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!

THE PLEASURES OF A SISTER

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As the summer days seem to roll by and we wonder where in the world the time has gone it is so easy to just relax and let my thoughts dwell upon all of the things that life has given me. Looking back it seems like very often it was similar to a rollercoaster and I was just hanging on for dear life. The ups and downs of anyone’s adventures portray a tale of many things, always changeable, and mine shows that I was able and willing to accept those changes and enjoy whatever came my way next.

But there is nothing like being able to share those remembrances with someone that has come along the path with you. When you have someone who remembers the same things that you do, shares the same values about what is important to you, can still overlook the dumb things that you did along the way, why, you are a very fortunate person.

For three days my youngest sister, Janice, and her husband Ray, have stayed with us, and renewed our friendships together. Janice is my youngest sibling, and now that we are older that is something she can brag about. But I remember when I was the grownup and she was the baby, and I would tell her what she could and couldn’t do. Now I note with amusement that it is often her taking the lead, always with love, tho.

It has been a very special time for us and hopefully one we can continue for a long time. Family is so important for all. As I sit here I feel the closeness of the visit and I remember when all of my other siblings and my parents could all get together. I have always known that I could depend upon my family, no matter what, and I think of them scattered all about the country. We are still united in spirit, no matter where we are. And we are all so fortunate to have our memories.

LESSON FOR TODAY

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“You must not lose faith in all humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
Mohandas K. Gandhi
From my mothers Crestwood Methodist daily lessons. Written in the 1950-60s. I am very thankful for the wisdom of my mothers generation.

A NEW EXPERIENCE AT WALMART

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It was only yesterday when I was mumbling to myself that I hadn’t been doing any writing since we got back from our winter home. The problem was an old one, familiar to many writers I know. It seems like I just keep on talking about the same old things week after week and I am boring anyone who has stuck with me this far. And I am sure boring me. Yet the guilt keeps creeping in to the back of my mind and I renew my thoughts of sitting down with the IPad.
That all changed this morning! Bob and I had made our weekly trip to Ludington to get groceries, and all the other essentials like birdseed and dish soap and other good stuff. It’s about 25 miles to Ludington on US 31, the road is practically empty on a Saturday morning, and I always enjoy watching the windmills. Today they were hardly moving as we drove north. When we got to the store Bob left me off at the door as usual. He stayed in the car reading for a while and then came in to help at the checkout counter. We got in line behind a man who only had one article to pay for.
“This won’t take long, we were really lucky,” I thought. Bob has sorted out all of the groceries on the moving table, frozen things together, so that it will get bagged easily. We have bought quite a bit, actually, it being Saturday
Flash, flash, lights brightening and dimming, and then I hear all of the customers who have just realized what has happened. “Oh, no! Come on, come on!”
Alas, after a few more flashes I realize we have no power and if we have no power we have no cash registers!
And the prices aren’t marked on them anymore. It is beginning to sink into the minds of everyone in the store just what the problem really is.
We stand and wait and watch everyone scurrying around the store. Maybe 15 minutes later a lady comes along and says everything must be picked back up and put in our cart. Someone has managed to get three of the “scan and go” lines open to use as checkouts. Everyone starts running with their carts to be first in line. That doesn’t include us. Our groceries must be all picked up first. By the time we get them back in the basket there are long lines of carts ahead of us.
We wait in line and I am watching to see how people are managing. Some of them don’t have a lot, but others like us have quite a bit. When we get to the register I start the process of picking up each item, finding the bar codes, and listening for the beep. The main hassle is I don’t know where the bar codes are. Then putting them in a bag, moving the bag, looking over my shoulder, seeing the faces of the people behind me who realize just how slow I am. Waving my arm at a clerk going by, I ask her for help, and she is really fantastic. She moves me over to the side, I start handing her cans and boxes, as she just goes thru it as quick as a whiz. In no time at all she has me putting in my money, $115.96! This could have been a disaster if it weren’t for her.
Bob and I push the cart to the door, another clerk checks my slip and we see that it is raining. He heads for our car to drive up to the door. Another clerk is standing there with an umbrella to hold over him while he fills the trunk. Out on the street we can see that there are no lights, no signals, and lots of traffic. But when we get to the signal we find that everyone is taking turns and helping each other out.
Once we get on US 31 I begin to feel a lot better. It has been raining heavily but by the time we get to Hart it has just stopped. When we drive in the driveway there are a few branches and leaves down but it could have been a lot worse. We start putting the groceries away. The ice cream is soft but not beyond repair.
We have had an EXPERIENCE, and I realize I now have something to write about! I look on the Weather Channel and see that there was a “cloud shelf” in Ludington. We were part of an event that covered a lot of people, and we got thru it! By now Ludington is probably back to normal. Walmart did their best to help us in the store and I am thankful for that.
But I will be glad to go back next week and just let my checkout person do her job, quickly and efficiently. Everyone isn’t suited for scan and go!