Tag Archives: memoir

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

Why Write?

I have always loved writing.  As a child I would make up stories and write them down.    I can remember standing and reading them to my mother.  I have no idea what happened to them, I wish I had them now.  I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to be an author someday.

As a child I participated in an activity that all writers do…I was an avid reader.  All writer’s read, and generally read in the genre in which they write.  I read a wide variety, but the majority of my reading is non-fiction and memoir.  Those are the categories in which I do the majority of my writing.  I also love reading travel, novels, drama, history, romance and mystery.  The only genres that I am not highly fond of are science fiction, fantasy and horror.

write - must read a lot and write a lot

When I was in my teens I thought about becoming a newspaper reporter and writing on-sight action news.  I wanted to be in the heart of whatever was going on, to put those stories into print.  Unfortunately I allowed my mother to talk me out of it.  She didn’t believe it was an appropriate career choice for a female.   Regrets, some.  But in a way my life is circling around to past dreams, just in a different direction.

As a young mother I took a correspondence class on writing magazine articles for children.  It was fun, interesting, and I l learned techniques and about the publishing world that could be applied to both adult or children’s literature.    Being married with a full-time job and two children, the writing got pushed to the back and was to a certain degree lost in the shuffle.  However during the years my children were young I wrote a “newsletter” for friends and family.  The “Grogan Gossip” was my reporting about the happenings of our life and activities of our children.  Except for the first one, I have every newsletter in chronological order in a notebook.  They are fun to go back and read.  Things long forgotten but saved permanently in the written format.  I still do the newsletter, but only once a year at Christmas in lieu of a Christmas card.

writing - articulating thoughts when speaking v writingWhen you are born a lover of the written word it never goes away, it just transitions over time.  Writing and literature go hand-in-hand.  My high school classes were filled with literature…classes in modern short stories, mysteries,  American literature, Advanced Grammar and Composition,   and more.  When I went back to college in 2010 one of my favorite classes was public speaking because I was writing whatever I chose to talk about.  It was fun!

I have difficulty expressing myself verbally, but I can easily put thoughts and feelings into the written word.  I have always been that way.  You simply bleed onto paper.  That is the way of a writer.   Once I start writing the thoughts just flow.  I can start out saying “I only have time for a quick note” and by the time I am finished I may have 3-4 typed pages.   Writing is as easy as breathing.writing - no time to write short letter so wrote a long one instead

While I have not yet worked my way into the world of published book author, I am writing a book about my family’s encounter with Child Protective Services that led to my husband and my attempt to become foster parents and apply to adopt our granddaughters.   It is a story that should be told.  Many of the injustices we encountered are a nationwide problem that most people are not aware of.  That is why I am writing that memoir.  It is with the hope that in reading our story others will be aware of the danger to family that Child Protective Services poses.  I also hope that maybe someday my granddaughters will encounter the book and realize they were very much wanted and were taken in an unjust way from family who loved them.

write what disturbs youI write in many formats.  I titled this blog Life is a Melting Pot because my life is a jumble of various activities and I like to write about whatever strikes me at the moment.  This blog is not the only regular writing I do.  For the past eight years I have held the position of newsletter editor of Bluewater Family Backgrounds, a publication of the St. Clair County Family History Group.  As the editor I gather content and put together the entire newsletter, writing some articles that go into it.  I have been writing a column called “Who AM I?” for the past five and one-half years for The Lakeshore Guardian, and local free publication.  The column is on genealogy.  I am in my fourth year as an opinion columnist for our local newspaper, The Times Herald.  I select my topics and how often I write a column, frequently selecting topics that can be a bit controversial.  Finally, my daytime job is that of Paralegal in which I spend my days doing legal writing.  All of the areas in which I write are slightly different and I enjoy each one.

writing - isn't about making moneyI belong to a Freelance Writer’s Group and at the meetings I see a variety of people with a wide range of interests.  The group includes people who write children’s stories, adult novels, travel columns, science fiction, non-fiction, memoir, and more.  We all have one thing in common…we love to write!  Writers are like any other type of artist, they are imaginative, creative, passionate about their art, well-read, self-promoters and self-starters.  Writing is something you do solo; you have to be motivated to write or you will never succeed.   Writers love words, language, and people watching.  Everything is a potential story or scene.  If you spend much time with a writer you may find yourself popping up in their stories, blogs, or columns.  You may not be there in name, but you will likely recognize a scene in which you have lived.

So why do I write?  Because it is something I love to do.  Because it is something I have always enjoyed.  I did it as a child and I can continue to do it throughout my life.  Laura Ingalls Wilder is my motivation.  She published her first book. Little House in the Big Woods in 1932 at age 65.  She completed the last book in her Little House series in 1943 at age 76.  Laura Ingalls Wilder died in 1957 at age 90, leaving behind incomplete manuscripts and her diary.  Some of those posthumous works were edited and published by her daughter, Rose.  Her legacy is my inspiration.  That is why I write.

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Filed under Activities, communication, decisions, employment, exploration, habit, hobbies, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality, Writing

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

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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Filed under children, Family, grandchildren, home, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, play

Swearing at Your Deceased Husband is Okay

It has been seven months since my husband passed away and I am handling it very well, except for those times when I get frustrated and swear at him.  But that’s okay.  Keep in mind if anyone else did it I would probably kill them, at least verbally.  I lived with him for 34 years, I have exclusive rights.

Only someone who has ever lost a spouse can understand the roller coaster of emotions you deal with.  People will say they understand because they have lost a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, child, etc.  They may feel sympathy for you, but they can’t understand fully.  Losing a spouse is different.

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Ron and I approx. 1980

So why am I swearing at him?  Because it keeps me emotionally on track.  Because it relieves frustration.  Because it helps with mourning at unexpected moments.  Because it is my exclusive right and I sometimes utilize it as an emotionally stabilizing crutch to help me maintain focus.

What am I swearing at him about?  That depends on what I am doing at the time.  As I am riding the lawn mower around our backyard that has numerous things to go around, and then a tremendous amount of edging I have said on numerous occasions “dammit Ron, all I can say is I know you designed this thinking you were going to be taking care of it, not me.”    It helps me to focus on what needs to be done and set goals for getting the yard in order.   It helps me to remember that he never had any intention of me having to handle the yard work.  That was his area.

