Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My First "Best Friend"

Glamour Girl

Serious Student

Always An Early To Bed Girl

Does anyone recognize this girl? Descriptive terms: "gregarious", "fun loving", "friend", "animal lover", "generous", "sports lover", "nurse", "professor", "athlete"

What she does easily: LAUGH

Favorite Expression: "I was HOWLING!"

Born in Detroit
Raised in Detroit
Deserted the rest of us in Detroit
Became a "southerner"

If you haven't already guessed, this is none other than Barbara Elizabeth (Yako) Sherman, my cousin. {footnote to anyone who knew Barbara back in the 1950s, she used to say her middle name was Louise. Everyone else had a middle name except her, so she picked one. Then when she was confirmed she took Elizabeth and gave up the alias.} Barbara now lives in Plantation, Florida. She is a Registered Nurse and teaches Pediatric Nursing at Broward Community College. She is married to Dick Sherman and they have two Weimerweiners named Dutchess and Buddy. I would tell you which dog is more spoiled but I'm not sure, Barb was never one to play favorites. After I die I wouldn't mind coming back as one of Barbara's dogs.

Facts about Barbara and Kathleen: Barbara and I are three months apart in age. She is the eldest! However, in spite of her rank, I could somehow always get her to do ANYTHING. If you see Barb, ask her why someone who got deathly ill on amusement park rides, would repeatedly go on anything that went in circles(even after upchucking). Ask her what it was in my manner that convinced her she could jump off the diving board(even though she couldn't swim) and I'd make sure she was okay? What ever made her think I knew what I was doing? I'll tell you what I think...I think it was our bond. I think it was our undying love and affection for one another. Our Mother's were sisters and somehow I think we thought we were too. Our friendship has carried us through 62 years. What memories we share.

Barbara has been one of my biggest fans. She has been a great "Aunt" to my children. She cheered me on through my late entry into Nursing School. She has encouraged me to strive to be excellent in my nursing practice. And she thinks I'm the best thing since sliced bread! No matter what I do, no matter how I do it, to Barb it is the best. I don't think she has an inkling of how much she helped me get through in my life. How instrumental she was in helping me to believe in myself during my early adulthood. And so dear Barbara, I am telling you now, thank you.

To those of you who have never had the good fortune of having a "Barbara" in your life, I am truly sorry. You have no idea how great it is to have Barbara as an audience and to have her laugh so hard....well, lets just say you have her rolling in the aisles! (The rest Barb, will be our secret.)

Until next time....always, Kathleen

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Sea Turtles




ANN(my daughter), TOM(my husband) & I


Last November, after my Mother died, Tom took me to our favorite place, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We were married in Puerto Vallarta in 2001. We go there every winter and have for many years. We've met some great couples who vacation at the same time of the year and we meet up with them every February. On this particular trip, my daughter Ann came along too. She moved in with me the last two weeks of my Mother's illness. At the time she was working, finishing school(her Master's in Nursing), and getting ready to start a new job as a Nurse Practitioner. She joined Tom and I for 7 days of our 12 day stay.

Sea Turtles are an endangered & protected species. The beach the El Presidente Hotel sits on seems to attract female Sea Turtles and they come ashore at night and lay their eggs. The beach boy will see the tracks of the turtles flippers in the morning. They follow them and gently probe the sand with a long wooden stick. They locate the spot and gently hand dig until they find the eggs. Some turtles lay over 100 eggs at a time. Once the eggs are uncovered they are gently placed into a Styrofoam cooler and transported to a fenced in area of sand which is above the beach area. They are reburied and the date the eggs where laid is marked on a stake. When the incubation period is completed the designated hotel personal begin checking the nesting area several times a day. We were lucky enough to see the turtles hatch and slowly dig their way out of the sand. The baby turtles are then placed in the Styrofoam cooler in water until evening. After sunset hotel guests are invited to help with the release of the baby turtles. They are taken close to the waters edge and set down in the sand. They instinctively make their way to the ocean. This is done after sunset to decrease the risk of the turtles being swooped down upon by seagulls, pelicans and other birds of prey. I came across these pictures and thought you might enjoy them. I know, it's not my usual format.

