This, that and the other…

October 22, 2022 | My Jottings

It has been many weeks since I’ve walked in the woods, or at the cemetery or on the lakewalk. Walking from my bedroom to the kitchen during the summer was an accomplishment. Now that my fractured tibia has mostly healed, I’ve been thinking about walking in the woods near Lester Park, on the eastern boundary of our city.

When Michael and I were raising our family we lived a couple of blocks from the Lester River, which empties into Lake Superior. We used to walk over to the woods that surround the river and hike the loop and return home, which was about a two mile easy walk. Some of the pines are considered old-growth, and it’s calming and awe-inspiring to walk the needle-cushioned paths under their canopy many feet above.

Lloyd came and picked me up and we set off on one of the trails around 8:30 a.m. I took my trekking poles and they ended up helping so much, especially when the path went downhill. My bone might have healed, but the soft tissue injuries from my fall in July are still apparent, and are said to take a year to heal. The muscles and ligaments all around the knees are still sore.

We had thought we would walk twenty minutes into the woods, then turn around and walk back to the car. We ended up walking for about an hour and ten minutes. I had to go slower than normal, but oh, how lovely it felt to be out in the dry, brisk fall morning air, surrounded by falling leaves and the smell of pine.

Here’s the Lester River as soon as we got onto the trail:

The white pines grow so straight and true, and their trunks are as wide as a large refrigerator:

Here’s Lloyd standing next to a majestic white pine:

I love this poem by Joyce Kilmer:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.


I always hope to see lots of wildlife when I’m in or near the woods, but yesterday all we saw were chickadees fluttering around and calling right above our heads. The sound of the river swirling in its various pools and rapids as we walked further away from the Lake made me breathe deeply and question why I don’t get outside more often. That is the quandary of a nature-loving homebody. I love to be at home, I love to be outside. Too often the former wins out.

Today I drove down to Lloyd’s cabin and will spend one night. He is taking a nap in the loft as I type this, and I’ve got my feet up in our loveseat/recliner, a Yeti full of cold water near me on the side table, and a wonderful window view of the forest that surrounds his home. Most of the leaves have fallen but the few that remain are rustling in the breeze in a way that makes me think they’re giving one last applause before they lose their grip and become part of the earth. Will I be able to do that? When my life is almost bare and the last of me is getting ready to let go, will I give my applause and praise to my Creator up until the very end? I pray He gives me the grace to do so.

My long-time friend Linda and I had lunch together recently and it’s a blessing to be with her. We have watched each other’s children grow up and now we are older women coping with the challenges that aging brings. She’s one of those brilliant creatives who can do almost anything artistic, but she has quilted more than anything, I believe. Linda gave me two quilts at the end of our lunch, a completely unexpected and humbling gift. One of them (which I will show someday soon) is full of orange little foxes and vibrant colors I would never have thought to put together, and it’s so stunning I keep examining it every day. The other quilt had plaid fabric and a cabin-y motif I thought would be perfect for Lloyd’s house in the woods. I have loaned the quilt to his place for a while, and here it is today, on the back of where I’m presently sitting:

So much goes into a quilt, to receive one (or two) as a gift feels lopsided or heavy, like you’ve received so much more than lovely pieces of fabric put together. I cherish them.

Are any of you Doc Martin fans? I am, because my dear friend Su introduced Michael and I to the series years ago. Of course I then had to initiate Lloyd, and he is a devoted fan. Su let me know recently that there are two episodes from the final season out, and last night Lloyd and I watched them. We laughed out loud several times, and he said, “You know how good these are when the whole episode goes by in just a few minutes.” I’ve also been enjoying the week-by-week releases of the newest season of The Great British Baking Show. What have you been watching lately? Shetland is on my list too.

My middle daughter Carolyn was in a delightful community play recently called Nunsense!. She played Sister Robert Anne in the musical, and was one of five singing and tap-dancing nuns who had the audience laughing and clapping along with them. Here’s a photo of my girl (she’s the nun on the right):

I’ll share some other things when I post again, but it’s getting close to dinner time and Lloyd and I are going to make a salad and split a sirloin steak to thinly slice and put on top of the greens. We also bought a loaf of French country bread at Costco and that sounds like something that would make the parotid glands awaken.

What do you always buy at Costco? Our store is fairly new so I’m still getting accustomed to it, but here are some things I’ve loved from Costco: their organic chicken breasts, frozen blueberries, cauliflower crust pizza, and bed sheets. Lloyd is partial to their extra-large pumpkin pies.

Have a peaceful weekend, friends.

Woods, Water and Waiting

October 8, 2022 | My Jottings

Hello friends. Lloyd and I just returned from a four-day trip up the north shore of Lake Superior to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. How three years has whooshed by I don’t know, but that is the thought every aging person I talk to is marveling about. The passage of this next year will really feel like three months. And soon, if I live longer than I have long had a premonition for, I will be 85 years old and more than ready for my time on this earth to end.

