Just When I Needed Her, She Showed.

Two things happened tonight.

The first was that I started the packing process in my back rooms. Five hours of organizing, purging, and packing away things I won’t need in the next month or so.  It’s been fun. And, as always, it’s been soul cleansing.

The other thing that happened is that I discovered I’m not going to be able to go up to my sister’s water walk on Wednesday. Frustrated, I sat on the floor and cried for a good half hour. I want to go so badly.

Something gave me a little nudge to get off the floor and continue working. I really didn’t want to, if I’m entirely honest, but I did anyway. A short time later I came across one of Pauline’s shirts that our oldest sister, Sharon, gave me last summer. I laughed to myself because the shirt is totally corny and totally her. There’s a little chest badge that says “Yooper Chick” with a graphic of a cartoon chicken. I’m not sure I’ll ever wear it but I love when I find it among my stuff.

As I continued on with what I was doing, I wondered where Pauline’s skirt went. Sharon gave that to me at the same time. I got distracted by something else bright and shiny then ended up going back to whatever I was doing when I found the shirt.

While I was reorganizing my closet, I discovered the skirt in a pile of pants. Because it totally belongs there, right? I held the skirt up to my waist… too long. Then I had a brilliant idea. Excited, I quick slipped out of my PJs and pulled the skirt up to my armpits to see what sort of work I’d need to do. I could take in the waistband so it fits my chest, add straps and a belt then wear it with my long, loose-knit cardigan. Brilliant! The colors would look great together. I stood in front of my full length mirror… gathering here, pinching there. Then I spun around to see what the back looked like & what needed to be done there.

It hit me. She was there. Her scent filled the air.

As my eyes filled with tears, I buried my face in the fabric. It was like she was giving me one of her warm, feels-just-like-mom hugs. I didn’t want to let go. I said my hellos and a prayer… then slipped the skirt off and put my PJs back on. I folded the skirt back up and tucked it back into the piles of pants. Now I remember why it was there.

What an amazing gift to receive on a night when I was struggling about not being able to go to the water walk. Again.

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KBIC 4th Annual Pauline Knapp-Spruce Memorial Water Walk

Three years ago BigSis3 sent me a message to invite me to go on a walk she helped organize on our reservation. It was a 17 mile walk was around the bay we grew up on and was organized to help raise awareness about water. I couldn’t go. I just started my new job and didn’t have enough time built up to go to something I found out about last-minute.

The following year she messaged again. I really wanted to go but, again, I just didn’t have the time to take off in the middle of the week. I recalled snipping at her, “Why in the world would you schedule it on a Wednesday? It’s hard for people who work & are required to travel to attend.”

She never explained why.

Nevertheless, I recall being incredibly proud of her both years. My sister with her wore-down “needing a kidney transplant” body participated in the walk. I believe she was strictly a volunteer the 2nd year. She helped the walkers, keeping them hydrated and tending to other needs.

We lost her the following spring.

About a month later, I got a message from her best friend telling me that they were naming the walk in her honor. I broke down. I knew the date, I had time built up. I swore I would be there. Information about the walk was posted a few days beforehand. After reading through the protocols I found out I couldn’t attend. I had a double whammy. I was devastated. The day of the event was spent choking back tears at work as updates were posted.

One whammy is preventable but the other is not. Armed with the rules, I was able to plan ahead so I can attend this year. I have time off banked and travel arrangements are made. Mother Nature is the only thing that can stop me from going. I pray she is merciful.

KBIC 4th Annual Pauline Knapp Spruce Memorial Water Walk

None of her siblings have ever attended the walk or volunteered. The thought breaks my heart because we all knew what it meant to her. While I try not to live my life with regrets, not attending while I could be there with her is something that will stay with me my entire life.

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Summer, Summer, Summer Time

Time to sit back and unwind…

I love that old jam.

We all know how wet the Midwest has been this summer. The UP finally got a bit of sunshine around the 4th of July. My brother has been itching to get his boat out on the lake. Unfortnately, his truck has been cooperating with him far less than the weather. He hasn’t been able to get it started all season. When we finally got the nice bit of weather and his truck still wasn’t running, I told him he could use the Bronco to tow the boat for the summer. I haven’t really been using it since the snow melted anyway. I dropped the Bronco off on the 2nd and Brother was finally able to get the boat in the water on the 4th.

He was pretty happy. And I was a little excited to see my beast doing something other than sitting.

Bronco to the Rescue!

I had to work on the 4th for a while but was able to join him for a couple of hours in the afternoon. What an amazing afternoon on the lake.

Chip’s Ahoy!

Lake Lyfe

He and I had a little cookout at his house that evening then met some of the family at the park to watch Fireworks. I absolutely love Escanaba Harbor.

Escanaba Harbor at Sundown

Boom Boom Pow

A couple of days later Bro & I went to a local strawberry farm to pick a flat of strawberries. He was really fast strawberry picker when we were kids. He’s still fast. I think I figured out why… he skimmed past a lot of patches that had smaller berries. I stayed a little behind and cleaned them up. Little berries are berries, too!

