Thursday, November 08, 2018

Michigan 2018, Again...but with a Tear and a Smile

You may remember that Astrid and I were in Michigan 5 months ago for my 55th high school reunion.  If you had told us then that we would be back again in 2018 (let alone 5 months later), I would have wondered who had died!

It was SIL Peggy, of course, married 54 years to Nelson, the elder of our remaining Tribe.

We never feel good about the circumstance of such a trip but we really did make the most of it, which you will see by these collages both Astrid and I posted on Facebook throughout the week, Wednesday to Wednesday.  We actually returned home this morning.

We stayed with sister Ruth and BIL Don again in a wee town near Detroit.
Arriving at night that first day was so soulful.  We LOVE their farm house.
It feels like coming home for us every time we're there.

Our first full day was filling ourselves up, while walking The Farm.
[Astrid's collage]

Even on a grey, misty day, there are gifts everywhere to be found.

We already love Bishop, the outdoor cat who basks in attention.
But this time we both fell in love with her in a deeper way.
How can you not love a cat who follows you around like a dog!

One day, when we were out-n-about, Astrid snapped this deliciousness from the car.
She received 85 reactions on Facebook!
Pure Michigan.

Midway through our week, on Saturday, was Peggy's memorial service, November 3.
Her last breath on earth was November 17th.

My nephew, Paul, took all these photos at the celebration "parties" following the service.
That's Don and Ruth (top-left) and Ruth and Nelson (bottom-right).
Nelson and Susan are #1 and #2 (bottom-left).  I'm #3 in the sibling lineup.  Ruth is #8 (of 8).
Nelson's son David is the monk.

You can see Peggy's obituary here.

The next day, I posted my Watercolor Sunday image with this quote:
"Let no one weep for me, or celebrate my funeral with mourning; for I still live,
as I pass to and fro through the mouths of men."
--Quintus Ennius (239BC - 169BC, considered the father of Latin literature)

Then it was back to the farm again, with Astrid helping Don out with some of his chores.
[Astrid's collage]

Early on in our visit Don and Ruth told us they were making a Thanksgiving meal for us on Monday.
We found that out in the same moment, I think, when we saw this flock of wild turkeys strutting about.

OMG!  Almost everything of the meal was made from scratch!

During a lull in the day's activities, Don and Ruth power-walked their property 4 times in a row.
Astrid and I had fun doing our casual walking, snapping photos at every whip-stitch.

Astrid and Don even had time to do more outdoor chores that day.  She was in heaven.
And yes, that's moonshine from Don's relatives in Tennessee (top-left).
"Try anything once" is a good motto, right?!
[Astrid's collage]

That evening was the real Thanksgiving feast!
I was the one in heaven this time.  It had been 9 years since I celebrated it last.
Some of you understand why it's my hardest American holiday to miss!

Our last full day was Tuesday, when Astrid and I walked the nearby country roads.
Within the first 5 minutes she spotted what the Dutch call a Witches Circle (aka Fairy Ring).
It was a first for me.
It happened to be on the property of a Vietnam vet, whose son died in the Afghan war (2006),
earning the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.  
 I think we all made each other's day!

We continued our walk and grabbed the photo ops as they emerged.
[Astrid's collage]

Whenever I tell Ruth this area is so soulful to me,
she says she thinks all of us carry farm DNA inside of us!

Tuesday night we spent the evening watching the midterm-election incoming results,
going to bed that night wondering what the scene would look like in the morning, Wednesday...
while flying out of Detroit to Newark to Amsterdam.

The DEMS took the House!!!!  Need I say more?

We flew through the night and arrived home this morning by 9:30,
with farm memories still filling us...and thus this above post on FB once home.

I had to share this week, of course...the Tear and the Smile.
You don't forget these milestones...let alone all the euchre games we played!


  1. Our time with you here was full in so many ways. Our hearts were full of Peggy. And then we managed to get filled up with other family, and with each other. All the games, conversations, politics, food, walks, movies, everything! We love that you can cozy into our simple lives.

    This is a beautiful photo journal of our week!

    1. Thank you, dear Ruth. It's a time in Life that we'll never forget, especially with these recorded photos as a reminder. It was perfect to celebrate Thanksgiving with you and Don because we have so much for which we are thankful right now!

  2. i enjoyed these pictures very much!! your little collages are always so well done.

    i'm glad the week was full for you.

    1. You're a sweetheart, Elaine. Thank you. Our one week felt more like 2 weeks, truth be told, because of how full it was. It was great!

  3. So many beautiful and touching images! Love the image of you drinking moonshine. My dad would bring me some annually when they visited. Love the feel of the farm and the warmth of their home. Special.

    1. It sounds like you would be right at home on their farm, every way! :)

  4. Such a lovely tribute to your SIL.

    Farm life agrees with you!

    1. Thank you and thank you, Marie. We always tell Ruth and Don that we feel like we've come home when we're there with them. We have no need to leave to go find something else of interest!

  5. Oh Ginnie, what a beautiful beautiful post! This is filled with loveliness. I do believe in farm DNA when I see this. It is so wonderful to see the cat in so many pictures, she must be such an interesting cat.
    I do get what Thanksgiving means to you. It certainly is my favorite American holiday even though I think it has lost so much to commercialism over the last few years. It's a shame really.
    Very happy, too, that the Dems took the House. Were you able to vote (absentee)?

    1. This is a wonderful tribute to Peggy and it was good that we all were there, a wonderful closure. Our time with Don and Ruth was great, but then we get along very well and there is always something to do on the farm. Working with the chainsaw was my first as swinging the ax..... Being there on election day was also very special and yes "we" took the House...... IHJV.

    2. First of all, Carola, you totally get what I feel at this time of the year. That makes me happy! And yes, I was able to send my absentee ballot back with Mark to mail from Georgia...and I was able to see that it was received. It's a good system for us expats! YAY for the Dems taking the House!!!

    3. And thank you, Astrid, for sharing these special times with me. You make them all so much better, in every way. And I mean that sincerely, as you know.

  6. And now with our Thanksgiving behind us, I have a moment to catch up on your events (latest Soul) and offer my sympathies again. It’s good to have the moment filled with freshly baking memories with your warm, loving clan, and I can’t believe (Ginnie) how much you and your brother look alike.

    As to the notion of farm DNA, I agree completely. I grew up almost exclusively in NYC, but on weekends the family often visited friends with a new house, “in the country.” It had a big field edged with white fence and barns with a fresh farm smell from the horses and a few cows. It was one of those intense, childhood experiences that stick and can that are sometimes triggered. The things was, although it was completely new to my experience, it felt deeply familiar, even expected.

    The people who owned the house were city people. He rode horses; she lunched. Owning cows was his impulse that quickly ended; without the cows the place never again had quite the same smell; felt quite so farm.

    1. I love it when you tell me these stories from your past, Ted. You have made my point loud and clear. Ruth will like that, too. :) Thank you.

      As regards my brother, after he stayed with us here in the Netherlands last January, I couldn't believe how alike we much more than I realized. His DNA is definitely inside me! :)