Day 5: Our 20th anniversary/Death’s Door

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Just like that, the weather changed and we had to leave the beauty of Washington Island behind. We had to leave early or risk being stuck on the island in bad weather for several days.

I got up early. I couldn’t sleep. I admit, I am a little nervous about the day to come. We are looking at strong winds and waves as we sail around Death’s Door (the tumultuous waters where the bay and Lake Michigan collide).

We fully suited up for foul weather in our rain coats over our pants and life jackets. The warm weather was gone. I felt like I was weighed down with a bullet proof vest.

It was rough heading out against the waves. There were 2 men on kayaks in the channel. One dressed for the weather with a life jacket and the other in just a swimsuit. It was nerve wracking trying to maneuver our sailboats around them. We were surrounded by shallow water.

Once again it was fun riding the waves at first. But then came the moment of panic. It was a get me out of here because I feel sick like turbulence on a plane.

We put the main sail up as we were sailing around Death’s Door. I was anxious keeping the boat in irons while Paul put up the sail. The waves were knocking the boat around making it hard to keep it in a straight path. We heeled the boat to the side to keep it in irons and it was a scary feeling. Paul tethered himself to the boat in case he fell off. It didn’t rain but we were wet from the waves crashing against the bow.

After we put up the main sail, we saw a trimaran sailboat struggle through the strong winds. They were moving very fast and we weren’t sure if they were in peril. Paul had me grab the binoculars and turn on the emergency radio while he steered closer to them. They gave us a thumbs up. Just a bunch a thrill seekers sailing the high winds through Death’s Door.

It would’ve been a very bad day for our vow renewal ceremony. I’m not sure where we were at the exact time we got married 20 years ago. I think it was close to the time that we were sailing underneath the parasailor. Paul wanted me to put the camera down and focus on getting to shore. I didn’t have time to count down the minutes to our exact anniversary. As we got closer to shore, the wind got stronger and the waves grew higher. We had difficulty earlier getting the sail down.

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There were several marinas near the area we were going to. We didn’t know which was the right marina or even how to get into it. We couldn’t see the opening. We were near Captain Tom who knew the way. We turned the boat around to follow him and got hit by the waves. We were soaking wet. It was hard to get to shore with the wind and waves as strong as they were. Things got a little messed up as someone was in Captain Tom’s slip. Finally our feet were on shore!

After relaxing for a minute, we were excited to finally have a hot shower after a couple days without. Everything was going great until I went to put on my makeup to go out for supper. The cover came off of my liquid foundation and it poured everywhere making a big mess. I had to throw out some makeup and my bag as wiping it up smeared it all over the place.

We went out to eat at the Wild Tomato. They had the best pizza, but they also had over an hour wait for a table. So we sat at the outside bar and listened to live music on a Wednesday night. Our group laughed and talked like we’ve known each other forever instead of just meeting. There was absolutely no conflict the whole trip. Everyone got along great.

That evening it cooled off. I could hear the wailing wind and crashing waves from my bed in the berth. It looks like the weather is going to be bad the next couple of days. We might get holed up here for a few more days.

 

 

Up north adventures

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We left Wednesday afternoon to take the winding roads through the north woods of Wisconsin to get to our friends cabin. This was our first time at Tom and Lisa’s cabin. The last couple miles of our journey was on dirt roads.

When we arrived at their cabin, I felt like we stepped back in time. It was quiet and peaceful in their cabin in the woods on the lake. Their biggest form of entertainment upstairs was a record player. We listened to Kenny Rogers and Huey Lewis, the records I listened to as a kid. It’s amazing how I haven’t heard some of those songs for 30 years and can still sing them by heart. I picked out a few records, but to be honest I almost forgot how the record player worked.

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We spent the first evening kayaking around the lake. We sat around the campfire and spent the evenings playing darts and board games. We spent half of the next day at the beach we had to ourselves. It was a hot day and storms blew through in the evening. We had to rescue the kids from the beach in the evening as the storms were coming in. The thunder echoed off the lake magnificently.

I was surprised at how at peace I was there. I certainly shouldn’t have been. Yesterday Tom and Lisa’s friend came up with his kids. Out of all of us, we had 7 kids between the ages of 10 and 15.

