Island Life

Bois Blanc Island

This was to be a weekend for the memory books.

A ferry ride took us across the top of northern Michigan’s Lake Huron. Our destination was one of the islands, where our friends inherited vacation home was located. It was formerly Nan’s dad home, he was one of the few hardy residents that stayed during the rugged Michigan winters.

Our family was invited but it was my husband they wanted. He was the helping hand in a porch roof repair.

We were in for an interesting experience. The shower curtain bore the attached note:

‘If a shower you must take, don your suit and head for the lake.’

You see, there were these house rules like none other…:

  • Breakfast was served at 7am. Attendance mandatory. It was the only meal we shared together. The rest of the day we were free as a bird.
  • No one sleeps in the master bedroom. It was considered a shrine where dad once slept. Not out of endearment mind you, but a fearful respect for the tough father he once was. Our visiting required this rule to be broken this one time.
  • No watching television. Except for the adults to watch an hour of evening news. Young people were expected to make their own entertainment. The island offered activity in the form of a four-wheeler that they didn’t have at home. The entire island was considered their playground.
  • No milk allowed. Period. In a weekend visit we couldn’t drink it fast enough before it would spoil. (This was our youngest daughters’ favorite rule.)

The family was cautious not to run up burdensome utility bills. Nan and her sister were the inheritors. They ran a tight ship.

Our contentious daughter added to the ‘fun’ until she eventually let her hair down.  A bat latched onto the shoelace of their son, prompted her laughter as he hopped around on one foot trying to shake it off. Eventually she resigning to the fact that our time together required interaction, so she joined the others in a game.

All of us have looked upon on this memory with fondness. It has become an inside joke for the family. When any of us come up with an outlandish desire, we always declare, “…when I get my island….”

Rose Flower

 

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Rose accused me of having frog eyes.

I hope my introduction of Rose will do her justice. Her life was like a flower to me. Did I ever let her know that? No, and it hurts my heart that I’m so lousy at maintaining friendships.

She and her husband Hank were neighbors of my husband. We were going together when I first met them. Often, when we had no money for a real date, we walked two doors down to visit with them.

Hank and Rose mentored us when mentoring wasn’t cool. They may or may not have realized how much we gleaned from them. It took years before I realized it myself.

Together they showed us what family life was all about. They were a blended family but Hank took her family as his, and likewise, his family became Roses. I know no details of their life beforehand and refuse to speculate. There is an advantage to take life where it’s at and move forward because the past is history.

Rose was perpetually involved in some project. Always revolving around family. Although she may have been contemplating a needlework sampler for the two of us. I saw the same pattern she did and ordered it to make myself. That’s when she called me frog eyes.

Even so, both of them took time to chat with us teenagers. They made relationship a priority. We weren’t part of the ‘in crowd’ of party-goers, drinkers, or doing drugs. Instead these precious neighbors were more our speed.

She shared the secret of how to get a husband to do a chore for her. Rose had repeatedly asked Hank to paint their iron stair rail, but he never quite found the time for it. One Saturday morning she laid out newspaper on the carpeted steps and proceeded to open the paint can.

“What are you doing?” Hank inquired.

“I could see how busy you’ve been, so I decided I could probably do this myself.”

“Here, give me the brush, I’ll take over.”

Mission accomplished.

I use the analogy of a flower because a flower brings beauty into any place.  It improves whatever is close by it and that is what Rose did for me. She showed me the impact a loving wife can have to her husband, her home and her family.

Whatever brought her to mind I cannot say, but I googled her and learned of her death. This I can say, whatever her age, she always seemed young. She embraced the computer age and became adept in the cyber world, putting me to shame.

Just as a flower fades with time, apparently so did Rose. Alzheimer’s is a frustrating death that is torturous for loved ones to witness.

While I don’t know her spiritual life, she reminds me much of Jesus. Rose and Jesus prioritized people. Both of them saw the good in others and showed their care.

Goodbye Rose, I love you and hope to see you later.