When I’m going through things he purchased at garage sales, estate sales, or scrapping and I look at the price tags on some of the items I say “dammit Ron, I hope you didn’t pay that price for this.” and “dammit Ron, why did you spend so much money on this stuff.”  I could have used the money more than the stuff, but I know he had a goal in mind of reselling those things in a booth at the Eastern Market (huge farmer’s market in Detroit) or at flea markets and that was his goal.  Everyone needs goals, and he had good intentions before the cancer took them and him.

EPSON MFP image

Ron and I October 2015

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  The biggest one though, is the one that is most important.  You see in addition to a huge accumulation of stuff I need to get rid of, my house is full of Ron…photos he took, photos of him, things that we did, things that we purchased…memories.  So, when something hits me and I’m having an emotional moment, I put my fingers on his chest/body on one of those photos and say “dammit Ron, why did you have to die?”

So now you now why it is okay to swear at your deceased husband.  As his surviving widow  you have the exclusive right to verbalize your frustrations at your new life, at the things you must now tackle, at the emotions that go along with the grieving process, at the frustrations over their death.  It is your exclusive right.  Enjoy it and use it to the fullest.  Your sanity depends on it.

 

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Filed under cancer, Coping, death, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, memoir

Traveling Solo

Memorial Weekend was not the first time I have ever traveled solo, but it is the first time I have done so since the passing of my husband in December 2015.  It was a good trip.  It was a fun trip.  It was a relaxing trip.  It was a lonely trip.    Rather than elaborate in paragraph form, I decided to do a list of bullets, highlights various activities, thoughts, and observations.

 

  • Destination Sault Ste. Marie via Newberry, Michigan.  For those who do not know, these cities are in Michigan’s upper peninsula and are a 5-1/2 to 6 hour drive from my home.
  • Even though I set the cruise control at 74 instead of my normal 85 I still made the trip in the projected six hour time frame going to Newberry on Saturday morning, and that included two stops along the way.  I made it home from Sault Ste. Marie in 5-1/2 hours on Monday with three stops along the way.
  • For those of you who do not know, I have a son in Newberry Correctional Facility and was going to visit him.  I was very surprised to find that it was not busy at all with visitors.  I had anticipated a wait due to the holiday weekend, but was pleasantly surprised to find I could get in right away.
  • Stopping along a two-lane road near a wooded area in the upper peninsula to shoot, from a distance, a large group of trilliums results in an attack of nats, no-seeums, or baby flies (I was told they were all three of those things).  The invasion was so intense that just getting in and out of my car resulted in a large quantity inside, which I was then rolling down the window and trying to shoo out as I drove away.  Maybe it would have been better had I not been wearing perfumed lotion?

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    Trilliums along roadway. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • Drinking a margarita with my meal resulted in me going from being a good tipper to an exceptionally generous tipper, but I’m sure the waiter was happy.
  • Having a GPS in the car is great, especially when it tells you your hotel is in one spot, which is a hotel under construction.  After placing a phone call you find out your hotel is about 1/2 a mile farther down the road and on the opposite side of the road.   However it did have a handy landmark – across the street from Walmart, and next to the State Police post.  Hmmmm, I never once saw a State Police vehicle the entire time I was there.
  • No-leak ice pacs will create a puddle in your fabric insulated lunch box if they thaw completely and will leave a stream behind you when you attempt to carry it.
  • On Sunday morning all the country music stations, actually almost all the radio stations in general, are either talk shows or church sermons/music.  I found a rock station out of Traverse City/Kalkaska playing music, so of course I had to crank it up and dance my way from Sault Ste. Marie to Newberry for my second day of visiting with Patrick.
  • My favorite place for breakfast in Newberry had several new books by local authors, but I only selected and purchased one.  That is what I most often buy when I travel, books written about the area in which I am visiting and/or by local authors.    I also purchased a book in a gift shop in Sault Ste. Marie by another local author.  DSC_9246
  • It is great to discover that your cousins from the Traverse City area happen to be visiting Newberry as well and you are able to get together for an impromptu dinner and chat for a couple hours.
  • I am a chicken when it comes to setting up my tripod and taking photos in the dark on an unlit street when by myself in an area with which I am not familiar when by myself.  I never gave it a thought when Ron was with me.
  •   The International Bridge looks awesome at night lit up in red, white, and blue, but I have no pictures (please refer to my previous post above).
  • At America’s Best Value Inn an accessible room is truly accessible.  When I am staying at a location where I am unsure on whether or not they have elevators I will book an accessible room to make sure I am not climbing stairs alone with my suitcase, etc.  (I have a very bad ankle).    Usually “accessible” is a room that is on the main floor or not far from the lobby or elevator, but beyond that nothing unusual.  The one in Sault Ste. Marie was wheelchair accessible, had a wooden floor, a fully wheelchair accessible shower, and a raised toilet seat.   Of course the best part was a king size bed, which I had all to myself.
  • I greatly overestimated how much time I would have in the room to read and/or write and packed way more items than needed.
  • The Tower of History in Sault Ste. Marie provides a nice view of the entire city and locks.  There is a small museum on the main level.
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Tower of History.  Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • There is an island, Sugar Island, that is accessed by ferry that would be interesting to explore on a future trip.  It is inhabited by a small amount of people and also houses some businesses, but is also supposed to have nature areas.
  • It is hard to access and walk the areas near the water and locks when downtown.  The park where the locks are located is gated, has a security entrance, and closes at 9:00 pm.  The park itself is quite large and features two stories of viewing platforms for watching ships/boats go through the locks.  Unfortunately I missed seeing any go through.
  • Lockview Restaurant has very good fresh whitefish that can be ordered done in five different methods.  I chose broiled and it was very good.
  • Patrick informed me that Street Outlaws is an awesome program.  Monday night was a season premier that was two hours long.  I did enjoy the parts I saw, but unfortunately fell asleep and missed a good portion of the races.  It was rather cool that they were racing Detroit in that episode.
  • My ankle is impacting my decisions on what I do or do not do, which means it is affecting my day-to-day quality of life.  If it does not improve by fall I think I will need to go in for a consultation with my surgeon and likely have an ankle fusion done over the winter.  As someone who is terrified of surgery, that statement and acceptance of the likely need is huge.
  • I am a much more conscientious spender when traveling alone than I was with Ron.  This does not mean I was previously a spender by nature, quite the contrary.  I was and am more likely to put off doing things, whereas Ron was always more likely and willing to buy or do whatever he or I wanted and figure out how to pay for it later.  I guess he was either a good influence or a bad influence, depending on how you look at it.
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    Sault Ste. Marie and International Bridge.   Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • I need to plan a longer stay to do and see some things I want in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Buying a bag of fresh on sale at the fudge shop is good.  Munching on it to stay awake all the way home and in the process eating the entire bag is not.  I had a miserable stomach ache later to remind me not to make that mistake again!