Fresh Picked Strawberries


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Nearly 9 years ago I fell in love with a fabric line, 1974 by Moda’s Urban Chicks. I fell in love the fabric name since 1974 was the year I was born. The fact that I loved the patterns and colors was a bonus. I purchased a fat quarter bundle in January 2009. I planned to make a quilt. But there was a problem… I couldn’t find a pattern worthy of slicing up my treasured fabric.

I finally found a pattern last year. It took me all this time to decide that it really was “the one.” I bought the pattern last week. It requires 20 fat quarters.

WHAT? Now I have to choose 20 and leave 16 behind?! Oh, the agony!

Decisions are hard. Really hard. It took me a few days but I did it. Here are my selections…

1974 by Urban Chicks

To make sure I didn’t back out, I washed the fabric. They are no longer neatly folded and part of the bundle. Now I’m really committed. All I have left to do (as far as fabric selection is concerned) is to hunt around for fabric for the 2 coordinating colors and backing. That process should be less traumatic for me.

These are the cuts I decided to save for another project.

1974 by Urban Chicks.
The red and yellow pieces kept finding their way into the quilt pile. I ultimately pulled them out because I didn’t want my year-round bedroom quilt to be that vibrant. They’ll make a nice throw or seasonal quilt.

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I Am Who I Am Because of Her

Today at Bonnie’s memorial service I overheard a few of her high school classmates talking about Bonnie having the first computer of the bunch, a Commodore 64. I smiled gave them a brief summary of the following. This is part of my speech I gave at my ITT graduation in 2003:

When I was about 10 years old, my sister Bonnie purchased her first computer – a Commodore 64. I can still remember sitting at the corner desk in the back bedroom of our house playing Montezuma’s Revenge and feeling so fortunate that she trusted me enough to play on her computer. However, when she went away to college she decided that she didn’t want me to use it so she hid the power cable.

Well, one afternoon I was bored and decided I wanted to be sneaky and use the computer anyway. I found a power cable that fit & plugged it in. What a great plan! There was no way in the world she would find out I used it! I was so proud of myself… until I turned it on and it didn’t work. I sat back in the chair trying to figure out what was wrong, when I smelled an odd stench. All of a sudden, I heard “BZZZZZZT” and saw a little puff of smoke coming from the back of the keyboard where the power cable plugged in. In a panic, I quickly jumped up, turned off the computer and unplugged it from the wall. I then inspected the keyboard to see if there was any damage. There was. Black soot partially covered the back of what use to be a white keyboard. I made several attempts over the next couple of hours to resuscitate the computer. Defeated, I walked into the bathroom, grabbed the rubbing alcohol, and scrubbed the soot off the computer. Days later, when Bonnie came home from college and asked what was wrong with the computer, I was the first to volunteer information, “I don’t know what happened! I didn’t touch it!”

For 18 years, until my graduation speech confession, Bonnie thought the computer was damaged in a lightening storm.

I credit my career path to two people. One is now my co-worker; he called me a chicken when I was nervous to install RAM myself while I still worked in Marketing. The other is Bonnie; because of her love of computers and it rubbed off on me. When I gave my graduation speech I knew I needed to tell that story.

It’s not well known but I wouldn’t had graduated if it hadn’t been for Bonnie. I was a full-time student and worked a full-time job an hour away. I was exhausted and wanted to quit just before my last semester. She gave me a pep talk, ensuring me that the next few months of hell would be worth it. If anyone knew how hard it was, it was her. She received her degree from NMU 5 years prior. She also worked and went to school full-time, plus she completed her bachelor degree in 3 1/2 years with a dual major. I sucked it up, graduated 3 months later, and my quiet introvert self got up in front of a large group of people so I could give her credit. She was so proud as she sat along with the rest family and friends of my graduating class that I could nearly feel it radiating off her while I was on stage. I had to look away because I saw her get choked up.

That very brief moment overhearing her classmates conversation at the service as we looked at photos from Bonnie’s life triggered a flood of memories. What an incredible person she was. Bonnie is the sister I am closest to in age. She influenced my life in more ways than I can possibly imagine. And far more than I ever gave her credit. She was brilliant, beautiful, funny, artistic and always looked for new ways to enjoy life.

I wanted so badly to get up and say all of this at her memorial but I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it together. That’s why I’m sharing it now.

My heart is so heavy. I missed her so much when she moved to NMU after high school that I got sick and Mom had to ask her to come home to visit me. After she graduated in 1999, she considered going to North Carolina for her Masters so she went on a campus visit… I got sick again. That said, even though we’re not nearly as close and have gone years without speaking at times, I guess it’s really not a huge surprise I haven’t been sleeping since she was flown down to Ann Arbor.

While holding her hand on Thursday evening, not wanting to let her go, I heard the chorus of Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift cut through the air.

Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks
Say you’ll see me again even if it’s just in your wildest dreams

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