Tag Archives: Mclean & Eakin

Away, Then Home, Again…

Standard

IMG_1877

I’m struggling to find a way to write this so that it doesn’t sound like an essay assignment about “What I did on my Vacation.” It’s early, though; I’m tired, and have a long list of jobs to accomplish today. Every single task can be interrupted whenever the dogs need attention; they missed me, I think, even more than I missed them! But, in between pats and snuggles and belly rubs, there are things to do.

I have to call the bank to verify the amount of a direct deposit, then write checks for bills that have to go out this week. I have thank-you notes to write to the folks that fed, entertained and accommodated me this last week. When I go to town for the Post Office, I’ll run around to the shops that carry [my last issue of] the Beaver Beacon, and make note of the returns. That will allow me to tally up sales and send final bills out, which will – if I’m lucky – bring in enough to pay the printer, which is the only thing, now, in the way of me being finished, finally, with that phase of my life.

I unpacked last evening, and got a load of clothes through the washer and the dryer. They need to be folded and put away today. The empty suitcases – abandoned unceremoniously at the top of the stairs – need to be stored. The groceries I brought home need to be re-packaged for storage. I could use the freezer space, now, right away; I’ll have to talk to the young man who is going to help me move that appliance.

Temperatures are considerably consistently colder than when I left the island. There were actually good sized piles of residual snow at the airport on the mainland; I was told seven inches of snow fell in Charlevoix on Saturday. My house was no warmer than outside when I came home, and it took most of the evening to get it comfortable enough for sleeping. It is past time for dealing with the issue of my non-working thermostat, so that the heater can come on and go off on its own, as needed. Today would be a good time to look into that.

I’m still struggling with a month-old spider (?) bite, that continues to itch and refuses to heal though I’m working my way through a second course of antibiotics. I treat the spot with after-bite gel and anti-itch ointment as well the steroid cream that was prescribed. I have taken over-the-counter allergy medicines, to try to stop the irritation. If I’m going to get back in to the Medical Center before the week is out, today would be the day for that, too.

So, obviously, getting back to home and “real-life” leaves little time to talk about my trip. It was a whirlwind of activity with lots of driving in between. In my notes, it looks like this:

Wednesday: dogs to kennel; airport; flight to Charlevoix; drive to Petoskey; McLean & Eakin bookstore; Roast & Toast for lunch; Grain Train for rice, grains and oat straw; drive to Gaylord; find Treetops Resort; find [cheaper] motel; Big Boy for dinner; back to the motel for lots of HGTV until I can sleep.

Thursday: up, coffee, news, shower, dress and check-out; Treetops Resort for paint seminar through early afternoon; drive to DeWitt – outside of Lansing – to the hotel where I meet up with my daughter, Kate; P.F.Chang’s to have dinner with Kate and my sister, Amy; then off to see Amy’s [beautiful] new condo before calling it a night.

Friday: the morning begins with trying to catch up with my daughter, Jen, who is late; breakfast at Bob Evans; Schuler’s bookstore to entertain ourselves while we wait; back to the hotel to meet up with Jen, who has texted us that she has arrived; Old Town in Lansing for a great deal of browsing in shops and galleries, and a little shopping before going back to get ready for our evening; Beggar’s Banquet for dinner, then to the Wharton Center, on the campus of Michigan State University, for “An Evening with David Sedaris.”

Saturday: breakfast with my girls at a nice restaurant I can’t remember the name of; pack, load up cars, check out, and lots of (but still not enough) hugs good-bye; drive to Lapeer, to the home of my sister Brenda and her husband Keith; carry in suitcases; set up computer; contact my friend, Gary, who came right over to go over the drives and settings on my computer, to download anti-virus programs and run scans to make sure there were no residual problems from when I fell victim to the scam; a delicious dinner with Brenda and Keith; North Branch, to my sister, Cheryl’s, house where she was hosting card club, and I could catch up with all of my sisters, a couple nieces, and other friends.

Sunday: Brenda and Keith left early for a bus trip, so I woke up alone and drank a pot of coffee by myself; to Clifford in the afternoon, to my daughter Kate’s house, where I was able to catch up with her husband Jeremy, and three of my grandchildren: Brandon, Madeline and Tommy, and get to know Eric (Madeline’s boyfriend) better; dinner was homemade lasagna (some of the best I’ve ever had) and cake and ice cream for dessert; game time with everyone after dinner; hugs and good wishes, then off for Lapeer and bed.

