Tag Archives: Michael

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.

 

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Hitting the Wall

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Isn’t this the most beautiful baby?? My newest little great-grandchild, Lincoln…I’m so glad I had the chance to meet him!

I had never been to the east coast before, either. I have always wanted to see New England, so this was a great opportunity. My daughter and her family were fantastic travel companions. The trip there and back was tiring but fun; the time spent with Michael, Samantha and this new baby was a treat. All of our side adventures were memorable. I don’t regret a thing.

Still.

Back from Connecticut, one night in Lapeer, then a four hour drive to Charlevoix, a twenty minute plane ride to Beaver Island, a rush to go pick up my little dog, then home.

The next day, it was back to work. Plus attend a meeting, mid-morning, at the Community Center, pick up a week’s worth of mail at the post office and collect my luggage – which arrived a day later than I did to Beaver Island – from the airport. In the evening, three hours of computer work regarding the news-magazine, then bed.

Yesterday, up early to write my blog, nine hours at the hardware and  a visit with Aunt Katie before going home. There, I had a stack of subscription renewals and address changes to enter into the database, several phone calls to return, one story to rewrite for length, my personal bills to pay, two bank deposits to prepare, laundry, play with Rosa Parks, then bed.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that vacations – no matter how joyous – are exhausting!

I’m so tired!

I have this day and two more to work at the hardware before I have a day off. I am also in the thick of trying to get one issue of my magazine to the printer, and the next issue plotted out and written.

Today, for my daily writing, this is it. I have hit the wall. A complaints list…a bit of whining…that’s all I’ve got this morning.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy Jig

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It was wonderful to get away!

I had good visits with two of my sisters, both of my daughters and three of my grandchildren…plus quality time with Lincoln Phillip, my tiny new great-grandson.

I waited at the airport on Beaver Island for more than four hours with a driving snowstorm going on outside, before finally making my way to Charlevoix. The flight was good, Charlevoix was clear, and the four hour drive was uneventful. That was Tuesday.

On Thursday I met up with the Clark family: my daughter, Kate; her husband, Jeremy; their two youngest children, Madeline and Tommy. They would be my traveling companions for the next several days. We were headed for Connecticut to visit with Kate’s oldest son, Michael, and his little family.

I hadn’t seen Michael in a couple years. I had not yet met his girlfriend, Samantha. They had recently added a new family member, that we were all excited to meet.

The drive was long, but good. There was plenty to see (except in Ohio, of course) and lots to talk about. Kate and I had each brought stories to read aloud. She brought a short story collection by Steven King; I brought essays by Evan S. Connell. We played travel games; we napped.

Jeremy is a good driver. He doesn’t get nervous, or angry, or impatient. He can change lanes quickly and safely when needed, and he doesn’t mind if we miss an exit and have to backtrack. He doesn’t get agitated when a passenger (me) audibly sucks in her breath or says, “Oh, shit!!” or “Yikes!” or “Look out!” He doesn’t mind stopping for rest rooms or hunger. He doesn’t seem to mind driving for hours on end through pouring rain.

Kate is a fantastic navigator. She was in charge of the map, directing the driver. She had the trip plotted out ahead of time. Kate helped us avoid areas that were costly or that would slow us down, but she also was on the lookout for areas of interest that we might want to see. She could tell us how far we’d gone, how far yet to go and what our elevation was at any given time. When we crossed a bridge, she’d tell us the body of water. When we came to a new state sign, we cheered.

We had a lovely visit with my grandson and his family (I’ll devote a separate post to that).

We took a slightly different route back to Michigan, to change the view. We made a couple detours and stops to enrich the experience.

I spent Monday night back at my sister Brenda’s house, and drove back to Charlevoix Tuesday. I caught the last flight of the day, went to pick up my little dog and came home.

Happy to get away…so glad to be home!

 

Before I Move On…

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Back row, left to right: Cheryl, Sheila, Ted, Cindy, Brenda Front row, left to right: Nita, Robin, David, Amy

 

 

I’ve had dozens of addresses in my life so far. That is dozens of writing prompts, at my fingertips…just as soon as I leave Hunt Road. And I will. I have thought I was done with it, but then realized I wasn’t quite ready to go. There’s no sense in moving on until I’m finished here.
The house is wrapped in memories. I remember springtime, when it was warm enough to leave the big door open. Mom would gather us together, point out the hole in the screen, explain how we had to be careful to keep it blocked so bugs couldn’t get in, and then ceremoniously place a cotton ball in the hole. I remember summer baseball games in the backyard when, between our family, Brad, and Aunt Margaret’s family, we had a whole team! Sleepovers, pajama parties, sneaking out at night to meet our boyfriends…and in the blink of an eye we were grown and gone.

