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Archive for the ‘Family stories’ Category

January 23, 2019

 

I have been separating egg whites for my whole baking career by precariously cracking them on the edge of a bowl, and tossing the white back and forth between the two shell halves. The danger, of course, is that yolk will spill into the egg white and ruin it for beating them stiff. It is particular agony if it happens on the sixth egg.

It didn’t happen to me today, however, as I was creating my Gugelhupf for my daughter’s office staff. I am grateful for that because I owe them a debt of gratitude for their graciousness in late December when I called Laura while her dad and I were being rushed to Emergency in a siren blaring, lights flashing ambulance.

I gave her our destination and they told her to “Go! Right now! To meet your mom.” And she did, which helped to calm the high vibrations of the hour. Many hours, actually, as tests were run to diagnose extreme pains in his lower chest-top belly area.

I used to see my mom crack and separate eggs this same way, but I also saw her use an egg white separator kitchen tool. There are two reasons why I don’t have one of those. The first is I am too lazy to go shop for something if I don’t know exactly where to find it. The second is that I don’t bake often anymore since Tom has to watch his sugar and I have to endlessly watch my weight. It is just more efficient to not have temptation around.

I was in a bit of a hurry to complete the Gugelhupf, for I had made my “to do” list fairly long for this day. That is not wise either, as I don’t do “hurry” well anymore. And I have given up multi-tasking because it is highly overrated and I am not as good as I once was at it anymore.

I need to recall Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God. Where ever I am God is. Whatever I am doing, I can bring God’s presence into it. I do that pretty readily these days as we live a rather quiet mid-70 years of age lifestyle. Things are simpler. I see the packed schedules and tasks of the younger generations in my daughters, nieces and nephews. And I see they are packing a lot of good into that multi-tasking….a lot of God.

Tom and I endured his seven day hospital stay, diagnosed with Acute Pancreatitis, for which he is still being treated. But he is out of pain without medicine. My aspiration for 2019 is to see things more clearly… I don’t ascribe to the current culture of blame game hyped by the media. It has taken me a very long time and a lot of hard lessons to rid myself of the last vestiges of blaming others for anything and I am still not perfect at it. But I have learned the value of self-inventory and “my part” (thank you 4th step inventory of AA) of disturbances in or nearby me and I carry on to making amends where necessary and letting go of blaming myself or others.

The Gugelhupf is baking in the oven and…

 

A little dust of confectioner’s sugar and I am off to Laura’s with this treat.

 

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We recently witnessed the passing of one of our presidents, George Herbert Walker Bush. With that passing, the honor and respect of a full military funeral was given to him and many of us watched the progression of the rituals and the mourning of his family and the citizens of our country.

Along the way, people spoke of his accomplishments politically, in the military, and in his family life.  Two things rose to the top and were mentioned over and over again: that he listened–really listened–to who ever was speaking to him. Much to be admired. And that he wrote so many personal notes to so many people throughout his life.

Sad to say texts and abbreviated words now comprise the most common form of communication. I have always been a letter writer and a note and card giver. I know these were loved to be received. I still do this, just not as often.

When I taught Write Now! writing workshops, I headed off any fear the writers might have had by telling them that they would write what they heard coming from their heart; the words would flow down their arm, through their fingertips, into the writing pen or pencil and out onto the paper.

And their words did.

There is an intimacy and genuineness in this simple act of note-writing. It is a treat to both the writer and the recipient.

 

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Just reminding myself that life is good…with images that please me.

I am Journey Girl and I open to the blessings in my life.

 

 

And I do see it, more and more.

So blessed to be with my friend on this trip in the Alps in 2013.

So blessed by my path, even when I don’t know where it leads.

 

Praying in gratitude for my good friend, Lois. Seeing her in comfort as many ways as she can, and even rooting for Notre Dame, her favorite team.

 

We are indeed, encouraged.

I see God’s glory all around us, and

 

My taste buds are enhanced in the goodness of life.


My heart gives thanks.

and He knows my name.

 

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Big John

 

My brother, John, would have turned 72 last week on August 21. But a month earlier, on July 17, 2018 he succumbed to a long illness and suffering in the hospital with a nurse attending him during routine morning care.  “I turned away for a second and when I turned back, he had just stopped breathing.” she told me on the telephone less than fifteen minutes after his death. She was so kind.  She said there was no struggle, no call out for help, just what seemed an easy passing on after many days of physical challenge and pain.

Tom and I had been with John within the last month and that was a good thing for all of us. He called me and asked me to come and I am grateful that we were able to make the trip.

John loved to fish, just like his parents did. So many trips they shared in the dinghy motor boat on the rivers and lakes. Baiting fish, stringing up trophies, and the yukkiest (I thought) of all shared duties of cleaning them before they hit the frying pan. Once we had moved to Michigan, dad’s favorite hide-away spot was Moose Horn Lodge in Chapleau, Ontario where we went many summers of the 60s. Crossing the Mackinac Straits on ferry before the Mighty Mac Bridge was built. Dave and John made one last, sad trip there in July 1977, when dad and mom had returned from the Virgin Islands for a Canadian week vacation at the cabin and on the lake. Dad died of a heart attack in the boat as they completed their first day of fishing. Dave and John traveled together to get to mom.

