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A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!

Saturday, December 05, 2015


I know I have been terribly absent for about 6 weeks at least but there's been a lot going on in my life so this post is just to fill you in.

I can't remember where we left off....I THINK you know I had a knee scope the end of September which turned out to be more involved than what was originally thought.  I"m pretty sure I told you about our Mother passing away, but I don't think I've told you any of what has been going on with my health since that time.

I have a condition called necrobiosis lipodica and one of the "spots" opened up while we were traveling down to be with my Mom.  This has happened before so I thought nothing of it because it was little and always would heal back over.  I should have been paying better attention as it became very large and quite infected with two rare bacteria (which I THINK I may have picked up at the hospital where I had the scope done).  So, I've been dealing with that for the past several weeks; tried on my own for about 4 weeks and finally got into a wound clinic.  It will take about another 6-8 weeks to heal up if all goes well.  It is a very painful process as the wound has to be debrided every two weeks and once a day I have to clean it, apply the Santyl ointment and re-dress it.  Here are some photos of what I've been dealing with.
So, that is part of what's been going on.

The other part is my arch on my left foot (the knee scope and the hole is also on my left leg) has been giving me fits.   THIS was also treated before we left for the south and I thought it was all done giving me problems, but now so.  So after dealing with it for about 10 days and the pain being so bad that it actually hurts worse than the hole in the leg, I managed to get into the Orthopedic Clinic of Georgia.  I found out I have something called Accessory Navicular Syndrome which means I have an extra LITTLE BITTY bone in the area of my arch.  I've had it since birth...so I was told yesterday any way.  The "cure" for it is to wear one of those BIG boots on my foot for the next month, ice and rest and a few pain pills to help out.  If that doesn't help, then surgery is the next option.  It would be a very small incision and depending on how quickly I heal, would be "laid up" for about two weeks.

This little bone that I didn't know I had has bothered me off and on for MANY years but it wasn't any thing that a pain pill and staying off my foot wouldn't help.  I'm thinking it'd be easier to have the operation and be done with it, so time will tell.

So, this winter trip has not been as much fun as all of our previous winter trips.  In fact, between Dan's aches and pains and all of this, we have decided this will be our last winter of volunteering and most likely will spend the rest of our winters at home.  IF our cabin was winter ready, we would have turned right around and gone back home after Mom died.  But we have to have a new roof and get some heat in the place so we are "stuck" in the sunny south till such time as weather allows us to go home.

Hopefully you are still out there reading my blog and will continue to check every once in a while.  Can't say as I'm going to be better about posting because truthfully, I haven't been in the mood for much of anything.  I've had a pity party going for at least 6 weeks!

Take care!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015


I have been having issues trying to get my Yooper Yarns to work properly so I haven't posted in a while (again!).  And I've been dealing with my knee scope and very painful foot...and also the passing of our mother which I am sharing with you here.

This is a post I put on FB because I could not get on Yarns....this was written on Friday, October 16th. 

My Mother died last night.

Well, my sister’s and mine.

Neither one of us have said anything on FB about it because, well, it’s personal and we felt it was Mom’s place if she wanted people other than CLOSE friends and family, to know.

She had been diagnosed with cancer, oh, maybe 6 weeks ago. Let’s just say that after bouts of varying problems that she decided to opt out of treatment earlier this week and went home to my sisters and her hubby to live out her last days.

My sister has been thru this two times before; once with our Dad and about 9 months later with her first husband, Gene Hensell. I could not be there to support or even try to help either of those times. One person should not have to go thru that 3 times. I know going thru this again she has the love and support of her husband, John and many wonderful friends and neighbors, but it’s not the same thing as sisters.
My sister is a born care giver and always seems to find the best in a person. She took those two wonderful traits of hers and put them to good use (she has more amazing traits as well). She became an RN (among many other things she has diplomas to) and she worked for an oncologist for many years. She is very familiar with the death of a cancer patient and I think that finally got to be too much so she went on and put her skills to use in other nursing areas.