Tom and I are flying up to Gwinn on Saturday. Evelyn is being baptized on Sunday. Wait till I get back, you'll be seeing plenty of you know who!!! Until next time....always, Kathleen

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Beginnings of "Grandma Precious"


These are photos of me, found at my Mom's house in May. I had never seen most of these before.
I put them in an envelope and when my son-in-law Brian arrived I began to show them to him. After each photo I would say..."isn't she Precious!". And then the light bulb of a joke, "That's what I want to be called, Grandma Precious! I had been trying to come up with a name for my Grandchild to call me ever since Lara and Brian had adopted their first dog. Some how Nanna, Baba, Omah, Granny, just didn't fit me. For awhile I thought this name was going to stick and many of you never knew the origin of the title. I know some of you were worried! I think Evelyn will come up with something of her own. I'll be anyone or anything she wants me to be.

What do you think of the hairdo? I'm sure this is the result of my Mother's nimble fingers. As a baby I had hair that stood up like a haystack. As I got a little older it just was thin and straight. My Mom was always fiddling with it.

This was a sweater she made for me. She taught herself to knit using a doll's snowsuit pattern. It was written by a blind woman and published in Women's Day magazine. Mom said she figured if a blind woman could write patterns and knit she could teach herself. She used to get up at 4:30 a.m. and sit in Grandma Barber's breakfast room (they lived with my Grandma from 1945 to 1948) before everyone else got up. She knitted dishcloths up until the spring before she died. She said it was good exercise for her hands.

This must have been a "bad hair" day. Hats came in handy for that. I remember many a time my Mom made me don a hat because my hair looked awful...at least in her opinion. This is me in front of my Grandma Barber's house. 577 Chalmers Ave., Detroit. My favorite place to be! I think my Mom made this sweater too.

My Uncle Johnny took this picture. Thanks to him we have a decent collection of "portrait" like photos.
My Mother made this dress too. The top had hand smocking. That dress might still be tucked away somewhere on Trombly. It was pale yellow with flowers.

I am so glad to have all these old pictures. Talk about a walk down memory lane. So many good times, preserved for future generations to look through.

Until next time....always, Kathleen
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This is a post I wrote back in 2008. It never made it to my blog because I had somehow, inadvertently, lost one of the photos. It was a portrait of my Grandma from her younger days. I still can not figure out how to get it back on this tribute to her. So here it is, my memories of the woman who loved me so unconditionally. I hope Evelyn can say the same about me some day.

I thought I would introduce you to a woman who had a huge influence on me. This is my Father's Mother, Grace Genevieve Shanahan Trombly Barber. She was born on February 4, 1888 and died on my Father's birthday March 16, 1956. She died in my bedroom. I wasn't home. I was at a friends for dinner...a new friend who I was enamored with. Her name was Susan Decker and she was a "new" girl. Just moved to our area. Her Mother drove me home and invited me to dinner. It was Friday. Grandma had been over for the afternoon and was staying for a fish dinner to celebrate my Dad's birthday. Mom said I couldn't go to Susan's and I started crying. Of course Grandma persuaded her to let me go for a couple of hours. Susan's Father would bring me home in time for cake and ice cream. I kissed Grandma goodbye not knowing it would be the last time.

Off I went so happy to have a new friend and to be having dinner at her house. During our dinner I talked about Grandma and how close we where. Just before desert was served the doorbell rang. It was my Mother. Standing in the cold, tears streaming down her face and Dad's car in the driveway. Grandma had died...probably a massive heart attack. I put on my coat and got in the car, shocked and not believing this really could have happened.

You see, I spent a lot of time with Grandma. She loved me unconditionally. She nurtured me, she hugged and kissed me every time she had a chance. I can still remember what it felt like to sit on her lap and lay my head against her chest and hear her heart beat. She taught me how to be a lady. How to eat with my left hand on my lap. How to daintily wipe my mouth with a napkin that was carefully placed across my lap. She took me to have my hair done at the beauty salon at Crowley's downtown. She gave me manicures with only clear "natural" colored nail polish. She took
me to lunch at Stouffer's downtown and we traveled on the "street car". She read me a story every night I was with her, until I was old enough to read to her. I dusted the carvings on the ornate dining room table legs because she couldn't do it anymore. I ran up and down stairs for her. I spread cream cheese on celery stalks and sprinkled them with paprika for our Sunday dinner appetizers. I placed 78rpm records on the record player and helped roll up the oriental rugs so we could all dance on Saturday night get togethers. She taught me how to shuffle cards and we played Old Maid and War until I got sleepy. I handed her laundry from the basket so she could pin them on the line without having to bend over to get them. I helped weed her rose beds which were her pride and joy. Most of all I just loved her. And I told her I couldn't imagine my world without her in it, so much so, that I wanted to die if she died. Imagine my dismay that she had left without me.

