Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Cost of our Dreams

Oh man.  I am in so much trouble.  Well, not really trouble, per se but it could get to be trouble I think.

I met with the college sales consultant last night.  Technically he is probably an admissions advisor/counselor but he was really making the hard sale on me towards attending this school.  And to be honest, he didn’t have to really do the hard sale on me.  Just looking over what they offer as far as a major in digital photography goes makes me want to sign on the dotted line right this very minute.

What surprised me is that their digital photography program is a 4-year BS degree.  I thought it would be a 2-year AA degree, but no.  The sales guy (SG) said that most likely I wouldn’t have to take any generals due to my extensive college path and I could just jump right into the core of the program.  If that’s the case, I would really consider getting a second BS.

The other thing that surprised me is the cost of this school’s program.  The full 4 year program (which I hope I would not have to do) tuition costs $67,000!  Yikes!  After I recovered from my sticker shock, SG told me that the cost of the tuition not only includes the instruction and education of digital photography but also includes a 12 mp Canon Rebel XTI digital camera with lens, bag, tripod, and flash.  It ALSO includes a Macbook Pro with all the software (Photoshop!) needed for the program installed!  Drool.

I have to talk to Bob about this.  He couldn’t make the appointment with me and since the cost is so high and the commitment so great, we really need to make this decision together.  I don’t know how we can do it but I really, really want to.  I feel like my dream is so close I can taste it and yet I can’t reach it because of costs and logistics.  We could take out student loans but we are already paying so much on my loans already.  Still, I just can’t stand that I could be THISCLOSE to doing what I really want and love to do and can’t quite get there.

We talk about me starting my own photography business all the time and I would LOVE that.  While I admit to knowing a thing or two about taking pictures and admit that I am passionate about it, the things I don’t know about doing it for a living could fill an ocean or two.  I would love to have more confidence about lighting, portfolios, Photoshop and editing software, and business things like contracts, invoices, receipts, taxes, etc.  Going to this school would give me these things and I think it would be money well spent.  I don’t think I could take a business loan for $60,000 and make my business successful.  I DO think I could put $60,000 (probably less) into school and come out with far more knowledge and confidence and really make my business take off.  I really do. 

In other news not related to me going back to school, Bob received the first proof copy of his book.  It looks so very nice.  We met at Kinko’s last night and we made minor changes to the layout and saved them.  Bob took the updates and uploaded them to the publisher.  He is now waiting to hear if those changes have been approved and if so, the publisher will send what we hope is the final proof copy to us for review.  If we review it and approve, Bob lets them know and they go ahead and publish the book.  It is so close.  Bob’s long-standing dream of being a published poet is nearly here.  He is so excited he can barely stand it.  It’s been a good lesson for him in patience but not one he has enjoyed learning. 

If you are interested in following Bob’s dream and reading his book, here is the link to the book’s webpage:  We update it as we go. If you have any questions about it, leave a comment there and one of us will get back to you.

So, I guess this post is about our dreams and what we are willing to do to make them come true.  Are they worth the blood, sweat, tears, time, and cash?  Bob thinks so now that one he’s had for nearly 20 years is finally coming true.  I am still on the fence about the cost but if someone gave me $40,000 I would immediately apply to that college’s digital photography program so fast it would make your head spin.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Things on my Mind

Things on my mind today.

Who is Leann Chin trying to fool with their new frozen yogurt line?  Red  Cherry, really?  I am surprised Pink Berry hasn’t cried foul and put a stop to this post haste.  Plus, who thinks to combine fast food Chinese and frozen yogurt?  Good luck with that.

There is a commercial on TV right now that is advertising some kind of new trail-mix nut assortment.  I’ve never heard of this snack or the company selling it before so I assume it’s new.  However, they keep calling their product a nut snack and the 11 year old boy in me snickers EVERY time they say this because I cannot hear “nut snack” without really hearing “nut sack”.  I know.  I’m mature.

Bob found that has a book publishing site at where he can get his book of poetry published.  They don’t require funds up front but will take a portion of any sales/royalties once it’s complete.  Bob’s book is roughly 90 pages of a good mix of his poems from early days to now.  We have edited it, created a cover, and we are waiting for a proof copy just to see if what we’ve designed is going to work.  Once we OK the proof, they will print it and we can begin selling it.  I created a website for the book at Blogspot and we had business cards printed for Bob to hand out as part of promoting it.  He is as excited as a little boy at Christmas.  Here’s the website link:  We will update it as the publish date draws near.

