Category Archives: Places

Unfinished Letter, Never Sent

I’d promised someone a letter several years ago and began one while visiting my parent’s vacation home. It was written on June 22, 2015 almost a year before my mother died.

Dear Name withheld,

As I write this I am sitting in my family’s lake house in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin. Dean reads a book by an author whose name I cannot spell. It is our 30th anniversary. Dean is also cooking sausages for breakfast.

I awoke at 5:30 am and after a quick cup of tea did some birding. I also sat on the small dock and watched the mist-sprites dance across the lake.

To get here we drove the 750 miles from Bethesda to Ludington, Michigan where we spent a night with lovely couple in their B&B. In the morning we took the ferry to Wisconsin and drove 3 hours to Hazelhurst.

My nephew is living here for the summer and is glad for our company.

Yesterday I rode a bicycle for the first time in at least 10 years.

This house is owned by my mother — but she doesn’t like leaving her home anymore. It is supposed to go to my brother and me when my mom’s gone, but a few years ago, at Dean’s suggestion I told my brother he could have it. I told Mom and she was supposed to start the process of turning it over to my brother. I think she did — the financial advisor remembers knowing about it, but the process stopped when my dad died.

Anyway, the point is this — instead of making things better between my brother and me it has created more tension. I thought he’d be grateful to have the house — and he was — he now seems to resent having to feel grateful.

Mom is going to need expensive in-home care soon. I foresee some problems. Until today I felt a sweet nostalgia, listening to the the echoes of my past visits here. Today that is gone.

[End of letter]


I stopped writing this because I realized I was not writing to my friend but I was pouring my complaints about my relationship with my brother and my feelings about the lake house into what was supposed to be a light-hearted letter.

Re-reading it, maybe I should have finished it and sent it.

I still have ambivalent feelings about the situation, four and a half years later. It will never be the same. My brother and his wife moved to the house permanently a couple years after my mom died. It’s no longer the vacation house and never will be. For the most part I have let it go. I have many great memories of it and I am happy my brother is enjoying it. It was always his happy place.

My Hygge Place

Helen suggested this week’s topic: Hygge. Here’s what she actually said:

It’s a cold, rainy day here and I’m reading an article on hygge (https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-…n-with-getting-cozy), so we could always write about our personal hygge practices (or a very hygge-like experience we had)

Helen from Canada

Until I used the attic office for my full-time work, I believe I felt hygge as I ascended the steps to the attic space and smelled the mixture of old house, carpet, dusty books, disintegrating slate shingles, baseboard heating and the odor of technology. It was my haven. It was where I escaped from the children and where I met up with friends from around the world in online communities (years before Facebook). It was where I sat on the tiny sofa-bed and read or watched television. It was where I listened to Dan Bern and Kate Bush.

Even before we had the attic refinished, before we bought our first computer, I would sit on a kitchen chair at a desk that Dean brought up for me and write in journals or on sheets of legal pad paper — pour out my thoughts, feelings, emotions. Of course in those days I could only go to the attic in the fall or spring because it was neither heated in the winter nor air conditioned in the summer.

Lately, I’ve gotten the feeling back on weekends when I don’t have to sit at the desk and write reports admonishing website developers for forgetting to add alt text to their images or aria-labels to redundant links. I’ve been cleaning (really really really, cleaning) out my office closet and throwing things away that I don’t need and sorting things I might still need. Blogging about some of the things I threw away, and wondering why I’d kept the others for so long.

I still have a ways to go, and come the fall, when I retire, the office will no longer be my work-space. It can go back to being only my place of hygge.

Side note: I’d hoped the enclosed screened in porch (our Lodge) would become my hygge place, but so far it is not doing it for me.

Post card from our honeymoon

Dean and I spent nearly 7 weeks in Northern Europe on our honeymoon in 1985. We sent this postcard to my folks.

Dear Mom, Dad & Kevin,

We are in Copenhagen now — at a laundromat believe it or not. No one seems to know the town Grandma came from.. We may go to Jutalnd (the mainland) tomorrow, after Odense (the town where Hans Christian Anderson was born). Man am I travel-weary! We have seen 6 countries (been through 9 altogether) in one month. I am ready to pack up and leave. But then soon something wonderful will happen and I’ll want to stay here all my life.

Can’t wait to tell you about Amsterdam. A post card just won’t do. Really seedy. Spent the night in a houseboat! We will go south after this. Maybe end up in Portugal — on the beaches. Paris has good food. Copenhagen is basically a city. As are all the places we’ve been. Maybe I have a jaded view of traveling like this. Staying with a family in one country is so much nicer. You only see one country — but you see it well.

Love,
Dona and Dean

Post card from Ireland: Fishing boat at dusk in the Blasket Sound, Dingle Peninsula