GRANDMA AND ME, JANUARY 21, 1956(2 months before she died)

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Keeping My Balance

I'm not sure exactly how I let it happen....but I am out of "balance". You know what I'm talking about don't you? Mind/Body/Spirit out of sync. In the past couple of months I somehow forgot to take care of me. I didn't tell anyone what I needed, least of all myself.

It all kind of hit me last weekend. Jack and I closed on our Mom's house on Friday. I was really down in the dumps last weekend. A wave of grief just overtook me. I shouldn't have been surprised by any of it. I felt myself tiring, feeling unmotivated, indecisive. Then boom, on Sunday a meltdown. Poor Tom didn't know what to do for me. Heck, I didn't know.

Finally by Tuesday I had a handle on it. First thing I did on Tuesday was make myself start walking again. I'd been faithful to a morning walk ever since Mom died. I had so much pent up stress after she passed that it only made sense to work it off. I felt good doing it and most importantly it was my time, all mine. The mornings are beautiful in this neighborhood, quiet, no traffic, beautiful landscapes. On Tuesday's walk I decided to take three days for myself. Alone time. Time for restoration, solitude, reflection. Tom kindly agreed to give me my space and he set off for the cottage. I started this morning. Walk, journaling, prayer and meditation, breakfast and then off to Tantra Spa for a massage and a facial. Back home for more quiet time. Made a great dinner. Turned the phones back on at 5pm and came up to the computer at 8:30pm. Tomorrow I'm doing much of the same....well okay, no massage or facial. (I did have 2 gift certificates for that indulgence!)

This was the first time I have done something like this alone. When I was in high school we used to have "days of reflection", but it was always in a group. I've gone away with my best friend for a "mini retreat" at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse, but again I had companionship. This was new and took some discipline. I had to actually shut off the ringers on my house phone...too hard to not peek to see who was calling. The cell I turned off. Same with the computer. Too easy to run to for diversion.

So, hopefully the next time I see you or talk to you I will have learned something about myself. Perhaps I will be a little more grounded, living more in the present moment(since that's all we really experience, the past and future are just in our minds). Don't be surprised though if I have my arms out stretched and I'm teetering side to side...I'll just be trying to keep my balance!

"When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world." (Eckhart Tolle; Stillness Speaks 2003;page3)


Until next time....always, Kathleen
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Monday, September 15, 2008

Last of our cottage

Okay, this is it! The last of the pictures, but you know what I just realized? You are going to see these all backwards!! My explanation is at the end...four more pieces down. So just so you aren't confused; I wanted to share pictures of our cottage and some of the views outside. I told you I am still learning this process!!

This is one half of the living room. I know it came out dark, it's the best I could do.
Our new recliner chair. I get first dibs because it was my idea. Besides, I go to bed early. Tom gets lots of time in it after I say good night.
Fire place end. Hope you can see it.
End with the couch(with you know who sitting on it). Oh, you won't get that until the next page. My wit is wasted! This is the TV end of things.
Maybe I've figured a way to make this the last of the posts, we'll see!

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More Cottage

This is the view (part of it) from the kitchen window. Not bad if you have to be doing dishes! It was still rainy out. This is facing west. Unfortunately, I can't see the setting sun, Bobbie gets that view from her kitchen window. They have a million dollar view. They are right next to Holiday Beach....they can see straight down the beach and the sunsets are incredible. That's another reason we eat dinner at their house.

This is my kitchen. It used to be a tiny room that only one person could work in. Now we've knocked out a wall and expanded it to go the width of the house. Come to think about it, there still is only one person who cooks in it! Well, at least most of the time.
This is the other end of the kitchen. It's got some counter space and cupboards, but best of all it has a computer.
That's where I write everyone from. Okay, it's only got dial up but still....I can keep in touch. I found out I can't do my blog from there. None of the pictures showed up. All that came through were those empty boxes with red x s in them! I had to delete an entire piece I did on my brother Leo and his wife Lynn's visit 3 years ago. Always learning....

This is my view from the kitchen. See the window to the left of the door? There is a couch there. Guess who is usually sitting on the couch while the one person is cooking? You guessed it!
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Our Cottage...continued

This is the actual cottage. Small and simple but a world away. We are one mile off the highway. We can't hear any road noise. We hear waves, wind and the ticking of a clock. Well, that is if the TV isn't on, with the volume way up! We have a year round porch, a living room with fire place, a nice kitchen, full bath, 2 bedrooms and a laundry room. Easy to keep clean. Comfortable, homey, but nothing fancy. It is a great place to simply be.

This is the table we eat our 2 hour breakfast at. That's our favorite meal of the day. No it really isn't that full of food, we just like to stretch it out. Morning paper, fruit and coffee and eventually eggs or cereal. I know you can't see much of a view, it was pouring rain on Saturday when I took these.
Comfy couch that opens to a 3/4 size bed. That's where I read and nap, read and nap. I think I nap more than I read. That's our neighbors house you see. Their names are Bob and Bobbie. They are the greatest. They live in Rochester Hills, Michigan. She is a nurse too. They bought their place about 7 years ago. They totally gutted it and it's great. We eat dinner together a lot. We cook on our grill and eat at their house. They have a great dining area.

Here's Tom reading in the gliding rocker. Great place to be in a rain storm.
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Our Cottage

I'm not sure how this is going to come out. I wanted to post pictures of our cottage. I think I may have selected too many for one posting. Anyway this is a start. These are some pictures I've taken at our cottage. The first two, the sunsets was taken about two years ago. It was a crisp fall day. We had an unusual wind and the waves moved away from the shore rather than into the shore. We ended up with about 4-5 feet of beach. Normally we don't have a beach. The south shoreline of Lake Erie is generally rocky. Well, at least where there are homes and cottages.
I couldn't get over how beautiful the clouds were. They were amazingly pink/red, reflecting the setting sun. One of those days when you look at what is around you and know there has to be a God

This is the park that is two houses away from us. It is called Holiday Beach and it is a Provincial Park. It has a sandy beach(in spite of what I just said above). We can enter the park through a gate that is at the end of our road. We can walk the beach or the paths. Holiday Beach also has a very large bird watch tower. The area is the migratory path for birds and butterflies as they head south. Sometime in September the Audubon Society sets up and does banding(of butterflies if you can believe that!) and they record what types of birds fly over. There are some American Eagles, lots of falcons and other birds of prey. The park also has overnight camping and day sites available.
This is a view from the tower. This is part of the wetlands. About 8 years ago this was all water. The low lake levels have allowed reeds and grasses to grow and cover much of the area. We often see deer along the highway and in the park.

Today as we were heading home we saw 8 wild turkeys cross Highway 50. We had to stop the car so they could all get across the road. It appeared to be a family. Some of the turkeys were small. First turkey siting for me in these parts. (See Shirley, the UP doesn't have all the wildlife!)
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Memories of Mom

I can't see Black Eyed Susans and not be reminded of my Mom. Her yard was full of them, in bloom from late June through early October. How she loved her yard. She'd work in it for 8-10 hours a day. Sometimes I couldn't reach her and would drive over thinking something had happened to her, only to find her on her stool planting or weeding. She did all of her own yard work except cutting the grass until last May. Her pet peeve was grass or weeds growing in sidewalk cracks. I worked in her yard this summer. I felt compelled to keep it looking like she did. Letting it go somehow seemed disrespectful. I'd hear her chiding me about those sidewalk cracks. I pulled the last weed yesterday when I went to say my final goodbye to my childhood home.

My Mother had a sense of style about her. Even at 91 she still looked fashionable. Her yard reflected that knack she had to make a place warm and inviting. The bird feeder is still hanging, I couldn't take it down. It wouldn't look right anywhere else. The deck furniture is out waiting for someone to sit and enjoy the beauty of the yard.
Eva's touch is still very present.

Isn't this kitchen great! So warm, cozy. I think everyone has the memory of my Mother sitting at that table. She'd make her phone calls, some of them very long!!! She'd clip articles and tuck them away to be sent off to someone in a letter at a later date. She'd look at magazines, clip recipes. She'd see something that looked good and whip it up, often using substitutes for ingredients she didn't have. And boy could she do mail order! She loved Haban because they always included free gifts. She glued broken items(and we found lots of them) at that table. She was forever starting new plants from a shoot off of something. She saved coffee grounds to put in her flower beds. And my God don't ever get her going about the miracles of vinegar.

