A whirlwind of activity

You may have noticed that you either get feast or famine from me. My mother called me last night and said that I hadn’t written in a while, and when I checked, it’s been nearly a month since my last blog. Usually, it’s because I haven’t had anything to report, but this time it’s because I’ve been too busy to write, so this might be a long blog.

I spent several weeks cleaning both our RV’s and trying to prepare them for company. We had taken nearly everything out of our old RV because we anticipated that we could get someone to come and tow it away, but it turns out to be OK that we couldn’t get it out of our driveway. More on that later.

Zak and Kader came and stayed in our new RV for a couple of weekends. Kader got a weekend job up here to try to save money for their trip to Turkey in September. Zak is going to remodel our bathroom in the next 4 weekends, but he came up first to look at our bathroom and make a list of what we will need. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve spent nearly $3000 on the supplies but we were prepared for that. We put a bunch of money in savings for the house. Zak’s family owns a remodeling business and he is certified and has 10 years of experience, so he will be much faster at this than we have been! Mark and I had started trying to remodel the bathroom the second summer we were here, but we never finished it. Also, we had put a deep soaking tub in instead of the old bath/shower, but we have since come to realize that for older people like us, a big tub is not ideal.

BEFORE pictures

Zak plans to come up every weekend and do remodeling not only for us, but also for others who have remodeling jobs for him as well. That’s how he’ll earn extra money for their trip in September. This last week, we had to take the new RV in for repairs, so that’s one reason it’s good that we still have our old RV.

The other reason is that one of our other Turkish daughters, Rukiye, called me from Chicago and said that she had a job lined up here in Door County but she couldn’t find a place to stay. That’s originally why we fixed up the old RV. It didn’t have a mattress because it was like a Sleep Number mattress that had gone flat, so Mark put an air mattress in the RV and we put a sleeping bag on top of it. We didn’t have any spare dishes to put in there, so we put some paper plates, bowls, and plasticware in there for her. At least the electricity and plumbing work in it so she can get by temporarily with that.

My friend, Serenity, came up from Phoenix with her 3 dogs and a cat, but fortunately, she’s able to sleep in her van. Mark cleared an area in our back yard (down a driveway that we share with a rental house) and she’s staying there.

Bridges to Friendship has started up again. This is the program that the local churches put together for the J-1 students who come to Door County to work. These young college students come from all over the world and work here in the summer to earn enough money for their next year of tuition. Many of them work 2 or 3 jobs and look like zombies by the end of the summer. We haven’t yet been able to encourage them not to do that to themselves! Anyway, Bridges pairs them up with American families who can take them places because they are only given bicycles to get around with. The families are Christians who invite them into their homes or on family outings and can witness to them if there is an opening. This is how Mark and I have “adopted” so many Turkish kids.

This year, we asked to have students from a business that’s closer to us – Door County Ice Cream Factory. It’s a great place to visit our kids if they are too busy for us to meet with them outside of work. We first met Kayla from Jamaica, and Mark has given her rides several times, but she’s working 2 jobs already, so we probably won’t see her outside of work. I don’t have a picture of her yet, but I’ll get one.

We just met our second J-1 student from Mongolia, Casie. That’s the American name she gave herself. I can’t pronounce her birth name! There was a Bridges event on Tuesday night and she was able to come to that. She didn’t know what we looked like and we weren’t sure what she looked like, so we told her she could ask any of the people from the church where the event was being held and they could point us out. We were standing near the end of the food line and Mark happened to look over at the registration line and saw someone gesturing as though they had a hat on their head. Sure enough, Casie found us because of Mark’s hat!

Mark likes to make funny faces for the camera.

The funniest thing happened while we were getting to know Casie. We told her that we had a Mongolian student a couple of years ago and Mark told me to show her the key ring Shiny had given me. When he said the name, Shiny, Casie’s mouth dropped. She said that she works for Shiny. Just to be sure, I showed her a picture I took of Shiny when she was here and Casie confirmed that that’s her boss. Out of all the people in Mongolia, and all the people in Door County, what are the odds? She told us that Shiny is now married and has a baby. So good to hear something about Shiny! Sometimes the kids go home and we never hear from them again. Shiny communicated with me a couple of times after she got home, but we hadn’t heard from her in a while.

Besides company and Bridges, other things have been going on in my life. A few days after we got home, my boss from the Welcome Center paid for the staff to go to the tourism tailgate party put on by Destination Door County. They had different items on tall tables around the room so we would take a plate and go around to see what we wanted, just like at a tailgate party. They also had a screening for a show called Master Chef. This one took place in Door County. They got a bunch of young chef’s together and showed them what a traditional fish boil is. Then they had them each prepare something similar with sides of their own choosing to 100 people who were all judging which meals they liked the best. I don’t generally watch shows like that because it puts a lot of pressure on the contestants and then they are brutally honest with the losers about what they didn’t like.

Peaking out from behind on the left is our membership manager, Vickie. She also writes monthly newsletters for us and takes care of collecting our hours for the payroll company. The one on the left in the flame is Roselyn. She’s worked at the Welcome Center longer than of any of us. Up at the top of the flame is my boss, Mickie. She’s the one who knows all our businesses and helps them if needed. She also helps with local events. And the one on the right is me, of course. I’m the staff manager and I also order things that we run out of in the Welcome Center and create forms for everything we need to keep track of.