 

Quilt Of Shame

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Mother’s Day was around the corner.  Perfect timing.  My church was giving me the opportunity to conduct a quilt class for mothers and their daughters. Quilting is a passion of mine and I was getting to share it with others!

I selected a sampler style project that would be an introduction to the many facets of the craft.  With a creative seed planted, I was hoping other women would join me in making quilts for those in need.  This could be the start of something big.  I was going to shine.

It was a learning experience alright.  For me.  Organization was required. Relaying directions in a way novice quilters and young girls could understood was important. Supposedly, I was to be the knowledgeable teacher.  It was going fairly well.  Until the end was in sight and it was time to bind the edges of the wall-hanging.

One mother/daughter team was getting in the groove and were ahead of the group.

There is just no easy way to say this. 

I ruined their project. I cut her binding too short.  If only the ground would open for me to fall in and disappear!

Needless to say, no one jumped to join in my little mission for the needy.  I was more than embarrassed, I was humbled.  Which I greatly deserved.

With all my fluff and greatness, I never asked the Lord to bless this opportunity.  How arrogant can one get?

Since my public tragedy my friends smile with patient endurance as I rattle off on my current quilt endeavor.  But I’ve learned not to be so full of myself.  A friend aptly clarifies quilting,

“You buy several yards of fabrics, cut them into pieces, and then sew them all back together again.” Yes, she gets it.

Eventually, two women did join me in quilt-making for those in need.  We met once a month.  But due to all of us employed, getting a quilt completed proved to be a challenge.  I discussed this dilemma with the Lord many a time.  My prayer was answered via a garage sale.

A neighbor came by purchasing my fabric. She shared that several ladies in her church do a similar ministry to an organization my church is also affiliated with.  She graciously invited our group to join them.  More hands to the task! At first I was encouraged, but eventually turned my mission over to them.

These events took place over many years.  Not because God was slow to respond or that he was punishing me for promoting self.

I’m certain it has more to do with dedication to what God wants, not what I’m willing to do for God.  He has his plans which far surpass what I can imagine.

If my intentions are genuine, then my life needs to walk in step with Him.

Balloon Daze

20200612_195001       © jb katke

Hot air balloons drift through my mind. Three of them floated over our home recently.

The thought of being carried by the wind, and the birds eye view, entice me. Maybe it’s the sheer size of them, or being so colorful. Whatever it is, I love them.

Whenever I see one anymore it reminds me of the time I pierced my sons’ eardrums. Poor Jamie. Several years ago we were chatting on the telephone. Having a cordless phone gave me the freedom to walk around the house.

I casually strolled into the office and opened the window blinds.

(Humor me. Hold both your hands close to your face, but not touching. Can’t see too much can you?)

When I opened those blinds all I could see were massive stripes.

“Oh my gosh!”

A hot air balloon landed in our front yard. It was a bit of a miracle because of the two large oak trees on both sides of the house. The balloon filled the entire gap.

If I hadn’t opened those blinds I would have missed the whole scene. And Jamie might have his full hearing today!

Blinds shield too much sun and offer privacy at night. Blinders on horses keep them from being distracted.

But what about the blinders we wear on a regular basis that keep us from seeing reality, the big picture? We may have less compassion for others and potentially lose an opportunity to make a difference in life.

If Edison hadn’t acknowledged the need for light, we would still be in the dark after sunset. If a person hadn’t wanted to cross a body of water, rafts and boats wouldn’t have come to be. Pioneers felt there must be a better way to travel, hence trains. You get the idea.

Need I even mention counselors and therapists to aid in both mental and physical capacities? Churches offer hope in hard times, plant seeds of trust and strengthen all the time. IF we approach them with an open heart.

Ugghhh…sounds too much like welcoming change! It is, for the better.

 

 

 

Cheerful Helpmate

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“You have been married forty years? I can’t imagine being together with someone that long.”

Tina was caregiver to my father and his wife in their final years.  The admiration of the love they shared spoke to this twenty something young woman. That’s what prompted her question to my husband and me as to the years we’ve been together.