All this business card creating and ordering made me realize that I have never had business cards printed up.  So I went to a site that allows people to put their own photographs on the backs of each card and had some printed.  I am calling the name of my photography company Captivated.  I was invited to be the main photographer for the 2008 MN MDA Labor Day Telethon.  Granted I would photograph the event anyway, but they told me this year that the other guy that shows up every year to take pictures is going to be assigned an area whereas I will be given carte blanche to photograph the event.  Also, tomorrow I am meeting with a guy at one of the local community colleges to talk about their digital photography program.

I can’t wait until Wednesday!  After work Bob and I are going to his sister’s town and we are going to join her family on their new boat!  Yay!  So much fun.  And while today and tomorrow are hazy, hot, and humid with highs in the 90’s and dew points in the 70’s Wednesday is supposed to the be nicest day of the week!  Yippee skippee.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Poetry For the Soul, Volume 1

My husband wrote a book. It should be out in a couple of weeks.

Here is the Blog we created for the new book: Keep checking it for updates on when the book will be released.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Reaping crap since 2002

This morning I had to stop by our bank ATM to make a deposit.  I grabbed an envelope and filled it out; put the transaction paperwork in the envelope stuck my card into the machine.  The screen, which normally displays instructions on entering a PIN remained blank.  I finally noticed that the money distribution area was blinking and the screen said, “Please take your cash”.  I pulled the money from the machine and counted out $60.00!  I looked all around me to see if there was a car waiting to get the money earlier forgotten and there was no one but me.  Sigh.  I wanted to keep that $60 in the WORST way.

I finished my own transaction, looked at the auto bank hours and determined I had 20 minutes before they opened.  I drove to the nearest coffee drive-through and argued with myself the whole time. Who would know if I kept that money?  It’s almost nearly the same as if I had found it blowing around in the street.  We could really use an extra $60.  It serves the person right, being in such a hurry they forget the cash they stopped at this very machine to get.

Still, I couldn’t keep it.  If it had been me and I had accidentally left $60 in the machine, I’d be frantic and angry and would most assuredly NOT get it back.  So, after getting my coffee, I drove back to the bank drive-through and asked for a manager.  I told my story and asked if there was ANY way to know who left their cash in the machine.  The banker said there really was NO way to know but they would take the money, log it, hold on to it and hope the owner of the funds called or stopped by to inquire if anyone turned it in.  She took the money and I went on my merry way confident that I had done the right thing and happy that the owner of the lost money could get it back if they just called or stopped by.  Yay me!

Later this afternoon I stopped by our building’s convenience store and bought $4.74 worth of stuff.  I gave the guy a $10 and he gave me a quarter back and I took my stuff upstairs.  As I was putting things away I realized I was owed $5!  I called downstairs and told him what had happened.  He said to come downstairs.  When I got there he showed me that on the receipt he had keyed that I had given him a $5. I said I had given him a $10.  He kind of got snippy and said there was really no way to prove what I said but since I was a good customer (for 5 years!) he would give me the benefit of the doubt and give me $5.  He did and I walked away feeling like I’d just kicked this guy’s puppy.

You reap what you sow?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vacation Log: Thursday and Friday

Thursday and Friday.

I woke up around 9am today.  When I looked outside, I saw that the lake was nearly glasslike.  That hasn’t happened since we arrived.  I’ve wanted to take a kayak out on the lake but the wind, waves, and chop always made me a little leery of doing so.  So I got ready to go out on the lake but by the time I was ready, the lake was back to it’s normal choppy, wavy self.  Bummer.  However, the good news is I finally got a signal from the wifi and was able to upload all the photos from Jennie and Troy’s wedding and reception.  That took a good while.  In the meantime, Bob got up and asked what we were going to do.  I suggested lunch at The Cherry Hut.  He agreed and off we went.

The Cherry Hut is in Beulah.  It’s a restaurant that seems to cater to tourists but locals like it too.  The food is simple comfort foods.  For instance, I had the hot turkey sandwich and Bob had the ham salad on pumpernickel.  They are famous for their cherry pie so of course I had a piece and it was divine.  We bought a few items to bring home and then we had to decide what we wanted to do the rest of the day.

I wanted to visit the local radio shack to see if they had any lens cleaning equipment.  They did so I bought it.  I spent a good 5 minutes working on cleaning my lens and the inner camera sensor.  It seems to be better now so will keep on that.

