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Childhood Cravings

I was grocery shopping recently and had a craving for a childhood snack — graham crackers with frosting on them.  I purchased the box of crackers and grabbed what I thought was standard chocolate frosting.  Imagine my delight when I popped open that little container and discovered chocolate mint — double yum!

That got me to thinking about some of the simple things from my childhood that kids today don’t have the opportunity to experience.   Back when I was a child life was more simple.  Summer was spent playing outside.  There weren’t any arranged play-dates set up by parents, we weren’t in day care centers, and our parents did not have us participating in scheduled activities.  childhood - chinese jump rope

We got up in the morning and walked or rode our bike to a friend’s house, rang the doorbell and asked if they could come out and play.  When was the last time a child did that?  Today’s children probably wouldn’t know how.   We didn’t have video games, cell phones, ipads, or any of the other technology that kids today rely on.  So what did we do with our time?  We had fun!

A field behind the house could be trampled down into “rooms” in which we could roll out our baby carriages and play house.  We would lay on our backs and look at the clouds, making determinations on what they looked like.  We played Ring-Around-The-Rosie, Duck-Duck-Goose, Mother May I, Red Rover Red Rover, Tag, Kick-the-Can, and hide-and-go-seek.

We only had three TV channels, and cartoons were a Saturday morning specialty.  Every kid sat in front of the TV watching their favorites.  Between Saturdays we had our comic books to read.   My girlfriend and I would put our comic books into the saddle baskets of our bikes, then read our comic books as we rode our bikes down the street no-handed….and we weren’t even wearing helmets!

childhood - jacksWe would sit on the porch playing jacks.  At one time I was able to handle pick-ups of 20 jacks at a time.  We played a lot.  Do kids play jacks anymore?  Are they even available to purchase?  Ours were tiny metal jacks with a small red ball.    What about hula hoops and pogo sticks?  With a swing of the hips your hula hoop could be forced up to the neck or down to the knees and back to the waste.  Regular jump rope, Chinese jump rope, and hop scotch kept us busy.

I lived in a small town.  We would ride our bikes downtown and go to the library and the dime store.  I did a lot of reading.  Nancy Drew was my favorite, and so was Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie as I got older.   We bought pop in glass bottles out of a vending machine.  Everyone chewed Bazooka bubble gum, and we all loved the little tiny comics that came inside.  Gum wrappers were used to make chains…what we did with those chains I don’t remember.

We looked for 4-leaf clovers.  Flower petals were pulled off one-by-one saying “he loves me, he loves me not.”  Dandelions were held under the chin to see if your chin shone yellow, but I don’t remember why.  If we found a dandelion gone to seed, a “wisher,” we were thrilled….but our father wasn’t if he saw us blowing those seeds out into the lawn.

childhood - pogo stickBack then most people did not have air conditioning.  Windows were open, fans were used.  One strong childhood summer memory does not involve me but my father.  He would mow the lawn and then afterward watch the ball game on TV.  One of my favorite scents and sounds of summer is the combination of fresh mowed grass and a baseball ball game on the TV or radio.

What are some of your childhood memories?  No matter how old or young you are, if you are an adult I am sure things have changed since your childhood.   Do you have childhood cravings?  Do you wish your children and/or grandchildren could experience life as it once was, not as it is now?

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Filed under Activities, backyard, children, Discoveries, environmental, exploration, Family, flowers, freindship, friends, friendship, home, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, play, reality, summer, time

Do I Like Living Alone?

I recently had a friend in a long-standing marriage comment that they wouldn’t mind living alone.  I was surprised.  Their comment had to do with everyone needing space, time alone.  Residing on your own provides that.

When my husband passed away in December 2015 I was thrown into living on my own for the first time in my life.  I went from living with my parents to living with my husband, and we were married 34 years.   I don’t mind living alone.  There are benefits.   My friend’s comment got me thinking, do I like living alone or have I adjusted out of necessity?

When you are married or involved in a co-habitation relationship patterns develop as to who does what.  One person pays the bills, another handles correspondence.  One mows the lawn and snow blows, the other cleans the bathrooms and vacuums.  Cooking involves making foods that both people like and predominately follows the preference of the person cooking.  Decorating incorporates the likes and dislikes of both people.  Each person tolerates things they don’t particularly care for out of consideration for the other.  It is a cooperative living arrangement that also provides companionship and support.   Living Alone

When residing on your own there isn’t anyone there to help carry the load.  You must figure out how to juggle it all on your own.  When like me it is suddenly dropped in your lap it has a definite learning curve.  Sometimes things don’t get done in the time frame you would like.   The benefit is that there is no one is there to interfere with what you want or the schedule you keep.

I can eat dinner when I want, whether it is 6:30 pm, 9:30 pm, or anywhere between.  I can cook what I want the way I want.  I only have to consider my own palate and my own schedule.   If I don’t want the TV on, it isn’t.  If I want the radio blasting at 2:00 am while I clean house, it is.  There is no noise, no one talking as I read my book with my meals.   Pictures on the walls, knickknacks set out, and the arrangement of furniture can all be changed to the way I prefer.   This is a slow, gradual process.  The house is slowly becoming more “me.”  I have made subtle changes that most people probably wouldn’t even notice.   I’m sure they will become more prominent over time.

So that brings me back to my friend’s comment.  Do I like living alone?  Yes and no.  I think living alone has been a good experience for me.  I have learned to do things I  never did in the past.  The basics of life always handled by my husband such as taking a car in for maintenance, handling the banking, trading in my vehicle for a new one, applying for a mortgage modification, meeting with a financial advisor, paying bills, gathering information for yearly taxes, mowing and trimming the lawn, etc. now must be worked into my schedule.

My husband, Ron, handled a lot.  I’ve never even painted a wall or put windshield washer fluid into a vehicle.  He handled it all.  Ironically Ron taught our son and daughter to do house maintenance, yard maintenance, how to use the generator, power washer, electric drills, shop tools, and how to hook up the trailer and pull it.  He just never taught me.  Those were things he took care of and there was no need for me to know how.  Ron took care of me.  That is what he felt his position was and I accepted it for thirty-four years.  Good or bad it is what it is.  Now I move forward.

I think living on my own and learning new things has boosted my self-confidence.  I have to handle things and if I don’t know how I make inquiries to find someone that does.   I have dealt with a plumber, a heating and cooling person, camera repair, computer support, and resolved issues with a hot tub repair. I have ventured into the unknown and survived.

I also think living on my own has been good from an emotional standpoint.  Ron and I were very wrapped up in each other’s lives.  We were happiest when it was just the two of us and we spent probably 90 to 95% of our free time together throughout our entire marriage.  We attended festivals, events, shopped, did photography, traveled, ate meals, watched TV, and so on together.  We had a few things we each did on our own, but the majority was together.

Living Alone 2The reality is most couples are not as completely consumed in each others lives as we were.  They spend more time doing things on their own and socializing with others.  Living alone has allowed me to adjust to doing things on my own.  I am still learning how to involve others in my plans so I am not always a solo act.

I think this adjustment period is important.   If at some time in the future I become involved in a relationship in which the decision is made to reside together I will be better prepared for the reality that most couples do not spend the majority of their free time wrapped up in each other’s life.  It will most likely not be such an all encompassing relationship as I had in my marriage.  I will also know that I am making that decision because it is a person I want to spend time with, not because I am lonely and/or trying to recreate what I had in my past.

So now we are back to where we started.  Do I like living alone?  Yes and no.  It has been and will continue to be a growing experience.  I have adjusted.  I am comfortable and would consider myself happy on a day-to-day basis.  I don’t desire it in the long term.  I hope that in my future I find someone who is interested in residing together and enjoying the benefits of daily companionship.   In the meantime I will make the most of living alone and enjoy it.

 

 

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Cherish Surprises

It is easy to get wrapped up in the mundane routine of everyday life.  You get up, have breakfast, check your email, pack your lunch, drive to work, drive back home, and so on.  Your habits are routine, your interactions with others are routine.  It is all the same.

