Tuesday, October 2, 2018

One Year!

I can hardly believe it has been a year since we left our home in Minnesota for our new home in Indiana.     It has been QUITE a year. 
October 2017
  Tiny, baby steps forward - only to be followed by a huge setback last Spring made me wonder if we would be moving again.   For a time, it looked like we would.   But just within the past 4-5 weeks, things have started to turn around and I am hopeful that the coming year is going to be one of larger strides and real healing.    Because of the ongoing trauma, I haven't done a good job at updating our blog.    But we have a couple of fun corgi events coming up this month, that I'll want to share pictures from.   So I thought I should first give a brief update on our summer.    In spite of the challenges, we did have some fun.

Much of the fun involved company!    We had a lot of it!    My brother Dan came home from China for five weeks.   He spent a weekend with us in Indiana (Zak still goes and sleeps by "Dan's" bed) and then we celebrated my Aunt Wanda's 90th birthday on July 22nd.   I saw cousins and other extended family and friends I hadn't seen in years.    It was a wonderful day celebrating a truly remarkable woman who is still taking college classes, drives and makes calls on the 'elderly'!

Sleeping late every morning was a treat for all of us!
Tim, Dan and I spent a wonderful week together at the cabin, hanging out on Au Train Beach, kayaking the Au Train River and spending a day in Marquette.     Zak and Scarlett loved the beach and Dan was wonderful about taking them over there every chance he had. 

We stopped at the Mackinac Bridge both coming and going  .... I never tire of the view of the beautiful bridge that connects Upper and Lower Michigan. 

A couple of grown up kids! 
The two weeks after returning from the cabin brought more company!     My best highschool friends (sisters), Betty and Ardis were here for a long weekend and we enjoyed seeing the Mennohof Museum at Shipshewana together.      The following day was a HORRIBLY hot day but I really wanted them to see DeFries Gardens so we went over there for a short walk and headed home.    The dogs were with us, but I was so preoccupied with trying to find a cool place to sit that I didn't pay much attention to them.    A couple days later, I developed a HORRIBLE rash on my chest, up and over my left shoulder and down that arm.    I could not imagine what it was!    I went to the doctor and she said it looked like poison ivy but since I  hadn't been walking through any wooded areas, we ruled that out.    Over the next several days a couple other people mentioned that it ALSO looked like poison ivy.     To make a long story short, we found out that DeFries Gardens has an abundance of poison ivy and Zak apparently got into it.     Because he has a double layer of fur protecting his skin, he had no symptoms, but he transmitted the toxic oil to me when he slept next to me - right up against my left side!     What a crazy ordeal that was!

The weekend after that, my friends the Kidders came to visit from North Carolina and Tim came down to join us on Saturday.     On Sunday, we met Kelly & Brian and Dan's parents in Plymouth for the Blueberry Festival, that I'd heard so much about.     I have several things to say about that.   1) It was HOT.  2) It was HUGE.    3)  It was CROWDED!   4) We had fun anyway, mostly because of 3 year old Elsie who loved the kiddie rides and everything else that makes life through the eyes of a 3 year old so much fun. 

Now we are more or less into our Fall routine.   Scarlett and Zak both had their teeth professionally cleaned yesterday.   I'm becoming very involved in my church in South Bend and loving it there, and also am starting to get back into stamping.     I volunteer Sunday evenings at a homeless shelter and have found that to be meaningful and rewarding.    I am on a long road of healing from traumatic loss, but when I compare my life to that of the men and women who do not even have a place of their own to call home, along with the many other challenges they are facing, it is a good place for me to gain perspective.     Life is STARTING to turn around, and for the friends who have hung with me for the past 2-1/2 years plus a group of four people in ministry who have accepted me, are committed to walking this journey with me and are supporting me in many ways,  I am immensely grateful.       

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


I've always loved outdoor summer festivals.    Craft shows, music festivals, farmers markets .... you name it;  if it's outdoors and there are people around, I love to take Scarlett and Zak and mingle.     I'm naturally introverted, and the greatest gift my dogs have given me is the opportunity to meet people who want to pet them, are curious about the breed or have questions specifically about Scarlett and Zak.     "What are their names?",  "How old are they?" and "Do they shed a lot?" (Yes!!!!!) are the most common ones.   I love to talk about corgis and especially love to share the antics of mine.

