Here’s a post-Rome adventure bit, because it occurs to me that tomorrow is-was-Bud’s birthday. He died in March of 2014. Growing up I had my father, Russell and then when I was a teenager I had Bud, my stepfather. When I first started blogging back in 2007 Bud was alive and kicking lots of important environmental issues in the far distant reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula in the UP of Michigan, at Lost Loon Lodge, right on the edge of Lake Superior. He and my mother were the subject matter of many a blog post, often referred to as The Bud and Jan Show. Eventually, through the wonders of the internet, other bloggers followed their wilderness adventures and at one point a blogging buddy of mine from Salem, Oregon got on plane and flew up there, just to spend time with Bud, known only to him through my weblog. Two old codgers, total strangers, both recently widowed, hunkered down together for four days at Lost Loon Lodge. After my mother died, Bud stayed on in the Keweenaw until he had a stroke while hauling groceries and spent the night in a four foot deep snowbank outside the kitchen door. By happenstance a neighbor discovered him and he was flown to the hospital in Marquette, warmed back to life and sent to live in Oshkosh near his daughter (my sister) Laurel. He did well there, mostly thanks to Laurel and husband Ian and my sister, Betsy who lives in Michigan and the good people at his assisted living facility. Those kind folk put up with all sorts of shenanigans as Bud turned into your classic aging lech. He propositioned his PTs, groped the nurses and induced his demented girlfriend, Helen, to bare her bosoms in the dining hall because, “Look at those casabas! Aren’t they spectacular? Melons like those should be shared with the world!” And everyone at the residence loved him because he was funny and kind and smart.
We would have Bud down here to St. Petersburg each February for as long as he could travel and so I found a couple of his 80th birthday party photos.
Also, as I was searching my hard drive for a photo of Bud just now I came across this letter I wrote him almost eight years ago. I miss you, Buddy, so much. Happy Birthday.
Dear Buddy March 15, 2010
Rich is in New York today so I thought that I would take a few minutes and write you a quick note. I tried to call you a couple times but I think you are out and about a lot of the time. I called Laurie and she said that they took you and Helen out to Chinese recently- I wish I could have been there for that. I’d like to meet Helen and I love Chinese, and of course, there’s you. I miss you a lot and very often think of you, wish you were around so I could show you things. Florida is warming up- it’s perfect weather for Rich to play baseball but I’m starting to think about getting up to Asheville to plant a garden and get settled in.
They’ve started work on the Asheville kitchen remodel but they are running about 2 weeks behind because they had an unusually heavy and late winter with lots of ice on the mountain so it was hard to get dumpsters and equipment up there. As of now, the kitchen is demolished and both bathrooms are out and they are starting to frame in the additional room so Rich can have a home office. I want to get up there soon to see the progress and also check to see if any owls have moved into the owl box we hung in a large tree near the house last fall.
I stay busy with my teaching and felting activities. Last month I sold a couple of large pieces at the local gallery and I also have some pieces in a show there right now, called the Artful Table. I’ve enjoyed this new form of art- felting- and I really have fun teaching it to others.
I’ve also been very busy working with the birds down at Boyd Hill. Recently we lost our bald eagle, after she broke her leg, had surgery and then got an infection. It was very sad for me because I really loved her and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say she loved me, she certainly knew me (probably just as the white haired hand that brought fish and filled her bathtub, which she loved) and she greeted me every day. We thought she was going to make a good recovery after the surgery- we even had an eagle specialist from Alaska assist via the internet-but then when everything was looking good and she was up and around, we found her one morning scrunched in the corner of her enclosure and it was downhill from there. There was a big article on the front page of the St. Pete Times about her so lots of people have been coming down to say how sorry they are that she isn’t there anymore. Then last week, we got a new baby wild eagle. This one won’t live at Boyd Hill- we put him in an already existing nest with a mother, father and two same age babies. That involved having a tree guy climb way up, pulley up the baby in a duffle bag and put him in the nest with the parents circling anxiously. That whole episode reminded me of your nest on Gratiot Lake and also the time that we were there when the Fisheries and Wildlife guy came to band the babies.
After we got the baby up there we had to monitor the nest through a telescope every minute of daylight during the first 4 days. That was a requirement from Fisheries and Wildlife when they decided to place him under our watch. His original nest was in a tree that came down in a storm upstate and he had a sister- she got put into another foster nest up there. I guess the original parents are just out of luck until next year when they will probably rebuild right near the old nest and try again.
Today when I put this in the mail, I’m also mailing my application to renew my therapist license. I laughed when it came and thought of you. I doubt I’ll be practicing again but I’m not ready to give up that lifelong professional identity so I’m going to renew it and still be a licensed psychotherapist.
The kids are good. Dan flew home from a tour in France yesterday and I haven’t talked to him yet but I know he was looking forward to coming off tour. They did a winter tour in the U.S. of 30 cities and then 10 in France so it’s been another long haul. Tours always exhaust him and now that he has Sarah as a girlfriend he misses her and wants to be back in Ann Arbor. I still haven’t met her but they are coming down here for Easter and I will be SO happy to see him- it’s been months! Abby is still doing the Hispanic version of the U.S. Census. She is so fluent that they have her recruiting and training Spanish speaking people. It’s funny that she and her Uncle Bruce have the same job. Mostly she is waiting to hear from Duke and they are waiting on funding. Because it is a doctoral program that is primarily research they don’t do much teaching to earn their keep so it’s a huge commitment for the university. With tuition at 40,000 a year for 5 years plus living plus research travel it comes out to over a quarter million dollars per student over 5 years so the number they let in is limited to about 7-9 students. We hope she gets in but it would be a long shot- they had over 250 applicants. I’m not sure what her fall back plan is but I have confidence that she’ll figure it out.
Okay, I’m going to print this and pop it in the mail to you. Are you taking good care of yourself, eating well and enjoying your time with Helen? I certainly hope so. I also hope the weather is good enough that you can get out a bit- maybe a short walk down to the little pond to enjoy some Spring days. I love you lots, Vicki
(the younger, the better.)