Friday, October 24, 2014

Through the Looking Glass

During my hiatus from blogging, I've felt as though I should have posted some small note, like: "Pardon the absence during reconstruction of this blogger's attitude"!

Sometimes retirement leads to too many choices, like a smorgasbord enticing one to over-indulge. By this summer, the third in my retirement, I'd become busy. Too busy, according to my hubby. So, I suppose it was a huge mistake for me to travel to Minnesota in July, on so many levels. I'd just gained some momentum on this (my first) blog, and become interested in photography and blogging as a way to channel some creative energy. 

You see, the trip interrupted a good flow I had going, in my sewing room, in writing my cookbook, in my swimming schedule, in pursuing things I'd waited to do all those years I worked. It was a tough decision to leave this groove behind and accompany my husband to his childhood haunts, but I knew I must. It would be the first time he had the heart to step foot back there after his Mom died, after he'd spent three months doing what he could to ease her through the nightmare of health care obstacles, to which she succumbed. 

I must say the first and most positive encounter on that trip happened right at the Minneapolis Airport. A friend and author I met through an online writing challenge, Peggy McAloon (Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals), arranged to drive hours to arrive when our 7 a.m. flight landed, just to meet me in person! And I won't even get into the sacrifices she made to do so. Peggy is like so many of you: a writer at heart, a writer with heart, and an inspirational soul. I felt I'd known her my whole life. For years I felt sure that Minnesota has the most friendly, polite people in the country. 

Ours was to be a 10-day sojourn to one of the family cabins on beautiful Lake Vermilion, about four hours north of Minneapolis, not far from the Boundary Waters. Although I had a gut feeling it wasn't going to be the easiest visit, I remain gobsmacked at just how badly it went. It wasn't any one thing, but many smaller changes observed and felt, and we even endured some dramatic emotional sucker-punches. We may not live there, but from our weekly phone contact over the past five years, we were shocked that family dynamics devolved the way they had, and felt the sting of coldness from people who'd at least shown us warmth during past visits. 

I couldn't possibly bore anyone with the sordid details. I will say only that people change, lives move on. In their defense, my husband's four brothers and their families are good people, and intelligent. So why does it feel as if a whole limb of our family tree has died? In retrospect, I believe it has everything to do with the loss of their Mom; Margery was an incredibly warm and generous person, interested in every friend and relative. She was a wonderful cook and baker, and I still mourn her loss. All camaraderie and grace are gone, and I believe they died with Margery. I don't think I would have believed it had I not experienced it, and it's the only explanation I have. 

No, "Minnesota polite" isn't all that I thought it was. Yet, instead of sharing this burdensome tale with anyone, I turned quiet. Another big mistake. Neither did spa pampering or a new haircut chase my doldrums.  

Maybe the most heartening lesson has been to learn what a phenomenal group you bloggers are. I am grateful to everyone who reached out with notes and gestures of support and to those who got in touch with blogger friends to check on me. Thank you especially to Writing Straight From The Heart, Elephant's Child, Becky, and ALL of my former remain a powerful inspiration and the reason I think it's worth picking up where I left off. I'll likely get into the swing of blogging again, but perhaps on a weekly basis. I have enjoyed all of your photos, stories, and comments so much.

By way of catching up slowly, I'll share that during my hiatus from blogging and sewing, I've done a great deal of reflecting and reading, most notably Becky Llewellyn Povich's memoir (From Pigtails to Chin Hairs...)a wonderful detour that brought back many memories from my own childhood, Turn Right at Machu Piccu, The School of Essential Ingredients; The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee; among others. I've taken on the Leviathan task of de-cluttering my basement, attic, and my mind of all negative thinking. 

Hubby and I have been stressing about the onset of winter, especially since our little Caesar struggled so last year here in New England. Finally we decided to become snowbirds from now on, trying new places until we find a location that entices us year round. This year we're heading to the last place we thought we'd ever vacation, Florida. But serendipity dropped an opportunity in our laps and so, we'll begin our serious research there. We've added North Carolina and South Carolina to our list for other seasons. Wish us luck! Send us ideas!

We've begun selecting what to fit in our SUV for the two month stay in Florida, which has changed my perspective on a few things. As I focus on the goal of a smooth vacation, there are fewer distractions for me to fuss over, which makes me happier. There are even bigger benefits. I've wanted to leave New England winters behind for such a long time the reality and anticipation of doing just that thrills me. Plus, as I am forced to focus my actions on such preparation, I've had time to think about my real passions. Just as a cat wants out when she is in or in when she is out, I long to be at my sewing machine instead! Perhaps writing is not far behind. And so, by trial and error, I'm learning what matters most and replenishing my essential ingredients. 

I hope you'll be back and I will also see you on your blogs as often as I can. 




Bookie said...

I'm glad you are back! I wondered where you went, but so often people tire quickly of blogging. It is some work but it is commitment too...and a habit, I guess. From sounds of things, you have some big issues to sort through and writing can help. Put your experiences and the people of summer into a piece of fiction and let them go. See what they have to say to you, to show you. As Madeleine L'Engle stressed, fiction can really be the truth. Welcome home.

Elephant's Child said...

Welcome back. You have been missed.
Revel in your passions - and be kind to yourself.

Musings, Tea, and Me said...

Bookie, Thanks for your thoughts and ideas...writing fiction scares me, but maybe I should dive in anyway. Writing (privately) helps for sure. So happy to hear from you! V.

Musings, Tea, and Me said...

Elephant's Child, Thank you - from the bottom of my heart!

Lorrie said...

I just found you before you went on your blogging hiatus, so I'm glad you're posting again. I nodded my head through your post about family - sometimes attitudes change and one is left feeling baffled, hurt, and wanting to shake people into sense.

Enjoy your travels to warmer climes.

Musings, Tea, and Me said...

Lorrie, Appreciate your empathy and wise words. Glad to "meet" you too! -V.

Lorrie said...

Hi Vickie,
I couldn't find a way to contact you since you are a "no-reply" blogger, but the link to my chicken soup recipe with ginger is on my recipe blog -
It is warming and good,and is also fine without the red curry paste.

Susan said...

Hello Dear Vickie...

SOOO happy to see your post.

Sounds like the Minnesota trip was necessary and an eye opener.

Glad you are going to get a two month reprieve from the iceburg that this area turns into in winter. But ohhh, the thoughts of you moving away permanently make me sad.

Anyway, whenever you post, I'll be there! Hugs. Susan

Musings, Tea, and Me said...

Hi Susan, Thanks so much for your comment and caring...I like your thinking! I will be as near as your heart, your phone, or your PC regardless of my geographic location. It's thanks to you and the wonderful bloggers I am giving blogging another guys lift my spirits. ;-)

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I love being retired. It really lets you have choices! And getting to spend some of the year somewhere else is nice, too. You'll love it! And find lots to do! Then when you get back, you'll be fresh to start on favorite projects! Hugs, Diane