Don’t let monotony drag you down.  Even when each day is a repeat of the prior one, you can bring some variety into your life, or into the life of others.  By doing one, you create the other.  The end result is you will both probably benefit from the interactions.    surprise - momens seize us

Now if you are wondering what can you do to create surprise in someone else’s life, think about what things you find to be a pleasant surprise.  Moments you cherish.  It can be anything big or small.  It is something that creates a moment of pleasure, of surprise, it makes you smile and brightens your day.    At the same time, if you tend to overlook those moments when they happen to you, learn to cherish them.  What am I talking about?  Easy.

A phone call from someone when you least expect it, an impromptu opportunity to get together with a friend, finding a $5 bill in your coat pocket, an unexpected opportunity to travel, a handwritten letter in the mail, when a child brings you a bouquet of dandelions, a wild animal standing near the roadway, spotting a rainbow, and the list goes on.  There are no set rules, whatever makes you happy, whatever makes you smile, that is your surprise.

To cherish the surprises, you need to be alert to the small things in life that we often overlook.   Be more attentive.  Enjoy life and cherish surprises.

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I May Be Sinking

I had such big plans, a long list of things to accomplish around the house and in the yard.  Things to organize, things to sell, things to clean.  I had deadlines that have passed.   I do have things crossed off, but the list is long and never ending.

Now I look at my list, at my yard, my house, stacks of paperwork to do, cupboards, drawers, closets and rooms to clean out and organize, things to sell or donate, and find myself frustrated at what I have not yet accomplished.   I want it over and done, neat and organized, manageable without me feeling overwhelmed.    I feel like I’m sinking in a mucky hole and I can’t make the climb back out.  overwhelmes

Now don’t get me wrong, small accomplishments give me great pleasure.  Unfortunately I frequently get a project partially done then get swung in another direction and don’t quite complete the task, so it is there dangling like a carrot in front of a horse, and I can’t quite reach it.    Part of the problem is I am feeling overstretched with what I need to accomplish, but what do I give up?  What do I let slide?  What am I overlooking or letting slide that I shouldn’t?  What if I’m doing it wrong?

The idea of letting things slide and not get completed does not formulate well in my brain.  I want balance, harmony, peace.   My life is out of sink.  I need downtime to relax and rejuvenate, but don’t feel like I should do that when I have other things to get done.  I need to get things organized in my life to bring it balance.   At the same time on those occasions when I “screw off” and get away from the house, even for a few hours, I feel Priorities - schedule themrejuvenated again.   It is a battle of the brain, which way to go.

Then I wonder, how did  I do things before?  Why is it a few years ago I could find time to scrapbook, write, read, attend festivals and events, go out for the day shooting photos, go places, do things.   Why am I not fitting those things into my life on a regular, weekly basis now like I did then?   Is my failure to go out and do those things causing me to falter in the other areas?   But if I spend time out doing things, then I’ll never get things done here.

Self-analysis can be enlightening and frustrating, it can help one reach a resolution to an issue or it can make one feel they will never accomplish their goals.   In my case, I’m still sinking in that muck.  If I want to get out I have to figure out how to balance my life.  I have to push myself harder to get things done.  I have to make a point of doing things I enjoy such as going to places where I can take pictures, attending events, or something so simple as sitting on my front porch and reading a book for an hour.  I haven’t even visited my favorite spots in probably close to a year.  I used to visit them all the time.  Balance - harmony and life

I have to get the balance back into my life.    Balance brings harmony.  Harmony brings the sun and dries up the muck.   Hopefully it is soon!

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Lingering Loneliness

This came as a surprise.  For the most part this is not something I experience.  I have adjusted to living on my own and consider myself happy in my current lifestyle.  I don’t know if it was the depression of days upon days of gloomy skies and rain, being overly tired from a month that was exceptionally busy and had me feeling overwhelmed,  or the fact that I came down with a horrendous head-cold.  Whatever it was, from out of the shadows loneliness attacked.

In reflecting back I think it was a huge melting pot of all those various factors.  It was rainy, wet, gloomy and cold.  Not my kind of weather at all.  Too many days of drizzly skies compounded the fact that my lawn was getting way too long and between the rain, a trip out of town for a memorial service, and my mower being buried in a shed where it was difficult for me to access, I was frustrated with not being able to get the lawn done.  Then the neighbor mowed his lawn and it made mine look just that much worse.   I don’t like having bad “curb appeal,” but I had and still have a negative “curb appeal” going.

I have been attending physical therapy three times a week, buried at work, and between the two have been more tired than normal.  I have crashed on the couch quite often in the evenings instead of getting things done.  That added to my frustration as my “to-do” list is impossible to complete and lack of energy aggravated me further.Loneliness is my least favorite thing

Suddenly I came down with a massive head cold.  I couldn’t breath, my nose was runny, and I had the chills.  As I lay in my bed shivering the loneliness enveloped me.   For thirty-four years whenever I was sick and had the chills Ron would wrap himself around me and the combination of body heat and human touch would help me to relax and go to sleep.   Now he is gone and I was alone and couldn’t sleep.  That is when it hit.

Ron always handled the yard work and now it is mine to do.  I’m frustrated over not having it done the way I want it.  Landscaping Ron was going to tear out and re-do didn’t get done and it needs to be changed.  The grass isn’t mowed and trimmed the way it should be.  There are things left in the drive, yard and garage from Ron’s scrapping days that I simply want gone.    It has me feeling overwhelmed, angry with myself for not being as fast and efficient at getting it done as he was.  Irritated at the mess I have to deal with.

Weekends were almost always spent together.  Ron and I would get up, have breakfast together and the conversation was always “What are we going to do today?”  Festivals, special events, arts and craft shows, or just going somewhere to shoot pictures.  Photography was a constant part of our lives.  Now I lack motivation.  My weekends are just me.  No one to have breakfast with, plan my day with, or go places with.  Just me doing whatever I want, alone.  On the weekends when I do get out of the house and go somewhere I feel much better, but self-motivation is difficult.

LonelinessBoy, does this sound like a major pity-party or what!  The fact of it is, I am alone.  I have to figure out how to juggle the yard work and get it done.  I have to eat alone, plan my own weekends, get out and be active by myself.  When I’m sick and have chills, that’s the way it goes.  I’m alone and I have to deal with it.    That is life.  That is reality.    Pity-Party over.

So am I lonely or was I just having a moment?  Probably a combination of both.  I don’t feel loneliness on a day-to-day basis.  I have enjoyed adjusting to life on my own.  If someone asked I would tell them I am happy with my life and it would be true.  Will I continue to have moments when loneliness hits me?  Most likely.  Do I want to spend the rest of my life alone?  Not really.  I would prefer to someday find someone who has similar interests and with whom I can share my days and a home with.  Until that time arrives I shall continue as I am and I shall be happy, because happy is the best way to be.

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Filed under Coping, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, Family, habit, home, Illness, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, mind, reality

The Power of Touch

The other night as I lay in bed for hours unable to fall asleep, my mind began circling and the result is the topic of this blog.  The power of touch is necessary to the well-being of the human soul, it can bring comfort, love, relaxation, excitement, security and more.

Touch - the first languageWhen a child is born touch brings it comfort.  You hold it, rock it, feed it.  You do those things when it is happy, you do those things when it is stressed.  The baby learns love thought the power of touch.  To an adult, there is nothing as unique and cozy as a small infant cuddled up against your neck sleeping.

As the infant grows into a toddler and young child touch makes them feel safe, secure, and loved.  They cuddle in your lap, hold your hand when walking in public places, hug you when you are leaving or have arrived, climb into your bed when they awaken at night.  The power of touch is important to the child’s emotional well-being and growth.

As the child becomes a teen their desire for touch moves away from the parents and more toward members of the opposite sex in their own age group.  Teens are often seen showing public displays of affection — hand holding, kissing, hugging, and more as hormones rage.  Touch is powerful.  touch - every day reach out and touch someone

As teens become adults outward public displays of affection calm down, but the need for them does not.  It just becomes more mature, more private.  Human touch provides a sense of security, love, and connection, especially when shared with a spouse or significant other.