But, had she not had that training, skills and love I don’t know what would have happened with our Dad. He would not have been able to have his last days with what dignityapproaching death leaves you with, he most likely would not have been able to pass away in his own home, and many mistakes possibly could have been made in the care and treatment he received because the right questions (questions an RN would know to ask) weren’t put forth.

Dad passed in the loving care of my sister. It was New Year’s Day 2006. I was there only by phone as we were having a blizzard in the U.P. And the strange thing about that was Dad was basically in a coma, and while Christy and I were on the phone I asked her if she’d do me a favor; hold Dad’s hand and tell him “Cathy loves you”. She said she’d put the phone up to his ear and I could tell him. My comatose Dad opened his eyes for a moment…long enough to say “Love”. He passed I think about an hour later.
Gene passed away at home that following September, a short 8 months later, in the care of his wife, my sister.

And then, this late summer, Mom was diagnosed with cancer. We all figured she’d die of heart issues because at the tender age of 50 something she’d had a 4 (or was it 5?) bypass heart operation. This was a bit over 30 years ago when medicine wasn’t as advanced as now. Who figured she could possibly live into her 80’s?

Again, with Mom’s diagnosis of cancer, Christy was the care giver and her husband John even helped out taking Mom to her chemo, taking Mom for a bite to eat and being oh, so supportive to Christy.

Dan and I started making plans to head to Georgia earlier than originally planned because THIS time there was no reason I could not be there to help my sister in some way.

Three or 4 days ago, after being in the hospital several days with complications, our Mom decided to stop the chemo (she had not had it while being in the hospital because she wasn’t strong enough and it wasn’t her week to have it). She agreed to come home with Christy and John.

Christy and I kept in touch many time per day as to Mom’s progress or lack of.

Dan and I were finally able to get on the road yesterday morning (Thursday October 15th) and again, texts back and forth between my sister and me on the trek down. Mom had had a rough night the night before and Christy thought we should try to get there that evening (last night).

I don’t know what time we got to Christy and John’s. Time kind of eludes you when you are feeling scared. I didn’t know what to expect as we had not seen Mom since late April and at that time she looked like an “older woman”…she looked like Mom, ya know?

I’m not going to share all the personal details of how she looked but she didn’t look like Mom. I recognized her for sure, but she didn’t look like Mom.

Dan and I let her know we were there and she tried to make an effort to let us know SHE knew we were there..she tried to say “Dan” (at least we think that was what she was trying to say).

Christy continued to take care of Mom; giving her her pain meds, washing her mouth with a sponge and mouthwash after the medicine…doing what she could to try to make Mom comfortable. I stood there in amazement at my sister going thru all of this one more time and wondering where she got the emotional and spiritual strength to do this. To do this AGAIN.

I sat with Mother and talked about things I hoped she might enjoy hearing about because I knew there would be no more letters sent back and forth in the snail mail. She didn’t or couldn’t really respond, but I do feel she heard and understood my end of the conversation.

The Hospice nurse showed up and I do believe this was around 7:30 p.m. and carefully, oh so very carefully and with respect, examined our Mom; took her vitals, checked her breathing (Mom was on oxygen at this time)…all the things the nurse is supposed to do. But the CARE, gentleness and respect this woman showed Mother amazed me.

The nurse and my sister went out in the other room to talk about what meds Christy would need yet to get her thru the night and I stayed in the room with Mom trying to talk with her, or TO her. I thought she had finally gone to sleep as she stopped the moaning with every short draw of breath but her tummy was still going up and down so I knew she was breathing.

I quietly went out into the other room to join my sister and the nurse and told Christy I thought Mom had finally gone to sleep and explained she’d stopped the moaning but was still breathing.
The nurse wanted to get Mom’s vitals one more time and went back into the room with Christy. They called me in…Mom had passed.

I’m not trying to make this all about me and how I feel, but I wanted to be there to hold her hand so she wouldn’t die alone in a room…and I hadn’t managed to do that for her.

My sister, the unselfish angel that she is said “Don’t you remember how Mom said she never wanted anyone to see her die? I truly feel she waited for you and Dan to get here and waited for you to leave the room so no one would see her die.”

