Starting Over

In writing and in life, I am ready for what’s next. Our Michigan house is shiny clean and ready to be sold. Since leaving Florida, we have been non-stop cleaning, inside and out. We have hired a realtor and an estate sale team because…we are not taking much. I am taking about 100 of my thousand or so books, some art, family photos, and my granny’s hope chest. Also everything to do with the WIP. I have what may well be my last writers’ meeting (in Michigan) tomorrow. I have ideas for the book, so I have a fresh writing pad and of course all my electronics go wherever I do.

We have our Florida condo, and it’s small, but we love almost everything about it. So we have a place to land once we sell this place. We’re hoping for a final summer in Michigan, and I’m hoping most of it will be in Traverse City. I’d also like to visit Seattle before we head down to Florida, because hugs are officially okay again. I did see my grandson Ben and yes I hugged him! But we have not seen our Seattle family except on FaceTime in 19 months! Our community here in Michigan had the first summer gazebo party this week, maybe 20 people, no masks, and I hugged with abandon! I caught up with a neighbor here who has a place right where we want to be in Florida!!! I knew that, but I forgot.

Covid turned the lights off, but they’re back on and I’m feeling so much better. Some weird things were going on inside me at the end of the lockdown, like I didn’t want to engage on social media. I’ve never been one for phone calls, and am amazed when friends will say they talk to their mom every day at least once on the phone. Or they call their kids every day. I am always worried that I’ll be interrupting somebody. Especially my sons because when I was their age with kids, work, spouse, and friends, my time was planned down to the minute. I lost a few people who might have become friends because I had to cut conversations short. It was dinner time, I was late for class, or writing. And I thought, you know what, if they don’t understand, we shouldn’t be friends anyway.

I have not been blogging as much as I used to…I believe I’ve said it all before. But this next chapter is new, so maybe I’ll soon have fresh gossip or news or both. Getting together with friends again feels like a warm bath after being caught out in the snow. During Covid, all I did was read and write. And shop on Amazon. I want a few things, for example all my tech is old. I’m trying to wait until the computer industry finds a way to banish the foreign hackers. Not that I’m keeping any state secrets, just moving on, literally.

The Last Time

We’ve been home in Michigan from Florida for a week now and have cleaned and decluttered and put things away. Still deciding on what art to keep…the Frida Kahlo canvas print in the photo above is for sure a keeper and so is the hope chest it’s resting on. Of my books, about 2/3 of my library will be culled. We have already donated a huge load of clothing, jewelry, one framed print and other random things from my massive closet cleaning yesterday. I have been ignoring (and missing!) social media mostly but yesterday I did try to make a Canva twitter post about Jane in St Pete to pin to the top of my page. It turned out okay, but somehow I was not able to add an Amazon link or a link to the full review I quoted. And I see, looking at my email, that I signed up for a year of “premium” Canva, perhaps hoping it would help with that. Think I did it for the free month. I’m not sure it makes a difference, but I’ll try one more Canva post before I cancel the paid premium. I might keep it, if it helps me add those links.

The other thing I’m missing is writing, specifically writing the next Jane book. I stopped at a good place, but I want to devote myself to it, and I just can’t right now. The best I can do is write three pages in my journal every morning and I do love that; it keeps the writer in me just short of starving. And I decided to treat myself to a day of reading posts from my favorite bloggers and writing this post to catch you up on what I’m doing. This helps feed my writing self as well.

Feel I deserve a treat after a solid week of working hard to clean and organize the house after more than four months away. And there’s another reason I’m doing an especially deep clean. We’re seeing a realtor this coming week, and I hope we settle on a date to make this house sale official. We’ve lived here eight years. When we bought it I felt as though I was dreaming. I never thought we’d leave our home of 25+ years. I never thought to have such a lovely home. And brand new, too. But my husband had a plan and he followed through in ways I wasn’t even counting on. Al is very smart about the housing market. All the financial markets, really. Economics in general, he’s a savvy guy.

We’ve been visiting Florida every spring break for twenty years. Somewhere along the line, we agreed we’d like to retire there. Along with the other one thousand baby boomers per day who had the same idea. We didn’t think a whole lot about it until my dad moved and we scooped up his place. We’d stayed there often enough. Also with friends who either had made the move or rented for the winter months. Aside from hotel rooms, we never did the rental in Florida, jumping instead straight into buying. Also, yes, my dad now has a lanai, a laundry room and a garage of his own 🙂 Nice upgrade and only ten minutes from us.