Years ago I read that if you are having trouble sleeping you should touch your spouse or significant other.  Something as simple as placing a hand against their body will help you relax and fall asleep.  I found that it worked beautifully.  Although my husband and I quite often slept wrapped up around each other,  he would normally be asleep before I was in bed.  If I was having trouble falling asleep I would reach out and put my hand on him and usually within a few minutes I was able to doze off.  If he sensed me coming into bed he would roll over and cuddle up with me.  If one of us was sick the other would wrap up around the sick one, bringing body warmth and comfort.  Human touch heals and relaxes.

touch - cuddling relieves depressionThat is why I was writing this post in my head as I lay in bed awake a few nights ago.  My husband passed away fifteen months ago.  I couldn’t sleep and I was laying in a lonely bed.   I missed having someone there to cuddle up to, to touch, to help me relax so I could doze off.

It is important as time passes on and things in your life change that you remember to fulfill those things that are necessary to your physical and emotional well-being.  The power of human touch is important.  If it has disappeared from your life revitalize it through whatever means you deem appropriate.   The power of touch heals, empowers, and fulfills the emotional and physical needs to provide an overall sense of well-being.

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Filed under children, communication, Coping, Family, freindship, friends, friendship, grandchildren, home, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, mind, parents, reality

Shedding Skin and Learning to Walk

Two steps forward, one step back.  The circle of life can make you feel as if you are repeating a vicious cycle and the only hope is that you will somehow break free of the rotation and get on the straight path to success.

Such is my life this past week, which I have spent shedding skin and learning to walk.  Sound strange doesn’t it?  On the 15th of November I had surgery, an ankle fusion.  It was a three-month, non-weight bearing recovery and when you are living alone that is enough of a challenge, not to mention isolation.  On the 10th of February I was told that my ankle is completely healed, I can’t hurt it.  The hard cast was removed and I am free to walk on it.walk-fly-crawl

I was warned that the foot would be very sensitive.  They weren’t kidding!  Walking is agony.  I am so glad I still have the medical cane from the original accident six  years ago…the kind that has four feet and stands on its own.  The ankle doesn’t hurt – the foot itself does.

How bad is the foot pain?  I hate shoes, they are generally the first thing I shed when I walk in the door.  However my tennis shoes provide padding, much needed padding.  I wore shoes inside my house all last weekend, and I am wearing tennis shoes to work this week.  Once I take the shoes off inside my house I haven’t been able to walk on the cane; I have had to use my knee cart.  Things are improving though.  This morning I was able to walk, barely, with my cane when barefoot.  Tonight barefoot meant the knee cart.  I am hoping by the weekend I will finally be able to make it up the stairs and into my own bed.

At least I have stopped leaving a dead-skin trail, sort of.  I had never been in a hard cast before, and after three months the leg and foot were extremely dry.  I felt like a crocodile that was shedding it’s skin.  I discovered moisturizing shaving cream was the best thing for washing it; better than a moisturizing soap.  I now treasure my 24-hour body cream more than I ever have.  I’m still slightly flaky, but not as bad — no comments from the peanut gallery please.

So I am now shedding my skin and learning to walk.  I haven’t bounced back as quickly as I had hoped, but I am seeing progress every day.  This morning I was able to walk out the front door and onto the porch by myself, but needed my bag carried.  I hope that after a few more days I’ll be able to carry my own things in and out of the house and start driving myself to work.  That is if they don’t kill me in physical therapy, which begins on Thursday.

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Abusive Men are Bullies

I have never suffered from domestic violence, so I can not begin to imagine how those who have gone through it truly  feel.  However I have encountered numerous women and at least one man who have suffered domestic violence in the form of spousal abuse.  I can not understand what makes them stay for years in such a relationship, all I know is that they have a very hard time breaking free of the overbearing, controlling relationship they have been in far too long.domestic-violence-emotional

I recently had dealings with the abusive ex-husband of a client.  It gave me a bit of insight into the man’s conduct, and perhaps some of the reasoning behind their abusive conduct.  It was a bit of an enlightening experience.  I also had the opportunity to see him and his own mother together and realized he was controlled by his mother, and as a result he most likely needed to feel in control of something and satisfied that need by bullying women.

The second thing I noticed is an abusive man does not handle it well when they are unable to bully and intimidate a woman.   The abuser tried to do this with me on the phone 2-3 times and I refused to comply with his demands.  He was not our client.  He was not who I worked for.  So what happened?  When he couldn’t bully me on the phone he showed up at our office.

The first time he remained fairly calm.  He didn’t like my answers, he didn’t like that I would not comply with his demands, and he stormed out of the office.  The second time he was there with his mother, and after a verbal exchange during which I had the person I work for on the phone and relayed his instructions, they stormed out of the office.  But that wasn’t the end.

About thirty minutes later the abuser came back in alone.  By this time another man was in the building but was not visible to the front office.  The abuser was again trying to bully me, making demands, and didn’t like it when I refused to back down.  He was escalating.  He was getting louder and louder, and was puffing his body up to look bigger, more threatening.  I told him to leave.  He did not.

The abuser continued to escalate and the other man in the building heard it and came out to see what was going on.  The abuser was told that he needed to leave, but instead took a step toward my “rescuer.”  At that point he was told “You need to leave NOW.”   The abuser turned and exited the building.

domestic-violence-battered-woman-syndromAfter he left I looked at my rescuer and said “I was holding my own okay” and he agreed that I was, but didn’t like the fact that the man was standing in the lobby yelling at me.  He also felt threatened by the abuser’s body language, and wasn’t sure whether it would escalate into something more.

So what did I learn?  That the abuser is nothing more than a bully.  He didn’t like the fact that I was unwilling to cower and do what he demanded.  He was trying to scare me.  I refused to crumble and he didn’t know how to handle that.  The second thing is he is a bully and a coward.  He tries to control by instilling fear, and when he is unable to intimidate he doesn’t know what to do.  When he took a step toward another man and that person didn’t back away, he realized he had no control and and things were not going to be in his favor so he turned and left.

Since that day I have been jumbling around in my brain the fact that women live with people like that on a daily basis, for years.  Afraid to make a wrong move.  They are beaten and then told it was their own fault for doing something to make the man mad.  They are afraid to make a move, to have their husband/boyfriend find out they have gone somewhere or done something without his permission.  They are controlled by fear.

That is no way to live.  It is a serious problem.  Songs are written about it.  Movies have been done on it.  Years ago a book and movie “The Burning Bed” brought abuse into the public eye.  Songs continue to be written.  Independence Day by Martina McBride and more recently Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert are only a couple.  While I don’t condone killing someone, the lyrics to those songs convey the desperation and fear in abused women.

If you know someone who is being abused, or believe is being abused, they may deny or lie about it taking place.  There are shelters they can contact to help them when they are ready to leave.  The statistics are daunting.

domestic-violence-2emotionalWhat I learned in a quick internet search is that every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten; and around the world at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.  Children often witness the abuse, which can lead to a revolving cycle, both as men becoming abusers because they believe it to be “normal” and women being abused, because they believe that is the way all women are treated.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.  Domestic violence occurs not just between husband and wife, but also in dating relationships, even in the teenage years.  Nearly one in five teenage girls say they have had a boyfriend threaten violence if the girl broke off the relationship.

The problem is, often women don’t recognize the early signs of abuse.  It can be verbal — demeaning comments, criticism, making the person feel they lack value.  Once a person’s self-esteem has been crushed, they are more easily controlled.

It can be controlling, always demanding to know where that person is, presented as “concern” for their well-being.  There is a difference between casual concern over a person’s well being, a courteous exchange of schedules/plans versus having to know where a person is every minute of the day, what they are doing and who they are with.

