Sunday, September 11, 2016

Because I Can Never Forget This Ethiopian Flower....

(I originally posted this on 9/11/2009. I have decided that I will re-post this every year on the anniversary, just to keep the memory of this one beautiful soul my heart, in your heart. In everyone's heart who reads this.)

Here is a photo of a young woman who is now going to haunt me for the rest of my days. Her name was Eskedar Melaku. She died September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. She was 31 years old.

She was born in Ethiopia and emigrated to the United States, settling in New York City to attend Queens College. At the time of her death she was assistant vice president of Marsh & McLennan
Cos. Inc., a global professional services and insurance brokerage company, ranked the 5th largest US company in the diversified financial industry. I also found in researching for this blog post that the company was located on the floors directly impacted by the first jet that crashed into the North Tower. It comforts me to know that she never knew what hit her. She was a successful young business woman, but that only touches the surface of who she really was. She was described in the many tributes I've read about her by people who knew her as intelligent, beautiful, radiant, authentic, full of life. Hard working. Kind. Thoughtful. Never a bad word came from her mouth. A beautiful soul whose quiet presence is missed very much. How much she was loved by those fortunate enough to know her. How I wish I'd been one of them.

Like everyone else on that day, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the attacks on the World Trade Center were taking place. I was standing at my bedside, folding towels before leaving for work, listening to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on the Today Show on the TV behind me, Katie making some kind of comment like, "What does this mean?" before anyone really had a clue what was going on. I happened to turn to look at the TV just as the second plane was approaching and watched in horror as it slammed into the tower. I remember the icy cold tendrils of shock radiating down my spine, just as I feel them now as I sit here writing this. I never realized how this incident, this horrendous tragedy, would change the 'safe' world we Americans had always taken for granted, how America would never be the same. I said more prayers than I can remember that day, for those who perished and the loved ones left behind. I have said many prayers for them since. None of whom I ever knew personally.

But, now I do know one of them personally. Eskedar Melaku. And I know she'll come to mind on every anniversary of 9/11. And at many other random moments, whenever I hear references to that day. I will see that beautiful smile, those warm eyes. I will remember.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Don't simply retire from something; have something to retire to. ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

Retirement is a funny phenomenon.  I reached 62 at the end of last year and we decided I should go ahead and start receiving Social Security.  So, I signed up for it and began getting my checks a few months ago.  I cannot begin to tell you how surreal it was to look at our bank statement and to see my very first check deposited into our checking account.  How did that happen?!  How have I become so...old?  Believe me, it isn't much because my husband and I decided years ago that I'd be a stay-at-home mom for our kids and, it ended up, half the neighborhood.  We have never regretted that choice.  But outside of working seven years for the Portland Public Schools I would make a little extra money here and there cleaning houses, doing a little day care...little jobs with little income that had little influence on how much I'd get in my Golden Oldie Years.  Oh well.

I love quotes.  Bible quotes.  Famous people quotes.  Funny quotes.  Thought-provoking quotes.  I have a favorite website devoted to quotes and I glean most of those that I use from that site.  I was looking at it this morning under "Retirement" to see what I could use for my post title.  They're not very encouraging.  Mostly about living on less...much less...and the boredom that comes from suddenly transitioning from being so busy all the time to wondering what in the world you're going to do with the endless hours of inactivity stretching out in front of you.  This title caught my eye because outside of suggesting playing rounds and rounds of was the only one that encouraged me to do something with that time.  Volunteer.  Give away your time.  Go to your nearest elementary school and volunteer there...the staff will love you for it, and so will the kids.  I do that during the school year at my youngest grandson's school, and I'm known as Mrs. Cooper's Grandma to the little first graders I tutor to help them learn to read.  I volunteer at the Book Fair twice a year.  I'm going to sign up to volunteer at a hospice here in the city where I live.  You're giving of yourself...your talents...your strengths.  It keeps your mind active and healthy.  It keeps you in contact with people.  It gives you friendships.  It gives you a sense of purpose and a sense of usefulness.  A blessing is also there because you're doing unto others.

I don't want to wither away.  I don't want to sit here collecting dust.  I want to continue to be a productive part of society.  I want to contribute.

I want to matter.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~ Winston Churchill

I think Portland, Oregon, has the repuation of being the most bike-friendly city in America. Miles upon miles of bike paths. Well, that isn't so here where I live in Michigan. You don't see a lot of bicyclists around for the most part, and most of those who do ride, ride on the sidewalks. With that said, I was waiting at a Stop sign to enter into traffic and had crept forward to see around a mail box hindering my view of the road. A young bicyclist came whizzing toward me on the sidewalk and before I could move forward or backward to get out of the way he swerved behind my van, yelling, "Get out of the way!" As he passed me he turned to look back at me with his fist raised, getting ready to give me a very...impolite...gesture. But I think it was my silvery white hair that made him pause. He put his hand down and went on his way. So I am the victim of an almost-there-but-not-quite-done rude gesture! LOL!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love. ~ George Eliot

We are preparing to bid our daughter goodbye.  She's an adult, granted...but no matter how old they become, they're still our children.  And since we've had her with us or near us for almost 40 years, saying goodbye is not easy.  Not easy at all.

She will be leaving by train Monday morning to move back to Oregon.  Out of all of our family's monumental adventure of moving to Michigan a little over 5 years ago, she's the only one who's missed the Pacific Northwest the most.  Being single and working a very physical job on an average of 9 1/2 hours per day, when she's been home on the weekends it's mainly been a matter of resting up for the coming week ahead.  Even tho she likes Michigan she hasn't been able to establish any real friendships because of lack of time and energy.  She went to Oregon on vacation early in the Spring this year and stayed a week with her best friend of many years.  She realized just how much she'd missed her friend and also the beach and other amenities of Oregon.  They'd talked about my daughter moving back out there before, but this time they cemented the deal and she'll be moving on Monday.  She's selling and donating just about everything and will ship only the basics.  My daughter-in-law and I are spending the next few days helping her get everything ready.  She'll stay the weekend with her brother's family to spend some time with her nephews...and then she'll be gone.


Sure, there's Skype and texting and all that.

It's not going to be the same, tho.  Not having her nearby.  With just her leaving, it diminishes our small core group of family by one and leaves us with only 6.  I already feel the loss.  My "mother's gut" is feeling sick and my heart is very heavy.  But I can't hold her back.  I can't be negative.  I want her to spread her wings and fly.