Monday: up, pack, load the car and off; fill up with gas, then hit the freeway for a four-hour drive; in Gaylord, I stopped at the Big Boy for coffee and a waffle; in Charlevoix, I went to K-Mart to buy a cheap watch, to the Family Fare to stock up on groceries, and the gas station to fill the car with gas again; airport, then a flight back to Beaver Island; retrieve the car and load the bags and boxes; the kennel to pick up the dogs…then home.

That’s a week-long trip, condensed. Exhausting, right? Some highlights:

  • Wonderful conversation over Chinese food with Amy and Kate, and a tour of Amy’s lovely home.
  • Time spent together with my two daughters: memories of their conversations, banter and laughter still makes my heart swell.
  • David Sedaris. I have loved his books for years; hearing him on NPR was always a treat. He’s even better in person. I’m still laughing!
  • Over conversation and coffee in the lobby with my daughter, Jen (a treat on its own) I ran into a friend from Beaver Island!
  • Visits with family and friends at Brenda’s house, and later at Cheryl’s. Both places are warm and welcoming.
  • Playing Taboo around Kate’s dining room table with my smart and giggly grandchildren.
  • No viruses on my computer (Thank you, Gary!).
  • A hidden windfall in my checking account (Thank you, Eric!).
  • Walking into my own house, with my waggy-tail dogs, after a week away.

 

A Day on the Mainland

Standard

Image

The day before yesterday, I traveled with my aunt to the mainland.

Aunt Katie had medical tests scheduled, an appointment with her lawyer, and plans to do some visiting and shopping. She can still drive, but prefers not to when off the island. She invited me along to be her driver.

She mentioned it first a few weeks ago.

“I’ll bet you’d like a trip to the mainland!” was how she worded it.

It’s not easy for her to ask for help.

“I’d love it!” was my reply.

The “mainland” is thirty-two miles away by ferry boat or small plane, to Charlevoix (the Beautiful), in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula. Two hours by boat, twenty minutes by plane. When I came to Beaver Island on vacation, I always took the boat; since I’ve lived here, the plane is the most practical means of transportation. From Charlevoix, it is a half-hour drive north to Petoskey, to the clinic where Aunt’s medical tests were taking place. Her friend, Rose, is in Petoskey, too; the lawyer, in Charlevoix. She had a list to fill at the grocery store, and another for the pharmacy, based on sales she had found advertised in the paper.

I made arrangements to have the day off work.

I started thinking of all the things I’d love to do, with a little spare time on the mainland.

Maybe, since our flight was early, we could drive through McDonald’s for breakfast.

I know it’s not healthy, but it’s a rare treat. When I’m on the mainland, I allow myself the indulgence of a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich. If I’m traveling downstate to see my family, I also allow myself a large bag of Mesquite Barbecue “Krunchers” Potato Chips…but that’s another story.

A quick run into the second-hand store would be fun.

I’ve been watching for clothes suitable for work. We have a nice re-sale shop here on the island, but the one in Charlevoix is good, too. My daughters (who would have scorned the idea back when I was buying their clothing) discovered second-hand shopping when they realized their children grew faster than the cost-of-living, and they’ve turned it into an art! “Look at the labels first,” they tell me. There is no sense spending two dollars on something you could buy brand new for ten. The goal is to find good labels that speak of excellent quality and high prices…then you know you have a “steal” at two dollars. There are rules about checking for working zippers, missing buttons, split seams and stains. Of course, things like size and style come into play, too, and the best things won’t last, which makes the last rule very important: “Go often!”

What a treat to find time to visit a bookstore!

We used to have a nice bookstore here on Beaver Island, run by my friend, Mary Blocksma. She offered wonderful books and art, yoga classes, writing groups and great conversation in a room attached to her little home (where she often fed me lovely meals based on her knowledge of Indian cuisine or local mushrooms). She found self-publishing and book tours too costly to run from the island, and moved to a city down-state. I was broken-hearted when she left. We have an excellent library, but I love a good bookstore. When I get to the mainland, I like to stop at Book World in Charlevoix, Horizon Books or – my favorite – McLean & Eakin in Petoskey.

