Friday, December 30, 2011

Listening to That Still, Small Voice

It's been there for months now. The realization that we're not quite where we want to be. If blame were placed, it would be on me because I was insistent on moving here from the Upper Peninsula in stead of straight to Florida.

As things have worked out, it's been a midway point on our journey with plenty of advantages. For one, it's helped both of us distill our ideal lifestyle. I've made new friends and reconnected with an old one. And finally, we've recognized that even though we both have medical issues, we still have the ability to move once again.

Now, whether or not we will remains to be seen. But, I'm a firm believer in making my intentions known to the Universe & honing in on subtle messages via people, dreams, conversations, research and memories - to name a few.

If you've read this blog for any length of time you know Sweetie was a shrimper in Florida & has always wanted to return to the state, not the profession. I'm the one who's attitude needed to change. My ONE experience in Florida was miserable & my knowledge of the state minuscule.

In the past year I've read every thing Florida til my eyes turn blurry. The friend I reconnected with lived in Florida after spending her life in Michigan. She's been a gold mine of info and knows me fairly well

And, like all dreams/aspirations they have congealed over time. Looking back I can see where step by step I was approaching this life change while not realizing it. Some examples are: the move to the Upper Peninsula; leaving the UP; buying the 22' Carver boat; learning to fish again (though I'm still not a fan, I can do it); and being honest with ME about who I am and what I like/dislike/believe.

Not only have I become reclusive, I am also more intolerant and disgusted with most of what passes for civilization. The mantra that keeps flashing in my head is: "Simplify, simplify, simplify."

Simplicity no longer means owning acreage, barns, animals, machinery and 3-5 years worth of firewood. Neither of us have the strength or will to care for any of it.

On my crankier days I'd rather lay in bed and die than get up and vacuum, wash clothes, participate in community activities, drive anywhere, sort food storage, weed the garden, can the tomatoes, sit in the doctor's office, have another damn test that will tell me what I already know, or listen to anyone complain about who's doing what or how beautiful the Kardashian wedding was. It's all too much anymore.

So yesterday, during a quiet afternoon, with Sweetie in his recliner & me in my wing chair, I asked him, "what would you do if you could do anything with the rest of your life?"

"Live on a boat in Florida."

It was that simple.

We have no idea how or when but we know why. And we know we're in it together.
While drinking tea, I filled four 8x11 pages both sides in a tablet with info, ideas, questions and dreams.

Today I've been online since 9 a.m. It is now 6:16 p.m. and my research has helped us distill yesterday's musing, writing and decision.

A little while ago I sat here & laughed til my sides ached. Sweetie kept smiling & finally asked if I would include him in on the joke.

"This is the best solution EVER for you not accumulating anymore junk for the pole barn & me not bitching about it!"

With a grin he said, "Think of all the times we wouldn't have moved my junk if you had agreed to Florida four years ago."

Grinning back, I said, "Four years ago you wanted to buy a house in Florida."

True this is the early beginning of our next move but our hearts are light, our spirits bright and any stress or worry has evaporated - for now.

What a wonderful place to be!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Year Ahead

Our friends from Flint drove over yesterday & joined us in our Christmas meal. The company's been good; so good, in fact, that we all took a nap within an hour of dinner. Nice to feel so comfortable with people that pretense and expectation are non-existent.

About this time every year, I reflect on the past and think about the coming year.

In the last few months I've felt a shift coming. Nothing dramatic or earth shattering as in a cataclysmic event - though who knows if one subscribes to the 2012 hoopla.

Over time I've become more reclusive and contemplative. My interest or desire to participate in just about anything outside our home has evaporated. I don't feel I've missed anything nor owe anyone an apology. It may sound arrogant, but I prefer my own company. I savor the quiet, the antics of our cats, the clock ticking, the cloud formations, the wind scattering leaves, the shadows as daylight wanes, the simplicity of needing no title or designation, the warmth of a bowl of soup or cup of tea, the freedom to lay in bed for hours without apology, the ease of communicating via a glance or smile, the joy in just being & not striving.

My posts have been few this year and this will continue. It's not that I have nothing to say or don't care. Most things have already been said and I hear more in contemplation.

Blessings to everyone in 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Our Way

Christmas our way began by getting out of bed at 1:30 p.m., staying in my jammies and savoring three cups of coffee and one yogurt. The leisurely, carefree mood continued as I fed the dog, kissed Sweetie, gave each cat their tummy rub & hug, then read emails & Facebook.

Repeated remarks about "rushing," or "haven't got it all done," left me feeling thankful I don't buy in to the drama!

We have no tree, no decorations inside, no gifts, one blueberry pie, and a wreath outside where the birds feast on nut cubes, suet packs and popcorn garland.

Had a light dusting of snow last night but it melted by noon. If the weatherman's forecast holds true, we'll have a green Christmas. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

Called my elderly friend & who repeatedly said, "I'll be glad when this is all over." Felt strange to say, "Have a merry Christmas in spite of all the craziness."

For company in her long, housebound days, she listens to the scanner & soaks in the negativity. I suggested she turn it off but after 30 years the background noise is part of her DNA.

We may or may not receive a phone call from "up north" where most of my family resides. Sweetie's son called two days ago, dreading the next few days & recounting his money woes so that was cheerful.

With all the self-induced stress and distraction people create over the holiday, it's a wonder anyone has peace and good will toward others.

Makes me count our blessings even more while the frenzy continues a few more days.

My wish for each of you is a thankful heart, compassionate soul and love for one another.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Anyone Else Notice

Today, on Facebook, a "friend" of my youngest son, made a wisecrack about him miss-spelling a word & then called him a F-ing retard.

Being Mama Bear, I got upset. Of course, I sent a private message to the young man telling him my son's is dyslexic, has worked his arse off in his business & gets tired (& sometimes angry) with people's remarks.

The mid-20 man messaged back: "So what. I'm dyslexic too and Idgf (I don't give a F---) what I say. Chill out."

This exchange could easily become tit for tat but why bother? He's probably laughing his arse off. But - I am damn sick of careless remarks; teasing people who have various challenges and downright rude behavior. I doubt this generation knows what "rude" is based on their typical behavior.

Of all the young men, women & teens my son comes into contact with, he sees one constant: swearing, rudeness, impatience and an "I want it now" attitude. He began his business at 17 with $300 he borrowed and has worked an average of 14 hour days ever since, often seven days a week. His skill and drive have given him a business that grows every year - all while he doesn't read or write very well.

Plenty of people have offered to help him improve his reading/writing but he's too busy multi tasking. He also ignores the red lines beneath miss-spelled words. His mind is either computing, planning, organizing, obsessing or stressing. Yep, in addition to the dyslexia, he's obsessive/impulsive. The first trait has him running circles around competitors while the later has required lots of counseling to temper the impulsive tendency.

Despite his best efforts, the long hours coupled with other business & personal demands take their toll & his fuse blows. When it does the people in the immediate vicinity get a dress down - not the ignorant joker.

Call it Mama Bear wisdom from holiday rushes past, I just knew he would blow today. Unfortunately, his kids and girlfriend where the recipients. If the idgf Facebook friend had been present, perhaps he would have understood the ramifications of his remark.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

Seems every once in awhile we get a reminder that the best laid plans go astray; the unexpected should be expected, especially as the economy unravels and big government grasps at every opportunity to keep people down.

As I've mentioned before, we have a property we sold on a land contract. It's become routine to hold our breath every month waiting for the payment. Once again, it's late. Once again Sweetie placed a phone call, which was ignored. Once again we'll mail a registered letter only this time it includes a notice to quit. Then we hold our breath and hope no physical damage is done to the place or we have faint hope that the buyer will magically pay us in full. Reality will be somewhere between those two scenarios.

What angers me most regarding this situation is that the buyers are both working but spending money foolishly. Meanwhile our monthly obligations become a juggling act and we often dip into what we call our sacred cache in order to pay on time.

Then there's other unexpected events that leave us bewildered. One is the ongoing struggles of an acquaintance. After "poor me" pleas and drunken rants fail to solve her problems, she resorts to stealing and blatant lies. It's hard to have compassion when she repeatedly makes poor choices. She was found hiding in a janitor closet at a business about to close. She slapped the night clerk, tried to grab cash, was chased by the police, fought with them, and tore her clothes off in the squad car. Screams of "I'm a victim, I'm a victim" no longer garner empathy because her anger, fear and carelessness have clouded her thinking. Consequently, she's in jail, her children in foster care and her belongings on the sidewalk following an eviction.

Then, we make a quick trip to town and come home to find more cats dropped off here and some one's spun donuts in our front yard.

