And the road goes on forever...

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Younger Brother: Another Personal Tragedy

Less than two weeks from the anniversary of my mother’s death, I got a call late one afternoon from the Oregon police that they had done a welfare check (at his x-wife’s request) of my brother and found him deceased, relaxed back in his recliner with a non-lit cigarette in his hand. About three weeks earlier he had just turned 67. 

My brother led a very convoluted lifestyle; on the one hand he was a lifetime heavy smoker, drug-taker, long haired biker. He never took care of himself. However, in his way, he tried to take care of my mother after my father passed, living on her property free of charge but overseeing that things were done for her. Our entire lifetime had been contentious and rarely had we gotten along; we were as different as night and day. I never understood how someone so “out there” could be part of our hard-working, moral family. There certainly was no love loss. 

That changed just a little as we were forced to come together last year to get all the necessities done for our mother in putting her to rest and disposing of her estate. I remember him hugging me goodbye as we left Bend, in his leather jacket, laughing and saying “Well, we made it through, Sis; my friends were making bets we’d kill each other!” For that short few weeks, we had worked pretty well together given our past history. 

When he bought a fixer upper out of the proceeds of her estate, he tried hard to bring it up to snuff. He replaced all the flooring, did interior and exterior painting, installed new appliances and even hung pictures on the walls. From all accounts, he was very proud—this was his first time owning real estate. 

I bent over backward during the past year to respond to him when he reached out for comfort, advice and the final closing of the bank accounts after all mom’s bills had been paid. We had seemed to come to an uneasy understanding that we both suffered from her loss and maybe that alone would be the tie that binds into our future going forward. Not really love, nor hate, kind of a netherworld of knowing we’d likely never see one another again but still having that vestige of shared common parenthood and childhood memories that bound us together till death. 

His death came as a shock, but then again, given his lifestyle, not really. It does come as a great hardship for Marc and I however, as there is no one else to step to the plate to handle all that needs done. So, we wrapped up our wonderful summer early up north, just as lumber and trusses were due to be dropped for the garage build, and Marc hightailed it to Oregon. 

I won’t go into the minutia of detail here; it’s been pretty overwhelming, the worst of which is that my brother sat dead in his chair for probably likely over a week. The house reeks of death and much of it may have to be redone; certainly the painting; maybe the flooring. Marc figures he’ll have to make another trip out at some point, but in the meantime the important part of cremating his body, getting the death certificate so we can open probate, etc. is being done. 

That’s all I’m going to say; I’m back with the cats in Waupaca and Marc hopefully can return within a week to ten days. Since we didn’t have the rest of the season to finish our storage buildings up north, he will need to haul the RV back here where a friend lets us store it under cover for winter and he’ll also need to tow the pontoon boat here so we can get it shrink wrapped for winter. The entire timing of our project has been set back by months. 

As in so many other times in life, ya got me again, Brother… 

It’s all just so sad. A chapter closed permanently on what might have been. If you can, rest in peace John.

Happier times; dad’s 87th birthday in 2009. I didn’t have a more recent photo of John that was better for this remembrance page. 


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Labor Day Festivities


We were so fortunate to enjoy spectacular weather over the holiday period, with several uninterrupted days full of sunshine. Hearing about a restaurant sponsored treasure hunt happening on Saturday on the three interconnected town lakes, I had signed us up thinking it would be a novel endeavor.

We launched at the free boat ramp on the first lake and made our way under the railroad and highway bridges, which with little clearance for our heads, always gives me the heebie-jeebies. Soon after, we turned off the engine, floated and had lunch while we awaited the one o’clock meeting time.

At one, we landed and I went up to get our instructions, along with various other boaters, many in costumes (for which there would be prizes awarded) themselves and their boats. I was amused as I watched from the deck to below as Marc tried to fend off the “Let’s Get Hammered” pontoon from bashing into ours. There was a total of 12 boats in the contest.  

I had misunderstood the premise of the thing, thinking the tokens we were to collect were reached without having to get off the boat so we spent the first hour and a half cruising without success. We finally learned that the tokens were hidden on a board in public places, which in this case meant some of the lake islands or the lakeside bar and grills. With other’s help, we finally managed to obtain three out of six in our allotted 3.5 hours of searching. Oh well, it was a beautiful day for cruising and joining in the joviality with the other boaters.


Back at the restaurant, we found that only two boats had obtained all six tokens so they received the best prizes. We ended up getting a bag with some Mardi Gra beads in it, now hanging in the RV as a remembrance of a truly fun day on the water. We finished up by ordering a pizza which we ate on the boat as the sun got lower in the sky.

The next day was our 34th wedding anniversary and I had suggested to Marc that we should celebrate with a dinner out on our own lake. It was another clear, warm day and we hit the water around four, anchoring off the lake’s lone island to shelter from the wind, set up and lit the BBQ to start the huge sweet onion to cooking. Later would come a steak and fresh farmer’s market corn. The sun was so low in the sky, we ended up hanging a blanket to give us some shade relief as we celebrated with a bottle of Korbel Brut. It was a unique and enjoyable way for us to celebrate.

Coming back in I got a gorgeous picture of our property from the water. This knob hill is the dry portion of our property. So gorgeous!

Holiday play time is over; it’s on with the show. The concrete contractor got the shop slab poured and Marc continues to work on gate posts and gate. The lumber package and roof trusses for the shop should arrive around the 19th of the month, which will be the next big thing to occur.

(In case you're wondering about those poles, they have to do with our water system. The orange pipe is the water outlet from the well head about 20 feet away. The other will go to our pressure tanks and water conditioner system. All will be enclosed in a small insulated room with everything easily draining back in winter so no pipes are left with any water to freeze if we go away and it makes it very convenient to winterize if we come and go.)





Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Is Summer Winding Down?


A few days ago I got back from it being my turn in Waupaca. It is always a relief to pull back in north—immediately the smells assault my nose, all good. It’s always verdant smelling, piney, woodsy, very earthy, like you’re suddenly immersed in a garden of earthly delights. When the wind is right and waves are splashing below, the air also carries the scent of water. This immediately evokes some primal sense of déjà vu, long past camping trips of youth at high mountain lakes, my time at living by the ocean, so many times of being aboard boats with water splashing against hulls. The sounds of the loons only add to the enjoyment.

The sunny calm mornings here are sheer joy and wonder. I always try and wander down the boardwalk when it is morning’s calm, as it’s like a jewel to hold in one’s palm for the spell of the moment. Usually it doesn’t take long for even a slight wind to kick up across the water and many days become quite breezy. But in those quietest moments I try and anchor and find myself and say my prayer to this moment of being alive and being able to appreciate it all. Does the exact spot where you live give you this? I dare say, I highly doubt it, as the truly special places are so few and far between.

This has me caught up in trying to weigh the forthcoming decisions of how to best use this place. I’ve loved our property in Waupaca, but it’s on an ever-increasingly busy highway with no cover, so I always feel as though I am in a fishbowl when I’m in the yard. Here, as I may have explained, our 15 acres sits on a road that only encompasses our property and the county boat ramp. The other 35 acres contiguous to ours is used, with a pole barn at the highway, as storage and hunting for its owner. He never intends to build there and even if he did, the nearest buildable portion is quite aways and totally invisible to us. We are an island onto ourselves and I am loving that! No one sees our every move, no one can see us at all unless we are at bluff’s edge above the boardwalk waving to the kayakers who pass below. It’s a unique feeling we haven’t had for 30 years when we first moved to and developed our Bend acreage property and had no neighbors. So, yes, this is truly my soul place; will it be enough to just have it for half the year and then have to go away?

Last post I talked about the possibility of having a tiny home and had decided where it could be perfectly placed. I’ve decided that even if we were to build a small cabin, the choice of location is my ideal—it features the best full on view of the lake (with selective felling of some of the trees), and as importantly, it also would look down on the bog. I like that idea as I’ve come to discover lots of life and changes that occur in the vegetation there, the colors, the smells. The location could also allow for a deck to be slightly cantilevered over the edge of the bluff, which I really think would be spectacular.


The concrete contractor took his time getting back with us so we’re hopeful he gets it accomplished next week. Meanwhile, Marc labors at installing the posts in hand-mixed concrete which will anchor the posts for the RV shed. He’s also got one gate pole up and set.

You can literally feel the change in the air lately; some days feel downright fall like. We have one small maple in the bog which has been turning red for two weeks. Some of the poplar tree leaves have turned yellow and begun dropping. The forest floor green has become drier and yellower in spots. Some nights are in the high 40’s. Summer is so short and swift here. We figure we will need to empty out and close down and store the RV by mid-October to prevent water lines from freezing, so time grows short. We hope to complete the gate, the garage shell and the RV shed by then. Ah, to have the energy and agility of our youth—it would be a snap, ha!

We’ll be boating this holiday weekend so I hope to have pictures to follow! Have a nice Labor Day.