Tag Archives: Patrick

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.

 

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.

 

Me, Getting Older

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The poppies burst into bloom two days ago, and have grown more spectacular each day.

In years past, I’ve been able to tell one grandchild or another, “They opened just for you…they’re so happy that you’re here!”

I still have hope that Patrick may make it to Beaver Island this summer, though he will have missed the poppies.

Madeline and Tommy will not be coming this year.

It’s always hard to coordinate, with their activities, their parent’s schedules and my obligations. When everything comes together, it’s wonderful. When it doesn’t…well, we must forge on.

Last night, I had a lovely visit over dinner with my sister, Cheryl, and her friend (my friend, too!), Joel.

The night before, I treated myself to a special dinner at home.

Once a week, my friend, Heidi, delivers me a nice round loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread. It’s absolutely delicious, and a great bargain, too. It’s a nice accompaniment to soup or salad, or toasted to dunk in fried egg. It makes the very best grilled cheese sandwich.

That’s what I made for myself, night before last. Grilled sourdough with sharp cheddar cheese, thin slices of heirloom tomato, a couple rounds of red onion and diced avocado. It was a large and messy sandwich, but I enjoyed it tremendously. I ate at the table, with a book as company.

I’m reading an author that is new to me, Donna Leon. Her mysteries are set in modern-day Venice. Her detective is a thoughtful “romantic” who walks the city – from crime scene to station to suspect – to take advantage of the sights and sounds of Venice. So far, very good summer reading.

After dinner, I moved up to the studio. I’m doing prep work for a series of larger collages, so mark-making, clipping and tearing papers, paint washes for possible backgrounds and other research was going on more than actual art-making.

At one point, I stroked my chin…and found something stuck there. I pulled it off. Between that moment and me then extending my hand so that I could examine it, this conversation went on in my head:

“A tick!!

Oh, gross, a TICK!

Sucking my blood!

Now I’ll have to watch for Lyme disease. I wonder what the symptoms are. I’ll have to “Google” it.

I hope I got it all. I heard they bury their head into your skin to suck your blood. Body, arms and legs are on the outside. I heard that sometimes the arms and legs wiggle.

Oh, I am SO grossed out!

Thank god I found it when I did! I wonder how long it has been there. Oh, yuck, what if someone else had noticed it first?!

Thank god for that chin whisker!

I hate that chin whisker so much…it grows so fast, and I forget about it sometimes until I’m somewhere without the right light, the magnifying mirror and a tweezers, so I can’t do anything about it, but I imagine it stands out for everyone else to notice, so then I’m self-conscious about it all day…but, if it weren’t for that chin whisker, I wouldn’t have formed the habit of rubbing my chin like that, and maybe I wouldn’t have found the tick for hours…and it would be fully engorged, more like the size of a raisin (I’ve seen them that size in the  vet clinic) instead of like the size of a…tomato seed…”

And there it was…not a tick.

A tomato seed, from my messy dinner, stuck to my chin.

Crisis averted!

I may have let this pass as one more isolated incident…not anything to be concerned about.

Certainly not an indicator that I am becoming one of “those people” that walk around unaware of food or other matter clinging to hair, skin or clothing.

Until today, three hours in to my shift at the hardware store…when a customer asked why I was wearing a fabric softener sheet on my back.

Evidently, this is me, getting older.

From what I’ve seen so far, it’s not going to be pretty!

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.

Getting Away and Settling In

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The older I get, the more nervous I get about driving.

The longer I live here on Beaver Island, the more I am intimidated by traffic and speed.

It’s not road conditions.

We, here in northern Michigan, are well aware of ice and snow.

I have driven to work before the plow truck came through, making the first tracks through deep snow.

I have made it home on roads slick with ice.

I’ve had my share of scary sliding, fish-tailing and spinning events that make my heart pound and my hands shake.

The differences are this:

  1. On Beaver Island, I rarely contend with other vehicles. My car, for most of my trip, is the only one on the road.
  2. I can pick my speed, based on the conditions. If worn out tires and slippery roads dictate a speed of 15 miles per hour, I can pretty much guarantee there won’t be an angry four-wheel-drive pick-up driver tearing up from behind and zipping around me.
  3. If an accident happens, it is usually car-to-snowbank, car-to-ditch or car-to-tree…not car-to-madly-careening-down-the-icy-freeway-sideways-semi-truck.

I drove down-state this last weekend, for a Christmas party and a pre-Christmas visit with family and friends.

I watched the weather predictions closely, and with trepidation. It was a fickle forecast, changing almost daily from “not bad” to the terror inducing “winter storm watch.” By the time my departure day on Friday came around, it looked like the most I’d have to contend with was a little “lake-effect” snow around the Kalkaska area.

That held true, and my drive down was an easy trip.

In Ionia, I met my daughter, Jen, and my grandson, Patrick, for dinner and presents, conversation and games.

The next day, Jen took the wheel. We brought Patrick to his Dad’s house, then headed for Saugatuck.

More talk and laughter, more family and friends and the thirty-fourth annual Pine & Pasta Party.

