SIMPLE PLEASURES

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img_0365A great new subject for our class this week! Simple pleasures in my life! Thoughts come rushing thru my mind in a hurry on this one. And the first one to land right in front of me is the one that anyone who knows me is that I am an avid reader. Anything that is in print has always been my constant companion. Reading under the covers at night with a flashlight, or the glow of the corner streetlight at my bedroom window is one of my most vivid memories. As a child no one had to ask twice what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday. Luckily most of my cousins were just the same way so we did a lot of trading with each other. And fortunately my mother made sure that I got to the public library each week. So books or cereal boxes or newspapers, whatever came in front of me, I devoured. That has never changed.
Which brings me to the next big thing. Fortunately, they are both connected to each other. You might have guessed I am talking about my Ipad. I know I must have existed without it at some time, but I prefer not to look back to the Dark Ages before it. With the Ipad I can and do anything I want to, reading, studying, investing, puzzling, writing articles for my blog, working on my checkbook, paying bills: nothing much I can’t do. Whenever I get the urge for the latest one Bob is the fortunate one who inherits his next reader. He has finally found time in his life to become a great reader too. Retirement can be a wonderful thing.
But there still is another pleasure that I have indulged in this morning. For years I was the pie maker, I took great pride in my pie crust and with four growing boys, never made less than three at a time. This was just my thing and whenever we went to a potluck or picnic my pies were what I took.
But time went on, boys grew up, got married, and their wives became good pie makers. Gradually, little by little, my pie making took a different direction. Now I make one for Bob and I, slice it in 8 pieces, and it lasts for a long time. Occasionally I still take one to a sons house but it is different. Now the grandchildren are doing their share also. But this morning, I decided to make an apple pie for us. Peeling apples, adding sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon, making a big (A)on the top crust, I felt a little nostalgic about it all. As the added touch I sprinkled a little milk, sugar and cinnamon on the top crust and I thought of all the hundreds, probably thousands of pies I had made over so many years, and here I am, down to one pie, it is so simple. When I went to take it out of the oven, the house smelled so wonderful that I wished I could bottle that smell and keep it forever. Such a simple thing, the smell of a freshly baked apple pie, the juices bubbling, and yet I can still remember all of the good times when I was making three pies, and they were being devoured.
My simple pleasures are the ones that bring back the most memories and I am really grateful for all of them.

DID YOU WATCH NEIL ARMSTRONG?

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imageEvery week at our Creative Writers class our facilitator has the duty of recommending some suggestions about interesting subjects to write about. It isn’t mandatory to do so, so if it doesn’t ring a bell for me I do a little digging into my own personal thoughts. But this one has some very personal recollections for my family and for me.
In July of 1969 our family made a big move from a house we had built ourselves on the outskirts of Muskegon, Michigan, to a small community called Holton, about 25 miles away. It involved changing schools, and driving farther to work each day. We bought a mobile home and 11 acres and a creek flowing thru it. It was just outside of Holton and it had never had electricity run to it. Getting the property all set up took longer than we had thought it would. But we moved in, did get the water installed and that was the main thing. At this time there were four half grown boys, aged 8 to 15 years.
But there was one big problem. The news was full of stories about the upcoming moonwalk and we had no electricity. This was truly an overwhelming event and we all wanted to see it. Since we had no idea when the power company was going to show up we made the decision to go shopping for a large generator. It cost $600 and we really couldn’t afford it but we did it anyway. It was very noisy when it was running so we were lucky we had no close neighbors.
So on July 20, 1969, we all gathered around our little television and watched all of the moon landing together. Outside the generator rumbled but we didn’t care, we were watching history! Watching an event with four young excited boys was a great deal in itself. Looking back is kind of a marvelous thing for a parent to do. I am going to ask those men, now in their 50s and 60s, what do they remember? Was it really a big deal to them at that time? Fifty years ago! I am sure it was. I know it was to me.