Back, though, for Sunday dinners often, and for holidays whenever possible. I have photos of my baby Jennifer and her cousin Alan each in one of the stainless steel sinks in the kitchen. When my youngest, Kate, had her first baby, we stopped at Mom and Dad’s on the way home from the hospital. Dad got tears in his eyes when Kate put Michael in his arms. He said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve held one this fresh!
I can’t leave Hunt Road, though, without bringing it up to the present. A few years ago, the old house was especially busy with visitors. My mother was dying, and we all wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. My sister Sheila, who was staying there to help care for Mom, died unexpectedly. That brought all of us together at once, to the house we’d grown up in, to mourn our sister’s passing, and to be with our mother, to make her as comfortable as we could, at the end of her life, in her own home. It was an awful time, but filled with blessings and joy, too. I cherish the memory of that hard time there; it changed me forever.
My brother, Ted, has moved in to the house on Hunt Road with his small family. He keeps a nice – though manageable – garden. He sometimes has good conversations with Dad, in the early morning hours. I understand that; I hear Dad’s voice, too, though he’s been gone for many years. The last time I stopped, Ted was going over the grounds with a metal detector. I’d bet there are some real treasures to be found there.

If memories are treasures, I’m absolutely sure of it!

“If I Only Had a Brain…”

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I’m quite the singer.

By that, I do not mean that I’m a good singer, only that I love to do it.

When I was in the fourth grade, Sister Aloysius leaned down during Mass to whisper in my ear, “It’s okay to just move your lips, Cindy, you don’t have to sing out loud.”

Once while cradling my tiny daughter on the edge of our bed, singing to her and feeding her, my husband leaped out of bed with a horrible shudder, gave me a terrible scowl, and went downstairs to sleep on the sofa.

A group of couples – relatives and friends – used to go on an annual weekend canoe trip. A few of the guys could be convinced to bring their guitars…as long as my sisters and I agreed not to sing.

I have never let things like that discourage me.

I love to sing!

I sang many of my younger brothers and sisters to sleep when they were babies, then did the same for my own daughters. I have quite a repertoire of lullabies and songs that will pass for lullabies.

My husband (who actually had quite an impressive singing voice) and I had a collection of interactive “traveling in the car” songs. We did a great rendition of There’s a Hole in the Bucket, with him doing the role of the kindly, dense Henry while I answered with the voice of bossy, all-knowing Dear Liza.

Now, I sing my dogs to their dinner, and I sing them along on our walks.

I sing in the car.

At work, I hum…but try not to break into song.

About twenty years ago, just about this time of year, my daughter Kate was on Beaver Island, with her young son. When I took my evening walk, I’d take Michael with me to give his Mom a little time to herself. One night as we were going out the door, Kate said, “Give me a minute to put on my shoes, Mom, and I’ll come along with you.”

I was thrilled!

As we took turns carrying Michael on our shoulders, we sang and danced our way down the Fox Lake Road. We sang all the standards: Red River Valley, She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain, Red, Red Robin, My Darlin’ Clementine…

We sang John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, shouting in all the right places.

We sang all the songs from Mary Poppins.

We sang every song from the Wizard of Oz.

Without a care in the world, we belted out the songs…out of tune and at the top of our vocal capacity. What fun!

The next morning, I went in to serve breakfast at the Shamrock Bar and Restaurant.

For November, the place was surprisingly full.

Of men.

In blaze orange and camouflage.

All giving me quizzical looks.

It was opening day of hunting season!

The woods lining the Fox Lake Road had been full of hunters the evening before, as my little troupe made our singing, dancing way down the road.

I’m quite the singer, alright!

The Grandmother I’ve Become

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This has nothing to do with the grandmother I am.

I’ve been a grandmother for more than twenty-one years.

As evident in this photograph of myself with my daughters and my first grandchild, Michael, I was a young grandmother, just as I had been a young mother.

Not only young, but modern in thought and actions.

When preparing for my first daughter’s arrival, I painted her bassinet bright orange. No mind-numbing pastels for my child!

I was the mother who was also bohemian, defender of good causes, feminist, forward-thinker, hippie, raising children like no others…do you see how young I was??

As a grandmother, I was the woods-walker, snake catcher, story-teller, beach-lover, dune-climber who offered all the wonders of Beaver Island to my grandchildren.

When Mikey was a baby,  I kept chickens. One glorious morning, with baby on my hip, we found our first two eggs in the chicken house. By the time his mother woke up, Michael and I had composed an entire bluesy song about it! When he and Brandon were youngsters, I’d pack a book, fruit and snacks and a thermos in the morning, and we’d go to the beach. I’d read and drink coffee while they built amazing structures in the sand. Madeline, Tommy and Patrick have had their share, too, of exploring the woods and fields and sand dunes.

For evenings, there were other activities. I hold firm to the idea that children like foods they help to make, so mealtime has always been a joint project. Like my own Grandma Florence, I taught them how to play “King’s in the Corner.” As a nod to my father-in-law, Jack, I taught them how to play poker (complete with his wonderful repartee: “pair of deuces…pair of tens…pair – a – goric”). I kept an art case, for entertainment on rainy days, just as my mother always had.

The “grandmother” I’m referring to is the stereotypical grandmother…you know, the one “I would never become.”

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I’m referring to the grandmother who has rows of holy cards (from funerals, no less!) lining a mirror…

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who  has too many little vignettes featuring photos of children and grandchildren…

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and doilies…

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religious icons…

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little collections of succulents…

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and a fat little dog, sleeping wherever she chooses on a loud-patterned piece of furniture (should I say davenport?).

(SIGH)

This, alas, is the grandmother I’ve become.