Sometimes we have to love them enough to let them go.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing. ~ Eva Young

Yup, what my post title says is the truth.  No arguing there.  I am finding that getting back into the groove of regular writing is like coming back from a Rip Van Winkle nap.  Brain cells that used to snap to attention and produce post haste now just kind of...dribble.  But at least they're still there.  I'm putting sentences together into some kind of cohesive order.  Aren't I?  I am not going back and rereading what I've written the past few days.  I am very guilty of over-critiquing myself and I'll talk myself out of writing anything at all if I start that up.

Kind of like when I joined Weight Watchers a bazillion years ago.  I so desperately wanted to lose weight and I did.  A lot of weight.  Something like 60 pounds in 8 months.  I was the star of my class, the lecturer's little darling.  I was put on a pedestal so high I was set up to crash, at least with the way my mind works.  And boy, did I crash, hard.  I became bulimic and an abuser of laxatives.  I purged like crazy.  I did anything to keep my weight at or below my goal for maybe a couple of years?  I don't remember for sure...this was back around 1980.  Then the pressure of it became too much and I fell off the band wagon with such a loud crash they probably heard it in Baltimore all the way from Portland, Oregon!  My greatest enemy in my lifetime has been my scale and it has had a demonic hold on me.   Or I should say it did until a few years ago.  I know I'm never going to look like Cindy Crawford at 50 in a bikini.  I wouldn't want to.  Can you imagine the pressure on her to stay skinny?  But I still refuse to look when my weight is taken at the doctor's office.  I tell the nurse to just write it down...I don't want to know.  Deep down I think I'm afraid I'll jump on the band wagon if I do and it will be back to the races again.  Instead, I'm at what I call a 'comfortable' weight.  Not skinny and not fat.  Just "grandmotherly" and since I'm a 62 year old grandma, that's sufficient for me.  What is so sad is the stupid things we do to our bodies in our youth come back to bite us on the behind as we get older and my dumb choices have wreaked havoc on my digestive system thru the years.  You wanna dance, ya gotta pay the piper.  End of story.'s been a good but emotional day.  My little buddy Christian was over at our house this morning for the last time before school.  We had a long, very sweet hug before we piled in the van to head to school.  I dropped him off and then had a lovely breakfast with a dear friend and I'm sure that helped make the morning a little less emotional.  Around 11:30 our family gathered together at our grandsons' elementary school to participate in a tradition that's been upheld for many years where family, school staff, and the other kids in the school gather in the hallways to 'clap out' the 4th graders as they leave the school for the very last time.  Very bittersweet and especially emotional today because our daughter will be leaving to live in Oregon in a month and she and our grandson had a very tearful moment at the end.  It's great to make fresh new plans for your life...but the reality of goodbye comes knocking at your door too and I don't think my daughter knew before today just how hard that's going to be.  When we moved to Michigan we came completely intact as a family but now she's heading back all on her own.  Quite a different scenario this time around.

So as my brain cells...dribble...I am not going to be disheartened that my blogging audience who once upon a time was very healthy has faded away to next-to-nothing.  I never started this blog 14 years ago for that reason, anyway.  I began it to chronicle the lives of my grandsons and it has morphed into so many other things as well.  When I first began writing this all those years ago someone left me a very rude comment that almost caused me to quit before I'd hardly begun.  He said, "Who wants to read about your boring and paltry life anyway?"  You know who?  ME!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love. ~ George Eliot

I have a little boy at my house this week who is letting me know he's not very happy with me.  Not in words, but actions...and I can't be mad at him because, even at my age, I can remember how frustrating and heartbreaking life could be as a child when I had no control over things happening in my life.  Until you're 18, you're basically at the mercy of whoever is in charge of raising you.

This little guy is my buddy Christian.  I've been taking care of him in various capacities for the past two years...before school, after school, part of the time last summer.  We've become very attached in these two years.  Sadly, the time's come where I can no longer offer him day care...partly because of health limitations.  Because I have no kids in our neighborhood for him to play with, and no electronic game systems.  Last summer on the days I took care of him, sometimes I was so desperate for him to have someone to play with because he was so bored that I'd take him to McDonald's Play Place and let him loose for a couple of hours since there were always kids there. He's at an age now, almost 7, where he's not all that interested in toys anymore. I'm collecting Social Security now and the possibility of tax penalties if I'm not careful with any extra money I make is a big consideration, too.  But complete honesty...I'm just ready to say goodbye to taking care of other people's kids.  I've been doing it all my life and I no longer have the "want to" in me to keep up the pace needed to do a good job of it. And rather than becoming a cranky old lady doing something she no longer wants to do, I'm hanging up my hat.

That isn't to say it isn't going to be wrenching to say goodbye.  I love him almost as much as I love my grandsons.  But as he and I have been talking about it here and there since he learned about it, I think even in his young mind he knows I'm not up to the task anymore.  Not that it's going to be easy on him, either, as I know he loves me, too.

I'm going to give him a gift tomorrow, our last day together.  I collect angels and I took the most beautiful one I have, one with a lot of sentimental value to me, and wrapped it up in a box.  The bigger the sacrifice, the more precious the giving, right?  I wrote in his card that I was giving him this angel to keep in a safe spot, and every time he looks at it to remember that I'm praying for him always.  I told him he will always have a Heavenly Father who is only a whisper away.  And I told him I love him...but, more importantly, Jesus loves him.  REALLY loves him.  That is the most important gift of all.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend. ~ Plautus

I've done a lot of pondering about friendship in the past few years.  Well, actually, I've done a lot of pondering about it most of my life, if truth be told.  Am I a good person to have as a friend?  A bad one?  Do I really truly understand friendship?  I don't know that I do.  How are we taught what friendship is?  By our parents to begin with?  I loved my parents but, honestly, neither one was very good at friendship.  My dad was overbearing and my mom emotionally cold so to say they set a good example as to how to attract and keep friends...well, I can't really say that.  In looking back over my life it seems like I had a lot of friends in the little town I grew up in.  I never lacked playmates, I was never left out of any of the games the kids in the neighborhood played.  We'd run outside to join forces early on summer mornings and rarely go back in unless we had to go to the bathroom or eat.  The only thing that would bring us in at nite was when our parents would begin calling out to us and telling us it was time to go to bed.  Those were good years.