We called two of the three neighbors visible from our place but none had heard or seen anything. One did say: "It's just beginning. I think we need to have a neighborhood patrol, especially after dark." He then told us the wood he piled on his back deck yesterday had disappeared and the neighbor in the valley next to him had his truck windows smashed in two nights ago. What's incredible about that is the truck was sitting 1/4 mile down a driveway that cuts through the woods! In other words, way out of plain view & his iron gate is locked at night. Some ass walked through the woods or down that drive just to break windows!

We're half a mile off a main road near a community of 600 people minding our own business and trying to keep our heads above water. If it's this crazy here is it because everything is more apparent in a small town or is this a microscopic sample of the big wide world?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Some People's Perspectives

About this time every year I hear lots of stories about trying to keep up with the Jones, stress about finding a gift for the "difficult" person on the list, and dread over who will and will not have to be tolerated at the annual Christmas bash.

We participate in none of it, so the weird looks, discomfort and name calling from holiday revelers ramps up a few notches.

Their attitudes are a symptom of people conditioned to follow the crowd. Financial risk or ruin and "being left out" are to be avoided at all cost. Doesn't matter if they're complaining about the cost, the rush, the worry, the strain on relationships and the relief they'll feel when it's all behind them.

Today, while shopping for my elderly friend, I ran into five people in our writing group. All were in Meijer' stocking up on candy, fruitcake, cookies, hams, cheese balls, presents, cards, decorations and "last minute ideas." In comparison, my cart held TV dinners, donuts, bananas, dog food and red delicious apples. And even though they've all know I don't participate in Christmas, they couldn't resist asking: was I "tired of being Grinch" or had I "realized I was missing out."

I just shook my head and said, "I'll do as I please, you do likewise."

Like a chorus of the faithful, they felt bad" that I was "in the doldrums!"

No appreciating another person's choice to GIVE to strangers from this crowd. No wonder Jesus wanted the money changers out of the church.

I too will be glad when the holiday frenzy passes.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another Project Completed

Fourteen 8' wide by 6' high fence panels were installed today on our north ine. We have no protection from the wind and every leaf from a mile around piles into our drive, against the home and at the back door. Not to mention the snowdrifts! Hopefully this will help.

With two breaks it took us about two and a half hours to complete. The picture shows us halfway done.

Instead of doing all the digging for 4x4 fence posts we bought T-posts and screwed lengths of strapping around them. Of course, the nice side of the fence faces north so we view the T-posts, etc. Maybe next year I can do something creative with our side. As always, time will tell.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Feast

Sweetie and I will soon delve into our Thanksgiving meal. All of it except the sweet potatoes was cooked yesterday. I like to relax on a holiday, not slave away for hours, then eat in half an hour and wonder why I overdid it.

I've made the calls to family and packaged a few treats for unsuspecting people we've come across in the last year. In the middle of the night I'll drop packages off and hope not to be mistaken for a burglar. To one couple we're giving two frozen New York strip steaks, to another family two boxes of groceries. To an elderly woman we've arranged for someone to take her shopping tomorrow. While she's gone I'm cleaning red pine needles off her mobile home roof.

While many are out shopping the Black Friday deals we'll be doing for ourselves and others. The solid cedar fence must be installed tomorrow before the rain and snow begin Saturday and Sunday.

Monday our book reading group meets at the library and I'm on the list for a snack. That's already been made so I'll concentrate on a batch of cookies for the library patrons. Yes, we have a library that encourages such things but few people participate. Apple cider and coffee will be available in their community room and a huge basket is near the front door for donations to the local food pantry. Anyone with a library fine can choose instead to donate food. Surprisingly, few have elected to do so and have ignored their fines as well. Probably a sign of how rough it's become for people here.

My elderly friend said this morning that most of the 911 calls last night were for my twin communities. Robbery, assault, drunk driving and children left unattended or wandering out of the house while the parents partied.

Things do not appear to be improving and the apathy is rampant but still, in little pockets there are people helping others while keeping their heads on straight.

What would the world do if everyone just said to hell with it and joined the misery?

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Benefits of Solitude

"Cultivate solitude and quiet and a few sincere friends, rather than mob merriment, noise and thousands of nodding acquaintances." - William Powell

In this connected world it seems people just can't tolerate solitude. Their worse fear is being alone or missing out.

Hence, they're either texting, whiling away the day on Facebook or feverishly looking for "friends" to "hang out" with. And yet, despite their Androids, they're "bored."

Good grief!

Content of the mind means little to them but let someone make a derogatory remark on Facebook and their "friends" respond with foul language and threats of physical harm.

If this country's electrical grid crashes for more than one minute I fear the "connected" ones will commit mass suicide. The tragedy is, 11 year olds end their lives because they've been "unfriended" or bullied for having the courage to be differnt from the navel gazing know-it-all sloths - some dressed as goths.

It's a mad, mad world out there and the more often I visit it, the more convinced I am that it's saner to stay home.

I've curtailed most of my activities to the point that each "important" or "urgent" event sends shivers through my spine.

Maybe I'm just tired or physically unfit.

Maybe I just don't give a damn anymore.

Racing around in overdrive trying to capture every moment on my cell phone camera and send the message out into the world while breathlessly hoping I haven't missed too many calls isn't being "connected" to my fellow human beings - or myself!

Sitting in my chair in silence, listening to my raspy breathe and allowing my thoughts to reach consciousness and feeling my body's reaction gives me more information about what's truly important than any gadget.

Performing the simple, everyday actions of feeding our animals, sweeping the floor, preparing a meal with wholesome, fresh ingredients and savoring each bite or watching the sunset while sipping herbal tea nourishes me. The clamour, busyness and constant chatter of the world serves no healthy purpose - unless it becomes so deafening that you wake up in time to save yourself from the lock-step morons.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Year Ago Yesterday

We went from a leaky roof, broken windows, inoperable furnace, spiders, mice, leaky pipes, filthy everything and doors that didn't lock to -

New roof, furnace, windows, insulation, siding, toilets, kitchen sink, stove, dishwasher, light fixtures, carpet for one room, entry and storm door, locks, fence, 24 blue spruce, one pear tree, deck and kitchen re-arranged.

We spent our first night here sleeping on a sagging bed listening to mice. We removed heavy drapes along with the spider webs attached to them. We scrubbed and unpacked and hauled loads of garbage to the landfill.

We met new people, discovered we had great neighbors and I got involved in the library, writing/reading groups, historical society and event committee.

We gradually sold the motor home, boat, tractor and a few things from the pole barn.

We closed on the sale of our UP property in January 2011 and paid off this mortgage in May 2011. We've held our breath a few times for the land contract payment on our Kalkaska property to be deposited.

There would be another trip in January to pick up the last of Sweetie's pole barn stuff and the boat. There has been one visit from three family members in the UP and numerous visits from a friend in Flint who I reconnected with after 10 years.

There are a few last minute things to do before winter really sets in: clear space in barn for car and finish deck railing and ramp.

We still have interior painting and new vinyl flooring to install but otherwise, we're done!!!

If we're fortunate enough to someday afford a place in Florida or rent there six months of the year, we will. If not, a trip each year will have to suffice.

Would we do this again? Absolutely. Would we want to? Not unless it meant going further south!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Turn Your Clocks Back And...

Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You do have these in your home, don't you?

Change the furnace filter, water filter and air filter on your vehicle.

Change the Bug Out Bag in your car from Spring/Summer to Fall/Winter.

Change or rotate your tires. Check the belts and plugs and other connectors beneath the hood. Saves headaches later. We found a wire frayed and a line to the radiator rusting!

Stow the summer lawn chairs, rakes, decorations and bird feeders that are out of season.

Check out all your winter equipment - snow blower, shovels, wiper blades, windshield scrapers, gloves, mittens, boots, ice melt, jumper cables, vehicle tool kit. Around here it's not uncommon for something to be borrowed from one vehicle for another purpose. I opened the BOB in my car and discovered ants! Seems Sweetie went looking for something and discovered a bag of candy - which he opened!

This is also a good time to check your vehicles and garage for items that will freeze in cold weather. Our bottled water was brought inside and half full drinking bottles as well as three 2/3rd full gallon jugs were placed in each vehicle for emergency use.

This year we finished the new deck & blocked off the opening our outdoor cat used to go beneath the mobile home. He punished us by disappearing for two days. I was so distraught I couldn't sleep until he magically returned early today. After cuddling and talking to him and feeding him, he wandered off to the barn and I went to bed.

Later today I found him napping in the bass boat that hasn't yet been parked in the barn. Cats can confound the best intentions, so I pulled our 10' jon boat up near the back door, tipped it over and propped rough wood boxes on end beneath one end of the boat. A few scraps of old towels and Slick will have new winter digs - we hope. His new environment may be ignored for awhile but I'm willing to entice him. He is, after all, a great mouser.

