Farmer’s Market, A Quarry, TV Interview, and a Benefit Dinner: October 10-11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
A Real Farmer’s Market
Toni described my Saturday as an easy day where they didn't do too much with me.
We had breakfast at a Big Boy restaurant. I had my photos transferred from my camera onto disks at Walgreens. In the hour we had to wait for the disks to be done, Toni and Burt took me to the local farmers’ market. It was a beautiful sight: with huge cabbages, pumpkins, odd-shaped squashes, big red apples and more.
At one of the stalls was a young woman called Sally, who worked for the Hospice of Michigan. Toni introduced me and I took some photos of Sally and her stall. Sally and her husband (who was a big bear of a man) had grown all the produce themselves. A lady bought up all their cabbages to make a huge lot of sauerkraut for some local function. Burt was planning a boiled dinner for an organization that he was involved with, so he bought more vegetables from the market. Seeing the fantastic produce and seeing the people at the market was marvelous. It was something that was very much part of northern Michigan life.
Shopping in a Grocery Store: Wonderfully Normal
After visiting the market Toni and Burt went to a local supermarket called Neimans. There I pushed the trolley round, while Toni bought cans of various beans to make a bean salad. It felt wonderful pushing the trolley around the supermarket...after weeks of walking and talking, to be doing something so ordinary felt wonderful...and normal.
My shopping consisted of three packets of peanut M&Ms. I had minimalist shopping down to an art.
At Neiman's we met a lady called Mary Woods, who would be taking me up to Rogers City for the dinner. At Neimans Toni and Burt also met an old teaching friend of Burt's. I loved that too, that in the space of a couple of hours Burt and Toni had met about 5 people they knew. The town had a warm and friendly atmosphere, even though the weather was decidedly chilly for October.
Back for Lunch and a Walk
We picked up my photo disks and got back just in time for lunch. Toni made the bean salad and we ate and watched the birds in the back garden again. After lunch we went for a walk around a newly built subdivision.
A couple of houses across from Burt and Toni's were up for sale and Burt talked to a man who had come to check one of the houses out. In the new subdivision some men were laying a concrete drive. The houses were large and surrounded by mature trees, with maples that were now turning yellow and red and pines that were dark green.
We got back from our mile and a half walk around 2 pm and drove off to the TV station.
A young guy called Joe let us in and introduced me to Stephanie Parkinson. Stephanie was in her early 20’s. It turned out she had been born in Doncaster in Yorkshire, England, but had lived most of her life in the U.S. She was efficient, and the interview was quick and to the point.
There was a couch that I thought I would sit on for a chat with Stephanie, while Joe filmed the two of us talking. Instead Stephanie had me sit on a hard wooden chair, with the camera stuck right in my face. She asked a couple of questions, but I launched into my usual talk about why I was doing the walk and why hospices needed more volunteers and support from the community. I also talked about the need for people to turn to hospice care sooner, so that they could receive support and better quality of care for much longer. The interview went well and I mentioned Hospice of the Sunrise Shore and the Hospice of Michigan. Stephanie had me walk up and down outside and the interview was complete.
A Visit to a Hospice Patient
It was now about 3 pm and Mary Woods was due to collect me at 4 pm or so.
Toni took me to a local nursing home to visit a hospice patient. At the home we met an old pupil of Burt's who was now about 48. Again the sense of community in Alpena was plain to see.
My visit to the nursing home was short, but I was glad that I had gone.
The lady that Toni visited had Parkinson's disease, but she moved hardly at all. Toni went into the room and gave the lady a hug and a kiss on the cheek. The lady smiled and that was wonderful to see. Toni introduced me and I said a little about walking from New York. The lady hardly talked or moved, but from her eyes I could see she was glad that we had visited. As we left she closed her eyes to go back to sleep. For me to see the lady smile and see that she was happy to have Toni visit was marvelous. It was good.
A Brief Stop at a Quarry
At shortly after 4 pm Mary Woods arrived, with a friend of hers called Kay Donakowski. I put my pack in the trunk and climbed into the back seat of the car with my bag of 12 books.
The night was drizzly and grey. On the journey to Rogers City Mary stopped at a giant limestone quarry on the edge of Rogers City. I stood on a platform and looked at the huge chunk that had been taken out of the land. It felt strange...like part of the place was missing and like looking on a wound. At the same time the quarry was immense...and reminded me of the Grand Canyon. I took a couple of quick photos in the rain then headed back to the car.