Then, as I was turning 13, we moved to a small city.  Big change!  I went from having the same 25 kids with me that I'd had in class from 1st thru 6th grades to a junior high school with around 900.  Oh, how I didn't fit in.  I didn't have a clue how to fit in.  And I was bullied and made fun of.  And I shut down and began hating people.  I made one very good friend in 7th grade who is still my best friend almost 50 years later.  But people who I thought were friends betrayed me.  People who I tried to be friends with wanted nothing to do with me.  I was so, so lost and I lost trust in people big time.  REALLY big time.

Then came high school.  Pretty much the same story.  I kept to myself and I was told something that flabbergasted me right out of high school at my first job.  A girl who had been a cheerleader and graduated from the same class and high school as I did also began working at the hospital I worked at.  Miracle of miracles, we became good friends.  She told me that I had the reputation of being the most stuck-up girl in our class because I gave off the impression I was too good to talk to anyone.  She looked at me with such an expression of surprise on her face and said, "You're not like that at all!"  I told her no, I wasn't.  I was just painfully shy and unsure of myself. Hearing what she had to say didn't do wonders for my self esteem either.

My husband likes me.  My kids like me.  In amongst a lot of love.  But adult friendship still eluded me a lot.  That lasted thru my 20s to my 50s.  A friend here, a friend there.  But still huge trust issues where I couldn't open up.  I've always been a great listener but conversation...chit something almost beyond me.  Very very very few people have I felt comfortable and easy enough with to open up my deepest thoughts and feelings.  That's where my blog comes in.  Well, came in for several years and then too many distractions to keep up with it.  I'm a typing whiz and my fingers can keep up with my mind very well.  Words flow.  It's the way I can most easily express myself and my thoughts.  And I made a LOT of friends in the blogging world.  I've had right around 1 million views thru the years.  Give me a keyboard and I can rattle on forever.  Sit me down face-to-face with someone, especially someone new, and I freeze up.  On my best days I'm an extroverted introvert.  I am a total introvert, truly.  Dear Hubby just laughs and brushes that off every time I say it.  He says I could carry on a conversation with a rock if I had no one else to talk to.  Maybe so but I sure don't see it.

Then comes moving here to the Midwest, to Michigan in particular.  There is an openness and easiness with the people here that literally blows my mind.  And the Canadian Newfoundlanders who have settled in Kitchener, Ontario...same thing.  We have made lots of wonderful friends since moving here.  They love us.  They like being with us.  They invite us to dinners in their homes. They miss us if we miss church, both in Canada and the little church we attend in the Thumb now. They're easy to talk to.  Why? I mean, really...why?!  What's changed? It is such a mystery to me, it just baffles me every time I try to figure it out.  I don't think I'm any different than I've ever been.  I told Dear Hubby the only thing I can think of is I just didn't fit in with the NW lifestyle.  I never felt 'home' there.  Whereas here...oh my, almost from the moment we arrived it felt like home to me.  Maybe I'm more relaxed?  More trusting, for sure, because I haven't had anyone I can think of outside of a grumpy old man coming out of the library a couple years ago who didn't acknowledge my "Hello!" My word, you can say "Hi!" to someone in a store parking lot here and end up in a 20 minute conversation.  I told Dear Hubby I feel like the 'me' who's always been there on the inside, the one who wanted to come out but was too afraid of rejection to stick my head out of the shell I'd barricaded myself inside of most of my life. 

I dunno.

I don't know if I'll ever have it figured out.  My life's unsolved mystery.


Monday, June 13, 2016

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~ e e. cummings

Where oh where oh where did my muse disappear to?  Is that the right word...the ability to think, comment, and meditate?  I dunno.  Something profound happened when we moved 5 years ago to Michigan.  My blog writing almost entirely dried up.  Became a desert land in what had once been a fertile oasis!  When we lived in Portland, Oregon, I couldn't wait to get to my computer keyboard most days and just rattle on.  My high school Creative Writing teacher, Anne Hartley, who was a great believer in stream of consciousness writing, would have been proud of me.  Maybe it's because Dear Hubby and I were a little past our prime, into our late 50's when we made this -- to us -- monumental move. 2400 miles from all that had been familiar our entire lives.  Far from family and friends.  Far from the church we'd worshiped at for 35 years.  Dear Hubby left a job he'd had for 32 years, to take on a brand new one that was starting from scratch and a totally different line of work.  A new state, a new climate, people of a much different mindset from the very liberal West Coast. When we moved into our new house I had to use my GPS to even find a nearby grocery store!  We knew absolutely nothing about where we'd moved to.  One huge blessing was the fact our entire core family  --  Dear Hubby, myself, our son, his wife, our daughter, and our grandsons --  all moved here together.  But we were the only familiar faces we knew.

We bought a house in a very comfortable, friendly neighborhood.  Dear Hubby's work took him out of town a lot and I was allowed to ride along with him on the road trips so the first couple years here we covered a lot of territory.  We saw all kinds of sights we never dreamed we'd see when we lived out West.  Traveled thru many states.  Began attending a little branch church of our faith in Kitchener, Ontario, which is a 3 1/2 hour drive from where we live near Detroit.  Our two grandsons began attending a wonderful school here and made lots of friends and got involved in sports.  The business we all came here to help establish thrived and grew beyond the owner's expectations.  It's a good life.  I am the only one in our family who hasn't traveled back to Oregon.  I have felt since I moved here like I'd come home, and I still feel that way.  I have no desire to go visit.

I've got a good life established here for myself, too.  Between friends in Kitchener and those in the Thumb area of Michigan at another church we began attending because health issues don't allow me to travel so far any more, I have a satisfying social life.  At this stage in life my grandsons are now old enough where I'm not needed so much like I was when they were little guys.  So when my hip and back issues allow I like to volunteer at their school.  I've also taken care of a darling little boy before school for the past two years.

But you've got to be ready for the forks in the road that come along.

We recently found out our daughter is moving back to Oregon next month.  As a single, she's missed her life and friends there a lot since we moved here.  Work over the years has been so busy...and long hours and very physical.  She's worn out and burned out.  An opportunity to make the move has opened up and she's jumping at the chance to make it.  I can't blame her.  I can't hold her back.  But, I going to miss her.  And, because of trying to avoid Social Security tax penalties, after school gets out on Thursday I will no longer be taking care of the little boy who has grown to be like another grandson.

Those are my forks.

I don't know how I feel about them, either.

But I've never been resistant to change.  I wouldn't have moved to Michigan if I had been, would I? 

Neither goodbye is going to be without tears.  You might even hear my heart crack in two.

