Category Archives: events

Writing to Relax

I have been, and continue to be, in the whirl-wind of trying to sort through 36+ years of belongings accumulated in my house and reduce the “keep” items down to what I can take with me in a 35-foot motor home, in which I will live and travel the United States and Canada.  Needless to say, this is a monumental task.  I am on the downside now, with only a few things left to complete, and the estate sale is scheduled May 2-6, 2019.

I have been sorting through old items, boxes never unpacked from when we moved here in February 2004, and family heirlooms, mementos and photographs.  Those special items I have painstakingly gone through and divided between my two adult children.  In the midst of all this my son has been moving out.  Between working long hours and moving about 45 minutes away, he has taken a long time in the process with a couple trailer loads of items still left to move.  This has made for a very stressful situation.   We are now down to “crunch time” as the estate seller will need to come into the home and get things priced.  My son made a comment about me pushing my sale back, but I refuse to do that.  I need to get my house emptied, ready for sale, and sold quickly.

closet cleaningI have spent weekend after weekend at home, sorting through all my current items and those in boxes, preparing for my estate sale.  Today I took some “me” time and attended the #RochesterWriters Spring Conference.  I enjoyed a day of informative keynote speakers and instructors, plus socializing with other writers.  It was time well spent, combining instruction in self-publishing with networking.   There is something about spending a day with other writers that inspires one to write.  Even though you haven’t seen me here in quite a while due to everything going on in my personal life, I find myself here tonight writing a quick blog, just to say hi and let you know I am still alive and kicking.

Once the sorting and packing is complete and I have moved into the RV, which will happen on or about April 23, 2019, you will begin to hear from me more often.  As I move into fall and begin to travel the country I plan to post travel blogs of my adventures, and hopefully expand into writing some travel articles for magazines as well.  What the future holds for me one can not be certain, but it will definitely be an adventure and a change in lifestyle.

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Filed under Activities, assumptions, career, Cleaning, communication, decisions, Discoveries, events, Festivals, freindship, friends, friendship, habit, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, reality, time, tourism, travel, Writing

Holiday Greetings

vicchristmastradToday I participated in two holiday traditions, a Christmas gathering for the Blue Water Shutterbugs Camera Club and the writing of my annual Christmas letter, which I do in lieu of a card.  The writing of Christmas greetings and handling out of Christmas gifts are two areas where I recently learned the history of the tradition.

In the early 1850’s the first American made Christmas card was distributed by H. Pease, a printer and variety store owner in Albany, New York.  Louis Prang, a German immigrant and printer perfected color printing and introduced a new colorful Christmas card in 1874.  Within five years the sales were over 5 million.  Popularity grew and Americans began sending cards instead of writing Christmas letters or making personal visits.  Cards held their popularity until the 21st Century.  The increased use of the internet led to a 60% decrease in the sale of Christmas cards in the past decade.  In 1958 the average U.S. family mailed 100 Christmas cards.  In 2001 that figure was down to an average of 28 cards per family sent and received.    I know I have dropped my card sending down from about 75 to 30, and the number I receive has also substantially declined.

About eight years ago I went back to what I recently learned was the original tradition.  Instead of purchasing and mailing Christmas Cards, I created a Christmas Newsletter that gave all the information on my family newspaper style.  I use articles and columns to lay out my newsletter for easy reading.  The first year I did this I received many positive responses.  Friends and family enjoyed getting this newsworthy mailing rather than a purchased card with just a signature inside.  Today I wrote and have printed my 2018 Christmas newsletter.

The Christmas party I attended today included a white elephant gift exchange, which is a bit different since it involves the giving of a used item from your home that is no longer of use to you but may be of use to someone else.  They are given wrapped, but do not have the giver’s name attached.  This provides a festive yet inexpensive way to enjoy the act of giving and receiving gifts.

Gift giving was not always part of Christmas tradition.  The act of giving gifts increased from the 1820’s through the 1850’s, when shopkeepers re-shaped the holiday tradition.  Prior to that time people gave unwrapped gifts.  Then Americans began wrapping the gifts they gave, as a gift hidden in paper heightened the excitement and designated it as a gift.  As this grew in popularity gifts from stores, factories and homes of laborers were wrapped in paper that advertised the material status of the giver.  The more grand stores used distinctive colored paper and adorned them with tinsel cords and bright ribbon.

Gift giving became a symbol of materialism, as it signified family ties and the importance of the recipient to the giver.  In 1856 Harper’s Magazine attached the security of a relationship to gift giving when it stated “Love is the moral of Christmas…What are gifts but proof of Love.”  Gifts were given on a declining scale based on a person’s relationship.  The best gifts were given to family and close social circles, lesser gifts in descending order of value to relatives and acquaintances.  The deserving poor received the least valuable and least personal gifts.

The act of giving gifts was controversial, as some perceived it to be a materialistic perversion of a holy day.  Affluence was viewed as a reward from God and charitable gifting as a Christian duty.  A rich man could escape condemnation by acting in a generous fashion to help those in poverty.   Best and Company had an advertisement in 1894 that suggested while purchasing items for Christmas the shopper should think of Children less fortunate and for them the store suggested “a gift of serviceable clothing” be chosen from a group of marked down goods that “would be more than welcome.”

In today’s society the act of giving to those less fortunate is seen in all aspects of our life, including toy donation boxes in stores, mitten trees, and the annual Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive to gather money for providing meals, toys, and other items to those in need.   Over the years I have participated in various forms of charitable giving, including shopping for a needy child and/or family, donating to mitten trees, working as a server at a soup kitchen, donating a stuffed Christmas sock for a designated sex/age child.

As you go through your holiday preparations think about where the traditions came from, jot a personal note in that Christmas card and if you are able, help out a child or family in need.  After all, it is an American tradition.

 

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Vacation Destination: Calgary, Alberta

Looking off into the distance, the peaks of the Canadian Rockies can be seen, drive a couple hours north east and visit Drumheller, a town sunken down into the earth that just happens to have the world’s largest finding of dinosaur skeletons and a huge museum displaying them,  but the main purpose of this destination was to attend the Calgary Stampede, the largest outdoor event on earth.

It is exhilarating to travel somewhere you have never been before.  To experience the beauty of nature and the excitement of a world-renown event.   To visit areas famous for their natural beauty.  That is what I did this past July when I flew from Detroit, Michigan to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for a 10-day vacation.    To me travel and vacations are an opportunity to partake in the areas surroundings, take photographs, and experience the culture of the area.

Calgary is surrounded by a vast array of attractions, and I was only able to experience a small amount.  I arrived at night and did not have the opportunity to view the Canadian Rockies from my plane, but when I awoke the next morning they could be seen in the distance from where I was staying.   About 1-1/2 hours drive west from Calgary is Banff National Park.  Canada’s First National Park comprises 2,564 square miles and is located in the Canadian Rockies.  Banff is the home of Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, glacier lakes with a beautiful, distinctive emerald/turquoise color water.  The breathtaking scenery makes this park makes it well worth the time to visit.