And a week ago, the Trillium Quilt Guild, of which I am a member, took a tour of a fiber arts school over on Washington Island.

We had lunch at a restaurant right next to the water on the far side of the island from where we landed.

After lunch, we had enough time to go see the lavender farm, but the lavender wasn’t in bloom yet, so I didn’t take any pictures.

We also managed to squeeze in time to see the Stavkirke, a Nordic-style church that someone built on the island based on a Stavkirke in Sweden, I think.
This is the inside of the Stavkirke. There is a model sailing vessel hanging from the ceiling, and in the case on the left wall is…
…a Bible that was illustrated by Salvador Dali.

Then it was time to go to Sievers for our tour.

Sievers not only has a craft school, but they also have a gift shop where they sell things that the students and teachers make. That’s where we started.
This man, whose name I can’t remember, married this woman whose last name was Sievers. He worked a full career, and when he retired, he decided to build a place where his wife, who was a weaver, could share her love of weaving with others. The woman who gave us our tour said that she and her husband came to work for them from the very beginning. Her husband built the looms for the weaving students and did carpentry. She worked as an office girl. When the original couple got too old, they sold the business to her and her husband who have been operating it ever since.
After we toured the buildings on one side of the street, she took us across the street to the barn.
They use the barn for classes.
There’s also sleeping quarters for the students in the barn. The beds have curtains around them for privacy as you can see on the right. There’s a bathroom with several shower stalls in it. This picture shows the comfortable gathering area for students to relax and get to know each other. There’s even a kitchen so that they can make their own meals.

We also got to go see a group of quilters who were doing their own projects in one of the buildings. There is a quilter who is well-known in these parts because she teaches classes at both Sievers and The Clearing which is an arts and crafts school here in Ellison Bay! She was working on a “fabric painting” when I met her, using fabric and paint to make beautiful pictures! I can’t show the picture I took of her and the piece she was working on here, but if you’d be interested in seeing it, write to me. She just doesn’t want it to get out to social media, so you would have to promise not to post it anywhere else.

After the tour of the campus, our tour guide demonstrated a few weaving techniques for us back in the gift shop.
Then the members did some shopping!

So many from the guild had signed up for this trip that we had to go over in several cars. Each carload selected different things to see on the island. The carload I was in got to see several things we were interested in.

There is a story about Nelsen’s Hall that I have shared with visitors, but I have never been there myself, so this was my pick. Nelsen’s Hall was already a tavern, but during Prohibition, most such establishments had to shut down. Mister Nelsen was a clever man. He read through the Prohibition law and discovered that bitters could be given to patients for stomach ailments, so he got certified as a pharmacist and started serving bitters. Whenever the feds came to check him out, he told them that all these people had prescriptions for bitters. When Prohibition ended, he started the Bitters Club. If you can down a shot glass of bitters, you can join the club!
The stuff on the ceiling is dollar bills that people have somehow gotten to stick up there.
Someone else in the car wanted to stop at Mann’s Mercantile. It’s an Ace Hardware store, but they also sell things for tourists, some of which is made by the islanders.
This was the fun part of the store.
Another person in the car wanted to stop at this bookstore. The bookseller carries a series of fiction books written by a local author about life on Washington Island.

The last ferry was going to be leaving the island at 5:00, so we arrived at 4:00. Usually they have 2 ferries running back and forth, but for some reason, they only had 1 running this particular day so we had to wait for an hour for the ferry to make the 30-minute trip each way. We were so glad that we had gone early and were near the front of the line of cars!

This thing that looks like a big old-fashioned coffee pot says “Wilcommen” which is, I think, the Swedish word for Welcome.
Our ferry was finally ready to load up at 5:00!
Coming into the dock at Northport on the peninsula side of Death’s Door, the area between the island and the peninsula is so named because of a tribal battle fought here between 2 warring groups of Native Americans and also for the shipwrecks that have happened in this narrow passageway.

One last thing to report. One of the reasons Serenity came up here from Phoenix was to receive the pink belt she earned last fall at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu dojo in Green Bay. She had had to head south before her test score came through.

This is a Women Empowered class to teach women how to defend themselves.
Her instructor first described to the class how much work Serenity put into getting her pink belt. The woman with the pink belt and ponytail on the right side was Serenity’s study partner. They helped each other train for the test. On the right side, the instructor is tying Serenity’s new pink belt on.
The husband and wife who own this dojo are holding a Women Empowered poster for Serenity to add her name to.
Everyone in the class came up to congratulate Serenity…
…and pretend to slap her upside the head. I gave her a choke hug she taught me how to do the night before.
Serenity with her certificate and her new pink belt. The old white belt is in a permanent knot because she will never go back there again!
Serenity’s study partner, Serenity, and her instructor are all wearing their pink belts
This particular dojo is called Stevens Defense Academy. They teach children, women, men, all branches of the military, etc. The owners are also involved in animal rescue, they have a severely disabled son, and they have a lot of other things going on as well. Serenity says they are amazing people!

We are so proud of Serenity!

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