Category Archives: Places

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

Memories of the Ocean

Writing Prompt: Write about a mysterious or fantastical place in our memory. Like a visit somewhere as a child that, once you were an adult, seems far away and perhaps remembered slightly askew from reality. Or a structure or natural location that enchanted your imagination even as an adult.

I was positive I’d been on a beach at the ocean. I just assumed that it was that time we drove from Elgin to Virginia Beach, up through Washington, DC (through being the definitive word because apparently my dad would not stop), and onto New York city where I was sure our driver was Jack Paar.

When I clarified it with my mom she said that we never stopped at a beach on that trip. When I pushed her she thought that perhaps I was confusing it with our trip to Two Rivers when I was very young. Since I didn’t remember Two Rivers and since I absolutely knew the difference between a river and an ocean, I was sure she was mistaken and that she just could not remember that time we went to the ocean I continued to believe we went to the ocean.

Many years later I found some old photographs that proved we’d been to the ocean. Grandma Green and Aunt Ginny were there and they did not go to Virginia Beach with us, so that was a little confusing. My confusion was cleared when I showed the photographs to my mother and she told me that was the beach in Two Rivers and the water was Lake Michigan.

Many more years later I saw it for myself, probably the very beach where young Dona, Grandma Green, Mom and Aunt Ginny sunbathed.

I know there are photographs, or maybe videos of my mom and me at the beach. Maybe not this trip — I was not even 2 years old, so how could I remember this?

Letter to my parents and brother from me: August 1981

Dear Mom, Dad and Kevin,

So this is the second letter I’ve written. Letter #1 is stale (and besides, I’ve already told you everything that’s in it) ((Dean and I had just moved to Pittsburgh)).

Like I said on the phone — the apartment actually is livable now. Each room still has a lot to be done, but at least we can move. Today we cleaned out the desks and put some books away. Our next big project is making the shelves for the stereo and albums and remainder of the books. ((I think my mom was not impressed with our apartment when she and my dad, brother and cousin drove us to Pittsburgh from Elgin))

We have no hot water yet. The plumber never showed up. I guess it’s quite a job. Ask Dick Palmer why he thinks we are having so many problems. ūüôā (actually I think our landlady is over-worried about $$$$) ((I’d forgotten about this))

My birthday was really special. Dean made me a wonderful breakfast of strawberries and cream, kippers, pink champagne, soft-boiled eggs, bagels and toast (this was all before we knew how poor we were :-)).

The we went to a festival downtown at Point State Park. That’s where the 3 rivers come together. We watched the speedboats and Dean “frolicked” in the fountain.

For dinner, Dean made a roast and Yorkshire putting. It was all very wonderful.

Dean gave me my favorite cologne, a blue rose, peppercorns, kerosene for my lamp, a bottle of wine, and, from a local garage sale, a salt shaker and  pepper mill set, directly (long ago) from Italy ((I remember these — the were a rusty-red with a gold crackled finish)). ((All I can say is WOW! Dean sure knew how to treat a gal back then))

After dinner and cake (yes, he baked me a cake complete with 25! ((Damn we were just babies!)) candles) we took a long leisurely walk around our new neighborhood.

Cinder has settled in very nicely. It’s almost as if no move ever took place.

We still have to thank you properly. I wish I could have said more in the way of thanks when you left, but I was ready to cry at any moment. ((Knowing what I know now about the pain when a child leaves town, I know my mother must have been heartbroken))

Also, we owe you money for gas, etc. That will soon be paid as soon as we can.

Well, take care.

Love,
Dona

P.S. Got the checks today. Thanks for the loan. I feel awful asking for the money — thanks so much. ((None of us realized that even though we had money to put in a banking account, we would not see that money for a couple weeks. We lived on change for a week. Never underestimate the value of a change jar.))

Hi again —

Enclosed, you have found the two checks. Thanks, but the bank won’t accept it except to go into our account and that won’t be good until the 8th of September. (That’s the $50.00). Then the $15.00 check — it’s not certified. Seems that certified means the bank guarantees the money. We even went to the assistant manager. But luckily we found that the book store takes VISA (Dean needs books) and that leaves us with enough cash to get by — there is $40.00 in my change bottle. I appreciate your help very much. If you can’t get your money back (but I’m sure you can) ((It is apparent here that I had no idea how checks worked)) send me the check back and I’ll be able to cash it and send you back one of our checks.

Don’t worry — my fingers are still pink — not blue. ((Mom was worried about my Raynaud’s syndrome kicking in because I was stressed))

I called the school district and they are sending applications for subbing. One district (Pittsburgh) isn’t accepting subbing applications until next week. ((I’d forgotten I’d applied to more than one school district))

Love,
Dona

Just found this card that Dean must have sent with the letters above — or the other way around.

How Could You!
Have been so nice? Thanks so Much!
Dean wrote: I just wanted to send a line expressing my appreciation for your helping me move. I’m not quite sure how to express this but… I’d expect you’d have some reservations about Dona & my situation and yet you helped us. To me that was an amazingly nice thing to do. I can only say think you sincerely & that I’ll always remember your generosity. Love, Dean P.S. You’re nice people too!