Whether is is you who is being abused or someone you know, remember:
1.  It is not your fault that they are abusive, it is their’s.
2.  Children who witness abuse are more likely to grow up to be an abuser or a victim.
3.  There doesn’t have to be bruises for it to be abuse.
4.  There are shelters that can take you and your children in when escaping an
abusive spouse
5.  Abusers are bullies, and bullies don’t abuse people who refuse to cower,
because most bullies are themselves cowards.

Some people are only subjected to verbal abuse, some to physical abuse, some to both.  There is a domestic violence hotline that can be accessed around the clock at 1−800−799−7233. There are local shelters that can take you in and keep you safe.    No one should live in fear in their own home.

 

 

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A Year Of Changes

learn-free-to-be-meIf you have been a reader for a while you know that my husband, Ron,  passed away December 7, 2015 and since that time I have been adjusting to living on my own.  In reflecting on myself now, plans for the future and introspection of the past I have learned a few things.

I am capable of living alone, and doing it comfortably.  When I met Ron I was 19 and living at home with my parents.  I got married,  moved in with Ron and had never lived alone.  I originally found the idea of living solo terrifying but had no choice.    What I have learned is that living on my own has its benefits.  I can set the thermostat where I want and it stays there.  I can blast the radio at 2 am if I chose without having to worry about disturbing anyone else.  I can eat what I want when I want and not have to worry about anyone else.  I can re-arrange and hang photos and other artwork on the walls, removing things that were never my choice to begin with and adding new items that appeal to me.   I can move, add,  eliminate or change anything I chose without wondering if another person is going to like the change.

learn-to-be-happy-aloneAlthough I never paid attention to our finances and had no interest in knowing about them, I am perfectly capable of paying bills, applying for mortgage modifications, listing property for sale, and making decisions on financial assets.   I’m not blindly doing what Ron told me to do as he was dying.  I’m evaluating my own circumstances and making a decision that I feel comfortable with.   My goal for the future is to learn how the stock market and investments work, to understand how to diversify and what everything means  so I can make informed choices.  Hopefully  I will get a grasp on this within the next decade.  I’m really walking in uncharted territory here.

I can now run a riding lawn mower, a weed wacker, call a plumber, take vehicles in for routine maintenance, find and hire repair persons for things such as air conditioning. However I have no intention of learning to run the snowblower.  That thing is just too big.  I’ll kill myself shoveling first.  I even look at the Harbor Freight and Tractor Repair sales flyers now in case there is something I need.  Okay, I’ll admit my big purchase this year was two tarps, but we all have to start somewhere.  learn-dance-in-the-rain

One big surprise, I like to cook.  I know that sounds funny after 34 years of marriage, but I thought I didn’t like cooking.  I have been cooking for myself for a year now and I realize  that I like it.  For the majority of our marriage Ron did all the cooking.  Over the years I told people didn’t like doing day-to-day rush home from work an cook a meal, but I liked doing the larger family meals.  I recently said those words to someone but later in the evening it occurred to me that the statement isn’t true.  I don’t mind cooking for myself at all.  I love grilling entire meals in the summer months.  So why the change in my thoughts?

learn-something-newWhat I have discovered is that it wasn’t the cooking I disliked, it was that Ron always had a criticism of some sort and tended to hover, questioning why I did things the way I did, telling me I should do things differently than I did.  Nothing was ever quite good enough, there was always a “why didn’t you…”  Basically, he thought I should cook just  like him.  After a while I tired of the negativity and simply walked away and left it to him.  He cooked, I cleaned up, and it worked.

Since Ron’s passing I have discovered that I enjoy cooking.  I like throwing foods together to see what I like, mixing different combinations.  If they are all watching from above there are three cooks in heaven that are probably surprised at what they see.

I would say Ron is probably shocked at the things I fix; that I enjoy the cooking and especially like grilling.  My Mother-in-Law is probably happy to see me not measuring, just dumping in many instances.  I learned early in my marriage that if you called her for a recipe she didn’t measure, it was  “till it looks right.”  My father was a great cook.  When he saw me go into the basement and gather an assortment of ingredients, throw them into a pot and end up with a soup he was probably going “hell ya, that’s the way to cook.”  One of my greatest memories is when he cleaned out the refrigerator and made “chili” with the leftovers.  How many people have eaten chili with spaghettio’s floating in it?  I have!learn-who-you-are

When it comes to traveling alone I have mixed feelings.  It is nice because if I want to wander around and/or make frequent stops to take pictures I can do that without any complaints.  Ron and I were both photographers and did that all the time, but the average person does not take pleasure in such activities or delays.

On the other hand, traveling alone can be lonely.   If taking in a tourist attraction, such as wandering a museum or park, you are always alone.  No one to talk with, share discoveries with.   You are always eating alone, and so I always dine with a book.  There is no one sharing your hotel room, no one to sleep with. Maybe we shouldn’t go there.  Let’s just leave it at that.

So learning about me happened by learning to live alone.  What a difference a year has made.  The good, the bad, the indifferent.  What have I learned? I had a fantastic marriage.  I will have a fantastic future.  Different than I planned, but that’s okay.  I have made decisions that a year ago I would not have made.  I have made changes in my life that a year ago I would not have made.  Life was different then.  I was different then.  I am happy with my life, and that is all that matters.  Whatever happens, whatever life throws in my direction, I am ready.  Bring it on!

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Filed under anniversary, Coping, death, decisions, Discoveries, exploration, Family, food, habit, home, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, Meals, memoir, mind, reality, time, vacation

Thanksgiving Solo

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when people gather with family or friends, enjoy a football game, a parade, fellowship and of course, food.  Over the years I have participated in large family gatherings, small family gatherings, dined with friends, or gone out to a restaurant.  This year, for the first time ever, I am doing Thanksgiving solo.  That was my choice.

A year ago I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner and had my daughter, her three children and her boyfriend over to join my husband and I.  Ron was battling cancer; a battle he lost eleven days later.  Ron didn’t feel well; he didn’t want my daughter and the grandchildren here but I insisted on having Thanksgiving with them.  Why?  Because I knew the boys, who at that time were 9 and 4, needed it.  Thinking back it may have been the last time they saw him.  thanksgiving-pumpkin-pie

So now we move forward a year.  I had surgery on my ankle a week ago, so I informed my daughter that I would not be preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year.  I let her know that my intent is to stay home and crash.   As it turns out my daughter has to work long hours on black Friday, so she and her boyfriend decided to stay home and do their own turkey.   Why am I not joining them?  For one I can’t get into their house.  Secondly I can’t go anywhere without a chauffeur.  Third I don’t want the hassles of the mess that comes with cooking, cleanup and three children in the house.   I prefer to go the quiet, solo route, at least this year.

So what will I do?  I purchased a stuffed chicken breast and will fix that with some sweet potatoes for myself.  It isn’t a turkey, but at least it is poultry!   I will read, do paperwork, write, or just put my feet up and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV.  Time will tell as the day unfolds.

I hope all of you have a very Happy Thanksgiving, complete with turkey, stuffing, and of course pumpkin pie….in fact, eat an extra piece of pie for me!

 

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Burst or Blossom

Burst or Blossom, that wonderful set of emotions that takes us through difficult times and decisions.  An emotional roller coaster.  You may handle those hills and valleys okay, but you probably won’t want to get on again.

That is what this past few days has felt like to me.  It started Thursday and Friday when my daughter, Caroline, came over to take apart and move a few things in preparation for our yard sale.  She disassembled a baby bed, moved a book case, then  took apart and moved a computer. Everything was moved into a spare bedroom and by the time she left that room was packed.

On Friday while I was at work my Caroline and her boyfriend, Rob,  came over and moved one computer desk out of an upstairs bedroom and put it out for the yard sale and moved a different one I had into the room.  Then later Caroline came back and we worked on setting things out for the sale and tarped them to sit overnight.

During the weekend I finally made the plunge and started cleaning my deceased husband’s clothes out of our closet.  I only did the jeans so far, but now that I have started I will finish.  The man had 40 pair of jeans!  His clothes should be put to good use, so if they don’t sell in lots locally I will donate them.

Sorting through a small portion of the items Ron had purchased or found in scrapping, at garage sales and estate sales I made a few discoveries, items that were “keepers” such as a nice pot for an indoor plant and a really neat looking nightlight/mini lamp that is now in my bedroom.

In the process of prepping for the yard sale I made some changes to the decor, and have plans for further changes.  Slowly changing the house and removing things Ron liked that I didn’t care for.  Making it more mine rather than ours.  It is a slow process, and the changes are only minor, but after nine months I am finally ready to make them.

Labor Day weekend arrived and was beautiful weather for a 3-day yard sale.  The amount of items my husband had obtained through scrap, garage sale and estate sales was massive.   There is still more we haven’t even touched.  When the sale was done there were some things we saved for another sale next year, some items we threw out, and some that we sent to a charity.

So, on my roller coaster ride of emotions from once again tearing up my house and eliminating possessions of Ron’s  I have a choice – I can burst from all the frustration or blossom under the change and strength I gain from moving forward.  Regardless of what I am thinking, I prefer to do the later.   And so I forge ahead in the sorting and changing of my home.

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Filed under Cleaning, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, Family, home, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, time

Is it Better or Worse?

Garage Yard Sale Cartoon 5In trying to clean things out and prepare for a yard sale this weekend when walking through my home it is difficult to determine if things are better or worse then they were a week, month, or year ago.  I’m in that messy time when things appear worse even though they are getting better.

Garage Yard Sale SignI’m bringing things up from the basement and pricing them for garage sale, then stacking the boxes under a table in my TV room.  I am preparing to put a desk into the garage sale and bring a different desk into it’s spot.  To do that I had to empty out other furniture and items in the landing and the scrapbooking room itself to allow space for the exchange to take place.

'Pssst, Bill... the sale's going great, but we're getting low on stuff. Make another run to the landfill and bring back whatever you can get your hands on.'

‘Pssst, Bill… the sale’s going great, but we’re getting low on stuff. Make another run to the landfill and bring back whatever you can get your hands on.’

I feel like I have stuff everywhere, and there is so much more to tackle that an outsider would never realize how much I have already improved and/or eliminated.  Such is life when you have been married to someone who has numerous hobbies, likes, and was once a scrapper, as in goes around picking up metal scrap and any other “treasures” that can be found.  Then in the last year of his life he also began attending garage sales and estate sales and purchasing numerous items.  Need I say I feel a bit overrun?

So Is it Better or Worse?  It is better, but right now some areas look a lot worse!

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GRANDCHILDREN GIGGLES

Grandchildren have a way of making you giggle.  They have an innocent thought process that is blunt, entertaining, and enlightening all at the same time.  They are energizing and exhausting with non-stop movement and questions.  This past Sunday I had the pleasure of spending the day with two of my grandchildren for thirteen hours, of which the last five hours also included their brother.

Alexandria is 18 months old and constantly on the move.  She doesn’t talk; she grunts and points then nods yes or no.  She doesn’t play with toys.  It is more fun to explore and get into things she shouldn’t.  A cup of water is great for drinking.  However when grandma isn’t looking it is much more fun to pour it out on the kitchen floor and sit beside it, splashing in the mini inside puddle that has been created.

Why would brother want the track to his train to remain put together?  Does he really need all the parts of the train?  Apparently not, at least as far as Alexandria is concerned.  Gee Grandma, all the stuff you had in that box you expected to stay there?  I thought it would look much better dumped out all over the floor.

Hey, you know that neat round end table that holds your lamp?  Did you know I fit inside and it can hide me too?  Yep, doesn’t bother me a bit to climb inside and close the door.  Oh by the way, just because I sit in my high chair and put the tray over myself doesn’t mean I am hungry.  It just means I want to watch you prepare my food and give it to me so I can take two bites and be done.  You thought it meant more?

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Alexandria climbed into her high chair and put the top over her lap. Photo by Grace Grogan. Copyright 2016.

Now Corbin, who is five is a bit more independent and forthcoming with what he wants and needs.  And for heaven sake, don’t forget to lock the bathroom door or you may have company.  When the door burst open I told him I was going potty and he isn’t supposed to enter.  “But I needed to tell you something.”

Corbin likes playing a food game on the pad and showing me what he has made.

Me:  “You made yourself a hamburger?”

Corbn:  “No, I made it for a human”

Me:  “You’re a human”

Corbin:  “No, I’m just a kid.  I’m not big enough to be a human.  I’m just a little kid.”

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Alexandria climbed into her high chair and put the top over her lap. Photo by Grace Grogan. Copyright 2016.

Then he looks at my wall in the TV Room.  “Hey, where did the picture of the train go?”

Me:  ” It is on the wall by the front door”

Corbin:  “Why isn’t it on that wall?”

Me:  “I moved things around so I would have something different to look at.”

Corbin then runs to the front to make sure I haven’t lied about the location of the train photograph.  Then returns.

Corbin:  “No.  The train needs to be on that wall so I can see it.”  He can see it where I moved it to, he just can’t see it continuously when sitting on the couch, and Corbin loves trains.

And so went my day.  Then around 5:30 pm Austin, who is 10, was dropped off at my house.  As long as both pads were working and I kept the TV on a kids movie things were relatively quiet.  However they are brothers.  Peace can only last so long, especially when the younger one is a tease.   I did manage to keep the war zone at a fairly peaceful level for the next five hours, thanks to battery chargers.

As the day moved into evening Corbin looked at me and said “I think my mother forgot to come home.”  I assured him she had not forgotten.  It was just taking her longer than she thought.  When my daughter called to give me an update on her progress in getting back to pick the kids up I put Corbin on the phone so she could tell him she would be there soon.  Corbin’s response “okay, but I’m playing a game on the pad” and he handed the phone back to me.  So much for concern!

Then it gets dark.  Austin used to stay overnight with us all the time, but Corbin has never gone somewhere and spent the night without his mother and/or brother with him.    Not long before my daughter arrived to pick the kids up Corbin looked at me.  “I’m ready to go home now, Its dark and I don’t like to sleep other places.”

My daughter arrived to pick them up at 10:30 pm.  It was a fun day.  It was an exhausting day.  After they left I sat down in the chair for what I intended to be a 10 minute rest and woke up at 11:40 and went to bed.

When I think back over my day there is a song lyric playing in my mind:   The Mr. Mom song, remember it?  “Pampers melt in a Maytag dryer, crayons go up one drawer higher, rewind Barney for the 16th time, breakfast six, naps at nine.  There’s bubble gum in the baby’s hair, sweet potatoes in the lazy chair…been busy all week long, and it’s only Monday Mr. Mom.”

Exhausting as it was, I will always do it again, if for nothing more than the fun of grandchildren giggles.

 

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Trying to Juggle but Falling Behind

I have always been a fairly organized person.  Someone who gets involved in clubs and takes on a board position and/or committee chair person.  I commit to things and meet my commitments.  Busy is Better!

Lately I was struggling to get things done, and found some items on my to-do list week after week.  What happened?  Why was I suddenly falling behind, not juggling my life the way I always have?  Then there was that moment, the flip of a switch, the lightbulb came on and I figured it out.

I am no longer juggling just my responsibilities.  I am also juggling those of my deceased husband, plus the additional phone calls and paperwork that have to be done to get everything transferred into my name, his name removed from things, etc.  Then of course there is the learning curve in which everything he did takes me a considerably longer amount of time because I don’t have a full grasp of it yet.  That is improving, but it is a process.

Every process, every learning curve has its bumps in the road.  There are frustrations that come with everything.  The frustration of living in a computer generated world in which computers rule what happens and people follow the computer rather than thinking and using logical, common sense.  The aggravation that is felt when all the appropriate steps have been taken, only to find out the company didn’t do what they should have and so you have to take further steps to correct things.

I applied for a mortgage modification and got approved, but they never told me not to make a payment, so I have made them all, but in the meantime they are holding my payments in “suspense” while they complete the change over and are repeatedly sending me delinquent notices, including by certified mail that I had to go sign for.  When I called I was told those are computer generated notices and I will continue to receive them until they get everything rolled over.  And how long will that take?  Oh, about two more weeks.

I drove over 35 miles to a main cell phone store to switch the account from my husbands to my own name.  I gave them all my information, told them to remove my husband’s phone and two pads he had.  Put the account in my name, leave my daughter on as a manager.  The phone and pad did get removed, but when my daughter called to get assistance with her phone the pass codes I gave them weren’t working.  As it turns out that is because they never made the switch.  They still had the account in my husband’s name, had me as a manger, which I had been before my husband’s death, and removed my daughter as a manager.    Then I had to wait and call back on a weekday, because this I found out on the weekend.  When I called I informed them it was rather incompetent being I had stood in their store with a death certificate and yet they left my husband on as the owner of the account…a dead man has no responsibility to you to pay the bill!  Got that one fixed.

That is only two in a long list of situations that have created chaos in an already chaotic situation.  Then of course there are the regular duties of paying bills, service on motor vehicles, and lawn mowing that my husband always handled.  My daughter commented that she knows she needs to come over and mow my lawn.  I told her instruction on use of the riding lawnmower would allow me to handle the task myself.  Seriously, I have driven boats, jet skis, motorcycle and moped, I should be able to handle a wild and crazy lawnmower!

So, when I got to really thinking it about it I finally realized, the reason I am trying to juggle but falling behind is because I am handling everything that was previously handled by two, and I haven’t gotten the process down yet.  On a positive note, I am improving.  It is a process.

 

 

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Never Underestimate Small Towns

I grew up in a small town, which beat out another better-known small in a Michigan’s best small town popularity poll run by the Lansing State Journal.  It only won by six votes in the final round, so definitely a tight race.

I haven’t lived in Eaton Rapids, Michigan since I married and moved away in 1981, but I have family there and have spent a considerable amount of time there over the years.  While I prefer my current residential location, Eaton Rapids does have a historical, small-town appeal that many love.

0267 Island Park from Hamlin Street Foot Bridge - Eaton Rapids June 7 2014-1

G.A.R. Island City Park in Eaton Rapids.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Before I delve into my hometown too deeply, let me give a thumbs up to the runner-up, Charlevoix, Michigan.  I have always loved Charlevoix from the first time I went there.  Charlevoix is bordered by Round Lake on one side, Lake Michigan on the other.  Grab a whitefish dinner “to go” at Terry’s Restaurant, then walk across the street to sit in the park and eat overlooking Round Lake.  A great, relaxing stop in northern Michigan.

Eaton Rapids, although not on any large bodies of water, is an Island City, the the G.A.R. park is an island within the island.  The Grand River flows in and around the city, and everywhere you drive you are crossing bridges.  Home of Miller Ice Cream, I grew up in a subdivision just down the street from Miller Farm #1, which is now a small historical village with an ice cream parlor and beautiful flower gardens to stroll.

0257 Flags on Main Street - Eaton Rapids June 7 2014-1

A Patriotic Display on Main Street, Eaton Rapids, Michigan.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Eaton Rapids is also home to the VFW National Home, the only one in the United States.  The town’s latest claim to fame is the hosting of an Urban Air event, when vintage Airstream trailers line main street for a long weekend.  I have not yet attended this event, but am putting it on my calendar for this year.  Hopefully no conflicts arise, because I really want to visit during that time.  Downtown, small-town features include an old-fashioned telephone booth that actually works, a river walk, the Island City Park, and several great eateries, including patio dining at Darb’s.

0725 -- Eaton Rapids VFW 9-19-2015

VFW National Home – a view down one of its many streets.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Congratulations to both my hometown of Eaton Rapids and another favorite, Charlevoix for being the best two small towns in Michigan.

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My First Easter

It is funny how traditions with couples and/or families develop over years.  What is crucial to one couple is unimportant to another.  Being the  first year without my husband, people anticipate that certain dates may be hard, such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.  However those were “Hallmark” holidays that Ron and I rarely paid attention to, so my first year solo on those dates causes me no emotional stress.

This is my first Easter alone.  The weekend looms ahead of me like some dreaded dark cavern.  Why?  Because that is a weekend Ron and I generally did things.  For years when our kids were growing up we would drive to Belle Isle and visit the Aquarium and Whitcomb Conservatory.   There were years we traveled, years we stayed home.  Generally we were out and about at least one of the two days taking pictures.   Once we had grandchildren we put together Easter baskets for the children and had an egg hunt inside our house.  Easter has always been a fun weekend for us.

This year I have no one to share those things with.  My daughter, her boyfriend and her three children will be over on Sunday for the kids to get their Easter baskets from me, but not until around 7:00 pm because her oldest son is spending the holiday weekend with his father.   I have contemplated driving down to Belle Isle, driving around my area to take photos, or just staying home to clean and organize.  To a certain degree weather and the condition of a sore ankle will play into those decisions.    I don’t feel enthusiastic about any of it.

Building a new life takes adjustment.  It means accepting change.  Maintaining tradition.  Letting tradition go.  Freedom to make changes.  Keeping things the same.  Doing things you’ve always done.  Doing things you never did.    Building a new normal.

As I spend my first Easter alone creating whatever will become a new tradition, a new normal, I hope all of you have a fun-filled weekend doing whatever it is that makes Easter weekend special for you and your loved ones.

HIPPITY HOPPITY HAPPY EASTER DAY!

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Numbness in Life

The new year has begun and I am determined to make it a good one.  I will conquer whatever challenges I encounter and move forward as a widow, a single person, whatever you want to call me.

I appear to others to be adjusted, back to normal.  However there is a numbness in life that I am aware of.  I haven’t quite gotten a grasp on this new normal for me.  That may be due to not having completed the final steps in Ron’s passing yet.

The final steps, I think, will be picking up Ron’s ashes and flag from the cremation society, making the arrangements for and completing his burial, and the Celebration of Life which is scheduled March 6th.  I believe that those steps will bring to a culmination the reality of his passing.

I have started to do some  cleaning out around the house, but not of a personal nature.  I have eliminated foods that Ron ate and I didn’t, rearranged some things to my liking rather than a compromised liking.  However Ron’s wallet still sits on the charging station where he always left it, the collection of his stuff on the master bath counter that I always found irritating when he was alive remain there.  I have not yet unpacked the duffle bag of clothes that I took to hospice for him.  I have not downloaded the pictures from his camera of his last photo shoot.  I still wear my wedding rings every day.    life - where you are headed is bigger than where you have been

Those things, and the fact that our house is a mixture of him and I, leave the feeling that this is all a dream and he will one day return.  Realistically I know that is not true.  Emotionally it is a security blanket.

It has only been one month since Ron passed on December 7, 2015.  In some ways it feels like it just happened, in other ways it seems like it has been ages ago.  That just goes with my feelings of Numbness in Life.

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We Turn The Page

Last week I wrote about my husband, Ronald Grogan’s battle with cancer.  We were informed on the 1st of December that the cancer had spread, there was nothing they could do.  We began living the rest of our marriage day-by-day.

Those days were numbered more tightly then I realized.  On Thursday, December 3rd Hospice contacted me and at that point I told them I didn’t need them to do the intake appointment until the following Monday or Tuesday.  By the next day, Friday, Ron’s condition had worsened to the point where I decided to call and have them come out that day to get him set up.

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Ronald and Grace Grogan

The intake appointment was conducted Friday at about 4:00 pm, and we were told that because it is a lot of information to absorb they would send out an on-call nurse Saturday to check on Ron and answer any questions.

Saturday at around 2 pm the visiting nurse arrived.  Ron was very weak, hadn’t eaten anything and said he almost fell when using the restroom early in the morning.  After some discussion Ron made the decision that he should be transferred to the Blue Water Hospice House immediately.

2324 - Ron and Grace-  Leelenau Peninsula - North 2015

Ronald and Grace Grogan

I got Ron checked into hospice around 6:00 pm on Saturday, stayed with him until 8:00, and then went home for the night, telling him I would be back on Sunday.  I went home, made phone calls to inform family, and found out that my sister and her husband, my sister-in-law, and my brother-in-law all planned to visit the next day, as did my daughter, her boyfriend and her three children.

Sunday was a busy day with all the visitors coming and going.  As we approached evening and everyone except my sister-in-law had left, the hospice nurse, Holly was chatting with us.  I had made a comment about going home to sleep and stopping in the next morning on my way to work.  I live and work about 3 minutes from the hospice house, so I thought that was reasonable and convenient.

0197 Ron taking photographs-1Holly didn’t question my thought process so much as ask me questions that steered me into making a better decision.  She asked me, in my opinion, on a scale of 1-10 how much I thought Ron’s condition had worsened since I had checked him in 24 hours earlier.  I said about a 6.  Holly then looked at me and asked if I was sure I wanted to go home that night, and was I sure I wanted to be at work, because two minutes could make the difference in being there or not being there when he passed.  I made the decision to stay and my sister-in-law, Cathy, said she would stay with me.

Cathy and I made a quick run out to pick up sandwhichs for dinner and a run to the house for me to grab my glasses so I could remove contacts, then back to the hospice house for the night.

3557 Ron and Tripod after implosion

Aftermath on an implosion – Ron Grogan takes down his camera and tripod as the cloud of dust rolls in. Copyright 2015. Photo by Grace Grogan

I was informed that it is okay for me to get in bed with Ron and sleep with him, they encourage that.  At 8 pm I layed down in the bed with Ron for what I thought was a few minutes.  It turns out I fell asleep and was there for about two hours.  I got back up, but then later that night went back into the bed with him, which is where I slept all night, holding his hand, covering him up when he got cold, listening to his breathing.   At 6:20 am I got up for the day.

Ron was still responsive at that time, but shortly after stopped responding to questions.  Our son called and I held the phone to Ron’s ear while Patrick talked.  Cathy and I made a quick run out to pick up breakfast and lunch. In the early afternoon Cathy went over to the family room to lay down and rest.  My daughter, Caroline and her boyfriend stopped in with just the baby.  The nurse had come in, checked on Ron and said time was getting close.

I was sitting on the bed, holding Ron’s hand, talking to him.  His breaths were getting more distant, but every time Alexandria  made a sound he struggled for another breath.  I told Caroline I thought he was hanging on and wouldn’t let go till Alex was out of the room, so Caroline, Rob and Alexandria left.

Memories - a way of holding onto the things ou loveIt was only minutes.  I told Ron that it was okay, I would be okay.  Ron took two more breaths with a wide space between and was gone.  When I realized he was not going to take any more breaths I hit the nurses call button.  When they heard me crying over the intercom one of them came in and rubbed my back as I lay there crying.  It was so close they tried to catch Caroline in the parking lot but couldn’t.

I don’t know how long I lay there, my guess is about ten minutes before I asked if one of them could go across the hall and advise his sister.  We both called family members to let them know.  The people at hospice left me alone with Ron until I was ready for them to clean him up.  They contacted the National Cremation Society and made arrangements to have his body picked up.

Ron was wheeled out of the Blue Water Hospice with an American flag over his body because he is a Veteran.  He will be buried in the National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan.  We will have a celebration of life for him in March where his photographs will be displayed.

2009So now we turn the page.  It has been only two days since Ron passed.  I am learning how to come home to an empty house.  To move through my days without him here.  I am adjusting, slowly.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under cancer, celebration, Coping, death, Family, home, Illness, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage

It All Began In The Cherry Capitol of the World

From the Cherry Capitol of the World to the place with the world’s highest ski jump, a quick stop in Portage Michigan, then to an Island City, from there to a home where the city name changed three times and finally the place of the world’s longest board walk on a very busy shipping channel.  Have you ever thought about the places you have lived in your lifetime?  That first sentence gives a brief overview of mine.  I was thinking about it one day.  I have lived in some pretty interesting and unique places in my lifetime.

Traverse City Cherry Trees an Grand Traverse Bay in the background.  Photo obtained online.

Traverse City Cherry Trees an Grand Traverse Bay in the background. Photo obtained online.

The Cherry Capitol of the World, Traverse City, is where I was born. My genealogy includes the Lautner family who were some of the original settlers of the area.    My paternal grandmother was a Lautner, she grew up on part of the original Lautner Settlement on M-72 in a home built by her father when she was six years old.  She lived in that same home until her late 80’s when she placed herself into assisted living.  When I was growing up we traveled to Traverse City often, staying with my grandparents and visiting other relatives.  We rarely did any of the tourist stuff, the one exception being the National Cherry Festival, which happens every July in Traverse City.  Special parades every day,carnival, and of course farmers selling fresh cherries in small stands everywhere you go.  If you have never visited the Traverse City area I recommend you spend some time there.  From the lighthouses on Old Mission Peninsula and Leelenau Peninsula, the Casinos, Grand Traverse Bay, and more, it is a beautiful area.

This past summer I visited the town where my parents moved to when I was a toddler, Iron Mountain, Michigan.  Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula about midway across, this small historic town sits right on the border of Wisconsin and is home to the word’s highest artificial ski jump.  Pine Mountain Ski Jump has a scaffold that is 186 feet high and the length of the slide is 381 feet.  You can climb the stairs to the base of the jump or drive a winding road to the top of the hill for a spectacular view.   This is also the location of the Upper Peninsula Veterans Memorial Site, dedicated in 2006.  This memorial honors those from all 15 counties of the Upper Peninsula who served in Vietnam, Lebanon-Granada, the Gulf War, Korea, World War I and World War II.    Space has been reserved to honor those who have served in the war taking place in the middle east.   There are many things to do in the area, but one thing to remember is that the city’s name comes from the valuable iron that was found and mined in the area and a few minutes downthe road in Vulcan you can tour the Iron Mountain Iron Mine.  The mine tour lets you experience the conditions under which men worked at a time when there was no modern technology.  What they accomplished is amazing.

Pine Mountain Ski Jump, Iron Mountain, Michigan.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014.

Pine Mountain Ski Jump, Iron Mountain, Michigan. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014.

The next stop on my list of places I have lived is Portage Michigan.  I was still young at the time, it is where I attended Kindergarten and began first grade.  Portage is close to Kalamazoo, the home of Western Michigan University and is located less than 30 miles from Battle Creek, the cereal city, home to both Kelloggs and Post cereal companies.  In preparing for this posting I learned that Portage is home to the Air Zoo which houses over 60 rare and historic aircraft.  The Air Zoo also offers indoor amusement park style rides, interactive exhibits, flight simulators and a 4D theater.    We only lived a short time in Portage before making the final move of my childhood.

In 1966  we moved to The Only Eaton Rapids on Earth, an island city located south of our state’s capitol, Lansing.  This is the town I consider my home town, residing there from the time I was six years old until I married and moved away just before my 21st birthday.  It is a unique small town with lots of local history.  Home to Miller Ice Cream, the VFW National Home and was once a booming tourist area due to mineral springs.  Eaton Rapids was founded in 1838, became a city in 1881, and is named after the youngest member ever to join the U.S. Senate, John Henry Eaton.  That and the presence of rapids in the nearby Grand River created the towns name.  It is referred to as an island city because the downtown area is completely surrounded by water.  If you pay attention when driving around town you are constantly crossing bridges everywhere you go.  Not only that, but if you live in the town you know that going to “the island” refers to an island park located near the downtown area.  The island itself is one of many Michigan Historical Sites in the town.   Another historical sight is the VFW National Home, created in 1924 when Corey J. Spencer donated a 472 acre farm to be used as a home for widows and orphans of veterans of the wars of the country.  It is the only home of its kind in the country and is still in operation today.  As a final note on the town’s second nickname, E.E. Horner, while President of Horner Woolen Mills, was on a trip to England and wrote home with an address of only  “Eaton Rapids.”  The postcard arrived at its proper destination and the town became known as “The Only Eaton Rapids on Earth.”