The party had its start when my friend Bob, newly divorced, decided that decorating for Christmas would be more fun with a few friends. It has evolved over the years into a much anticipated holiday tradition. Bob makes a big pot of his famously good spaghetti sauce and cooks up pasta to go with it. Guests bring breads and salads and munchies. Bob and his brother Gary – AKA “The Bare-Chested Christmas Tree Wrestlers” – bring in the tree, set it up and string the lights. Some visitors add the ornaments while others advise and dictate placement from the comfort of the sofa. Many of the decorations were contributed by guests over the years and reflect the times past. One of my favorites is a garland of hand-sewn silver alewives, presented in the year our beaches were smelly with that fish. Drawings are held, and gifts distributed. My sister, Brenda, was the proud winner of a box of miniature hotel soaps from all over the country…collected by Bob in his travels with the Red Cross. Others were lucky enough to receive prizes retrieved from cereal boxes or earned with box tops or coupons. Every guest was given a commemorative ornament, inscribed by Bob with the event and year. I don’t make it to his party every year, but have a nice collection of ornaments reminding me of when I attended. It was a great group this year, and I’m glad I was there.

Sunday morning, up early and on the road.

First east, to pick up Patrick and bring him and Jen home. After that, I was on my own.

North, to Charlevoix, where I’d get on the small plane that would take me back to the island.

The roads were clear and the trip was without complications. I had allowed enough time so that when I came into wet, snowy conditions less than a hundred miles from my destination, I was able to slow down without worrying about missing my flight.

I arrived early at the airport, and – with inclement weather threatening – my flight left shortly after.

A smooth flight and a perfect landing on the island, then retrieve the car and load my bags, a quick visit with my aunt, to the boarders to pick up my dogs…then home!

It has hardly stopped snowing since I got here, day before yesterday!

I was ready for a trip, and happy to get away. It was a great chance to reconnect and visit and play.

I was happy to get back home, too, to my cozy house in the snow.

I’m ready, now, to settle in for a while.

Patrick

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Boy, oh boy!

This is where I’d usually go into a long diatribe about how I remember the day Patrick was born, and how amazing it was to be included and a part of that special event. I’d go on about all the wonderful years since with all of his smiles,  giggles and expressions. I’d write another version of “where have the years gone” and “how in the world did you get to be eleven?!”

Not today.

Today, ever joyous that Patrick is happy and healthy and wonderful in every way, even though my very youngest grandchild is now eleven and I could wax  melancholic for a few paragraphs at least, he’s heard all my ramblings before.

Today, I’m holding Patrick in my heart, with love, love love to the moon and back, and the best wishes ever for a wonderful birthday.

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

Patrick

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My youngest grandchild, Patrick, turns ten years old  today!

I admired ultrasound pictures of him before he came into this world and I was there, with his Mom, the day he was born. I snuggled and cuddled him when he was just tiny. I talked to him and sang to him and waited for his smile. He had a great smile, even then.

Patrick is the only one of my grandchildren to have been bitten by a snake!

I have a lot of snakes here, on this bit of low woodland I live on. Garter snakes, mostly, but I occasionally see other varieties. None of them are poisonous. I have always picked them up, to show visiting children. They like to feel their scales (not slimy!) and see – close up – the way snakes move and learn about their surroundings by their darting tongue. It’s important, I think, for children to understand snakes, and not be afraid of them.

When Patrick was three, he visited me here on Beaver Island. His Mom went to town one day, and Patrick and I went to check on the growing things in the garden. It was a warm day, so several garter snakes were out sunning themselves on top of the compost bin. Patrick was thrilled to see them, and answered “Yes!” he’d like to touch one and later “Please!” could he hold it, too.

I had done this before.

No problem.

First the chance to touch the snake, to feel his muscles tense and wiggle, so there are no surprises. Then, see how I hold the snake, just behind his head, firmly but not too tight. With your other hand, support his twisting body.

Good.

The transfer is the only tricky part. I move my fingers back just a little, so the child can get their fingers just behind the head, then help them get a feel for the right amount of grip, then watch their eyes get big and face break out in smile at the wonderment of the strength and movement contained in that small animal…and then we gently release the snake, and watch him move away.

I’d done it dozens of times.

Nothing to worry about.

Patrick did everything perfectly.

A born snake handler!

Then, for just a second, he relaxed his grip.

In the blink of an eye, that snake turned and bit him on the hand!

Two fangs actually punctured his tender three-year-old skin!

Released, the snaked wiggled away into the tall grass.

I was surprised.

Patrick was even more surprised.

And insulted!

He let out a yell.

I grabbed him up and brought him into the house. We examined his wound, and cleaned it good with soap and water. I made several calls…to the Medical Center, the veterinarian and the nurse-line at the hospital on the mainland… to reassure myself that I had done everything I should, and that I didn’t have to worry about salmonella or anything like that.

We related the story to Patrick’s mom, when she got back.

Later, it was told again, to Patrick’s Dad (who is afraid of snakes!).

Then, we all stored it in our minds as an important legend in the history of Grandma Cindy’s house on Beaver Island, the grand-children’s visits there, and Patrick’s childhood.

We bring out this story on special occasions…like today, on his ten-year-old birthday.

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

Light-Hearted

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A few conversations that are keeping me smiling:

Patrick: “Yuck, Grandma Cindy, I think I just got mosquito repellent in my mouth!”

Me: “Yuck!”

Patrick: “Will that kill me?”

Me: “No!”

Patrick: “It says don’t get it in your mouth!”

Me: “Well, it tastes nasty, doesn’t it? A little bit is not going to hurt you, though. Any side effects wouldn’t be noticeable until you’re a very old, old man.”

Patrick: “Oh, so Grandma Cindy, you don’t have to even worry about it, right?”

Me: “I guess (thinking, “sure, at my age I could eat the stuff for breakfast!”)”

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Tommy: “Why are those butterflies stuck together?”

Me: “I think they’re having sex.”

Patrick: (with extremely pained expression) “Ugh! Oh, gross, Grandma Cindy, you should just say BREEDING.”

Tommy: “What is BREETING?”

Patrick: “It’s BREEDING. It means they’re having sex.”

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Madeline: (on seeing a photo where Tommy had given her “horns”) “Oh, I wish he hadn’t done that. That’s really unfortunate. I’m going to have to ask my Mom to photo-shop that out of there” *

* Later, when I saw photos my daughter took of the kids on the way here, I noticed that Madeline was giving her little brother, Tommy, “horns” in almost every single picture!

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Madeline: “Well, this is all okay, Grandma Cindy, but I think next year when I visit, I’m going to come all by myself.”

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Tommy: (In the big waves at Iron Ore Bay) “Grandma Cindy, this is AWESOME!!!”

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I agree…the entire week with them was awesome!

One Week in July

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I’ve been entertaining company this last week.

Or, rather, they’ve been entertaining me.

Madeline, Tommy and Patrick arrived on the 15th of July along with my daughter, Jen, who is also Patrick’s Mom.

It was “Museum Week” here on Beaver Island, with special events every day. We went to “Music on the Porch” at the Mormon Print Shop Museum on Monday night to listen to talented islanders sing and play instruments for a “pass the hat” donation. I submitted several paintings to the Museum Week Art Show at the Gregg Fellowship Hall. No sales for me this year, but I had good response from viewers. We planned, all week, on dressing up little Rosa Parks (as a Ladybug, according to the final vote!) and entering her in the Museum Week Pet Show on Saturday, but time constraints and impending weather foiled our plans. Next year, though!

This was also the week for “M.A.D. Camp” on Beaver Island. That is Music, Art and Drama Camp, for lucky children aged seven through seventeen. In five days of day-camp, 9AM to 4PM, the participants create costumes and stage sets, learn songs and dances, rehearse lines and choreography and finish with a wonderful performance on Friday evening. That is all in addition to arts and crafts, creative writing, games and trips to the beach! All three of my grandchildren attended.

The week ended with – Thursday through Sunday – the Beaver Island Music Fest. Jen camped there, with friends she’d known since childhood, and listened to the music all weekend. I attended Thursday evening, with my grand-children, for some early entertainment and to visit with friends. We were home and in bed by 10:30, though. On Saturday, Jen took them again, for special activities planned for the children and burgers cooked on the grill at their camp-site. I took that opportunity for a long bath, a short nap and a frozen dinner all by myself.

Evenings, all week, we tried to fit as much in as possible…and we did pretty good! We went swimming at Donegal Bay, let the dogs swim at Fox Lake, walked the foot bridge down to Lake Michigan for an evening swim, dipped our toes in at Lake Genasereth, collected pretty stones from the beach at the Bill Wagner Memorial Campground and fought the big waves for hours at Iron Ore Bay. We climbed the historic lighthouse at the south end of the island. We visited my Aunt Katie, checked out her dogs, the gardens, pond, gravel pit and sheep on her property. All of the kids climbed the Giant Birch Tree, and all of them climbed the Big Rock. We climbed Mount Pisgah! Not really a mountain, but a sand dune with an elevation of 733 feet, it’s still quite a trek. We had a nice bonfire on Friday night, toasted marshmallows and made “s’more”s. We visited the Beaver Island Toy Museum on Saturday, where one dollar can still purchase dozens of items. The five dollar bill each of my grandchildren carried made choosing what to buy an almost insurmountable task!

Every day we walked the dogs. Sometimes with only one grandchild, sometimes with two or three. One special day, Jen and I walked. Every night, Rosa went bed-to-bed, visiting each child. Whichever one woke up with her would say, “Rosa slept with me all night!”. I’d reply, “Rosa loves you”. Clover usually crowded in with me, but both dogs loved having the children around. More games, more hugs, more attention…I woke up each morning to the sound of their wagging tails as they woke and remembered that “kids are here!”

I worked two jobs each day on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, then had the rest of the week off. Sunday was a sad good-bye, and back to work for me. The house seems empty, and the dogs are hanging their heads. I slept twelve solid hours last night. It was a wonderful week!