It Was A Year Ago Today

Think about it.

I’m up at my cottage writing a novel. The setting is quaint and quiet. Every window is surrounded by green. The birds start their songs promptly at 5:30am and continue until around dusk. The photos on my bulletin board are faded and inspirational. Edith Piaf plays on the CD player until I almost grow weary of her. The slanted upper walls are painted a faded shade of yellow and the bead board screams cottage decor. The shelves are lined with devotionals and read-in-one-day novels. A thunderstorm is rolling in from the north. The memories are thick as weeds up here. My little dog sits at my feet, it’s almost as if she knows the nostalgia I find when I travel up here. If I could just get the city of Norton Shores to take out Henry Street and replace it with a tranquil, placid pond, I'd be golden.

I dangled a roast dinner with mashed potatoes, corn casserole, fresh green beans, pretzel Jell-O and ho-ho cake in front of Ben and Jennifer. They didn’t bite. But from the carnage in the kitchen sink it looks like Melissa and her friends enjoyed the ho-ho cake. They must have had an off day in la tournament de badminton.

Bike racing has to be the most grueling sport in existence, next to badminton, of course. And France wears the yellow jersey constantly for countryside gorgeousness.

Speaking of back yards, all the leaves are gone and the sky is gray. It has happened. The woods behind our house is now officially gone. No ceremony, no pomp and circumstance, not even a memorial service except in our mind's eye. It turns my stomach each time I head back there, after what seemed like 100 years of solitude, trees have given way to road and structures (that’s what I will call the typical house construction until further notice.)

That woods was so much more than physical solitude on snowy Michigan mornings or cool breezes on hot, humid, summer days. I have no history with these yet to be determined neighbors. Our history lies in the now defunct woods.

The woods played so many characters in our lives. At the beginning it was the formidable boundary that unbeknownst to the kids, kept them enjoying the simple things like sand box and swing set. It was the line they didn’t cross. Unlike the driveway and front yard, I felt safe letting the children play in the back yard unattended.

But soon the play had to venture beyond for a different kind of thrill and adventure. That’s when the woods became their dollhouses, star wars, battlefields, outer space, and even the circus. Mainly, though, it became their stage. The story of their young lives was written, practiced and played out in the backyard and woods. It was their buffer to the real world.

I would venture to say that nothing bad happened to them back there. No bad guys....except the ones they made up. No broken bones. A few teeth got knocked loose, and of course the sibling rivalry ran rampant. Nonetheless, it was a haven of sorts, a kind of camaraderie that could conquer the world.....dream big dreams and defend anyone or anything that stood in the way of their pursuit of happiness. They could wile away an afternoon faster than you could say Nintendo.

At times I feel as if I missed a couple acts of their play. I wish I could remember more. I'll get used to the treeless look, but as I gaze back there now, it seems a generation passes before my eyes. What I miss now is the childish voices happily dancing, singing, and yes, even crying. I miss the noise, chatter and confusion of children and friends. They have moved on. Every one has a story to tell, and theirs will always have 2 or 3 chapters devoted to the woods. No subdivision can ever take that away from them.

Seems I don’t really miss the trees anymore. I miss the childhoods. Exit stage right.


Break Away

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous ~ Antoinette Brown Blackwell

We finished the Tour de Musketawa on Saturday. We divided it into 12-mile increments by parking and riding out and back four times. Exhilarating. And since I now consider myself conditioned, on Sunday I rode to Hoffmaster and today I did Henry-Seminole-Lake Harbor-Pontaluna circle. I left the peloton in my rear view mirror.

I also rescued a baby turtle from middle of the road. Melissa was thrilled and reminded me that saving animals was a sign that I cared about them. And because they could not tell if it was male or female, her and Meghan painted a fingernail polish "P" (for Pat) on his/her back and released it into the wilds (Meghan's pond). I'm sure they hope to reunite at a future time and place.

And finally true confessions.....after weeks of TV less nights, I succumbed to an advertised Sunday night movie entitled, "Catch A Falling Star." In a predictable nutshell....famous actress and proud owner of cheating boyfriend walks away from movie set...after a night in the woods, she stumbles upon a dying steel mill town where no one recognizes her...doesn't call hyper-active agent for a couple of days...chance encounter with old man whose daughter is inbound on train (after telling old man to have a nice visit with his daughter, watches casket being lowered off of train) this is the defining moment when washed up actress decides to stay in steel mill town. I am not one to gawk at bad accidents so why I was torturing myself at this point is puzzling to me still. Anyhow....actress meets a new GF...who introduces her to new BF....BF & GF both get slightly upset with jane no-talent at least five or six times, I lost count... finally actress finds the true meaning of "I'm-not-the-only-person-in-the-universe"...GF becomes proud owner of her own cheating BF and restaurant... struggling actress buys steel mill ...BF becomes manager and they live happily ever after.

