It’s the Degree of Enjoyment That Matters

 

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My sister texted me: It’s snowing!

WTF? In Louisiana? I looked out my window, and we had nothing. Not a flake was stirring. I pulled up the Weather Channel, and, sure enough, it was snowing in Cottonport and Baton Rouge. And I guess the whole south ended up with some degree of the white stuff yesterday.

“Well I guess you are off today then,” I stated the obvious. Louisiana would be officially closed down with even the threat of snow much less actual flakes flying through the air. The temperature was below freezing, so I KNOW the bridges were closed. And since every person in the state lives on the other side of some bridge, there ain’t no way to slip-slide to work. With the exception of my friend Ray who got to work before it started. Since he’s driving a sissy sedan instead of a truck, I hope he got back across the bridge okay.

It was fun to see all Southern snow pics on social media. Even this morning – long after the snow had melted – images of bayous and live oaks covered in snow were still populating on social media. This day will go down in history, and I mean that quite literally. It may not snow again for years if not decades.

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When I let Ashok out early this morning, we had a dusting of snow on the ground, and by the time I left home for my errands we had at least a few inches. I was able to back out of my driveway with no problem, but it kept piling up. I felt a little rusty driving, and I cautioned the car behind me to “Get off my *ss, Yank. I’m a Southerner. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” By the time I left the Saturday morning Weight Watchers meeting, the roads were really dicey. The snow removal teams better get out of their summer sleep and wake up to winter, because it is snowing sideways out my window. We will need to dig out in the morning.

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By the time I got home, there was so much snow in my driveway that I got stuck. Some good samaritan had cleaned my sidewalk, and I saw him coming toward me down the street. He helped me get my driveway cleaned off, and he helped me extricate my car from the snowbank. We have 10 inches more coming tonight and snow in the forecast every day through at least Friday.

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Whether it’s a touch of Southern snow or a lake effect snow event, my tummy starts calling for hot chocolate. Buying hot chocolate on the town is out of the question because those drinks have upwards of 40g of sugar in them – almost 10 teaspoons. I’ve discovered that I can eat about 7-9 grams of sugar in one serving without any adverse effects, but anything over 10g sends my blood sugar over the cliff. It makes me feel so bad it’s just not worth it anymore. I’ve had to accept lately that eggnog lattes (unless they are really small) are now out of the question.

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So, I’ve been experimenting. I’ve made vegan hot chocolate with almond milk, almond butter and cocoa. I’ve used different cocoas and low-sugar hot chocolate mixes. They’ve all been good. But I think tonight – during the first snowmaggedon of the year – I have discovered the secret recipe to low-sugar hot cocoa that is as good as the high sugar variety. It has cocoa, just a few dark chocolate wafers that will melt into chocolatey goodness, 2% milk and stevia. Of course I topped it with whipped cream. Perfect! 

I hoped to take Ashok for a walk under the Christmas lights on the bluff, but the weather outside is truly frightful. I think I’ll stay hunkered down inside and read a nice book. I’m pretty excited about the snow myself. I’m only a year and a half away from being a southerner. It looks like everybody got snow this week. It truly doesn’t matter the degree of snowfall that you get, what matters is the degree of enjoyment you get from it. And Southerners may just have Michiganders beat on that count.

Go grab some hot chocolate and enjoy a nice winter night. Wouldn’t it be fun if everybody got a white Christmas in 2017?! And, don’t worry, Louisiana friends, you’ll be in shorts by the end of the week, I’m sure.

Homeward Bound

 

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It’s finally here!! I’m making my first journey home from St. Joe. I booked my flight awhile back. You know I’m not going to Baton Rouge after it gets too hot, and with this warm winter, that’s next week. So I found a cheap flight from O’Hare to New Orleans, and the day has finally arrived.

I could pay about $300 more and fly out of South Bend which is much closer, but that’s a flight that always stops in Atlanta. Every single time I’ve flown from South Bend to Louisiana, it’s been a 12-hour travel day. Delays, weather, the big flood in Louisiana and even a detour through Charlotte have plagued all of those flights. It’s worth it to take more time on the ground and travel to Chicago for a nonstop trip. Besides, they have better snacks here!

