Thursday, December 31, 2020


2020 has been an especially hard year for me. I know it's been a challenge for everyone, but I am so ready for things to change. I've been struggling quite a bit lately, so this week I've been really, really trying to focus on some of the good things that happened to me in 2020.

 2020 was the year I discovered yoga.


This year I was diagnosed with problems between my L4 and L5 vertebrae. I've had back problems for a long time, but 2020 was the year things came to a head and I had to see an orthopedic doctor. He told me I needed to strengthen my core muscles, and if I did that there was a good chance my back would improve. He suggested yoga and I took his advice seriously. Fast forward eight months of practicing yoga three to five times per week and now I am mostly pain free - which is a wonderful thing.

In 2020 I finished two quilts.

The first was a cat quilt I made for my youngest. It was a request when their bedroom got redecorated - inspired by our tuxedo cat, Minnie.  I machine pieced and machine quilted this one during spring lock down.

I also completed a queen-sized quilt I started way back in 1998 (but whose counting.) I started it to commemorate the millennium, but it got packed away; then I had kids and it never got unpacked. I finally dug it out and finished it during lock down last spring. It was about 90% done, but it was nice to cross that quilt off of my to do list. (It's machine pieced and hand quilted.)

I got to spend more time with my teenage children in 2020.  

Most teenagers pull away from their families and start to focus on their peers. The pandemic took that away from my kids and kept them home. And while they did spent time interacting with friends online,  they also built forts in our living room and we played Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza and Monty Python Fluxx. We watched every 80s movie we could and laughed at the special effects. We crafted and designed T shirts and made pasties (so many pasties.) We laughed and we cried - together. I ache for their loss because they've missed out on so much,  but the extra time I got with my kids is something I will treasure forever.

In 2020 I celebrated my 24th wedding anniversary. 


I lucked out in the husband department. My husband is a wonderful man and I can't imagine my life without him. In some ways, the pandemic brought us closer together. We went on more walks in 2020 than I think we took in the past five years - combined. Every single day I am thankful he's part of my life.

We remained employed in 2020.

As a teacher and the director of the Island's Department of Public Works, we were both deemed essential workers. Teaching over Zoom certainly wasn't my favorite, but it was doable. My husband wasn't thrilled to move his office into his Fallout Shelter (his man cave) so he could work from home, but it beat the alternative. 2020 could have been so much worse.

In 2020 I stayed healthy.

Believe it or not, in 2020 I walked over 1,300 miles and averaged about 35 minutes of exercise per day. I may not be an Olympic athlete, but I'm pretty darn healthy. Every day when I get out of bed I try to be thankful I get another day.  Some days it's been hard. Some days it's felt more like it's another day to get through, but I just keep trying to be positive and grateful. Grateful for another day with my kids, another day with my husband, another day at school, another day on Mackinac.
But I would be lying if I said I want another day of 2020. I'm done. I'm ready to say good-bye to this year and welcome in 2021. I need a new year. I need a year of healing and a presidential president, a year of vaccines and diminishing death rates, a year of less stress, and a year full of hope for a brighter future; a Covid-free future - a happy future. I think HOPE has to be my word for 2021. Sometimes, I felt like I was in survival mode this past year, like I just needed to get through the day, or the week or the month; like I couldn't stop moving because if I did, I didn't know if I could start up again. Tonight I am full of hope that 2021 will be a better year.
I hope 2021 is a bright year for you, too.
Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The 2020 Garden

There's nothing like flowers to put a smile on my face. So here's a walk through some of the blossoms from my garden this year...

Every time I look at my peonies I am  reminded of my good friend, Lisa. When they she and her husband sold their house in Lowell, she dug them up and sent them home with me.

I nabbed this astilbe, along with a few others, from the clearance bin at Wal-Mart. I love picking things up after they've flowered from the cheap shelf at the big box stores. It is a great way to try out new plants to see how they'll do without spending an arm and a leg.

The Asiatic lilies were from the clearance bin as well. Lowe's I think - $2.00 each. Tho hostas in the background came from my friend Margaret. When she initially sold her house, the new owner planned to tear it down so she invited friends to come over and dig up everything. Just about every hosta I have came from her house. I love how they are almost impossible to kill.


