"Hey You’s Guys, We’re Moving To Chicago!"

The Power Of Prayer

For darn near the past five years, I have been hoping and praying that somehow we would be able to move back home to Michigan. We found ourselves in the Pacific Northwest in 2004 due to a job change for my Husband, Sam. Telling ourselves that it would be an adventure (yeah, right). We packed up and headed west.

I thought our prayers were answered a year and a half ago, when his company notified us that we were being relocated to their Chicago Office. Praise the Lord, I thought, 150 miles away from home is better than 2300. Well, the economy was starting to go south and the company canceled the relocation. I was devastated. Every time I visited home, it was apparent to me what I was missing out on because I was so far away. My Grandchildren were 3 and 6 years old when we left. Fast forward to today.

Sam and I decided to take a three week vacation back to Michigan in June. We had a ball, visiting people and places we hadn’t been in five years. We both realized how much we wanted to be closer to our loved ones, so we formulated a plan.

His company still wanted him in Chicago but hesitated asking us to transfer due to the fact we would take a loss on the house. When Sam returned to work after vacation, he approached his bosses and proposed that if we were willing to short-sell our home, would they transfer us to Chicago? They agreed, giving us the full relo package. Now we are a long way from moving, as there are numerous obstacles to overcome. We have to find a buyer, the bank has to approve the short-sale, etc. but this brings us hope and my mood has improved 100%.

So we are boning up on our driving skills, honking and changing lanes, being aggressive, rude and loud. Living there will also be an adjustment, but at least we can drive to Michigan on weekends and look forward to visits from friends and family, plus attend events at school for our Grandkids.

I am thinking that our last visit sparked a lot of prayers from various people that helped, along with ours, to get us to this end. Prayer is a powerful thing. If we take charge of our lives and not just wait for things to happen, that in tandem with prayer usually gets us to where we need to be.

Like A Prayer

As we headed back west from our visit to Michigan,(after I let go of the car bumper in an effort to keep us there), I decided to make the best of it and pay special attention to the scenery along the way.

By the time I had whipped myself into shape, we were in Iowa. This is America’s food belt where life is simple. Huge grain silos tower over family farms, announcing their existence from miles away. Wildflowers grow neatly along the roadside. Iowa seems a proud State. Proud of what they have and what they contribute to our nation.

We had an ambitious schedule for the first day, 1200 miles. (Are these people nuts? The answer is affirmative.) While speeding through Nebraska, I noticed lots of livestock. What I couldn’t see, I could smell. Some think the State is boring and flat, but it is green and fertile and the further west we drove it became more rolling and hilly.

Wyoming is where a lot of our energy comes from. The land is barren high desert, but below the earth lie rich pockets of oil and natural gas. The landscape is dotted with pumping stations and towns named after the oil companies. I have to admit every time we passed a Halliburton truck, it gave me an uneasy feeling, and I thought of Dick Cheney and nearly lost my breakfast. At the Bitter Creek rest area we ran into a prairie dog town. I love prairie dogs. They seem to be the clown princes of the animal kingdom.

As we diverted from our route going out, we headed toward Jackson, Wyoming. I fell in love with the forests and mountain streams as we made our way to the Grand Tetons.
Ranches dotted the landscape and made a body wonder how they survived when the harsh winters came. (My guess is snowmobiles). It would be a great place to write.

Without a doubt the highlight of our trip was Grand Teton National Park. The majestic mountains stood like sentries among the lush landscape. Only God and the force of nature could have created this awe inspiring sight. We headed to Yellowstone thinking we would see lots of wildlife, but they must have had the day off as we only saw one Bison, two River Otters, and a couple of Elk. (We did catch a Moose bathing in a lake next to the highway in Montana.)

Our next stop was Old Faithful. The earth seemed a giant boiling pot and the steam made the air hazy and smelled a bit like sulfur. We arrived about an hour early for the eruption, so we went to the Old Faithful Lodge and had a supper of Bison meatloaf, mashed potatoes, etc. and were done in time for the show. I was a bit underwhelmed when the geyser finally went off. I don’t really know what I expected, but it was something more than what we got.