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So, I left the other side of the lake this afternoon and boarded a bus in Indiana headed for O’Hare. The driver was so nice, and the bus wasn’t crowded at all. While she fought Chicago Friday afternoon traffic, I texted my sister, ate some nuts from Starbucks and read the New York Times. It was a stellar way to get to the airport, and the parking was free at the bus stop. By the time I would have paid $20 a day to park at O’Hare, the bus ticket was a wash.

It’s been awhile since I’ve flown, and I’ve flown out of small airports the last few years. I checked in for my flight on my phone on the bus and purchased my pass to check a bag. When I got off the bus, I just walked over to a kiosk where I printed my own bag tag, slapped it on my bag and handed it to the counter guy. It all took about 2 minutes. They gave me a pass on the TSA check, and I sauntered right through security without stopping. It was so easy!

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I arrived at the gate and immediately got an email that my flight was delayed but, at this point, I’ll only arrive 30 minutes late. As easy as this trip has been, I’ll not complain. I’m sitting at a Starbucks now trying to decide if I want to grab a healthy snack. I didn’t eat dinner, so I’ve been snacking on fruit and nuts. And I get to spend the night at Michael’s house. Yay!

As far as my sugar journey, I messed up today. It was an accident, but I ate some sugar at lunch. I didn’t realize sloppy joe meat had sugar in the sauce. Of course, I don’t know how much, but I looked up a generic sloppy joe nutrition guide, and it said 32 g. That’s about 2 teaspoons of sugar. I could tell immediately after I ate it. I got a little light-headed, and I did not feel good. After a week of feeling grounded and stable, I was disappointed that I was feeling this way. I learned a lesson. I’ll be more careful next time. It happens, right?

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I’ll give you a breakdown on the last few days:

Energy: My energy has been great and very steady. I haven’t gotten much sleep the last few nights, and, even with that, I have felt good. After 5 hours of sleep night before last, I still had enough energy to workout yesterday.

Sleep: I haven’t gotten good sleep the last couple nights but it’s not because of sugar. I drove to a hiking club meeting an hour and a half away Wednesday, and I was too wired to sleep as I got home at 10:30 PM. Last night I was up packing and running around the house and was again too wired to sleep. I imagine tonight will be a re-run, but tomorrow night I can catch up!

Brain Fogginess: My brain was really messed up after eating sugar at lunch today. Before that, I’ve had good mental days and got a lot done at work.

Mood: I have been a bit on edge, but I think it’s the lack of sleep that’s doing that. We’ll see.

Bodily functions: I’ll add this tonight and won’t mention it again. When I don’t eat sugar, I don’t wake up to pee in the middle of the night. And, on top of everything else, I become much more regular (if you know what I mean). I won’t post any pics on this!

Hunger: Yesterday, I didn’t get hungry at all. I remember the last time I got off sugar, I realized that my hungriness is part of the sugar cycle. Hunger – when my body is clean of sugar – feels different, and it’s not so insistent. I can just say “Hmmmm …. I’m hungry,” and I don’t even feel compelled to eat right away.

At any rate, I’m back on track with no sugar. I may even start my 30-day clock over. I’ve got a busy weekend. I’ll be in touch.

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Ashok even found a boyfriend at the petsitter!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2: A Little Bit Unexpected

 

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So, today I was pleasantly surprised that I felt more connected to people than ever – no Facebook needed. I got emails from several friends, texts from others and have even gained a couple of new blog followers from Instagram. One even sent me an email to tell me her story. It seems that life after Facebook is … well …. pleasantly social!

Tonight I went to dinner with some old friends. I felt the urge a couple of times to take pictures of my food and post, but I realized that it wasn’t necessary without Facebook. I suppose I could have posted to Instagram, but you really can’t tag people so it’s just not the same. I like a feature that Instagram offers that’s called “My Story”. I can post pics and videos all day to “My Story”, and people can view it as a slideshow. In 24 hours, it disappears. I’ll give that a try on one of my adventures. It’s not the same as a Facebook photo album, but I can make photo albums on Google Plus, and, of course I can post them on here.