The hospice care nurse took care of getting Mom ready for the funeral home people to come and get Mom while Christy, John, Dan and I, in the next room, shared a few memories and even a few laughs.
After the nurse left and we were still waiting on the funeral homes arrival, Christy and John went in to spend some time with Mom. I could hear my sister crying and knew that John was taking care of her so I stayed put. John eventually popped out of the room and said “Cathy, come in here.” He had a slight smile on his tear stained face.

In the bedroom Mom was in was something like a dream catcher, only not as light weight, but it had feathers hanging from the bottom of it. I think there are maybe 6 strands of feathers along the bottom of it. Two of those strands were slowly moving, back and forth. No other ones moved. There was no breeze in the room as the oxygen and dehumidifier and been shut off a while ago. Those two strands of feathers continued to move for as long as we were in there. I don’t know when they stopped…or if they did.

We all handle grief differently and writing is one of my coping mechanisms.

So if you got a little something out of this, that’s great. But I selfishly did it for myself to try to make myself feel better. So far, I don’t feel any better. As with all things in life, or death, grief will take time and we are left with memories be they all good or partially bad but life does move on and the pain gets better but the memories are still there to go back to.

Dan and I will be downstate for about a week yet. Even though you may be my friend on FB and you may not have known our Esther First, our Mother or maybe you don't know my sister Christine First-Friedel, please say a prayer of support for them.

I can guarantee you that even though my sister might not know you, if you needed her she would be there. She's that type of person...and she's my sister. I love her to pieces and honor her.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Have you met Phoebe yet? 

I cannot remember having introduced her to you before I took a break from blogging and I’m too lazy to go back and check! 

Phoebe is our 13 pound Mexican pit-bull.   THAT is what Dan calls her because when she yawns, her mouth and face look like a pit-bull.  She is supposed to be a cross between a “Chinese dog of some type” and a pug.  Now others will tell you she is a cross between a Chihuahua (she hates it when you call her that and I don’t know why…she actually will playfully snap at your face!) and a pug.  She will be 3 years old in December.  So what do you think she is...besides happy???

Anyway, she wanted to have a blog of her own but she couldn’t come up with a good name and I told her I was too busy to try to keep up two blogs so she would have to be content to help with mine.  I will try to remember to warn you, er, I mean INFORM you of when she is helping.  And I think today may be one of the days she will be helping.

You will see that she and I do not always agree on a particular way to describe or say something.  You will be able to tell that because what SHE has to say will most likely be “struck through” and then MY mind will take over. 

This is an example of what I mean by struck through.  

Did you know that Dan and I have gleefully sold our campground and are both retired??!!!  Yep!  We sold the park officially on May 11th this year!  We hadn’t planned on purchasing property until next  year, if then, but we found the perfect place for us and ‘moved in’ towards the end of July.

The reason I say ‘moved in’ is because we are not living in the cabin but are living in our motor home (you may not even know about that either!!) 

The property is almost 35 acres, has a cute little cabin and a few other buildings AND a polebarn/workshop for Dan!  A couple of the other buildings will be torn down as we have no use for them and it would be too costly to repair in order to insure them.  AND, the property has 4 full hook up campsites, a laundry facility, a shower and bathroom (which are part of the polebarn). 

So we are living in our “new” (new to us!) 2011 Fleetwood Discovery diesel pusher.  It is a bit over 43’ long so it IS our home and has been since we bought it in April.  We hope by next summer to be able to live in the cabin, but there is work to be done first!

A new roof HAS to be put on and by that I mean right down to the trusses, at least on about ¾ of the cabin.  The remaining room, which is the kitchen and living room, just has to have all the old shingles torn off and the plywood or OSB (or whatever they used) replaced.  THIS part of the cabin was added on to the original structure which IS log (which was built about 1948).  It will be a dark green metal roof.  We had hoped to have it done prior to us leaving for the south this fall, but it looks like the contractor might not be able to get us in for fear of getting caught in bad October rainy weather.

The floor in this part of the house is very old plank wood and we LOVE IT!  So much character in this floor!  This whole addition USE to be a church (a very small one!) which makes it even more special….a lot of history to this place, ya know?