After the lens cleaning extravaganza, we drove to downtown Beulah which sits on the end of the Lake Crystal.  It was a warm but beautiful day.  Bob made friends with the locals while I poked around in the local shops.  We ate ice cream and drank iceless beverages under the town park gazebo.  Bob was feeling poorly so we came back to the cabin so he could lie down.  I took a book outside and read in my favorite place, the swing.  At one point, I was sitting minding my own business when a giant junebug flew by me and landed right on me.  Anyone watching would have cracked up laughing to see me flail and run with arms akimbo and I tried to rid myself of the vial beast.  I eventually used a nearby rake to pick it up and set it in the fire pit.  Gah!

After a time it got to look a bit like rain so I came in to make dinner.  Bob was up and decided he wanted to go to the store up the road.  He left while I cooked.  Dinner consisted of spaghetti and meatballs and sweet corn and it was good.  The only thing about being on vacation and making your own food is that there is really no use for leftovers.  I made a bit too much of the dinner so we had to throw the extra away.

After dinner, Bob went out to start a fire and I worked on the photos I’d taken for the past 2 days.  It took a couple of hours to sort and edit them all.  When I was done, I joined Bob by the fire and roasted a marshmallow or 2.  It started raining so we went in.  Just as we sat down, it started pouring rain.  We noted that this whole trip it has only ever rained or stormed at night while the days have been beautiful and sunny.  Now that’s a vacation!

As it rained, we watched the news and Miami Animal Police while we tried to decide what to do the next day.  The weathermen said to expect a hot and humid day so I suggested we go to a beach and just chill.  Bob said that sounded like something I could do and he would stay home.  He’s been really challenged by pain the past couple of days and pushing it doesn’t help.  So I said we’d see what the morning brought and we could decide then.  Then we went to bed.

Friday Bob was not feeling well at all so he gave me the OK to do some exploring on my own. 

When I woke up, it was still very cloudy from the rain wed gotten overnight.  So I did some packing in an effort to be ready for leaving the next day.  I also made some breakfast of scrambled eggs and leftover potatoes.  It was pretty yummy.  After I cleaned up, I got dressed, kissed Bob goodbye and set off on my own adventure.

I first drove back to Glen Arbor.  Along the way I stopped several times to take pictures of the amazing scenery.  The dunes around Glen Lake are just so amazing that I could take pictures there every day and find new facets of the area.  Anyway, I reached Glen Arbor around lunch time and the town was bursting with visitors.  It hadnt been quite so busy when we stopped there earlier in the week, but today it was hard to find a parking space.  Once procured, my first stop was an ATM.

Money in hand, I headed straight for Cherry Republic.  I was in search of their cherry BBQ sauce.  I grabbed that, some cherry tea for my friend at work, more cherry salsa and malted milk balls, and some cherry wine jelly.  Once Id paid for all my treasures, I headed to the Cherry Republic beverage area.  I sampled some wines and bought 2.  I had intended to get some soda pop as well, but decided Id purchased enough cherry flavored things.

After CR, I went across the street and bought some chocolate from The Grocers Daughter and a couple of prints from the art shop housing the chocolates.  The prints feature a cat named Lilly posing at various Benzie County landmarks.  Only in the photos, Lilly is a giant cat laying on a rooftop, playing with dune visitors, or checking out a nearby boat.  They are cute and I bought 2.

On my way out, I got a wrap for lunch at the Cherry Republic deli and a cherry lemonade (have I ever mentioned that cherry is my all-time favorite flavor/fruit?).  I drove back to Frankfort because the sun was coming out and I wanted to lie on a beach and relax.  Along the way, I stopped some more for more photos.  As I was driving, I caught the silhouettes of a group of 3 deer standing by the road.  I would have stopped to try and take their pictures if there hadnt been cars behind me.  Sigh.  They were the first deer/wild life Id seen this entire trip.

Once in Frankfort, I parked and walked to the beach. It was fairly populated but not overly so.  I laid out a towel, got out my book, and settled in.  It was heavenly.  I read on the beach in the sun for over 2 hours.  After that, I decided to go back to the cabin to see if Bob wanted to go out for fish for dinner.

Bob was just hanging out by the cabin when I got there.  He said hed taken a nap, seen a bald eagle, and gathered kindling for that evenings fire.  We chatted a bit and then he said he was hungry and did I want to go for fish.  I told him thats why I was there and did he want to leave right then.  He did, so we did.