So after the sale, we’ll land in our little Florida place for now, but we’ll be shopping for something with a few more of the amenities I miss when we’re there. Like, a laundry room. I solved that problem by taking my clothes to the cleaner, who do a wash/dry/fold service. Al used our shared laundry room for towels, rugs, sheets, and his stuff. So it was affordable, to hire out just my things, although I do a better job. And I’d rather do it myself. I finally got all the laundry we brought home finished, some to be donated and some just because there was a pile of it!

I skipped the cleaners the last week in Florida because I missed my washer/dryer and wanted to use it! Also love having a dishwasher again. And the outdoor deck. And the fact that this ride home from Florida is the last time we’ll have to do that. It’s as warm as Florida today here in Michigan, but the weather people are calling for rain the rest of the week. That’s okay, because I have the one room I missed the most: my writing room, where I’m sitting typing to you right now. I hope it’s sunny and warm where you are, too.

Last Post

I just bought a home in a Florida beach town. I’ve lived in Michigan all my life except for a brief season in Key West when I was on the brink of twenty and recovering from a teenage marriage. I still live in Michigan, as my husband is not yet retired and I very much like living with him. But as Michiganders of a certain age sometimes do, we’re taking a second home to avoid the brutal winters.

Until I can convince Al to retire, he won’t be down south with me as much as I’d like. He does have several weeks’ vacation, so he’ll be there a good chunk of the time. Probably not in February where I will try to console myself with lots of writing time and feathering the new nest. Also a consolation: not having to cook all those suppers and shop for the vast quantities of groceries he makes disappear with alarming regularity.


Still, I’ll miss him when we’re not together.

It feels really strange to have two houses in two states, but strange in a good way, like an exciting adventure. And as one adventure begins, another ends. After fourteen years and 2482 posts (!!!) this is my last one. I started blogging as a way to motivate, understand and identify myself as a writer. I was unpublished and wanted a place to hold the dream of one day being the author of books. So I did what I set out to do and made some good friends along the way. Thank you all for reading. Now on to the next adventure.

Reborn on the Bayou

It feels like home on the Florida bayou where my dad lives these days. I consider never leaving and the temptation is strong. My family has a long history in the south. My great-grandmother, known in the family as “Mama Q” was born in Georgia and lived much of her life in Leesburg, close to Orlando, before there was such a thing as Walt Disney World. She was almost 100 when she passed.

When her daughter, my grandmother, rejoined Mama Q back in their southern world, it was a blow to me, still a young girl who loved my grandmother more than any other single person in the world, probably because she loved me that much, too. She was a large woman, big-boned and tall, with endless energy and an abundance of affection freely given. She bore eight children. My dad was the oldest, as I was his oldest child.

Born and raised in Michigan, I had no idea people like Mama Q, my grandmother, even my dad (who is kindness personified) were alive in the world. Maybe it’s a southern thing, that loving kindness. You’re born with it, or you’re not.  My father’s family are demonstrative, they bestow hugs liberally. They are warm people and have inherited genes from a warm climate.


My mother’s family of reserved easterners loved me, of course, but their love was dignified and quiet, and I came to understand and appreciate that kind of affection, too, in time. It might not have the fierce physicality of my Grandma Hines’s hugs and kisses and smiling eyes, but as Grandma Hines passed early from this world, my mother’s mother became the woman I most connected to, the person who made me feel safe and beloved. It was through her example that I learned to fit my love to Detroit proportions. Most of the time, I succeed.

As a young girl, when I was not visiting Grandma Hines and Mama Q, we wrote letters, the kind with ink and paper. I still see in my minds’ eye the loping handwriting of Grandma Hines and her rendering of days spent picking oranges and grapefruit straight from the orchards, passing the time with Mama Q and her brother Charles Henry, helping Aunt Linda keep an eye on the little ones. My Aunt Linda had a glorious adventure of a life, running away to join the circus, marrying and divorcing the dashing Richard, then contentedly settling down in the place where family roots grew deep.