Overall I had a fun time this weekend.  I managed to traverse the city at night without getting myself horribly lost.  I forgot to take my book with me for the times I was dining, so utilized social media to keep myself entertained instead.   My first weekend trip as a widow was fun.  It was relaxing.  It was lonely.    The next one will be better.

 

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Filed under decisions, exploration, habit, handicapp, Holidays, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography, travel, Upper Penninsula

Looking Back: A Facebook Review

Every  morning around 7 AM I receive a notification from Facebook that there are memories from previous years on that date.  I look forward to reviewing those memories, looking back on what I was doing or sharing in previous years.  Some of those memories I skim over,  some I share again.

We go about our day-to-day lives and don’t realize how we change over time.  I notice that the type of information I consider relevant has changed.  Postings about day-to-day life have changed.  It is fun to see what I was doing in college a few years ago, how many days I would go without being on Facebook because I was busy, or even the activities I was partaking in on any particular date or year.

I have shared a lot of pictures over the years.  When those pop up on my memories feed it is fun to see how my grandchildren have grown, or the changes in the appearance of my kids, myself and my husband.  Places I have visited, events I have attended, and more are shared through photographs on my personal page, as well as the Times Gone By Photography page I have.

Another fun thing I discovered in looking back is the notes I have posted on my Facebook page.  For several years now I have shared a challenge where you try to read 52 books in a year, and although I have never made it to 52 I have those “notes” from every year where I listed each book I read, the author, whether fiction or non-fiction and the number of pages.  I recently came across a couple other postings I did, one answering questions about how well you know your spouse, and another where you list 25 things about yourself.  I may do that one again, because things have changed.  I am now in the processing of printing off some of the things I discovered and saving them in a scrapbook or notebook for future look backs by myself and/or my children and grandchildren.

We live in a digital world.  Everything is handled electronically and people, young people especially, do not keep things in a printed, paper format.  Give consideration to printing off and saving in a notebook some of the things you share electronically.  Make it a scrapbook of you.  Future generations will be glad you did when everything you have done is lost in the cyber world.

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Filed under Activities, Discoveries, exploration, Family, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality, Scrapbooking

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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Filed under Coping, death, decisions, exploration, habit, home, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, reality

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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Reflections at Christmas Time

This year will be different.  Christmas will be eighteen days after my husband, Ron, passed away.  I am still adjusting but overall have my head wrapped around it and am gradually moving forward with what will now be my “new normal” life.

I’m not having a problem, at least not now, with the idea that Ron will not be with us on Christmas day.  That day will play out almost like normal.   Time will tell, and the times when people aren’t here may be more difficult than when I have people here as a distraction.   In the meantime preparations have kept my mind distracted, decorating, wrapping gifts, and planning meals.

What I am finding is it is the little things you hear, or find, that can really hit the emotions.  Two or Three weeks before Ron passed two boxes arrived that said Precious Moments, I am a collector.  Ron told me not to open them, they were for Christmas.  He put them up in our bedroom closet and that is where they sat.  I went to get them and place them under the tree.  I will open them on Christmas Day and see what is in them.  I knew they were there so it was not an emotional situation, at least not until I saw a green plastic bag containing a box on top of them.  I looked inside and Ron had purchased a Christmas ornament while out west that he probably planned to give me at Christmas.  It was hand crafted metal works in the design of a motorcycle.  Ron knew that even now, five years after my accident, I still miss riding.  Discovery of the ornament and the emotional connection of his understanding that I still feel the loss of an activity I enjoyed came through that one Christmas ornament and hit me.

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A motorcycle ornament Ron purchased out west and had hidden with Christmas gifts. 

Little things impact you, and make you wonder why.  I put both pair of Ron’s eyeglasses into their case.  Then I stood there holding the case and had a hard time walking it over and tucking it onto the desk.  Why boxing up his glasses had such an emotional impact one can only wonder, but it did.

Small connections with people or comments they make can take you by surprise.  A a dental appointment last week a couple of the dental hygienists asked how Ron was doing.  One of them,. Patty, got teary eyed when I told her Ron had died.  Patty has been cleaning Ron’s teeth since around 1974 when he got out of the service and his mother told him to schedule a dental appointment because there was a cute new hygienist there.

There are other people I have talked to who when told of Ron’s passing said he used to talk about me all the time, that he was proud of me, that he was always talking about what I did, if I outscored him on photo competitions, and more.  I never knew he did that all the time.  People he had no need to share that with.    Then my mind questions whether I did equally as well for him.  Did I support him as well as he supported me?  I hope so, but the mind still ponders over it.

I am learning to do things I’ve never done, or rarely done in 34 years because Ron always handled them.  I have done the banking, paid bills, called the CPA for advise, and will be meeting the financial adviser for the first time ever.  I have done minor things such as take the trash out, bring in the mail, change a light bulb, and clean out the frig.

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Ornament given to me by Blue Water Hospice after Ron passed.

I know in the future I will encounter additional challenges, things I have never done.  If something breaks down I will have to call a repairman, when the cars need oil changes I will have to schedule appointments and get it taken care of.   I know furnaces need to have their filters changed, but when and how?   I don’t even know how to change the gas tank on our grill.  My “new normal” is a learning experience.  I hope I live up to the challenge.

So as we approach Christmas Day I reflect on the past.  Christmases of the past, New Year’s of the past, trips we have taken, traditions we held.   I will continue to hold those things dear as I forge ahead into building a new, different, life for myself.

 

 

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Filed under celebration, children, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, Family, Festivals, habit, Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, reality

Going Through the Motions

It has now been ten days since my husband, Ron, passed away.  Life goes on, and while I appear to be functioning on a normal level, I am numb.

