A Wonderful Year

Winter arrives.

As the year’s end quickly approaches, I’ve been reflecting on just how much happened over the last twelve months. In many ways, it’s been a momentous year for Emily and me.

In February, I took a multi-week course on beekeeping which allowed me to keep a hive that thrived through the spring and early summer. When we moved to Michigan, I decided to move the bees too. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have fared well here and the last check in late October revealed a dying colony. I learned many lessons from the bees and find them to be absolutely fascinating creatures. However, with so many other pans in the fire, I likely won’t keep bees next year.

March took Emily and I through Kentucky bourbon country and to Nashville, Tennessee, where we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather and a night at the Grand Ole Opry. Emily graduated from her three-year nursing program at Ohio State University at the end of April and we celebrated her hard work (she’s still working hard). In May, members of the Columbus Philatelic Club invited me to speak to them about my book, The 1965 United States Dante Stamp, which has received favorable reviews.

Summer brought Midwestern travels to visit family and friends in Illinois and a family vacation to Leelenau County, Michigan, and the majestic Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. While I’d made good progress on my skiff, Blue Moon, I wasn’t able to finish it for the vacation. Next year.

Hazy sunset over Sleeping Bear Bay.

With a job offer in hand for Emily in St. Joseph, Michigan, we embarked on the life adventure of buying a house. We found a place to make our own in the country a few miles from St. Joseph, Stevensville, Baroda, and Berrien Springs. There is plenty of work to be done on our old house and five acres of grass and woods.

Holly basks in the sunlight.

In November, we adopted a dog from the county animal shelter. Holly is a Labrador Retriever mix and has brightened our home with her very sweet and loving nature. We hosted my dad and his wife for the first Thanksgiving in our own home and Emily’s sister will be here soon for Christmas.

We have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to in 2019.

A New Adventure

Our new (old) house on move-in day.

Over the summer, Emily accepted a nursing position in St. Joseph, Michigan—the culmination of three and a half years of graduate work. With this news, we quickly embarked on our first homebuying adventure. This turned out to be what is perhaps the ultimate exercise in marital compromise. While I’ve enjoyed a lot of city amenities over the last decade, having grown up in a small town, I had been wanting to move back to the country for some time. Emily was not so sure of such an endeavor but we were very lucky to find a rural property in close proximity to several towns, Lake Michigan, and within an easy drive of Chicago and Grand Rapids. Despite the horror stories we heard about first-time homebuying, our experience was as smooth as could be expected.

Our new house is a circa 1920 farmhouse on five acres in Royalton Township, Michigan. The area is mostly agricultural with specialty crops like grapes, hops, tomatoes, and fruit trees. We’ll have plenty of space to start a garden and perennial pollinator meadow and I plan to expand my beekeeping efforts. Emily will be just a few miles from work and we’ll be five miles from Lake Michigan when we need to kick back and relax.

Of course, we are feeling mixed emotions about all of this: sad to leave friends, colleagues, and neighbors in Columbus but excited to start a new chapter in a new place.

Pumpkins

Homegrown pumpkins.

During the second week of July, I planted a handful of New England pie pumpkin seeds. Realizing this was almost too late in the year, my hopes were not high for these plants. The five vines did well at first but powdery mildew eventually set in and I couldn’t keep up with fighting it. These two pumpkins were the only ones to make it to harvest.