Tag Archives: blogging with friends

A Memorable Walk

Our blogging group settled on a favorite walk for our latest topic. I could not think of a favorite, but I did remember a memorable one.

As much as I claim to love the out-of-doors I am a homebody and tend to stay inside much more than is good for me. Dean likes going out and doing things so he was pleasantly surprised when, eleven years ago, I requested a family hike on the Trillium Trail at the G R Thompson Wildlife Management Area in the Shenandoah Valley for my Mother’s Day gift.

I’d not heard of trilliums until high school when, for my birthday, my friend Cindy gave me a green suede choker with a single white trillium on the front. I’d not seen one in person, until college when my botany 101 professor, Mr. Steinboch, took us on a field trip to a local park. The next time I saw them was in Pittsburgh when a friend and I visited the Trillium trail there (now a subdivision). I was ready to see more trilliums.

We were going to have to get up early to get to the trail and hike before we ate lunch. A small roadblock was the fact that Clare was spending the night with some friends. We warned her that we were stopping by early to pick her up. Andrew was fine with everything, as far as I recall — he always made sure any special day (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays) were special for the person being celebrated.

The morning of the walk we got up early, ate breakfast and picked up Clare. She was unhappy about having to get up early and very grumpy. We let her sleep in the car. When we got to the park she continued her grumpiness, but Andrew was energetic and happy so that was good.

The hike was beautiful and those of us who’d had a decent sleep were good. I saw trilliums, skunk cabbage, lady slippers, May apples and even an eastern towhee or two.

We had a mid-morning snack on a rock, Andrew rested on a branch, Dean took one of my favorite photos ever of me. Clare continued to be grumpy.

I don’t remember if I was upset that Clare was grumpy the entire day. I probably was and I might be to this day except for one thing — years later she explained to me why she was grumpy all day and apologized for it. The night before she’d been drinking with her friends (apparently the parents were okay with it) and the next day she had her first hangover. While I don’t condone her drinking at age 17, I understand why she was grumpy and realized that she was doing her best to make my day a happy one just by being there.

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.

Have you noticed…

This week (fortnight actually) our small blogging group are answering a question we found in a poem and using it as a starting point for our writing. Helen suggested a few poets and their questions. I am sticking with her first suggestion “Have you noticed…” from Ghosts by Mary Oliver.

Have you noticed… people are being kinder these days?

Have you noticed … people are being more cruel these days?

Have you noticed…people are acting smarter these days?

Have you noticed… people are acting stupider these days?

Have you noticed… leaders are speaking the facts?

Have you noticed… leaders are speaking lies?

What have you noticed?

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?

My year of being religious

Growing up we rarely went to church, and when we did it was painful for me. I was extremely shy and the Sunday school kids seemed to be mean.

My parents tried to make up the lack of religious education by giving me Bibles over the years. First a tiny book full of Bible verses, at least one that I memorized. Then a huge illustrated Bible whose drawings alternately fascinated or horrified me. They also gave me a regular King James bible and a Living Word Bible.

I am not sure how old I was when I decided to pray for the soldiers in Vietnam, but when I told Mrs. Wewell, our next door neighbor, she said that I should pray for her instead. I did and the next day her beloved dog was killed by a car. When I tried again a few months later, her hand was caught in the ringer of her old ringer-washer, making that hand useless for the rest of her life. So I quit praying, certain that God misunderstood my requests.

I discovered C. S. Lewis’ Narnia in my teens. I considered them my favorite books for a very long time but knew no one else who’d read them, although eventually my British boyfriend, Jeremy, read them too and loved them as much as I did. I guess I knew they were based on the Bible at some level, but it didn’t bother me, nor did it make me religious.

Fast forward to 1996 or so. We’d bought a new computer and one of the first things I did was look up C. S. Lewis. I joined an email list called Mere Christianity where people talked about Lewis and all of his books. Among the other members was C. S. Lewis’ stepson, Doug Gresham, who invited me (and my family) to his Irish retreat when I mentioned I was trying to believe. Other members also tried to give me advice on how to find faith. A few sent me books they’d written.

Something clicked in my head and I felt that maybe, just maybe, it had all worked. That I was now among the faithful. I recall looking at my students in a different way, even feeling I could see their souls on one occasion. My one-time teaching assistant at work belonged to the LDS church and we’d have long conversations about faith.

Also about this time Dean was taking the kids to church because he felt they needed a religious upbringing. And also to be able to tell his mother that they were getting a Christian education. I didn’t accompany them very often, but sometimes I did. It turns out the congregation thought I was Catholic and that’s why I rarely went to their church.

This lasted about a year and the feeling of having faith, of believing faded and eventually went away.

I think that part of my search for religion and faith was assuming that when I died I would need a minister or some religious official to officiate at my funeral. I’ve since realized that is not the case and it’s definitely made me breathe easier that I don’t have a church. Or faith in a supreme being.