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A day trip to Drumheller, northeast of Calgary, is a “must see”.  Located in the Canadian Badlands, this unique town is built in an area of land that at some point in time sunk down into the earth that now houses the badlands and an entire town.  This is where you will find the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which houses one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur skeletons and fossils.   I spent several hours inside the museum, taking a break to lunch at the on-sight cafeteria.

The plan was to visit the Royal Tyyrell Museum in the morning and spend the afternoon driving the Canadian Badlands taking photos.  The Canadian Badlands covers a 35,000 square mile region where dinosaur bones were discovered in the late 1800s.  Nowhere on Earth has there ever been found the quantity and quality of dinosaur remains as have been discovered in the Canadian Badlands.   It is speculated that for some reason this area of land sank down into the earth, creating a drastic drop in elevation and that stampeding dinosaurs fell over the age and died.  The result is one of the world’s largest dinosaur fossil regions.  Since the late 1800’s more than 1,000 complete skeletons of dinosaurs have been found and digs continue to this day.  The Royal Tyrrell Museum contains over 130,000 skeletons and/or fossils from this area.

In addition to dinosaur finds, the Badlands is also where gangsters would run and hideout in the “wild west” era.  The terrain of the area was dangerous due to its sunken area, allowing for an easy ambush and law enforcement would not pursue gangsters once they entered the area.  The history of the badlands combined with the gorgeous rock formations makes the area a “must see” on a trip to the region.  Unfortunately a rainstorm prevented the planned exploration of the badlands from taking place.

The main purpose of my trip to Calgary was the Fantasy RV Tours 7-Day Calgary Stampede event.  The tour group arranged RV parking in a stadium parking lot and participants  took a short walk to the train stop for a ride into the town of Calgary and/or to the  Calgary Stampede Grounds.   In addition to the stampede, the tour included a visit to Heritage Park and Gasoline Alley, attending the Calgary Stampede Parade, breakfast in the rotating restaurant at Calgary Tower, and a visit to the Glenbow Museum in downtown Calgary.

Heritage Park Historical Village includes Gasoline Alley, a “must see” car museum.  I spent so much time in Gasoline Alley that my time was very limited on viewing the rest of this living history museum.  A train ride around the park gave me a nice overview, and because of the way stops are scheduled you circle the park twice before you can disembark at the location you boarded.  The majority of visitors get off and on to visit various attractions.

Our tour included breakfast at the revolving restaurant in the Calgary Tower.  The observation deck of the tower provides a 360° view of the city and surrounding area.  One area has a glass floor you can walk out on for a true view down.   I found the glass bottom very disconcerting, and had to use the rail to walk out onto it.   Across from the tower is the Glenbow Museum, which is a combination art and history museum.  I spent quite a bit of time viewing the historical exhibits and taking photographs.

The Calgary Parade is a kick-off to the Calgary Stampede.  This parade displays the heart and sole of Calgary and the Stampede, with horses, carriages, bands, and more.  Many follow the parade down to the stampede grounds for the opening of the event.  The Calgary Stampede grounds is a huge venue, including barns, a midway, an Indian Village, and the main highlight, the stampede grandstand.   You definitely want to take in both an afternoon rodeo show and an evening grandstand show, which features chuck wagon races, performances, and fireworks.  You will not be disappointed!

My trip to Calgary went way too fast and before I knew it my ten days had ended and I was at the airport and on my way home.  I hope that someday I will get back to the area and have a chance to visit more thoroughly some of the areas I only touched on lightly.

 

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Filed under Activities, Discoveries, events, Festivals, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, Photography, tourism, vacation

Bulleted Reunion

IMG_20180720_185225304I had the pleasure of attending my 40th High School Class Reunion in Eaton Rapids, Michigan this weekend.  The coordinators did a fabulous job of pulling the weekend together with a variety of activities to keep people on the move.  This was especially nice for those of us traveling in from out of town, especially those traveling from out-of-state.

This is my bulleted list of memories of the weekend.

  • Meet-and-Greet at Eaton Rapids Medical Center Conference Room.
  • Great desserts!
  • Friendly conversation with classmates.
  • Tammy (Ball) Albright’s face sign
  • Olive burgers and beer at Abies Bar
  • Woman’s bathroom is small with two toilets, no stalls.
  • Breakfast at Darb’s Patio, always yummy!
  • Glitch in planned tour of high school – Honor Society students are prepared to do tour, school is locked and they don’t have keys.
  • Classmate makes a couple calls and resolution is on the way.
  • Dave Johnson, teacher when we attended, later principal, now retired, has master key to school and comes to rescue, conducts the tour, and does an awesome job of sharing the way it was when we attended, and what changes have been done over the years.IMG_20180721_130944998_LL
  • Touring the high school after 40 years brings back memories, including these mentioned during tour:
    • The Cold Tongue
    • The smoking bathroom
    • Pep Rallies
    • After home game dances
    • Band/band camp
    • Typing class
    • 1-2-3 Roll’em Ferndock
    • World History class lectures in auditorium
    • Theater performances in auditorium
    • Mr. Phillips math classes
    • Mrs. Lohrke, English teacher
    • Mrs. Shimnoski and Mrs. Tuthill, Business/Secretarial Block teachers
    • Various athletes, coaches
    • Teachers and counselors now gone but long remembered
    • Library no longer has a comfy seating area of bean bag chairs, chairs, etc.
    • Senior Bench (now gone)
    • The former layout of the school compared to what it is now
  • Non-Reunion Activity:  Quick stop-over to visit with my sister for a couple hours
  • Walking a block to the Red Ribbon Hall for the reunion because I thought all  parking in front was taken; there were still open spots.
  • Some classmates’ appearance has hardly changed, very recognizable.
  • Some classmates have changed a lot — thank goodness for name tags!
  • Being surprised at how many people recognized me immediately.
  • Good food, good desserts.
  • Good conversation with old friends and classmates.
  • 1978 Graduate photo frame for shooting pics
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  • Fun slide show of “then and now” pictures of classmates.
  • Party Favors:  Eaton Rapids glass and notepad
  • The Red Ribbon Hall has very good acoustics = loud atmosphere.
  • A lot of us still drink, but not like we used to!
  • Many of us no longer “close down the bar” and left before the party was over.
  • Cell phones are great for event pics…I didn’t see a single “real” camera all weekend.
  • Facebook sharing of activities and photos on the ERHS Class of 1978 Page
  • Sad realization that we have lost 11 classmates, a nice memorial table was set up.
  • A quiz of things about our last year of school – presented by Mrs. Wheeler, former teacher.
  • Each classmate was to stand and give their name (maiden) now and where living…which grew as it went around the room to name, where living, married/years, occupation, children/grandchildren.
  • Amazing how many people have stayed in Eaton Rapids and/or the Greater Lansing area.
  • Surprised at how many have moved out of state, or resided in several states.