Life's book is so full of different chapters.  You come to a new one, you turn the page.  New lessons to learn.  It's a fact of Life.  But it doesn't make it any easier.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on. ~ Joseph Heller, Catch-22

If I mention the attack in Paris, a few years from now if I'm still alive and come back to read this will I even know what attack this was?  The world is so transient and with media omnipresent at the click of a remote or the swipe of a finger on a phone screen, each day disaster is chronicled at an amazing pace.  I know it's more than I can keep up with most of the time.  And with one disaster piled onto another disaster on top of another disaster, how can we focus on the horrific-ness of each one when our attention span has only a few hours or so to absorb it and then, wham!  Here comes another one.  My mind is on overload most of the time as it is with the everyday busyness of life...I seem to forget more than I remember.  But I do believe this terrorist attack is going to alter global life for all of us, and when we do think on it we'll picture it in much the way we did the terrorist attack on 9/11.  Life before, life after.

I try not to get too involved in politics.  That wind will blow whichever way it feels like on any given day.  But I do have two young grandsons and the decisions made in the White House and Congress the next 12 months will have profound affects on their futures.  Their world is very precarious.  But it gives me great comfort on any given day when I take care of them in the morning before school and their main concerns are playing a game they created about Poke`mon.  Or if they remembered to put everything they needed in their backpacks.  Or if today is Mentor day or Library day or Music day.  The world's turmoil hasn't touched them much yet.  Their innocence is still intact.  Sure, they know the 'safe' place in their classroom or school in case of a lockdown...but that's only in theory and, thank God, hasn't been put into practice and hopefully never will.

I have a friend who commented on a post I wrote on Facebook saying she wished she'd grown up in the 1950s.  I did, and in many ways it seemed like an idyllic time in our country's history.  But there was Senator McCarthy's witch hunt for communists.  There was the Korean War.  No time is perfect.  But if I can extend the peace in my grandsons' minds of not knowing the world is a pretty messed up, mixed up place for a little while longer...well, it's at the top of my To Do list.

Monday, July 13, 2015

If you don't get everything you want, think of the things you don't get that you don't want. ~ Oscar Wilde

Do ya think? As a Christian I usually see things on the bright side but some today...I can't get the voice out of my head that tells me everything is going to go wrong...everything I do is a failure...I'm not worthy.  It came on me like a flood last nite as I went to bed and it was there to climb right back onto my shoulder as soon as I awoke this morning.  I hate anxiety.  It's the most worthless waste of energy in the world and yet some days it seems to be unavoidable. Today's version is telling me some settled business is all a sham, even with the legality of it.  Hogwash, ha!  But for some reason that's what the voice is shouting in my ear.

I hate it, as I said, and the reason why is because it takes me right back to my adolescent years where I was consumed by anxiety.  I had a lot on my plate as a teen. Because my parents had a lot on their plates, too, I had nowhere to turn to, no one to talk to, so I shouldered all that for several years.  I contemplated suicide many times, sure no one would even miss me if I died.  I felt like my presence in my family was  that of an invisible bystander.  The silent minority.  I dealt with whatever was tossed my way, and I survived.  But when my mind drifts back to those years, even after all the many happy years I've had as an adult, that familiar knotting of the stomach hits.  I can feel the dry mouth happening.  I want to escape.  And thankfully, when I met Dear Hubby, I was delivered from it.

Dear Hubby and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary last month.  41!  And the man deserves a medal for helping me deal with a lot of excess baggage I've carried around at times.  I certainly don't deserve him but I'm so thankful for his presence in my life.  His support, his love, and most importantly his prayers, have been my lifeline.

99% of what we fret about never comes to pass.  You know that, don't you?  And the 1% that does?  Well, we face it, deal with it, and  move on.  So...adios, voice inside my head.  You're history.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by. ~ J.M. Barrie

There is never...never...ever...enough time in a day.  I once heard a Bible teaching many years ago on a scripture about how time will speed up the closer we get to the end of time.  I've often meditated on that.  And as I'm getting 61...the more true it seems.  A day is a flicker of a firefly on a summer nite.  A week is a deep sigh.  A month is a deep breath.  A year...well, it's almost gone before it starts.  It used to be I'd hear only older folks say how fast time flies, but even young people comment on how life seems to be on a carousel that spins faster and faster all the time.  Is it the frenetic pace this world seems to function at now...the connectedness to anyone anywhere in the world at any time?  I dunno.  All I know is I can't keep up with it.  It exhausts me trying to.

I found this quote by J.M. Barrie and it touched something in my heart this morning. This is the first day I've visited my blog in many months and I have spent some of the most golden hours of my life here, chronicling the lives of my two grandsons as they came into the world and until we moved here to Michigan.  Then real life in a different realm came into being...the busyness of my life here doesn't seem to allow me to have any writing time any more.  Even to keep up with messages from friends on Facebook and email overwhelms me at times.  And, my heart yearns to be able to sit down at the end of the day and chat to myself.  Not for anyone's enjoyment except my own.  I don't care if anyone comes here to read what I write.  This is my space.  My breathing room. My shelter from the storms life can toss at me now and then.  And my sanctuary, where I come to renew myself.

When we moved here almost 4 1/2 years ago my grandsons were just turning 3 and 5.  They're now young boys, 7 and 9.  Moving here has been wonderful for them and it thrills my heart to see them thriving the way they are.  They're doing so well in school, surrounded by many friends, involved in sports.  When we launched out into the 'great unknown', moving almost 2400 miles from our native Oregon, we hadn't an inkling of what was in store for us.  It has been especially life-changing for my Dear Hubby and me, coming here when we were 57 years old.  It has been a good life-change.  It has given us an entirely different life that we never had on the West Coast.  It has opened up travel all around the region. I never dreamed I'd ever drive thru the Appalachian and Ozark Mountain Ranges.  I never dreamed I'd see the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers in person.  Or visited cities like Louisville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati. Or Niagara Falls.  Or been in Canada more times than I can count, with some of my dearest life friends living in Ontario.  Or travelled up into Michigan's Upper Peninsula at the height of leaf color in the Fall and feasting on the beauty there.  I never imagined this would happen in my lifetime.  I thought I'd be stuck in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest for the rest of my life.  But one never knows what change might be around the corner.  Does one.  And are you stunned into stupefaction and never adapt at our ages?  Or do you do what we did...embrace it!  Let it rejuvenate us!  Open our senses to it!