Have a great weekend folks!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thirty Days of Writing

At 12:01 a.m. today National Novel Writing Month officially began. It's my first time participating and more than anything, I want to develop the habit of writing every day. The goal is 1667 words a day for 30 days.

If you officially join the website there are prizes awarded. Most of our writing group will simply attempt the lofty goal and not compete in the contest.

A month ago we had an author friend of mine speak at a gathering we hosted. During part of the event she asked each of us why we wrote and what we were working on. We're a diverse group but every one of us discovered that we made excuses about writing. This month, excuses be dammed.

Another reason to write every day is that not writing lessens my skill. I feel it each time I write this blog. My mind thinks one thing and I struggle to find the words; my thought patterns are jumbled and my ability to recall events accurately frustrates me. Part of this is likely the effects MS has wrought on me. But, I tire of the "MS does this" routine and choose to help strengthen my mind and body.

My first attempt at reaching the daily goal has left me feeling exhausted but what else is new? So, onward I go.

Thirty Days of

Friday, October 28, 2011


With the onset of winter I begin to hibernate. It happens every year when the temps drop, frosts then snow cover the ground and the winds howl incessantly.

Any outside chore that can be avoided is. Short of calling 911 for an ambulance ride I'm staying put. I haven't stepped outside in three days. Nor have I showered or got dressed. Today may be the day I scrub off but I'd rather crawl back in bed and say to heck with the world.

I absolutely hate this time of year.

At night I dream of warmth, sunshine and never wearing boots, gloves or socks. During the day I think of sandy beaches, grilling, sunglasses and shorts and T-shirts.

Last night I pleaded with Sweetie: "Please, let's just hop in the car and drive to Florida."

"Not until March," he said.

I felt like sticking out my tongue and telling him he's a meanie.

Juvenile behavior for sure but I hate the onset of winter more every year. If it weren't for my elderly friend's needs and our writing group and art exhibits I'd hibernate for six months.

We certainly have enough food & supplies to last an enforced quarantine. As long as the electricity is on our online connections, TV and phone would connect us to the outside world. Add to these my puzzle collection, sewing, art supplies, books, cooking, household chores and our pets and I'd keep myself occupied.

Trouble is, right now I want none of it - except a cup of coffee and a magic carpet ride to a warmer climate. Oh well.

Coffee cup's almost empty and I'm getting a chill so back to bed I go.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

As the World Turns

To every life there is sorrow and joy and we've had our share these last few years. Tonight came news of another family death. Her passing wasn't unexpected but still a shock.

As my father said when I called him with the news: "Well, that's one more person to cross off the Christmas card list, the address list and the road map when I travel."

A few minutes later he added: "I suppose you're the last generation who would even know what a Christmas card list, address book or paper map is."

His remark brought a flood of memories. We talked of family photos, dinners around the picnic table my aunt and uncle kept in their kitchen and my aunt's penchant for dying her hair black and wearing pearls.

Phone calls, emails and texts will fill the next few days as we prepare for her funeral. In nearly every conversation today I heard that my generation is fast approaching the "elder" stage. My Dad and his 93 year-old sister are the last of their group.

My generation (55-69) are far flung geographically and diverse in nearly every respect. Our parents were closer to one another in location and beliefs/viewpoints and honored family traditions.

Today, traditions are dying as fast as their guardians. It's sad from my perspective and a shrug of the shoulder to my children and grandkids.

My Dad's most poignant remark was, "The world's changing too fast & I'll be glad to check out."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Company's Cooking

Our friends from the Flint area arrived Wednesday afternoon & we've done little but laze around since. I'm fighting a cold and aching muscles. Her husband's got vertigo and the weather's been miserable. Hard frost tonight and nearly non-stop rain since they arrived.

One blessing has been she's done all the cooking! We seldom eat out so having someone else make their version of chili, beef & provolone sandwiches on pumpernickel or pumpkin pie has been a treat.

Our freezer is full so tomorrow we'll clean up leftovers. If the weather warms to 55, we may venture down to the fish ladder & fish. None of us can tolerate cold weather just now so the warmer it is the better, regardless of whether the fish are biting.

In other news, there was a spirited discussion here this morning about the president's Jobs Bill. It ended when I asked them all to pipe down and take their discussion outside.

I received news of a second cousin dying in Texas while being hit on his motorcycle by an 18-wheeler. He leaves three young children. His parents have passed on & his wife is in drug rehab.

This email was followed by a Facebook message from another cousin who's trying to recruit me for housecleaning jobs for the clients she can't cover. It's something I'll have to think about. I haven't worked for four years or more and want nothing to do with retail, management, waitress or dealing with more than one or two people. In addition, my multi-tasking ability has nearly evaporated. Then there's the medical problems with Sweetie and our dog and the unpredictable course of MS and fibromyalgia. Yet, it may be good for me to do something outside our home that isn't high pressure yet gives me some income. My cousin supports herself quite well cleaning six homes. Two are in the Gaylord area and four in Wixom where she used to live. She drives from her northern home to Wixom once a week and stays overnight at her daughters, cleaning three homes each day before driving north.

Once again, we'll see what develops.

Meanwhile, it's great to have company who feel comfortable enough to lounge in pajamas, clean their bathroom before they leave and prepare meals.

Need to get some rest. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Family Visit

My youngest son and his children plus his girlfriend and her daughter visited us for three days.

What a contrast in life styles!

With the exception of the two year old, all of them were constantly on the move or hooked up to their electronic entertainment. It was comical to look around the living room their first night to see me on my laptop, Sweetie with his headset on so only he heard the TV and son and girlfriend texting while the grandchildren stared at their PSPs.

Friday Sweetie stayed home with our furry companions while we raced around Lansing, taking in as much as they could in 12 hours. Three hours at a museum; nearly two hours at a Chinese buffet; six hours at the mall and an hour fighting traffic and detours was enough to quench their fear of boredom - until we got home. Within five minutes of our arrival my son was searching for a movie theatre.

I'm still capable of giving him one of my looks which he recognized in time to realize the kids were asleep on the living room floor.

Saturday my son made a four hour round trip to drop his girlfriend off at her brother's. As soon as he drove in, his kids were putting their jackets on. I said, "Maybe we're not leaving for town yet." My granddaughter laughed and said, "Grandma, we have too much to do."

So, minutes later we were on the road again. We shopped at Meijer, Walmart, Menards and a local hardware. After another fast food lunch, we spent some time at a county park where he'd waded into the stream and nearly drowned at age three. Then it was off to a corn maze and KFC for a drive through bucket meal. Our dinner appointment was with my elderly friend who hadn't seen my son in 29 years. Another couple hours were spent reminiscing, laughing and making plans for next year when she'll be 78.

We left her home at 6:30 p.m. with the kids asking, "What now?, Dad?"

By then my legs felt like rubber and my mind like evaporating mist. We passed the theatre as the kids begged to see another movie and I fell asleep. After changing their clothes and more texting, they took off for town and I curled up on the sofa.

Sunday morning the son and his son went to a race car swap meet while my granddaughter and I baked cookies, apple crisp and lasagna. About 1 p.m. we all gathered at the kitchen table for a family meal with their cell phones placed next to the silverware. Sweetie asked if the phones were ever out of sight and my six year old grandson said, "Only if I'm in the shower."

An hour later they were on the road toward home but not before visiting some attraction in Mt. Pleasant. They planned to stay a night in a motel near Gladwin so they could pick his girlfriend up this morning. Whether that happened or not, I don't know. Maybe they finally tuckered out and are still asleep!

I spent Sunday afternoon washing bedding and towels, emptying garbage and returning pop cans. By 5 p.m. I collapsed on our bed for an overdue nap.

It was wonderful to see everyone but what a workout!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Internet and Home Security

Our computers are useable again thanks to a referral from our local librarian. Both were infected with viruses and Sweeties desktop had not been updated properly.

This unexpected expense began when the keyboard on my laptop tanked. After ordering a replacement via the techie (because I knew we'd need more help) I logged on to the PC. What a mess! Sweetie plays Freecell and manages our bank accounts/charge cards online. Once in awhile he does a search. How he got the PC messed up is beyond me but the good thing is none of our accounts were accessed - not that they have much in them.

Once again we were told most viruses enter through people using Facebook. Once again I posted on FB that I have NO INTEREST in online games and why. Once again a couple people messaged me that I was "boring." Oh well!

Thankfully, we could spend $155.00. As prices continue to escalate and income shrinks or stagnates spending is carefully considered - and delayed if possible. Yet, nearly every week I hear of someone who needs their computer cleaned up because they've made careless choices online.

While waiting for the techie I received a call from a friend.

Their home was robbed between noon and 2 p.m. Friday - after the she discovered their computers had been hacked. Notice, I said,"after." On Saturday her husband beat her home and found a messages spray painted on the house and garage - "Your booze was great but your computers were shit."

Robberies are on the increase in this area and bolder than ever. Thieves grab cash, drugs, guns and electronics. Within a hour of the robbery they fence the items in Lansing and keep themselves jacked up until they run dry and hit a few more homes.

My friend's home is within 45 feet of a well traveled road. It was locked up like a fortress so the punks went behind the house and threw and outdoor planter through a window. The nearest neighbors are each about 400 feet away and have a clear view of their house - yet no one recalls seeing a vehicle. Unless they came in by helicopter one must have been there. Otherwise, how did they move three flat-screen televisions, four computers, I-pad, small safe, a case of vodka and sack of prescription pain killers?

I told Sweetie about the incident and he said, "They show up here I'll shoot first and ask questions later." Well intentioned thought but he sleeps through most anything.

Last night my youngest son called and said he and his two children plan to visit this weekend. Thankfully, my mind was on their visit and not sleep. At 3:10 a.m. today I was looking at a photo album when I thought I heard a vehicle. I checked each entrance & looked out the windows but saw nothing.

I sat down again and continued reminiscing. Again I heard the sound and then voices. After sitting in my chair a few minutes I got up, walked to the back door, turned the lock, grabbed the shotgun, slowly opened the door and yelled: "You bastards better hope I miss!"

One of them swore about hitting his foot as they raced down the driveway, jumped in their car and took off. By this time Sweetie had woke up.

He comes to the back door, sees me holding the shotgun and swears. According to him I should have called 911 then woke him up. Perhaps, but I suspect by then the thieves would have been long gone.

Once again they approached our home with out using their headlights - "running dark."
Once again my great hearing and swift action prevented a robbery.

However, this time a certain man here thinks he'll lock up everything every night.
His bass boat was sitting in the yard with the fish finder, poles, tackle boxes, life preservers and THREE motors not attached to the boat. The pole barn was unlocked and one full five gallon gas can was still inside the truck bed where he left it after filling it at 10 p.m..

It doesn't pay to be careless about security. Tackle is spilled on the ground with two broken poles. The largest outboard motor was found half way down the drive.

Will I call 911 next time? Maybe. Our sheriff and state police force have both been cut back. There are simply too many accidents, robberies, domestics and other calls coming into 911 to cover every call promptly. When most resources are used for accidents at opposite ends of the county and your home is being robbed in another location 20 miles from either location, you are your best response.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Welcome to My World

We didn't pull the carpet up in the study/studio or paint the walls. Decided to heck with more work.

It's time to write, paint, make jewelry, read, sleep or tinker. And I've done a lot of each since last Monday.

So nice to grab my cup of morning coffee and stroll into my own space. Because I have beautiful items I couldn't bare to part with, I placed some in my study/studio. Others are still packed in plastic storage containers stacked where the built in book shelves will eventually be.

Another source of inspiration this week was an author's visit to our writing group. She was once our realtor in Kalkaska and what a joy to see someone doing what they really love. Her visit inspired me to devote a minimum of an hour a day to my novel.

Low and behold, I read what I've written thus far and thought: ummmm, not that interested in this piece anymore. Later, while loading the dishwasher, the first few lines of another story came to mind. No matter what, I couldn't shake the lines and started saying them out loud. Thankfully, Sweetie had his headset on or he may have called 911 my words were so gruesome. Best thing to do in that case is write.

Four thousand words later and the passion to keep writing remains.

While doing online research for the novel, I realized I've had two men in my life who can answer just about any reference/technical question I have - my father and Sweetie.

Here's a few pictures of the study/studio (including a window that needs replacing) and two necklaces I made this week. Earrings will be made another time.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Doing the Two-step Forward, One-step Backward

We don't dance anymore but we do the two step by repairing/remodeling this place - otherwise known as Two-steps forward, One-step backward. Reminds me of a waltz while drunk.

Today, Sweetie replaced the bay window in our spare bedroom. This weekend we remove the 34 year old carpet and next week, if I have energy, I paint it. If I don't have energy I say to heck with the paint and set up my studio.

Sweetie said no excuses. I said, "I'll probably get sloppy standing at the easel and spatter paint on the walls as well as the floors." He didn't buy my excuse.

Oh well, one way or another, I'm closer to having a studio and it thrills me no end. Won't have to tolerate his cigarettes or cleaning up to make supper.

For inspiration, today I got three necklace orders while on Facebook. The extra cash will come in handy as next month we're officially disqualified for food stamps.

Then, while sorting jewelry supplies on the kitchen counter, Sweetie walks in the room to show me his wet socks!

He walked into the second bathroom and got wet feet. Last month we replaced the toilet so he thought it was leaking. Not so. After removing the toilet & stuffing a sweatshirt in the hole, he peeled the vinyl floor back. The water line beneath the floor has been leaking and found the path of least resistance - a crack in the linoleum. Further investigation revealed a wet underlayment. More work!

On another front, the new fiscal year brings with deep cuts in the Human Services Department. Assets such as vehicles, bank accounts, recreational vehicles, insurance policies and property (other than the one you occupy) can't amount to more than $5,000 when applying for food stamps. Prior to this fiscal year, assets were not counted for food stamps - according to my case worker. For the last four months we've received $229 a month for two people & used it to build our stock. Now we'll live off if again.

The cuts were bound to happen but a lot of people are in for a shock. I mentioned this to my caseworker and she said, "Food pantries and charities will have to pick up the slack."

I doubt that. Three local pantries that I've contributed to since moving here have limited distributions. One pantry will likely close.

Interesting times are ahead.

Meanwhile, we'll live pretty much the same and hope we receive our monthly land contract payment. If not, times will get downright scary trying to live on $557 a month!

As always, time will tell.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Art Infused Our Day

My friend and I spent five hours at an art fair today and still saw only two-thirds of the exhibits. Of course, we're going back tomorrow!

The covered bridge is part of the park where the art show is held. Music, food booths, 100 artist booths and artist demonstrations inside a historical building attract people from throughout the state as well as elsewhere. The weather was perfect. We'd packed spinach quiche and bottled water and savored our meal listening to bluegrass. People's dress was interesting and a reflection of the event. My favorite was an exhibitor who wore a black ankle length skirt that featured lace panels scattered over each 12-inch band. She topped it off with a sunflower sweater over a yellow tube top and earrings made of acorns. Her feet were covered in rubber pointed-toe cowboy boots that were hand painted! She said they wore well and were comfortable despite their three inch heel.

I want those boots!

The art show re-energized and inspired us to the point that we've both been writing in our leather bound journals. I had not touched mine in four years!

We were so excited to tell Sweetie about our afternoon that we squeezed in the door together both talking at once.

Thankfully, we noticed he had replaced two of the three windows in our guest room bay window! Once our guest leaves I'll empty the room, pull up the carpet and repaint the walls.

I came home wanting to de-clutter, move things around and re-purpose some other items. One theme emerged as I visited each booth: earthy colors and sturdy, natural materials. If an item utilized slate, granite, inlay wood, twigs, clay, wire or leather or recycled things I was mesmerized.

The fish pottery was my favorite piece at one booth. The fused glass tile I made Wednesday night. Anyone have a small kiln they want to give or sell? I'm hooked on fused glass.

Meanwhile enjoy the pictures. Treesong

Friday, September 16, 2011

Companionship & Creativity

Sweetie was 68 Wednesday. We celebrated with a Sweet Potato pie brought by my friend visiting from Flint. We spent the rest of the day talking about various issues, people we know and goals/dreams we have and munching on veggies and dip. Very relaxing.

That evening she and I went to a fused glass class that's relaxing and affordable. With the cost beginning at $5 for a sun catcher or $12 for as many jewelry pieces you fit on a 4x4 inch tile; to $45 for a 12 inch bowl, there's opportunity for all. At my previous visit I fit 7 pieces on a tile. Combined with the beads and jewelry findings I already have, I'll create one pair of earrings, two pins and four necklaces. If I sell all of them, I expect to make $125 in profit. Fine by me!

Thursday my friend read the first two chapters of her book to our weekly writing group and we critiqued it. Today the three of us are sitting in our pajamas with our computers and coffee just enjoying the day.

Tomorrow we go to a fall festival/art show held in a beautiful park along a river. Neither Sweetie or my friend have ever seen the place which has a covered bridge and beautiful trails along the river. I'll take lots of photos to capture the memory and perhaps one day do an oil painting of the river.

Then, surprise, surprise, Wednesday evening we sat here talking about inland lakes, old camps and bonfires. Sweetie, the man who's so intent on moving to Florida, says: "If we found an old camp on a river or lake, I'd be there in a heartbeat,"


A few minutes later my friend says: "I have friends who moved up near Oscoda and wish they'd done it years ago. Her remark reminded me of Presque Isle, north of Alpena. My father was career Coast Guard and we lived on Middle Island when I was born, then moved to the Presque Isle station when I was three. Grand Lake and Long Lake are in this area and I told them of my visit there the year before my mother died in 1997. Her parents had both owned property on Grand Lake which covers 5,662 acres and has 19 islands. To make a long story short, we were all online looking at waterfront properties and I found the cabin my maternal grandmother used to own as well as the acreage grandpa had. The more I talked about the area & the more Sweetie looked at maps, fishing reports, events (think wooden boat show) and nature preserves, the more interested he got. The upshot is, next month we're taking a color tour to where my life began!

Waterfront property in Michigan's Lower Peninsula is less expensive on the east side the further north you go. Forget the west side. It's over developed and expensive.

So, once again, time will tell. In the meantime, we're sure enjoying my friend's visit and adjusting ourselves to these cooler temps.

Take care, Treesong

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"I'm bored"

I hear that so much, especially online. Leaves me wondering how people can continue to live a "boring" life surrounded by so much.

Never, in human history, have so many people had so much. Aside from food, shelter, clothing and a few other items, most people in this world do have access to much more. Despite the financial perils of this era, most people are surrounded by plenty.

Maybe you're one who's lost your home or your job but I'd be willing to bet you still have a lot - or you're living with someone who does.

And yet, every day, people are bored. Especially the young.

I think the problem is bored people have too much stuff. They're surrounded by cell phones, televisions, computers, videos, advertisements, fast food and a sea of counterparts who haven't a clue about what to do with all their time.

They're devoid of imagination and programmed to look outside themselves for answers to any nagging question or issue.

Their behavior has degenerated to ceaseless attempts to prop up their insecurity and frustrations. These navel gazers have lost empathy and respect for their elders, the ill or handicapped. They have obvious disdain for the lowly janitor who cleans the messes they've made while being pseudo stars or VIPs. Imitating success is where it's at. Working for success is blah.

Sitting in a quiet room alone is to be avoided at all cost. Doing nothing is fine as long as they're surrounded by expensive techno toys, drugs, alcohol and other like minded kids wasting away because life isn't interesting enough.

Keeping busy, partying or mimicing the current craze is all they know. And getting old is a far off reality that few believe will ever catch up with them.

Like a young, drunk man told us recently: "If I ever get like you people I'll shoot myself."

More likely, one of his "home boys" will shoot him. It's happened several times this year. Yet, while they claim to grieve their friends, they continue the behaviors that helped bring them to that point.

A friend said we shouldn't expect anything different. They've been raised by people who bury their troubles in drugs and booze and had little time for their children.

Each generation has its "misfits" but today that designation seems to fit more people. Is it any wonder?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We Just Couldn't Do It

Today we were supposed to put down Lady, our 10 year old mutt.

Many months ago she lost the use of her hind legs. Indications of the impending loss began while we lived in the Upper Peninsula. She'd trip often, fall going up steps, and favor one rear leg over another. At first, Sweetie assumed it was the ceramic tile floors. As time went on we noticed similar behavior outside, we took her to a vet. "A little arthritis," was his diagnosis.

Eventually she started dragging one rear leg. Then both. Sweetie grew impatient with her and kept trying to get her to stand. He can be a tough old bugger at times. I'd tell him that Lady couldn't help herself, the muscle was obviously deteriorating, not the bones.

A few months ago we took her to the vet here and the prognosis was grim. Her left hip had totally deteriorated. When manipulated it sounded like stones crushing. Her backside has become boney and her paws curl under. Yet, the vet said she could live a long time "as long as you two are willing to care for her."

Lady's care has increased as time goes on. Thank God we have old stained carpet in the living room. I lift her by her hips and she'll walk wherever she wants or is directed to. Every few hours I walk her out the door to pee. Bowel movements are anther matter. Little by little she seems to have lost the realization that she's got to poop. For the last week I've laid blue pads beneath her.

Aside from her physical ailments, she's the same loving, faithful dog we've always known. She follows Sweetie everywhere pulling her back legs behind her. She has a recliner identical to his and sits there with one eye on him and an end table between them.

At night she follows us to the bedroom where her blanket is folded at the foot of the bed. After we've petted and talked to her she lays down to sleep. If Sweetie is in the bathroom too long she goes looking for him. When he goes outside he either takes her with him or he tells her to "take care of momma" while he's gone.

When we both leave we repeat the same routine. As we pull in the drive we hear her yelping for us. The sound continues until we hug her and tell her how glad we are to be home.

During supper, she eats her dog food mixed with chopped chicken liver and she and Sweetie share an oatmeal cookie.

Perhaps we were just so exhausted last week or the humidity had worn us down. Whatever it was, we to put her down when she'd finished her bag of food.

Obviously, we just couldn't do it. Today we're so relieved we can't get enough of her company.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Are You a Giver or Taker?

A friend nearby has experienced illness, family death and her husband's layoff in the past 90 days.

She and her family are great people; helpful, courageous and always helping out. The trials that come with living have hit them hard lately and now others are stepping up to help them.

They home school their four children; grow a garden and volunteer for several events. She does seamstress work to bring in extra money. His unemployment benefits were delayed over a "clerical error," and their youngest child requires lots of medications and a strict diet.

They're frugal people by nature but even they are now experiencing shortages and discovering where their prepping holes are. For the first time ever she went to the local food pantry. There was little available there due to a funding cut and low donations. We have a lot of preps so I filled boxes with food and dropped them off. The next weekend at the community wide yard sales she offered me free cinnamon rolls. I accepted, then dropped off more groceries.

I'd planned a gallery tour, dinner and fused glass class for a group of young people. She said her daughter would be unable to attend. I said, "Oh, her spot is already paid for." Of course her daughter was excited. Her mom had tears in her eyes.

"I have to tell you, out of everyone we know around here, you've been the most generous," she said. "It's strange because so many think you're so broke. Maybe you are, but you still give."

You bet we do! Contrary to the rumor mill - started by a former "friend," we're not broke. We're frugal.

Unless you are homeless; without a dime to your name; and have not ONE possession, you can give to others. I believe that with every fiber of my being. I've lived it. And there is no excuse for not giving to others. NONE.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Forgot the List & My Memory Kicked In!

Today was errand day and once again I left the homestead without my list.
Never even thought of the list until my fourth stop which was checking on my elderly friend. Left her home without making a list. Miracles of miracles, I got everything and thought of other things we needed and came home feeling like I'd had a successful brain transplant!

Proudly unpacked everything; fed the dog; cleaned the cat litter box; read the mail; folded clean clothes & put them away; picked tomatoes and started supper.

Sweetie comes in the door and says: "How much did my meds cost this time?"

"Meds? What meds?" I asked.

Then it was his turn. "Oh, oh. Guess I forgot to tell you I needed three refills."

At least he didn't insist he HAD told me and accused me of forgetting!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Some Real Deals Out There

Says a realtor in Florida - and the rest of the country.

Thinking Sweetie wants to return to Florida & live on a boat, I started researching online. Thinking I may as well expand the search to land, I looked at real estate. He said, "well, we can dream, so look for a place on a canal with access to the Gulf."

I told him anyone can dream but let's not lose sight of the fact that we live within a budget, yadda, yadda, yadda.

"You never know what you might find," was his response.

What I found is a calamity showing nationwide.

I've learned prices are cheaper, the lots larger and conspicuous consumption is less evident the further north you go.

Despite all the financial plight, there are still people who think their piece of the Florida lifestyle is worth top dollar. Being surrounded by empty, foreclosed homes or occupied homes underwater hasn't fazed them or they're praying some sucker with deep pockets saves them.

I've learned that realtors have left the profession in droves and some, like a woman I talked to, have invested in foreclosures for rental property. No surprise there.

And then, one day I emailed a realtor with a few questions. An "associate" in the realtor's office responded. She answered my questions and asked: "When will you be here to look...?"

"Not anytime soon," I said. "Just looking now because we'd like to live on a boat but my partner suggested checking out small homes on land."

She seemed a bit deflated but responded cordially: "Anything I can help you with when you're REALLY ready to make a move here, please contact me."

Here's where the conversation gets interesting. I said within the last three years we'd moved twice: from Lower Michigan to the U.P. and back downstate to yet another location.

"Where in the U.P?" was her response.

Told her where & a short time later realized I was talking to a cousin's daughter! Guess that would be a second or third cousin. She gave me her private mail and since then the "reality" of the market is all I've heard.

Among her remarks:

"If you don't have your heart set on a specific house, you can really pick up bargains. Just closed on a place listed for $800,500 that sold for $423,600."

Told her those numbers needed to knock off a couple zeros to be realistic for us. She wrote back: "Oh, that's no problem. Another month of so and there will be huge price reductions again. My advice is find something you're interested in, better yet 4-5 places and write offers that state, 'this is my only offer'."

