“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” — Roald Dahl
Some recent nonsense…
And some nonsense from ‘then’…
My family has gone through some very painful and pivotal changes during the pandemic. However, we all manage to make each other laugh even in the midst of difficult times. Yesterday, eleven of us gathered to lay my mother in the earth to join my father, my husband, and my sister. We were outdoors and masked. Our next gathering will be a Zoom call for Thanksgiving. I’m confident that there will be some nonsense and laughter again.
Thanks to Amy for hosting this week’s challenge and giving us occasion to reflect on the differences and similarities between Now and Then.
“There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better;
Some have gone but some remain.”
~ ‘In My Life’ by The Beatles
During this time of staying “Safer At Home”, I have begun a photo project converting snapshots in my family albums to digital files so that I can share them online with my loved ones, most of whom live on the West Coast while I live in Wisconsin. Scanning these precious images, I keep returning to a very special vacation spot that has been in the family for four generations.
We call it simply The Cottage. It’s a beach house built on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan some time in the 1940s by my father’s parents. My father first brought my mother there when they were courting as college students at Harvard/Radcliffe in the mid 1950s. I spent long weekends and extended weeks there in the summers while I was growing up. Here are some images from the party we had for my third birthday.
I last visited The Cottage with my mother, my sister and brother, my husband, and my four children in 2007, following my oldest daughter’s college graduation.
To me, The Cottage will always be about the feeling of summer freedom. Walking right out the front door onto the beach at any time, free to explore the sand, the water, the endless horizon, the numerous bits of driftwood and stone, I felt that my life was my own to create. We built sand castles, buried each other up to our chins in sand, jumped waves, collected “glassies”, scared seagulls, threw balls and Frisbees, and lit campfires. I wanted my children to have that same freedom.
We also challenged ourselves to bigger adventures, like canoeing down the White River and riding over the huge dunes, and treated ourselves to local summer pleasures, like root beer and ice cream.
Freedom and fun are the summer hopes of many children. In the present climate, these are threatened. But these are not frivolous dreams, these are the experiences that demand and build real growth. The ability to make choices and the motivation to make choices for joy must be modeled for the next generations. Limiting choices to staying insular, to keeping things as they are out of fear, is a dangerous example to give our children.
I fervently wish for this global pandemic to teach us the moral lessons we need to learn about continuing exploration and adaptation while treating all living things with compassion and wisdom. May each of you be safe and healthy while you look forward to freedom and fun.
Thank you, John, for hosting this week’s challenge and inviting us to go back into our travels, to remember fondly and to learn.
“Smile a while, and while you smile, another smiles. And soon, there are miles and miles of smiles. And life’s worthwhile because you smile.”
I spent last weekend at my son’s wedding celebration, surrounded by similar smiles. Genetics and orthodontia have collaborated to give my kids what I believe (in the most unbiased way) are the most beautiful smiles on Earth. My hobby and therapy is collecting as many as I can to look at when they’re not around.
The Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes, known to 2-year old Josie as the “Die Bees Walk”, took place on a gorgeous fall day in Chicago. The route was a three mile circle around Lincoln Park and just a mile and a half from my daughter Emily’s home. By a great miracle, all four of my children were able to attend, plus my eldest’s best friend Katie (the mother of little Josie), my son-in-law Andy, and my middle daughter’s boyfriend Jake. I took lots of pictures, got some exercise (seven miles of walking total, I figure), ate a delicious gluten-free vegan meal, and collected hugs and kisses from my children. Totally satisfying! Here’s the gallery:
In this blog project, I’ve posted digital copies of my family photo album snaps and a chronological narrative to share with my family in California and my grown children in Illinois and Wisconsin. I’ve gone from 1985 to 2008 so far.
Some time around 2009, my sister Dharam and niece Amrit came out to the Midwest for some winter fun. I admit that I don’t remember exactly when this was.
In March of 2010, after seven years of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, my father passed on to a new life. My brother-in-law John put together a beautiful slide show of pictures of George.
After the memorial service, we gathered in the Parish Hall of St. Luke’s (where my wedding reception was held in 1984) and shared our memories with Dad’s best friend Tim, his sister Judy, and others. Then we went back to the house, and of course, we ended up singing silly songs around the piano – a very Heigho way to celebrate. (And you’ll notice who ended up wearing The Hat that I mentioned in Part One of this series.)
In July of 2003, Grandpa George celebrated his 70th birthday at the historic Benbow Inn in Garberville, California. This was one of his favorite places. He first took me there in 1985, when we were traveling to Oregon for my sister Sarah’s wedding with my 9-month-old daughter, Susan. I was quite impressed and loved feeling pampered. There was a decanter full of sherry in my room. That was the absolute clincher!
It is easy to see why he liked it so well. It’s just his style: elegant and close to nature. He spent the days hiking the redwood trails and the beach…And in the evening, he’d dress for cocktails and dinner. On his special day, the dining room packed us a picnic to take into the forest. How perfect to celebrate his life in the company of tall redwood trees, “Humbolt Fog Goats”, and the magnificent coast!
My brother grew very fond of this place as well. It was one of the first places he vacationed with his wife. He has a pretty interesting story about that trip, too…..
This online family photo album is all about visits between my family on the West Coast and my family in the Midwest. So far, I’ve chronicled 1985 through 2000.
In the summer of 2001, we took a road trip to the East Coast. While we were away, my mother-in-law passed away in her apartment. Three months later, the World Trade Center towers were attacked. We did not visit with our California family that year.
The next summer, though, we had a marvelous visit! I found a trove of photos of the gang of seven cousins enjoying the Bay Area and each other. Here we are at the San Francisco zoo:
(I know I took one that has all the grandkids together on this beach plus Jim and John and Sarah, too, but I can’t seem to find it.) * My sister Sarah found it!
…and bumming around San Francisco.
And as if that wasn’t enough, we also spent time hiking and horseback riding in the Sierra Nevadas near Mammoth Lakes with the grandparents. I’ll share those pictures in the next post.
Such a sweet deal having relatives to visit in northern California!
This online family photo project allows me to pool and share snapshots with my children here in the Midwest and my family of origin in California. Yesterday, my sister in San Francisco sent more photos of our visits up to the year 2000.
I love her caption to this one: “desperate characters skulk at the airport –in 1995, way before TSA”