A quick run into Cherry Republic for their (absolutely wonderful) Cherry Scone Mix, and a dash into American Spoon Foods for a couple jars of salsa and their Cherry-Berry Conserve would be fantastic. If time allowed for a trip to The Grain Train in Petoskey, I could replenish my supply of rice, barley and beans for winter.

I’d check the grocery store for sales while Aunt Katie shopped. There were a couple personal care items I needed from the pharmacy, too.

I arrived at Aunt’s house at 8:25, with my first cup of coffee in hand. It is suggested that passengers be at the airport a half hour before the flight. Ours was scheduled for 9AM, so we were already rushing.

A few big raindrops started coming down as we drove to the airport, but the winds were calm.

The plane left on time and the ride was smooth.

I picked up the key at the desk, and wandered through the parking lot to get Aunt’s car. We – those of us that use her “mainland vehicle” – are always instructed to park as close to the terminal building as possible, in the long-term parking. For some reason, this day it was parked in the farthest space, in the most distant lot. By the time I found it, and drove around to the terminal to pick up my aunt, she was more than anxious to get underway.

Scratch McDonald’s, on to Petoskey.

First stop, the clinic. We were almost an hour early for Aunt’s appointment, but she checked in at the desk, and the receptionist said she might be able to get in early.

“This will take at least two hours,” Aunt Katie said, “Don’t you have some running around you’d like to do?”

She’d said that same thing to me the last time I brought her to this clinic. I’d headed for the gas-light district, went to my favorite bookstore, brought my purchases next door to the “Roast ‘n Toast” for a cafe mocha and a croissant, and got back to the clinic in a little over an hour. My 83 year old aunt was standing outside on her poor, wobbly legs waiting for me. “You’re late!” was the greeting I got.

Aunt Katie was the one that taught me how to handle disagreements with “stubborn Germans” like my father. “Don’t argue,” was her advice, “You’ll never win. Lower your eyes, bow your head, say ‘you are absolutely right’, then go on and think however you want to.”

Turns out, it was great advice.

Recognizing Aunt Katie as another “stubborn German”, I just said, “Sorry, Aunt Katie, I missed the turn.”

Not wanting to find myself in the same position this time, I said, “Thanks, Aunt Katie, but I think I’m just going to catch up on my magazine reading.”

This time, her tests took over two and a half hours.

Probably especially true in an election year, but Time and Newsweek magazines are pretty worthless if they’re more than two months old. People magazine is not much better.

By the time we got out of there, we had directions to Rose’s new home, but no time to go there. Aunt Katie was hungry. So was I, but I’d have happily settled for just another cup of coffee. No time for any of that, we had to get back to Charlevoix for the appointment with the lawyer.

Paperwork reviewed, signed and notarized, copies made, instructions given, pleasantries exchanged and we were off to get some lunch.

One bowl of soup, each: navy bean with ham. A beer for Aunt Katie; coffee for the driver.

Back to Petoskey, then, to see Rose. We found the place without incident, and had a good visit.

Aunt Katie’s legs were bothering her quite a bit by the time we left, so it was decided I’d do the shopping and she’d wait in the car. The pharmacy first, as it was right on the corner. I managed to work through her – very specific – list, in that – totally unfamiliar to me – store in what I thought was record time. “We’re running out of time!” was the greeting I received as she opened the back door for me to deposit the armload of boxes and bags. “We’re doing okay,” I told her. “A half hour to get back to Charlevoix will leave twenty minutes for me to run through the grocery store, and we can still get to the airport by five o’clock, with plenty of time to park before our 5:30 flight.”

“But you had stops you wanted to make!”

“No, Aunt Katie, nothing specific. I’m good.”

“The re-sale shop!”

“I think they closed at four o’clock. That was only if we had extra time.”

“You wanted to go to the bookstore. Well, you have too many books already.”

“You’re right, there!”

So, on to the grocery store with another list, and on to the airport (where I found a nice, close-to-the-terminal parking spot) and on to the small plane for a nice flight home.

A LOVELY day on the mainland!