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.

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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!

The Intersection of Chaos

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In case you were wondering, it’s kind of mess down here. The events of the last few days have given new meaning to a “a river runs through it”. I have numerous friends with needs, but we are cut off because the Amite River is running wild over all roads between us. To make matters worse, in the valley of mud, there is no cell coverage. The only way they can communicate is via Facebook and only if they have wifi. We all know that wifi generally runs on electricity. Electricity and water don’t mix very well.

My hometown…

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I, on the other hand, am on an island. My life is running along normally (sort of). Most of my haunts are open. I met a gaggle of friends yesterday at Magpie for coffee after I landed in Baton Rouge. Ironically, the last time we all gathered there was the day that the police shooting occurred here. Again, we were all a bit shellshocked from the events happening around us, but none of us were directly impacted. Each of us had friends and family who were directly impacted, but we had no way of getting to them.

 

Today the friends who can text me via wifi have kept me somewhat up to date with their adventure. They are cleaning up. They are picking up building material that has come up from the floor, tearing up sheetrock and throwing out personal items. It is muddy, snaky, stinky and very, very sad. For many, they are cleaning up their childhood homes and are worried about how their elderly parents will handle this. Thankfully, the Universe has provided somewhat cooler weather for us.

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Click here for story.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, I am packing. I don’t have to pack for long. I got the little house on Mohawk in St. Joseph, and I close the second week of September. I have such awesome friends there that I had several options on temporary housing, and I plan to stay at my friend Kathy’s lakehouse on Dewey Lake in Dowagiac.

My new house!

My preparations have been complicated by the lack of reliable phone service and the inability to get around town outside my little island. But I can’t complain. These are small problems compared to my friends in Denham Springs and Watson. My fur babies have no idea what’s about to happen, but I do believe they know something is about to happen. They are a little more clingy than normal, and Ashok is watching me like a hawk.

I had a major meltdown this morning. I’m emotionally wrecked because of the move and this flooding situation. I’m physically exhausted because I’ve been running on adrenaline and caffeine for three weeks straight. I’m intellectually stretched managing a new job and a move. A meltdown was bound to happen, and it finally did. Thankfully my friend Michael talked me down off the ledge, and I’m back in the swing of things.

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For those of you that live away, I want to emphasize the gravity of the situation here. I don’t know about the scope of the disaster, but it looks very much like Katrina in many ways. Whole neighborhoods and towns have been wiped out. There will be much rebuilding that needs to be done. Thankfully, the loss of life is not nearly as high, but recovery will take years. Massive reconstruction will need to occur. Many, many people have lost their jobs. My niece finally made it through the immediate danger, but her school took in 6 feet of water. She is a teacher, and she is unemployed with two small children. She will probably need to relocate with family to get back on her feet. She will not be alone. Most of us don’t have massive savings accounts to get us through this kind of financial disaster.

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My childhood friend Jean Ann’s beautiful home yesterday.

 

I urge you to donate your time, energy or resources to help these people affected by this flood. They need immediate assistance with food, water and shelter. My rental will go fast as housing here will be sucked up in a few days for those that have jobs but no home. Some will need to live in shelters until they can find a job and a place to live. You can donate to the Red Cross, or you can donate here locally. Others will need assistance in rebuilding. Yes, there will be government money, but workers will be needed, and supplies will be in high demand.

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Click here for link.

I knew lots of people affected by Katrina, but I know many more affected by this unnamed disaster. The hardest hit area was my hometown. They were my high school boyfriends, BFFs and basketball teammates. They are my relatives. They are my touchstones. With them I learned how to put on makeup, catch crawfish, flirt with boys and say my ABCs. I feel really weird leaving in the middle of this. I feel a responsibility to stay and help, but I have to go. The timing really sucks.

I have collected some links for donations, and you can click here for that list. Stay tuned. Meanwhile…..

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Whirlwind: Sunsets, Collaboration and Insomnia

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Whew! What a week! I started my new job this week at Whirlpool. Honestly, my mind is in a harried state although I did sleep the whole night through las night for the first time since I got my offer about 3 weeks ago. There is nothing better than a full night’s sleep after a bout of insomnia. But I know next week I’ll be right back to it. My estimation is that my sleep will get back to normal at the end of September or early October… whenever I get permanently settled. I know me. My mind does not rest when there is stuff to do.

Me and my coworker Ann took a stroll on the beach in New Buffalo last night!

And I have plenty of stuff to do! As I anticipated, they were waiting on me. It has been intense these first few days. I’m in charge of training (YES!!), and I’ve had to get up to speed enough to make decisions on some key items in addition to having the usual new hire learning curve. I decided last weekend that I was going to table my social activities up here until I get back permanently because I wanted to focus on work and house hunting. And I’m glad I did. I don’t have the emotional or energetic bandwidth to handle all of that.