The daisies came from Karen's house. Her husband brought them over when he finalized the sale of their Island home after she died. He knew a we'd take good care of them and little piece of her Mackinac garden was sure to continue... 

Every tulip I have came from the compost piles at Mission Point and Grand Hotel. Each fall they plant hundreds of tulips, only to rip them out once they have bloomed. After that, they all get tossed onto the hotels'  compost piles. The only downside is, the flowers have usually been cut off by the time the plants are pulled up, so you don't know what color you have until they flower the next year.

I picked this yellow rose up for $5.00 in the clearance bin. I'd planned to have it in a pot for the summer, and then toss it, but something told me to drop it into the ground in the fall - so I did. I've done that every fall since and it keeps coming back, year after year. I've picked up a few clearance roses over the years and they seem do do fine as long as I plant them in the ground for the winter. I've not tried leaving them in their pots.

The irises came from Dwight and Jeff's garden downtown. (They have the I Spy Garden near the corner of French Lane and Market street.) When they divided their plants a few came up to our place - along with quite a few ferns. D & J are wonderful about sharing things.

This rose campion was a gift from my friend Kelaine. She had a bumper crop one summer and brought me a few plants when she visited. (I think she first got them from her grandma's house.) I've shared cuttings with a few folks, so they've spread out around the neighborhood.

My mother-in-law gave us a few black-eyed Susans when we first built our house. We hadn't budgeted for flowers so when she came for her first visit, she brought some that she'd dug out of her garden. They've grown like gangbusters, and now I have them all over our property. They look amazing in August.

Lots of trillium grows wild on Mackinac - including on our lot before we built the house. Several plants decided to keep growing after we built, and I've just them go.

I love coming home in the summer. I just can't help but smile when I walk up to the house. It takes time to weed and water, but it's worth every second.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Mackinac Island.

I hope your day is filled with peace, joy and love. Lots and lots of love.

Monday, December 21, 2020

New Furry Friends

I'd like to introduce you to Lucas and Sylvester; my youngest child's pet rats. (Fancy rats as I am regularly reminded.)  They joined the family back in September and have been a positive addition - partially because they are so darn cute. Initially, I thought their long naked tails would gross me out, but the overwhelming cuteness completely overpowers the tail ickiness. I mean just look at that face!

They love Cheerios, attention, and paper towels. And did I mention how cute they are? They have the cutest little noses and whiskered cheeks that wiggle when they munch on treats.

They spend most of their time snuggled together in their nest. It seems like they are snuggled together 75% of the time, though they will separate - especially if there are Cheerios involved.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Right on Time


My days have been a little brighter lately thanks to Christmas cactus' perfect timing. It may be the first time it's actually flowered for Christmas since I've had it. I got this plant from my Grandma Mary - years ago. She told me she got it from a cutting she took from her mother's plant. A year ago I passed on a cutting to a teacher friend of mine at school, and her plant is blossoming as well. It makes me wonder about just how many people have had their days brightened by that one plant.

What's brightening your days right now?

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Christmas Chicken?

My students were sad that we didn't have a classroom Elf on the Shelf. So I recently introduced them to Camilla, the Christmas Chicken (also known as the stuffed chicken I already had so I didn't need to spend $16.00 on an Elf.) The kids love her! 

 She has been entertaining us with her antics all month long. She's decorated the classroom with Christmas lights, left books for the classroom library, told us awful dad jokes (chicken themed, of course), pecked in hilarious YouTube videos to watch, and even left us birdseed to munch on. It's been a bright spot in the kids' day to come in and see what she's left for them...

Sunday, December 6, 2020

No Doubt

Just in case anyone isn't sure just how big of a nerd I am, I present our 2020 Christmas tree. And yes, we do have a giant Star Trek Enterprise on the top. And for the record, I love it and all its nerdy glory.

Our tree also has every single Star Trek ship ornament Hallmark has put out over the years.

