Making New Friends

I have a GREAT group of friends.  Some friendships go all the way back to childhood.  But most of them live 3 hours away from me now.  I am a social person and while I enjoy my quiet time too, I do like to spend time with other people more. I like to share experiences with people, whether it is going for a good walk, enjoying a good lunch, talking about a book we’ve read, learning new things or making fools of ourselves at karaoke. With my old friends so far away and Chad working full time away from home, I knew I would need to expand my circle of friends when we moved. So we have spent the last few years getting to know people who live here.  I even created a “cheat sheet” to help keep everyone straight (It has served me well since I am not good with names.)

I also wanted to get involved in the community an find ways to help my new community.  The first group I joined was the Friends of the Lighthouse and State Park.  I volunteered at their Farm Market booth last weekend. It was nice getting to talk to people. I also volunteered to help give tours at the lighthouse.  I talked to so many interesting people that day and enjoyed be able to answer some questions and feel like I was representing my new town.  I am starting to recognize people, even if I haven’t talked to them before. “That’s the couple we see out by the dock”, “I’ve seen him walking his dog in town”, “I’ve seen her at karaoke”.  It’s a small town so that tends to happen here. (If I get a chance to talk to them, I discreetly jot their name down to add to my list later.)

We’ve stopped in and talked with many local business owners in town, and their employees.  I know the name of the butcher at the corner store, the women at the jewelry store on the next block, the owners of the cute Made in Michigan store, and of course just about everyone that works at the Tawas Bay Beach Resort! I try to help promote their businesses on social media when I can. I share links on Facebook about activities and events in town, which has led to some nice online friendships with local people.  People have reached out to me thanking me for keeping them in the loop and sharing things with me that I didn’t know about.

We are going to community band concerts, street dances and joined a community garden.  I’ve talked to some nice people there who have been happy to share their gardening knowledge with me.  It still hasn’t helped me save my zinna’s but I’m not giving up quite yet. We are going to be joining a civic group, most likely the Eagles, that has their own events as well as community service opportunities.  I will post more on that once we get started with it.

We are throwing a little housewarming party this weekend to invite people over and thank them for welcoming us to town. Everyone has been so friendly!  They never make us feel like “outsiders”.  And I am realizing that there are a lot of people here who originally came from others areas too.  This place just calls to you and tempts you into staying. I feel very fortunate to have a great group of lifelong friends as well as the beginnings to many new friendships.




Cold, Rain and Perseverance

Summer is fleeting in this area. People here wait through a long, cold winter because they know that when it gets here…you can’t beat summer time in Northern Michigan. Spending a day at the beach, watching the sailboats, jumping in the lake on a hot day, jet skis, kiteboards, an ice cold beer on a scorching day while standing by the grill, enjoying live music while sipping a frozen drink by the beach. All wonderful things. All worth waiting for. This year, we are just waiting a little longer.

Forecasters are calling for a cool, wet summer and if May and June are any indication they may be right. We all know the lake levels are approaching record levels and yes, a lot of our beaches are underwater. Yes, it seems to rain more often than not and it is true that it has been awhile since we have had temps close to normal. I look at the forecast and I see more rain coming and another week of temps in the 60’s.

But I also see MORE than that. I see a bunch of Michiganders who adapt to the situation and find a way to still enjoy themselves. Why? Because we love this state and that means loving it even when it is hard sometimes. What else can you do? Sit around and complain about it everyday or move to Florida? Not a chance.

Last Friday there was an Art Stroll downtown. Local artists, live musicians, businesses that stayed open late. While there may not have been as many people in attendance as the organizers hoped, the people that came enjoyed themselves. They strolled up and down the street under their umbrellas, stopping to listen to a saxophone player standing under an awning. They ventured into the art gallery.

Saturday morning out at Tawas Point State Park there was a cornhole tournament. Something that took months to plan. So when the forecast called for rain, those in charge quickly set up tents and the tournament went on. A good time had by all…and not one person left when they were eliminated, they all stayed to see who got to take home the big trophy.

Saturday was also the Sunrise Summer Solstice Festival. A lot of planning went into the event and a local business ended up stepping up to offer a home for the scheduled musicians to play. Some of the other events still took place at the park under tents. It didn’t go as planned. But people adapted and still found a way to have fun.

I spoke with some campers this weekend and though they didn’t get to spend the day at the beach as they had hoped, they didn’t care. They were still having a great time just getting away and enjoying our town. They shopped and ate and danced. They were already talking about their next trip up here.

Tonight there is a community band concert at a waterfront park. And I know that people will still go to enjoy the music. They will just take a jacket with them.

Summer doesn’t even officially start until the end of the week, so there is still hope for hot, dry weather. But we are going to have a great summer even if it doesn’t! We enjoy the sunshine when it happens, and when it rains we grab an umbrella and head out anyway. (We also know that often the best sunsets happen after a rainy day.) We grab a towel to dry off the patio furniture between rain showers so we can sit out on our decks. We know to always bring along a sweater or jacket when down by the water. Most of all we know that even when cold and damp, Michigan is STILL the place we want to call home.

Home Sweet Home

We made it. Years of planning, hoping and hard work and we are finally full time Tawasians! When we found East Tawas 4 years ago we fell in love and made a plan to make it our home one day.  It wasn’t always easy to balance our future wants with our current needs.  Having to deal with the weekend traffic coming up on Friday evenings, or going back south on Sunday afternoons.  Having to keep up 2 homes and sets of bills. Trying to make new friends and connections up here while still spending time with family and friends back home. But it was soooo worth it.  We are home!

Those of you who have been following my blog since it began last December know I’ve personally had a lot of stuff going on in the last 6 months. Quitting my job, knee surgery, spending as much time with my mom as I could before we lost her in April, our oldest daughter moving out, our youngest graduating high school and moving into his own place.  Leaving a town we called home for 17 years.  My emotions have been running high.  But now it is time to slow down and relax.  Live a simpler, slower life. Discover the highs and lows of being an empty nester.  We haven’t lived in our own in 25 years!

So how do I fill my time when Chad is working and I am home alone. The first few days were busy with unpacking the last minute things.  Our new home is less than half the size of our old one and we purged a lot. I am happy to say we found space for everything we decided we really needed to have.  Once that was done I had to hit the grocery store.

Chad took over the grocery shopping years ago.  It may have something to do with the fact that I had little self control and often ended up getting a cart full of candles and decor instead of food!  {I’m going to miss Meijer!}Since I am no longer working outside of the house, I am taking over all of the domestic duties.  I am really excited about this new Donna Reed thing. I even bought a cute new apron. Anyway, I made a menu plan. I’m trying to consider what will make good leftovers that I can send to work with Chad the next day. So after some time on Pinterest and other recipe boards I came up with the menu for the first week.  The list seemed small but when at the check out lane the bill was a little bit of a shock.  I didn’t even get ONE candle or non grocery item. It isn’t going to be cheap to make these gourmet meals.  Sorry kids….we waited until you were gone to buy the good stuff!

As I am pushing the cart towards the car I realize I am gonna have to haul all this crap into the house and unpack by myself.  It’s usually a team effort. Chad shopped and we all rallied to help carry in and unpack. Those days are over. But I did it and felt very proud of myself afterwards.

So now the house was clean and the shopping was done. I went to a meeting for the Friends of the Lighthouse and State Park, I watered the garden and tried to prop up the zinnas that were slouching.  I’m not so sure they are gonna make it but whatever I mess up this year I will find a way to correct next year.  I met up with some new friends and did a hike out at the Point. I started a new book.

I am working on settling into a new routine while finding a way to also not be so regimented.  Not easy for a list making, organizational freak like me.  For the first time since having kids I decided I didn’t want to have a dry erase board with the weekly plans on it.  I want to be SIMPLE and easy.  I want to be able to function without a list.  I’m telling myself that the 3 sticky notes inside the pantry door with the weekly menu, things to get from the store and things I want to accomplish today are totally not even remotely the same thing. Right? See, I don’t need lists!

I am not used to all of this quiet.  I worked full time for years and was always talking to people.  The last 6 months were full of visiting people and having 2 of our 3 kids live at home meant you were usually talking to someone.  At any moment Jack was going to come bursting through the door full of energy and tell me about an exciting call at the fire station or something crazy someone did at work.  It hasn’t fully hit me yet that those days are over.  The kids are doing their own thing and I am doing mine.  As soon as I figure out exactly what that means.  It’s going to take time to get used to the peace and quiet.  Nothing but the sound of the rain coming down and the traffic going by.  Being able to hear the clock ticking is not something I am used to.  There is something very calming about it.

As soon as the rain lets up I am going to walk over to the post office to get the change of address cards in the mail, go for my daily walk, finish the laundry and then put my apron on and start dinner when Chad is headed home. I may or may not cross it off my sticky note as I go!