I had a hard time sleeping at night. There wasn’t any A/C. The mattress was little and old. It caved in towards the center. I ended up rolling downhill into Paul all night, tossing turning and elbowing him. Four of the kids slept in the room above ours. It sounded like a marching band was practicing above our heads. At 2 AM, I told them to shut up. Nicely, of course, since they weren’t my kids.

I awoke at 6 AM after a restless night of sleep to the ringing of the phone. Our employee called in saying that her mom was in the ICU and couldn’t make it to work today. My mood darkened considerably. I decided to stick with our plan anyway, but modify it a bit.

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Lisa and I were planning on going for a 9 mile run and then hiking to a waterfall. Instead, we hopped on the back of their 4 wheeler to hike. Can you believe that I was never on a 4 wheeler before? It was fun.

We hiked the muddy path to the waterfall. There wasn’t another person in sight, which was great because I had to pee. We had to hike around fallen trees. It felt like an obstacle course more than anything. We made it there and I thought I would share a few pictures.

Afterwards, our husbands dropped us off on the road and we ran 6 miles back to the cabin. It was a tough run. I’m not sure if it was because of working out 3 hours two days before, the endless supply of liquor, a week of barely any sleep, that it was hot out, or because we had to cut our vacation short to go back in to work to cover for an absent employee. Good thing we didn’t see any bears! I could never outrun Lisa.

Regardless, we had fun on our mini vacation. Maybe tonight I will get some sleep??

Then tomorrow we are off bright and early for a sailboat cruise, then ending the day with a sailboat race. Another adventure awaits!

 

Over the river and through the woods

  

Yesterday morning I awoke with a feeling of trepidation. I think I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect..

I drove over the river (or I should say over the railroad tracks, I’ve never seen so many tracks crossing the highway anywhere else) and through the deep dark woods of WI to take the kids to see grandma (my mother-in-law Martha). She didn’t make it over for Thanksgivng. In fact, she has gotten to the point where she is no longer eating much more than applesauce. 

For years, my son Alex and my husband Paul joined Paul’s stepdad Darryl to hunt. For the last couple of years, Martha would come to my house and spend the weekend playing cards, working puzzles, and watching movies. But she is too sick to go anywhere now. She has stage 4 terminal cancer. The chemo stopped working and the cancer has spread. The guys have been visiting her the last couple of weekends, but I haven’t had the chance to visit for awhile. I felt that it was important to take Angel out to see her while she was home from college for a few days. Will it be the last time?

I was afraid. Afraid of what I would find. Paul has been coming home upset from his time spent there. He didn’t know why. Then after awhile, he said that it was horrible seeing his mother die.

So I was afraid. My stomach felt upset. Would she be in great pain? Would she forget my name like the last time I visited. It’s hard to see someone who was once so vibrant and full of life fade away. She lost over 50 lbs and is just skin and bones. Her hair is starting to grow back in a brown patch of fuzz, so different from her black curly long hair she once had. Her gait is slow, she aged 20 years in a year. 

She was happy to see us. 

I was able to sneak away for awhile to see the deer stands. In all these years, I have never seen where they hunt.  In all those years, they only got one buck. To think just this last week we awoke to find a deer delivered to the end of our driveway, but the meat was not salvageable.  
Regardless, if they don’t bring back a buck, every year they bring back a Christmas tree. 

I had to show you a picture of Alex and Paul at Alex’s tree stand. 

Our visit with Martha went better than the girls and I expected. Martha is such an unrealistic optimist that I think she makes herself feel better. She kept talking about the day that she will get better and be able to come over to visit. That day will never come, but maybe it is better that she believes it.  It was nice to see her so upbeat and not have to see her suffer. The thought of watching a loved one suffer is unbearable.

Thanksgiving break is officially over now. Today I dropped Angel off to catch her carpool for the 4 hour drive back to school. It was strange to see her go back again with her suitcase full. I don’t always like my new reality, but I have learned to accept it. If only I could stop time for just a few seconds…

I dropped Angel off and came home to a glorious blue Christmas tree. I am excited for the beginning of the next holiday season. A time of hope and light. A time of such intense busyness that I forget all of my troubles.. 

I am going to decorate my tree tonight..

23. My top 5 hobbies

Day 23: List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.