“What is the glue that motivates you to stay together?”

I ask you, how does one explain in a few words what has taken a lifetime to learn?

We married so young, I must confess, both of us had some growing up to do. But there were some things set in place that helped.  Each of us came from a solid two parent home.  Both families acknowledged God.

Being high school sweethearts gave us the time to get to know each other. Learning what makes a person tick is beneficial as to whether the relationship continues.   We liked each other and appreciated our respective outside interests.

In our dating years there was no sexual intimacy.  That may sound admirable, but I later learned becomes crucial.

Our marriage has definitive roles.  We relied upon each other.  Knowing the one would pull their weight made for less conflict because we shared the same goals.

But things don’t always stay the same.  Employment can change. Age happens.  Health plays a big part. Adapting becomes the rule of the day.

God’s word indicates a wife to be a help, not a hindrance, to her husband. I became right-hand man to my husbands’ remodeling business. Office assistant and go-fer were added to the hats I wore.

When life changes come at you came, we knew we had each other’s back.  Whatever we were in, we were in it together.

The Bible doesn’t indicate a husband to be a helpmate.  But he can be if he wants to.  Recently, at a quilt workshop, I forgot to pack way too many needful items.  My husband willingly brought what I needed.  Four times!  Happily, because he knows I would do it for him.

Have done it for him.  Well, not four times in one day.

Bear with my lopsided humor. In reference to the picture, differing adhesives are required:

Painters tape for little touch-ups that need attention.

Movers tape because oftentimes we need to move on.

Electrical tape as sometimes tempers get hot (ok mine can).

Duct tape when you need something that will stick forever.

Wood glue, with a clamp, when you remember a commitment was made on our wedding day, complete with witnesses!

Explaining to so many doesn’t make sense when you genuinely love each other and know we were brought together for a divine reason.

 

The Perfect Husband

Dave sunning 3[2898]                                                                © jb katke

Can you define the perfect husband?

When my girls were teenagers they could sum it up in a single word. Rich.

My definition of the perfect husband has changed through the years. I didn’t think about it when I got married. My list came into existence when our first child was born. I should have married a pediatrician. He could have answered my endless questions and known just what to do in child raising.

Fathers Day is approaching, so I focus on Dave, the father of my children. As the years stacked up I was glad to have married a man that can fix anything. Anything. But then I got to wishing he would stop with the constructive criticism. I found he wasn’t so handy at emotional issues.

Our first home shrank after purchase. We moved in as a family of three but grew to five. Even completely rebuilding the upstairs, it still left us wanting more space. But it definitely improved the salability of the home. I was truly grateful for his skill.

We shared several lean years when he did much of our automotive maintenance. He knew how to do a lot, then I found out he didn’t like it too much. Shoot, we couldn’t afford all our car repairs! So I was glad he was at least willing to tackle some.

His career was in machine maintenance at a check printing company. So many of the plants were closing that it made moving away from the only home we knew necessary. Both of our hearts ached at the division it created in our family. But he faced the hardship in order to continue providing for us.

He retired at a young age which required further employment. By now his skills had become well known to friends. It led to his starting a home business in remodeling. He was a man in demand. I was so proud to his expertise until he was a little too busy to make what I deemed necessary for our home!

When friends found themselves out of work, Dave offered for them to join him, making it a win/win for all. My man has a good heart. After several surgeries, he needed a helping hand. Friends stepped up, even though construction was out of their wheelhouse, and came to his aid. He knows how to make and keep good friends.

Our life together has not always been perfect. But I have come to the point of realization Dave is perfect for me. He balances me as no other can. He is a man full of wisdom and I appreciate being able to bounce thoughts off him. Sometimes he wonders where I come up with stuff, but its all good, we keep each other on our toes.

Dave has supported me while I looked for myself. That’s what women of the 70’s did. They felt the need to be someone more than wife and mother. Deep inside, we know we are made for a unique purpose. Many left home, but I stayed and kept looking in the cracks and crevices until I found me.