FB_IMG_1532145667519Time passes so quickly.  How is it we have already been out of school forty years?  Many thanks to classmates Julie and Jane Brenke, and their sister Jill, for organizing the reunion as well as several others who stepped in and assisted them.

 

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Filed under Activities, anniversary, celebration, communication, education, events, freindship, friends, friendship, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, Michigan, school, time

Society is a Mess

I have had this jumbling around in my mind for a while now, the horrid mess that society here in the U.S. has become.  It is as if some people have lost compassion, morals, and are on an ego trip.

One area in which I think the media services the perpetrator rather than the victims is mass shootings.    A “nobody” who wants recognition for whatever reason loads themselves up with firepower and ammunition, then goes into some location where they are likely to find a large portion of unarmed victims and opens fire.   The victims have had their lives changed forever, if they are still alive.

part-of-culturesA prime target has become schools, where firearms are not allowed.   By an act of violence upon the innocent the “nobody” — a coward in my eyes because of the venue and victim type he/she chooses — has now become a celebrity.  Thanks to mass media the shooter’s photo is displayed on TV and in newspapers across the country repeatedly, video clips of the shooting and aftermath are played again and again.  Whether captured or killed, the shooter’s name will go down in history of having done something that made them headline news…a celebrity of sorts, even if for the negative they created.

It makes me wonder, would people be so inclined to perform such heinous acts of violence  if the perpetrator was only mentioned once, or their photograph shown for a very short, limited period of time and only in passing?  What if the person who committed the act was “brushed under the rug” so to speak and the news only focused on the victims from the beginning?  Would this decrease the desire to do something considered breaking news, something that the media follows for days or weeks?  It is certainly something to consider.

Another thing that bothers me is the influx of adults who are being found to have sexually abused large amounts of minors or adults in vulnerable positions.  Larry Nassar and Bill Cosby are two recent examples.  While Bill Cosby was already a household name for positive reasons and his name now tainted, Larry Nassar was not widely known until the large sex abuse scandal became national news.  Once again the news media turned a pedophile into a glorified celebrity.   There aren’t many people who hear the name “Nassar” and don’t know who is being referred to.  I have mixed feelings about this.the-great-hope-of-society-is-in-individual-character-quote-1

I think there is a fine line between “the right to know” for both the benefit of news and our own personal protection and the ego trip these people get in obtaining celebrity status, even if in a negative manner.  People such as the mass shooter or sexual abuser, in my opinion, are lacking in self-esteem and/or are so self-absorbed and egotistical that they are unwilling or unable to put the feelings of others before their own personal desires.  This leads them to harm or abuse those around them and in doing so they gain a feeling of power and control.   It would be interesting to see if horrors such as these would be reduced if there were no recognition for such dastardly deeds.  We will probably never know the answer.

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First Day of Freedom

Imagine six years of life where your movements are controlled, where you have no privacy, where you can make phone calls out but no one can call you, your mail is read prior to you receiving it, where you can never go visit, but must wait for people to visit you.   That is the life my son led from the time he was 24 years old until he was 30.

When he received notice in December that he had received parole he began counting down the days.  March 20th seemed like it was in the distant future for him.  For me it went fast.  I was trying to get things done prior to his release, and of course I made the six hour drive to pick him up.

Patrick was released from Newberry Correctional Facility in Michigan’s upper peninsula at 8:00 am March 20, 2018.  Although he is on a tether for the first six months of his two year parole, and he must abide by curfews that in the beginning are tight, it is considerably better than the spot he was at.  So how did Patrick spend his first day of freedom?

I picked him up at the correctional facility, we loaded his belongings into the car and than took our last two prison photos, a “selfie” of the two of us, and then one of him in front of the facility.  Every time I (and my now deceased husband) visited we paid to have photos taken of us together and one of Patrick alone, so this was our last prison photo shoot.

Our first stop was a gas station/McDonald’s combination where he got a McGriddle sandwich — also one of my favorites.  When he asked if he could have bacon added to the sandwich the girl responded “you can have whatever you want” and Patrick responded “those are words I’m not used to hearing.”

I had purchased him a cell phone, but phones have advanced considerably in the past six years.  He was on the phone talking as we were crossing the Mackinac Bridge and I heard him say that the water looked really cool with the ice on it and “if I wasn’t on the phone talking to you I could take a picture.”  He got instructions on how to stay on the phone and take a photo at the same time.

Two years ago my husband/Patrick’s father passed away, and I had obtained permission from the parole agent to make a few stops, Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly being one, where Patrick saw his father’s grave-site for the first time.

We then headed to Fort Gratiot, he did not have to check in with the parole agent until the next morning, and we had permission to go shopping at Kohls to get him some clothes and then out to dinner.  We ended up spending about three hours in Kohls.

IMG_20180320_160215167

Patrick tries on a hat at Kohs

Patrick helped me pick out short outfits for my grandchildren’s Easter baskets, then we shopped for clothing for him.  He had changed sizes while incarcerated and had to try on a few things.  A pair of tennis shoes, four pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, one shirt (couldn’t find many he liked), some boxers, and socks and we felt he had a nice start.  I had already purchased him a nice pair of fleece pants, hoodie, polo, and a v-neck t-shirt prior to picking him up.  During our shopping Patrick had to exit the building and stand in an open area of the parking lot so the satellite could take a picture of him/his location.  He was told that happens frequently in large department stores or malls if in for a while.

Next stop was Red Lobster.  Lobster Fest is going on, and we had the same meal — two different kinds of lobster and green beans with mushrooms, and of course salad and biscuits.  The place was quiet, the service was good, the food was fantastic.

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Dinner at Red Lobster

We were on our way home when my daughter called and said her boyfriend had the truck torn apart and needed to pick up a hose to complete it, could I swing by, pick him up and take him around the corner to the auto store.  I went by her house, dropped off Patrick, picked up Rob and took him to the auto shop, then went back around and dropped off Rob and picked up Patrick and we came home and unloaded the car.

The evening was finished off with Caroline (my daughter) and her three kids coming over for a while, and then Patrick and I watched a bit of TV.  It was a wonderful day for me, and I’m sure a great first day of freedom for him as well.

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Filed under celebration, children, communication, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, events, Family, food, home, kids, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, parents, travel, Upper Penninsula

What makes a weekend successful?

When you work 40 hours a week, the weekend is your time for everything – social activities, housework, projects, shopping, you pile it all in and attempt to get it done, frequently without success.

Last Thursday I created a to-do list for everything I want to get done by March 18th — that gives me two weekends and the evenings after work.  It is an extensive list, I used a sheet of notebook paper to make it out.  This being the end of the first weekend, I am already feeling either frustration or panic over whether or not I will get everything done.  That got me to thinking, what makes a weekend successful?  76602-there-arent-enough-days-in-the-weekend-quote-1

Friday after work I went to an opening of an art show exhibit at Studio 1219, an art studio I have belonged to for years.  I was there until 8 pm, viewing art and talking with several other artists I know.  I stopped for dinner on the way home.