I have always wanted that. I searched for it my entire life, tried hard to fashion a sweet southern family in the chilly, reserved north.

Grandma died too young, maybe younger than I am today. I was a teenager and remember almost breaking my brain trying to think of a way to keep her here on earth, with me. Of course, she died anyway, and is buried in Michigan, her adopted home, the place where she raised her many children in a rambling farmhouse in Allen Park. It is no surprise really that in midlife my dad reclaimed a patch of Florida to call his own.

Although my mother tried, she never could acclimate to the Floridian heat. Mom’s family, as far back in the States as we can tell, came from Buffalo, New York. Mom has a snow belt constitution; she loves the snow and cold weather, something Dad and I don’t really understand.


My parents did the dance of two homes in two states, with Dad traveling December 26 to Florida and coming up to Michigan some months later…and later…and then hardly at all after Mom tried to move down with him for good. That didn’t last. She could not tough out the Florida summers and she’s back in her beloved downriver, which is what we call the towns south of the city. Meanwhile, here I am, stuck in Detroit, trying to stay warm, trying to make an annual February visit to Florida last an entire endless Michigan winter.

I’m writing from Florida now, where so many of my friends have migrated and where my dad continues to flourish. Every year I want to stay. Every year I realize that home, despite the places in the world that loudly call my name: California, Seattle, Sedona, Oregon, England, Greece, Delos, Athens, Egypt, Florida…home is wherever my heart needs to be, and right now, the central location of both heart and home is icy, glittery, Detroit.

Tomorrow, after two weeks of sumptuous sunshine and sandy beaches, I will pack up my bags and return to my place north of the city that may have a bad rep but is more like a big affectionate cat than a fierce tiger or lion. My home here in the far north reminds me of an igloo, the house surrounded by a few feet of hard-packed snow, though it’s mere weeks until spring.

What I have to do, what keeps me going through the cold, the ice, the snow on the daffodils every single spring, is remember how my southern grandmother, until she was able to return forever to her beloved Florida, kept her sunny sweetness and abiding love through many a Michigan winter. The memory warms me still.

Back in ’73

reunion3A couple of weeks ago, I went to my 40th high school reunion at the beautiful botanical gardens in Taylor, Michigan, where I grew up. I don’t live there anymore, but my BFF Lisa was in town staying with us, and we decided it would be a fun trip down memory lane. Was it ever!

That’s Dave Allen and me in the pic above: he was my first love, my first kiss (!). The first kiss was not good. I thought kissing involved a lot of moving your head around, because that’s what it looked like on TV. Dave has no memory of how bad I was at kissing, but over the summer of ’69, he taught me:)

Now Dave is married to Diane. He plays guitar in a band. Like the MC5 shirt Dave is wearing, they kicked out the jams at the reunion, with a special appearance by Mike “Crawdaddy” Crawley on harmonica and vocals. Several ladies took the dance floor, along with a couple of the men, including Jesse Enriquez, another pal from way-back-when. Saw Mike Woodby too. I always loved him; he was so nice to me! He never tried to hit on me like most boys did back then. Not saying I was some beauty, far from it, it’s just guys. They’re like that when they’re teenagers.

Back to Dave for a minute. God, I loved him! I had one boyfriend before Dave, and I never let him kiss me. He put his arm around me at a dance and I thought he was getting fresh! But Dave, I was ready for him. That kiss he doesn’t remember was on the bleachers at West Junior High. Lisa and I drove by there after the reunion. We lived around the block from each other and drove by our houses. Trip back in time. Without the LSD.

So, Dave. I remember sitting in my parents’ basement and him casually talking about “when we got married.” I was thrilled! I remember his mom bringing us cold drinks as we sat on his porch. I remember I went with the family to Cedar Point. This was true love for a twelve year old. Or was I 13? Dave remembered another incident in which I gave him a love bite that was clearly visible to his mom. She didn’t hold it against me.

We were so innocent. All we did was kiss. And love each other lots. The best part of seeing Dave is he told me he sometimes reads my blog! I had no idea he even knew I had a blog. Crawdaddy brought a print copy of The Paris Notebook all the way from Kentucky for me to autograph. That was sweet, too. Just good people, good times, and yes, gray hair.