I know someone who dearly wants to keep living and living and living, and he doesn’t feel quite comfortable talking about death or making plans for his death, but I’m the opposite. If I even have a chance of making it to Heaven, I’d like to go before I reach 70, and that’s not martyrish or fatalistic, it’s just me. I have my health care directive done and filed with my doctor and hospital and family. My will is completed, with a friend as the executor. My finances are in order, and I give thanks to God for that, because He has kept His grace and lavishness ever before my eyes, and I will always thank Him for caring for me in that way.

A couple of weeks ago the four SAGs were at Pat’s house and we touched on the subject of funerals. They didn’t know that you can purchase a casket online and save thousands of dollars, but I know that from personal experience when Michael died. Even in the midst of the sorrow and relief during the week of his death, I knew he would not want me to spend triple for a wooden box that would be seen once and then lowered into the ground. Most states have laws so that a grieving family can purchase a lovely casket online and it will be delivered the next day to the funeral home, and the funeral home is required to use it. The SAGs wanted the link to the casket site and I texted it to them right then… such are the evening conversations of older women when they gather for soup and bread, music and laughter.

Lloyd and I stayed in a lovely condo that was so close to the Lake we could have almost jumped into the frigid water from the deck. This was our third time there, and as wonderful as it was, we decided that next October we will stay someplace in the woods. We both agree that woods or water are needed for our restful place, but it was the drive deep into the Superior National Forest on Tuesday that helped us decide we needed a change. We drove through one almost empty campground set in an old-growth forest and the feeling of wonder and quiet overcame us. You need to spend time here, my brain nudged insistently. Or was it my soul?

So yesterday I spent some time perusing the websites of every single resort on Minnesota’s Gunflint Trail, one of my favorite places on earth. Michael and I have stayed with friends at Golden Eagle Lodge on the Trail, Lloyd and I have stayed twice at Bearskin Lodge, and we’ve driven the trail numerous times. I am past the time in my life where I could stay in a super rustic cabin. I don’t mind old, but I want clean, I want a toilet that can’t earn the nickname Hobbit Hole, I don’t want spider webs, and it should have a comfy bed. And of course it has to be close to one of the zillions of lakes surrounding the Gunflint, and should be so deep in the woods only the moose and wolves come close.

I narrowed the resorts down to two, and then chatted with Lloyd and shared photos last night. We have settled on a resort far up the Trail and are still deciding on which cabin. Here are a couple of pictures of what we’re considering for next fall:

Now for an exciting segue. Here’s a wonderful little boy who knows nothing about buying caskets online and health care directives. He’s my grandson Levi with some big news:

Yes, Levi and his family are expecting a beautiful little girl to brighten up their lives in early April. This will be my daughter Carolyn and her husband Jeremy’s eighth child, with Hannah already gone ahead to Heaven in 2017. We are all so thrilled and can’t wait to meet her.

I have finally put away my cane and am now walking normally after my tibial fracture. I see the orthopedic doctor next week for a final X-ray to make sure new bone growth is still occurring. I’m walking slower than usual because that knee will still occasionally feel unstable, but I guess that’s normal.

You know I like to talk about books here, and I just read a phenomenal one. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles was beautifully written and so unique. I’ve now picked up the same author’s The Lincoln Highway because two friends have said it’s the best book they’ve read all year. What are you reading?

I’ve been thinking about prayer in light of all the images that are coming back from the James Webb telescope. If you haven’t seen any of the photos, you might be astounded if you look them up. Galaxies and star nurseries so many light years away the human mind can’t grasp it. I so want God to answer my prayers regarding my grandchildren and children. I’ve experienced His grace and miraculous intervention in my life, but I mostly experience what it’s like to wait on Him and trust. It’s heart-wrenching to pray for someone fervently for years and not see the relief you beg Him for. But then I’m reminded that He is outside of time and space, and to describe His doings as “glacial” doesn’t even come close to being accurate. He is not in a hurry, and I am. I am in a desperate hurry to see the people I love whole and free and suffused with the peace and joy of Jesus. I want that for myself as well.

I know the Lord has things well in hand, but I would sort of like Him to come and personally assure me He has things well in hand, and that He will answer and all will be well. Julian of Norwich promised, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” I wish I could ask her, did Jesus talk to you about my grandchild? Did he mention my daughter’s name? Are you certain about this? Did He really say all?

I think I might be able to lay hold of this more firmly if I were more often in the deep woods or very near the water.

Well I think that’s enough rambling for today. Sometimes I consider letting this little spot on the internet go silent. Who cares what my thoughts are when myriad others out there share and even shout theirs? My quiet life isn’t notable enough to put words to anymore, as if it ever was. But then I remember that everyone has a story. And how much I love to read other peoples’ stories.

So here I am. My story in a nutshell is that when I was three years old, Jesus helped me believe in Him and want Him. And He has helped me continue to believe Him and want Him until this, my 65th year.