1. Writing 

I love writing because I am secretive, quiet, and pensive person. These thoughts demand release. I don’t like talking on the phone, small talk, or long periods of silence that I feel like I have to fill with meaningless conversation. I have to think about everything before I say it, then think about it some more. I have a need to tell people what is on my mind, but when I try to talk the words just don’t come out right away. Then I miss the opportunity. Or people talk over me.. So I share my thoughts with you. Most of these thoughts I don’t even share with my closest friends. They don’t even know about my blog. When I was a kid, I wrote fiction books, poetry, and in my diaries. Then I put it all away for 20 years! I love to write about my childhood, my life in general, and stories of eccentric people who inspire me. I am a peace loving person, so I will never speak much about politics, religion, or controversial issues. I won’t write about beauty products, movies, or contemporary culture because I have no interest in writing about that. I have been blessed to have lived an eventful life. It has given me more than enough to write about. I also love to read the interesting stories of people who do unique things or overcome struggles.

2. Running

I never thought I would love running. I never get sick of the same route because every run is different. What I love about running is pushing my mind when my body has different ideas. It has given me endurance, preseverance, strength, and it makes me feel tough especially on the days that a Netflix marathon seems more attractive. I don’t like sprinting and prefer to run great lengths. I love competition and racing, especially 10k’s and half marathons. Although I said I wouldn’t, I will probably run another marathon since I haven’t achieved my goal time yet. I also like badminton, swimming, cross country skiing, hiking, dancing, and biking. These other likes prompted me to do my first triathlon. I want to be very active even into old age and am setting the pace for that now. Running has been my first love and I don’t see myself falling out of love with the sport any time soon.

3. Photography

I love capturing the beauty that surrounds me. I love taking pictures of landscapes and people. I like candid shots and don’t care for posing. I have always wanted to take my kids senior pictures and decorate my house with beautiful canvases of my creation. I love my vacation pictures of The Grand Canyon, New York City, and Pigeon Island in St. Lucia, etc… Or the simple beauty of wildlife on the lake, sunsets on the bay, winter snow storms, summer rainbows, or autumn leaves. I want to capture that beauty forever and surround myself with it as a reminder of my days in the sun during the dark days.

4. Singing

I have always liked to sing, especially with my daughter who is going to college for vocal performance. I have been thinking of getting lessons, but decided to ask my daughter to teach me new things over her breaks from school instead. I love singing in musicals. There is something very special about dressing up in fancy costumes and being someone else for awhile. I love the challenge of difficult music. I also like to sing Christmas carols with my daughter in church, go out for karaoke, or sing while my husband plays guitar. It has been a dream to write and perform my own music or to sing in a band. I don’t particularly like singing in choirs or singing music that I don’t like though.  

5. Traveling

I love to go to new places and experience new cultures. I love thinking and planning. I like to do a lot of research beforehand about the area I am going to and the things I could do while I am there. I like to interact with the local people. I love taking a lot of off the wall pictures. I almost love the planning as much as the traveling itself. I would love to be a world traveler off the beaten path someday when I have the freedom. I want to go to the underwater hotel in Dubai. I want to see the pyramids. I want to visit the roads that my ancestors tread. I want to see the beauty of Iceland. I want to sail the Caribbean. I want to sit on the beach in Bora Bora. I want to see every part of this world. 

Rain in the desert

  

The conference is almost over. 

Today it is raining in the desert. It has been raining all day. When we got here it was dry and over a hundred degrees. Today it is in the 70’s and humid. I heard someone say that the locals said it was a miracle. The one of five days a year that it rains around here. To me, it reminds me of home. 

It has taken awhile to get used to the time change. We have been staying up late and getting up early.

We have already had problems at home. Arabella got into an argument with grandma over chores…chores that I said needed to be done but didn’t say who needed to do them..chores that I usually do..chores that no one seems to want to do like cleaning the cat box and taking out the garbage. 

We have had problems at work too while we were gone. Our phone lines and Internet were down most of the morning. Customers were frustrated. 

I can’t wait for the day when getting away is worry free. Can’t anyone else handle these petty annoyances? Apparently not when it is your kids and your name is on the door of your business. 

