This is an unedited picture taken out my front window in Almena Township.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Margarete Monette 1922 - 2015

Mom died February 9, 2015 after four weeks of hospital/hospice stay.

On her wedding day in February, 1944.

She would say the happiest days of her life were the births of her four children, but I think it was this day.

She never managed to look her age, even when she was dying.

Even though Louise is not on mom's birth certificate as her middle name (or maybe it is, the document is written in German Swiss), she gave it to me as a middle name, I gave it to my daughter (center), and my daughter gave it to her daughter (left). We enjoyed being the four Louises.

Goodby Mom. We've been together for seventy years and I will miss you.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Getting Settled When Unsettled

We are settled enough to be functional and only occasionally have the need to get into unopened boxes to find something. That's the encouraging news.

On the other hand we need furniture, we are working on getting files and finances joined and in order to do taxes, and I am distracted by everything involved with my mother's valve replacement next week.

Also, the weather is not cooperating. Since this is January in Michigan, that is not a surprise. The snow isn't overly deep, but the single digit temperatures (F) we are having keep the road salt from working. The roads are scary.

Last week we got brave and punched the first hole in our pristine walls to hang Jay's, now our, cuckoo clock. It's sweet to hear it calling out the hour and the half hour again. Love this thing. Putting it up made Oak Haven feel like home.

Last week we ordered shades for our windows. After several false starts with businesses that didn't work out, we finally ended up getting them through Costco. They referred us to a local business with a large showroom owned by people who have been installing quality shades and blinds for over thirty years. So far it's been a pleasant experience and in a few more weeks we will have window coverings. Finally.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 In Review

What a year!

Everything in my life changed except I'm still driving the same old car.

The activity started January 9 when we were talking about our plans for the future (we were going to live separately in the same townhouse community) and Jay proposed. I didn't have to think about my answer. Some decisions are easy.

Wedding planning began the next day when Jay suggested February 22 as a wedding date. We're too old for long engagements.

It all fell together perfectly. We got married February 22 at Bravo in a private room. Pastor Bruce from Lighthouse Community Church did the ceremony in front of our families and a few close friends. Daughter Heather stood up with me. Jay's son Jeff stood up with him. The food was wonderful.

Except for son John not being able to make it, the wedding was as perfect as things can be in this imperfect world.

We both feel so amazed that love happened when neither one of us was expecting it or even thought it was possible.

We also never expected to build a new home, but the more we looked for a place to live the more it seemed like the right choice.

We've been living in our new condo to a little over two months now and we're very happy with that decision. Notice I did not say we are all all unpacked and organized.

Neither one of us brought much furniture into this marriage. We are looking forward to furnishing the condo in 2015.

In October, just before we moved into the condo together, I sold my house in Almena Township/Paw Paw. What a relief that was.

The saddest part of the year was losing Pappy and Sunny. They were my two favorite furbabies ever and it was very painful and sad to see them get old and decline to the point it was obvious I needed to let them go to the Rainbow Bridge and wait for me.

I plan to stay dogless now.

In September Jay and I went to Hilton Head for two weeks of relaxing before moving. The timing was a bit strange, but Jay has a timeshare there and those were the weeks that worked.

It was a wonderful, relaxing two weeks. The relaxed feeling was gone immediately after we got home and the moving and home merging began.

October/November were the worse months of the year as we moved and merged belongings. Two best words to describe the experience are "exhausted" and "overwhelmed". We did what needed to be done. We remembered that we loved each other and we kept working toward the goal.

Things are better now. We are laughing and planning and we are able to find 90% of the things we are looking to find.

Other things to remember about 2014:
  • I left a church that I loved, Lighthouse Community Church, to go to church with Jay at Oakland Drive Christian Church which I also love. In December I officially joined ODCC and resigned my membership at Lighthouse.
  • I drove my mother to over 100 doctor appointments and Parkinson's exercise classes.
  • Costco came to Kalamazoo and it is only a few miles from our condo. We have been Costco members, but now we don't have to drive to Grand Rapids to shop.
  • I got hugged by Paul Anka.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sunshine (Sunny) Byrne-Hammond, September 2001 - November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve I lost my last and most loved dog.

She was named Sunshine after the song 'You Are My Sunshine' because she lighted up my life.

Sunny was my first little dog. She was about five weeks old and weighed two pounds when I found her on Petfinder and sent in an application to adopt her.

Her mother and two siblings had been found abandoned in a ditch. Breed was a total mystery, even in the mother's generation.

A few weeks later we took a trip to Big Rapids and brought her home.

When she was three months old Sunny and I started doggy school together. She loved obedience from the very beginning and learned quickly. We won the award for best in the class and continued obedience for the next six years until her arthritis got so bad I couldn't let her jump hurdles.

This is our graduation picture from puppy class.

Whatever her genes, she had a strong kill instinct for her favorite toy, a green rubber turtle. She fetched them and shook them until they were dead. I bought all I could find and kept extras in a drawer for when replacements were needed.

She loved to sit and bask in the sun.

Sunny had a strong herding instinct and didn't play well with other dogs. She tried to herd them.

People would ask what breed she was and sometimes I would tell them 'at least a third generation designer dog.' (That means unrecognizable mutt.) This went over most people's heads, so when I didn't want to explain I would answer 'I don't know but definitely something that herds.'

Her curly, unruly coat collected ice balls in the snow so she wore a jacket for winter walks.

Sunny had many orthopedic problems and got through the muscle spasms and pain taking strong steroids which eventually resulted in serious biochemical problems. She rarely whined and she didn't let her problems get in the way of what she wanted to do.

About five years ago her long time veterinarian told me, 'She can't walk, but she's a dog and doesn't know she can't walk.'