The thing is we more than like each other, we love each other. Staying together just made sense.  But I’ve saved the best for last. He recognized his need for Jesus and together we have included him in our marriage. Our life together has never been so good!

Life Behind the Mask

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© jb katke

Masks have caused so much controversy. Every voice has legitimate reason why they are for or against them.

Lets’ be honest. People have been living behind masks for years. I’m not talking Halloween either.

Look at the employee that is passed over year after year without that anticipated promotion and pretending it’s no big deal.

Or the battered wife, convinced she can’t live without her husband. So she covers for his abuse with no end in sight. The hurt is real.

How about the couple dreaming of having a family only to learn it’s not going to happen? Time eventually heals for that to be OK.

Consider the people that have worked hard all their life, anticipating all the things retirement will bring? Only to find reality isn’t what they thought.

Here’s a good one. Church goers accused of putting on a good front on Sunday, but living a lie the rest of the week.

The problem today is, we are called upon to wear masks for the protection of self and others. The unthinkable has suddenly made us a health hazard!

Maybe we have been living unhealthy for a long time. Are your meals a balanced diet? Mine aren’t.

Have you read any articles on the benefit of fitness lately? Its’ one thing to know what should be done but quite another to do it. I know.

A voice of reason might say we just need to do what seems right. Even that can’t be trusted because our right could infringe upon another adversely.

What then?

A decent start could be something I already mentioned…try church. You might be surprised to find the people there are like you, not so holy, and looking for hope. Jesus gives us that.

I mean, what have you got to lose? With the worst of the COVID19 pandemic behind us, services are resuming again. Possibly in their front lawn.

Hey, it could be kinda fun! Bring your lawn chair and a cup of coffee.

Unorganized Church

Small church

“You’re serious. You really looked us up through the yellow page of the phone book?”

Its true. The church I was looking for had to be non-denominational, fundamental, and evangelical. So I let my fingers do the walking.

The time had come to provide for our son what my folks had made available to me. Church.

It was a tall order for the small church I settled on. My husband and I preferred not to be aligned with a denomination. Only we kinda were and didn’t realize it. Much later I learned it was a Plymouth Brethren church. I wasn’t attuned to various religions, and because it was located in the town of Plymouth, I thought nothing of it.

Our attendance met a need…at first. Our minister was a knowledgeable godly man called to many speaking engagements. He traveled a lot, and favored teaching from the Old Testament mapping the travels of various people.  Interesting, but nothing to take home, think on, or apply to our daily life. Spiritually, it was lacking.

I became aware how a congregation lives reflects their spiritual life. When given the opportunity for expansion, the offered land to build on was shot down. So no growth.

Our little church jumped on the popular band wagon to sponsor a Vietnamese family in coming to the US. A home was obtained and made ready for their arrival. But no one seemed interested in providing food or befriending these folks once they arrived.  What’s going on here?

One morning our minister expressed his dislike of men who had long hair.  This was the era of the seventies when that was the fad.  He referred to them as ‘shims.’

Finally the elders of the church suggested he leave to find other employment.

In time a Canadian was selected to lead us.  This new man of God opened scripture like we had never known.  We were introduced to biblical people to identify with and learn from, be they good or bad examples.  He suggested creative ways to show the community our love of God. But it seemed to fall on deaf ears. Our disillusionment grew.

When we moved out of state we set out church shopping. This time we were a little wiser and more selective to find sound teaching. The one we settled on has gone through numerous changes that a church shouldn’t have to experience. But then, why not? We are in the real world where stuff happens.

The COVID19 pandemic has brought on yet more changes. Through the years I’ve learned organization, or disorganization, is a choice. But Truth never changes, it’s who I represent that speaks volumes to those around me.

Roller Coaster Realty

Livonia Home[2874]

 

 

© jb katke

 

Who would have thought buying or selling a house is akin to a roller coaster ride? Emotions swung like a pendulum.

Whatever home improvement project we tackled didn’t address the real problem. As our family grew, the house shrank.

