give her pause. That’s when I noticed Rosa Parks. First a slight, raised eyebrow. Next, a look of both thoughtfulness and determination. That old, telling sideways eye. Then, she went tearing down the driveway to chase after the horses!

The message, once again, is crystal clear.

 

Monday…the Possibilities are Endless!

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My “weekend” begins after work on Sunday and ends Tuesday night in a mad scramble to get food prepared for a weeks-worth of packed lunches, laundry finished and complete whatever projects I had started on Monday.

This week, I started with a nice dinner with friends. I followed that by reading in bed until midnight, cozy under a warm comforter while rain, thunder and lightning continued outside. I slept in this morning until I woke up naturally (7:45!), and I’m now enjoying my second cup of coffee, having not yet moved far from this computer desk.

I have big plans for this day, though. There is a list of “must-do”s and a longer list of “should”s. I keep my “want-to” list in my head these days, where I can indulge if a moment or an hour opens up. It’s sad to note the things – so necessary to my healthy body, mind and soul – that I have let migrate to the realm of guilty pleasures.

The Must-Do List includes:

  • write this daily blog.
  • do the dishes: a collection of bowls, spoons,coffee cups and one pan, that have been waiting in the sink for a couple days now.
  • call Central Drug Store to renew prescriptions.
  • call my daughter, Jen, to make sure she is on track for getting the next Beacon organized and ready to be proofed before going to the printer.
  • follow up on an Email to correct the spelling of a couple names in one submission.
  • update the database with the latest subscriptions, so those checks can be deposited.
  • go to the bank for Beacon business, and to deposit my check from the hardware store.
  • drop off four small collages for the Museum Week art show.
  • two hours to clean at Aunt Katie’s house, upstairs and down today.
  • fold the clothes that have been waiting in the dryer since yesterday, before they settle into wrinkles.
  • talk to the mechanic about when I can get the car in for needed maintenance and repairs.

It’s not a bad list, barring complications. If, for instance, Jen tells me we don’t have enough material to fill the pages of the next issue, I’ll have to push other things aside to turn notes into articles immediately. If she has small areas to fill, I may have to gather more photos or news tidbits. If the clothes in the dryer have wrinkled…if there are unforeseen complications at Aunt Katie’s…if the mechanic needs the car today…but let me assume all will go well.

The Should-Do List is next. It includes things that, Lord knows, need to be done, but that – due to time constraints, necessity and reality – have been relegated to the secondary list. Things like sweep, clean the bathroom, wash the sheets and clean the windows. And other things, like get into the studio and finish the work that is underway, and promised for the Meet the Artists event the first week of August. Mowing the lawn is out, because of last night’s rain(blessed relief!). Hanging sheets on the line and taking the big dog for a walk will hinge on weather, time, and the mosquitoes.

The Want-To List is already suffering as I look over the “Must”s and “Should”s. I have already missed the yoga class, held Monday mornings at the Community Center, just as I have every other Monday this summer. It’s doubtful I’ll find time to watch the Netflix movie that has been waiting for me, in its red envelope by the TV set, for more than a week. I probably won’t – if I manage to make it into the studio – have time to work on the large painting that has been looking at me so imploringly whenever I go in there. I can’t see where I could find the time to pull the masses of now-fading wildflowers that have taken over the garden area. I won’t have time, I guarantee it, to rearrange my kitchen to accommodate the new maple counter top my cousin Bob made for me. I’ll get in the shower before I leave the house, but the relaxing bath – with the bubbles and book and glass of wine that I’ve been looking forward to – will have to wait.

Ah, well…tomorrow is another day.

 

Cherry Lane

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Since all of the old “Family Housing” apartments on the Michigan State campus were demolished a few years ago, it’s hard to find pictures. If I were at home, and had time to look, I might be able to find a snapshot or two. As I am visiting a friend on the other side of the state today, this stock image will have to do.

