The road ends, but the journey continues...

Family travels MMXX

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening!

We’re back from our jaunt up to Michigan to visit our middle daughter and son-in-law. In fact, we’ve been there and back since Tuesday*.

But wait – I bet you didn’t even know we were away from our COVID cage nest. Surprise!

After some deliberation, we decided it was a reasonable risk worth pursuing – traveling during a narrow window of reduced regional COVID-19 surges and seasonal transitions**.

We packed up the 2003 Jeep Liberty and drove the 14-16 hrs straight through as we always do because we just like to drive. And because we’re all needy about seeing and being with Family.

Armed with my easy-to-reach ‘COVID’ box filled with sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, half can of precious Lysol Spray, all of our cloth masks plus a 5 pack of disposable gloves and the usual travel food box, duffles, pillows, and blanket, we were set to go. In addition, I carefully packed my Bernina, assorted notions, fabric scraps & batting bits and neatly nested all of that in with everything else.

Hubby secretly recorded us getting ready for our photo pose – notice Jude, the quilt eating kitty, sharing the couch with us

Say what? A sewing machine?

Often when we visit, I pack up Maddy to get a hands-on lesson at Elderly Instruments in Lansing with Neil Woodward but that wasn’t an option this time around due to COVID-19. Instead, I was on a sort of rescue mission – to repair as best as possible the three quilts kitty Jude chewed huge holes into since our last visit.

I’m happy to report that two of those quilts are 100% repaired. The third is ready for handstitching. Michelle is eager to begin repairs once I send her the appropriate fabric in sizes larger than I brought with me.

But of course, this trip was more than the sum of its seams…(groan).

Michelle Lilly Solorio, PhD 2020

We had a delayed in-house (pun intended) Family ‘hooding’ ceremony*** celebration, with Michelle gliding down the stairs of their 100 yr old home (there’s the punny connection) in full PhD regalia to the recorded traditional tune of ‘Pomp & Circumstance’.

We shared time around the Family table, spitting opinions (okay, too graphic for sure) between bites of fantastic food.

Took long walks, a Sunday Drive and spent plenty of time just ‘being’…


*We drove off Thursday September 24th and returned on Tuesday September 29th

**Timing is indeed everything as both factors have since dramatically shifted.

***Official University ceremony postponed, now cancelled due to COVID-19.


  1. zippyquilts

    I’m so glad you got to visit! (And I never knew a cat to chew holes in a quilt–thought they left that to the dogs!)

    • laura bruno lilly

      Jude, the quilt eating kitty, is a rescue who would chew hair (yep while still attached to her human’s head!) while snuggling as a kitten…she’s come a long way – but geesh!
      And, yes, being able to see a window of opportunity to visit and pull it off – wow!


    Laura, I am glad you are all safe and well. I am sure this graduation ceremony will always be remembered. thank you for sharing your adventures with us! <3 All the best! Cheryl

    • laura bruno lilly

      Happy to pass on the positive vibes!

  3. Cindy Anderson

    Glad you could safely visit with family. My machine often travels with me. A girl has to be prepared.

    • laura bruno lilly

      HA! Too true!

  4. Jennie

    Love the photos! I could feel the joy of being with your family. Sooo worth the trip!!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, absolutely! One of those things where the benefits way outweighed the reasonable/calculated risk involved!

      • Jennie

        Definitely! ?

  5. merrildsmith

    So wonderful that you got that family time. I’ve seen our younger daughter outside and socially distanced, but our older daughter in Massachusetts we’ve only seen on Zoom.
    Congratulations on your daughter’s completion of her Ph.D.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks for the congrats – and here’s to hoping for better days ahead.

      • merrildsmith

        Yes, indeed!

  6. Andy

    Family time is important. I’ve been reading a lot about people who are struggling away from loved ones with the ever changing restrictions imposed upon them, in a world coming apart at the seams. The seeming sum of seams.
    Just tried to fit it in there!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Like your seeming to sum up seams input!
      And yes, our very core support system: the Family is being held captive by political systems during the COVID crisis…But: we just keep on doing what we always do – make a way, make do and hold onto those we hold most dear…regardless.
      My heart goes out most to those already isolated pre-COVID due to age/infirmities.
      Thanks for stopping by, Andy.

  7. tierneycreates

    Congratulations! I like your COVID travel kit idea and that you all got out and went on a trip and enjoyed yourselves (escape from the “cage”). PhD – very cool (and what a lot of work!!!) 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, Tierney…it was really a welcome ‘escape’!

  8. Chela's Colchas y Mas

    Congratulations to the graduate and your family.
    I am so happy for you.
    My sons and I also discussed the reasonable risk of a visit, and I recently took the plunge.
    I had a beautiful two day visit that re-energized my heart and soul.
    Seeing my sons, DIL’s, and grandchildren has given me the strength and hope needed to continue making our way through this pandemic.

    • laura bruno lilly

      …refreshment for the soul.
      So glad you, too, took the plunge.

  9. marissthequilter

    I really enjoyed this peek into your family celebration. Congratulations to Michelle on her PhD achievement and her solo graduation ceremony. Congratulations to you too on mending nearly three quilts!

    • laura bruno lilly

      …and maybe a pat on the back for still liking Jude, the quilt eating kitty?
      Thanks for the hearty all-around congrats!

  10. cedar51

    that’s exactly what you needed – graduation at home, Kitty the quilt chewer, family, and just being…and you did it…now to unwind and to remember these memories.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Catherine: I knew you’d ‘get it’.
      This type of ‘unwinding’ is a pleasure!

  11. deborahbrasket

    How wonderful! I can “hear” the joy in your voice and imagine all that joy echoing around the house. What fun and so vastly needed, this time together.

