One of the things I like most about being retired is having the time to strengthen and build relationships. One of the most frustrating things to me about being retired has been having the time to build relationships. Ponder that contradiction for a while and it may drive you crazy.
“Curbside stop”( = an aside to talk about something else that is not directly related to the topic at hand) - I am by nature a very analytical person. Linda is more of an intuitive “just do it” kind of person so when I get into one of my long involved dialogs – pushing & prodding to look at something every which way it drives her crazy and she sometimes has to say “Will you just stop and get on with it?”. I say all this to tell you that I’m not going to subject you to a “blow-by-blow” of how I arrive at the contradiction above)
Just let me say that I have experienced many positive things in my personal relationships over the past 2 years. In particular, my relationship with Linda has grown to a much deeper level of communication and partnership. This has not come without some “pain" but, in balance, I feel very good about the “Whitfield’s journey” together. I look forward with anticipation to a continuing growth. I can say the same about improvements in my personal walk with God and a number of personal friendships.
However, the “most frustrating” thing is in the area of developing closer relationships with others as a couple. For many years we have been busy with a wide circle of relationships at church, within our family, and through work , –but had no “close circle of friends” that we “did things with” as a couple. This “gap” in our lives was previously masked by the “no time” excuse but now I see “that the problem with us is me (not time)” With my analytical nature, I could write a “book” analyzing this reality but I won’t burden you with that.
Suffice it to say that the “most frustrating thing “ is understanding that I need to change but not knowing how to do it. I am doing my best to put that in God’s hands. While he does his work , I’m trying to be more relaxed, to just be myself and to let the relationships build (or not) as the opportunity arises.
I say all of this to say that the past couple of week has given me a glimmer of hope that we are making some “breakthrough’s” in that area.
So Wednesday & Thursday were full of “taking care of business”. Linda worked on several of her “house & garden” projects. One of those was removing the old paint and re-painting the wrought iron railing on our patio. I helped some with cleaning of the old paint. Shelly Slawson, Laura & Jessica dropped by on their way back from a bike ride to the park. During their short visit , Linda enjoyed “showing off” her garden to the girls.
Wednesday, I met with Lloyd H. to discuss something’s related to the church, took my Dad to a doctor’s appointment, took care of some banking and other business and went to Algoma U to place orders for the textbooks for the courses I am teaching this fall.
I am teaching an adult Sunday school class this summer and I spent several hours consolidating my thoughts on the series of lessons that I plan to present. One requirement is for each lesson to be “self-contained” since there is alack of continuity of participants during the summer due to vacations. I also spent awhile writing up the results of the congregational meeting from the prior Wednesday.
Wednesday night was the first in our summer series “Life Lessons from the Andy Griffith show” led by Roger. We had a good turnout including a number of folks from the community who don’t normally attend our services – many of them had been there last year and found it of sufficient value that they have returned again.
Thursday morning I went golfing with my Dad and his friend Don Holmberg. In the p.m., I finished washing the exterior of my truck and placed an ad in the paper. I had to send in a picture so I took it to the little park near our house to get a better background. One of our neighbors came by walking her dog and said “I’m sure there a reason for that ….” which I took to mean “I wonder what on earth is that crazy fool up to ..”
Friday, we left early to drive to Thessalon (our hometown – actually we were raised in the country near there) to meet up with Linda’s sister Arliss. Linda is the oldest in a family of 10. Arliss is the 3rd youngest and 20 years younger than Linda. Arliss was born after Linda left home but they seem to have a special bond as sisters. (Picture shows Linda & Arliss at their nephew Max's wedding in July 2004)
Arliss is married to ”Coe” Bizier and they have 3 kids – the twins Michael and Alyssa - and Hillary. (the picture below shows them 2 years ago at a family wedding - left to right is Rebecca (one of their cousins), Michael, Alyssa and Hillary) Alyssa will be staying with us next fall while she attends Algoma U.
Anyhow, we went to Flood’s strawberry farm and between us we picked 50 lbs of strawberries in about an hour. (You bring your own containers and they weight them before & after to figure out how much you picked. They were very delicious and we did sample a few while picking. . Later in the day we were talking to an acquaintance from our high school days about the strawberries and she asked “So did they weigh you before and after?” I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes but I had a good laugh when I figured out that she was suggesting that hthet needed to do that to get paid for the “samples”. (I forgot my camera so I don’t have any pictures of this event - but the berries are awesome.
Afterwards, we returned to Arliss’ to clean the berries and put them in the freezer (aside from a healthy amount to we kept to eat fresh). Around 3 we went to their camp (Northern Ontario term for cottage) at the lake (Big Basswood) . The kids had a great time in the lake. I enjoyed just sitting quietly enjoying nature and listening to Linda & Arliss visit.
Coe came after work and we had supper there at the lake. It was one of the few times we have had a chance to have a meal just with them—mostly we see them at larger family gatherings. It was a great time and we got to know Coe a lot better. He talked a bit about his upbringing and family background – things I hadn’t heard before even though we have had many conversations during the 20 plus years they have been together.
After supper Coe & I took the canoe for a short paddle along the shore to see some of the other camps (and a few “mansions”) in the area. I hadn’t been in a canoe for several years and somy paddling wasn’t so great —but we did OK -- I enjoyed it and Coe seemed to as well. On our way home we dropped by to see Linda’s Mom. While we were there one of Linda’s nephew’s Jamie (her sister Theresa’s son) came by with his partner Renita and their kids Hayden (2) & Chastity (aprox. 6 mos). Cute kids. We seldom see them and it was the first time we had seen the baby.
When we got home we had a nice big dish of fresh strawberries with milk – A “berry” good ending to a “berry “ good day.