Chapter Closed

imageLife is but a journey, and where that journey takes you can only loosely be planned, but never counted on.  It is a mystery novel waiting to unfold. Each chapter bringing about changes in your life both expected and unforeseen.

Today, the matriarch of my husbands family will be laid to rest. It will end my ten year journey of care-giving with her, for others, it has been a lifelong experience. This is something planned as you would expect for an aging parent, but also never counted on. For who ever believes that the one person in your life with all the answers will no longer be there to turn to. Suddenly it’s over, you’re left on your own.

This chapter now closed, and the next one begins.


The Big Day


She had been planning this day virtually her whole life, but in reality for a year.

Getting the wedding planning underway seemed very laborious from my perspective as mother of the bride. We live in different cities and sometimes different parts of the state so my ability to offer a hands-on approach was almost impossible. My daughter has a very independent nature and although she loves the support of others in her life, she ultimately is in the drivers seat. It is her show, she will tell you how it’s going to go. She is strong and intelligent and knows her mind. Her determination has taken her through some very difficult times both in our lives as a family and through her own personal struggles. She is an amazing person and if you are her friend, she will give 100%.

She has chosen her dress, decided on colors for the bridesmaids and chosen her bridal party. The venue for the event took much longer, we looked at several locations each with negative and positive aspects to all the varying locations and amenities. She really wanted to schedule somewhere out of her home town so the people who would be attending really wanted to be there to support her and her groom and not just attending to eat and drink free food and listen to free music. Sounds a little harsh I know, but her point was well taken, and in the end she booked a venue near where she lives which suited her expectations best.

Wedding invitations are sent out and RSVP’s are included.  Up until the deadline to mail it back in, only a handful came back. On the majority of the ones that did, only a few had names or number of attendees. Are you kidding me? Blank RSVP’s? No, that’s not entirely true. There was an area to write down a song request. Even though there were no name(s) or number of attendees, there was almost a 100% guarantee of a song request. Priorities, each of us has our own priorities!  How can you plan and organize a big event such as a wedding when you don’t even know how many people are planning on attending? Unbelievable. Did they not understand what that extra card and envelope were for other than a song request? Many of her friends verbally said they were coming, but no RSVP was received via US mail. She’s posting on social media, pleading, trying to get those RSVP’s sent back in. Are they just waiting until the last minute, or maybe something better will come along for that night so they don’t want to commit. Maybe they don’t have the correct attire or can’t afford a gift. I can’t imagine what their situation was, but we needed to know specifics for this day. The food is charged by the plate. The caterer needs a count. So, we guessed.

Wedding day. The invitations were very specific on time and place, and my daughter was specific to her invited guests that this was a semi-formal event. Appropriate attire required. The wedding was to begin at 6:00. Dinner and reception to follow. 6:00. That means the event will begin at that specific time. I’m with the bridal party and at 6:15 I look out at the crowd to see only a handful of attendees, most of them family. Out of approximately 200 invitees, a handful of relatives show up on time. So, we wait for a few minutes. 6:45, a few more “friends” trickle in. By 7:00, it’s time to begin no matter what. Then people started coming in. I suppose they thought the ceremony would be over. I don’t know. I just can’t believe that people can be so casual about a planned event that they couldn’t even return an RSVP or get to this special event for a friend, on time. Do they not teach these things within the family anymore? How to be on time, or appropriate dress, how to be responsible to others for honoring a special day….appropriately? It was frustrating. If I had it to do over again…..I swear!

Beauty And The Beast

We’ve been planning on an addition to our small, but comfy cabin for quite some time now. We did actually get started last year, then life got in the way and progress stalled. Every time I walk out the door of the cabin I can imagine where the wash room is going to go and the extra room we will use for storage and an extra bedroom. I can do this because the floor joists are there, or most of them, and I continue planning in my head just how the layout will go, and the furniture and shelving that will be necessary to hold all our home canned goods from the garden, and the extra bedding for guests. It makes me feel like we’re still “in progress”.

Once again, as my husband and I were wandering through the auction house one afternoon, we came across this beautiful sink on a wrought iron pedestal. The colors of the interior of the sink were exquisite, very elaborate. Bright blue, greens and yellows. I was enamoured, a little out of character for me, the women whose best and favorite pair of shoes are work boots.  Right away I started imagining where I could use such a beautiful piece of……art! Our apartment downstate is very small. I thought maybe we could use it there in our tiny bathroom. It could free up some space since there was no cabinet to bulk it up, or secretively I thought, maybe the cabin.  So, we watched this lovely number on auction day and some times luck just comes your way. Not the cheapest thing we’ve ever won on auction, but way below retail for sure. I was so excited to get it to the apartment and fit it in the bath only to be just as disappointed in the fact that it was too big for our tiny space. So, maybe the cabin, maybe the new washroom in the cabin! My head was spinning looking for ideas. Maybe when we expand there will be room. No, probably not. It was just too pretty to sit next to that composting humanure toilet that will be in there. I just couldn’t do that to that exquisite piece of art. So, I now have to be realistic about it. I can’t make it work and I can’t take it with me. Disappointment is so hard to swallow.

The beauty is the desire to have material objects that make us feel good. The beast is the fact that you can’t have it all. Minimalism takes restraint. Some times, it’s just hard to say enough.




Pay Dirt



Spring is only 16-20 weeks away. Yes, it’s true the worst months of winter are ahead of us here in northern Michigan, but just imagine, in as little as 16 weeks, we could be out in the garden getting ready for planting season. Not likely, but anything is possible.

I’m thinking of spring each time I venture out to the awesome composter we purchased at auction a couple of years ago. We’ve tried many a composter since starting out here with our garden venture. Each time purchasing off the auction thinking maybe this one was going to be “the one”.  With only minimal satisfaction we kept trying different types and brands not paying much for any  one of them. I suppose the original purchaser felt the same way. The product worked OK but didn’t quite live up to expectations. Then I saw this monster of a composter at auction, an Urban Compost Tumbler 9.  I researched it (looked awesome), bid on it and won it for a fraction of retail value.  If it lived up to expectation, it may just be the best value ever won at auction, we would have to wait and see!

We hauled it north and cleaned it up and started adding kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, leaves, a little starter from our old compost pile and other various compostable items hoping for a quick return as was advertised on the Internet. I continued to use my old pile just in case this was just another composter with a lot of hype.

That old pile was my starting point and a great learning tool. It gave me great excitement to see how this composting thing worked turning scraps back into soil. That first pile was where I discovered I could grow potatoes quite by accident! It enabled me to believe that I could do this. That I could create some self-sustainability here in the middle of nothing.

Working the ground here is almost impossible, almost because it is untouched. That’s why most of our garden is in raised beds. It would take a boat load of compost to amend the soil to a good vegetable growing media. So, we chose to stick to raised beds except for the potatoes and now blueberries. That’s where the composter comes in handy. Each time a batch is finished, it is immediately worked into the ground gardens to continually amend the soil and makes it just that much easier to work with the next time.

Every six weeks you can turn out a new batch of rich compost for the garden in this handy dandy very expensive composter that does exactly what it is advertised to do as long as you follow some very specific rules.

  1. No  meat or dairy, fish scraps or bones.
  2. Cut everything you add as small as you can.(very, very important)
  3. Keep your carbon and nitrogen balanced 3:1. (more brown matter than green)
  4. Do not overload your tumbler! (it will get too heavy to turn)
  5. Turn often. Make sure top is secure. (very, very, very important!)
  6. Add moisture as needed, do not get overly zealous.
  7. Place in a sunny location.
  8. Turn, wait, turn and wait.

This composter definitely lives up to expectations. Would I pay retail price for it, no I wouldn’t. What I paid for it at auction was my limit for such a luxury item. But if I had money to burn and was looking to buy a composter, this one would be the one I would suggest trying.

On my last trip to the composter, there was 18 inches of snow to trudge through, just to discover the top of the composter was frozen shut. After my husband was so kind to wade through the snow and break the ice on the lid and get it open for me, I was energized to shovel a pathway through the garden to make my trip a little easier next time. Now I will have a few extra minutes out there in the frigid cold to look across the east20 into the neighboring property and take in the beauty of the landscape that I can’t see in the summer hidden by the scrub trees and low lying bushes. Maybe I’ll see a whitetail or two bounding up the hill.  You never know!  Mother Nature is amazing!