ANOTHER YARDSALE

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IMG_0283.JPGANOTHER YARDSALE
Saturday morning here in the park, and as usual it’s yardsale day. When you live in a mobile home park that is full of retired seniors you just know that something that everyone seems to like to do is to drive all around the neighbors and see what there is for sale. Up and down the paved streets you head, looking for signs of cars parked along side the roads or golf carts waiting for their turn to pull into driveways. It is a beautiful morning in mid November and you can hear laughter and conversations between your neighbors.
This morning Bob had already left for his morning walk and I was planning to go to the yardsale just four houses away. Pulling out my Rollerator I headed down the street. This was a good sized sale so I thought, “Who knows what I might find!” And right away I found just what I needed, a scoop to measure coffee for the Bunn I had replaced last week. And there sat two pretty mugs to pour the coffee in. But as I continued to look over the many tables I began to feel sad and uneasy. The home was being sold because of someone’s health problems and the articles for sale were a mirror of the past retirement years of this couple. They reflected the many interests they had, craft items, baking utensils, canning equipment, jewelry, tools, books, and now they were being passed on to someone else. Their whole life lay before us on the tables. And then I thought, someday this will be us, and we will be “downsizing” also, and all of the things that we take pleasure in will be spread on card tables too, just like it is here. And it won’t matter whether we sell or give it away, they are just things that someone else will find a use for, long after we have moved on.
After chatting with a few neighbors I recovered my normal good spirits, paid my 45 cents, and came home happy about my coffee scoop. But off and on all day I thought about what had happened and how I felt about it. It is inevitable that time moves on, but how I adjust to it is my choice and I must remember that. Luckily I have a warm and sunny day in which to enjoy yard sales right now.

A NEW EXPERIENCE

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IMG_0164Thinking today of the latest new experience in my life and thinking about my father. He left us at the too early age of 51 without any advance notice, and before we could even say our goodbyes. So I look at my old pictures and remember how I loved him and yet I never told him enough. When I was young it was not very common to say “I love you” unless there was something really serious going on. At least not in our family. And yet I loved him and I had no doubt that he loved me. We just didn’t talk about it very much. My father was a very quiet man, but he had a lovely smile. He instilled in me a desire to travel that has always stayed with me. In 1951 he and my mother managed to take us on a Western trip to Colorado and Wyoming in our old car, along with my Mothers parents. It was a major expense for them but also a lifelong dream of his.
So now this week I have thought about how he would have loved to participate in our latest adventure. For the first time in nine years we were to fly to Florida for the winter as snowbirds instead of driving. If you had ever seen our heavily loaded car in other years you would understand my anxiety as how I was going to manage. We’ve always taken our own apples, freshly made jam, and half of the kitchen sink with us. Being limited to two suitcases and two duffle bags seemed like an impossible task for us. For two weeks prior I made lists, multiple lists, about how I was going to cope with it all. But cope with it we did. Our children, Debra and Mike took us to Grand Rapids in our car, steered us into the airport and made sure our boarding passes were okay before returning home with our car. We had been advised to use wheelchairs for an easy get around in the airport. Everyone was helpful and two hours later we were enroute to StPetersburg, only two and a half hours. Unfortunately the plane arrived 35 minutes late in St Pete and our friend Virginia, waiting in the parking lot, became a little concerned as to our whereabouts. When we got off I was told there were 17 people using wheelchairs and they didn’t have enough attendants for them. So in the confusion someone took me in one direction and Bob in another. And for 15 minutes I couldn’t find him. Since he has a little hearing problem I knew he wasn’t going to hear any loudspeakers. A nice young man finally got me to the luggage and then he went looking, and he found Bob, much to my relief. We connected with Virginia and she said “Welcome to Florida,” and I said “Thank you, Virginia.”
Driving to Zephyrhills the traffic was unreal, across a miles long bridge, and I was so grateful for our great driver. I was tired after the long day, so quickly got out the Bunn coffee pot, and discovered it had died over the summer. And when Bob went out to turn on the water we didn’t have any. At this point I opened a can of cheese broccoli soup, we devoured it and headed for bed.
In the morning Virginia took us to Dade City where we had bought a used car from Jarrett Ford dealer online and that really worked out well. They couldn’t have been nicer. A friend fixed our water problem, we went to Walmart and got a new Bunn and groceries. We were in business again. All is well. We have survived our new experience and I know next time will be easier. Thanks for all the people who helped us along the way! And all of the prayers that were answered!

IMAGINE YOU ARE A FRUIT FARMER!