Once home I cleaned out “junk” email, then shopped online for a new laptop computer.  Being the first time I have made a computer purchase on my own (that was always my husband’s department) I had no clue if what I was looking at was good for speed, memory, graphics, etc.    Luckily a friend had recently ordered a laptop so I pulled up the unit they purchased and compared their information to mine.  Feeling confident my selection was good I placed the order — laptop computer, laptop sleeve/case and external mouse.    I went to bed at 3 am….so much for weekend rest!

Saturday I started a major project — cleaning out my deceased husband’s office.  He had let it pile up the last couple years he was alive and I was literally stepping over and around stacks on the floor whenever I had to go in there.  I pulled a considerable amount of stuff out into the upper landing and found the floor.  Then I got a step stool and hauled everything out of the closet to see what was there.  I spent quite a bit of time going through things, setting some aside as “keep” or “unsure” and a lot of items went into boxes marked “sell.”  Boxes marked for sale I began stacking into the back of the closet.  I still have a lot of stuff on the landing to go through, put away, or temporarily store somewhere during the cleaning process (I currently have a bathroom blocked).   I still have more on the floor in the office to sort, not to mention on shelves and in cabinets, but I have made a decent dent and can actually walk into the room now.

best_is_all_that_matters_1438597959Sunday morning I did a few household chores and worked on my computer.  I had to prepare an Agenda for a meeting and email it out, preview a CD for a meeting later this week to make sure it ran on the laptop okay, plus a few other minor projects.  I then headed out the door for a 2:00 pm lunch event with the St. Clair County Eagle Watcher’s, a photography group I belong to.   This year’s event included a showing of five birds of prey.  Camera’s were clicking as each bird was displayed and talked about.   By 4:30 I was on the road and headed to purchase groceries.

I arrived home around 7:00 pm, unloaded and put away groceries, then chatted on the phone for about 30 minutes with a friend.  I sorted about four days worth of accumulated mail, hand-wrote a draft to a column for a newspaper due this week, then drafted out this blog, which I will likely review and post Monday morning.

There are still a lot of things left on my list to do, way more than I have crossed out.   Now the question is, even though I haven’t completed my list, was my weekend successful?  I did attend two social events, spent the majority of one day working on a large cleaning/sorting project, completed a few other tasks, went grocery shopping, plus drafted a column and this blog,

While it is easy to look at the number of things still on my to-do list and get frustrated at what is left to do, I think I have to log the weekend as a success.

How was your weekend?  Was it a success?  What did you do?  Was it filled with fun, work, or a combination?

 

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It’s Just Another Day

As I write this only a few hours before the ringing in of 2018 it occurs to me that millions of people are getting together with friends, going to parties, visiting bars, or participating in numerous other activities to ring in the new year.  Year after year I have spent New Year’s Eve the same way — home doing my normal activities until around 11:30 pm when I switch to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  Some years I go to bed immediately after, other years I continue to watch the celebration for an hour or two.

New Year’s Day arrives.  I might flip on the parades to watch a bit.  I change over my calendar to the new year, and empty out my “Good Things” jar.  Overall the day is treated like pretty much any other stay-at-home day, doing whatever activities I choose or need to handle.

best-quote-for-new-year-2018Do I set goals for the new year?  Usually.  Do I achieve them?  Sometimes.  Even though for the most part New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are just another day, they still contain a bit of tradition that is repeated year-after-year.

As I was writing this I looked up and saw my handwritten list of 2017 goals I had set.  Lets just say I had good intentions and leave it at that.  That list just got folded in half and tossed in the wastepaper basket.

I’m thinking instead of setting goals maybe as I go through the year I should make a list of things I accomplish.  In fact, now that I think of it, that would end the year on a much more positive note.  No depressing list of goals I did not achieve to toss into a wastepaper basket.  Instead I will be able to review the year with a list of things I completed — assuming of course I do something productive in the next twelve months.

Here’s Wishing Everyone A Productive and Happy New Year!

 

 

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Filed under anniversary, celebration, decisions, Discoveries, events, Festivals, habit, Holidays, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, reality, time

Do I like it or not?

We are having our first snowfall of the year…well not really.  We had a few flurries in the air a couple times earlier this year, but nothing that stuck and it has been unseasonably warm until now.  We are getting dumped on.

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. you go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? J. B. Priestley

The First Fall of Snow

So with the snow falling and sticking to the roads and people nervous as they always are on the first bad roads of the season, we had to make a 40-mile round trip to pick up my daughter from work due to her car being in for service.  What are my thoughts?

  • People constantly refer to how bad the roads are
  • Some people are very nervous and drive extremely slow
  • Some people are idiots and drive a maniac speeds
  • My car appears to automatically turn of Max Defrost when it is turned off, so auto-start doesn’t give you the max benefit when used.
  • Heated car seats are the best
  • If you forgo using the brush for mittens because the snow is fluffy, you will regret it later when your mittens are wet and fingers feel cold.
  • Freshly fallen snow on bushes and trees with Christmas lights on them is pretty.
  • There is something about snow that puts you in the Christmas mood
  • Yikes!  Only 12 days until Christmas and I’m not decorated and have more shopping to do.
  • Who am I kidding, I wish I were somewhere on a beach, somewhere tropical, not in the midst of a snow storm.

So, I assembled my Christmas tree last night, and I should have put the lights on tonight but it still remains naked.  I’ll tackle that project tomorrow night.  For tonight, I’m going to crash.

If you are in the midst of a snowstorm, stay warm.
If you are somewhere tropical, I wish we could trade places.

 

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Filed under celebration, Discoveries, events, exploration, habit, home, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, nature, reality, Weather, winter

Decompress a Boggled Brain

Let’s face it, some of us have this issue more than others.  It could be related to your lifestyle, age, career, family life, or just an occasional bumble in your normal schedule.  Sometimes it is a combination of all those things and is just plain hard to shake.

Maybe you’re like me and have a “to-do” list that seems like Mt. Everest x 3 and you feel like you’ll never get through it all.  When things seem overwhelming it can be hard to get motivated.   Sometimes you accomplish things but no one can tell.  If you spend 10 hours on paperwork, who is going to know except you?   That lack of visual accomplishment can make one feel as if they have nothing to show for their effort.

How do you prevent feeling overwhelmed?  When you want to throw up your hands and turn into a sluggish couch potato, how do you reverse the process?   You have to decompress your boggled brain.  Give it a break from life’s obligations.  Have some fun.