My son has said several times since we all moved here he has only one regret about it...that it was so late in my life and his dad's and he wished it could have happened years ago so we could enjoy it longer.  But I don't look at it that way...the 'could have beens'.  I look at it as a gift we were given.  And it's a gift that keeps on giving.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering. ~ Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

I wrote a post not long ago...well, not long ago according to how quickly my life seems to zip by, it's so full and busy all the time it seems.  But it was about stress brought on by a long-standing prayer that had gone unanswered.  A serious prayer.  And I couldn't understand why God just wouldn't answer it because, in my eyes, it didn't seem like it would be that hard to do.

Maybe it was a trial to refine me.  Maybe He just allowed it to go on to make me realize how much of the time I need Him in my life.  And that would be all  the time, every minute of every day.  He did answer it, or He's begun to.  It's still a work in progress but I can see His hand in it and how He's resolving it, how He's caused the dust to settle down, the turmoil to ease.  It was beyond human healing and at times seemed hopeless but I serve an amazing God who has never lost a battle.  He's right there at the front line and never surrenders.  How could I ever doubt Him?  But it wasn't so much a matter of doubting was a matter of trusting Him, standing back, and letting go.  He's had the solution all the time.  I think all He was waiting for was for me to realize that.

A few weeks later, I sit here and reread what I wrote.  I can hardly relate to it now.  I read it as if it was written by someone else.  It wasn't like it was POW! In my face instant relief!  It was coming back and reading this and realizing hey, it's gone, that mind-numbing all-consuming anxiety.  When did it melt away?!  And then such gratitude to my Savior who knows every hair on my head and cares for me.  In the moments of my busy day, between child care and errands and house work and volunteering and....the list is endless...He just quietly took care of the problem and sat back and waited for me to realize that prayer works.  In His time.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. ~ Garth Brooks

Have you ever had situations in Life where you feel like you're standing at the end of a diving board staring down into some black, murky water and wonder, "Should I jump?" or "Maybe I'll just go back and forget about this."  That's what's so hard about the 'murky moments' in life, isn't it?  Do you you you just stand there and ponder it for a while in the valley of indecision?  I am at that point.  I have had a prayer that's gone unanswered for a long time.  I have been a Christian for 38 years this month.  I've prayed thousands of prayers thru those years.  I've had some answered instantaneously, some within hours or days or even weeks.  But I don't think I've ever had this experience before, where I've prayed and prayed and prayed and absolutely nothing is resolved.  For months.  It is causing undue stress, to the point where my hair was falling out in handfuls for about a week's time.  To the point where I had a mini emotional breakdown one evening when I was home alone.  And yet I keep praying and it feels like there is a wall of brass between me and God.  Am I praying incorrectly?  Am I praying for a solution to the problem in a way that isn't pleasing to the Lord?  This has been a lesson in patience, in suffering, because it affects me in the most vulnerable way and I want an answer right now.  God is definitely showing me He answers prayer on His timetable, not mine.  My humanness wants to jump right in there and take control, to fix the problem the way I want it done.  It makes me want to wave a flag in front of God's face and say, "Now, listen here!  I've waited long enough and I need some relief now, not when You decide it's time!"  Oh my...that's getting onto dangerous ground, isn't it?  Me trying to tell the Creator of the universe who spoke the world into existence how to act?  So I guess it's time to step humbly back and say "Ok, Lord.  I know all things are beautiful in Your time.  I know that You're taking the heavy end of the load and all I need to do is let You have it.  I know I can do all things through You because You strengthen me."  But sometimes my weakness gets the best of me.  Sometimes I just want to tell the old enemy of my soul, "Ok, you win this one."  I am just so tired, so worn down, and so distraught at times, which isn't me at all.  I'm the strong one, the caregiver and the nurturer.  The one who tries to carry the heavy end of everyone's burden.  And what's especially hard is it's for me to bear alone.

I have an aching heart that needs the Balm of Gilead.  I need the Lord to hold me tight and give me rest for my weary soul.  I just need....peace.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. ~ Alan Alda

There are times in people's lives where facing big decisions could lead to some major relocations in their lives.  Oh, can I empathize!  I know exactly the exhilaration, the terror, the excitement, the fear of the great unknown.  I can sympathize as's pretty daunting, packing up all you own, selling your house, and moving a great distance from everyone and everything you've ever known.  You move into a new house in a new neighborhood in a new city in a new state in a new region.  And then what?  Well, you settle right in and start making a new life the very next day.  You don't dwell on what you've embrace what you've come to.  One of the positives of moving to somewhere new in the US is everyone still speaks your language.  And when you go shopping, the shelves are stocked with many of the brands of foods you've always seen at the grocery store.  Granted, the names of the stores may be different and there are some regional brands you've never seen before.  But trust's just food, no matter what the brand.  Moving from the Pacific Northwest to Michigan the accents of the people are very different and at first was very pronounced to me, but now after almost 4 years of living here I don't hardly notice it any more, tho I do hear it in the voice of my youngest grandchild...he's very much a Michigander.  You don't constantly compare the differences of 'here' and 'home'.  For one thing, I was told Oregon is so far away most people here know nothing about it.  At most I get asked, "Doesn't it rain there a lot?" And  "Isn't it by the ocean?"  That's about as far as their curiosity goes.  Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz...."Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore".  And that pretty much hits the nail on the head.

I was in my mid-50s when we moved here.  I know our younger population thinks nothing of moving anywhere at any time for the most part...they're a very mobile, world-traveling generation.  But I come from a childhood in a small town in the 1950s and early 1960s, where life was simple and the pace was slow and you knew just about everyone in town.  My adult years were spent in and around Portland.  We never moved more than 75 miles from the area, and that was only for a few months before moving back to Portland again when our son was born 36 years ago.  So to say we had a pretty routine-oriented life...where one day blended into another day...and another day...and another day...would describe us very well.  I had no desire, no plan, to move or live anywhere else.  I figured we'd finish up our lives here on earth right where we were.  But God had different plans for us...and here we are.  One should never say never.  You might get thrown a curve ball that will be a grand-slam homerun.