Moving on, we drove through Idaho which is gorgeous, (except for where mining has ruined the landscape and polluted the rivers), and into eastern Washington. When we had to make the decision of going home through Oregon or Washington we chose Washington. It is only a two lane road, but the Columbia Gorge is a sight to see, and it is best viewed, we found, traveling WA-14. There are times the road takes you at least 1000 feet above the river and the scenery is spectacular. Lewis and Clark took this route to the Pacific so there is a lot of history here.

When we arrived home we thanked God for a successful trip and for the beauty he arranged for us that, most of the time, everyone takes for granted. It was a spiritual journey that brought us joy and enriched our lives.

The Wind Beneath Our Wings

During our recent trip back and forth across the country there was one sight that struck me with awe every time it came into view. It was not the majesty of the mountains, or the beautiful rock formations or the mighty rivers, it was, the wind turbine.

Why, you may ask, am I so enamored by these giants of the landscape? Their sheer size for one, makes them visible from miles away. To me they are sleek and clean looking and represent the hope of the nation to clean up our environment for future generations. They stand for jobs in this pathetic economy we find ourselves in. Truck drivers hauling each 100 ft. propeller down the highways, construction workers in the fields, and even trickles down to the nearby towns that supply food and lodging to the workers.

I am not unaware of the risk to birds, the damage to farm lands and the fact that a lot of people think them unsightly on our landscape. There are always pros and cons to every issue. What I am concerned about is our country getting off the fence and doing something about global warming and I think this is a good step toward that goal.

The main problem with wind power is that you need a way to get the power to the people (pardon the 60’s reference), i.e. a power grid to sell the power. This can be an expensive proposition when there is no grid nearby. T. Boone Pickens ran into this problem recently when he pulled the plug on his Texas Wind Farm, due to his inability to obtain enough money to build a grid facility. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when T. Boone can’t get a loan.

So here’s to the forward thinkers, the pioneers, if you will of the wind industry, may the wind carry us to new heights in energy production.

The Best Laid Plans…..

We pulled away from my Mom’s house at approximately 3:45 am on Monday morning. One would think it would be easier every time I said goodbye, but it is more difficult.

My Grandkids are growing up. Max is a ‘tween now, but he still puts up with my hugs and kisses with only an occasional “Oh Grandma…(you know the tone). Addie is my cuddle bunny. She still enjoys unbridled hugs and kisses. We had big plans before we got there. Among them, going to South Haven again for fun and food at Clementine’s. A trip to Chicago on the train, maybe a visit to a fair or amusement park, the usual stuff.

Well…..We did go to Craig’s Cruisers, where we road on the go-karts, the bumper boats, (film at 11), played video games and air hockey. A good time was had by all. We took everyone to Shipshewana, Indiana for the huge flea market where you can buy just about anything. Sam bought two lovely dress shirts for $3.75 each, I kid you not, as my Dad (and Jack Parr) would say. Then we drove over to Middlebury, Indiana to the Essenhaus for a family style dinner of roast beef, fried chicken, buttered noodles, stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy and best of all, homemade pie for dessert. Yum, yum….The kids loved it.

Instead of taking the kids to South Haven, Sam and I went with my bff from way back when, Deb and her husband Bob, to Saugatuck, Michigan and strolled the streets, ate outside, and saw how the other half (or three-quarters)live.

We visited Sam’s childhood homestead in Gobles with friends who have since bought the property. We walked some of the property, visited the pond where he used to swim with the Smith girls, and took a few rocks from the rock pile he and his Dad made while trying to farm the property. We will use them for bookends and perhaps a door stop or two and think fondly of the place he grew up.

Our final big event was a get-together with my classmates from the class of 1968 to celebrate our homecoming and the fact we were still alive after 41 years. What a rush that was. Most of us went kindergarten through graduation together. We all had a great time laughing and catching up.

Sprinkled in with all this were numerous bbq’s at my Son’s house with the kids, a family reunion that they love to attend each year, and swimming with Isabelle and Dominick.

I guess what I am trying to say is that as we get older our roles change with our families. The children are older and have friends and activities that don’t involve their grandparents, and this is the trip where it hit home.

I consoled myself with plenty of MGD 64 and Plainwell Ice Cream with my family, and lots of visits with old friends and I only gained three pounds!