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Have you looked out your window sometime this week and shuddered a little? Because it has been wet more often than not, cloudy, the wind is gusting today 20 to 30 miles an hour and it looks like a great day to curl up with a good book. But there is something going on that you have to face if you are a farmer and you have a crop waiting for you. It is the weather and how it will affect your life.
Because the apples are ripe as they are blowing in the wind. And when they are ripe their stems start to loosen up, the apples start to fall and the ground becomes littered with a sea of red or yellow. The pickers, bundled in their warm jackets are working furiously with the picking buckets. As they fill the buckets they scurry down the row of Apple trees to carefully roll the apples into the 20 bushel boxes. Then back to the same tree to do it all over it again. Most of the pickers are young men and women, transitory, here for the growing season, and they work very hard.
The pickers have their problems but as the farmer, so do you! This is your livelihood. You have worked all year with this crop. Sprayed, mowed, trimmed, thinned the apples, prayed a lot and now here you are. You have managed to pick and haul the earlier varieties, but there are still some late ones. Ida Reds, Fuji’s, and Granny Smiths, they all require a longer growing season.
It is not just the larger growers, it is the smaller mom and pop orchards that have their whole life tied up in these fields of fruit.
And so, whether it is raining or not, blowing or not, you will do the best you can to get your apples into the hands of the people who enjoy eating or cooking with them. For generations Michigan has been blessed with wonderful, hard working men and women and children who have taken care of the farms for all of us. The pickers, the tractor drivers, the sprayers, the sorters, everyone who worked in the rain or the hot sun, all have contributed to the general public welfare. We are so lucky that so many have brought good food to our table.

HURRAH FOR MICHIGAN FRUIT

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peaches on green trays

Photo by John Lambeth on Pexels.com


What a wonderful morning it has been! Hopped into the car and off on our way to a local farm market because I had a burning desire for some more Red Haven peaches. After living on a fruit farm for almost 27 years now and having retired from active farming it still is a major part of me to want to go and gaze at all of the fruits in season. I miss the abundance of the many different fruits a lot. What I don’t miss so much is all of the hours spent picking, sorting, and packing. That is another story. But life moves on and now we get into the car and go visit someone else’s market.
The market we go to the most is at Lewis’s Farm and Petting Zoo in New Era, about six miles away. At one time we did a lot of business with Lewis’s, both buying and selling different varieties of fruit. Some of the things they grew we needed and some we delivered to them over the years. It was a mutually beneficial deal for both of us. Now, we being of an older generation have retired and they are still going strong. They have combined the best of farming in the market with a wonderful petting zoo. If you have children or grandchildren you have probably already been there. If you haven’t you had better find a time to treat yourself with all of the best that Michigan can offer. It’s easy to find their website on the Internet.
So this morning I got my peaches, plus some Red Heart plums, sweet corn, and not to be neglected, apple fritters! Did I mention their bakery is heavenly? The fruit is so beautiful that it brought back all of the memories of the days gone by when we went to the market in Muskegon. A good morning today, and a great day to enjoy our Michigan countryside.

AH SEPTEMBER

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Riding home from Muskegon this morning, feeling happy I finally got my hair trimmed, I am relaxed and enjoying the vivid greenness of an early Michigan September. It is like a tunnel on both sides of the highway, and everything seems to be sparkling. An occasional maple is beginning to show signs of color, and I know that a wealth of beauty of color awaits us in a few more weeks but for now the richness of green is everywhere. There really aren’t that many cars on the road today. Most of the tourists have finished their vacations and we are left with the local people, doing their weekend shopping.
Looking ahead at the season that will be changing I am reminded of the way it used to be when all of the many brightly colored leaves would come floating down. We lived in Muskegon in a heavily covered area of mostly oak trees, and we had two city lots. When the leaves started to fall my father would start to rake. He raked and he raked. The piles of leaves were so much fun for all of the kids in the neighborhood. We would burrow thru them, shrieking with laughter, scattering them as we went, and then having to pile them back up again.
But there was one major difference. All of the leaves had to be burned and the smell of them permeated our neighborhood for weeks. The heaviness and thickness of the odor of burning leaves still sticks to me to this day. I don’t remember anyone bagging leaves at all, no, they had to be burned. The whole block was covered with smoke for weeks and no one seemed to be bothered by it. At least the idea of it was just something that had to be done every year. It was a major job. But I am sure that the asthma sufferers complained because it actually became hard to breathe. I don’t know in what year people started bagging and quit burning but it was after I grew up.
But the fun of the diving into a huge pile of leaves also sticks with me to this day. I still picture my dad raking and raking, smoke swirling all around the neighborhood. It would get dark, and I still can see the piles of burning leaves in my mind. He was a hard worker and so he did what needed to be done. Now we have lawnmowers with baggers, and we ride on them and lots of people think that it is fun to do that also. The atmosphere is better for the bagging and I don’t smell smoke when I go outside at night. But it was another time and another place and progress is now upon us.
But it is also good to look back to another time and to our childhoods and remember the good times.
Have a great September!