I wish it was sunny and warm so I can enjoy the pool. But then I think of how dry the land is here. The mountains seem to consist of rock piles and dead trees. The grass is dust. The hotel must pay a steep price for the vegetation we take for granted at home. 

Maybe miracles don’t always come in the way that we expect. It is all about perspective. 

I can’t imagine the dry, dusty, desolate, desperate thirst for water….

All I can think about is that when I go to the desert it rains and when I sign up for a race it is always hot and humid… What can I say?? Sometimes life is strange..

Can’t anything in my life be normal? I suppose then I wouldn’t have anything to write about. 

But maybe I should’ve packed a pair of pants….hmmm. 

Pondering purpose and moving mountains

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Do you know what your purpose is in life? How hard would it be to move mountains?

These are my deep thoughts as I sit on the hotel balcony enjoying the lovely view in California.

I started pondering my purpose on the plane ride over. I am an anxious flyer, but I knew I was safe because I was with Paul. Not that he necessarily makes me feel safe, but because I know that God has a greater plan for his life.

But why don’t I feel like that about myself?? That there isn’t a great plan for me? 

What if the purpose of my life is to bear a child that would bear a child that would make a huge positive impact on the world? What if that is my sole purpose? Would I be okay with that? 

What if I was meant to support someone else that would make a difference in the world but never have a huge positive impact myself?

Do all lives have meaning?? What about the quadriplegic? Someone who is declining into dementia?? What about someone with autism? There are some who would say that they are not a valuable member of society if they are not a productive member of society.

But I don’t think that that is true. Carrying for a disabled family member, although burdensome at times, has positively impacted my life. Let me repeat that. Someone deemed by society as not having purpose has changed my life. 

While I sit at the conference, I listen to the keynote speaker talk about leadership and being a positive change in the world. There are a few people here that I think will do it. Then I walk down the hotel corridor and a cleaning lady smiles at me. Maybe changing the world doesn’t always mean moving mountains. Maybe it’s just a smile or kind word when someone needs it. Helping others..

Even though I am middle aged, sometimes I still ponder the purpose of my life. Am I doing what I am supposed to do? Am I on the right path? Does my life line follow the right projectory for positive growth?

There are a few people, like Paul, that are capable of moving mountains…that seem to have a special purpose. Then there are others, like me, still trying to figure things out.

Do you know your purpose in life? Does it change over time? Or are you still trying to figure things out?

Carefree moments..

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Don’t I look like the cat that ate the canary??

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This past weekend we sailed somewhere new for our friend Ted’s birthday.

It was a warm and windy day. This time the winds were in our favor to get to the park and back quickly. The minute Ted, Cindy, and I stepped on the boat we all curled up and fell asleep. That just shows how much we trusted Paul to get us through the wind and waves.

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Sometimes I take for granted the beauty of my home state. I could’ve stayed in one spot and took pictures for hours.

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But my friends would’ve left without me!

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Paul keeps an eye on his sailboat from the scenic overlook above.

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Then I had a carefree moment on the ledge disregarding the large drop off behind me.

Up north photography

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Here are a few of my favorite up north photos of the season. Although it looks rather remote, it really isn’t. Just a few spots that I like to take pictures of.

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The lake is the habitat of a lot of wildlife. This eagle has a nest nearby our cabin. It likes to eat the northern, bass, bluegills, and crappies that live in the lake. We also see cranes, geese, loons, and lot of other birds. The most plentiful wild life are the people that make the lake their home on warm summer weekends.

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Early mornings on the lake are very quiet. The evenings, not so much…

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This past weekend we took out the dock. It was a sad day. We won’t be back until May.

Sea sick

I spent the whole weekend on the water. Sailing by day and fishing by night. My body is swaying to an unheard unsteady beat. I feel sea sick. It is slowly going away.

Saturday morning, Paul and I took my mom sailing for her birthday. Not just my mom, but a whole fleet of boats followed us to a local festival. We also took our daughter Arabella, my sister-in-law Carla, and my autistic brother Matt. Carla and Matt never sailed before.

The trip went better than expected. Matt did really well on the boat, better than Carla who spent a lot of time complaining about how hot she was. It took us a long time to eat lunch with our big group. By the time we finished, there was only an hour left of the festival. We were downhearted about having to pay full price until they decided to let us all in for free.