The fieldstone fireplace is huge and seems to be in very good shape.  We are not going to burn wood though.  We will be putting in a gas insert.

In order to see what size gas insert we would need, we had Soo Fireplace and Company come out and get the measurements.  Dan and I both had to chuckle at the guy when he crawled inside the fireplace and reported back to us (from INSIDE the fireplace) “Boy this is BIG, big, big, big”  (as in he was “echoing” from inside the fireplace).

Phoebe seems to really like it here.  Oh, wait a minute…she’s got something to say and if it is relative to this conversation, I won’t use strike-through….Phoebe says “I really like it here!!!  I get to play off leash sometimes!  And when I do, I run like the wind. ¡Ándele! ¡Ándele! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! Yeehaw! I am just like Speedy Gonzales!!!  I can do figure 8’s from around the motor home and then around the picnic table!  As small as my lungs are and as short as my legs are it doesn’t take me long to get winded though.  I found out that when I run that fast though I tend to fart  pass gas.   Mom and Dad never let me off leash unless we had some fenced in place so you damn darn betcha I like it here!”

Well, I think Phoebe about summed it up for how SHE feels about  her new home!  Here are a couple of photos of our new place.

I just had arthroscopic on my knee yesterday so I’m done sitting at the table for a while.  Phoebe and I will see you another day!

Keep in touch!!

Monday, September 14, 2015


I think I’ve been away from my blog long enough.

Facebook had taken over my time and I felt I didn’t need both a blog and a FB page, but ya know what I found???  I’m tired of seeing these cartoons of what I guess are Minions telling that  “Life is not always a bed of roses, sometimes you do have to keep an eye out for the pricks”,  or “I’ll slap you so hard that even Google won’t be able to find you”.   Or the other types of posts that threaten you with the wrath of Khan or that fleas of 1000 camels will infest your arm pits if I don’t repost “this post” within the next 10 minutes, OR, and this is my biggest pet peeve, “I BET YOU CANNOT COME UP WITH A WORD THAT ENDS WITH THE LETTER O!”  (or other requests/challenges such as that one).

Well, here are some of those words for you….HELLO?  NO?  OR ABOUT A COMBO OF THE TWO; HELLNO??? 

But then if you are a Scrabble playing person like myself, you almost  have to accept the dare and then try to figure out how many points you would get IF you WERE playing Scrabble and used words like, Oh, I do not know…how about zydeco, or muchacho, or jalapeno???  (Notice how many words I’ve used so far that even SOUND like O??)  How about some BIG O ending words like incommunicado?    Or for you piano (there’s another word ending in O!) enthusiasts, how about fortississimo.

Then there is the never-ending cavalcade of “selfies”.  I’m sorry, but I really do not care what you look like with your tongue sticking out of your mouth.  Or how you look with Saran wrap wrapped all around your big fat head.  However, I do find pet selfies quite entertaining.

Or people inviting you to “their farm” via a FB posting…seriously, for a long time I thought one of my friends actually had gone and bought a bunch of pigs and I wondered “where in the hell is she going to keep them”.  They didn’t even have a barn.  Then she got some sheep and a few chickens.  THEN I finally got an invitation to play farm yard or pig pen or whatever it was.  LIGHT BULB MOMENT.

I know I’ve been guilty of posting some “uninteresting” things at times, but when I do, it is mainly to keep my family informed of an event which are normally NOT life altering events so others would not likely find them any more interesting than I find the post about… about their lip-smacking bowl of Cheerio’s as cataclysmic news.   BUT if that same person had someone make them eggs benedict, with a side dish of fresh strawberries and a pink rose put in a delicate vase and then served it to them in bed, and the person serving that breakfast tray was actually part of the crew from Publisher’s Clearing House, well, now THAT could be a bit more interesting.

But I digress..

In the days to come, there will be more posts.  Dan and I have started a new adventure in our lives together and it is called RETIREMENT!  And we’ll be sharing it with anyone who cares to tune in!

So, anyway, I’m BAACCCKKKK!!! So please keep checking when ya can!!!

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