An Abrupt Shift to Spring

I got some bad news last week.

I had driven up the North Shore of Lake Superior on Sunday, and back down on Monday. I got some pics, including this one at a rest stop:

Split Rock River rest area / pull off on Lake Superior.

Split Rock River rest area / pull off on Lake Superior.

I drove down to the Twin Cities metro area for class, and I was incredibly excited. I had secured a brief gig line editing for someone and writing/designing a web site for a small business – two separate, paying, jobs!

After class I got the news: my grandfather had succumbed to cancer after a five-year fight.

I was no longer excited.

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I don’t want to focus on my grandpa’s story, though. It’s too new for me to write about here. I know that five years is a long time to prepare oneself, but it was still a shock to receive the actual news.

Last week was a whole lot of phone calls, texts, and trying to coordinate people, schedules, etc. Wednesday night was the wake and visitation, and the funeral was Thursday. My grandfather was Catholic and active in his parish, so in a way it’s pretty cool that his funeral mass was during Holy Week. Personally, I didn’t receive much comfort or closure from the religious proceedings, but I did really appreciate the church basement luncheon after the interment.

I made sure to spend a bit of time thanking the church ladies for their work making so much food for us.  Nothing was store-bought. Everything was made by those ladies, including a rainbow-colored panoply of Jell-O salads and two different kinds of potato salad (total aside: my understanding is that this type of food is distinctly Midwestern, as is the church basement luncheon. It may not be haute cuisine, but it was comforting at a time when we sought comfort, and was a labor of love).

As important as the rituals of burial and the comforts of community and family, I was glad to go home and approach grief in my own way.

Turns out it’s spring cleaning.

I spent Friday cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning. It was one of the first days up here I could open all of the windows for the first time in months, and I got outside and chipped away at the ice build-up, I wiped things down, I gave away a set of china I don’t use anymore which freed space for my fabric stash, and so on.

Outside, I found a powerful reminder of spring and renewal: grass shoots in the cold mud.

The first grass shoots of spring - at least in my yard.

The first grass shoots of spring – at least in my yard.

I also found the iris has decided to come up, as well as a lovely little Box Elder Bug sunning itself.

Early Iris Shoots

Green!

Box Elder Bug & Iris

Grandpa was a tidy person, and I know he would have appreciated my effort to make my home a better place for me, my children, and my guests. Cleaning felt very appropriate, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to concentrate on any real homework. My focus was pretty shallow.  I stayed home from a party that night and stayed home from school the next morning. Boyfriend treated me to breakfast out at an Ecuadoran restaurant in town and then it was home for more cleaning, then off to an early Easter celebration. By the end of all of that, I was too exhausted to be sad anymore. I know it was also due to the cathartic nature of a good house-cleaning spree.

With some more time, my creative spirit will return. I hope it’s soon.

A Lot of Changes in the Air

Happliness!

Happliness!

Like many people in the Northern Hemisphere, I look out my window and try to square the weather (finally winter! real snowfall! yay!) with reality (it’s…spring?).

Spring, of course, is a time of transition. It’s winter when it starts and summer when it ends – just as fall begins with those hot September days and ends with winter holidays welcoming back the light. So I’m trying to be happy that this much needed precipitation is here and hope for a slow enough thaw/melt that the ground is able to absorb the water and renew the earth, trees, groundwater, and so on. I guess another way to say it is that I’m trying to have an “April showers bring May flowers” mindset, starting with “Drab March days make way for those April showers.”  Far less catchy but perhaps as true?

I consider myself a homebody, especially during the darker and colder months, but last night I actually went to two fabulous events: a dinner party involving good friends, a great home brew, and a meal that culminated in a chocolate cake with bacon.  It was so incredibly, wonderfully, fantastically awesome. The host collected a suggested donation per plate to go toward the cause explained in the following paragraph.

The real better than sex cake.

It was even better than it looks, and it looks pretty flippin’ amazing!

Then Boyfriend and I headed over to a fundraising party in honor of a friend who died nearly two years ago. He was only 33 years old when colon cancer took him away from us. A group of us, including Boyfriend and my kidlets, will be doing a walk/run event raising awareness and money. I’ll post about it another time in more detail as the date for the walk approaches. The point for today’s musings is that a great group of friends got together and raised quite a bit of $, and we all had a blast while we were doing it. Boyfriend’s new favorite activity may very well be “Fun-raising.”

Today would have been the 35th birthday of our friend (if I can do basic math correctly). Between that, the two remarkably fun parties I was at with friends last night, the (pseudo)arrival of spring, and two new freelance writing/design projects coming my way within a week (because of my network of friends and family), my mind is definitely occupied with thoughts of renewal, camaraderie, the wonders of chocolate, bacon, and beer, and what seeds I should be starting for transplanting to the veggie garden.

It’s amazing how blessed I am with my amazing, creative, talented children; my kind, supportive, totally sexy boyfriend; and a group of loyal, funny, also creative and talented friends. I’m incredibly grateful for all of them.

Coming soon:

  • A review of the 3rd installment in the Day by Day Armageddon series by J.L. Bourne, Shattered Hourglass;
  • Details about the walk/run event and at least two more fun-raising events;
  • Hopefully, news that I landed the ghostwriting gig;
  • And a post about the WIP I mentioned in my last post, as I actually finished a project! Yay!

For now, off to bring the kiddo’s to their grandparents’ house for spring break. We really will go over some rivers and through the woods, and then 2-3 hours of driving along Lake Superior. This day is perfect for a drive with Mumford and Sons, as well as some quiet time for reflection, planning, and plain old enjoying the spectacular scenery.

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