Paul, Arabella, and I stayed overnight at the marina in town alongside our friend Harv. Harv wanted someone to sail back with him in the morning. Harv is in his mid-80’s. We discussed what to do in an emergency. I piped in that I would probably freak out and never want to go sailing again. It was decided that Arabella would sail back with Harv. They had a great time playing cards together while the auto pilot sailed them home with Paul and I beside them.

I was dead tired when I got home. A few hours after I got home, I received a call from Ted and Cindy who wanted to take me salmon fishing for the first time. They asked a couple of times this year and last year, but I was never able to go last minute. Paul has hell week at the theater, so I decided to go without him.

The three of us left yesterday evening to salmon fish on Lake Michigan. After we got past the breakwater, Ted opened the motor on his boat and we were flying across the waves. I have never been on a boat that fast. It was exhilarating. I was not afraid even when we were in 100 feet of water. Ted cast the lines in the water. The down riggers made a melodic humming noise in the water. It was very peaceful.

Then we waited. We saw fish on the fish finder, but they were not biting. Ted gave me pointers on how to reel in a big salmon. Cindy showed me her big box of lures. Ted marked spots where he saw schools of fish. It seemed like we went in circles all night. We danced around other boats. We saw the lights go on in the towns nearby. The lake became quiet and dark. It was very beautiful. I was cold. Still no bites.

The other boats filled with men left the water. I didn’t see any other women fishing. Still no bites. I could tell that Ted was upset. They wondered why the fish weren’t biting. They looked at me. I hoped they weren’t going to throw me overboard. Maybe I was bad luck. They worried that I was bored and would never come back again. The lake grew dark. The other boats left. No bites. No bites. I was not afraid. Even in 100 feet. Even in the dark.

I was starting to feel sleepy. Ted pulled out the fishing poles. Cindy steered the boat. I put away the glow in the dark lures. I put one away and several others stuck to my clothing. I wanted to be helpful but didn’t know what else to do. Ted opened the motor on the way back in the dark. I was a little afraid of what I couldn’t see. I felt like I was driving with my eyes closed.

We got back after midnight. I almost fell down the steps when I got home. The room was swaying. The steps seemed to move.  This morning I felt hungover. I had a headache. My stomach felt queasy. It was hard to eat. The room moved. I wanted it to stop. My body wanted to fight the feeling.

Paul has been talking about sailing the loop. Retiring on the sea. Getting a bigger boat. Cruising the Caribbean. Sailing to Tahiti. All I want right now is for the room to stop spinning.

19th anniversary sail continued…

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And just like that, Sunday morning arrived and it was time to sail home. It was a warm day with agreeable winds that would blow us back home.

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This is a picture of Paul attaching the whisker pole to the jib sail. This allowed us to open our sails wide to let the breeze carry us home.

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It can be lonely out on the open water. We saw a couple of birds, boats, and this big cargo ship on the horizon. Paul said that the only time he sees me fully relax is when I am on the sailboat. We can be heeling at a sharp angle with me calmly snoozing.

Today we have been married for 19 years and together for 21.

A few years ago, I saw an older couple walking together hand in hand on the beach. We had the opportunity to talk and I asked them how long they have been together since they looked so happy and in love. They responded that they have been dating for 6 months or some similar period of time. What I don’t see is what I want to be. I want to be that couple that has been together over 20 years walking hand in hand on the beach.

I worry about the changes that this next year will bring. We are facing the loss of our first parent this coming year. Saying good-bye has been a difficult process. Plus, in a few short weeks, we are sending our firstborn off to college and into the adult world.

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On the last leg of our journey, another sailboat pulled up along side of us. They warmly greeted us with shouts we could barely hear then continued sailing a different way. Our paths intersected for a short time.

Paul had to be back early for play practice, but we had a few minutes to stop at a quiet sandy beach. We let the cool waves take us to shore. When we got there, we found a little sailboat stuck partially under the sand. We carried the pieces to shore. It was sad to see the broken abandoned boat. It felt like we were seeing a lost dream. The wind must have taken it from its home.

No matter where the winds of life end up taking us, I am happy to be with a great man.

And for that brief moment in time, we were able to walk hand in hand on the beach.