Change is good.  You don't move and then wait for the whole world to come and find you in your little corner of it.  You get out there, get talking, be friendly.  And don't use "But I'm so shy!" as your excuse.  So am I!  My basic nature is very introverted.  But no one here knows that about me unless I tell them.  Life here is a whole brand new clean slate and you can start afresh.  And it's amazing how liberating that is!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Moment in Mayberry

There are two things you don't find many of any more.  One is drive-in movie theaters and the other is traditional barber shops.  I haven't been to a drive-in since back in my dating and early-married years around 40 years ago.  Technology and the availability of having all kinds of gadgets and access to a multitude of medias within our homes has made drive-ins a thing of the past.  I say that with a lot of sadness.  There were many warm summer nites when I was a little girl where my parents would dress my brothers and me in our pajamas, pack up the back seat of the car with blankets and pillows, and head off for the drive-in.  It was cheap family entertainment and a lot of fun.  They'd splurge on a couple of big buckets of buttery popcorn and we'd settle in and enjoy ourselves.  There were a couple of cartoons before the main feature, and quite often double features where two movies were shown back-to-back.  Since moving here to the Midwest and being out on our road trips a lot I have spotted a few drive-in movies still in operation and I would love to go to one sometime.  Unfortunately, most have been in other states and too far too drive.  There was one I noticed recently in eastern Ohio that especially intrigued me.  It was set back a ways from a two-lane highway, surrounded by close to a thousand acres of corn fields out in the middle of virtually nowhere.  My imagination really took off on that one.  I could see us parked there with the windows wide open --  yeah, right, with a million mosquitoes eating us alive --  serenaded by cricket choirs, fireflies flashing all around us, a million stars overhead.  Temptation, temptation.  Maybe we ought to make a weekend trip of it sometime, find a little old motel somewhere nearby, and actually go.  Simple as it sounds, it's on my bucket list.

There's a true-blue barber shop about a mile from our house.  Dear Hubby, our son, and grandsons all go to it.  Saturday was a busy day and my daughter-in-law called and asked if I could help out by taking the boys for some much-needed hair cuts.  When we went in the door the boys were greeted by name and I sat down and savored the atmosphere while I waited.  Barber shops are so totally a male environment.  There were old...and I do mean old...barber chairs.  I'm not sure how old the building was or how many years the barber shop has been there but the floor was old black-and-white square linoleum tiles...the sinks had to be at least half a century old.  There were antique mirrors on the walls.  And lots of interesting customers sitting back in the chairs waiting for their hair cuts.  Good people-watching variety.  Along the deep front windowsill were bottles of old-fashioned hair tonic, trophies, model cars, photos of cars.  All kinds of posters and cut-out photos plastering just about every inch of wall space.  All that was missing was Floyd the Barber.  One man mentioned he comes all the way from Detroit to have his hair cut there because it's an honest-to-goodness barber shop.  He said the shop he'd gone to for years had been converted a while back to a unisex salon and he just didn't feel comfortable getting his hair cut there any more.  Plants all over, music had lost its atmosphere.  I chatted with all the men while the boys were being attended to. I told them with growing up with brothers I used to tag along and sit watching while they'd get hair cut and I always felt at home in barber shops, too.  Truth be told, I've always felt more comfortable around males than I do females any day.  Growing up with the practicality of males I never did learn the art of feminine chit-chat and I'm much more at ease with the less-is-more conversation of speak if you have something to say, and you keep it short and simple without all the frills of feminine speech.  But I digress.  The boys got Number Two razor cuts, Dylan over his entire head, Cooper the same except for a little fringe about 1/2" long along his forehead he wanted the barber to spike.  So the barber took a tube of barber wax...I want to say butch wax??  Isn't that what it used to be called when crew cuts were the fashion of the day when my brothers were little boys?  He spiked Cooper's little fringe...the boys were dusted down with barber brushes, and we were on our way.  It just felt like traditional America for the half hour we were we'd stepped right back into the 1950s.  Moments like that make me long for things that are pretty much lost to our daily lives now.  Our world is obsessed with "Change is better".  And that's not always true.  I'm glad my grandsons have this connection with years gone by, this chance to experience something still so traditionally male.  I don't understand a world where everything sexual is becoming so blurred and fuzzy, and I'm not talking about sexual relationships, I'm talking about females and males.  I don't understand gender blending.  I know...I'm old-fashioned and I'm not being politically correct here but I belong to an age where men were men and women were women.  And you didn't have to look two times, or even three, to figure it out.  But that, too, is a thing of the past.  And I'm so glad I'm not a child in the world today trying to understand it all.  It's too confusing even for me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Don’t refuse to go on an occasional wild goose chase — that’s what wild geese are for. ~ Author Unknown

I just took a quiz on Facebook to check out and see how long I might live.  Here are the results:


You tend to stand out in life -- but in a really good and impressive way. Sometimes, you surprise even yourself with what you're capable of. So it's not just others who are wowed by you. It's also yourself. There's no wonder you'll live a long life full of adventure and fun!

What made me chuckle was one of the questions.  It asked me if I liked to take risks.  I almost clicked on "No" and then I laughed.  I mean, packing up and moving 2400 miles from all that was familiar at the age of 57?  I guess I 'wowed' myself on that one, haha!  So I clicked the "Yes," and rightly so.

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning. ~ Ivy Baker Priest

After a few hot and humid days we woke up to the sound of rain and cooler temperatures this morning.  Dear Hubby and I went around the house opening up doors and windows and the smell of the fresh air blowing thru the house is absolutely delicious!  I don't know how people here in the Midwest or anywhere else that experiences high humidity thru the Summer survive without central air conditioning.  Hot days in the Pacific Northwest were no picnic either because the Summer weather there goes to such extremes.  It could be 68 and raining one day, then 95 the next with a hot east wind blasting out of the Columbia River Gorge but at least the humidity never seemed to go above 50% so it wasn't sticky icky.  We never had any air conditioning when we lived there but when I learned this house had central air as I was house hunting a few years ago, it was a definite plus on our decision to purchase it.  I remember the first time I clicked the thermostat over to "Cool" and heard the AC kick on, felt the cool air start to blow thru the air vents.  What a concept!  The first year we lived here we had it adjusted pretty low because we'd only been here a couple of months before Summer blazed forth and we weren't quite acclimatized yet.  Now, tho, we have it set at 78 during the day, a degree or so lower at nite.  It's funny how those temperatures can feel so 'cool' and how 63 in the Winter can feel so warm!  When the snow is blowing, the wind is howling, and the wind chill factor is -45, a house that's 63 degrees feels like the tropics in comparison to what's going on outside.