It is a good photo as it shows what the apartments looked like from the street. Because they were tiny, strollers and bicycles were stored outside. Students from other countries often had large shipping containers beside their doors. Originally used to bring their belongings to the U.S., they later served as a mini-garage. We always wished we had one of those big boxes, for storing all of our excess!

The Cherry Lane complex – one of three family housing complexes on campus – had more than forty of these building, with 800 apartments. We lived in two of them, in the seven years we were at Michigan State. We started on the ground floor, at 814B. We were relocated after a couple years, due to ongoing renovations, two blocks over to 920E, a second floor apartment. They were identical except that the later unit had carpeting.

We were pretty proud of our little Cherry Lane apartment. We were close to campus, being on the campus side of Harrison Road. My classes were all within a mile from home. We loved the name. Cherry Lane sounded so much better than University Village or (dread!) Spartan Village. We loved the proximity to the grocery store, which was just a short walk across Harrison. That plaza also had a cute little soup and sandwich restaurant where my daughters and I would sometimes go to have gazpacho while doing our homework. We were less than a mile from the main street downtown. We soon learned the bus routes, which added the shopping malls and downtown Lansing to our excursions.

The apartments had one door, that entered into the living space. To the left, a small closet, and a shallow nook that held a desk and a narrow bookshelf. To the right, the living room came equipped with one or two office chairs and a sofa that folded open to a bed. The next third of the space was divided between a small kitchen with a dining area, and a bathroom. Two small bedrooms behind the kitchen finished the layout.

Though small, the apartments were efficient and comfortable. Our lives spread out to the places we worked and the things we did. The MSU Library and the DeWaters Art Center became like second homes to me. Jocundry’s Book Store downtown was a weekend haunt, and Beggar’s Banquet – with hand stitched tablecloths and a changing art display – was my favorite restaurant. We’d take the bus to the Frandor Triplex on Wednesday nights, when all seats were two dollars, to watch whichever movie sounded best. We made friends from all over the world.

Of all the places I’ve lived, for a million reasons, the Cherry Lane apartments were one of the best.

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.

Back to North Branch

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I didn’t ever plan on getting divorced. That wasn’t how I’d intended for things to go. I didn’t know what to expect, from myself or others. “Divorcee” had never seemed like a particularly flattering term, and I was uncomfortable with it. That first winter, my girls and I lived in two rooms at the Erin Motel. They walked to school, came home, did homework and chores, and struggled with the state of our family. They missed their Dad. I walked back and forth across the street, from home to work. Sometimes, after my morning coffee drinkers left for their jobs, I’d weep in the empty restaurant until it was time to pull myself together to serve the lunch crowd. I was constantly worried, always broke, often lonely. We just kept going through the motions…until we couldn’t stand it any longer.

In the middle of  February, we moved off the island, and back to North Branch. My in-laws had helped me find a house to rent there, and they would put me to work in their restaurant. Though they weren’t happy about the situation between me and their son, they never abandoned me. They were always helpful, always supportive. The house I rented, on Huron Street in the town of North Branch, was listed for sale; it was only available for rent until a buyer came along.  Before I left the island, my in-laws bought it, so I’d be renting from them and wouldn’t have to worry about losing my home if it were to sell.

The house was an older structure on the sidewalk lined main street, just a few blocks from the shops and restaurants downtown. It was not far from the railroad tracks, and across from a small park. The front door led into a small foyer that opened into the living room. There were windows on the left, that looked out onto a driveway, alley or side street (I can’t remember!). On the right were two doors leading into bedrooms. A doorway at the back led into the kitchen. I believe there was a back porch, possibly screened in, and a basement, too, though I don’t think i ever used either one. We only stayed until spring.

The girls were able to see their Dad on a regular basis. It did them good to be closer to grandparents and other family, too, to ease the transition. My in-laws owned a restaurant that specialized in pizza, but served three meals a day. My mother-in-law ran the business. She put me right to work, and was a great boss. I walked to and from work. When I had a dollar or two to spend, I’d stop at the flower shop on the corner and buy a single carnation to brighten my day. When I could get a ride, we’d go to my Mom and Dad’s house for Sunday dinner. That winter, I completed registration and other paperwork to start at Michigan State University. My plan was this: we’d spend the summer back on Beaver Island, getting things in order there, then move to a family housing apartment on campus in the fall. “That will be our last move,” I told my daughters, “we’ll stay there until you finish school.”