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re right, there was much ‘joy echoing’ around their house…hubby even commented at one point, “this is a house of love”

  12. anne54

    It must have been a special time with your daughter. How you must have missed her over the last months. Congrats on her PhD too. That is a mighty achievement.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you Anne! Very special trip and very much needed for us all.

  13. Jane's Heartsong

    Forgot to say congrats to the graduate, a HUGE accomplishment and very creative way to celebrate.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Mille grazie – We’re certainly busting with pride!

  14. Jane's Heartsong

    Jude! Bad kitty, or were you just devising a way to bring family together? I am happy to see photos of you and your family and I am happy that you got together. I think it is impossible to distance from family and that is probably where the sanitizer and hand-washing comes in-I read you were well-armed but curious how you put this into practice when visiting and eating together.

    • laura bruno lilly

      In a way, we are each part of our ‘bubble’ in that we all are diligent on the normal protocols for pandemic ‘sanitation’ (ie-if we were local, our spaces would be extentions of each other) – extra scrubbing measures were done by M before we got to their house, seasonal weather allowed for much outdoor interactions plus open windows/fresh circulation of inside air and subtle things like spacing around the DR table…Even though D worked at the office part time, employee times were staggered and often he was the only one in the work area. We thought about mask wearing inside the house, but decided against it. Kind of vague answer, I know. But bottom line: a calculated risk with more benefits than actual risk.

      • Jane's Heartsong

        Laura, I kindly thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree about the benefits. I am a little nervous because I live alone and have a small bubble but maybe I should ask my friends how big their bubbles are. Some are better than others about distancing, sharing food and wearing masks-we all presently meet outdoors. I have one guest in my home and we have lots of space between us in my living room and I disinfect everything before she comes, plus leave out sanitizer. Maybe we can roast hotdogs at fire pits when it gets colder. Thankfully I won’t be getting close to any politicians in either country, since a few of them have tested positive. 😉

        • laura bruno lilly

          I noticed you’re moving into an independent senior living situation…that might enlarge your bubble in a natural way. In any case, I’m with you – not near any superspreader politicians!
          Good luck with the move and take care.

  15. Jill Weatherholt

    I’m happy you had some special time with your family, Laura. Congratulations to your daughter!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you, Jill. I hope your folks are doing well – and that you’re able to interact face-to-face during these times. My heart aches for the oldsters.

  16. Janis @

    How nice that you were able to hang out – and celebrate – with your family. I’ve never thought to bring my sewing machine with me on trips… and most likely it will stay that way 🙂 Hopefully there wasn’t too much spitting going on.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Actually, I usually bring my instrument(s) along, but like I said, this time I was on an errand of mercy (so to speak).
      Stay safe.

  17. Laura

    How wonderful that you could make this trip! Keeping people from their families is demoralizing, lonely, and unhealthy…just look at any nursing home to see this! It looks like you had a great visit!

    Hubby and I are going to take our chances out in the COVID world soon. We will have our masks, etc…, too, but we need to live…not just exist. 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Soooo true. Instead of fighting for the ‘rights’ to get those bars back open, why not figure out how to keep families safely together during end-of-life times, etc?
      I never thought we’d get back to ‘pre-COVID’ normalcy (which, really, was it working anyway?) but always figured we’re all trying to learn how to navigate during/post COVID life in a responsible and productive manner.
      I like the phrase, “Just wear the d@*# mask” it does indeed make a difference.
      Hang in there, Laura.

  18. Ally Bean

    I like your logic for what you packed. Of course, you needed to take your sewing machine. Lovely to see that you had the opportunity to get together with those you love. So little of that anymore, which makes your visit all the more poignant.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Poignant – good word choice. Thanks for stopping by, Ms Bean.

  19. petespringerauthor

    How nice! I especially like how you were able to celebrate your daughter’s accomplishment. A PhD is an impressive feat.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, it is indeed, thanks for the recognition of that! She defended her thesis in April on ZOOM – a new procedure at the time and now perhaps becoming the norm? Time will tell.

  20. Puzzles of the Soul

    Good to see you getting out and about visiting family. Congratulations to your daughter on her PhD. Great photos. Blessings

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks! It was the perfect window of opportunity that we just couldn’t (and didn’t want to) pass up!
      take care

      • Puzzles of the Soul

        Brilliant it worked out. Take care too.

  21. Alien Resort

    It’s October and I just now realized how nice and symmetrical this year’s Roman Numerals are.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yep…looks very cool IMHO!

  22. rl2b2017

    Hi Laura! Love, love, LOVE this. Together and Family. Yes! I’m sure all of you feel so much more happy and content having spent some precious time together. Love the pomp and ceremony celebration which is even more meaningful since the real one has been canceled. Congrats to Michelle. {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, we’ve stoked up on the vibes and times of being together! And even Jude, the quilt eating cat, was eager to be a part of it all! HA!

  23. Marty

    I really am jealous of your travels, especially since we both have family in Michigan too. My eldest sister lived in Lansing for over 30 years (she’s now in Ann Arbor), so I have great memories of long visits there. Glad you got there and back safely.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, Marty. Then you know about that fantastic institution known as “Elderly Instruments” And as a little FYI: s-i-l works for the Lansing Symphony whose office is around the corner from where that photo was taken of them in front of the Capital!

  24. L. Marie

    Yay! So lovely to see these photos and the video, Laura! What a lovely time it looks like you had. So glad you could repair those quilts! (Oh Jude! I hope you won’t chew on them again!) Michelle looks so happy!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Nothing like Family to help us get on with the work of ‘living’ eh?

  25. susiesopinions

    So pleased you did ?

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