Holland Tulip Time Festival
In Minnesota, I looked forward to several festivals every summer.   The Fargo Street Fair, the Island Park Fair and the Phelps Mill Festival were the main ones.    There was a little "Taste of Dorset" that we went to a few times as well.    But Indiana!?!?!?   My goodness ..... there is a festival going on somewhere in the area every single weekend, and I'm not kidding!  Of course, since it's our first summer here, we've had to check them all out. 

Tulip Time Parade May 12, 2018

I was born in Holland, but we moved from there when I was just a baby and I haven't had a chance to take in many of the Tulip Time festivals there over the years.     I have been to the Iowa ones (Pella and Orange City) which are smaller, but the one in Holland is one of the largest festivals in the country.   I heard that it is second only to the Mardi Gras but I have a hard time believing that.  It's big though!   It's nice when your brother lives 1/2 mile from the parade route so that you can park in his driveway and not have to come 4 hours early - like everyone else - to find a place to park!   I loved the bands, the costumes, the floats .... all of it.    I really enjoy parades.

The little town of Wakarusa hosts the Maple Sugar Festival in May and the  Wakarusa Bluegrass Festival in June.    We enjoyed them both!    The charming little village of Winona Lake, about 30 miles to the south, is a picturesque setting nestled between three lakes with a canal that runs through the tourist area.    Great eateries, ice cream shops, and upscale gift shops remind me of some of the Minnesota resort towns that I have enjoyed for years.    We've been to Winona Lake three weekends already .... the Fat & Skinny Bike Festival and two craft shows.    It's a fun town.

Wakarusa Bluegrass Festival
We've had a couple of very hot weekends and found several dog beaches along Lake Michigan near St. Joseph.      This past weekend we took in the  Elkhart Jazz Festival which was a lot of fun.   Scarlett and Zak, as usual, were big hits with kids and adults alike.

Summer is just getting started.   There's a lot more to come ..... the Elkhart County Fair, the Blueberry Festival in Plymouth, the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Fort Wayne.    Other than a week at the cabin with my brothers in August, I'm not getting a vacation this summer, so these weekend festivals are little 'mini vacations' every weekend.   Lots of fun and something to keep me going when life continues to be pretty unsettled.

Splash Pad at Silver Beach - St Joe, MI

Silver Beach on a 96 degree afternoon!
Sweet family - and they loved Scarlett and Zak

Such a little princess

Zak gives a kiss to a new friend - Elkhart Jazz Festival

Friday, May 18, 2018

Backyard Fun

I really enjoyed my house over the winter. The gas fireplace was on pretty much all the time, and if I forgot, Zak would remind me.   He loves to bark at the flame!    But this Spring I came to a whole new appreciation for my yard!    Never much of a gardener, I planted hostas and day lilies and FINALLY got a hydrangea to bloom - just last year.    But the previous owners of this home had an absolutely gorgeous perennial garden and it has been a thrill to see new life emerging all Spring.   First it was the daffodils.   Then the bleeding hearts and other blooming shrubs exploded.    Hostas line the border - perfectly spaced.    Purple and white ground cover is sooo pretty.  Irises are now blooming, with more to come.   I added a couple of hydrangeas and two hanging baskets and - well, it's like a park!   Never would I have dreamt that I'd ever have a yard so lovely.    My hammock is my happy place.   I have, unfortunately, found several wood ticks in the sheets (ugh!!)   But we are LOVING our yard.  When I'm inside, Scarlett and Zak happily lounge on the back deck.    We miss our Moorhead neighbors terribly and I (surprisingly) miss living on a busy street with lots of activity.   But we are enjoying our new home very much. 

We are still in the pre-bug season (although I'm starting to swat mosquitos) and I could sit out there all afternoon with a book.   With the dog fence that I put in, Scarlett and Zak are able to run and chase each other all through the yard and I don't have to worry about them getting into neighboring lawns. 

Last week we had our first REAL Minnesota company!    (I've had several other friends visit who I knew from Minnesota, but they now live other places such as Iowa or North Carolina.)   But last week my friend Cindy came for a long weekend and it was SOOO good to have her here.    Good to be able to have conversation with someone who has known me longer than six months!   Good to get her perspective on some hard things that have happened over the past couple months.    Good to be reminded that true friends do not abandon you when life gets hard; they come alongside you and walk with you through the storm.   That's the kind of friend that Cindy is and it was wonderful having her here.    As you can see, Zak thought it was wonderful too and he decided she was his 'new best friend'. 