 

The Erin Motel

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Before I gave up on the idea of braving the winter – with my daughters – in the unfinished house on Fox Lake Road, we had nearly run out of wood. I was scrambling for a source, and trying to figure out how I’d pay for it. The house was insulated, but still drafty. It was getting cold. I stapled black plastic to the exposed support beams to cover the insulation. I hung blankets over the windows.

The line bringing water to our house from the neighbor’s well froze solid. Then I  begged a $500.00 cash advance from work, in order to hire Bud Martin to put a submersible pump in my own well and complete the hookups to the house. During that time, I hauled water each day in five gallon containers (4) from the public faucet at the township airport, for washing up, cleaning and flushing the toilet. I carried two single gallons home from town for cooking and drinking. Bud tried to hook up the pump, but said it would only draw sand, so he had to pull it back out. He said Mr. Goller must have cracked the screen when he set it.

That’s when I gave up.

Then, it was too late to move into McCafferty’s Hotel: it was already rented for the winter. I talked to my friend Roy, who owned the Erin Motel. He was one of my regular morning coffee drinkers, and also often used the Shamrock to conduct his real estate business. He was an avid hunter, which he knew I didn’t like. Our friendship was based on me serving him coffee, and him teasing me. I told him we needed to find a place to live, and that I’d like to move in to the Erin. I explained that it would take me most of the winter to pay back the cash advance from work, so I was working just for tips. If my [estranged] husband sent money, I’d be able to pay rent; if he didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to pay until spring.

“That will be fine,” he said.

I told him two adjoining motel rooms would be best, as they were small. That way we could use one for sleeping, one for meals and general living space.

“Okay,” he said, “that will be alright.”

I told him our beagle, Joe, would have to come with us.

“Sure, I accept dogs there.”

“…And the two cats,” I said.

Roy shook his head. His voice was firm.

“Nope, sorry, no cats. I don’t allow cats in the motel,”

I stomped my foot.

“Roy,” I said, “my girls have been through enough already! I’m not going to argue with you about this!”

“Alright,” he wavered,”I’ll make an exception for the cats.”

So it was that my dog, two cats, my two daughters and I all moved – with a few pots and pans, some dishes, one piece of art, a few books and three suitcases of clothing –  in to two adjoining rooms at the Erin Motel. The building is right on the harbor – though our rooms didn’t have a harbor view – so we could walk to wherever we needed to go. The school was two blocks up the hill; the Shamrock was right across the street.

Our rooms were standard motel rooms: square, large enough for a double bed, dresser and chair, with a bathroom and a small alcove for hanging coats. A door near the entry doors linked the two rooms. Roy had two twin beds and a double bed moved into one room. In the other, we had a roll-away bed that we used as a sofa, a couple chairs, a card table with folding chairs, and a make-shift kitchen that consisted of a dorm sized refrigerator and a two-burner range. Each room had a large window in front that looked out onto the main street.

In order to make ends meet, and keep working after the busy season, I was working six days a week: two morning (7AM to 2PM), two afternoon (2PM to 8PM) and two night shifts (8PM to closing time). Business was slow, so it was always okay for the girls to come over after school, once they had walked the dog and taken care of the cats. They could practice piano at the Shamrock, do their homework and watch television. On days when I was home in the evenings, I cooked on the little two-burner stove, and we’d play games or cards after dinner around the card table. Though it was a rough time for all three of us, I remember laughing ’til we nearly lost control, crowded into those small rooms.

The following spring, when I was finally able to pay Roy for our stay there, I also presented him with a framed drawing I had done for him, of an elderly woman fishing off a dock, her large cat dozing in the sunshine beside her. It hangs in his office to this day.