I haven't written anything about my grandboys yet so I thought you who've read my blog for a long time might like a bit of an update.  At this stage of the game I am no longer needed for full days that stretched out to an average of 11 1/2 hours like they did in the past.  Dylan is 8 and Cooper is now 6.  Both boys are in school for full days.  I'm off during the Summer while their other grandma is visiting from Texas but I still see them fairly regularly.  Cooper will be going in to 1st grade and Dylan will be a 3rd grader.  They're both on baseball teams so our Summer evenings are busy with watching games.  Their Summer days are filled with play dates, sleepovers, playing outside with neighbor kids, swimming in their neighbor's pool.  It is so gratifying to see how they've adjusted to living in the Midwest...well, in all honesty they don't even have any clear memories of the Northwest at all since Cooper was just turning 3 and Dylan 5 when we moved here.  Cooper can't remember anything but every now and then Dylan will ask me, "Gram, was your house in Portland blue?" and he surprised me one day by asking if we'd had to run home one day in a rain storm while we'd been out for one of our marathon walks all over SE Portland.  Yes, we had...and we were drenched to the skin.  I wish they could remember how much fun we had on those walks, how we were regular visitors at the neighborhood fire station, how we'd stood on the sidewalks and watched work crews repair sewer lines and roads.  How we'd get on TriMet and ride the bus to the end of the line, just for the fun of it.  I wish they could remember our Portland neighbors, how much they were loved by them, and the trash/recycling/yard debris collectors who knew the boys by name and let them get on the trucks and push buttons to grind everything up.  I wish they could remember the Mason Bee houses on the back porch and how they'd stand out there in the short lifespan of the bees and hundreds of them would be swarming around their heads but never stung them.  But my blog will be there for them.  It may not bring up many memories they can truly remember, but they'll read about all the adventures we had together, how much fun we had, and just maybe they'll remember that their Gram was a pretty cool lady.

We've been busy making new memories here, tho.  Days out on the lake fishing, trips to the archery range so they can shoot their bows and walk thru the woods with Pa.  Picnics.  Family get togethers. Sleepovers at our house. Lunch at McDonald's Play Place.  Us cheering them on at their ball games.  And thru the school year how I'm there with them every day before school and picking them up afterwards or taking them home if they get sick, staying with them full days when they are ill.  Playing games with them, drawing pictures, and listening.  Always listening.

Perspectives may change. Landscape and regions may change. You may move 2/3 of the way across the country.  But one thing remains true, and that is that life does go on. It is the one constant, no matter where it's lived.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~ Charles Peguy

Several bloggers commented on a post a blogging friend of mine had written on Facebook today, complaining about Blogger.  Some had posts disappear in the middle of writing them.  Some couldn't get the posting page to load.  That kind of freaked me out because the vast majority of my blog has always, at the heart of it, been a living legacy I've been writing for my two grandsons.  I have chronicled their lives from the moments I heard about their existence in the womb.  I have poems I've written for them, countless photos.  I've kicked around the idea many times in the past of culling thru all my posts and making books for each boy with all the blog entries about them individually and together.  And then I've gotten busy with the busyness of every day life and I've put it on the back burner and figured I'll get to it 'another day'.  Well, when is that day going to be? It's kind of like reading a Bible on a daily basis, which I do. You'll never find the time to do it, you have to make the time.  For me, it's as soon as I get up in the morning.  I share my breakfast time with the Lord.  So I know I need to make time to sit down and go thru all my archives and get these books put together before Blogger goes down the tube or disappears somewhere into the vast void of cyberspace.  It's becoming a real fear for me now.  I guess tomorrow I ought to go to Office Max and buy a dozen or so ink cartridges and several reams of paper.

I'm in the process of writing a novel.  Sort of.  My intentions are good, and I've got about half of it written, but I can't seem to sit down and focus in on finishing it.  I once heard that the best stories written are the ones where the writer writes about his or her own true life experiences, tho they can be so glossed over and camouflaged that no one realizes the person's story is there within the pages.  Mine is like that.  I know which character is me...sort as I write about 'her' I relive a lot of past history I'd much rather forget, even tho it's written in a way I don't think anyone who even knows me well would figure out.  So it's very personal in a weird sort of way, and whenever I sit down and work on it I feel like I've been thru an emotional wringer by the end of the day.  My brain aches.  I'm not sure if I'm writing it as a kind of catharsis, as a way of discarding some more emotional baggage along the way.  That's one of the reasons I've come back to my get those creative juices going again so I can get this monkey off my back and get 'er done.

Tho I've never gotten a book written I've done some writing in the past, mostly articles for publications the church I go to prints up and sends around the world.  I've written my 'testimony', about how I'd spent years in the occult as a completely atheistic girl and then found the Lord at the age of 22.  I wrote a song and a play for a Christmas program.  And then for four years during the 1980s two other women and I were involved in a very intense project, writing Sunday School stories to illustrate Bible characters and  how Bible principles are incorporated into every day life.  The age group we were targeting was 7-10 years.  They were published and are still being used by our faith's Sunday Schools all around the world.  It was pretty exciting stuff, seeing the words my co-writers and I had written printed up and illustrated into what we called "Primary Pals".  That was 30 years ago...even longer...and once my own children were past the stage of using them in their own Sunday School classes it wasn't that I'd forgotten that I'd written them.  It was more a case of "Out of sight, out of mind".  I never really thought of what kind of impact our stories really might have made on any children's lives.  Then the other evening Dear Hubby and I were watching a church broadcast on the web and a woman in her 30s was speaking about how she'd grown up in a home where there was no religion outside of a Christian grandmother.  And when the young woman and her sister were little, their grandmother used to get "Primary Pals" for her granddaughters and send them to the girls in the mail.  The woman said that, oh! How thrilled she and her sister were when these packets would arrive in the mail and they'd read every word and do the puzzles and color the pictures.  And Dear Hubby spoke up and said, "Can you imagine how many kids' lives your stories have touched thru the years?"  It was like someone smacked me between the, I hadn't imagined....couldn't imagine.  It was very overwhelming.

Well, I can't imagine my novel is going to knock anyone's socks off.  I don't even have the slightest clue what to do with it, where to send it, or how to present it when it's finished.  Do I try to e-publish it or do I go the way I want to go, the traditional way of having it printed on paper.  I'm a traditionalist at heart, and I still don't think there's a greater thrill that cracking open a new book for the first time and seeing those printed words on an actual page, not a virtual one.  Whether it's read by one or one million, it will never give me the thrill I got when I heard that young woman's story, of how what I wrote basically changed her life and fed her young and hungry soul.  But those words I believe were inspired by God and were written to His glory.  What is my 'boring and paltry' life -- as one reader once said about my blog in the early days -- compared to that?