The time you spend decompressing the brain can be anything from a few minutes to a few days.  What I have found is that by taking a break I re-energize and am able to accomplish more than I would if I stayed on the straight-and-narrow work path.    It is easy to think “I shouldn’t be doing this” or “I should be doing this” because of that massive to-do list.   The trick is in the timing.Decompress - everyone needs time

I work full time as a paralegal.  I spend the majority of my workday at the computer writing pleadings, handling correspondence, and listening to people’s problems on the phone.  Very rarely is my to-do pile shorter than about 18″ in height, quite often it is more than that.  I do not leave the office at lunch; it is a one-person office and while eating I take calls or handle people as they walk in the door.  I decompress at lunch by skimming through Facebook and quite often spend time playing a game such as Candy Crush or Tetris Battles while eating.   Playing those games releases the brain from thinking.  Although the mind is active, it is relaxing.   I have found it to be a great way to re-power for the afternoon.

I am a photographer, and for the past three years I haven’t done much in the way of shooting pictures.  That is for a combination of reasons including working on cleaning out my parent’s home after they passed, a bad ankle that I finally had surgery on this past fall, and my own husband fighting cancer, a battle he lost 20 months ago.  I wasn’t going out and shooting because not only was it was physically painful to walk, but I also felt I have so much to do here at home that I should be here working, not out having fun.

So what did I realize?  I had lost my motivation.  I was here and getting things done, but not to the degree that I used to several years ago.   I lacked motivation and my productivity was down, which compounded my feeling of being overwhelmed.  I decided it was time to get out and participate in a few more things this year, attend more festivities and do more photo shooting.

Fun - give yourself permissionI will admit it was hard.  However forcing myself to get out and do things has been beneficial.  I am more physically active, which increases metabolism and energy.  I discovered I am happier by being once again out and about partaking in different activities.  The result is that I am more productive than I was when spending the entire weekend at home.  Why?  Because I have decompressed my brain so I am more relaxed, my energy level has increased, and therefore I am more productive.

When you are feeling sluggish, overwhelmed, ready to throw in the towel and call it quits take some time to decompress the brain.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Filed under Activities, career, communication, Coping, death, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, events, habit, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, lunch, Meals, mind, time, Weather, work

Celebrating Independence Day

I want to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July — the celebration of the birth of the United States of America.  Many people today do not understand the significance of the holiday, nor how it came to be celebrated in the manner it is.

I write a column for The Lakeshore Guardian and for the July 2017 I wrote about the history of our celebration and the changes that have taken place since the very first time festivities took place in the year of our independence, 1776.  You can read the column by clicking on Celebrating Independence Day, which will take you directly to my column.  While there feel free to click on Articles by Grace Grogan which will take you to a 4-page listing of the columns I have done for that paper.  There is no subscription fee for the paper so feel free to view at your leisure.

If for any reason you have difficulty using the links above, I have scanned and attached the Celebrating Independence Day column below, which you should be able to click on and enlarge for easier reading.

Wishing you all a wonderful, happy, 4th of July Celebration.

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Keep the Magic

Think back to when you were a child and the magic that Christmas held.  The excitement and anticipation of a visit from Santa.  The traditions that went with the season.

Remember getting toy wish books?  Once they arrived my sister and I would pour over them for hours, looking, looking again, and writing out lists of what we wanted for Christmas.  Inevitably the list was lengthy and mom would say we needed to shorten it down…the agony of it all!  children-become-a-child-at-christmas

Traditions of the holiday stand out in my mind.  Making Christmas cookies and decorating them, followed by eating them for breakfast as we opened gifts.  Decorating the house was always fun.   In the early years we would trudge through the snow at a Christmas tree farm to find the perfect tree, which Dad would then saw down.  Of course they always looked smaller in the woods then they did in the living room.  One year Mom kept saying the trees were too small.  The “perfect” one had to be sawed considerably shorter after Dad brought it in the house, not to mention the fact that it was so big around it stuck out about one-third of the way into the living room from the corner where it stood.  It was huge!

Dad would put the tree into a stand and then we would have to let it sit for 24 hours to let the branches “drop” as the tree warmed up.  After that the decorating could begin…lights, ornaments, garland, and icicles.  The tree decorating was usually stretched out over several days, as we were in school and Mom also worked during the day.  Evenings were spent viewing the tree, seeing a spot in need of an ornament and then finding the perfect one to fit that area.    magic-of-christmas-when-children-are-around

When Hallmark began their dated ornaments Mom started a tradition of purchasing a dated ornament for my sister and I every year.  Those were wonderful to have as we got married and moved out and many of those oldies hang on my tree every year.  When I had kids I kept the tradition, purchasing each of them a dated ornament every year…something I continue to do even now when they are 28 and 32 years old.  Of course I also purchase one every year for each of my grandchildren.  My daughter has also tried to maintain the tradition with her children.

Christmas morning when growing up was always fun.  The discovery of wrapped gifts under the tree.  Going through our Christmas stockings to see what small hidden treasures were there.  Then of course spending the rest of the day playing with new games, reading new books.  Enjoying a day of family fun.

Over time childhood moved into teen years, and we no longer believe.  Gifts become more useful.  Then we become adults and Christmas is nice, but something is missing, at least for a while.  All good things come to an end…or do they?

magic-light-in-a-childs-eyeEventually we get married, have children, and the fun starts again.  This time we hold the magic and enjoy watching a child’s eyes sparkle with excitement when they talk about their Christmas wishes, Santa Clause and the fun of the holiday activities.  We relive the magic through the eyes of our children.

Too soon our children grow, become teens, grow into adults and move out on their own and Christmas once again lacks the magic, at least for a little while.  Then the grandchildren are born and the cycle begins again.

No matter how old you are, keep the magic.  If you have no children or grandchildren, go where there are children.  Watch the lines for Santa, volunteer at organizations that cater to children, work at a toy give-away,  contact charity organizations and volunteer your services.   Keep the magic alive.

Keep the Spirit * Keep the Magic
Look at Christmas through the eyes of a child

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Filed under celebration, children, events, Family, grandchildren, Holidays, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir

If Unsigned It Lacks Value

I received a typed note in the mail this week, no return address, no signature.  What does this tell me?  That the person does not wholeheartedly believe what they say.  They want to give their opinion, but lack the strength to put their name on it.  They are weak and so must lash out in anger.

The letter, which I have attached hereto as a photo, refers to a column I wrote about the Port Huron Float Down back in August, so it took the writer this long to actually get up the guts to mail it.  Since that Float down post I have have written two other columns, one about St. Clair, but that evades this person’s knowledge.  Why?  Because they aren’t paying attention, they are simply lashing out.  lettr-people-speaking-the-truth

For those of you who may not know, I am an opinion columnist.  I give my opinion on whatever subject I choose.  I do not write editorials, I am not a journalist.  The person I criticized in my opinion column posted a Facebook post on his own page that was at least three paragraphs long.

I normally don’t respond to comments about my column, but people were criticizing me as not being a professional journalist – and I’m not.  They accused me of calling that person names, such as idiot, which I had not….other people had in their posts.  The column I wrote had over 837 shares on Facebook alone, so it pretty good circulation and a lot of comments supportive to my opinion, negative on the other person, who happens to be a public figure/city mayor.