I’ve had some blips now and then and even started a blog about it just after my father died because at that time I guess I still hoped to eventually find my religion. But not now.

Dinner at Jacobi's

Welcome to the Northwoods! Dean and I heard about Jacobi’s from the Pasholks (who hated it but thought we might like it). We did. In fact we liked it so much we chose it for our 30th anniversary dinner (instead of a trip to New Zealand or Newfoundland). Really good restaurants are hard to come by in Northern Wisconsin, but Jacobi’s is definitely a really good restaurant. I chose it because I have history in the area and I love the restaurant. I think you will too.

It’s Saturday, August 18, 2021. The United States has a new (Democratic) president and both the House and Senate have Democratic majorities. As for COVID-19, social distancing worked and the spread of the disease slowed. There is now a vaccine for the virus as well as highly effective treatment. It’s still out there, but with the vaccine and treatment, the world is back to normal.

We step out of the 2021 Subaru Outback equipped with the time and place travel module in front of Jacobi’s of Hazelhurst in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin. The Outback stopped at each of our homes on March 21, 2020 (March 22 in NZ) to pick us up for a dinner in a better future.

The outside of Jacobi’s is unassuming, but when you walk through the door and see the beautiful (and fully-stocked) wooden bar, you know you are in a special place. We have a seat at the bar. I order an old fashioned, and encourage the rest of you to do the same. Susan, who has given up alcohol, has sparkling water (unless, because this is a fantasy, you would like an old fashioned as well?) We’re loud, we know that, but we’ve been friends for over ten years and most of us have never met.

We’re seated in the back room. The one with the fireplace. Even if this is summer, let’s say the fireplace is lit and we’re near enough to it to feel cozy but not close enough to be too hot. Wisconsin late summers can be cool. We examine the menu.

The server brings us fresh baked bread and butter along with a complimentary appetizer of fresh watermelon, feta and balsamic vinegar. She asks us what we’d like for drinks and if we want appetizers. Helen orders dry red wine (a whole bottle!), onion rings and garlic bread (to share). Mali orders spinach artichoke dip to share and a glass of California Chardonnay. IB and Bridgett both order a boulevardier. Maureen orders something, but I cannot hear her over the talking. Susan sticks with sparkling water with a twist of lime (unless, since this is a fantasy…) and Kim orders a drink I’ve never heard of with top-shelf gin. I decide to move onto wine, and order a chardonnay.

Our drinks and appetizers arrive and we talk about our lives and how happy we are finally together in the same place. The food is exquisite as always.

The server returns for our dinner order. Helen orders spinach and garlic tortellini, Mali decides on the blackened chicken pasta but substitutes the chicken with blackened shrimp, I choose the pan fried walleye because walleye is one of my favorite fish. Susan asks if the chef can make her a salad for dinner because salad is Susan’s favorite food. The server assures Susan the chef will make a special salad with berries, nuts, heirloom lettuce, blackened chicken and hard boiled eggs. Bridgett chooses the black angus ribeye — because it is unadorned except for au jus. Maureen orders the pork tenderloin after making sure there were no almonds or anything made with almonds in the dish. IB selects the shrimp and tenderloin en brochette. Kim decides on the honey ginger grilled salmon. We order another bottle of dry red and chardonnay to share.

Our dinners arrive, and a few minutes of quiet descend on us while we enjoy our meals, the only sounds are murmurs of appreciation and a sigh or two. We’re all curious about Susan’s salad, it looks so delicious and healthy.

When the server asks if we would like to see the desert menu, Mali and Helen both order the double chocolate truffle pie. Maureen and Bridgett order the blueberry pie (which contains no almonds so Maureen is safe). I convince the rest of you (except Susan) to have ice cream drinks. I order a pink squirrel and Kim and IB order grasshoppers.

After dinner we sit back in our chairs and talk some more, more subdued now. We want the evening to go on and on, but we are needed back home. We hug goodbye. We climb into the Outback and are whisked back to our individual isolations in the midst of an unbelievable pandemic.

My most *** purchase ever

Our topic last week was your most insert adjective here purchase ever. I have not read any of the posts and I really don’t know that there is one stand-out purchase for any adjective I can think of.

Oh wait.

I think I know.

My most un-woke purchase ever

On January 30, 2020 I bought the Kindle addition of American Dirt. I’d read many articles, tweets and blog posts explaining why I should not buy the book, but I bought it anyway.

I did it because it was recommended by Stephen King. I didn’t do it because Oprah chose it for her book club. I did it so I could talk about something that I’d actually read and not just read about.

I started reading it. I thought it was well-written, at least what I read. I stopped for a few reasons: to concentrate on books I needed to read for this reason or that, I didn’t like part of the storyline, I felt guilty for buying it in the first place.

I still plan on finishing it but it needs to wait in line for a few other books I want to finish.