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June 7, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: Back in Cooperstown ...


---- — We are happy to report that we have returned from our annual spring sojourn to the midwest. We began our vacation this year by spending a little over a week in Ohio with the Widge, a.k.a. our granddaughter Abby, and her parents. And although we may be prejudiced, we find her to be most charming.

Not long after we arrived, it seemed that the latch on the back door stopped working. Attempts were made to resurrect it without luck. Thus, it was removed in anticipation of replacing it. Not long after that, the Widge announced, heading for the back door that she was going outside. When she got there she reached up for the doorknob only to discover it was not there. She recoiled, saying “Whoops!” We did our very best not to laugh. We also quite enjoyed helping with the dressing of her various dolls, all of which seemed to spend much of their time in a state of undress.

However, each morning she would arrive in front of us with a naked doll and a piece of doll clothing, saying “Help please.” Once the doll was appropriately dressed, she very carefully put the doll to bed in the dining room. And then at the end of the day, she would arrive with the dressed doll, again saying “Help please” for assistance with removing the doll’s clothes. We assume that the day will come when she will be able to dress and undress the dolls by herself and we will greatly miss being asked to help.

From Ohio we motored up to Michigan to spend about three weeks with our brother and sister at the family cottage on Lake Michigan. Even though the fate of the cottage remains unclear, we all thought that we should spend a bit of time sorting through and cleaning out years of accumulated stuff.

We made what proved to be a somewhat unfortunate decision to get to our destination in Michigan via the Indiana Toll Road, something we had done before. However, unbeknownst to us the toll road now has replaced real toll takers with machines. As a result, it took what seemed to be hours to get off the toll  road. When we pulled up tothe toll booth there were five cars ahead us in a line that did not seem to be moving. And when we finally got to the toll taking machine, we found out why.

We inserted our ticket, as the instructions indicated we should do. It was promptly rejected with the explanation that it was not a valid ticket. Unfortunately it was the only ticket we had. We put it in again ... and again ... and again ... and again and each time the machine rejected it.

We finally found a help button which we pushed only to have a disembodied voice ask if there was a problem. And while we were tempted to say there was no problem we just wanted to see if the help button worked any better than the slot for the ticket did, we didn’t, explaining our dilemma instead. After a minute we were told to insert the ticket again which we did. And the machine, of course, rejected it again. We explained we had no luck and were asked to try it again with the same result.

It was only then we were told that we weren’t really supposed to insert the ticket, even though that is what the sign said. Instead we should just hold the ticket near the slot and then the machine would take it. This fact quite made us wonder why the instructions did not say that. But once we did it that way, the ticket disappeared into the bowels of the machine. We were then told to insert our money, which the machine promptly rejected.

Needless to say, by the time the little gate finally lifted and we were able to exit the toll booth, there were 10 cars behind us. However, we did find the experience to be most educational as we learned to never drive on the Indiana Toll Road again.

Of course, we learned all sorts of things during our time in Michigan. We discovered the wonder of the Take N Bake pizza, something of which we had never before heard. Of course, we were greatly puzzled by the fact that we ordered a vegetarian pizza with Italian sausage until we learned such a pizza was not on the menu but something our sister special ordered. We also discovered that while the Grand Rapids Press publishes seven days a week, it only offers home delivery on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

And much to our horror we discovered the Glenn, Mich., post office has been closed, although the hardware store in Glenn seems to be picking up some of those post office duties.

We also discovered we could live without Internet access at the cottage. Of course, we had to keep running to the Saugatuck-Douglas Public Library to use their free wireless Internet service least we suffer from withdrawal. And we actually discovered that worked rather well except for the day we encountered a women at the library working on a computer when her cellphone rang. She told the caller she couldn’t talk because she was at the library.

However that fact did in no way deter her from not only carrying on a conversation, but also taking the caller’s order for food items to be purchased through an online food service. We learned that a bag of almonds was $5.79 while the tomato bisque soup was $2.75 a can before we decided to leave in order to take in the Friday night fish fry at the What Not Inn in Fennville.

And while we can’t speak to the quality of the online food, we can say without hesitation that the fish fry at the What Not Inn was the best fish fry we have ever had anywhere.

Of course, our time at the cottage was actually a work session. We all had our assigned jobs. Ours was to sort the gazillion family pictures, some of them dating back to the Civil War, which were stored there. Not only were we supposed to sort the pictures by family, but to also identify as many as possible. We puzzled over which baby picture was Aunt Olive. We tried to discern how many of the Cathcart children were in various school pictures.

And who, we wondered, was the young women with our grandmother in an early professional photograph. It was not an easy task, made all the more difficult by the fact that we cannot tell our baby pictures from those of our sister unless our brother is also in them to give some perspective of time. Thus we rather arbitrarily decided that all the really cute baby pictures were of us and the rest were of our sister. Even so, we thought our task to be better than some of the other opinions. Our brother, for example, was given the chore of rebuilding the outhouse.

And while we survived our time at the cottage, we do think our age is catching up with us. We simply do not seem anymore to have the stamina to work endless hours on any project.

Thus, we suppose we must admit that the Widge probably had it right when she announced “Gramma old, but Gramma OK.” Our only fear is that in the future the “old“ may be more true than the “OK.”

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