Even at that I would not have even known about the post if it were not for the fact that  people, including the mayor’s wife, tagged me in their comments.   I did respond, pointing out that I am not a journalist or editorialist, I am an opinion columnist.  I gave them the link to the article where the mayor had been interviewed, and pointed out that my opinion column specifically referenced the other article.  It is those facts that this writer is so angry about.  They are so angry they have not been able to move past it.

So the letter has given me a good laugh.  Why?  Because I have moved on from that column and post.  This person has not.  I enjoy writing about controversial subjects because it gets people thinking, creates an interchange of opinions, it engages the mind.  That column achieved my goal.  The Mayor’s Facebook page had comments going on it for an entire day about the subject, and now several weeks later the writer of this letter has their mind still tied up in it, whereas I have moved on.

I do feel sorry for the writer of the letter though, because they lack the confidence and self-worth to put enough value on their own opinion to sign their name, yet they continue to stew in their anger.  That means my column achieved its ultimate goal.  The subject matter has stayed in the mind of at least one person and has them thinking about it.

As for me, I’m contemplating what the next item of interest will be.  I do love getting peoples minds thinking.

letter-unsigned-september-2016023

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Filed under assumptions, Blue Water Area, communication, decisions, events, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, reality

Being Obstinate

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Float Down Photo Copyright Grace Grogan

I am by nature a fairly easy going person, except when you challenge what I think is right, at which point I can become very obstinate.  This is the case with an article I just submitted to our local paper, The Times Herald.  St. Clair County has an “unofficial” yearly event called Float Down, which will take place this Sunday.

This is an event where people disembark from Lakeside Beach in Port Huron using rafts, floats, etc. and take with them beverages, snacks, and more for the 7 mile float down the St. Clair River to Chrysler Beach in Marysville.  This is an all-day event, the river is rapid, and even though the event is “unofficial” shipping traffic is generally slowed and/or stopped for several hours that day for safety reasons and the Coast Guard is on hand to carry out any necessary rescues.

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Float Down.  Photo Copyright Grace Grogan.

There are over 5,000+ participants in the float down, and it grows larger and larger every year.  In my opinion the participation increases because of the publicity it gets…not so much the positive publicity, but the negative.  The U.S. Coast Guard encourages people not to participate because it is a safety risk.  The officials of Marysville where the float ends keep trying to make it difficult for people to exit at their city by closing down roads and making it difficult for people got get picked up and exit the area quickly after floating.  Last year because they closed the road where people exit some floaters were stranded near a local restaurant until 10:00 pm.

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Float Down.  Photo Copyright Grace Grogan.

This is where my good-natured, always balanced Libra personality takes a turn and I become obstinate.  I am an opinion columnist for our local paper so I just submitted a column about the negative attitude of the City of Marysville’s mayor.  I said I hope all 5,000+ float all the way to Chrysler Beach just because of the mayor’s attitude.   I think the City’s negative attitude is why the float down has grown so large in the past few years.  Who doesn’t want to participate in an event that has a bit of controversy and provides a unique chance at one day of fun per year?  I know I do.  I may be babysitting my granddaughter this year so my daughter can float, but in a future year I will participate in a float down.  The Mayor of Marysville’s attitude has guaranteed that!

 

 

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Filed under Blue Water Area, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, events, Family, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, play, summer

Trigger Indicators

The same feeling can be triggered by different stimuli in different people.  It can be a memory, likes, holidays, smells, or just a date on a calendar.  What is your trigger indicator for spring?

Michigan is known for temperamental weather.  It can be 70 degrees today and 40 tomorrow, so is temperature a good indication of spring?  Here in Michigan you may be hunting Easter eggs under snow.  Is it spring when the weather is consistently above 60 degrees?  Is it spring when the tulips have bloomed but are then covered in snow?  Can we rely on the weather to tell us it is spring?

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Trilium – Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Maybe your trigger that spring has arrived is when the daffodils or tulips bloom.  Could it be newborn birds chirping in a nest, or a tiny bunny hopping across the front lawn?  Spring is a time of rebirth.  What about the smell of lilacs blooming on a tree?  The smell of a fresh cut lawn?   Scent is a very real trigger for memories.  Has what indicated spring to you as a child changed now that you have become an adult?

What about Easter?  It arrives with easter egg hunts, bunnies, spring dresses and special worship services.  Does the arrival of Easter mean spring has arrived?  The problem with Easter is it arrives anywhere from late March to sometime in April.  Easter is a mental trigger for many that spring has arrived, but should it be?  The weather doesn’t adjust itself to Easter’s arrival, so not a true indicator of spring.

Has spring arrived when a trip through the store includes displays of seed packets, seedlings, soil, mulch, rakes, shovels, and other items needed for gardening.  What about the season opening of the local farmer’s market selling flowers and plants?  Do these items trigger the feeling that spring has arrived?

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Ship on Lake Huron, photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

The trigger indicators that spring has arrived are different for every person.  They are brought on by things we have experienced in our lifetime that instills in us that degree of freshness,  newness, that spring evokes in all of us.  For me, one of the number one triggers that spring has arrived is when the shipping resumes on the St. Clair River.  The vibration of ships as they go up and down the river, the sight of their lights at night as they pass by, the sound of fog horns in the morning.  For me, shipping season means spring has arrived.  What triggers the arrival of spring for you?

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Filed under Blue Water Area, Discoveries, environmental, events, habit, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, spring, Weather

Shall We Elope?

Life spins and churns, twists and turns, and in the process dreams are born, moments cherished, and desire becomes reality.  Such is the case with a friend of mine who after spending more than twenty years widowed and single married the man of her dreams.

Wedding wishes, preparation, anticipation, and anxiety all come into play when anyone gets married.  We are used to watching young people plan big, elaborate weddings, and there is excitement in that type of a “production.”   This was different.  It was two adults with children and grandchildren planning a small, simple, elopement with tidbits of details that added to the fun and uniqueness of this blending of their lives.

Planning to have an outdoor wedding in Michigan during the month of April is always gutsy.  They decided they wanted to get married on the covered bridge in Frankenmuth, a popular location that is a unique, small town atmosphere and also a popular tourist destination.  Being that it was two hours from home they needed to search and find a pastor to perform the service.  They checked on use of the covered bridge, booked a motel and made arrangements for early check-in, arranged for a second witness, and made plans for photo locations.

Then a week before the date the couple held their breath when snow crept over the state.  All was not lost.  The day of the wedding was warm and sunny, comfortable for the bride in her sleeveless dress, a bit warm  for the groom in his suit.  A perfect day, perfect weather.

Vicki held to tradition.  The morning of the wedding I received a text message asking if I had something she could borrow.  She had the something old, something new, and something blue.  She wore a bracelet that belonged to me for her something borrowed.    I attended the event and served as witness/matron of honor and photographer.