You can't wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug. ~ Author Unknown

After being absent for 8 1/2 months and coming back here to write, it's a little like coming home after a long absence.  Things are familiar and yet I'm having to search my brain to remember how to change a few things in my account that needed some updating and also how to let comments be seen without having to await my approval.  I'm lazy...that means I can access them when I come to my blog just like anyone else can. If my memory serves me right, I think I activated the comment moderation because I was having trouble with spammers but after all this time maybe personal blogs have dropped so low on their priority list they could care less about driving me to distraction.  I am not one to suffer fools gladly.

Coming back here is like driving up to a childhood home and finding the front porch light on for you.  It's like being wrapped in a warm hug and being led inside for a fine feast and the finest kind of company.  I don't know how to explain why I've neglected writing for so long if this is how good it feels to me again.  I've missed it.  I've missed it a lot.  But I think I made a major mistake when we moved to Michigan to give access of my blog to a lot of people from my personal life...and then it morphed into friends of friends of friends getting access to it.  And then in the back of my mind I felt like the whole world was peeking in over my shoulder, ready to pounce.  It wasn't fun anymore.  It wasn't my quiet little corner where I could come and feel free to say whatever I felt like saying without worrying there were people who were reading and judging.  I felt invaded.  I guess you could say this was no longer my shelter from the storm.  On my last entry a couple of faithful readers from the past, CW and LC, managed to find me once again and that is a total mystery to me how they did.  But reading their comments was like hearing from a couple of old friends after a long separation.  I am hoping other faithfuls will find me too, and come back into my little circle.  I'm realizing I'd missed them.

Social media had invaded my computer in a big way, too.  But I'm getting tired of the surface chatter.  I need something of more substance to satisfy the itch to write that has always lived right under the surface of my skin.  And Facebook doesn't come close to satisfying that need to scratch.  It is amazing how quickly we get sucked in, isn't it?  Probably as bad as cell phone calls and texting.  We're like Pavlov's dog...we hear our ring tone and we just have to answer right now!  When did we ever become so dependent upon needing to know everything right now, where what is on our electronic gadgets has become more important to us than the person we're with in the here and now?  We've become so self-absorbed in the abstract we're losing touch with what's real in the moment.

I think for the time being I'm not going to add photos to go along with my posts.  I don't know if they've changed the way of doing it but I tried to add one to this post and my computer froze and my post disappeared.  Yikes!  So you'll just have to use your imaginations for the time being. 

I feel like I'm a little wobbly on my writing legs at the I'm trying to find balance and settle back into the groove.  Writing is a funny thing.  If you snooze, you lose.  And I have snoozed.  And I have lost.  But at least I haven't come back after 100 years like Rip Van Winkle.  Think of all the ground he lost.  And think how disoriented he must have felt because 8 1/2 months away have got me treading water but determined to reach safety again.  Here, in my little corner.  In my shelter from the storm.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. ~ Henri Bergson

I don't know why, but we humans balk at change.  We get so comfortable in our zones and routines, so caught up in the busyness of every day life, we don't want anything to come along and rock the boat.  But without change, or the willingness to change, we have no idea how many missed opportunities pass us by.  I think I can well attest to that. It was almost 3 1/2 years ago my entire 'core' family...husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and two toddler grandsons, packed up our households and moved to Michigan from Portland, Oregon.  We were all native Northwesterners.  None of us had travelled very far from our little corner of the country for the most part.  Dear Hubby and I were both 56 years old, had gone to the same church for over 35 years, lived in the same house for almost 28 years.  He'd worked for a company for almost 32 years.  Were we immersed in our comfort zone?  You betcha we were.  Then along came this most amazing opportunity to move to Michigan.  Jobs were guaranteed for all the family, I would continue on providing day care for my two grandsons.  Taking deep breaths and praying lots of prayers, we launched out into the deep.  Into the Great Unknown.  Do I have any regrets?  No.  Do I ever look back?  No.

By leaping out on faith I have been blessed with a comfortable little house in which Dear Hubby and I plan on living out our lives in.  We live in a beautiful little community on the outskirts of Detroit.  We have experienced Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter as four individual seasons.  We have survived the hottest July ever in Detroit history, and the most harsh Winter ever.  We have seen it snow...and snow...and snow some more.  We've experienced thunder storms like none others we'd ever seen in our lifetime, and even survived being on the fringes of the Dexter tornado a few years ago as we were coming home from Chicago.  We have seen all five Great Lakes.  We have taken many day trips and wandered all over this beautiful state.  We've crossed the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula and experienced a Fall there as we travelled across along the shores of Lake Superior that was eye candy at every turn.  We have wonderful neighbors and everyone we meet is so friendly.  We have seen our grandsons settle in and thrive and become true Michiganders with many friends in their school and church.  We've taken many road trips around the region and I've been to several different states.  I know where Fort Knox is.  I've been to the birthplace of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and President Rutherford B. Hayes.  And Neil Armstrong. And the Everly Brothers. And Bill Monroe. And Muhammed Ali.  I have seen the St. Louis Arch.  I've crossed the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers.  I've been to the Ozarks, the Allegheny Mountains and the Appalachians.  I've seen a coal mining facility.  I've seen Amish people driving down the side of the road in their buggies.  I've been to the town of Williamsport where the World Little League Championship games are played.  I've been to Canada more times than I can count, and seen Toronto across Lake Ontario as I've travelled to Niagara Falls.  I've seen Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby takes place.  I have heard so many different regional accents, met so many interesting and kind people.  You will probably think this is silly, but the most mind-boggling moment was as we drove across Pennsylvania and I saw a road sign that said "New York City 450 Miles".  New York City!  And Chicago is about 250 miles to the west of us.  I haven't been to New York yet...but tomorrow is another day.  I have been to Chicago and I must say I wasn't impressed, but that's just my personal opinion.  Give me a picnic near Tawas City, Michigan, along the shore of Lake Huron on a beautiful Summer day over Chicago any day.

What if I'd stayed in my comfortable little niche in Oregon?  What if I'd never had the guts to venture out from the rut I was so deeply entrenched in?  Did I realize then how humdrum and tedious my every day life was there?  It wasn't a bad life by any means, but it sure was a boring one.  The move here to Michigan has been life-altering in so many ways...the vast majority have been positive but there have been a few bumps in the road as well, coming to a place so different and not knowing a soul when we arrived.  But if one keeps an open mind, if one opens up and embraces what is set before them, it's like an endless feast of daily delights.  Change is not for the faint of heart.  Change is what you make of it.