I get up, go to work, come home.  The holidays are a distraction.  I have my daughter and her kids coming here on Christmas day and my sister and her family on December 26th.  I had to decorate, at least to a certain degree.   I got my tree up, some decorations out in that room and my kitchen, and called it done.  It wasn’t fun this year.  It was just a process that I did, a duty I performed.

My granddaughter, Alexandria, had her first birthday, and as is our tradition my daughter came over with cake and we had a celebration here at the house.  Except Ron wasn’t here to see Alex turn one.   She will never remember him on her own.  My grandsons are trying to understand death, heaven, what it means when a person is gone from their lives.  Both were extremely close to Ron.  They know something has changed but haven’t quite grasped what it means.

I am trying to do what is normal, what we have always done.  I attended a Christmas potluck at Studio 1219 where we both have our photography, have been members for years and have done a lot of volunteering.  I was fine when I arrived, until I walked into the room where everyone was, all those familiar faces, and had to take a couple deep breaths to get control of my emotions.

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Alexandria’s First Birthday

Tonight I am going to the Christmas party / meeting of the Blue Water Shutterbug Camera Club, another organization Ron and I have both been heavily involved in for the past eleven years.  I am closer to this group of people than to those at the studio.  It is a fun group.  Hopefully I can keep a grasp on myself and get through tonight without a problem.

So I got to work.  I try to remember to do things here at home, such as bring in and open mail, that were always handled by Ron.  I make calls to notify life insurance, pension, and others of his death.  I wrote his obituary.  I prepare for the Celebration of Life that will be held in March.

I go through the motions of life, but inside I feel numb, empty, lonely.  It is a process.  An adjustment.

 

 

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Filed under Coping, death, Family, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, memoir

Deeply Disturbed

What is going on in this country?  Why over the past 20 years has there been an increase in violence among young people?  Why does there seem to be an increase in racial profiling?  Why after fighting so long for equal rights are women now using sex to promote themselves and products?  I find it disturbing that we seem to have taken a giant step backwards in this country in many ways.Racism

If you look back 30-50 years youth were not gunning each other down.  While there may have been fights, young people were not going into schools armed with guns and killing fellow classmates and teachers.  We did not have the drive-by shootings and gang violence we have today.  You could walk into a McDonalds, shopping mall, and most importantly, a church or school and not have to be concerned about the possibility of a gunman coming in and opening fire.    Today no where is safe, even those locations designed for children.    Children are innocent, they do not see color, they are not violent, and yet they are growing up to be.  Their beliefs are shaped by the people around them, the adults they watch and learn from, and they are learning to be violent and racially discriminatory.Racism - no one is born hating another

What I find very disturbing is the number of incidents in which police officers act violently against citizens, especially those of a non-white race.  The officers seem unable to maintain control of a situation, there have been many shootings lately of unarmed persons, including teens.  Then Grand Juries refuse to indict those officers and this serves to fuel further anger and violent acts.  The fact that the majority of those incidents involve white officers and people of African American descent ads fuel to the fire.  There are other acts of violence based on race, the most recent being the fraternity in Oklahoma caught on video degrading those of black heritage.  Why all these years after Rosa Parks sat on a bus, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech, and numerous other acts to equalize the rights of blacks in this country are we experiencing so much racial violence?

Feminist - what it meansWe seem to have taken a turn backwards, we are no longer a country in which people are achieving equality.  In the 60’s and 70’s women battled for equal rights in the workforce, they changed the way they dressed to allow themselves to fit into a “mans world” and achieved great things.  Women can now obtain positions that were once considered exclusively for men — women now serve in congress, they work as attorneys, judges, doctors, police officers, airline pilots and serve in the military.    The accomplishments have allowed women to once again display their feminine side while maintaining power.  However it seems to have fallen overboard and we have gone from showing a feminine side to using sex to sell anything and everything on TV, in the radio, on the internet.    Why are women allowing themselves to be degraded in this way after so many fought against it?

Democracy by Abraham LincolnThe United States is a melting pot of cultures, beliefs, and religions.  It is a country developed on Christian beliefs, but willing to accept those of all different religions.  Its founding fathers were white, but established guidelines so people of all nationalities could immigrate legally and become citizens.   We have overcome sexual inequality.  We have taken great strides in overcoming racial inequality, but still have farther to go.  This country has accomplished great things, but is now on the decline.   What we have become is not a county that is accepting of other peoples and beliefs, but a county that is allowing itself to be destroyed by allowing those standards and beliefs to be eliminated under the guise of acceptance.   The morals, beliefs, and religion that this country was built on is what has held it together for centuries, but if those standards are not re-established this country will fail.

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Filed under decisions, environmental, friendship, Life Changing, reality, time

Finding Treasures

China Bowl 4The discovery of items that were beautiful, old, and interesting.  Four boxes of them.  Each box was labeled “Treasures.”  When we removed the top what we found were typewritten lists that not only named the items inside, it explained where they came from, and how that original owner was related or not related to us, and how the item came to be in our family.  The history of each item that had been carefully packed away years ago for us to discover.Coffee Pots

My sister and I discovered those boxes as we were going through things in our parents house, cleaning it out following the death of our father in December.  Our mother passed away almost two years ago and was very ill for over ten years.  She is the one that prepared those boxes, carefully wrapping each item, packing them into the boxes and then typing the lists on an old-fashioned typewriter.  So long they have sat tucked away, carefully stored for us to find someday

Honeymoon brochuresThe items are an interesting assortment, too many to list here.  I did take a few cell phone pictures of some of the “treasures”.  My grandmother’s wooden rolling pin and wooden board.  My grandfather’s pipe stand and his favorite pipe.  Beautiful china bowls.  A Stein from Germany.  Jigsaw puzzles with very thick pieces.  My father’s first camera  and his toy holster set from when he was a child.  My parents wedding cake top and some brochures, road map and placemats from their honeymoon.

Dads Holster SetThe discovery was a wonderful break in our cleaning out of their house.  Had we stumbled upon some of those items in the house we may not have realized their emotional value, their history within our family.  One of the best gifts we could ever have received.    I now know that there are items in my home I want to locate and pack in the same manner, carefully labeling the box and making sure that someday, when my husband and I are gone, our children can discover treasurers in our home and enjoy the  significance to their heritage.