I met Mark and Vicki at their motel and after Mark dressed and I had taken a couple shots of Vicki helping him with his tie, he left to meet us at the bridge.   I helped Vicki with her dress, we took a few preparation shots, and I was shown a gift she had purchased for her new husband.  It was fun, girly, and relaxing all at the same time.  We arrived on location to find Mark chatting with the pastor and her husband.

 

Photos by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

 

Vicki had been worried about finding an appropriate dress, but she did and made the purchase.  Then after reflection decided there was nothing wrong with her purchase, but it lacked the pizazz that one wants for their wedding day.  She kept looking and ended up with a lady-like, age appropriate, knock-him-off-his-feet dress.  How do I know, because I was walking with them and Mark looked over at Vicki and said “you look good, you look really good!”  He was right, she did.

Rather than use the bridge, which was dark and cool, for their ceremony they opted to stand near the water overlooking the bridge.  Prior to vows the groom, who is in a band, sang to the bride.  Vows were spoken, rings exchanged, and of course the traditional kiss.   The marriage license was signed, then they posed for a few photographs before we went to lunch.

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Fried Ice Cream Deluxe – Yum!  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

When in Frankenmuth the tradition is to go for chicken dinner.  Traditions are made to be broken, and when you have a small elopement instead of a over-the-top wedding, plans can be adjusted on a moments notice.  How many brides and grooms do you know who have their wedding dinner in a tiny Mexican restaurant?  Well I know one, and it was great.  They were even presented with a huge, free fried ice cream because it was their special day.

After lunch we shot a few more photographs and then the happy couple went for a horse-drawn carriage ride around town.  The end of a perfect day leading into a perfect night, and the beginning of a perfect union of marriage.

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Their first adventure as husband and wife. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

 

 

 

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Filed under celebration, decisions, events, Family, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, spring

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I hope everyone has a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day, whether you are going about your normal routine, decked out in green, drinking green beer, or having a bit of Irish Stew.  However it is you spend St. Patrick’s Day, make it a good one.

As for me, I’ll be going to work just like normal, and depending on the weather I may or may not wear a shirt with a bit of green in it.  I don’t wear true green because whenever I do everyone asks me if I feel okay, so not only is green apparently not my color, but it must make me look horribly ill in the process.   My only concession to the holiday may be drinking a bottle of beer I have in my frig, which is a German beer,  but what the heck, at least it is a beer.

May the Luck of the Irish be with You!

St. Patrick's Day - may You always walk in sunshine

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Filed under celebration, events, Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot

Hot Air Rising

Mass Ascension at International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

Mass Ascension at International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

My husband and I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico October 2, 2015 to attend the first three days of the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.  If you have never attended, it is a must see.  It is hard to explain the feeling of standing amongst hundreds of hot air balloons as they inflate for lift-off, and then turning in a circle and everywhere around you and above you are over 500 hot air balloons in a mass ascension.   They have a “main street” area with food vendors, craft vendors, stores, buttons, and various types of merchandise to shop and enjoy.

Morning Patrol Life-Off at Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Copyright 2015, Photo by Grace Grogan

Morning Patrol Life-Off at Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Copyright 2015, Photo by Grace Grogan

We spent the first day there from beginning to end, arriving at the park around 4:30 am and leaving as the fireworks were being shot off that night.  A long day, but we experienced it all.  The second day of the show we left after the morning lift-off and spent the afternoon driving up to Sante Fe to visit a botanical garden.  We found we enjoyed the morning glow and dawn patrol lift-off more than the evening glow.  It could have been the so-so weather on the night we stayed that left us with that feeling, because the night glows are one of their most popular events.

Inflating a Balloon. Copyright 2015, photo by Grace Grogan

Inflating a Balloon. Copyright 2015, photo by Grace Grogan

If you have been following my posts for a while you know that my husband visited Sante Fe and Albuquerque during his trip west a few weeks ago, which I talked about in When Your Husband Returns..
This was my first trip to New Mexico, and here are some quick thoughts about the trip:

  • When booking a nice, early morning flight, don’t forget you have to be at the airport 1-2 hours before flight time, meaning a 6:00 am flight requires being at the airport by 4:00 am.
  • Don’t book your layovers too tight.  We had a one hour layover in Dallas, but by the time we were able to exit the plane and walk to our departure terminal, making only a quick restroom stop, we arrived at our departure terminal two minutes before boarding began.
  • New Mexico is a dry heat, so you don’t notice the heat like you do in more humid areas, be sure to wear sunblock.
  • The hottest (spiciest) food in Michigan is mild compared to “normal” food in New Mexico.
  • Chillies are used in a lot of food (they were even offered in Chinese fried rice), it you don’t like spicy food, ask before ordering.
  • A two-hour time difference can work to your advantage when you have early mornings planned
  • It is worth getting out of bed to be on the Balloon Fiesta Field at 6 am for the ,morning glow and dawn patrol lift-off.
  • Old Towne Albuquerque is a wonderful place of interesting architecture and great shops.  Don’t miss Sculpture Park on the east side of Old Towne.   They also have a fantastic pizza shop, fresh pizza on a light and airy crust.
  • If you want to take the Tramway in Albuquerque to the top of the mountain, plan for it to be a several hour excursion.  We waited in line two hours only to have it shut down due to high winds.  The next time we arrived 20 minutes after they opened in the morning, but already the line was longer than the day we waited two hours, plus there were five tour buses there already.
  • Sante Fe is a photographers dream; be sure to visit the Museum Hill Botanical Gardens.
  • When doing all carry on luggage, be wary of what you purchase.  Packing for the return flight can be tricky.
  • Plan to visit the Fiesta and New Mexico again, because it is an awesome, breathtaking, unique, cultural, event and location well worth the trip.

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Filed under events, Life is a Melting Pot, travel

Boat Week

I love Boat Week.  There are numerous activities working up to the main event, the send off the sailboats on the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race.  Boat Week is fun and energetic.

Fireworks at Vantage Point.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Fireworks at Vantage Point. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

The kick-off is actually on a Wednesday night with the Rotary Parade.  This is an event  I have never attended, but those who do attend the parade really enjoy it.  That is followed by Family Night on Thursday, where families can walk up and down the Black River and view the boats, visit the midway, ride the zip-line, climb aboard the large Ferris wheel, enjoy some great food from vendors, check out the live manikins, and participate in many activities especially designed for families.  The night is topped off by fireworks.

Friday night is Boat Night.  This is a party night, and the later it gets, the more crowded it gets.  Many of the same activities available on Family Night are repeated on Boat Night.  Beer tents let attendees celebrate, bands play on stage, and the walk along the Black River gets more and more crowded as the night rolls on.  This is the party before the Saturday morning send off of the sailboats.

Boat Night in Port Huron.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Boat Night in Port Huron. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Saturday morning starts with the Boat Parade.  As the boats head out of the Black River and onto Lake Huron for the start of the race they are out on their deck, waving at the hundreds of spectators lining the river.  We normally watch the parade, but this year we were on a press boat to take photos of the start of the race, so in a sense we were part of the “parade” trying to maneuver out of the river.