When Tom and I owned and worked the Walnut Woods Golf Course, outside Gobles, Michigan in the mid 1970s and early ’80s, John was famous for two things there. The first one was his mounted Northern, that was easily mistaken for a muskie, because it was so huge. He told me he wasn’t allowed to put it up in his home, and when he saw our rustic barn wood bar in the clubhouse, he claimed it was the perfect place for it, and he would bring it down “soon!”  He did.

Because of this golf course ownership, my patch-work quilt resume and professional career even included bartending. I was amazed that the golfers, who sat there, could describe in detail, every shot of the round they had played either today or any year preceding today….just as those who were fishermen could also describe all the details of their favorite catch, where they were, what bait they used, what time they were on the water. Many conversations drew on, because of that fish…and of course, they wanted to know the details of John’s conquest, as well.

John liked to cook and grill too. Another likeness to his father.  The second thing he was famous for in Gobles at the golf course was his…..BJ’s Disorderly Josephs, which he had taught me to make. Not a simple sloppy joe…a big, messy disorderly JOSEPH.  In the wintertime, we designed a cross-country ski trail system across the 18 hole course, and rented out skis on weekends and to school groups during the week. I had a lot of fun with that. We did spaghetti Saturday night lighted ski trail parties (from Tom’s homemade lighting system) and attracted business groups out for skiing under the stars.

The Gobles Snowmobile Club, who could not run on our ski trails, devised a trail from over the hills through the neighbor’s fields, down his fence line to get to the clubhouse and generally emptied the crockpot of BJ Disorderly Josephs before they left. The Disorderly Joseph is a mixture of ground beef, onion, green pepper, mushrooms, and a can of Manwich.  Oh, so good.

As I met and listened to people at the funeral who knew John over the years, almost without exception, they mentioned his humor and “kept us laughing” kind of remembrance. That was his brand, from little brother, through our teen age years together, and occasionally as we met up where ever life took us.

I know the look in his eye, and the expression on his face when it is about to slip out of him in a remark, even in caustic circumstances. It is how he looks at me now and his circumstances are much better than they were a few months ago. I always love you, John.

 

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Ode to Amy’s Hiccups
by Grama

(A Poem for Amy)
How do you stop
a hiccup?
Do you stand
on one foot?
or do you close
one eye and look
at your toe?
Do you hold
your nose and
hop three jumps
to the left and four
to the right?
Do you scream
with all your might
and then whisper
in someone’s ear,
“Please, please don’t
your hear?”
How, just how do
you stop a hiccup.
and then, I knew,
I just knew it was gone.
Just how did that happen
I have not a clue!

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We arrived on the day of the Lilac Parade. Our three-car caravan traveling North on I-75 into Gaylord, where we stopped for lunch and a Father’s Day Celebration.

 

Then we were ferry-bound, bicycles and all for Mackinac and Dufina Cottage.

 

and, of course, the Horse Taxi ride up to the cottage.

 

 

Passing the Grand.

 

 

Up the hill…

 

Good times and ambiance in Dufina.

 

 

 

 


Puzzle solving.

 

 

 

 

 

Music, music, music.

 

Early morning view from our bedroom window.

 

 

Porch sitting and conversations.

 

 

Breakfast nook.

 

 

 

Games of Go Fish!

 

 

Outings on the Island. Bicycles!

 

Outings on the Island.

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Cream!

 

Mission Point Date with Tom

 


 

Last Night Movie Night watching The Notebook.

 


 

Once more, time to leave again.  Wonderful time.


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It’s official now. Summer has arrived in Marshall, Michigan on the gentle June evening breezes in Stewart’s Landing and the first Marshall Rotary Band Summer Concert performance.

Tom and I followed clarinetist Kathleen and percussionist Andrew into the park and set up in front row seats.

We were treated to so many spirited marches from famed composers along with a mixture of melodies from My Fair Lady. I was enjoying it so much, the lady next to me was singing the lyrics and I felt like maybe I could really have danced all night.

It is such a wonderful thing to see Kathleen and Andrew perform, as they have for many years. The community performance band has entertained for forty years, and that is a phenomenal accomplishment.  Devon and Andrew have been a part of it since their high school years and Kathleen, for nearly twenty years.

It is inspiring to see that once one chooses music and an instrument, they don’t ever really put it down. Youth through special senior status played away enthusiastically and professionally.

 

 

The audience ranged high into the elder years this night, but the 4th of July concert at the Fountain, complete with chicken bar-b-q and children’s bike and pet parade bring the whole family out, selecting their favorite spot on the lawn with outstretched blanket and the wagon they pulled their young children in to the event. It’s like a step back in time and most attire is completely red, white and blue, stars and stripes. The featured conclusion to each year’s 4th of July event is the melody of tributes to each branch of the armed forces. Always gets me!! And they stand up when their song is played to the clapping and respect of the rest of us.

But, back to June…and here we are last night at intermission in grand park surroundings and weather.

 

 

The after-concert tradition. Ice Cream treat of course!

In line with the band leader.


Lots of people had the same idea.

 

The reward for patience!!

 

We went back to Kathleen’s all happy, with songs playing in our heads.

 

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