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Pinback Paradise

When someone suggested I start a blog I found it a bit of a daunting challenge.  That was mainly due to my misconception of what a blog required.  When I realized that I don’t have to post on a daily basis and that I don’t have to stick with just one narrow topic I knew I was up to the challenge.  Now all I had to do was pick a title for the blog.  I wanted my title to fit my life, and because my Life Is Like A Camera I needed something to fit that description and so Life is a Melting Pot was born.

Life is Like a Camera.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Life is Like a Camera. Photo by Grace Grogan

I can’t believe it has been 10 months and 50 posts since it all began.  I have written about fun topics, emotional issues, vacations, and life in general.  Hopefully you have all gotten to know me a little better over the past few months.

When it comes to my life, It All Began in the Cherry Capitol of the World, but Yesterday’s Bar Pick-up tells the story of how I met my husband.  We have enjoyed many activities over the years, vacations, having kids, boating, jet skis, mopeds, and motorcycles, accidents and cancer.   It’s been 33 years, well sort of 34 takes a look back at our marriage and Life Altering Impact after a car ran a stop sign and broadsided me when I was on my motorcycle.

As I was completing high school I did not follow my true career interest, Why Didn’t I do It?  Instead I became a secretary, which caused me to reflect on the Evolution of a Clerical Worker.  Now I wonder Who Am I? as I take on the roles of paralegal, writer and photographer.  Of course everyone has many aspects to their personality, and that is why I love Songs About Me and found a Blog Bonus – A Perfect Quote that I shared with everyone, even though I soon found myself Caught in a Tornado

Patrick and his girls - Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

Patrick and his girls – Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

With The Power of Emotion I dealth with the loss of one of our granddaughters, Kae-Lee Joy Grogan, who we were trying to adopt but instead was awarded to her foster care parents for adoption.  I dug a little deeper into that story when I talked about Attempted Adoption:  An Emotional Whirlwind.    That story has yet to end.

In the meantime life moves on, and let’s face it You are a Guaranteed Winner when you experience the Backyard Exploration of a 3-Year Old and enjoy a Thanksgiving that includes Tossed Turkey and Dog Food.    Let’s Get Prepped for education because although we all have a Haunted Past we can enjoy a bit of nostalgia because Everyone Loves a Letter.  Modern technology makes us realize the benefits of  Letter v. Email and how with all our modern conveniences we should not be Running Out of Time. 

Who's out there?  Photo by Grace Grogan

Who’s out there? Photo by Grace Grogan

We should all Preserve the Memories of our lives because Looking Out My Front Door at snow on leaves that have not changed color makes you realize the the Wild Weather Past and Present is not something new, but something you may want to remember.  After all, Putting a Spin on Things can help you take an artistic, creative look at what might at first glance appear to be Delightfully Drab.   That is why I enjoy participating in the World Wide Photo Walk and a passion of mine is strolling through old burial grounds doing Cemetery Shooting.    It is important to enjoy the beauty around us everywhere, keep it beautiful so we never again have The Crying Indian. 

Reflections in Nature - Photo by Grace Grogan

Reflections in Nature – Photo by Grace Grogan

Life is never dull in My Crazy Week where I have been known to wonder Where Have All the Spiders Gone then dissapointed to find out They’re Back after which I felt the need to enjoy the amusement of a 3-year old and 8-year old saying goodbye to them in Blog Bonus-SpidersHowever those creatures are not the only ones to enhance our property, after all, we have Master Bath Guests.

I’m not what I would call a political person, but wondered if my thoughts about undocumented children being brought into this country were Cold Hearted and Cruel or Realistic.  I know that first impressions of people are not always accurate and discussed Impressions v. Reality while not hesitating to Toot My Own Horn about a column I had published on problems with the foster care system.

As I traveled this summer I found that my decision to finally invest in a smart phone challenging but in the end realized that I’m Hooked when it allowed me to take movies and post pictures instantly during our vacation.  I love a Blue Water Summer  but have to admit that Vacation Planning is something I enjoy doing and can lead to a wide range of adventures and learniing how things can be the Same but Different, including a weekend on an Uninhabited and Unconnected Island or a spring day on the Magee Marsh Bird Trail. 

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me.  Photograph by Grace Grogan

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me. Photograph by Grace Grogan

As the year wound down we enjoyed New Life with the birth of our newest granddaughter, Alexandria Louise, enjoyed a Merry Christmas and ended the year by Kicking 2014 Goodbye as we started the new year with Slippery Surgical Stress and are now looking forward to Good Things in 2015.

With that we end this Pingback Paradise reflection of my first 50 posts to this blog.  I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse back, maybe linked into some of my old posts and enjoyed a read you may have missed during the past 10 months.

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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

Good Things

I’ve seen photos of these around New Years in previous years, thought they looked like a neat idea but never attempted it myself. This year I changed my mind. 2014 was a rough year, as I wrote about in Kicking 2014 Goodbye.  We also had a lot of good things that happened throughout the year, including a vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a weekend spent with my sister and two cousins we traveled with often growing up.  A granddaughter was born in December.  Those are the big things.  We all remember the big things, but I know there were a lot of small, minor tidbits of happiness that have long been forgotten.

Good Things Jar.  Photo by Grace Grogan 2015

Good Things Jar. Photo by Grace Grogan 2015

That is why this year I decided to start a Good Things Jar.  I purchased a large canning jar, typed up a label for it and placed it on our kitchen counter.  I then inserted several notes from the days that had already gone by since January 1st.  I started this when my husband, Ron, was in the hospital for his surgery.  I didn’t mention it to him, and now that he is home he hasn’t asked about it.  He can put things into it too.   I should mention it, because his good things may be quite different from mine based on the fact that he is quite often out shooting photographs all day while I am at work.

It will be interesting to see how full the jar is by the end of the year.  I have read about people starting these but then not keeping them up.  When you begin to jot down the miscellaneous good things that happen it is amazing how many things happen on a day-to-day basis that we don’t put emphasis on.  For example in my jar already I have the celebration of my grandson, Corbin’s birthday, which was done late so his brother could be there.  My daughter, Caroline and her boyfriend, Rob, came over and ran the snow-blower and cleared the front porch and sidewalk of snow while Ron was in the hospital.  I included the day of Ron’s surgery that the procedure was successful, and of course a note the day he came home from the hospital.