Listen up Ben, Nic, Bill, & Nate, and myself for that matter, it is an absolute travesty that this program was produced and your stuff is not, yet.


How Does Your Garden Grow

Who plants a seed believes in god

My grandma Bauer would roll over in her grave, along with my grandma Frey, my mom's sister, my aunts on my dad’s side......heck, and even my own mom and sisters if they were in one, yet.

What the hell happened with the gardening gene and me? And who can find the time anymore? I’ll tell ya this, though. You do what you want to do! Why do I feel so guilty about gardening. I have 3 creative and talented kids who took a lot of damn time to raise. But then so do all the above mentioned. I have a job, so do most of the above mentioned.

The only reason the generation before my sisters and me didn’t have careers was because it took them the whole livelong day just to do a load of laundry. But they still found time to garden.

Oh, and by the way, when did the term “garden” change from mouthwatering green beans and red ripe tomatoes, to planting a geranium and a few measly herbs?

Today’s generation doesn’t know what a garden is. A garden is sweet, fresh, tiny strawberries hidden under a remnant of frost fighting straw in early June. A garden is dark green lettuce leaves that make a head of iceberg from the store taste like cardboard. A garden is tiny green peas all lined up in the pod just waiting for you to run your thumb at the base and pop them in your mouth with not a boiling pot in sight. A garden is tomatoes that make you want to eat them like an apple. A garden is radishes and green onions so plentiful you could make a salad from them alone. A garden is a mile long green bean row, planted right next to the field beans that would take a teen-ager a week and 1/2 to pick. A garden is all that and so much more..... dirt under your fingernails, soil smells, carrots, new potatoes, and sweet corn in all its alternate white and yellow glory.

So there, I have appeased my guilt somewhat.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go to the farmer’s market and I might even consider a bouquet of gladiolas.


Happy Days Are Here Again

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

All of us are we...and everyone else is they ~ Rudyard Kipling

Once again, I remind myself that a journal is for recording daily events, happenings, and the way I felt about them. Let’s see....where did June go? That’s how I feel about that.

Happy 26th birthday to Nic. I guess next year will be your golden birthday 27 on the 27th! Woohoo, partay! It did my heart good to talk to you on the phone. Your maturity, knowledge, and inspiring thoughts have given me a good old fashioned dose of hope in your generation. What letter of the alphabet is your generation anyway? God bless you as you continue on your journey.

And Chelsea, happy 19th birthday to you. What the heck? How did that happen? Can it really be 19 years since you arrived on your brother’s birthday and since grandpa had his campout at Pine Rest? It seems like I hardly know you anymore. I wish you would come and stay with us for a couple of days this summer. If nothing else, come camping with Ang and Joel, Sept 2-6. DO IT!

Weather-wise, I think that should be about the dog days of summer. Happy birthday to you too Ben. It wasn’t long enough to just see you for a few short hours on Thursday. I am blown away by how you have thrown yourself heart, soul, and body into your leadership role at camp. I knew, deep down, that this would change your heart. It changes mine just to sit in the “club” atmosphere there and see the excitement for godly things and eternal truths. I wish all could see. I wish I could see more clearly. It is a journey, after all. Carry on!

Also, Happy birthday to:
Ardy ~ faithful, funny, friendly, fascinating, fearless, fair, frugal, fabulous, and a freakin awesome relative!!
Ron ~ sensitive, serious, sweet, sonorous, spunky, spirited, and 'specially gifted!!!!
Don ~ hearty, hardworking, happy, helpful, humorous, humane, and a huge role model!!!
So c'mon it's your birf-day!

As my four-day vacation comes to an end, I feel at peace, for the first time in a long while. I got to spend time with family and friends, always a joy. I’ve been writing and reading, and watching less and less TV. (Except for Wimbledon and Tour de France.) Mark and I did 1/4 of the Musketewa Trail. Saw the fireworks, good times, and even paid $8. to see a movie. What? The Terminal with Tom Hanks could have waited until video.

In this narrow space in time we have called summer, I feel like my life has shifted somewhat. For the longest time I have felt out of balance, off track. And now, thanks to my own pleadings and prayers (and probably those with whom I live) I feel rejuvenated, at peace, and on my way to happy again.