Some Chetek photos

My grandmother would have loved Instagram. She liked to document everything, even the most mundane things. Here are a few shots around the cabin in Chetek. The captions indicate what she wrote on the back. I suspect there were more photographs, but this is what I have in front of me

More tree

February or March 1974

Taken in November 1975. Lake is down 4″ Putting in a new bridge.

Taken November 1975. Lake is down 4″.

Coots October 1975. Took this closer as I wanted the coots to fly.

Where’s the coffee? Where’s the pie?

In 1990, back when I still read newspapers. Back before kids, I read an article about a new television series in the April 30 Washington Post. I trusted Tom Shales, the journalist who wrote the article because he’d never led me wrong when it came to entertainment. Maybe it was because he was born in Elgin, maybe we just had/have the same tastes in television.

I probably would have watched it anyway because it was the brainchild of mastermind¬†David Lynch — a director whose works Dean and I liked. We’d seen a presentation of some of his very early works at a local (now long-gone) art theater, and we saw pretty much anything he’d done that far (except Dune).

Dean and I loved the first season of Twin Peaks. Our next door neighbors also loved it and we’d often watch episodes together, drinking damn fine, and hot, coffee and eating pie. We even had a Twin Peaks dress up party for the final episode. My friend Totty came as the Log Lady. I don’t remember who I dressed up as. Too bad that was before smartphones with cameras because we would have definitely¬†taken photos.

Back then, I don’t think I knew anyone else who liked Twin Peaks. Certainly no one at school. There was no Internet on which to discuss each episode with strangers. (at least not in our house). We just liked it, talked about it among ourselves and when we did run into someone who’d seen the series we’d talk with them about it.

We bought the DVD set when it came out and Clare got into the show, so much that she took it to school, then Olympia (not far from the filming location) and shared it with friends.

On one¬†trip to Olympia, we visited North Bend, Washington where parts of Twin Peaks was filmed and ate pie and drank coffee at the Double R and posed for photos in front of the Great Northern Hotel and it’s nearby iconic waterfall.

Needless to say, we (or rather I) followed with interest the rumors about the revival Twin Peaks series. Totty heard about the series and suggested we get together to watch the first episode. We were not able to watch it the night it aired, so we planned on watching two episodes the week after. Totty brought an apple pie she’d baked and I made some coffee. We settled down to watch the revival of what had been our favorite television series 25 years ago — and possibly still was our favorite.

Well… the owls are not what they seem. If someone had been secretly filming us our expressions would have gone from happy expectation to confusion to bewilderment to disappointment to sadness. As the credits rolled for the second episode, Totty remarked that it sure was not what she was expecting and said, “Where was the coffee? Where was the pie?”

Damn right — where were the coffee and pie? Where was the charm?

Dean and I watched episode 3 a couple nights ago and, after some strangely Eraserheadesque scenes, it got better. I am not giving up on the series, I am just going to go into the rest of the episodes with much less expectation.

2016: My year in review

When I was a teenager I would write a last journal entry the last hour before the end of the year. I was usually babysitting, so was awake at that time — and never was out partying because I was not popular enough to party on New Year’s eve.

Here’s my personal review in pictures…

In January we trekked through a blizzard to attend a Burns' Supper
In January we trekked through a blizzard to attend a Burns’ Supper

In February we threw Mom a surprise 80th birthday party
In February we threw Mom a surprise 80th birthday party

and helped Andrew move into his own apartment in DC.
and helped Andrew move into his own apartment in DC.

In March we visited Austin, Texas and obtained a new chum
In March we visited Austin, Texas and obtained a new chum

and we also visited Chris and Sheri in Winston-Salem in March.
and we also visited Chris and Sheri in Winston-Salem in March.

There have been heated discussions on Facebook and elsewhere about why it is not right to call 2016 the “worst year ever”. Dean and Clare both agree that it is wrong to call it that. I don’t agree with them. There have been many worse years in the world than 2016 — with that I will agree. If the Bible is to be believed, the year Noah had to build the ark because God was pissed off at his people enough to drown all but a handful. Then there were the years of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, and the years of plagues and the two world wars, and the Holocaust. Yes indeed, there were many horrible years in the world — much worse than 2016 when a handful of celebrities died and Donald Trump¬†won the U. S. presidential election. So, no, 2016 was not the worst year. But it was my worst year, especially if I tack on the last week few days of 2015.

It was not all bad.

Sure, 2016 had some mighty fine¬†parts. I traveled to some fun places — Austin, Texas; Southern California; Olympia, Washington (twice); Illinois (countless times). I got to hang out with my brother and his family more than usual. I saw my brother marry a wonderful woman.

Despite all the exciting travel and good times with family, I lost two very important people in my life between December 27th, 2015 and August 26th, 2016.

Addendum

One of my favorite people ever, my Aunt Ginny, died December 27, 2015. Her husband, my Uncle Jack called to tell me the news when we were on our way back from our semi-annual post-winter trip to Chincoteague. Then my mom got worse and worse and died in August, three days after I turned 60.

Yes, 2016 was definitely my worst year.