Up North

On Processing and the Power of Running Away

10/30

Yesterday was such a hard day for me -- in the way that grief makes everything feel impossible.  I couldn't quite manage to do the things that make for a "normal" day.  I just needed to "process."  And for me, that means reading, talking, analyzing . . . basically, figuring out how my brain - and my heart - was going to adjust to holding and dealing with this new reality.  

So I read every high-quality analysis I could get my hands-on.  I talked to my sister.  I talked to a good friend.  I talked to Erin.  I journaled.  I knit.  I made feeble attempts at household chores.  And I thanked my lucky stars that Tom had left earlier in the day for a planned trip up north to the cottage for a few days to close things up for the season and host his annual poker game.  Because Tom - who was going through his own painful grief process - grieves in a very different way from me.  He turns inward.  He doesn't speak.  He needs to process his feelings without interference.

But then . . . I heard Hillary's most gracious speech.

And I totally lost it.

I needed to be with Tom -- even if it meant silence.  

So I ran away.

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I threw my knitting, a bottle of wine, and the dogs in my car -- and I headed north.

To grieve and process (in our very own ways) alongside Tom.

We sat around the fire for a couple of hours . . . 

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Talking some, but mostly not talking.  Tom reflected.  I read more analyses and opinions and updates.  We pet the dogs.  We drank.  We processed.

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We watched the sun go down and moon come up.

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This morning, I'm ready to pack up and head back home.  I feel a bit more . . . put together now.  In my own head.  Certainly more resolved.  And ready to move forward.  (Stay tuned.)

Running away for a day . . . was the right thing for me to do.

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Although I didn't participate today, please be sure to check out the Think Write Thursday group here.

 


Fall Interlude I

For obvious reasons, I didn't get up north to our cottage much this summer.  (Like . . . only twice.  And that was early in the season.)  Luckily, fall is a great time to head north -- when the days are still pretty summer-y, but fall is in the air.

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In the fall here in Michigan, we often have foggy mornings . . . 

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but the fog usually burns of as soon as the sun rises, revealing those sparkling blue skies from my earlier photos.

It's been great to have this week up here.  I've had plenty of time for reading and thinking and writing and knitting.  The dogs love it, too!  We've had time for swims in the lake and walks in the woods.  And campfires.  Everyone loves campfires.

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Just so you don't think it's all fun and games up here in the fall . . . we're also up here to bring in the boat and the docks for the season (because you don't want to be stuck doing that once the water starts getting really cold!) (ask us how we know. . . ).  And Tom has started a major project:  replacing most of the 102 steps leading down to the lake.  (Yeah.  He isn't creating a "yard-Jenga" game here.)

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We'll be heading home tomorrow -- but we'll be back soon.  I'm going to treat myself to several more fall interludes this year.  (And Tom, y'know. . . those stairs!)

 


Tribute Ten

Last week, Tom and I hosted some Very Special Guests.

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Yep. 

Carole and Dale.

Right here in Kalamazoo!

Carole isn't back home quite yet . . . so there is no Ten on Tuesday today.  But I decided to Ten on Tuesday anyway . . . in her honor.

A Tribute Ten . . . With Carole On Her Vacation:

1 - We laughed a LOT.  (Tom and Dale both know so many jokes.  So. Many.)

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2 - We went Up North.

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3 - Where some of us fished.  While others of us sat around and talked and maybe knit a few rows here and there.

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4.  We swam.  Or, again, some of us swam.  While others of us worked on our tans.  (And sometimes chased duck families away.)

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5.  We played games.  Tom and I introduced Carole and Dale to Pass the Pigs -- and let's just say that . . . Carole ran the table.  (She even rolled the elusive Leaning Jowler!)

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6.  We visited the Lake Michigan beach.  And, yep.  It looks just like the ocean.  Without the salt.

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7.  We did a pub crawl, Kalamazoo-style.  Someone was the Designated Driver.  (Guess who?)

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8.  We listened to live music.  

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9.  And more live music.

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10.  And generally had a great time wherever we went!

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So much fun!

Thanks for visiting Kalamazoo, Carole and Dale!

 

 

 


Improving on a Good Thing

When we're up north, we like to sit around the campfire at the end of the day (if the mosquitos aren't too bad) with a beer or some wine.  

Some nights, we treat ourselves to these, too.

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Over the years, Tom has become a Master at making S'mores.  He perfectly toasts two marshmallows until they're Just Right, and then slams them between two half-graham crackers sandwiched with half a Hershey chocolate bar.

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Perfection.

But this year, he found something at the local grocery store that made them Even Better!

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Yes.  FLAT marshmallows!

They're a little hard to get on the toasting stick* -- but they make the PERFECT marshmallow for S'mores.  (Quickly, too.)

