Follow by Email

Friday, May 29, 2015

My Life as a Housewife

Laura has been blogging about household tasks recently especially since her wonderful twice a week housekeeper has taken a full-time job and has not yet been replaced.  These posts provoked many comments with folks weighing in on the efficiency of doing laundry all at once or one load a day--or cleaning all at once or a little each day--or meal planning for the week or just winging it at suppertime.                       

     http://lauravanderkam.com/2015/05/chores-day-lot-once/

It made me think about my household routines and whether I am satisfied with them.  They certainly have changed over the years.  There were  times when I had house cleaners who came in every other week.  It was so lovely to come home to a clean smelling house. On the other hand, it was a bother to pick up stuff for them--lest the cleaner put them where we could not find them. .  I had to remember to hide a key and if I were home, I always felt uncomfortable and maybe a bit guilty with someone else cleaning my house.  However, it was good to give someone a job--and some of those cleaners really were "gifted" about their work with ideas for improvement in the look of our house.

House cleaning--If I notice something is dirty or dusty, I take care of it.  The only time I really clean is if company is coming and that is not all that often!  Yesterday I cleaned the kitchen floor and vacuumed the family room.  I think I will dust our bedroom today because I saw dust on the night stand. We vacuumed the three season room picking up at least 25 stink bug carcasses behind the sofa.  But the house never has that all over clean smell and feeling and I miss that--but am not willing to put out the effort myself to get it!

Laundry--I do not mind doing the laundry. I could even say I like to do the laundry.   I have a clothes sorter in the laundry room and when a section is full, I do one load.  Rarely do I do more than one load a day.  Jim often puts away his own things and that would be a task I would rather someone else do.

Cooking--I don't love to cook, but I like to eat so I do try to cook healthy and delicious meals.  I'm trying to cook extra and freeze some so that there are easy nights.  I am fairly creative with bits and pieces of whatever is around.  Lots can go into omelets, stir-fries, fried rice, etc.  I look to see what is in the house and then find a recipe to match.  Tonight it's sausage, peppers, snap peas, and pasta in some kind of sauce.  Tomorrow we buy groceries again and start over. Jim is happy to go out to eat often but I know those meals are calorie laden and salty and not as healthy as what we have at home.

Life is so easy compared to the days when there were five of us. .  I wish I could help our kids with meals and other chores at this point but 700 miles is an obstacle.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sea Glass

Sea glass
The first time I searched for sea glass was in 1975 or thereabouts when our son Jeff and I joined my friend Mary Lynn Villaume for an overnight at a cottage north of our student housing in Somerville, Massachusetts.   We took Mary Lynn's old VW van and drove to a large, unheated, unlocked cottage in a gated community owned by the illustrious Massachusetts family, the Saltonstalls.  What was her connection with them, I do not remember, but for some reason she was checking on the place and the garden.  

We put sleeping bags on the upstairs floor and I know I heard far too many strange noises during the night downstairs.  It was all pretty eerie. 

However, the kids had so much fun playing nude in the ocean for hours.  This resulted in a terrible sunburn for poor Jeff on parts that don't usually see the sun. 

Back to sea glass.  Mary Lynn showed me how beautiful little bits of colored glass that have been polished by the sand and the sea could be.  I began my collection in little bottles and over the years I have picked up sea glass from beaches in California, Scotland, Florida, and North Carolina--as well as our own Lake Michigan.


Sea Plastic!
Yes, I am in favor of recycling but it has ruined my collecting sea glass.  Occasionally I find a piece or two in the best of conditions--such as after a storm and when no one else has been on the beach.  Yesterday I found two.   Is there something symbolic about the fact that it is easy to pick up "sea plastic?"  Within a short time, I had gathered many pieces of brightly colored plastic on the shore.  They are ugly.  They have not been tempered by sea and sand; they are just jagged and garish and will probably last forever.  I threw them in the trash.

When we return home, I'll add my two little pieces of real sea glass to the bottles in the window over our kitchen sink and remember all the beaches I have enjoyed over the years.


Friday, May 22, 2015

South Haven through the Years

We have been spending one week in South Haven each summer for years--always in the same condo complex at 223 North Shore or 225 North Shore.  We have also rented other places for weekends during the off season. 

Why do we keep coming back?  Because Lake Michigan is always beautiful--rain or shine--cloudy or sunny.  The sunsets are different each night.  The town is within walking distance and has a small town feel.  We have to drive just a bit more than an hour to get here and friends and relatives often join us for a game of golf or dinner.  And Hawkshead Golf Course is one of Jim's very favorites.

This morning is an example of what we enjoy.  We didn't set an alarm but got up when we were done sleeping.  We ate breakfast and had coffee overlooking a calm Lake Michigan.  Later we walked to town and had a second cup of coffee and a "little sweet," as Jim would say, at Julia's.  It was a bit brisk to sit outside but it was pleasant.