We went back to Frankfort to a place called Dinghys.  The line was out the door.  When I went in to put our names on the list, we were told it would be 45 minutes to an hour.  So we went back to the beach and hung out and talked until it was time to go back to the restaurant.  The fish was really good.  They had a choice of 2 kinds of fishI can only remember the perch.  I liked the perch best but Bob liked the other best.  We each only ate about half our first basket and we were done.  We should have shared 1 but I dont know if they even do that at an all-you-can-eat place.  The waitress was overly concerned about all the food wed left behind but we reassured her that it was great, we just werent that hungry.  She wanted to box it up for us but we said we were leaving town the next day and didnt really have time or place to store it.  She still took our sodas off the bill so we tipped her the difference in addition to the regular tip.

We left the restaurant and went back to the beach.  I wanted to take pictures of the sun setting over Lake Michigan.  It was still over an hour until sunset so I read while Bob explored.  The sunset was beautiful but just before hitting the horizon; it hit a bank of clouds just rolling in.  I was bummed that I wouldnt be getting a photo of the sun sinking into Lake Michigan, but still, I got some good shots.

After we left the beach, we went back to the cabin.  Bob began building a fire and I began packing and getting ready for our departure the next morning.  After a while I went out to join Bob at the fire and roast my last marshmallows.  It was nice but buggy so I went back to the cabin to finish what packing I could do before bed. For some reason, though we were both tired, we could not make ourselves go to bed.  We watched the news to catch the weather and it looked like a big storm would be rolling through just about the time we planned on leaving.  Great!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Interruption to Vacation Logs

On Sunday my dad told me that my brother and his wife had spent some time in the ER because my sister-in-law had been having severe abdominal/pelvic pain.  He said it could be nothing but it might be cancer.  He didn’t have a lot of details and said I should contact my brother or my sister-in-law for more information.  My brother had few details but said they were pretty positive because the ER doc said the CT scan showed rounded objects on her ovaries and round is better than jagged.  An appointment had been set up with an OB for early in the week and we all waited.

The diagnosis came back as probable ovarian cancer.  She has a tennis ball sized tumor on one ovary and a golf ball size tumor on the other as well as something on top of her uterus.  She is waiting to hear from a UW specialist as to what’s next though we suspect a full hysterectomy and chemotherapy. Other than that, we have no other information.  The waiting is truly the hardest part.

This is shocking news to us all.  It is not supposed to happen to someone as young and vibrant and beautiful as my sister-in-law (not that it should happen to anyone at all).  I thought maybe she was suffering from fibroids or endometriosis.  Both of those could produce the pain she’d been suffering and were fairly easily remedied.  It was not supposed to be cancer.   She’s only 37 and she has 2 young sons to mother.   Her youngest son is 11 and has asked her several times if she is going to die.  He is a mama’s boy in the sense that he loves his mommy and thinks she hung the moon.  Her eldest is 13 and not very outwardly emotional or demonstrative.  He is probably processing this internally since he hasn’t really had much of a reaction to the news yet.  My brother is a rock and is doing what he can to encourage everyone else.

Needless to say, our prayer lives have amped up considerably.  If you are a praying person, could you please add my sister-in-law and her family to your prayers?  We would really appreciate it, thank you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vacation Log Days Five and Six

Tuesday and Wednesday

Today I only slept until 9am. Still, I stayed in bed and finished one of the books I brought. That was awesome. Bob got up and showered and I followed suit. It felt so good to get clean as I hadn’t bathed since Saturday and felt like I was a big creepy crawly.

Today we didn’t have a plan. We decided to go get some wood from the place we bought it on Sunday and then go to the grocery store and then…who knows.

We began the afternoon by stopping at the Trading Post for a piece of pizza. It was big and greasy and so good. After that we got wood. It didn’t go quite as smoothly since there were dozens and dozens of bugs on the woods and I did the girly thing and freaked the hell out. Bob did the guy thing and took over.

After the wood getting, we stopped at the grocery store for more supplies. After that we drove to a nearby town where we decided to stop and see the sites. We saw some giant bluffs next to a canal or channel. We decided to stop for photos. There was a woman there playing with her two dogs. She would throw a toy into the water and one or the both of them would go fetch. She said they’d been on their boat for 2 days and the doggies needed some exercise. NICE!

After that, we followed the canal to Lake Michigan! Here we saw the lake and a giant beach, a lighthouse, a jetty, and other amazing scenery. People were swimming and flying kites and just hanging out. The weather was weird as it would be sunny and bright one minute and then dark and hazy and stormy the next. It was truly a case of, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.”

We spent a lot of time down by the lake and I took a lot of pictures. For some reason I cannot get my camera clean and all my photos are coming out with lines and squiggles on them. NOT FUN!