If I had to use one word to describe my new job it’s collaborative. The number of meetings that people have on their calendars is mind-boggling. And the workplace is designed for collaboration. I am back to cubicle living, but I’m never there. All over the building, in every corner, there are conference rooms (for over 6 people) and huddle rooms (for 1-5 people). Colorful, comfortable furniture is scattered all around so that you can work alone comfortably in privacy OR grab an area for a quick group pow wow.  I absolutely love it! And if you are ever looking for me and can’t find me – look here!

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There is a fully functional coffee shop downstairs complete with a barista and homemade pastries from the favorite local bakery here – Bit of Swiss. I’m trying to stay away from the pastries for the time being but I imagine I’ll indulge soon. The cafeteria features local fare, fresh organic vegetables and even a station where you can have a featured ethnic dish prepared by a chef. It’s not your typical cafeteria food. I felt like I was at a wonderful restaurant, and my dish was only $7.

In my off hours I’ve been searching for a house. I’ve found three suitable candidates. A lovely 1920s home in downtown St. Joe is my favorite. But my second choice is tied between a beautiful little beach-style condo right on Lake Michigan and a larger, more traditional condo in a quiet garden-style setting. All of them are amazing, and I had a hard time picking one. I made an offer on the downtown St. Joe house, but it has another offer on it as well. I’ll know today who wins. If I don’t get it, I’ll make an offer on one of the condos. I’m still trying to decide what’s my favorite. They both have advantages, and that lake is so beautiful. Below are some shots of the backyard at the lake condo.

Downtown House: Click here for the listing.

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The one thing I have made time for this week is the local sunset ritual. The sunset is so beautiful over Lake Michigan. People gather on the shore and hang out to watch the sun set. On some days in the summer, the sun hangs over the Chicago skyline. It’s been too hazy while I’ve been here to see it, but it’s beautiful just the same. Elderly couples drive up with their picnic dinners to watch the sunset. I wonder how many sunsets they have watched together over the years. It’s so relaxing and a beautiful way to put the day to bed. I’ll leave you with some photos. I haven’t filtered any of these.

I’ll be home next week to pack up and get out of the steamy south. I have to say I’m dreading stepping back into that sauna – especially given what I have to do next week. Wish me luck on the house!

Sunday Night Check-In: A New World

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Yesterday afternoon I had a few minutes by myself within four walls, and my inner critic decided to ambush me. What the hell are you doing? What if you end up feeling lonely up there? Are you sure you want to deal with winter again – by yourself? I felt the grip of fear squeeze tightly on my heart. I panicked for a second, and then I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The grip did not loosen, but my conscious mind reached for my mantra that I chose from a book a long time ago – Feel the fear and do it anyway. (Click here for the book.)

I let myself feel it, but I went down my mental list and reminded myself that I’ve done this any number of times before. There is always a moment or two when I want to turn tail and run. But it doesn’t mean anything. I’ve learned to tolerate the pain of endings because my experience has taught me that new beginnings are worth the effort.

I woke up about 2:30 this morning stoked about the first day of my new adventure. This was it. All of the planning and waiting was over, and today I was starting to move forward into my new life in Michigan. I’ll get back to Louisiana next week to move, but I’ll be here in person to look for houses and start work. I couldn’t stop smiling as I stood in line to board the plane. I had some things I wanted to do in flight, but all I could do was bask in the “sauce” that I had created for myself with this change. So, I just cleared my mind and dreamed about the future.

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I arrived around 1 PM, and I stopped by my friend Jill’s house which was 9 minutes from the airport. She made me a grilled cheese sandwich, and we chatted briefly over fruit and veggies. After lunch, I checked in to the hotel and decided to go for a run on my old running path.

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*** I went for a run at 4 PM in the daylight on a sunny day in August. ***

For somebody who has lived in the south for the last 10 years, that is monumental and somewhat unbelievable. I didn’t even sweat the first mile. By the end of the three miles, my shirt was sweaty on the neckline, and I had a ring of sweat near my hairline. THAT …. WAS …. ALL!!! I wasn’t even too sweaty to go to the grocery and shop for a few essentials. Woohoo!!! I could probably pick up running again.

St. Joe was bustling. Everybody was out on Silver Beach, and the town was hopping to the beat of the last days of summer. I thought I’d give you a first look at my new little hometown. Oh yeah, and luckily I brought a sweater. It’s going to be in the low 60s here tonight – upper 50s close to the lake. I don’t want to catch a chill!!

Y’all have a great week, and think of me tomorrow at 9 AM Eastern Time. It’s my first day of my second career at Whirlpool!! That’s a pretty big deal.