An 1898 German book on Jubilees
Jim walked back to the condo to do some of his work (Jim never leaves his work behind but if he enjoys it so much, why should he?) and I walked to the Black River Bookstore where I browsed for a bit and eventually purchased two used books--mostly to reward them for the entertainment they give me each summer.  On my way back I stopped at the Dyckmann Drawbridge to watch the captains of a fishing charter boat expertly gut the fish caught by their customers.

Yesterday I biked to town and two people made a point of congratulating me on biking.  I'm not sure I liked that.  I think it was the grey hair that inspired them to do so.  That trip cost me a little more money as I shopped in a couple of antique stores (bought a necklace and a silverplate serving spoon) and a handbag shop (a bright pink double clutch). 

We have seen many changes in the last fifteen years or so.  Two of our favorite restaurants are razed with large cottages taking their place.  Our favorite bakery is now a hot dog stand.  The only grocery store we could walk to--Save-A-Lot-- is closed probably because of the new Meijers next to the highway.  I can no longer buy a New York Times at a corner stand, or even at Mac Donald's Drugstore in town. 

But we can get wifi without going to the library and our cell phones work most of the time. 

Yesterday I felt so in love with this place that I looked up the Home Away site to see if I could rent for another week.  I resisted the impulse but I hope we can be back next summer--maybe for two weeks next time.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Micandy Gardens and My Bucket List

My bucket list is shrinking--not really in length but in scope.  I cancelled my trip to Istanbul, Ephesus, Patmos, and the Greek Islands and have not regretted that decision.  I watch Rick Steve's Europe and Youtube videos and am satisfied!

However, I can check another item off my 100 Dreams, as Laura would say, because we had an amazing adventure yesterday just one hour from our South Haven condo.  We toured Micandy Gardens under the best tour guides one could have--the owners, our high school friends and double date partners, Micki and Andy Buist. 

Micki and Andy were the first of our friends to marry.  The little house they moved into then  is still on the site of their large enterprise and seeing it brought back memories of first visiting there in 1964.  Since then, it has been used as a place for a nanny to take care of grandchildren while their parents worked in the nursery and now it is used as a gathering place for the older grandchildren to hang out.  We met several of the children and grandchildren in this family business.  Micki and Andy are very much involved daily but have turned over many responsibilities to others.

Micandy Gardens employs 150 people during the high season.  60 of them are "merchandisers" located at various Home Depot stores around the Midwest.  The big concern yesterday was the snow in Petoskey and freeze warnings elsewhere. This meant all "product," as they called the flowers, had to be moved inside for the evening. Those merchandisers were going to be very busy saving plants.

Mixing  soil
Setting watering
We were amazed at the extensive greenhouses and the technology needed to keep everything watered and at the right temperature all year round.  We saw conveyer belts, a monorail system for moving hanging plants, machines for mixing soil, and so many varieties of colorful flowers.  We saw seed plugs and transplants and flowers ready to go.  Timing is everything.

This is the season for long hours.  Micki and Andy take pride in the return year after year of their seasonal employees and they treat them well.  We heard an announcement of appreciation for hard work and an invitation for a suppertime buffet of salad, macaroni and cheese, meat balls and bread sticks because of the need for overtime hours right now. 

It was a joy to see how a 50 year enterprise has grown and brought employment and beauty to so many.  And it was a joy to sit over food and wine at the Hudsonville Winery afterwards and chat about aged parents, children, grandchildren, churches, and life in general. 




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Finding a Title

I haven't blogged since my birthday a month ago. I didn't feel well due to some recurring insomnia and I didn't feel like blogging in that kind of mood.  Plus I couldn't think of a title to get started.

The insomnia is better and I decided I really didn't need a new title but could just update the old one.  However I couldn't bring myself to call it "Year70" as a way to search for it.  It is my 70th year on this earth and I will turn 70 next April d.v.. (deo volente--Lord willing!).  But that is such an awesome thought--and sounds old, very old to me at times. 

So the name will be mvanderkam.BlogSpot.com.  Easy enough!  

Jim and I thought about "Three Score and Ten Minus One" or "By Reason of Strength..." but the end of those verses in Psalm 90 are pretty grim with their mention of "toil and trouble" and being "soon gone."  We laughingly talked about the end of Ecclesiastes with its reference to the "grinders that cease to grind" or the "silver cord is snapped."  All pretty dismal.

Life has been a bit dismal in the last six weeks with finding ways to overcome insomnia.  Telling oneself  to relax and go to sleep or that sleep doesn't matter is not the way to do it.  Sleeping pills for me are definitely not the way to do it.  I've been in this position before and gotten over it and I am getting over it again, thank God.  There is much to look forward to in the next year and to be grateful for and there are ways to be of use to others. 

And blogging has been fun for me and I have ideas again so here goes!