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Technology marches on!

(Yum.)

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* I think these marshmallows are specifically designed so you can make microwave-S'mores.  But that just seems somehow wrong to me.


LIVE . . . from Up North

Something has happened ... that we never thought would happen.  
(Our kids are extra-shocked.)  
(As in . . . "Never thought I'd see the day, Mom" shocked.)

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We had wifi installed at our cottage up north!

(Gasp!)

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We've always said that we didn't need (or want) communication or technology up at the cottage (which really did cause a lot of teenage grumping back in the day).  It's always been kind of nice . . . to just get away from things when we were up north.

But.

In the last couple of years, Tom and I have spent more and more time driving into town and working in the local public library's parking lot (tapping into their wifi) to finish an assignment, check email, or submit an online grant with a summer due date.  

So.

We finally gave in.

We had wifi installed at the cottage.

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This means . . . 

We can stay up here for longer periods of time (because now we can actually work from the cottage).

We can watch Netlix in the woods.

And I can do real-time, up north blogging.

But no worries.  There's still plenty of time for this:

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Right Now - September 2015

I'm sort of wondering . . . what happened to September.  Because it seems to have just evaporated right before my very eyes! 

POOF!

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Here's what's happening for me . . . Right Now.

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Watching . . . my bathroom be demolished right before my very eyes!  (Yes.  It will be worth it in the end.  For now?  Just a giant mess and a lot of hassle.)  (A Jacuzzi tub used to live there. . . )

Reading . . . Undermajordomo Minor.  (The title alone is click-bait, n'est-ce pas?)  (If you're a fan of Princess Bride, you might want to pick this one up.)  I'm also reading Girl on the Train for my book group.  (I know.  Late to this party.)  (Also - not really my style.  But reading anyway because book group.)

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Knitting . . . a sweater.  This one.  As usual, with sweaters-in-pieces, I do the sleeves first.  It's slow going lately, as life has been busy and getting in the way of my knitting.

 

Listening to . . . Black Violin.  (Classical meets HipHop.  Really.  Check it out.)

Planning . . . where to plant my spring bulbs.  I have daffodil, crocus, allium, and grape hyacinth -- over 150 bulbs -- and I'll be so happy next spring!

Needing to . . . get on with my KonMari-ing, which has taken a backseat during gardening season.  Now that the garden is winding down, I'll have time to sort and toss and find joy again.

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Drinking . . . our home-brewed IPA.  (Really, it's all Tom's doing -- but I assist with the transfers and bottling).  (And it's quite tasty, by the way!)

Itching to . . . head up north for a nice fall weekend.  I'm hoping the weather cooperates for a nice fall hike in the woods.  (Even though the leaves haven't really gotten going yet.)

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Dreading . . . pumpkin spice everything!  At the grocery store on Monday - in just one aisle - I saw PS marmallows, PS Mini Wheats, PS granola bars, PS tea, PS coffee, and PS Pop-Tarts.  (Of course, I also discovered that one of seasonal flavors of Chobani - PS, of course - is really quite tasty!)

Wondering . . . how long it will really take before my bathroom is functional again?

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Enjoying . . . the Drawing with Colored Pencils art class I'm taking this fall at the KIA.  Lots to learn; lots of fun.

Organizing . . .my time so much better these days.  How?  A good, old-school planner system that really works for me.*  (Digital, while cool, just does not.)

Delighted by . . . a new work table for my drawing and art projects.  My Dad built it for me - custom-sized.  I can't wait to get it!

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Celebrating . . . the Super-Lunar-Blood-Moon-Eclipse.  We didn't think we'd get to see it at all - because clouds.  But then, just as the show started, the clouds parted and we had a perfect view from our patio.

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . right now?

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* I've used Planner Pads almost exclusively since 1999.  Every once in a while, I try something digital.  But I always go back to the Planner Pad. 

 

 

 


Weekending . . . Ten on Tuesday Style

We kept ourselves quite busy all through this long, hot Labor Day weekend.  It won't be any trouble at all for me to tell you Ten Things I Did This Weekend, à la Ten on Tuesday.

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1 - On Friday, I helped Tom transfer his latest beer batch from one large container to another (which is trickier than it sounds).  The stuff in this photo is called the trub . . . or what's left in the bottom of the container after a successful "first stage fermentation." (And this means we're one week closer to our own IPA!)

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2 - Then we headed for Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids to see John Hiatt perform in the outdoor amphitheatre. I love sitting outside in my lawn chair, sipping a beer, watching the  geese and herons fly overhead, seeing the sun go down . . . all while enjoying a great concert.  (And it was great.)

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3 - On Saturday morning, the dogs and I had a very exciting walk . . . where we discovered a (dead) snake in the road, a huge (very live) wasp nest in a tree, and a giant (also live) cicada in the grass (near the J-pups' favorite pee-corner).  So much to check out.

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4 - On Saturday afternoon we headed up to the cottage for a quick overnight. . . and one last sit on the dock and (probably) the last swim for the dogs.  (We won't be back up until October.)

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5 - Because then we took the docks out for the season.  (Always kind of sad; summer goes by too quickly, y'know?)

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6 -- I knit almost all of one sleeve for this sweater.  I also taught myself to cable without a cable needle.  (I know.  I'm like the only knitter on the planet stubborn enough to continue with a cable needle.  So it was time.)  (Bonus:  I'll get plenty of practice on this sweater.)

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7 - I re-did my front porch containers with more fall-ish flowers.  (The summer batch was looking really, really tired.)  (Maybe even dead.)

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8 - I read a book  - Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal.  I highly recommend it!  Just delightful.

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9 - We had a little cook-out, just Tom and I.

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10 - And I spent plenty of time just kicking back with Tom and the dogs . . . enjoying a long, pleasant summer weekend.

How about YOU?  What did you do this weekend?

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Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here

 


Country Roads

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This week, Carole has us visiting the country for Ten on Tuesday.

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When I think about "visiting the country" . . . I think about heading up north (which really is "visiting the country" in Michigan-speak).

Here's what Tom and I love about being up north:

  1. The pace.  Everything slows down once we arrive up north.  Our schedules are free and uncomplicated.  (Even if they're not.)
  2. Seeing all the wildlife.  While we share our backyard at home with all kinds of birds and critters, nothing compares to what we see up north!  Loons, eagles, racoons, mink, porcupines, deer, fox, bats, skunks, hawks, grouse, woodcock, herons, sand hill cranes, muskrats, pileated woodpeckers, snakes, owls -- all right there.  (Sometimes right on our porch, even.)  
  3. Being unconnected.  Yeah, it's kind of hard at first . . . but it's rather nice to be without wifi, cable, or telephone service for a little while.  (Every year, we talk about getting wifi.  Maybe next year. . . but not yet.)
  4. Paring down to the bare essentials.  We have just the things we need - and no more - when we're up north.  It's always good to find out how little we actually need.
  5. The water.  Boats, kayaks, fishing, swimming, just gazing.  The water is relaxing and soothing.
  6. Going "organic" for a few days.  True confessions:  Sometimes we wear the same clothes for days when we're up north.  (See #4.  Bare essentials.)  Tom doesn't shave.  I don't wear mascara.  We don't always shower every day.  We don't care.
  7. Scrabble.  We never play at home, but we often play up north.  (See #1.  Pace.)  (And #3.  Being unconnected.)
  8. Campfires.  We have a little firepit in our garden here at home, but it's just not at all the same as our huge and long-lasting campfires up north.
  9. S'mores.  (See #7.  Campfires.)  So much fun -- and tasty, too.
  10. The tools.  Tom gets many more opportunities to use his chainsaw and axe up north.  

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How about YOU?  What do you like about visiting the country?

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Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here


A Few Quick and Rather Random Updates

I'm on my way to Lansing today for an all day meeting, so I thought this would be a great time to bring you some updates . . . on this and that.

First, Brian and Lauren are settling in to their new apartment in Broomfield, Colorado.  While moving somewhere new always requires an adjustment (or two), they're managing very well.  (And with a view like this, what's not to love?)

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Second, driving Miss JoJo  . . . worked!  Here, you can see both dogs in the back seat as we were driving home from our trip up north last weekend.  (On a beach towel, of course.  I'm not stupid.)  Although car rides are still not JoJo's favorite thing, she willingly jumps in the car now, and will even take a nap.  (And no carsick.  Bonus!)

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And, last, our Baby Loon is growing up fast!  Last weekend, the Loon Family was still hanging close together -- but you can see Junior is beginning to show the distinctive loon markings.  (I'm betting he/she will be all grown up before we get back up to the lake in a couple of weeks.)

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Enjoy your day!


Everything Will Turn Out Alright

It's been kind of a wild summer here.  Just lots of . . . issues.  Y'know?  It happens sometimes.  Things just pile up, and nothing seems to resolve.  My mind has been in a swirl for several months. 

When my life gets like that, I turn to music . . . 

 

. . . and knitting!

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Just as I was heading up north for my vacation in early July, Kim's yarn club installment arrived.

Perfect yarn.

Perfect design.

Perfectly perfect mindful knitting!

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As usual, the rhythm of a simple knitting project gets me through the rough stuff.

Don't worry, baby!

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Everything will turn out alright!  (And it will.)

(Ravelry details here.)