After hanging by the lake, we decided to tour the town by the lake. It was a cute town called Frankfort and had a lot of cute shops. We didn’t really shop or stop in any of them but we did see one selling Minnetonka Moccasins! I did run into a coffee store for an iced coffee since now the sun was out and it was fairly hot. While the barista was making my drink, I sat down at one of the shop’s computers and did a little web surfing. Bob had been worried about a particular bill and our ability to pay it online. I went to our online banking site and paid the bill electronically and Bob was happy.

After Frankfort, we just took a scenic drive back to our cabin. I have to say that the scenery here is amazing. There are rolling hills and bluffs, lots of trees, and so many lakes. MI could compete with MN for all the lakes we see on any given drive.

When we got back to the cabin, Bob wanted to make dinner. He had it in his head to make dinner. He wanted to make a burger that had been in his brain to make for weeks now. He mixed some mildly spicy sausage with hamburger, crackers, onion, and an egg and divided it, made them into patties and grilled them. I made packets of potatoes and onions to grill as well as corn on the cob. It was all delicious.

After dinner we just hung around outside. Bob wanted to build another fire but it was so windy that we had to wait for the wind to die down. Thankfully, the sky was clear and we got to see an amazing sunset. I took pictures of the setting sun and then we began to see stars pop out.

Once the sun went down, it was time for a fire. Unfortunately, the wood was still damp from the rain the night before. Bob made a valiant effort but mostly we got smoke. He used paper, kindling, sparklers, and finally lighter fluid to get it going. At one point it was good enough to get a few S’mores out of but eventually, I gave up sitting by Bob’s fire and went to sit on the dock and look at the stars. It was a brilliantly clear night and the stars were shining by the millions. It looked like a rhinestone covered velvet cloth. Beautiful.

We went to bed late again and were both so tired that sleep came quickly.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny but super windy once again. We got up and had some coffee before setting out on a day of exploring.

We traveled a bit south to check our Betsie’s Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself was closed but the view of Lake Michigan was astonishing. Poor Bob couldn’t get his chair down to the beach. We need to invent some kind of snowmobile tracks and ski adaptors for wheelchairs. Still, he was content to sit and stare at the lake from the road while I explored.

People were walking up and down the beach gathering rocks. Most of them were smooth as glass, polished clean around by the surf of Lake Michigan. Other people were swimming although I thought that even with the warm day, it might be too cold to swim in Lake Michigan. However, with the waves pounding the shores and the horizon stretching far beyond any land visible to our eyes, it did resemble an ocean and I wouldn’t fault anyone wanting to take a dip.

After Betsie’s Point, we headed North to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We got about half way there when we realized we were almost out of gas. We turned around and headed for the nearest gas station; an oasis of sorts selling canoe, kayak, and tubing rides down the river. They sold their gas for $4.25 a gallon but we were glad to pay it because we hadn’t seen any other gas station nearby. Oh, and they also sold the state park passes so it was good we stopped.

Once we were all gassed up, we were on our way again. We turned into the Sleeping Bear Dunes 7-mile scenic drive and oh boy was it scenic. We spent hours here. If I’d have been thinking, I would have packed a picnic lunch to eat like zillions of the other tourists seemed to have done. Still, we enjoyed the beauty of the park.

It was a contrast in scenic spectrums. There were wooded forests of pine and other trees. There were grassy areas. There were the dunes off the coast of Lake Michigan, and there was Lake Michigan itself. I took hundreds of photos (though my dirty lens still plagued me) and we had a blast. Bob was super patient with my hopping out of the van to shoot the flora and fauna and I was just so thrilled with all the views.

After we left the park, we drove to nearby Glen Arbor. We’d heard that it was a quaint town with good places to eat and a cherry store. Both turned out to be true.

Glen Arbor is a town located on Lake Michigan. We ate at a place called Boon Dockes that seemed to do swift business for the locals and the tourists. We shared a mushroom swiss burger and some appetizers. We ate out on the patio under a big umbrella since the weather was awesome but the sun so hot.

After lunch, (which was more like lupper since we hit the restaurant around 3 or so.) we walked about the town. We found the cherry place and bought some gifts for the people watching our cats and some yummy stuff for us. I wasn’t sure the cherry salsa would be good since I don’t like a sweet salsa, but they had samples and it was good enough for me to buy a jar to bring home.

We also toured a chocolate shop and a little local art boutique in which we also bought a little something. The rest of our walk was just us enjoying the views and the people. (I have to say that we have met some of the nicest, friendliest people in the world on this trip. If nothing else, Michigan will remain in our memories for that alone.)

Once we left Glen Arbor, we came back to our cabin and just relaxed. We watched a little TV while we waited for the wind to die down (Either MI is a very windy place or our cabin is just situated on a very windy lake). Later, Bob built a fire and I stayed in writing this down and preserving my photos. Bob said it was very buggy since the wind died down and I didn’t want to fight the bugs so I stayed in, watched the 11:00 news and went to bed. Later, Bob reported that the night had been perfect. The bugs went away and the stars came out by the millions. I’m sorry I missed it.

Vacation Log Days Three and Four

Sunday and Monday

We arrived without incident at our “resort” location on Sunday night. The ferry ride over was a little choppy and bouncy. Bob insisted on riding on the sun deck at first. Some nice man helped him down to the main cabin after it became apparent that the wind was too high, the water too choppy, and the breeze too cold. We watched a movie, ordered some ferry food and were otherwise entertained during the 3+ hour ride across Lake Michigan. It was an interesting experience.

Once on land, we drove north towards our resort. The highway went from 2 lanes to 1 lane but traffic thinned considerably. We stopped at a grocery store to stock up on food for the week and were surprised to learn that we were now in the Eastern Time zone.

We arrived after 8pm with the sun still bright in the sky. Our hostess, Esther, showed us to our cabin. It is certainly not a premiere, 5 star cabin, but it suits our purposes just fine. There are 2 bedrooms, a bath, kitchen, and great room. There are bugs, but there are also bug swatters and we have plenty of bug spray.

The first thing Bob wanted to do was start a campfire. We sat around the fire and one by one, people joined us. Before long we were sharing our marshmallows with over a dozen others. We heard stories and introduced ourselves and it was nice. The couple that owns this resort is elderly and sweet. Their six boys help out over the summer. Three of their boys live in this area and three live in Grand Rapids where the elderly couple winter.

We went to bed late…after midnight. A storm rolled in about that time and we got to watch the lightning show over the lake. The thunder shook our cabin but we remained warm and dry. Bob said it got a little dicey after I went to bed. He checked on me only to find me fast asleep and oblivious to the noise and light show outside.

Our first full day at the resort…we slept until noon. Seriously. I can’t remember the last time I slept until noon. It was heavenly. Equally as heavenly was the fact that we didn’t do anything much all day. I started reading a book I brought specifically for our vacation. There is an outdoor glider swing near the lake that I made my own as I devoured the book. Bob did his thing and rolled around looking for kindling for the fire he was going to build that night. Unfortunately our idyllic reverie was interrupted by two screechy girls staying in the cabin next door. We guessed them to be about six or seven years old. They started their screeching by shouting “Stop Smoking!!” to Bob and the man in the cabin on the other side of us. When the men did not immediately put out their cigarettes, the girls switched tactics and began yelling things like, “You look like a whale!”. I can only guess that was directed at me. To Bob they yelled, “You’re ugly!” and then they kept saying things like “We’re not going to stop yelling!”. During all of this, their parents were inside; about 20 feet away with windows wide open and no one came out to say anything to them. Nice.

After dealing with the screechy twins for far too long, we decided to take a walk down the road and check things out. About that same time, their parents packed them up and they took off for parts unknown. Thank GOD!

There is a general store not far from where we’re staying so we stopped there to take a look at what was going on there. We walked into another public area that had a view of the lake across the road. We stayed at Big Platte Lake but across the road is Little Platte Lake. To my untrained eye, they both looked pretty big but who am I to say?

When we got home, I read some more while Bob rested. After a while, the sun was full out and people were playing in the lake. I decided to join them. Bob helped me apply the sunscreen and I took a floatie out to the lake with the intention of just soaking up some sun. Just as I got to the perfect floating depth, the wind kicked up and floating in the lake became more paddling in the lake so I came in. I sat on the dock and read some more.

Bob got the fire going while I made some baked beans and pasta salad. We cooked hot dogs over the fire and had a nice camp kind of dinner. After cleaning up, we just sat by the fire chatting. Esther came out and joined us and we had a nice talk getting to know more about her and her husband Bob. He’s in a wheelchair too. Though he’s wheelchair bound due to a stroke, he has some similar health issues as my Bob so we were able to relate medically speaking. He was also a Grand Rapids fireman once upon a time and is familiar with MDA and worked on their Fill the Boot campaign. Esther was very knowledgeable about MD which was refreshing since most people think Bob has MS.

While we talked we could see a fireworks show across the lake. Soon after that we also saw another kind of light show as more lightning made its way towards us. More people came out to the fire and we talked as we watched the storm roll in. We made it inside before it hit hard but it was a nice little storm. Not as long or loud as last night’s storm but a good storm nonetheless.

I stayed up late again working on the pictures I took at the wedding we attended over the weekend and the photos I took since boarding the ferry and arriving at the resort. At one point I had to kill a large spider and a centipede so I decided to give up the picture fixing and go to bed. The first day of our vacation was awesome.

I have to say that our cabin is more rustic than I expected. It seems as though the original vinyl flooring is still there as are all the original cobwebs and dust bunnies. There are more bugs on the inside that I like having inhabiting my personal space. Still, it’s not horrible. I did find out that the lake I’d been swimming in has leeches. Won’t be swimming again any time soon though I might take the rowboat or kayak out.

Vacation Log Days One and Two

Friday and Saturday

I woke up by 6:30 on Friday morning. I was able to get up, get dressed, and pack the van before Bob awoke. Once the van was packed, I cleaned the kitty’s litter boxes and vacuumed the apartment. The vacuum woke Bob so he showered and got dressed while I watered our flowers and made sure all the things were in place for our cat sitters. Once he was out of the shower, I went to Target, Starbucks, and McDonald’s. When I got back, Bob was ready to go so we went. It was 9am.

While on the road I plugged in my iPod and we sang along to songs from the 70’s and 80’s. It was a lot of fun. We stopped twice. Once in Tomah and once in Madison. In Tomah we met a couple from the Twin Cities on their way to Milwaukee as well. They had a cute little pug named Wilson and Bob talked to the husband for quite a while.

We arrived in Milwaukee by 3 and found our hotel with minimal effort. We checked in and though our room was supposed to be accessible, it was tiny. We were on the 9th floor of a 10 story building and most of our view consisted of the Hilton across the street.

I showered and changed and we got back in the van and headed for the Milwaukee County Zoo. The Groom’s Dinner/Rehearsal Dinner was at the aquatic center at the zoo. We were a tad bit early so we got to see some of the animals. I took photos of the flamingos, the monkeys, some peacocks, and the nocturnal mammals.

The dinner s nice but the venue was DARK! A lot of my photographs turned out blurry because it was so dark the auto focus didn’t know what to focus on. Still, it was fun and the food was amazing. I met a lot of new people and reacquainted myself with others. By the time we got out, there was a fireworks show going on and it was visible from the zoo parking lot. We sat there for a long time watching the show and I tried to take pictures. I needed a tripod but managed to get 4 shots that weren’t horrible.

It was good to see old friends again and SO good to meet my friend Jennie’s husband to be. He is a wonderful man and I am so happy for her (and them).

When we got back to the hotel, I started editing the photos and Bob went to bed. I was up until about 2am and fell into bed and tried to fall asleep. Usually Bob and I get 2 beds because he has a hard time rolling over and sleeping soundly in anything but a hospital bed. This time we could only get one queen and while he slept fine, I had a really had time. I awoke at 8am and did more photo editing.

We left the hotel after 11 in search of breakfast and sights. We walked down Wisconsin Ave to the Riverwalk. It was then that Bob noticed his wheelchair was not charged. We had to go back to the hotel in order to plug his chair in. This meant he had to walk to the hotel restaurant. He was so upset. His mood was not improved when he found we had missed breakfast. We ordered and ate our lunch and then went back upstairs to get ready for the wedding.

Once dressed, we drove down to the waterfront. Not knowing our way around, we found free handicapped parking and parked. Then a local told us that the place we wanted to be was 6 to 8 blocks away. So we drove to the actual area and paid $10 for a ramp. We found out that we were just feet away from where we had originally parked! D’oh! Still, it was OK because we were in a ramp right under the restaurant where the reception was held.

The wedding was beautiful. It was held in a tent overlooking Lake Michigan. The weather was sunny and beautiful. The only possible issue that might have been was the sounds of Summerfest bands just yards away. Still, it was a wonderful event.

After the wedding ceremony there was a reception. It began with hors de hourves and drinks on the patio. Bob went to check on our van since he read a sign in the elevator that said break-ins were a common occurrence and it freaked him out. Apparently he asked me to wait at the wedding tent. I don’t remember him saying that and went off to the reception site to have me some tidbits and get a drink.

After waiting for Bob to show for over an hour, I went to find him and when I did, I was sorry. He was livid. Even after I apologized, he was still mad. He said some nasty things and I countered with equally nasty things and then burst into tears. He said he was going home and I said fine since then I could have fun. Then I ran off crying.

I cried on a park bench overlooking Lake Michigan for about 45 minutes. I contemplated throwing myself off a local bridge but decided I didn’t want to mar my friend’s wedding day that way. Finally, I decided to just go back to the hotel. On my way to the van I ran into Bob. He apologized and wouldn’t let me leave my friend’s wedding reception. We went back to the reception and found a full house already eating dinner. We could not find a place that accommodated Bob’s chair and I found myself crying again. Sheesh. They provided a nice place for us to eat and we ate. The food was amazing and the company superb.

We stayed for the dancing portion of the reception and Bob found the strength to stand and dance with me holding his arms for 2 songs. It was awesome. We left before the party was over but we’d had a great time.

The rumor was the newly weds were staying at the same hotel as me and Bob. When we got back, I checked at the front desk and found that rumor to be true. So we had champagne and chocolate covered strawberries sent to their room but billed to ours. At the same time, we ordered room service pizza and wine and had an in-room picnic. It was awesome.

I worked on the wedding pics but got sleepy before finishing all the reception shots. I went to bed late again and only slept until 8am. Bob woke up around the same time. We got up, got dressed, packed, and loaded up our van. As we walked out to our van, we saw the newlywed’s car parked right by ours and determined we would leave them a note before we left.

We ate a nice breakfast at the hotel restaurant and then took a nice walk. Before we left the hotel for good, we put a “Just Married” note on the back window and a nice note on the driver’s window of the newlywed’s car. Then we were on our way to the high speed ferry.

Looking back, I remember only crying twice and both were in relation to the admonishment of the newlyweds to start a family. I looked at the girls I knew as single, barely out of college gals and saw them as married women with children and suddenly felt the loss of not having our own kids deeply. I see the kids of my friends as little extensions of them. Little people born to carry on the names and generations of their parents. We don’t have that and I miss it. I want it. I hope the best for my friend and he new husband and pray they don’t struggle as we have. I hope and pray they have a fruitful and blessed life together.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Embarassing but True

I did NOT want to write this but I cant leave that last post up. I will not, in fact, be starting a new job downtown on July 21st.  Due to a miscommunication about the work-related incident report I have on my record, the job offer was rescinded.  They said that had they known about it in the first place, they never would have even considered talking to me about the position. (By the way, I have updated my online Big Bank Co application to reflect the incident so no other potential hiring managers can be surprised by the incident.)  I am so humiliated and embarrassed.  I feel like a colossal failure and as though there is nothing I can do well, right, or with excellence.

Maybe I am not the corporate America type.  I'm sure trying to be.  I should have made more of an effort to find a career path right out of high school.  I never in a million years thought that the responsibility of being the main breadwinner in my family would fall to me. I wanted to be a stay at home mom, but Bob’s disability has changed all our plans around. The pressure to bring home a better paycheck is unbelievable and I feel I've failed utterly.  I'm trying my best and it seems I cannot catch a break.
Interestingly, everyone who’s responded to me thus far in response has suggested leaving Big Bank Co. In thinking about that, I pondered going back to school a final time and getting my degree in digital photography from Brown College.  Low and behold, out of the blue, an admissions counselor from Brown called me just now and asked if Im still interested in their digital photography program.  We chatted a bit and I said Id call him back after we returned from our vacation.  This requires an in-depth discussion with Bob.

Anyway, thanks for your prayers and support.  I hope you all have a wonderful and amazing 4th of July weekend.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


We leave for vacation in 3 days and I just can't wait. I found out that the resort we're going to only has 3 cabins and each cabin can sleep up to 6 people. So even if the other 2 cabins are completely full, there will only be 12 other people there. I am so looking forward to this vacation. The first part will be fun because seeing my friend Jennie get married and spending time with old friends makes me quiver with joy.

Work has been...interesting. My boss has been on maternity leave and her interim replacement has been in AZ taking care of her ailing mother. So we've been without on-site management for a couple of weeks now. In the meantime, I've been to a half dozen interviews for positions inside Big Bank Co but outside of the department I work for. The interviewing has paid off because I was offered a position today! I am not jumping for joy yet because the last position I was offered a couple of years ago was rescinded and I just don't want to jinx myself just yet. Still, the job is awesome and a huge opportunity and responsibility. I am to start on the 21st. After I start, I will write more about it...maybe.

In the meantime, I am finishing this week, going on vacation next week, finishing one more week at my current job and then starting the next week at my new job...presumably.

Oh, and stalker-type people who might know where we live, we have friends staying with the kitties while we are gone so our apartment will NOT be empty. Plus, as it is, I feel like I'm packing everything we own and taking it with us. Sheesh.