Eaton Rapids Island Park as viewed from Hamlin Street foot bridge.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014.

Eaton Rapids Island Park as viewed from Hamlin Street foot bridge. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014.

When I married I left Eaton Rapids and moved to Utica, Michigan, which is where my husband and I built our first home in 1983.  The area we built in was experiencing a lot of growth and over the years city boundaries were adjusted and changed so that our house began as part of Utica, became part of Mount Clemens, then Macomb.

Utica is located in Macomb County and was originally platted in 1829.  The city suffered fires in 1905 and 1906 so only has a few buildings prior to those dates.

Mount Clemens is also a town in Macomb County and was first surveyed in 1795 by Christian Clemens.   Christian Clemens and John Brooks platted the land, built a distillery and the area was incorporated as a village in 1851 and a city in 1879.  Mount Clemens became the county seat of Macomb County in 1818.  Mount Clemens was once a booming town well known for its mineral baths from 1873 to 1974.   Surburban expansion in the area continued and we were notified that the area we lived in was once having a city name change from Mount Clemens to Macomb.

The change to Macomb occured in the 1990’s, but the growth was so substantial that between 2000 and 2008 the population increased by 48%.  Macomb Township has no incorporated villages but has three unincorporated commnities:  Meade on the northewast portion of the township, Waldenburg in the central portion of the townships and Macomb, where we lived, in the northwest part of the township.    You may think that Macomb was created during the period of growth, but the Township of Macomb was officially approved by the legislative council on May 7, 1834 and is named in honor of General Alexander Macomb, a highly decorated veteran of the War of 1812.    A variety of factors, including the rapid expansion of the area in which we lived let us to St. Clair, Michigan.

In 2003 we left Macomb behind and purchased a house in St. Clair, Michigan.  This is a very scenic and historical area in which to vacation or reside.     The city has an extensive history and its name is believed to have been derived from three different sources.  One of those is that it honors Patrick Sinclair, who purchased land on the St. Clair River and in 1764 built Fort Sinclair.  In addition to the longest freshwater boardwalk in the world located on the beautiful St. Clair River, a busy shipping channel that runs between the United States and Canada and has more shipping traffic than the Suez Canal and Panama Canal combined, the town is home to Cargill Salt (formerly Diamond Crystal).  Diamond Crystal began operation in 1887 of a large solution salt mine and evaporation facility.  This is the only salt plant in the United States that produces Alberger salt, a special fine salt used on products such as potato chips, fast food french fries, etc.   The history of St. Clair industry is extensive, including the sawmill industry, shipbuilding, and in the late 1800s became a well-known resort with luxurious hotels offering mineral baths with passenger steam ships stopping at hotel docks on a daily basis.    Today St. Clair offers a Marina, Palmer Park, Alice Moore Center for the Arts, Alice Moore Woods, Michigan Historical Sites and a museum.   A unique place to visit and live.

Palmer Park boardwalk and St. Clair River, St. Clair Michigan.  Photo by Grace Grogan.

Palmer Park boardwalk and St. Clair River, St. Clair Michigan. Photo by Grace Grogan.

Will I someday reside in other places?  I can not be sure.  My husband and I purchased property years ago on a mountain in Tennessee, but for various reasons have determined that we will not be moving there and have put the property up for sale.  At one time we planned to become full-time RV people, living and traveling the country in our motor home.  Again, life brings changes and it is debatable whether that will ever happen.  As for now, we are residing in the beautiful Blue Water Area and enjoying our spare time as photographers, capturing everything the area has to offer and making our images available for sale at local art studios, Mercy Hospital in Port Huron, and on Fine Art America.

Where have you lived in your lifetime?  How many times have you moved?  Please share in the comment section.

 

 

 

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Filed under children, decisions, Family, home, kids, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, Michigan, parents, time, travel, Upper Penninsula

Kicking 2014 Goodbye

While I can’t say its been a horrible year, because there have been some good things, I am ready to kick 2014 to the curb.

Grogan Gravesite.  Copyright 2014 Grace Grogan

Grogan Gravesite. Copyright 2014 Grace Grogan

My father-in-law passed away at the age of 94 on February 11, 2014 and my father passed away at the age of 75 on December 3, 2014.  While my father-in-law at the age of 94 should not come as a surprise, my father at only 75 was a shock.  My sister and I had not yet completed going through my mother’s things (she passed in May 2013) and now have an entire house to contend with.

Although it has not been finalized, we found out that rather than letting us adopt our biological granddaughter she is going to be given to total strangers for adoption. Her younger sister, who we also wanted to adopt, was awarded to her foster care parents for adoption in 2013.    The frustration dealing with DHS and realizing that this is an ongoing problem across the country is what inspired me to write a book about our situation.

Kiley Grogan's photo posted on MARE.org

Kiley Grogan’s photo posted on MARE.org

My ankle, which was severely injured in an accident 4-1/2 years ago, has continued to deteriorate. I was told in September 2013 that I have degenerative arthritis from the accident and will eventually need an ankle fusion. The condition has gotten considerably worse in the past year and I fear the operation will bee needed sooner rather than farther in the distance.

My husband, Ron, began having difficulty swallowing in June/July and by September was a true problem. It was discovered he had a tumor almost completely blocking his esophagus and the tumor was cancerous. He has undergone radiation and chemotherap and has lost about 60 lbs due to his inability to swallow more than thin liquids/broth.  He will have surgery on the 6th of January to remove his esophagus and his stomach will be lifted/stretched up to take its place.

Walking from the boat dock to the lodge.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Walking from the boat dock to the lodge. Photo by Grace Grogan

In the midst of all this chaos we also had some good things. My sister, two of our cousins and I got together for a girls weekend, which we did on an uninhabited island and had a great time. We had traveled together while growing up and then had not spent much time together since becoming adults, so over 34 years.  It was during the burial of my mother in 2013 that the four of us decided to revive our vacation get-togethers.  Spending time with just the four of us on an uninhabited island for two nights was fun.  We had a great time and are in the process of planning another outing this year.

A gathering for the purpose of a memorial service for my in-laws resulted in a min-reunion of my husband’s family.  That lead to plans for another family gathering/reunion in August of this year.  It was great that so many family members who reside in other states were able to make the memorial and plan to attend the reunion again this year.

My husband and I took our motor home out for 11 days, with the first stop being the memorial service for my in-laws, and the next stop being Iron Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.    From there we took day trips to various counties across the UP with the main objective being to photograph waterfalls.  We also took in a few other sights an spent two days visiting with our son who is located on the west side of the UP.

Bond Falls.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Bond Falls. Photo by Grace Grogan

My husband and I have continued to build our photography business an have had several good sales this year.   We celebrated our good year by purchasing each of us new Nikon D750 Cameras for Christmas and are looking forward to a photography filled year.  We also have a great new photo subject, our newest granchild, Alexandria, born on December 12th.

Alexandria's first Christmas - only 12 days old on December 24th.

Alexandria’s first Christmas – only 12 days old on December 24th.

This was the year I  took a more intense dive into my writing. I started working on a book about my husband’s and my battle with DHS trying to adopt our granddaughters. I continued in my position as newsletter editor of our local genealogy club’s newspaper, write a genealogy column for a local paper, plus took on the one-year position of being an opinion columnist for another local paper. I also began this blog, keeping it to a manageable one post per week, although I have on occasion thrown in an extra. I have found all these writing projects enjoyable. The more I write, the more I want to write.

So what are the plans for 2015?  We all make resolutions every year and then falter and don’t accomplish them.  I’m not making resolutions this year.    I’m going to set goals and strategies to accomplish my New Years Goals — in my mind that has a more positive ring it than a resolution.  I have not mapped out the specifics or broken it down into manageable segments yet, but the overall goals are going to be weight reduction, organization, cleaning and scheduling to get it all accomplished.  Wish me luck, because I’m probably going to attempt the impossible, once again.

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Filed under events, habit, home, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography