Tag Archives: Tommy

Tommy (April A~Z Challenge)

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I have five wonderful grandchildren. Tommy is one of them.

He’s not the only boy; I have four grandsons: Mikey, Brandon, Tommy and Patrick. His sister, Madeline, has the distinction of being my only granddaughter.

Tommy is not the oldest; that would be his big brother, Mikey.

Tommy is not the youngest; that’s his cousin, Patrick. He is the youngest in his immediate family, though.

He is also known for his kindness, generosity of spirit and exceptional sense of humor. When he was still a baby, his mother noted that Tommy was finding his place in her large family by being the most sweet-natured of all of them. He almost always has a welcoming smile on his face. When he visited me on Beaver Island two years ago, he made new friends every day. Being shy myself, I was continually impressed with his easy conversational abilities. He is a very special young man.

Still, he’s one of five. So, why is Tommy showing up on my blog today? Well, conveniently, his name begins with the letter T. More importantly, though, tomorrow is Tommy’s 16th birthday. That earns him a spot in my April A~Z challenge.

Happy Birthday, Tommy!

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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.

Assessment

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Now that I’m home from my little trip, let me look at what I did with my two days on the mainland.

  • I had a mammogram. It was overdue, as I’ve neglected to schedule the procedure for a couple years now. It will ease my mind and quiet my hypochondria-fueled fears and imaginings.
  • I walked. More than five miles one day, and at least two the next.
  • I slept. Though the mattress was not the best, I enjoyed both an afternoon nap and a long night’s sleep in my little motel room.
  • I watched Jeopardy. It was the second and last day of the finals in the Teacher’s Tournament, one of my favorites. I knew the answers to the first five questions! Though my success rate dropped of drastically after that, it was still an enjoyable program.
  • I read. I am reading The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan, and it’s a hard book to put down. I also went through several magazines – unavailable on Beaver Island – that I picked up while I was over there.
  • I shopped. A trip through K-Mart resulted in a wrist watch, a canvas purse, B&B cream, toothpaste, disposable razors, underwear, ibuprofen and O magazine. The grocery store yielded items from Aunt Katie’s shopping list, two cans of soup and a Real Simple magazine. From the three bookstores I visited, I came away with three note cards, books: A God in Ruins by Kay Atkinson and Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins, and magazines: American Craft, Dwell, and Spirituality and Health.

 

Now that Labor Day is here, what did I do with my summer?

  • I worked. Long hours and many days each week at the hardware store. I spent too many (yet still not enough) hours working on the Beacon, or doing bookkeeping or other things to support that business. I cleaned at Aunt Katie’s. I gave what I could to my own lawn, garden and house.
  • I managed some creative work. I wrote every day. I completed thirty small paintings. I did my radio broadcast.
  • I walked. With a new dog that likes a walk, I have happily reintroduced walking to my regular schedule this summer.
  • I read. In stolen bits of time over lunch, in the bathtub, or before sleep at night, I managed to get some reading in. I finished a couple good books and have several others underway.
  • I enjoyed time with family and friends. Sue, who runs a seasonal gallery here on Beaver Island, and I have had several good chats and a couple good meals this summer. Mary, my friend since grade school, visited for a long weekend. My grandson, Tommy, came for two weeks and my daughter, Kate, surprised me with a short visit, too. My sisters, Brenda, Cheryl and Amy, came with children and grandchildren, spouses and loved ones for a wonderful week of laughter and fun. Aunt Katie and I managed to squeeze in a few good conversations…a couple of them while eating ice cream. Before the season was over, Lois, Pam, Shirley and I made it out for our annual dinner.
  • Other stuff. With company or on my own with the dogs, I made it to several beaches. I attended two concerts, saw one movie, and went out to dinner a half-dozen times. I had a thrilling, short boat ride out into our harbor to see – close up – the Viking ship that was anchored there. I went on the Garden Tour. Though I have not been swimming or climbed Mount Pisgah, there are still a couple weeks left of summer.

 

Now, already 10:00 on my day off, I’ve accomplished nothing so far except for drinking three cups of coffee and this bit of writing. I’d better get busy, or the end-of-day assessment will be a disappointment!

 

Late Saturday

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This day started late, and continued.

After a couple nights of fitful sleep, I could hardly stay awake last night ’til the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was “lights out” just as soon as the movie was over, and I slept straight through until seven o’clock this morning.

The hardware opens at 8:30 on Saturday. That makes it a bit of a push to get everything done before I leave. I took time to take medicine; brew coffee; check Email; check social media; download photographs from camera to computer; edit photos; shower, etc.; crush medicine for Rosa Parks and mix with a bit of wet food; prepare a similar tiny dish of wet food for Darla, so she wouldn’t feel deprived; leave a note for Tommy; pack a thermos. I did not take time to write.

I worked without a break until after five o’clock. I called Tommy to discuss evening plans, then went to the grocery store and the gas station before going home. Tommy helped bring the groceries in while we caught each other up on the day’s events. He helped me put a pasta salad together. We fed the dogs, cleaned up and changed clothes, then headed out for a pot luck dinner. A roasted pig was the main event, but there were delicious side dishes  – including our own pasta salad – to choose from, too. We both had a good time.

Home again, the dogs needed attention and there was clean-up to do. Finally, now, at nine PM, I have time to write. I notice that – this late at night – I have little to say!

End of June

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Yesterday after work, I retrieved my grandson from the beach and headed for home. The clouds were already gathering. The smell of rain was in the air.

Tommy spent the last two afternoons at the public beach in town.  He made friends, and enjoyed the sun, sand and water. On the way home, he told me how exhausting it is, being in the water. “I can only imagine…” I told him. When we got to the house, he headed for the shower.

I pulled out the lawnmower. I’d run out of gas the other day, just shy of finishing the back yard. There was a small triangle of tall grass between the clothesline poles and the garden fence. I had also missed the area directly behind the garden, as the broken fence posts were leaning that way.

I pushed the fence back to the garden side, scoured the area for dog toys, filled the mower with gas and fired it up. It was quick work, and not unpleasant. There was a slight breeze that kept the mosquitoes at bay. I was finished in no time at all, with the yard finally finished and the mower tucked away in the shed.

I clipped bunches of sweet peas, wild daisies and yarrow to make a rustic bouquet. I heated up several types of leftovers for dinner. When we’d eaten our fill, we gave the rest to the dogs.

We opened the windows to the cooler air and waited for the rain. After dinner, we both retreated to our computers for work or play. It was a quiet evening inside, a quiet rain outside. A nice finish to the month of June!

Random Thoughts for Monday Morning

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Tommy has a job today, helping my friend, Vince, with some yard work. I’m unreasonably nervous about it. I want him to make a good impression. I hope he’s strong and diligent, and that he listens and learns. It’s not hard work – raking and picking up roots and branches, mostly – and I’m sure he’s capable, but still.

At my house, Tommy has a chart to mark his work time, and we have talked about things he can do to earn money here. Lord knows I could use the help! The chart is divided into two sections, as outdoor work pays at a different rate than indoor jobs. We figure his time to the quarter hour.Two days ago, he clocked in a half hour for sweeping.

“What did you sweep?” I asked him.

“The whole downstairs.”

“Really!?”

I pointed out that his socks, my shoes, and several dog toys had not been moved from the center of the floor. It appeared that he had also managed to go around – without going under – every single table and chair. I explained that – if he were sweeping out of the goodness of his heart, to help out his old grandma, and not expecting pay – I’d be glad to say, “Good job, Tommy, and thank you very much!”

That changes, I told him, when he expects payment. Then, standards are important. I told him he needed to first pick up everything off the floor: rugs, dog beds, socks, shoes and toys. I told him to move the chairs out to sweep under everything. “Corner to corner, edge to edge,” I said. Yesterday, he clocked one full hour for sweeping. The rugs had not been picked up; the dog beds hadn’t been moved. There were still crumbs on the kitchen floor.

“One hour!?”

“Yes, I swept for an hour. Honest to god!”

I wanted to suggest that he could have made better time if he hadn’t worked so hard to avoid actually sweeping up anything…but I refrained. I remember my brother Ted at that age, not comfortable with most jobs, and Dad’s sharp reprimands. I did remind Tommy of the standards we talked about, and said that until the floor was actually clean, I was not going to pay him for cleaning it.

We worked together outside. I showed him the weeds to pull around the garden beds; he worked at that while I mowed, then we switched jobs. It was a warm afternoon. When we stopped for a glass of water, Tommy said, “Well, I think that was a good days work!” We had been at it for forty-five minutes. His face fell a little when I told him we were just getting started.

He really wants to make a pocketful of money while he’s here. I want him to feel the pleasure of earning his own money, and the satisfaction of doing a good day’s work…that extends past the first forty-five minutes!

We have a jig-saw puzzle spread out on the table, and are spending evenings putting it together. Last night, we heard one piece drop to the floor. “Better look for it right away,” I said, “’cause you’ll never find it when you sweep…”

“Awright, Grandma, good one,” he grinned.

Taking the Chances

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I’ve always been kind of a stickler for rules  and obligations. To the point of being a pain in the ass. I even annoy myself with it, but can’t seem to let it go. There is one right way to do things, one order for getting things done. Just as I would never throw a game to let my children win, I would never say “great job,” if I didn’t mean it.

I cringe remembering times that I was presented with a well-meant offering, only to say, “well, that’s nice, but next time remember to butter the pan first…” only to see their little faces fall just a little. I shudder at the times I placed work or school or other obligations ahead of time with my children. They aren’t children anymore. Now, whatever I placed in front of them pales in comparison to the times I let pass by. Times that I can’t get back.

I have a lot to do. The writing for the upcoming issue of the Beacon has fallen largely to me, because everyone is busy this time of year. I’m busy, too, but it’s mine, so responsibility falls to me. I’m trying to work it in around all other obligations. I explained that, last evening, to my grandson, Tommy, who arrived day before yesterday. “I have to take this evening to write,” I told him.

He didn’t complain. Wanting to earn money while he’s here, he helped out for a couple hours at the hardware store yesterday, then worked at mowing my lawn for a half hour while I put dinner together. The desk was going to be my next stop. Until bedtime.

Then, I stopped. Stepped out of my rigid rule book about what needs to be done and when. Said, “Let’s make ice cream cones, load up the dogs and go to Donegal Bay for the sunset.”

“All right!”

And that’s exactly what we did.

I’ve let enough opportunities go by in my life; this was one that I captured.