Port Huron to Mackinac Race.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Port Huron to Mackinac Race. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

The starts are timed for several hours, with the smallest boats starting first and the largest boats being the final ones to start.  This year was great with spinnaker starts and a boat captain that put us into some great positions for photographs.  As the day wore on the boat owners were watching the reports of a incoming storm and we could see the black clouds moving in.

Racing to Beat the Storm.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Racing to Beat the Storm. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

As soon as everyone had taken all the photos they needed of the final race the captain had everyone sit down on the boat as he announced we were going to make a fast paced ride back in an attempt to get off Lake Huron and into the St. Clair River before the storm hit.  It was a fast ride with a bit of rocking and rolling as the storm moved closer, and we were in good company as numerous boats were running the same race we were.  The rain started to hit just north of the Blue Water Bridge.  We made it safely back to dock.

A fun-filled week of activities and an exciting ride back to put an end to it all.  Actually the activities for boat week end Saturday night with a Lighted Boat Parade, which we did not attend.  If you are ever in the Port Huron area during Boat Week, I hope you take the time to enjoy at least some of the activities, if not all.

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Filed under Activities, Blue Water Area, events

What Makes a Volunteer?

What is it that causes some people to volunteer repeatedly?  They are active in everything, always jump in to lend a helping hand, and juggle several volunteer positions, full time jobs, and other obligations.

Why is it some people never volunteer?  They will joint an organization, but never go beyond the membership stage.  Even when the organization is in desperate need of assistance, they refuse to lend a helping hand.

I have been a volunteer in a variety of organizations over the past 30+ years.  If you belong to several organizations you find that it is always the same people that volunteer, always picking up the slack while others sit idly by.  What is it that causes this difference in people’s willingness to give.  Why is it some people can juggle huge loads and always take on something else, while others are overwhelmed with one or two things?

This has been on my mind for several reasons.  I belong to the St. Clair County Family History Group.  A few years ago our treasurer passed away unexpectedly, and no one was willing to step up and fill that persons shoes.  After a year one person said she would do it — the only reason she hadn’t volunteered before is because that is the type of work she does for a living, she held other committee positions, and was hoping someone would step up to the plate and take the position.  No one did, so Sue stepped in and has done a phenomenal job for years.  Sue made an announcement in May 2014 that she and her husband were planning to retire and move to Michigan’s U.P. within 1-2 years and that she would no longer be able to handle the position of treasurer.  She announced early so that if someone wanted to take over and have her handy to answer any questions and walk them through the steps while she was still in the area, that would make the transition easy.  No one volunteered.  She has now submitted her “formal” written resignation to the president.  I am wondering, actually doubtful, if anyone will volunteer.Volunteer - Make  a Life by What we Give

Now you may wonder why I don’t take the position.  The reason, I already hold a board position as Vice President, plus I am Newsletter Editor for the club.  I also try to manage the website, a position that was emptied and no one took over.   I am not good with the website and have been asking for about four years for someone to take it over, but no one has.  I announced a year ago that I was willing to hand over the VP position, which only requires you to run the meeting in the event the President is absent, which has never happened in the past 11 years I have been a member, and once a year you put together the Annual Report – a booklet of all the committee chairs annual reports.  No one volunteered and so I continued in that position.   In the same club we have another member who is moving out of state and has announced that her board position and committee chair position will be vacant.     That means we now have two board positions that need to be filled and two committee chair positions that need to be filled immediately.   I have my doubts that there will be anyone who steps up to the plate and takes on the openings, because we have other committee positions that have been vacant for years.

I am also a member of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club and have held various positions over the years, the most recent was as Member at Large — a board position that is relatively easy to have.  The Vice President of that club is moving out of State and had announced that his position would be vacant and someone would need to take over.  Every month before the meeting begins the VP walks around and solicits three members who have had the training to serve as part of a 3-judge panel for the photo competition that month.  The person also has a short 30-60 minute commitment once a week to pre-judge the photos submitted, making sure they are suitable for the categories they have been submitted into.  A relatively easy position with low commitment.  I was not going to be at the meeting in which the elections were taking place, but let the leaving person know that in the event no one volunteered I would take over.  Need I mention that I am now Vice President of the BW Shutterbugs?

I have spent most of my adult life volunteering in various organizations.  When my kids were young I was active in the PTO, serving as secretary for 6-7 years, chairing a committee that gathered and added grocery receipts from a particular store to raise money for the school, chaired a prize committee for the annual carnival, chaperoned field trips and volunteered in the classroom from time to time, all while holding down a full-time job.  I also was co-leader of the girl scouts, leader of the Tiger Cubs, secretary for a collectible club, and in addition to my full-time office position sold Tupperware.  My kids were involved in karate, scouting, AWANA and dance. Oh, I almost forgot, I volunteered in the nursery at the church we were attending.  If I could do that with two young children at home, why can’t people who are retired and have no young children at home dedicate some of their time to an organization?

This past weekend I attended a workshop where the purpose was to handcraft items that will be placed in gift boxes.  Those boxes are donated to hospitals to be presented to parents who give birth to stillborn babies or whose babies die shortly after birth.  They include gowns for the baby to be buried in, tiny stuffed animals, blankets, hats, etc.   A very important and much needed item so I dedicated my Saturday, from noon to 9 pm to help out.  While I was at the workshop someone asked me what I do in my free time.  I guess when you put it all in a list, it overwhelms some people.

What do I do?  I am Vice President and Newsletter Editor of the St. Clair County Family History Group, Vice President of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club, I write a genealogy column for The Lakeshore Guardian, I am an opinion columnist for The Times Herald, I have a weekly blog, I am writing a book about our families dealings with DHS and trying to adopt our granddaughters, my husband and I have a photography business, Times Gone By Photography and we both have photos in a local art gallery, for sale in a local hospital, for sale at a couple local stores and we both have websites on Fine Art America, plus a business Facebook page, Times Gone By Photography.    In addition to that I work full time as a paralegal, and my hobbies include scrapbooking, reading, photography, and genealogy.

When people say I should relax, eliminate some of those items, I respond “Why?”   If you don’t have a wide range of interests and activities life becomes boring.  I don’t want to reach my old age and have nothing to look back on, regrets that I didn’t do things, or be bored in retirement because I have no hobbies or interests to keep me busy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can do the couch potato in front of the TV just like everyone else.  Then I realize that the things I want to do are sliding away and I get busy again.  My “chill time” gets me re-energized for the next round of activity.

What makes a volunteer?  Why are some people willing to plunge right in wherever needed and others always spend their time on the sidelines, observing but never fully participating?

Are you a volunteer or an observer?  What are your reasons for the position you take on volunteering?

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Filed under Activities, events, friendship, hobbies, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, time, work