She claims to have seen it work time and time again.

I asked how she was weathering her profession just now & she said: "I'm still one of the fortunate ones. My husband is a retired military & we've always lived within our means. I only work to get out of the house once in awhile."

So I suggested she send listings that she knew full well we could pick up for pennies on the dollar. "Now I must be dreaming," I said. "But time will tell."

Haven't heard back yet but that's okay. I'm trying to live one day at a time anyway.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Money in My Pocket

The next three days is community wide yard sales in the nearby twin towns we live near. People have been cleaning closets and emptying attics for a few weeks, hoping to make some extra money. Many here are unemployed, some under employed, some retired but watching their investments dwindle. There are more yard sales this year than ever before according to many I talked with today. Thing is, compared to last year, this first day has seen little traffic.

No surprise there when more people are holding yard sales instead of shopping them. Our local historical society has a sale too & once again I donated a few items to it. We did NOT hold a yard sale. Sweetie hasn't bothered to haul anything out of the pole barn and the items I had collected from the house, I either donated to the historical society or placed in a friend's sale.

I volunteered a couple hours at the library sale and bought a denim dress and bed pillow for $1.00. Also stopped at the local food pantry with a donation then came home with a pie tin containing 12 cinnamon rolls made by a friend. They were a gift for bringing her daughter to an art gallery tour and fused glass class yesterday.

Instead of shopping today I did more donating and visiting. And everywhere I stopped I heard similar remarks: "It's getting tougher." "We hope to make enough this week to keep our cell phone turned on." I asked if they had a land line. "No, they're not convenient."

Guess that depends on how one's life is structured.

When I returned home I had a couple emails. One asked: "Would you explain to me how someone like you with so little money is always giving and not complaining about having bills?"

I know this person quite well and we've talked in the past about stocking a pantry; keeping an emergency kit on hand and stashing a few cases of drinking water. Maybe I'm tired today. I am in pain due to the RA which doesn't flares up in humidity. So I had little to say. After reading her question to Sweetie and staring at the computer screen awhile all I could say was, "We're willing to go without things. Social entertainment that requires purchasing a ticket is off the radar for us. We usually grow a garden but this year only managed basil, green peppers and tomatoes."

Awhile later she emailed again. "How do you afford eating steak then?"
I sighed and said: "Refer to my previous answer."

When we first moved here people felt sorry for us because we had such a small income, drove older vehicles and lived in a mobile home. Some still feel the same way but for the most part they're snobs who need to prop their egos up with shiny cars, large homes and monthly payments.

The people who've dared to get to know us marvel at our thriftiness and ingenuity. Some joke that if they "were as cheap as" us, they'd eat steak too. By the way, the New York strip was on sale for $2.49#. We bough four slabs & had it cut into 56 steaks!

Despite the continued downturn people still don't get it. Adjust your habits & expectations and do more for yourself and you'll have more on less money. Simple plan but hard to follow for many.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

An Example of How Diversity Impacts a Culture

I often reflect on my childhood because it's a clear example of how diversity impacts a community.

My father was career Coast Guard so we moved often. This exposured us to a variety of people, landscapes, perspectives and architecture - among other things.

No matter where we lived, my parents immersed themselves in the local history because as children each had lived in a large city. Mom in Flint and Dad in Detroit. Until there were adults neither had much experience with rural areas, travel or other professions. Mom always claimed that mixing with other nationalities had given them their inquisitiveness.

When they married my mother dove into her "seafaring life" by exploring U.S. Coast Guard stations, history and shorelines. Whenever an opportunity arose for Dad to transfer she was all for it.

We lived in the country most of the time where street lights didn't illuminate the "wilds?" We walked gravel roads where homes were set a half mile back from the road and traffic was a big event. We had "party line" phone service and went to town shopping at most twice a month. We were "newcomers" who didn't share the predominant ethnicity or religion. Several times my father was stationed on islands awhile we lived on the mainland. Most lighthouses are are desolate points and our neighbors were fellow enlistees who came from other states or cities we'd never heard of. No wonder the armed services encouraged enlistees to "See the world." We had it next door!

At age five, my parents settle in the Upper Peninsula where, once again we were the outsiders. My father was the only man who didn't farm, work in the mines, teach school or drive a logging truck. He was also the only one gone from home for six weeks at a time and home for two weeks.

We weren't raised as Finnish Apostolic Lutherans. We were French and Norwegian and until my teen years had never attended church. There were a couple Catholic families around & my parents got to know them because my mother's entire family was Catholic - except her. During that era the two religious camps didn't mix much. Today, it's more blended.

My mother worked while others stayed home. My mom explored back roads, collected antiques while the locals scoffed at "that old junk." My mom had the audacity to make dandelion wine! Imagine the surprise when a neighbor stopped by to ask if we'd like to buy 10 acres and discovered us playing cards. A few weeks later there was another couple playing poker with my folks. It was our first realization that some of these people had strayed from the status quo but kept quiet about it.

For nearly 20 years mom was pretty much an outcast until a few neighbors newer than us stopped to chat while she was at our mailbox. Two professors had moved into the area from outside Michigan drawn by the beauty, safety and bounty of the area. Over the years others followed suit and the former tight knit mostly Finnish enclave has been transformed. Like most of America, the generations born since we first arrived are more diverse, friendlier and interesting.

I recall being in the sixth grade and giving a speech on "What I Did on Summer Vacation." It made the other kids uncomfortable. Most had never left the county let alone the state & I had lived in Texas while my father was in some heathen island called Yap. My classmates giggled, sneered and pretty much disrupted my speech. Today I know their actions were borne of insecurity and fear of the unknown. By my teen years the hippies had discovered our area and once again the old and new mixed. With hippies reviving run down farms; wearing long skirts; having home births; cooking on wood stoves and baking bread, the locals relaxed their guard some. Orchards produced fruit, the tax roll increased, the school needed expansion and by golly, most of these newcomers could actually fix things!

Another type of newcomer was the college educated, world traveler who hosted friends form India, China and Africa and drove foreign cars. In time, they too were at least tolerated. Soon native retirees saw an opportunity to sell their places for what was then considered a "ridiculous price."

Diversity, so long feared and misunderstood, was actually good for an area. Though most of the old guard has passed on, their descendants have either remained and flourished by adapting to the needs/whims of their neighbors. Others have moved to areas where their religious/cultural influence is stronger only to discover that change is in the air there too.

The neighborhood dynamics over the past 40 years is a good example of what's occurred nearly everywhere. And how could it not with the rise of technology; population increasing and resources depleting? Today, those Apostolic families often have two parents working and plenty of their own children in college. And "God forbid," some would say, people are marrying outside their clan.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Already Missing Our Place

Our visitors from Flint are already "homesick" for our place.
After two nights of not sleeping because her hubby was restless, they both need a knock out pill and things MIGHT look better.

I suggested she spend more time in the community pool or they visit a park a couple times a week. Anyone holed up in a small city apartment has got to feel caged.

Meanwhile, after more than a week of feeling like a new man, Sweetie's oxygen level dropped & he's back on oxygen. It's cooler here this morning & he's anxious to work outside but I cautioned against it.

In the interim, Fox TV keeps him occupied. I pay little attention to it but did here Alan Simpson speak - one of the few who has wisdom and guts enough to speak truthfully. Too bad the administration and Congress didn't heed his committee's advice.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

They Don't Want To Leave

A reminder of how fortunate we are is our friends visiting from Flint. Once again, they don't want to go home.

Sweetie had some bullets that work in our friend's pistol. The friend says he feels "at least a bit safer knowing I can shoot the next person who tried coming through the window." They live in a ground floor apartment.

They have a huge dog and themselves squeezed into 500 square feet. They're in view of the expressway and they have no choice in who they're neighbors are or boundaries like a fenced yard or acreage.

They don't eat as well as we do and have no place for their dog to be let loose. This is their third trip here in less than two months & their dog now begins whining and jumping around BEFORE they ever turn down the road to our place.

Today they had to pick up a couple medical items from our local hospital because they'd run short on something for his IV pic line. She returned praising the hospital's courteous, quick service and ease of parking. We joked that they're welcome to stay here when we go to Florida...

Yup, there's always someone else who has greater challenges than we do.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Vitality

The shot Sweetie received at the pulmonologist has given him a new spring in his step. The antibiotic pills and two other meds seem to be working wonders too.

Of course, being the stubborn man that he is, he seems to think that his new state of health from wonder working medicine means he can smoke MORE.

There is not a cast iron fry pan big enough to make a dent in his thick skull.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pulmonology Visit

It amazes me how simple diagnostic procedures are not thought of along the process of trying to unravel complicated conditions. And maybe, ignoring the simple, complicates the problem!

As in: Sweetie has COPD & emphazema. Yet it's taken a a PA, a physician, a cardiologist and finally a pulmonologist to LOOK DOWN his throat and say: "You've got an infection!"

An infection that likely has been ongoing for months!

Then he's giving a sputum sample tomorrow; having more blood tests and a sleep study.

And, he has three more meds.

So on we go.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Yearning do I say this?

My dearly beloved Sweetie has talked me into moving - once again!

Not to worry though. We have no funds to do it yet. No firm plans as to exactly where - in FLORIDA - and not great health (just to keep things interesting).

He has always wanted to return to the Sunshine State. He lived there for years, operating his own shrimp boat out of the Hudson area. He loves the Gulf, the climate, the waterways, the memories.

I've been to Florida twice. Once with an ex to Tampa and Sarasota. Burnt my legs by spending too much time walking on asphalt. Got trapped on a dock by a gator. Had a snake in the bathroom. Not a real good first impression for this Northerner.

My second trip was 6-7 years ago for a conference in Ft. Lauderdale where we stayed in a luxury hotel on the beach. Give me a few million and I wouldn't have returned. No worries. Room service. Beautiful weather. Fine dining. Swimming, shopping, golf, spa....

Of course now, I wouldn't stay in that place if you gave me a week free. I was a corporate ladder chaser then. Am a bookworm, artist and all around relaxed (lazy?) retiree who stays in her house dress or shorts and a T-shirt most days.

So....I got this crazy idea.

Why don't we set a goal of buying a houseboat or live aboard motor yacht? It didn't take either of us long to realize it might be the ideal thing for two wanderlusts who're used to living in mobile homes.

Have no idea if this will happen but I can say this: every time I've had an intention; a desire for change; I've immersed myself in dreaming, thinking, planning, investigating and somehow, someway, through a strange yet marvelous turn of events, it has come to pass.

So, if anyone knows of a small houseboat/yacht in great shape but really cheap, let me know. We'd like to spend time on rivers from Steinhatchee, Yankeetown, Crystal River and Tampa to Port St. Lucie.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Skin Cancer Free!

We made another trip to Lansing today for Sweetie to see the dermatologist.

For the first time in five years he is entirely skin cancer free! And he has the scars to prove it! Over 70 spots on his face, neck, ears and a dozen on his arms and back. Multiple incisions and layers removed and a few "diggings" are now over.

Sweetie has a face with character and a smile that stops people in their tracks. And we're so thankful!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oppressive Heat

We're fortunate to have air conditioning and two ceiling fans to keep us comfy in this oppressive heat wave. 86 degrees when we woke up; 92 now. Heat index is near 100 and, according to the weather man, we haven't experienced the worse of the forecast.

I feel for people without air conditioning.

But, knowing this weather was on our way, we checked a few essential supplies. Bottled water in case we lose power and can't use our well. Gasoline for the generator so our a/c, and refrigeration operate. We have a huge oxygen tank capable of operating without power for Sweetie should the need arise.

Last week we bought mulch for our tomato and pepper plants & it's paid off handsomely. I've watered them every 2-3 days and, coupled with the heat, the plants are producing well.

Fortunately, we have only ONE medical appointment this week but it's in Lansing. With that in mind, we've filled the gas tank; have a cooler stocked with drinks & food ready to go; checked engine fluids and four gallons of water are stashed in the trunk.

Called my elderly friend to check on her and she's doing well thus far. We had installed our spare air conditioner in her home a few weeks ago. She said the scanner is full of heat stroke victims; people complaining of dizziness and chest pains and children and pets left in vehicles. Some people never learn.

Should the electric grid go down this is going to spell tragedy for many.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Almost On the River

The guys tweaked a few things on the boat today; gabbed about previous fishing trips; and came onside to rest. Forty-five minutes later the temp had gone up by 12 degrees and the humidity returned after two days of breezes and cooler temps.

One suggested they should check the tackle boxes. Off to the pole barn they went. Have an hour later they're back inside, sweating and wearing long faces.

"You must have misplaced my tackle boxes," Sweetie says.

"No, I didn't. They're on the left hand side of the garage, near the front door under some of your junk."

They look at one another and say in unison: "We've looked all over that garage."

You do know how this story ends, right?

After supper I went opened the back door, stood on the steps and looked straight at the tackle boxes.

Brought them inside and sat them on Sweetie's lap.

"They were BENEATH everything you had moved while looking for them."

Then we made a trip to Walmart to buy licenses. Another hilarious event that I may share later.

Tomorrow's the big day. My girlfriend and I pray they have a safe, successful trip on the river. We'll take pictures to prove it actually happened.

Until then, have a great evening.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Water Bound Again

Sweetie just couldn't resist. I'm hoping he's be inspired to take better care of himself so he can enjoy it several times this year.

We stopped by a friend's on our way home from picking up the boat, he remarked: "My cousin just sold this same model, about the same age for $2400 with trailer."

We paid $850 CASH.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

As Independence Day Approaches

I've been reminded several times this week of how dependent, disrespectful and unmotivated our society is.

Since Monday:

New acquaintances received a 14 day notice to vacate their home from his step son - after moving into the place six months ago at the stepson's urging so it wouldn't be foreclosed. Their last house payment was THREE days late (no late charge incurred at the bank) and the couple had maintained the place spotlessly. The son's rich girlfriend suggested they occupy the house because it's larger than her condo. So a 40-something couple with two girls ages 6 & 13 may be homeless by July 11th. Reasonable rentals are in short supply here and they have no down payment to buy a place.

My former step daughter's son was released from jail after serving 18 months for larceny, assault and fleeing police. He's on a tether and banned from entering either of our twin communities. Last night he broke into his grandfather's home; stole money, food, keys to the ATV and ran the machine into the river. When apprehended he spit at the cops and cursed his parents. His mother, crying, asked what his problem was. "None of you ever cared whether I had a car, a nice house or money when I was in high school." No thought of working during high school; helping out at home; saving money or treating anyone with respect. It's all about HIM.

Meanwhile, my GM retiree acquaintances, told the local barber I'm in dire need of money. NOT true. But the barber, who helps all sorts of folks, handed me a stack of her business cards. "Here, write your name on the back of each & pass them out to your friends. For every one that's redeemed, I'll give you $10." Obviously a nice offer from a person who genuinely cares but it's the GM retirees who need money! Instead of examining their spending habits, they got jealous of my painting for haircut barter deal at the barber's. Their solution was to spread a rumor and try to embarrass me.

My father returned home after his "Secret Trip" and visited my sister-in-law. He claimed he'd "hitched a ride" with my daughter - who brought her youngest to a music camp in Mid-Michigan. When sister-in-law asked if he'd gone anywhere else he lied. "No, just stopped in for coffee with Sheila." In fact, he was an hour north of us for three days, then went to E. Lansing for lunch with a cousin and visited her husband in the nursing home. This is the father who lived with us in the U.P. The father who calls once a month and says he's not well enough to travel and complains that everyone there ignores him. Sweetie is so pissed he screens our calls & says not to answer if my father calls here.

Stopped at my elderly friend's to pick up her grocery list and repair her screen window. She lives in a mobile home park of about 60 homes. The ONE time I did not lock the car, someone helped themselves to the bag of bananas, lettuce, tomatoes and a library book. In broad daylight.

Our local food pantry is begging for donations and volunteers. One man we know of got a box of groceries from them; took them to his druggie daughter and traded dope for food. The reason we know is we were across the hall donating a recliner to an elderly man. The druggie daughter came to his door and offered to give us groceries for money at which the old man screamed at her. "You're not getting money here to buy your crap!"

After this week, I'd like to hibernate for six months. Wonder how much worse the world will be by December.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Think I've recovered from prepping for Island Fest. It was great to meet people I only know online. Didn't sell a whole lot but their comments were great and my inventory will be moved to the booth I rent downtown.

We have a nice breeze here today which makes it easier for Sweetie to breathe. He's been a better patient this past week since the doc told him if he didn't want to follow orders there was no point in seeing him. His son may or may not come to visit him because his truck isn't running well and he's broke as usual.

My father and daughter made a trip downstate to visit a few people but not us. So be it.

Our friends in Flint who visited earlier this month want to return at the end of July during the local Fair. Seeing as both she and I are the caretakers of our men, we're hoping they're both well enough for a visit.

Today, we pick up paperwork for Sweetie's appointment with the cardiologist. Not only does his heart rate skyrocket when he exerts any energy, it spirals downward when he struggles to breathe while wearing oxygen.

Well, time to scoot. Plenty more I could rattle on about but an out of breath man needs my attention as does the crippled dog.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We're Still Here

Just busy with the regular round of doctor appointments, running errands and working on the siding.

Have a booth at a festival this weekend & have no idea what to expect. The space was free and it will give me a little exposure but I haven't set my sights on making lots of money.

I may have Sweetie convinced to come out of hibernation and take the golf cart to the event so he can putz around; look at the river and maybe recognize a few people.

Tomorrow we'll finish the south side of our exterior renovation. It's been a long process but together we've got it done. Three more sides to go...

High winds and rain here today and tomorrow followed by cooler temps. We welcome a break from the stifling humidity. It's hell on Sweetie's breathing, even with oxygen. the pepper plants have little baby peppers and the tomato plants are about a week behind. I have 12 basil plants to separate and two Russian sage plants to transplant. That's the extent of this year's gardening.

We've lived so long on our preps that we've developed deep holes which need to be replenished soon. When I get the energy.

Will post pictures this weekend. Take care, Treesong

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Replenishing Mind, Body & Soul

Sometimes we get so wound up in issues, dramas, diversions, work loads, illnesses, or just plain senseless chatter that we eventually burn out.

I've come close these last couple weeks. Between caring for my elderly friend's needs; a constant round of doctor appointments; organizing the art exhibit; a couple meetings every week and the daily chores of maintaining a home I sat here the other night and realized: I need a break.

Tomorrow is ME time. Yes, I have to pick up some things for my friend. Yes, I have to make a stop at the hardware store, the grocery, the pharmacy and the bank. but I will also savor a lunch with a friend; visit an art gallery and resale shop and take a walk in a park - rain or not. I already have the binoculars, rain gear and umbrella in the car.

Keeping oneself balanced is a daily challenge. And, when you neglect it for too long, there is a price to pay.

A hot cup of herbal tea; a foot soak & pedicure and an afternoon nap on a rainy day helped. but a few hours outside soaking in fresh air and sunshine after a leisurely lunch and artistic entertainment are the best medicine.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Have nearly completed arranging out second art exhibit & a few new artists have taken advantage of the opportunity.

Here is a sampling.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some People's Actions - or Lack Thereof - Are Outright Neglect

My elderly friend got saddled with two wild grandkids again today - ages 6 and 9. Expletives, wrecklesness and outright defiance come out of their mouths faster than and auctioneer's babble.

I called her this afternoon to check on her - as I do every day - sometimes 3-4 times a day. The sound of her voice told me she was in trouble.

Neighborhood brats had been banking on her mobile home, sending her dog into a frenzy while she struggled to breathe in the 96 degree heat. Three grandkids and one granddaughter's boyfriend had all promised to stop by and install a used air conditioner in her living room window. No one showed.

I loaded our spare air conditioner and tools in the car & off we went. It was 99 degrees inside her home! The hoodlums disapeared down the street & we got installation job done while she cried and ranted about her family's navel gazing.

After a cool drink I hooked her hose up and sprayed her rooftop. The heat was so intense today the air looked like a desert haze.

Other than hanging the new art exhibit and driving to our friend's home, we stayed inside eating watermelon and drinking lots of liquids. For weeks we've had flooding and electrical storms. Now the heat and humidity is killing people. Awhile ago police were searching for an elderly man in the woods to the north of us. He'd "gone off the deep end," grabbed his shotgun and left his cool home for the humidity and mosquitoes of tangled underbrush and rough terrain. Not likely to be a good outcome.

Half an hour ago I called my elderly friend. The monster grandkids are gone; her living room has three broken knicknacks; her dog is cowering beneath her bed and she's told their step dad not to bring them to her house tomorrow. He was told the same thing last night but chose to ignore her request and dropped the kids at the curb today.

Personnally, I would have locked my doors and called Protective Services. We offered to pick her up tomorrow so she could spend the afternoon here. She'll "think about it."

The situation really pisses me off. The woman has bend butt over backwards for her entire family for years but in her elderly years they can't be bothered with her needs.

Enough of a rant. I say anymore I'll be bitching out loud as I type.

Thank God we're still of sound mind and somewhat sound bodies. The least we can do is help her.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Oxygenated Life

Today Sweetie qualified for oxygen part time. The medical supply people should arrive tomorrow once they receive the order from his doctor.

He's been instructed to walk/exercise while on oxygen because it increases his stamina which decreases his need for oxygen.

I'm hoping he follows this advice because his current quality of life sucks, to put it bluntly. I've become the full time caretaker the last couple days: helping him dress/undress, putting his sock/shoes on so he doesn't have to bend over; driving, lifting, carrying, and taking all phone calls because he's out of breath after a few words.

We have friends staying with us this weekend from Flint - the hell hole they hope to move out of soon. Both are on disability and, like me, she's the caretaker of her husband who has all the same ailments as Sweetie. Ought to be interesting as we tour the area, attend a classic car show, picnic and sit and gab while the guys get to know one another. She and I haven't seen one another in about 10 years so we have lots of catching up to do.

The peonies are in bloom along our south side and I've yet to plant the sage and basil plants a new friend gave me. Maybe my visiting girlfriend will enjoy getting her hands dirty this weekend. In her old neighborhood 10 years ago, she was known for her green thumb, having turned a gravel strewn lot into a lucious jungle of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Well, time to take Lady outside. Enjoy your weekend, Treesong

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Appointment Overload

We've had appointments 3-4 days a week since I last posted. Between Sweetie's dermatology appointments and surgeries and his medical tests it seems we never stop sitting in waiting rooms. Now the bills are arriving too. Same old story: just as we get ahead and have a cushion there's another "due by" envelope in the mail.

In the midst of it all the rain comes and goes. The lawn dries out long enough to be mowed once a week. The flowers along our south side are nearly all in bloom as are the four lilac bushes and azelea tree.

A path has been cleared in our pole barn where all of Sweetie's John Deere equipment once stood: two riding mowers, rototiller, snow blower, cab and assorted parts. It was great to see a 4x4 truck pulling a trailer pull in the yard and haul it away.

We've spread the word about the rest of Sweetie's collection. A few more lookers and phone calls since and some of it will be gone next week.

Due to his declining health, Sweetie has decided to let go of nearly everything. A man on oxygen with limited mobility and stamina has no use for most of what he owns. He bought a riding mower with a few attachments with some of his proceeds. It's a good decision because I can operate all of it easily.

Our next art exhibit is being publicized now so I've been busy finishing some landscape quilts that have sat for six years. Meanwhile I taught myself how to crochet granny squares and will use left over yarn scraps to make an afghan.

We've invited my elderly woman friend over for a Memorial Day cookout. She's bringing the deviled eggs; we're supplying the rest. Her family is preoccupied as usual.

Well, time to fix supper. Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The roof is complete. The installers were conscientious and picked up the area when the job was complete.

We are very satisfied with their work and thankful we were able to pay cash for the job.

The Roofers Have Arrived

And Sweetie could not resist standing outside giving them instructions then climbing the ladder until one of the men had the sense to stand behind him in case he fell.

I was just waking up after going to sleep at 4 a.m. (what happens when I nap in the evening) and heard men talking in the living room. They had walked him inside and were asking if there was someone they could call.

Once I was upright, I walked into the living room, thanked the men and practically sat on Sweetie. He received a stern warning followed by a kiss. The sounds of men working and material either coming off the mobile home or screw guns attaching stuff is driving him mad. He wants so much to be in the center of it all.

"This is what life will be like now that you're unable to do anything," I told him a minute ago. "If you don't like it you need to follow the doctor's advice."

I know it's hard for him to quit smoking but it's equally hard to watch him die and stress both of us further while doing it!

As you can see from the photo, the old siding remains and to the far right is a peek at the pink insulation around the kitchen window. Six 4x8 sheets of insulation board cover the exterior beyond the window.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Doc Visit

After doctor visit the suspicion is Sweetie has congestive heart failure. Lab tests and chest xray results should be back tomorrow.

Doctor said medications could treat CHF but - smoking will have to cease. Sweetie was resistant but doctor told him: "There's little point in seeking treatment if you continue to smoke."

He then went on to explain that Sweetie will likely be put on oxygen and, with some medication, will feel better and be able to regain some activity. "However, if you think you'll remove oxygen to smoke you're wasting every one's time."

Walking from the doc's office to the lab/xray area required three rests.

On leaving the hospital he stopped to buy tobacco.

Tomorrow the roofers are due here to install the insulated metal roof.

I put all tools and insulation/siding materials in the pole barn today. We have no funds to hire someone to finish the job.

Tomorrow I cancel my optometrist appointment and his dermatology surgery, both scheduled for Friday.

He is so weak now that he cannot walk 10 feet without holding onto something. He has begun talking about future plans with the preface: "If I'm here..."

Tonight, while he's sleeping, I hope somehow his unconscious self begins to change.

Meanwhile, it's hour by hour.