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It spit snow all day but nothing ever stuck. It’s supposed to snow the next few days but it doesn’t look like much accumulation. It’s really weird. The winter has had a few cold spells, but I always remember there being snow on the ground most of January and February. I guess it’s getting warmer up here, too. It’s just been foggy and dreary with rain for the last two weeks. My friend Laura in Louisiana said the azaleas are already blooming down there. It’s like we had winter for 3 weeks in December, and then it stopped. All I know is I will not have to suffer in July anymore! Yay!!!!!!

 

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A little present from Louisiana arrived on my doorstep today. My friend Michael bakes King Cakes every year, and he sent me one. I was so excited to receive the colorful sweet bundle. King Cakes are served in Louisiana during Carnival season, and they are served in offices, at parties and anywhere people are gathering. My Facebook feed has been full of photos of people at Mardi Gras balls for the last few weeks. It is one of the things I miss. Even though we still have Christmas lights lit up here, there will be no festivities until Memorial Day. But in Louisiana, they are dancing and eating and socializing like there is no tomorrow. The normal holiday season is just a warm-up for Mardi Gras.

My friend Laura’s comment about the azaleas reminded me of one of my favorite days in Louisiana. A friend of mine came into town from Memphis, and we went to Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge. It a small bar in a small Cajun town that has a Zydeco breakfast on Saturday mornings. This is no quiet brunch. It’s an all-out dancing party at 8 in the morning. On the way out, we spotted some blooming potted Camelia bushes. It was my first winter in Louisiana after many, many years, and I was so delighted to see flowers in January.

I felt the same delight today when so many people were contacting me. I’d opened up a little space for something new by letting go of Facebook. The Universe gave me a little gift for trying something new – a confirmation that this could be good for me. Maybe it would bring new people into my life that have been living in other social circles. Perhaps those that have just been on the sidelines of my life might now make more effort to stay really connected. And maybe I would work a little harder at staying in touch, too. It was as unexpected and as pleasant as seeing flowers in January.

 

Shared Treasures and Beautiful Things

I’m settling in to my little cozy house and am starting to make it my own. I took down the broken wooden blinds that covered up my beautiful double-hung windows and let the sun shine in. I’m starting to take up the carpet off my hardwood floors even though it’s a lot harder than I anticipated. The floors underneath have some issues but I think if I get them refinished they will be quite nice. Besides, I don’t like this carpet. It’s got to go anyway. If nothing else, I’ll get a different carpet installed.

Apparently my new company makes appliances, so I got a nice little package of free appliances as part of my offer. I got a call today that my new KitchenAid Duel Fuel Convection Range and my French Door Refrigerator are in and ready to be installed. Unfortunately, I have a huge training event going on next week, so I can’t get them next week. But, I’ll take delivery and have them installed on the 10th. I can’t wait. They will be so gorgeous in my new little kitchen, and I’ll love cooking with gas again. It’s been too long.

 

I’ve been looking for some nice blankets for my bed. I have those lovely linen sheets, and I bought some flannel for the winter. But, my blankets are all cotton.I have the quilt Momma made, but I’ve been eyeing one of those Woolrich blankets that are so thick and cozy-looking. Hudson Bay blankets are gorgeous, but the price tag on all of these fancy beautiful heirloom-style blankets are upwards of $500 for a queen-size. I’d been thinking I might splurge when it got colder, but I lucked out this week. I found an ad in Whirlpool’s want ads for two Hudson Bay blankets – a queen and a twin –  for $180 for both.

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I looked them up on LL Bean last night. The twin blanket retails for $399, and the queen goes for $499. $180 was a steal!! I bought both of them, and I put the queen on my bed over my linen sheets. The stripes are beautiful with my quilt. I’ll probably burn up tonight because it’s just not that cold yet, but who cares. What a nice touch for my new little Michigan bungalow. And when guests come, they have a nice blanket too!