My husband started collecting them back in 1992. He didn't have the first one - the Enterprise pictured below. When  we got married in 1996, I made sure to get the new one each year. I searched and searched for that Enterprise for years, but they were outrageous; over $100. A few years ago I was lucky enough to find a cheap one on Ebay, without the original box. I pounced on it. 

We had planned on adding the rest of our ornaments to the tree, but when the kids saw it, both of them suggested we leave it as-is this year. They got no complaints from me.

If you look closely, you may also find the one non-Trek ship in our collection. Friendship 7, in which John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth (1962.) See, total nerd...


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Sad Day

I lost a chicken this fall. Not lost as in she ran away, but lost as in she was killed by a hawk. Poor thing. 

I just happened to look out the window when I saw feathers flying. That was when I saw the hawk using her beak to rip the chicken apart and then spit out the feathers. As soon as I started walking toward the coop, she flew away. I wouldn't have hurt her because I know raptors are federally protected, but I'm glad I didn't have to figure out how I was going to get her out.

I know it was just a $4.00 chicken, but she was my favorite $4.00 chicken. She was the one who would run right over to me when I came into their area - checking to see if I brought treats. And while the others were much more skittish, she always let me pick her up.  That's probably why she was the one who got eaten.

I know I can't complain too much. In all the years we've kept chickens during the summer (we started in 2015) this is the first time we've lost one to a predator. We've had predators try - we've scared away three raccoons and a fox over the years, but this was the first time one of them made it into the run. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020


About two weeks ago my bicycle disappeared from my front yard. Bicycles get stolen on Mackinac all the time, but rarely from dead end streets way out of town. So it was odd that it was taken from my yard, and after most of the workers had left for the winter. 

Often, missing bikes get "borrowed." Most of the time the missing bikes turn up. People take them to get home late one night and then abandon them in the bike racks at their employee housing. Which is why I took that picture of my bike last June. It was my "just in case my bike disappears I can put it on the Island Residents' Facebook page asking people to keep an eye out for it" picture.

My husband and a few friends did the housing circuit with no result; the assumption being that my bike was in fact stolen and taken from the island when whoever took it left for the season. I resigned myself to its loss and knew I'd need to pick out a new one in the spring. Just to be safe I filed a police report and the very nice recording officer offered to look for it since I was in quarantine.

A couple of days ago, my husband and I took a walk (masked and with the permission of the Health Department.) We had to stop at my parent's house to check on their snowmobiles - lo and behold what did we see but my missing bike! Apparently my daughter borrowed it, left it at my parent's house and completely forgot. Even asking her to check the bike racks at school to see if it might have been left there didn't jog her memory! To her credit though, as soon as she saw it in our bike rack (complete with her old bike helmet) she admitted her mistake apologized.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


I made it seven days. Seven days out of quarantine, five of them at work. And then, someone decided to come to work sick. Sigh.

This person thought, despite having to fill out an online questionnaire each and every morning before coming in to school, that their sore throat, headache and general feeling of crappiness, was "Just a cold." Had they accurately noted their symptoms, they would have gotten this message:

I know because it is the same message you get when you check the box next to "Have you been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid 19?" Which I now have to check; again. And it's so incredibly frustrating. I'm kind of in awe; I mean who thinks going into work with even mild symptoms, in the middle of a global pandemic, is a good idea? Who?

And I tried to remain distant, I really did. In fact, my seat at lunch was eight feet away from the others in the room. (I'm nerdy, I measured.) Safe, I thought, but the health department disagreed. Four members of the staff, one substitute teacher and an entire elementary classroom are now quarantined.

So, I am teaching from home. Again. Praying that my family and I stay healthy. Again. The high point of my day today was my walk to down to the Medical Center, in the rain, for a Covid test. Thankfully, I managed to find a little beauty along the way.