So we put our first home on the market. If memory serves me right it was the first time our son, Jamie offered to cut the grass. Mentally he wanted to mow the For Sale sign down. .

Wishing to keep our kids in their current schools kept our choices in a small circle.   I tackled house-hunting hoping to find one that would meet our needs.  Mission impossible.

One home had a cast iron reproduction stove I loved, but not so the house. Eventually I gave up. Why look when no one was coming to see ours?

Having returned from vacation I was diving into the mountains of laundry when a realtor called. Someone wanted to see the house, but I put no hopes into a possible sale.

“Please pay no mind to the laundry, it doesn’t come with the house.”

Even though the young wife promised her husband he could pick their next home, she fell in love with ours.

“How soon can you move out?”

Wait, what? We had to put it into high gear to find a place for ourselves. Go figure, our realtor had gone on vacation. So another filled her absence even though she was sickish.

We found a place in the neighborhood of our youngest childs elementary school. Ideal because many friends lived in that area of our older daughter as well.

We learned the sellers were friends from my parents past. When that became known they really wanted us to have their home. What a warm feeling!

“How soon can you move in?”

We had been told someone else had made an offer but had to back out of it. The following weekend the realtor set up another open house.

We placed our offer beforehand, but despite the sellers’ wishes, the realtor went on with her plan. She was hoping to benefit of being both seller and the purchasing agent as well.

Things happened fast. But the time of closing needed a little tweaking. We appealed to the sellers’ agent asking if we could postpone it one week.

“Absolutely not! They were most put out by your unreasonable request.”

We felt terrible to cause them in any kind of anguish. Because we sort of knew each other, I called with an apology for putting them out.

“What? We had no idea you had asked that, of course we can wait a week.”

Out of kindness to us, the broker of our agent gave us a bridge loan to cover the four hours between the purchase of our new home and later sale of our existing home.

“In all my years in the realty business, I’ve never know the likes of this realtors practices.”

By now we had established a good relationship with many in the office.

We later learned this agent was a personal friend of the seller and was looking out for their best interest. Her ‘concern’ for them nearly put her in jeopardy of coming before the Board of Realtors.

It all came out in the wash and we have lived happily ever after. Several homes ago.

House hunting happens every day. What was my purpose in sharing this? I’d like you to know God is in the details

The Way Things Were

Have you had enough time to reflect? How life used to be and do you want to make things different?

My mom cane to mind, maybe because we just celebrated Mothers Day. Or it could have been this gross dishwater I’m sharing with you. This was a daily occurrence in her life.

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Back in the day dish soap wasn’t what we know today. Mom would have to drain the sink after washing a few things and get fresh water and soap. Did I mention she didn’t have a dishwasher?

So many, including myself, will talk about the good old days. But maybe they weren’t altogether sooo good.

Permanent press clothes have not always been. Ironing was a necessity.

Microwaves weren’t invented yet. So reheated food was often a little cool or burned from further baking.

You think our roads are bad now? I can recall dad putting chains on the tires of his car for the winter season. That’s another thing. Living in a northern state, we had snow. Lots of it. I’m not talking climate change, and you can’t make me.

There were no malls to shop or for teens to hang out at. The big name brand stores resided in the metropolitan cities. The suburbs had mom and pop stores. Today many are returning to small businesses to support the community.

That’s what we used to have…community! Churches have a reputation of filling needs and we can see that today. We have made the effort to be there for each other.

Jesus was big into people. Admittedly he did get around a lot. Often his scheduled appointments were a distance away, so he walked. Giving him the fresh air and exercise many are doing now.

Have you ever given any thought to Jesus having meetings to attend? He knew the answer to life problems made himself available to others.

To do that takes time. We have had lots of that too. Suddenly multi-tasking has taken a back seat and life has taken on a slower pace. It’s nice not to rush from one activity to another.

It would be nice too, to have someone to turn to for answers. Oh wait…we do! If Jesus makes himself available, we might as well give him some of that time we have excess of. You know where to find him. Incorporate the Nike thing, just do it.