When I emailed Paula, I told her that I had just moved up here from the South and was looking for some nice blankets. Today, I asked her why she was selling them, and she said she was actually moving South, so she needed to get rid of her blankets. We laughed about the swap, and then she told me she will be working at the Whirlpool office where I used to work. We have at least one mutual friend. I told her how much I loved living in Knoxville and working there. She’s a single gal about my age, and she’s off on a new adventure, too. I wished her the best of luck and tucked my blankets into my Rav 4. I wondered if one day I might take off for Knoxville and maybe sell my blankets on the way out. No telling what the future holds.

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Mr. Olllhoff is on the right.

The neighbors told me that the original owner of this house was the lighthouse keeper in St. Joe. When I lived here before, I was really interested in those lighthouse keepers that no longer really exist. I wondered what their lives and workdays must be like as they cross the ice-covered piers that bring them out to the lighthouse. They were essential to safely guide boats on the Great Lakes. This man, Ollhoff, was the lighthouse keeper from 1916 – 1927. Since this house is about 100 years old, he would have started working on the lighthouse about the time he built this place. They say he had three little girls, and they lived in the bedroom upstairs.

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Mr. Ollhoff and his family shared this house, and now I’m making it my home. Perhaps there are things in the basement marked with his fingerprints. Did he shine up that beautiful hardwood that I’m unveiling. I wonder what he thought of this house, and what it looked like. Would he be shocked that I want to have bare hardwood as my floor? Was it his pride and joy or just a place to live? Did his daughters have lovely memories of this place that I now call my own? And now Paula’s blankets will be my treasure on those cold nights as I write and read and sleep. How many nights did they keep her warm, and did she hate giving them up? Maybe one day some young single gal will find my blankets at a thrift store with their holes and lovely frayed edges and eagerly bring it home.

Ashok is snoring beside me, Buster and Bella are exploring all of the nooks and crannies of this place. My boots are by the front door where I left them, and I’m sipping on herbal tea with honey. It’s time for me to call it a day. Hope y’all sleep well. I even hear it’s cold in Louisiana tonight… go figure

 

Please Step Into the Door

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“Please step into the door,” the automated voice in the revolving door says to me every morning when I walk into the offices at Whirlpool. It has become the cue for me to be present and shift gears into work mode.

The movers came Tuesday, and I began the physically and emotionally challenging journey of making my new house a home. They unpacked my stuff at my request, but they can’t put anything away so it just laid in piles on the floor. Michael says he hates the “unpacking” option because it’s too overwhelming, but I prefer it because I hate dealing with boxes. It’s one more gigantic task I have to do in an already overwhelming job. I decided Tuesday night that I would “let sleeping dogs lie” until I got home from work on Friday. I was tired, and I just couldn’t face the task before me.

Work is intense, but I’m starting to really love it. With a new job the task is overwhelming. Learning new names and new people and new processes and an environment can be exhausting. And I am in the middle of a project where even the long-time employees are looking at deadlines and shaking their heads in disbelief. It’s a lot for this curly-haired gal who craves lots of downtime and peace.

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So this week when I’d walk up to that door and hear her say “Please step into the door,” I’d take a deep breath and try to pull up energy from the earth. It was a gigantic mental and energetic shift, and I knew that it would be full bore all day long. Whirlpool’s office design is ideally suited for the way I work. I have a cubicle where I can light, but I spend the majority of my day in “huddle rooms” that are scattered all over the building. If I need to meet with a coworker, we just grab a room that is equipped with a full-size projector so we can share screens, a phone and a comfortable space to work. There are also “focus rooms” where I can hole up and work individually. Since we have big screens on the walls where we can view the same documents, we rarely have to print things, but, when we do, we print to our badge. We can access our print queue anywhere across the Twin Cities. Whirlpool has many offices here, and though I don’t move around much, many people do. In my opinion, many of the obstacles to work are removed, and I feel completely supported to do what I need to do.

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The view from Friday afternoon’s meeting. Do you see that lake?

We worked full bore Friday until 5, and I came home to my mess at home. I thought I heard a woman at my back door say, “Please step into the door”, but I quickly realized there was no automated door, and this task was not going to be easily done. I took a deep breath and decided to at least put my clothes away in the small closets of this 100-year-old home. It wasn’t an easy task as the best closets are on the top floor, but I managed to make it work. Once I got started I couldn’t stop, and I was once again running from room to room – at home this time. I have a basement, a main floor, and an upper floor. I crashed at 10 PM, but I managed to get my bedroom and dressing area completely set up. By the time my friend Kathy got here at 10 AM Saturday, I was ready to hang pictures and start cleaning up. We spent all day Saturday hanging pictures and decorating.

I cooked a late dinner at home Saturday night. I put a load of clothes in the wash, and I set up my yoga space for my nightly meditation. There is work to be done, to be sure, but this morning I’m drinking my coffee on my favorite chaise with all three of my fur babies resting beside me. They are tired, too. They LOVE the stairs and all of the different levels. So they’ve been climbing stairs and exploring ever since things got a little cleaned up Friday. We are all tired and happy to be home at last.

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Tomorrow when the lady asks me to “Please step into the door” I will feel more rested and settled. The revolving door of work will not be so daunting. I’ll know that I have a place to rest when the day is over. I will have lunch to pack and dishes to pack it in. The drama that began on July 2 with a request to send my resume to Whirlpool is now complete. Let the adaptation begin!!

Now excuse me while I cook breakfast and go back to bed.

 

What Dreams May Come…. Moving Day

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I dreamed last night about moving into my new house today. Except you know how dreams are. My dream offered up a couple of twists. I bought one house, but I had the choice of two.

The first choice was on Lake Michigan. It was a ranch-style house built in the 60s that had never been remodeled. It was carpeted in dark carpet, and the walls were dark paneling. It felt dark and cozy. The refrigerator was a Whirlpool, but it was round. When I opened it, the inside was on a carousel. It was colorful and beautiful, and I thought that this would do for awhile. I walked through the house and was not very excited about what I saw. It seemed like I’d have to do a lot to lighten things up and make it mine. But it had lots of storage and most of the modern conveniences that I’d need.

 

I walked on to the carport and looked out at the lake. It wasn’t Lake Michigan. It was the waters of Louisiana. The water came within 6 inches of the patio, and I could feel my anxiety rise wondering if that “lake” ever rose. “I’m right in it even before I begin,” I said to myself. I looked at that murky, muddy water and decided I needed to look at the second option. This house seemed risky and heavy and not really my style.

The second house was a bungalow not unlike the one I’m actually scheduled to close on today. It was light and airy and simply done. The sun streamed in the windows, and I thought that I liked this one better. There would be lots of work to be done. There were no remodels or modern conveniences. It had the basics like indoor plumbing and a laundry area, but there was plenty to buy. As I looked around in the closets and cabinets, it was obvious that the women before me had not moved out. Her clothes hung in the bathroom as if it was laundry day. The kitchen was full of glasses and plates and assorted cookware. My realtor picked up the phone to call her, and she didn’t seem at all interested in coming back to get that stuff. If I wanted this one, I had to move her out to move in or accept her things as mine. That didn’t seem quite right either.

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My new bungalow

 

 

I’m so ready to get moved in today. This last week has been really hard, and I’m at my limit. In fact, I feel like I’m past my limit. After Saturday’s breakdown I had another yesterday. My emotions can only take so much, and I’m not sleeping either. Work doesn’t stop coming like a freight train regardless of whether I have to move or not. I feel isolated out here because of the lack of cell service. I can get it if I walk down the street, but the mosquitoes are so bad I can’t stand outside more than a couple of minutes. Yesterday afternoon I drove down the road and parked in a parking lot to call a friend and cried my eyes out the entire time we were on the phone. It felt good to be heard.

I slept better last night. Given that I dreamed I know I got some good sleep. I’ll pack things up here this morning and head over to my closing. The movers arrive 30 minutes after I’m done, and I’ll spend the day in that mountain of work. I’ll drive back over here tonight and pick up my animals for our first night in the new house – unless there’s some reason I need to stay here. Today, I have movers coming, an HVAC vendor and ATT for internet service. It will be full bore today, and tomorrow I go right back to work. The rest of this week will be a blur. I’m dying for the weekend.

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In my dream, I chose between Louisiana and this life. Unfortunately, this life is filled with the clothes of Sharon past. While there are wonderful things here, I’m a different person than I was 13 years ago when I was here. I have to somehow let go of those old expectations that Sharon had on herself and encourage the new me to show up instead. Or perhaps it should be more of an integration. I need to take time and sort out what fits and what doesn’t – decide what serves me now and what doesn’t. The rest needs to be put on the curb.

In my dream I was happy to see the previous tenant left a lawnmower in the garage. “I’ll need that,” I told my dreamtime realtor. I just hope a lawnmower will be enough to clean out the weeds of the past. This morning I feel like a bush hog is a more appropriate piece of equipment for the task. The only way out is through. 

Gotta go, folks. I gotta get packing. Send lots of positive energy my way.

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Whew … What a Week!

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For a four-day workweek, this one was a killer. Yesterday was supposed to be my closing date, but it slipped, so now I close on the house Tuesday. I’m looking forward to getting settled in my new home with my animals and my belongings. The last month has felt more like six months, and I think I’ve gotten as much done as I would in six months. It’s been productive, exciting, infuriating and expensive. I’m very happy to be cuddled up on my temporary sofa writing.

It’s going to be a rainy day, but I hope to get a run in before it starts. I’ve also planned a few things to take care of me today – painting my toes, deep-conditioning the curls and curling up with Undaunted Courage. I have been enjoying a bounty of fresh fruits and veggies as this is peak harvest time in Southwest Michigan. It seems as if every fruit is at its best right now, and I’m savoring every bite. It will be cooling down soon, and I know that party will end rather abruptly thereafter.

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At some point this weekend, I want to get my stuff sorted and washed so that I can easily pack next week. The movers are supposed to arrive at my new place right after closing, and my plan at the moment is to just get my stuff in and shut the door until the weekend. Work has been really intense, and I don’t want to divide my time and energy while I need to be focused on that. There will be plenty of time on the weekend to sort it out. Besides, I want to bring my animals home when it’s a little more normal. They got really stressed during the move to Louisiana, and they are coping much better with this one since I’m settled in one place. No need to mess that up.

We all have hard things to do in life, but this is one of the harder ones for me. I do it often enough so you’d think I’d have it pinned down better by now, but it’s always really difficult for me. Relocating is a lot of work, and I have to do it all. The hardest part for me is dealing with all of the new people with conflicting and urgent needs for my attention. And to make it more difficult, I’ve had limited cell phone service and wi-fi. Communication has been difficult at times and mostly by text. The lack of context in a text can mess things up more than I’d like to admit. And yesterday I found out that my voicemail has not been working for a month. I had 24 unread messages of varying degrees of sensitivity and urgency in my inbox. It was the worst possible timing for a technology snafu.

The locals are complaining about how hot and humid it is. I was walking into Whirlpool yesterday morning, and a coworker laughed about his glasses being fogged up when he got out of the car. I was just thinking about how it didn’t feel that much different than some mornings in Louisiana. I stopped at Lark’s BBQ yesterday to see my friend Marv and grab lunch. A young man at the counter was from New Orleans, and we chatted about the flooding. On the way out, I was behind a car with a Florida Gators license tag. There are plenty of southerners here with our drawling accents and poor winter driving abilities. And I’m sure we all giggle a little when Michiganders complain about the heat.

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This weekend I’ll be shopping at LL Bean online. I need to buy a winter coat and some snow boots among other things. I plan to give them a call to see if they’ll give me a “stock-up” discount. A snow shovel is on my list as well as a brush and ice scraper. I need to pace it financially, so I’ll try to get a couple of things a month until I’m ready. I’m told there is “ice melt” that is safe for a dog’s paws, and I’ll need a bag to put on my front porch for tossing on the steps and sidewalk. She’ll need a coat and snow boots herself. And to top it off, I rescheduled my Smoky Mountain backpacking trip once more, and now I’m signed up for a winter backpacking trip in February. I need to learn how to camp in the winter here. The adaptation has begun.