Even though she was mostly blind, she moved into our new house, learned her way around, and settled in like she owned it.

Rest in peace Sunny. I'll see you at the Rainbow Bridge and you can herd me in.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Snapshot Of My Life On November 18

Weather in SW Michigan ...
It's winter weather - snow, wind, ice, cold. Schools are closed including the university.

Really? ...
My first snowstorm in Westport Village, a condo community.

The first snow plowing truck arrived at 5:30 am today. I woke up long enough to be impressed, even though I didn't plan to go anywhere.

The second snow plowing truck arrived a little before 8:00 am. Yes, there was that much new snow.

Something from the kitchen ...
Wow, the kitchen. I love our new kitchen. Haven't had time or energy to cook much in it yet, but plenty of opportunity to use the refrigerator and dishwasher and sink. Jay put a lot of time and research into picking the appliances and sink that suits our lifestyle, and he did a great job.

We still don't have everything organized and put away. I thought we worked through the duplicates, but we still have way too many of them.

Combining households is not as easy and simple as one might think.

I am creating...
We are creating a new home for our life together.

I am procrastinating ...
Getting window coverings, and we need them.

Keep thinking we should be more settled and organized before making that decision. That's just an excuse to cover the fact that I am burned out from months and months of making decisions. My brain wants to be indecisive for a few days weeks.

Yesterday Kelli, the amazing lady who helps us know what we want, gave us a place to call that other village residents have used for blinds. I will be calling them soon.

Sunny is adjusting ...
She spent the first night in her new house pacing the floor. No one slept very well that night, although we were all exhausted.

She spent the first week in her new house being nervous and waiting for me to take her back to the house where she had spent her entire thirteen years minus the first seven weeks of her life. It was stressful for all of us.

Now, after four weeks here, she knows she lives here and is relaxed and doing well. She is not healthy in many ways and I'm sure we have some challenges ahead. For now, all is under control and she is happy.

Something new for me ...
What isn't?

A few plans for the next few days
Jay has been sick so we haven't done much the past few days except the basics. Hope to get back to organizing, sorting out, and putting away soon.

Most of this stuff in the picture below is headed for basement storage. It probably will languish there until someday when our kids have to clean it out, but we have intentions of going through it occasionally and getting rid of the things we're not using. Doesn't everybody?

Every time I look at this pile I think it looks like something large vomited a pile of junk and boxes.

Giving thanks for ...
Two years ago Jay and I were both alone and hadn't seen each other in over ten years.

One year ago I was just starting to think I might say yes if he asked me to marry him. By the time he got around to it in January, there was no doubt in my mind. His timing was perfect.

Everyday I give thanks to God for these senior years blessings that I never requested and never expected.

And ...
Two weeks ago the landscapers seeded our grass and covered it with straw. It's waiting for spring under the snow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014


Most of these pictures got posted on Facebook, but some of my dear friends (hi Marsh and Barb) aren't on Facebook. So, here is a brief summary of the past weeks when I've been too tired and busy to post on the blog.

Memo to myself: You are too old to move again. You may have been too old to move this time.

October 15 was the day I officially sold my house in Paw Paw. It would have been nice to have time to celebrate this happy day, but Jay and I were both frantically sorting and packing and arranging for movers to come a week later.

Daughter Heather and Jason came to help me pack. I never would have made it without them. I thought I was organized and ready, but as we packed things kept materializing out of nowhere.

8:30 Wednesday morning, October 22, our eight month wedding anniversary, three movers arrived at Jay's townhouse and two movers arrived at my house in Paw Paw. We combined household belongings at Oak Haven and officially started living together.

Our new Sleep Number bed was delivered the day before we moved in.

Sunny's Sleep Number is 35.

Thursday, the day after we moved in, Jay boggled my mind by picking up his vegetable allotment from the Kalamazoo Nature Center. He washed them and spread them out to dry on the island in the new kitchen.

At this point in our moving, we still had not located the silverware and were operating with two spoons. It's amazing what can be done with two spoons. Why do we need forks and knives?

Last week the landscapers arrived with potted plants. It appears we may even get grass planted yet this fall.

Yesterday they returned with a large rock for the garden (not shown), and a Red Sunset Maple for the front yard.

I don't have a good closing for this post. We are still heavy in the process of getting settled, meaning we are far from done. To be continued.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

House After Hilton Head

When we got home from Hilton Head Island last Friday evening, the first thing we did was drive out to the house to see the progress. There was a lot of progress but not too many photo opportunities. It was evening and the light was not good.

First thing we noticed as we drove up was the brick on the garage. Now the outside is complete except for the front door and the sidelights.

We have a house number on the garage.

Second thing we noticed was our new mailbox. This mailbox is heavy metal, so heavy I have to wonder if it could win a fight with the Almena snow plow. Probably not. Fortunately the Almena snow plow is not expected at Oak Haven, so this mailbox should stand all winter.

Jay and I have both started address changes in anticipation of the move.

Inside the door, the compass was partially installed. The sign says 'Please do not walk here.' We didn't.

Above the compass the foyer light fixture was hanging. We only have a few hanging light fixtures in the house and this is the largest. It was exciting to see it up and looking just as beautiful as we hoped it would.

The hardwood floor is down. So are the tile floors and the floors in the basement. More floor pictures will appear when the light is right.

One of the reasons we are building a house is so Jay can have the refrigerator of his dreams. It was sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and I think he's in love.

He asked me to take this picture. I think I may make it his new Facebook header.

That harvest gold wall color in the refrigerator picture is the result of poor light, not the Hammonds having a regression to the 1960s. The walls are actually a beautiful light sandy brown color.