The “Putting on the Ritz” Fundraising Dinner
The Putting on the Ritz Dinner was at a restaurant called The Water's Edge. Although I didn't have a ticket the doorman let me in and I handed $25 over to the organizer Shirley Haan. Mary, Kay and I had reserved seats on table 11, so all was well. Several hundred people filled the room. On our table was a man called Scott McLennan, who worked for the Hospice of Michigan, there was Mary, Kay and me, then a lady called Linda, who was a teacher, her mother Doris, who was a leading figure in the hospice in the Rogers City area, there was also a couple called Wendel and Carol, and on my right were Lou and Jan.
Breaking the Ice with My Book
Not quite sure how to break the ice I showed my book to Lou and Jan. Lou had a hearing aid and had turned it down, because of all the noise in the room, but somehow I managed to make myself understood. Jan and Lou bought a book and had me sign it. Wendel and Carol did the same, as did Mary and Kay. Linda and Doris took a book to have a look at. I hopped across to a table where I recognized Sally and Janine from the Hospice of Michigan. They both bought books and I sold another two books to people who were introduced to me.
Ice of a Different Kind
Dinner was served and I chatted to Lou. He told me how he had worked on ships in the waters around northern Canada. Their ship had got stuck in ice for 27 days. He said they had enough food, but had almost run out of fresh water, but got some from a passing coast guard ship. Although surrounded by ice the engine room had been warm and they had plenty of fuel. The worst thing was they had no showers for 27 days. I asked Lou about toilets and he said they were lucky as those ran oin sea water. The matter of fact way that Lou talked about the whole thing was incredible.
The Dinner Show
Dinner was soon over and the show was due to begin. Before the show started the local beauty queen was introduced...and then I was also introduced. People were generally appreciative of the fact that I had walked around 800 miles to help hospice. There were also several people who called out saying I would have to walk quick to avoid the snow!
Shirley Haan told people I would be available after the show to sign books and answer questions.
The show was good. There was singing and dancing. Numbers included Putting on the Ritz and Anything you can do I can do better (which was played as a backing track while two girls used sign language and facial expressions to enact the song). There was a local Swedish pastor called Bo Lange who talked about the joys of being Swedish, which was amusing, if slightly bizarre.
There were a couple of country songs, two piano players and two young high school girls who danced to a modern song. They leapt up in the air, did the splits and were very good, although I did wonder if they would end up with injuries.
The evening was fun. Kay won a prize of $50 worth of Chinese meal at a restaurant in Alpena. I talked to Kay and Mary, too, and posed for pictures with them. Close to the end of the evening a young girl sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow” while a set of pictures of the World Trade Center and U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan was show. In the pictures too was a picture of a bald eagle with a tear falling from its eye. It was a moving song and visual show.
The evening came to an end and I took my place at a table to sell the last few books that I had. My tablemake Linda bought a book for her mother Doris. Linda had just lost her father and the evening was very emotional for her. I thanked her for buying the book and gave her a hug. I talked briefly to Doris and wished her well, too.
Mary drove Kay and I back to Alpena. I was glad that I had made it to the dinner, even though it meant I hadn't walked for two days.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
On the Road Again – And It Feels Good After a Two Day Break
A quick breakfast of cereal and toast with Burt and Toni...and it was time to leave Alpena and get back to walking. Mary Woods picked me up at 8.30 and drove me back to Richard's house in East Tawas.
As we drove Mary told me she had been a truck driver. Her and her husband had taken it in turns to drive 5 hours at a time to take loads all over the country.
Mary had made me cookies and a sandwich. She dropped me at Richard's and I said I would see her hopefully on Thursday.
Richard was feeling much better than on Thursday or Friday. By mid-day I was in Pinconning and ready to walk to Au Gres. I said goodbye and thanked Richard for all his help, then headed off.
The two day break from walking had done me the world of good.
The day was cold, but dry. There was an Econo Lodge at Au Gres and I hoped I could reach there before it was too late at night.
Just before I reached Standish Catherine Nickell-Simpson and a volunteer called Marie stopped to offer me a sandwich and drink. I thanked them, but said I would get something in Standish. I said I would see them again on Monday or Tuesday. I had my “I’m walking now” head on.
I stopped at a McDonald’s in Standish and had a quick meal. A couple of ladies stopped to give me a donation for hospice. In no time though I was back on the road and heading for Omer.
I reached Omer before dark and wondered if I could get to Au Gres in a decent time.Omer was a small town with an old Masonic Hall made of white painted wood. Darkness fell at shortly after 7 pm. I walked on.
By 9.30 I walked into Au Gres and was relieved to see the Econo Lodge. Inside was the manager. He signed me in and all was well. I told him I would try to leave at around 4 or 5 am. In the room I ate Mary's cookies, an apple and the sandwich. By 10 pm I was fast asleep.