At the end of the year (or beginning of the new one) I like to take a look back at some of my favorite or most significant moments of the new year. So join me on this look back -- and a look ahead to 2024.
The month began with art -- not creating it but seeing some of the best in the world, with a visit to a magnificent Van Gogh exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
The big event of February was celebrating Carson's sixth birthday. It seemed like yesterday that we got the call -- close to midnight -- that Molly was in labor and we hurried down to Livonia to be present when this little guy popped out. He's been a treasure ever since!
On a far more sobering note, On February 13, a shooter came into Michigan State University's classrooms and student union and killed three students and seriously injured five others. The entire community was rattled by this -- and the idea that something so tragic would hit so close to home. The U closed for several days and security ramped up, but a tension remains.
March was a month for celebrating friendships. High school friend Suzanne came from Canada for a few days to do belated Christmas.
And later that month, friends Kate, Barb and I got together at Barb's house to make preserved lemons. What a grand time we had! (And the lemons were good, too!)
Rick is involved with a bicycle hosting organization called Warm Showers, where he offers a bed, dinner and a shower to road cyclists on long tours. Several years ago we met Jacob Cohen, whose musical interests (as well as cycling) gelled well with Rick's and he has since become a friend. Jacob is the Head of UK Development at the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and has been studying law at University of Michigan. He came for dinner and, being a pretty amazing musician himself, joined Rick for a delightful evening of conversation and music!
Later that month, we were dining out with blogger Mae of Mae's Food. Mae lives in Ann Arbor and Rick and I met up with Mae and her husband Len in the cute little town of Chelsea, Michigan for lunch and a great catch-up! (No photos, but in May I also met up with blogger Anno in Chelsea for another great lunch!)
Then there was Easter and these two goofs had quite the haul of colorful eggs in our hunt!
May was a busy month for us. We enjoyed another visit from the kids and spent a beautiful spring day at the park (and the fire station!)
We also headed down to Cleveland where my extended family lives, this time for a wedding. While we were there were able to meet our newest family member, Aiden, the son of my cousin Jeff and his wife Lauren. Aiden and Lauren had a tough time making an entry into the world only two months before, so it was especially wonderful to see them so well and happy.
We also spent a delightful evening with my friend Jane and her partner Mike, who had recently returned from medical duty in Ukraine. Jane had given us tickets to the Tudor exhibit at the Cleveland Art Institute so the following day we immersed ourselves in the lives and art of this remarkable royal family.
And of course we posed for a selfie!
Rick not only studies and practices his classical guitar with great diligence but also supports other artists and introduces them to new audiences. In June we hosted a house concert at his home for guitarist Onur Alakavuklar. About 35 people crammed into his living room for a delightful evening of music, followed by a reception on the patio. All were charmed!
Then it was time to see the Camster graduate from pre-school. We loved their presentation and being with this little charmer and his parents!
I also enjoyed another cooking day with Barb and Kate, this time making pretzels. The pretzels were terrific. The camaraderie even more fun!
I finally was able to join in with the en plein air painters as we took our art outside and painted at the Ditch. This group paints weekly in the summer but since I'm at the lake most of the time, I can rarely participate. So this was a treat!
Finally, Wrennie, my little house wren from years past, returned and again set up her nest in the Bird House B&B. I adored the sweet trills she and her mate made as they settled, and while I never saw the fledglings, she was busy in there for a very long time!
And finally, a sad event -- the death of my dear friend, Larry Stone.
Larry and his wife, Lin -- a former high school teacher -- have been
the best of friends ever since that time and he was one of the finest
men I've ever known. We drove to Columbus for the funeral and Rick rode
his bike home -- his second long ride of the season. (The first was to Bloomington, Indiana, in April for the Little 500 bicycle race.
July was a month of celebration, starting out with started out with the Camster's fifth birthday. With his big smiles and bigger hugs, he is definitely a charmer!
Later in the month, Rick took another trip around the sun. Greg was able to join us for that, (He designed the jersey that Rick is wearing!)
We also had a visitor from far away -- my friend Nancy from Colorado. Nancy and I met when I was three, she was two. When she was four, her family moved from next door to Montana. You'd think we would have lost touch, but our mothers kept us connected and to this day we talk regularly. Our time together at the lake was especially fun and proof that distance doesn't have to end friendships, but perhaps make them even richer.
We were distressed to learn, upon arriving at the lake, that neighbor Jim (best neighbor in the world) had his place two doors down up for sale.
Meanwhile, I was enjoying my walks up north -- a required part of my physical therapy and truly, the best part!
Life at the lake continued in August and with it, a reunion of two of my cousins. David, Jack and I were born in the same year and it was fun to connect!
On a lovely August day right before my birthday, Rick and I enjoyed a visit to Michigan's Soo Locks in the upper peninsula. It was a glorious day and a perfect one to take the locks tour.
A few days later, he took off for a lengthy bike ride into Canada, going to Ottawa, into Quebec, and down to Massachusetts before coming home a bit after Labor Day. I drove him as far as Lapeer, Michigan, to help him get around a particularly gnarly traffic area.
Then I continued on to meet my friend Suzanne in Port Huron for a belated birthday celebration!
Lizzie loved it too!They will be so missed this year.
In September I got the first of two fall MRSA infections. But later in the month I could enjoy a Cork Poppers gathering, even if I couldn't enjoy the wine!
Neighbor Rosie and I share an August birthday and we were finally able to celebrate together!
My best grad school pal, Tom, came to Lansing with his wonderful wife Mindy for Michigan State's homecoming. We enjoyed great conversation and a tasty breakfast with them.
Then it was off to Toledo for Rick's 50th high school reunion.
While we were there we stayed with his aunt Carol. I wish she lived closer -- she's such a terrific person and I love spending time with her! We took a "tour" of Toledo, passing by old family homes and stopped at the Boy Scout camp where Rick had spent some time as a kid.
We closed the cottage for the season in October. It's always a bittersweet time. But one moment was particularly sweet. The elusive bald eagle, so difficult to catch in flight, took his time beachcombing. Afraid to spook him, we photographed him from inside, hence the not-so-great photos. But he was magnificent. And enormous!
November combined family, friends and fun. Kevin and Molly came down and while Kevin did a major repair on my family room ceiling, Molly and I took the kids out for a day of fun at MSU's children's garden, the playground, the state capitol, and then for ice cream. And yes, a good time was had by all!
Rick and I joined our friend Mark and his cousin for an evening in Ann Arbor, attending the "Randy Rainbow for President" performance at the Michigan Theatre. It was a wonderful evening, filled with many laughs!
November was also the month of my annual Mistletoe Market art sale. It was a good event and after I continued to fulfill some orders from my online Gypsy Caravan.
The highlight of the month, though, was the reunion with my four college roommates. We'd known each other since freshman year in the dorm and stuck together during our college careers. I don't ever remember laughing so much as we did, as we toured old haunts and stayed up far too late!
We spent the days leading up to Thanksgiving with the kids in Livonia. We enjoyed an unseasonably warm day out visiting Belle Isle, an island on the St. Clair river between Michigan and Canada, along with crafting with the kids.
Rick's mom joined us for 10 days in November, first in Livonia and then coming to Lansing. We finally got a full-family portrait!
We wrapped up the month with a Cork Poppers tasting of the wines of Italy. And yes, there was another MRSA/psuedomonas infection, more antibiotics. It will never end, so suck it up, Buttercup.
It was another month where friendship (and holiday celebrations) reigned supreme! It started with a visit from Suzanne for early Christmas. While she was here, we met up with another high school friend, Julie, in Mt. Pleasant for a long, delightful lunch!
Then (after a massive basement reorganization to accommodate workers) I had the house insulated and duct work done. I will be putting the basement back together until May, I'm sure!
We finally got Rick's house decorated for Christmas. He'd been up to his ears renovating the duplex he rents, along with regular work. So, it was fun to have an evening of light, holiday music and memories as we recalled the stories behind many of his decorations.
My college friend Jerry, who now lives in Paris, came for his annual visit. We ate, shopped but mostly caught up.
Then it was time to head to Livonia for Christmas -- and back home on Christmas day. Exhausted and happy.
Now it is time to embark on a new year. To be honest, I'm very worried about the new year -- the world situation is grim, with the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. Our political situation here at home is just equally tenuous with our precious democratic form of government being challenged by an extreme right wing. Anti-semitism, racism, gun violence and international isolation are all on the rise and our planet is being destroyed moment by moment with climate change. We seem to have forgotten the hard lessons of history -- a history so recent as World War II and one as old as time. I worry about those little boys I love so much and the world they will live in. They practice for school shootings and the internet can become a very dangerous place for youth. What will their life be like?
But there is only so much I can do personally. I can vote. I can have a voice. But I can't force people to listen. So, I will live next year day by day. Week by week. Month by month. Looking toward the future, remembering the lessons of the past. I plan to visit the UK this spring, spend time at the lake, walk, paint, create, share joy, celebrate friendships.
I thank you for your time spent here in 2023. After 16 years of blogging (the first Marmelade Gypsy post was December 20, 2007!), I have learned much from you all and enjoyed visiting your posts. If you have commented, extra thanks! If you have just dropped in, know that you, too are appreciated. I can't wait to see what you have in store for 2024.
Happy New Year from Rick and me. May it be a good one for all of you.