For the record, I support the LMAS District Health Department  100%. I understand that quarantine is an effective strategy to stop the spread of Covid-19, and I'm following their guidelines because I want to keep others safe and healthy. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Halloween 2020: Covid Style

This year I had a mouse and a traveler on the Oregon Trail. (He tells me, he wasn't just any old traveler, he was a specific character from from the musical The Trail to Oregon!)  We decided to go cheap on costumes for 2020 since we weren't sure trick-or-treating would even happen this year. All we bought was my son's vest, which set us back $4.00 at the thrift shop. (I made the mouse costume for a dress-up day or a play at school years ago.) When we finally decided that we could make trick-or-treating happen, the kids didn't care what their costumes were just as long as they could celebrate.

We made sure the kids could go out and collect candy yet remain socially distant. One end for rapping on doors and one end for retrieving sweets, all while staying 6+ feet away. Sadly, we decided to save them just in case they need to be used again next year.

The kids built this contraption so we could safely pass out candy. I dropped handfuls of candy into the top of the tube from up on the porch, and it came out of the worm's mouth and dropped into an awaiting candy bag. (It's supposed to be a sandworm from the movie  Beetlejuice - one of my kids' favorites.) It was a huge hit, especially with the little kids. 

The haul was a little lighter than normal, but that wasn't surprising. Instead of the normal 10 - 12 pounds, each of them brought home around eight pounds (a little more than 3.5 kg.) - still plenty for a smorgasbord of treats while we watched Hocus Pocus. (We watch it every year on Halloween.) 

Look closely at my son's haul... Notice anything interesting? Yup, someone decided to give him a White Claw. We're not sure if it was an accident or a trick, but he willingly turned it over to his dad as soon as he got home. If something like that was ever going to happen, 2020 was the year.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween

I'm not sure what tonight it going to bring. No matter what happens, we're prepared. My husband and the kids built a socially-distanced-candy-delivery-system for passing out treats; and  I made socially-distant-treat-collecting-bags so they kids can get candy safely.

I'm having visions of next year's Halloween special on TV - How The Corona Virus Stole Halloween.  Maybe the virus's heart will grow three sizes and decide to stop infecting people. It could happen; it would be a Halloween miracle...

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Just Plain Weird


The last couple of weeks have been odd. Like, really odd. For the past two weeks I've been teaching from home. OK, I know, lots of teachers are teaching from home right now; there's nothing strange about that. But, the kids I've been teaching have been at school.

You read that right, I have been teaching lessons at my dining room table to kids who are present in the school building. Oddly enough, it has worked out well. I'm not sick - just quarantined due to being exposed to Covid-19 - so I'm physically able to work. The school hasn't needed to hire a sub due to my providing daily Zoom lessons and assignments through Google Classroom. (Don't worry - my students have been supervised by an in-person-adult.) Despite how well it's worked, it's by no means a perfect solution and I've been counting the days until I can return to my classroom. (Not that being home has been awful, by any means. You should see my basement, it hasn't been this organized in years.)

The Health Department has given my husband, my daughter and I clearance to return to work and school tomorrow. It's perfect timing. I get to go back to school for the Halloween party! Seeing town is going to be strange, too. I haven't left the house since Friday, October 9th. 

Seems like a long time, doesn't it. The Health Department quarantined my son for two weeks from the onset of his symptoms. The rest of us had to remain at home for two weeks after his last possible infectious day. (Which for us ended up being 21 days.) I'm glad they've been cautious. I would have hated to be the cause of any of my students getting sick. Healthy kids are 100% worth having to teach from home!

Monday, October 12, 2020


I'm so glad my husband, the kids and I got outside last week. We took a long walk through the woods on one of those perfect sweater-weather fall days. The ground was damp enough to have that earthy-leafy fall smell and there were enough leaves on the ground to crunch beneath our feet as we walked. It was glorious.

I'm glad we got out, because as of Friday, we are in quarantine.

My son has tested positive for Covid-19. Today, he's OK.  He's clearly sick: sore throat, snotty nose, exhausted, not hungry (no fever though.) But he's not in a hospital on a ventilator and for that I am thankful. Now I just need to breathe. Breathe and try to stop worrying about whether or not my husband or daughter are going to get sick.

The outpouring of support we've received has been amazing. Every single person I've spoken to in the last three days has offered to help us. I feel so  incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so much love and support!