We went to Holland for Tulip Time on Saturday (that will be my next blog post) and on Sunday just hung around Goshen, went to Shanklin Park to watch the geese (the babies had more than doubled in size since the previous weekend) and walked around Fidler's Pond.     Fidler's Pond is a nice walk and everyone talks about how peaceful it is but they neglect to mention the railroad tracks that run right next to the pond!   I don't think I've been there yet when there hasn't been at least one train coming through.    Oh well .... Spring is finally here to stay and we're loving it.     

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year - a Fresh Start.

I have lived in Indiana for three months now, but I still feel very, very new.    My home does not yet feel quite 'like home', although I love it.   I've made a few friends, but they do not yet have the richness that comes with time.   I'm not even close to having mastered my job yet, although I really like it too.   I look back over 2017, without a doubt the most difficult year of my life, and am so grateful to be able to trace God's hand through it.   

I recently came across a quote that has become very meaningful to me; especially this Christmas season.    As I was walking over a bridge, listening to the rhythm of the traffic flowing beneath me, I was reminded of this beautiful piece by John Ruskin, shared in one of my favorite devotionals Streams in the Desert.  

"There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it." In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here and there by "rests," and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune. God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives; and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read the "rest"? See him beat the time with unvarying count, and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between.

Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the "rests." They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. If we look up, God Himself will beat the time for us. With the eye on Him, we shall strike the next note full and clear. If we sadly say to ourselves, "There is no music in a 'rest,'" let us not forget "there is the making of music in it." The making of music is often a slow and painful process in this life. How patiently God works to teach us! How long He waits for us to learn the lesson! --Ruskin

One thing I do love about Indiana is being so much closer to my brother.   Tim came here for Christmas, and we had a wonderful day in Chicago last Saturday, eating at the Walnut Room at Macy's, going to Millenium Park and walking the magnificent mile along Michigan Ave up to Water Tower Place.   So much fun to be in Chicago at Christmastime!    The rest of the weekend we relaxed at home, with a picturesque scene of falling snow outside my back door.   Quite beautiful! 

Now a new year is upon us, and I'm not quite sure what this girl was up to last night but she appears to have a New Year's Eve hangover.  She's usually the first one up in the morning but has been lazily lounging in bed all day today!    She's cracking me up.    Happy New Year to all my friends and family and best wishes for a prosperous 2018!

The Magnificent Mile - Michigan Ave

Water Tower (one of the few structures
spared in the Great Chicago Fire)

The Walnut Room at Macys

Millenium Park

Water Tower Building

The Bean at Millenium Park


Friday, November 24, 2017

31 Parks in 31 Days

We have now lived in Indiana for almost two months, the house is almost done, I started a new job this week and I'm meeting and making new friends.     I have a large yard and want Scarlett and Zak to enjoy it without fear of getting into the street or my neighbor's lot so I put in an underground dog fence, which is wonderful.

At Indiana Dunes State Park

During the month of October, to get a little break from unpacking, we visited '31 parks in 31 days'.    Despite rather disappointing weather (we had over 10 inches of rain in October), we managed to stay on track.   There were several 'all day rains' so we doubled up a few times - but not too many.    We never got to the local dog park because it is a membership only park (and quite expensive) but we found plenty of places to run off leash and just play.   I also found several gorgeous gardens, and several large county parks.   We went to Indiana Dunes Lakeshore one day, and the end of the month we got to "Corgis in the Park" - a corgi meet up event at Rivershore Park in Grand Rapids that attracts up to 300 dogs and their owners each year.   That happened to be one of the "all day rains" and we didn't get there until afternoon but still had a lot of fun.   We'll go again next year for sure, and hope to catch the one in Indianapolis too.   I have a running list of at least 31 more parks to visit next Spring and Summer.    We can hardly wait!

Here are some of our favorite photos from "31 parks in 31 days"! 

A fun day with my friend Patti from North Carolina
S&Z at Krider Gardens

Krider Gardens in Middlebury

Corgis in the Park - Grand Rapids, MI

We needed our corgi umbrella and Lands End rain slickers this day!

I took Scarlett and Zak to Huizinga Park
in Zeeland - adjoining Royal Park Place
where my parents spent their retirement
years.    This was the last place my Mom
ever went -and we took  Princess, Dee Dee
 and Elvis there many times.   Good memories.

Pulaski Park in Elkhart was one of my favorites

Fidler Pond is a great little walk in Goshen.  My
biggest problem was keeping Scarlett from
rolling in the goose poop. 

Indiana Dunes State Park