 

 

Life on the Farm: First Days in Michigan

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I arrived on Sunday afternoon with my zoo and a month’s worth of stuff. The little lake house where I’m staying exceeded my expectations. (A) It’s not little so it has tons of room, and (B) the family welcomed me with open arms and lots of food. I had dinner with them Sunday night although Sunday – and even Monday to some extent – was a blur. I felt like I was in a drug-induced stupor after all the tasks of the last three weeks and the driving for three days. And I really needed home-cooked food.

After leaving Memphis on Saturday morning, I drove through the woods and fields of Arkansas, Missouri, and Southern Illinois, but there was nothing but cornfields and soybeans the rest of the trip. When I first moved to the Midwest, I was shocked at the farmland although I’d studied about heartland agriculture in U.S. history. It took me by surprise that there was so much of it. After I moved away, I missed it. I watched Hoosiers a few months after I landed in Memphis, and I remember my heart aching for that corny landscape that I had grown to love.

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I’m at Dewey Lake in Dowagiac MI. Lacking the cypress trees and mud of Louisiana lakes, Michigan lakes have homes built on every inch of lakefront. I am always reminded of Garrison Keillor‘s Prairie Home Companion radio show when I’m walking around on the lakefronts in Michigan. Although Keillor was from Minnesota, his stories resonate with images of the Midwest and days on the lakes up here. A fiend of mine in Tennessee had recordings of those radio shows, and we’d listen to them around our campfires. What I’m remembering is what I envisioned those nights as I’d never seen it in person.

 

My commute to work is about 30 minutes, and the landscape is all farmland. you couldn’t throw a rock and not hit a farm stand, and the only time traffic slows is when a tractor pulls out into the road. I’ve been lost at least 10 times on these back country roads, but it is so pretty I don’t even care. Yesterday, I stopped at a couple of farm markets to do my grocery shopping, and I got almost everything I need for the week. Between the farmers and the Amish, the locals are pretty self-sustaining – in the summer. After October, I’ll have to find a regular grocery.

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My morning commute

The Browns, my friendly hosts, are a family of 10 siblings who own and have rented the three little houses on the “compound” to visitors for over 11 years. Luckily for me, they stopped renting mid-August, and this place was available. They all live in Chicago or New York but come over here frequently since this was their business. At least one or two of my hosts have been on the compound since I’ve been here, and, from what I understand, they kidnap Ashok while I’m at work. She’s been taken for boat rides and walks and just general hanging out in the big house. With the long commute, she’s at home longer than usual, so I’m glad they are entertaining her.

My Hosts

Work is good. I’m still adapting and getting to know the culture and my role. I don’t ever have to leave the building which is not necessarily my preference, but it’s easier for now. Eventually I’ll get out and, after I get my house, I can actually go home if I want. Luckily they have lots of healthy options in the cafeteria, and the green tea latte downstairs is really good.

My time and energy are stretched right now. I haven’t made plans yet with my friends here. I need to get my roots sprouted a little before I can start planning a lot. We got past the inspection contingency on the house yesterday, and I hope to close on September 9. It seems close, but even if it’s in the general vicinity of that date I will be happy. While this place is lovely, I want my my own little spot in St. Joseph.

Happy Hump Day from Michigan, y’all!

Sunday Night Check-In: Road Trip

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I’ll keep this short because I’m exhausted, and I need to get acclimated to this new time zone. Go to bed earlier, and get up earlier! Should be a piece of cake for me.

 

I’ll just give you some brief highlights, and I’ll feel in the blanks later…..

  • Three days, over 900 miles, three animals, three different lodgings and way too much crap in my car.
  • Arrived Michigan today at 1 PM with a temp of 69 degrees.
  • Had to eat fast food the whole way because I couldn’t leave the animals in the car. I feel like a blimp.
  • Reacquainted myself with Culver’s – my favorite place for butter burgers and frozen custard. And Ashok got pup cups at every stop.
  • Had a great Memphis BBQ dinner with some Memphis friends!
  • Drugged the cats but then felt so bad for their little drunk furry selves that I decided to just let them cry the rest of the way.
  • Am now on Dewey Lake in Dowagiac, MI on the Brown Compound. Beautiful boat ride on the lake and a great home-cooked meal.
  • Life is good! Back to work tomorrow. No rest for the weary.