Some of these things I will remember at the end of the year, some would be forgotten.  It will be interesting on December 31st to dump out my jar of notes and enjoy the memories.  I have read where people frequently keep the jars so they can re-open and read the notes in later years if they choose.  I will take my notes at the end of the year and put them onto a scrapbook page and they will be permanently saved in a scrapbook.

The year is still new.  Maybe you should consider making a Good Things Jar.  If you have done this in the past I would love to hear your comments about it.  If you haven’t are you now considering starting one?  We should all focus on the Good Things in our lives.

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Filed under Activities, decisions, Family, habit, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality, time, Writing

Caught in a Tornado

It started out as a heavy wind, then the momentum kept building, blowing harder and harder, starting to spin around me.  The power increased steadily until it was overpowering, hitting me with its impact and before I knew it I felt like I was spinning uncontrollably.  I was caught in a vicious tornado, life had thrown too much at me and I was loosing control.

Ultimate Measure of ManBack in July my husband, Ron, began having some trouble swallowing when eating.  By the time we returned home from vacation in August the problem had become much worse.  It was discovered that he had a large tumor in his esophagus and that it was cancerous.    During the time it took for the various tests and consultations with doctors to be done the tumor became worse and his ability to eat went from normal to soft foods only to very thing liquids/broths.  At the beginning of his 5-1/2 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation his esophagus was 90% blocked.  He has lost around 40 lbs and is down to around 131 lbs, very thin.  He finished his chemotherapy last week and today, the 4th of December, was his last radiation treatment.  The treatments have reduced the tumor and four about 1-2 weeks he was able to get some foods down, but the burning from the radiation has now caused that to be extremely painful.  We have to wait about a month for the burning to heal and the poisons from the chemo to leave his body.  In January he will have surgery to remove the esophagus and they will raise his stomach up to replace it.  Once those steps are done and he recovers from the surgery he should be able to resume a normal lifestyle.

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that my husband and I have been trying to adopt our granddaughters and lost one to adoption already.  We found out on the 17th of November that although we have never received an official denial that another family has been found and she will likely be placed with them in January and adopted in June.  DHS has fought us all the way, and although we have not totally given up, we know that we are not likely to succeed in any attempts we make.  If you are not familiar with what has been going on, you can read about it in Power of Emotion and Attempted Adoption:  An Emotional Whirlwind.

My father has been experiencing health issues for the past year or so, plus struggling emotionally since my mother’s death in 2013.  He recently went into the hospital in a weakened state and with fluid around his lungs.  He was  transferred to a medical rehabilitation facility to regain his strength when a set-back sent him back to the hospital about a week ago.  I spoke with him on the 7th of December and he was uncomfortable, weak, and having difficulty eating/swallowing.  On the 2nd of December, his 75th birthday, he began to fail badly.  They attempted to drain fluid from his lungs and one collapsed, his kidneys were not working properly, and a multitude of other problems existed as well.  Throughout the day he changed floors in the hospital twice as his condition worsened.  By the end of the day he was intubated and not expected to live through the night.Death

The hospital is two hours from where I live.  Ron is weakest in the evenings and has had some dizzy spells and falls so I didn’t want to leave him home overnight.  The emotional impact was hitting me and I was struggling with  everything — the loss of Kiley to adoption, Ron’s condition, and my father’s anticipated death.  I was able to call the hospital and they held the phone to his ear so I could talk to him.  I was surprised when my sister, who lives near him, called the next morning and said she was at the hospital, he was failing very fast but they could maintain him for family to arrive.  I called into work and hit the road.  I was lucky, the roads were clear and very little traffic, I was at the hospital within about 2-1/2 hours from when I received the call.    My father’s skin was cold and clammy to the touch, his vitals were very low, but when I spoke to him I could tell from his facial movements that he could hear me and was able to register what I was telling him.  My sister and I decided to go to the cafeteria for a quick lunch, as her son-in-law and a pastor were expected to arrive and we would then remove life support and switch him to comfort measures only.   When we returned to the room we said a few final words to him.   Once we made the change in his treatment he passed peacefully within about 20 minutes.

children reinvent your worldOne life ends and another begins.  My daughter is pregnant, a high-risk pregnancy and her C-Section is scheduled for December 12th, so 1-1/2 weeks after the death of my father, the birth of another grandchild will take place.    The juggling of life continues as we have to drive her 45 minutes away to the hospital where she will deliver, take care of her other two children while she is at the hospital, and handle getting her and baby back home and to her follow up appointments.

I’m either adjusting to the speed of the tornado or it is loosing momentum.  We are now down to my grandchild’s birth, a family Christmas at our house, my husband’s surgery in January, continuing to monitor what happens with our granddaughter being adopted out to a non-relative rather than us, and my sister and I sorting through and cleaning out our parents’ home and belongings and handling the details of settling their estate.    It only goes to show that Life is a Melting Pot of incidents and activities.

 

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Filed under Adoption, cancer, death, Family, grandchildren, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, memoir, parents

Tossed Turkey and Dog Food

This year our Thanksgiving meal was unique.  We had tossed turkey and dog food.  I know, not everyone can enjoy such unusual holiday fare, but then it takes a special talent to come up with such things.

When I removed the turkey from the oven it was a picture perfect golden brown, the stuffing displayed in a perfect mound between the legs and I knew it was done because the little plastic thermometer had popped.  I asked my daughter to steady the pan while I lifted out the bird.  All was going well until the darn thing fell apart as I was lifting, so I only had half a bird as I moved it over the serving platter.  Then the inevitable happened.  Before I got the 1/2 bird placed on the platter it too fell apart, flipping around in mid air and landing upside down on the platter with its two winds spread as if in flight and displaying its ripped apart belly.  Caroline and I were laughing hysterically as I stabbed and managed to flip the bird back over.  We then tried to remove the remaining half a bird from the pan, but everything kept just falling off the bone so the other half of the platter was a jumbled mess of turkey and a mound of stuffing.  Of course everyone knew we were having a bit of an issue so when my tossed turkey was placed on the table, it was good for a laugh.  Little did we know the best was yet to come.