The view from this window became her world the last few years. She could see what was going on in the neighborhood and could see who was coming for a drop by visit. The house that had always been so small was now just right. For sixty years it served her well. Tomorrow it will have a new owner. I hope Theresa loves this house as much as Mom did. It's hard to say goodbye to the place that holds so many memories. Thank you Mom for all you did for all of us. Thank you for making the Barbers such a great family!
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Grandma and Evelyn

Thought I would add a couple of pictures of me and my girl. I finally get to know what being a Grandmother feels like. No one could ever have explained it. I'm a little surprised at how "in love" I am. One of my old friends commented that there is nothing like a baby to change even the crustiest among us to mush. Well, that would be me. Surely you can see how special this baby is. I hate being so far away from her. Our visits are going to be further apart than I would like but at least they are possible. She is growing quickly. She's doubled her birth weight.

Here we are on my front porch. Evelyn came to visit in mid August for a week. We spent every morning on my front porch. I have a wicker chaise and she would lie on it and watch the leaves and the sunlight shining through.
This particular picture is me singing "our song". I've made up a silly, rhyming song that she truly seems to recognize. I haven't gotten past the first verse. It is a work in progress. I better get busy, our next visit is only a couple of weeks away. She seems to be my inspiration though, so maybe the rest will have to wait until I'm with her again.
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A Work in Progress

Hi Again,

Well, this is definitely a work in progress. I had difficulty figuring out how to get pictures on my blog site. I may have it figured out...thanks to Lara.

Well, tomorrow is the big day. We close on my Mom's house. I am selling it on a Land Contract to a woman named "Theresa". I worked with her at the hospital. She is a good woman and needs a hand. This has been a very emotional time for me. Saying goodbye to the place that holds so many memories. At first it was hard going to Mom's without her there. She had become a part of that house. Because she could no longer drive, she was always "there". I remember how it felt the day she died, I pulled out of the driveway knowing she would never be there again. Now, the house is empty, but somehow her spirit is still there. I feel it most in the kitchen. The place she spent so many hours in the past few years. It is a bright and sunny room, very cheerful. Her garden is still in bloom. I hope Theresa loves this place as much as Mom did.
I need to know that the house will be cared for. Who better than someone named "Theresa". Remember my Mom's devotion? Finding Theresa happened in a serendipitous way and I believe my Mom had a hand in this.

This is a picture of Tom and I from our vacation last February. We spent 2 weeks in Puerto Vallarta...our favorite vacation spot. Don't know what this March will hold. We are renting a condo in Naples, Florida for December, January and February. Tom is really looking forward to it. I have reservations. It's a long time to be away from friends and family. Hope I can find enough to fill my days. I can only read so much. I'll have to figure out a way to meet some women friends. I know there is one knit shop. That may be a starting place.

The days have flown by since I retired. I can't believe summer is already over. Too quick for me. I had wonderful days with Evelyn. We are flying up to Gwinn on the 4th of October. Evelyn Ann will be baptized on 10/5. Tom and I are staying until the 11th. Lara will be back to work. I will babysit for Evelyn. I am really looking forward to the time with her but I'm not kidding myself that it will be tiring. Babies CONSUME time. Being with Evelyn is a meditation. She causes me to pause and to simply "be".
Until next time...always, Kathleen
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Just Beginning

Well, this is a first...blogging! Who'd of thought? My daughter-in-law Becka thought this would be a great thing for me. She never really explained why. Maybe because I am such a talker and teller of stories.

Deep within lies an unrealized writer. Truly a dream I had in grade 10. But instead I became a wife, a Mother, a nurse...a friend. Oh, I almost forgot, a spiritual seeker.

Anyway, I'm going to give this a shot. I may invite just a few close friends to look in the beginning. It may be a way to help me wade through those bumps in life. Often writing helps me to figure out where I am in this life drama of mine. I've kept a journal for over 25 years. Have them all. Wait till I die! I can see my kids now perusing the pages and wondering why they never knew that about me. Wish my Mom had written. She did a little and it took me by surprise to see that softer side of her. Maybe I'll show you mine.

Until next time...always, Kathleen