Goodnight…. Hope y’all have a good week. 

P.S. Continue to pray for my friends back home and donate, volunteer or help them out! They need it.

Here’s a website for info: laflood2016.com

It’s Moving Day!!

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After all of the preparations, and the interviewing and the job offer and the house hunting, it’s finally moving day! There’s no solid place to land yet in Michigan, but it’s in progress. I just got the inspection report yesterday, and there are a few items of concern, but I’ve been told it’ll work out. So, we’ll see how that turns out.

Leo and Ed, the local folks who are helping with the move got here first this morning, and we chatted about the flood and their relatives who were impacted. We were all very lucky, but each of us had numerous friends and family members in dire straits. Doug and Jeff arrived shortly after in the big Atlas moving van, and we took a tour of my house and belongings. Once they were all set, I offered to go get them some coffee and donuts, and they set about their task.

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“No Starbucks,” one of them said. “I hate that stuff.” I laughed and decided to go down to Dunkin Donuts on Florida. I forget the world has change in the last week, and DD was shut down due to flooding. I had to drive clear across town to get them donuts and coffee of the quality they deserved. My friend Laura recommended Mr. Ronnie’s Famous Donuts at Lee and Highland, and I’m glad I only discovered it the day before my departure. Otherwise, I’d be fat as my cat Bella. (Don’t tell her I said that.)

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The gal said the blueberry was to die for, and she wasn’t lying.

If you’ve never been moved by one of these big van lines, they are efficient. My stuff is allotted a section in one of those big trucks, and I’m surrounded by other people’s belongings from all over the country. Once they get it loaded, they usually give you a 10-11 day window of time for delivery. You don’t know when you will be seeing your stuff again exactly. So, yesterday, I packed up my Rav4 with perishables, necessities for the cats and Ashok and everything I would need for a month – or more if things don’t progress as planned. They will store my stuff until I get my house, and then we’ll reverse this process.

Doug and Jeff, the folks from West Virginia can’t wait to get out of here. They slept in the truck last night because every available room was booked due to the current flooding disaster. They had been told by the estimator that they would not be able to get the big 18-wheeler down my road, so they tried to rent a truck for a shuttle. They had 1000 people ahead of them in line at Enterprise and didn’t even attempt to call any of the other vendors. They are tired and there is no place to rest. For me, it’s lucky because that means they’ll get done if at all possible today, and I can hit the road tomorrow!

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My little spot on the truck.

By the time I got back with the donuts, most of my kitchen was packed, and in the time it’s taken me to write this, my living room is 85% packed. They are fast, and we have four people packing. They are all screaming about the mosquitoes because they are being eaten alive INSIDE. I tried to find some insect repellant but it’s packed already. They’ll just have to cope. After hauling the rest of my stuff through my muddy yard, I think they are going to be ready to hit the road …. and don’t come back no more .. no more … no more …no more….

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I don’t even know how to describe this area. My little island in Baton Rouge looks no different than it did a week ago. I’ve been hanging at Magpie, eating po-boys, visiting with friends and otherwise taking care of moving business. Things have been slowed significantly because every available person who offered to help is now tied up with more important business and communication sucks. Even if you get through, everybody is short-staffed. Many businesses are canceling their regular business and sending their employees out to help people clean up their houses.

At any rate, I will be leaving Baton Rouge tomorrow morning. While normally I would probably be having lunches and coffees and enjoying a send-off gathering, I will just be heading out unheralded. Everybody is busy, and I suppose it’s just as well. I walked in my house this morning and burst into tears. As I was pulling pictures off the wall, I thought of the day that I hung them. I had such high hopes for my life here. Instead, it has been very difficult and challenging which is not without its benefits. I will hang them again in a few weeks in a new place with the same kind of hope for a great future. At the end of the day today, I will have an empty house just like the first day I walked in. I have come full circle, Louisiana.

What a ride it has been!