Corbin, who is 3 years old, took one look at that mound of stuffing on that platter and said “Dog Food, No!” and went to the other end of the table.

That announcement of his impression of my cooking got me to laughing so hard I was choking.    How can you argue with the observation of a 3 year old?  You can’t.  No matter what we said, no matter who ate what, Corbin was not going to be fooled by anyone and he was not going to eat that dog food, nor was he going to eat any meat that had been placed on the same platter as the “dog food”.  It just wasn’t happening.

Although they would never have won a Betty Crocker award for appearance, the turkey and dressing were tasty.  The mashed potatoes and gravy were a bit on the lumpy side but everything else was fine.  When the meal was over my daughter, Caroline, and her boyfriend, Rob, left Cobrin with us while they went out to begin Black Friday shopping at 4 pm on Thanksgiving Day.  While I was tackling the kitchen cleanup Ron and Corbin both fell asleep on the couch for a nap.

I knew this Thanksgiving would be a little different.  This is the first time my 8-year old grandson, Austin, would be with his father for Thanksgiving and not our family.   My husband, Ron, has been undergoing chemo and radiation for cancer of the esophagus and it has reduced his tumor enough that he was actually able to consume a small bit of dinner.    No elegant table cloth, elaborate center pieces or fancy clothes.  Just a tossed turkey and some dog food, but nonetheless a fun, memorable Thanksgiving.  Hope yours was memorable too.

 

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Filed under children, Family, food, grandchildren, Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir

Haunted Past

Buffy from the TV show Family Affair and her doll Mrs. Beasley.  Photo located online.

Buffy from the TV show Family Affair and her doll Mrs. Beasley. Photo located online.

Haunted happenings are everywhere. Halloween has changed since I was a child, even since my children were young. The holiday has grown in popularity and activities leading up to it have stretched out.  This is no longer a one-night event.

I grew up in a small town. You purchased a few pumpkins and carved them with a basic jack-o-lantern face. One year my dad decided to dress ours up by using markers to paint around the carvings. I didn’t like having jack-o-lanterns that weren’t “normal” but everyone coming to our house to trick-or-treat thought they were great.

Typical costumes from the 1960's.  Photo obtained online.

Typical costumes from the 1960’s. Photo obtained online.

Costume Vinatge pic from 1960s

A vintage photo from 1960’s showing students in costume. Photo obtained from the internet.

Store bought costumes were a simple “cover” over the clothing and a plastic mask that covered the front of your face and attached with an elastic band.   As we got older costumes might be more of the self-made type.  I remember one year my sister went as Mrs. Beasely from a popular show called Family Affair.  I don’t know why that one costume stands out.  I don’t even remember what I dressed up as most the time.    There was always the school party and the parade of costumes throughout the school.   Then everyone went home and anticipated dark so they could go out trick-or-treating.

Trick-or-Treating was of course done on the appropriate night regardless of whether the weather was good, rain, or snow.  Someone always stayed home to hand out candy and the other parent took out the kids trick-or-treating.   The worst part was my mother was very cautious and so we were never allowed to eat our candy for several days.  This was back in the 60’s and 70’s when people did things like slip razor blades or needles into fruit or candy, or sometimes use a needle to shoot drugs into candy.  She always checked every piece of candy over carefully to see if it appeared to have been tampered with, and then we had to wait a few days to see what type of tampering made the news.  It was a horrid wait, but eventually we got the go-ahead to eat whatever we wanted.    People were generous with their hand-outs so we always had way more than we could eat anyway.  As I got older there was the occasional Halloween party or haunted house, but those were not huge parts of the holiday for us.

Caroline and Patrick carving pumpkins.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Caroline and Patrick carving pumpkins. Photo by Grace Grogan

By the time I had children things had changed a bit, plus I had moved away from the small town and lived in a much more populated area.    Costumes were more detailed and many times people designed their own at home.  My son’s first Halloween I dressed him up as a pumpkin and he “helped” me hand out candy while my husband took our daughter out trick-or-treating.  One year when she was small I made her a clown costume and have a photo of her looking at herself in the mirror, entranced with her painted on red nose.    As the holiday approached we made trips to the cider mills and pumpkin patches.  We purchased pattern books and usually spent several days carving elaborate designs into our pumpkins, and of course the seeds had to be roasted.    My daughter always enjoyed Halloween, but my son has always loved it so it was a big holiday at our house.   As they got older we attended haunted hayrides, and as teens they would go to the large haunted houses.  As adults they still love all those activities.

The school parties were much as they had been when I was a child with treats and a costume parade. Parents attended taking photos of the little ones all dressed up.  One year there was an announcement over the PA for all the Batmans to meet the principal in the cafeteria for a photograph.  The school principal had dressed up as Batman, a popular costume that year, and there were so many Batmans in the school that he decided to have a group shot taken with them.

Patrick and Kiley Trick-or-Treating.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Patrick and Kiley Trick-or-Treating. Photo by Grace Grogan

Grandson Austin dressed for Trick-or-Treat.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Grandson Austin dressed for Trick-or-Treat. Photo by Grace Grogan

Nighttime trick-or-treating was done with a pillowcase to hold all the loot.  The streets were packed with parents and children going door to door.  Most years I stayed home and handed out the goodies and my husband made the rounds with the kids.  On occasion I would go out, and it is always fun to see the little ones in costume whether coming to the door or trudging down the streets.    My husband started with our kids a tradition they had in their family — putting out sheets of newspaper for each kid to dump and sort their candy on — basically an inventory of the goods collected and a great time to trade.  A must in our house – I got all their Butterfinger candy bars!

Patrick and his girls out trick-or-treating.  Photo by Grace Grogan 2009.

Patrick and his girls out trick-or-treating. Photo by Grace Grogan 2009.

Austin and ceramic pumpkin 2009.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Austin and ceramic pumpkin 2009. Photo by Grace Grogan

Now my children are grown with children of their own.  Trunk-or-Treats are held everywhere leading up to the big day, and there are plenty of other events related to the holiday as well.  Haunted hayrides, trips to the cider mill, trips to the pumpkin patch, and of course traditional trick-or-treating are still alive.  I no longer live in a sub division so my only trick-or-treaters are my own grandchildren who are brought by in costume to trick-or-treat at our house.  Some things never change, and one year my daughter, Caroline, told Austin, my grandson, that he had to give his Butterfinger to me.

I do not miss the expense of having to purchase several bags of candy to hand out, but  I do miss having the children coming to the door all dressed in costume yelling trick-or-treat.   In some ways I miss the lengthy carving of the pumpkins, but not the mess it created.    I still go to the cider mill, but that is an event everyone should enjoy several times a season.

What are your Halloween Traditions?

 

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Filed under Activities, children, events, Family, Holidays, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, school

Songs About Me

Everyone has songs they love, either because they relate to themselves personally, remind them of a previous time in their life, or make them think of someone they know.  There is a country song that contains the lyrics ” songs about me and who I am” by Trace Adkins.   That made me wonder, what are the songs about me?  Songs that I love, that make me think of people, that relate to my life.  There are many, and I’m sure after I’m done writing this post I’ll remember something i didn’t include.

I mostly listen to country now, but I love all kinds of music.  I was a teen in the 1970’s and I still love that old time rock and roll.  Whenever I hear that song by Bob Seger I have a hard time sittiing still, it just makes me want to get up and dance.  That song also holds another memory because when my children were in elementary school there were several roller skating parties each year, and I always skated at each one (on quads, I was a kid before roller blades existed) and at every roller skating party the principal of the school always had that song played.  That song moved me at a good speed on skates, and whipping around the rink was great fun.  That is, except when a young child fell right in front of me one time and I have no idea how I accomplished it, but I managed to jump him because there was no way I could swerve or stop.  I impressed myself and could never have done it again if I was trying it.a music

In 1975 the United Nations Government Assembly declared 1975 International Women’s Year in support of the women’s movement.  I was 15 at the time, and Helen Reddy’s song I Am Woman was released that same year.    It is a song that not only speaks of the era I grew up in and achievements that were being made, but it also fits my personality.    I can be very determined, and the lyrics state “You can bend but never break me, ‘Cause it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal, and I come back even stronger, not a novice any longer, ’cause you depended the conviction in my sole.  Oh yes, I am wise but it’s wisdom born of pain, Yes, I’ve ‘aid the price, but look how much I gained.  If I have to I can face anything, I am strong (strong), I am invincible (invincible), I am woman.”    While I may not achieve the original goal, my determination to make something positive come of it can be a silent but effective form of revenge.

I grew up in Small Town USA, like the town portrayed in Justin Moore’s song.  Although I moved away and never went back, there are lots of people who never left, and others who did leave and go back.  There is something comforting about growing up in a small town where everybody knows everybody and what they are doing.  My sister still lives in that same town and many of her friends are people we grew up with.  It should be said that I now live in another small town where there are a lot of people who grew up in town and have strong roots and family heritage here.

When I was 19 I met the man that is now my husband in a bar when he asked me to dance.  Two weeks after we met I told someone I was going to marry him and 16 months later that goal was accomplished.  We recently celebrated our 33rd anniversary.  Whenever I hear Ann Murray’s song, Could I have This Dance I think it fits my husband and I perfectly.   “I’ll always remember, the song they were playing, the first time we danced and I knew,
as we swayed to the music, and held to each other, I fell in love with you.  Could I have this dance for the rest of my life, Could you be my partner
every night, when we’re together it feels so right, Could I have this dance for the rest of my life.”    While I don’t remember the song they were playing when we danced, I remember him staring at me from across the bar and several other bits of conversation throughout the evening.

That isn’t the song we used at our wedding, that was If, by David Gates, a popular song for weddings at the time. “If a picture paints a thousand words
Then why can’t I paint you?  The words will never show the you I’ve come to know.”

As time goes by and our children were growing older, there are songs that make me think of them, what they have been through, their personalities.    When I purchased a Lori Morgan album that contained the song “Skakin’ Things Up” I immediately thought of my daughter, Caroline.  That song fits her personality perfectly.  Unfortunately I was unable to locate a link other than the lip-sink one I linked to above.  The words are so perfect for her as both a child and an adult, “I’ve been told better safe than sorry and to look before I leap, To think about what I should say long before I speak.  I’m tired of holding back my true emotions, I can’t help but cause a little commotion.   I like shakin’ things up, I like pushin’ the boundaries, I like livin’ my life on the edge and chasin’ far-fetched dreams, I’m gonna feel young when I grow old, I’m gonna chalenge the status quo, when bein’ good just ain’t good enough, I like shakin’ things up.”   Anyone that knows here will agree, that is Caroline.

Now our son, Patrick, has always managed to find trouble.  Sometimes he started it, sometimes he didn’t.  Actually, the Rodney Atkins song “If You’re Going Through Hell” not only applies to him, but also all of us in our family at some point in time, rather my husband’s nasty divorce from his first marriage and battle with his wife repeatedly denying him visits with his daughter, the legal issues our son encountered growing up and as an adult, my recovery after my motorcycle accident, our attempts to adopt our granddaughters and the adversity we encountered from CPS/DHS, to our newest challenge with my husband having cancer of the esophagus, the song fits.   It is a good song to apply to anything you encounter:  “If you’re goin’ through hell keep on going, don’t slow down if you’re scared don’t show it, you might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.  When you’re goin’ through hell keep on movin’, face that fire walk right through it, you might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.”

There are so many songs I can relate to, after all, “I’ve Got The Music In Me” because “I’m never frightened or worried, I know I’ll always get by
I heat up, I cool down, When something gets in my way I go around it, Don’t let life get me down” and I am Proud to be an American, “where at least I know I’m free, And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”   The country I call home, It’s America — “It’s a high school prom, it’s a Springsteen song, it’s a ride in a Chevrolet.  It’s a man on the moon and fireflies in June and kids sellin’ lemonade.  It’s cities and farms, it’s open arms, one nation under God, It’s America.”

My wish for all who read this is that “you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean, Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance, And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,  I Hope You Dance.”

When my life it over, I hope it reflects Garth Brooks, “I’m glad I didn’t know  the way it all would end, the way it all would go, our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain but I’d of had to miss The Dance

Please Share/Comment:  What are the songs that reflect you and your life?

 

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Filed under Family, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir