Treating Garden Island

Standard

Originally posted on Beaver Island Phragmites Control:

garden island 014

Although I’ve been working as Phragmites Administrator for a year, I’ve had little firsthand experience with the plant or its treatment.

Oh, I can identify Phragmites. I can distinguish between the native plant and the invasive species. I’ve been learning a lot about its growth, spread and habits, and the many ways scientists and conservationists are working to keep it under control. I’ve seen some pretty frightening photographs of areas where Phragmites has run rampant. I’ve gone through the records of our treatment here on Beaver Island and the smaller surrounding islands in this archipelago.

My contribution, though, has been mostly in the form of paperwork and reports.

That all changed yesterday.

To learn more about the work involved in treating invasive Phragmites, I went along yesterday as part of the crew. An old, clumsy and untrained crew member, but nonetheless…

I had no idea!

Unable to find transportation to…

View original 783 more words

Golden

Standard

sept2013 001

Today was a long and – it seems – an extremely hard day.

It started yesterday, in fact, and continued into today.

I won’t indulge my urge to  tell all the details, complete with lots of sighs and whining.

Enough to say it was difficult on many levels, with high stress and physical exhaustion.

By the time I got home, I was ready to collapse.

But, the dogs had been inside all day; they wanted to run in the fresh air, to run and roll and sniff.

We went for a long walk.

The air was crisp; the mosquitoes weren’t bad; mud puddles were avoidable. I picked a few blackberries.

Home again, I wandered through the garden…picked a few things that were ready.

I noticed the potato plants had just about disappeared. If I didn’t dig potatoes soon, I wouldn’t be able to find them.  I got the shovel.

Inside, an hour later, I wrote a couple necessary Emails and took a couple phone calls.

I fed the dogs.

I rinsed the potatoes and put the large, beautiful ones in a basket. I peeled a half dozen tiny, acorn-sized ones, one that had grown too close to the surface and needed a green patch cut away, one that I’d split in two with the shovel and one that had a scabby skin.

I chopped them all into fry-able slices. To a bit of olive oil and a bit of butter in my cast iron pan, I added a diced onion, a small, chopped green pepper, three small summer squashes, sliced, in shades of yellow and green, four quartered cherry tomatoes and all of the sliced potatoes.

When everything was tender, and there was a nice golden crust on the bottom, I tossed a handful of grated cheese on top, and continued to cook until it was nicely melted.

I served it up in my favorite bowl and ate until I was full.

I’m having blackberries for dessert…then a long soak in a hot, scented bath. With a book. Then bed.

This day wasn’t so bad after all!

 

 

Timeout for Art: My Daughter’s Work

Standard

katey's3

Alas, once again, I have no new sketches of my own.

This is the amazing work of my daughter, Kate.

Kate is the mother of four.

She is a full-time tattoo artist.

She’s a nursing student.

And…she has started this wonderful new series of drawings based on her facebook friends. Some she has known all her life, some are new friends and some she knows only through the social media site.

katey's2

I could try to take some credit for her incredible talent.

She did start out by abusing my precious art supplies, after all.

I could berate myself for my lack of output.

On that note, Nat, (whose The Smallest Forest blog inspires me, makes me giggle or brings me to tears)made me laugh out loud when doing exactly that. “I have managed to make a pot of coffee every morning for the past 16 years of my life, or something like that,” she wrote. That is something to think about!

katey's

I think I’ll just let you appreciate her sweet drawings, as I do!

Procrastination, Pain and the Best-Laid Plans

Standard

late aug 004

First, Procrastination.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a procrastinator. I put things off until the last possible moment. I let deadlines loom large. I allow energy provided by adrenaline  to drive me through the finish.

Panic would be another suitable “P” word, as I let things go sometimes until I am on the edge of nervous meltdown.

Perfectionism might be another. I read somewhere that procrastination is a direct result of having paralyzingly high standards, of knowing that even the best efforts will not be good enough. I like that idea, mainly because it sounds infinitely more flattering than other definitions.

Like lazy. Slothful. Indolent. Slow.

Whatever the cause, I have learned to work with it.

I create imaginary early deadlines to get the adrenaline pumping.

I plot for eleventh hour marathons to meet commitments.

I imagine “worst-case scenarios” and plan how to deal with it.

Mainly, I go easy on myself. Some deadlines are self-imposed and more flexible. I concentrate first on the ones that are not.

I do hate to disappoint.

These last few weeks have been an exercise in shuffling commitments, balancing activities and trying hard not to let anyone down.

Much of it is out of my control. People are leaving, plans are changing, businesses are closing for the season.

It seems that most everything is in flux right now. With five jobs to consider, I am juggling. My thoughts are swirling!

I can increase my hours at the hardware store – and must complete a couple orders and consider how the scheduling will work out and who will be filling in while I and others can’t be there – but not until after the Phragmites treatment is completed this year, and I have to arrange for time off from the hardware  during treatment, which dates have changed due to permits taking longer than expected, and for that I have to right away get copies made and papers filled out, volunteers called and transportation secured and all the “i”s dotted and “t”s crossed so that funding is secured and treatment is successful and because of the later dates, must make other arrangements to get Aunt Katie to her doctor’s visit on the mainland, and have to schedule a time this week to pack up and move my artwork from the summer gallery into my storage – which is non-existent since I haven’t had time to organize my studio – and vegetables and blackberries are ripening on the vines and need to be taken care of and – now, after a quick phone call – while I’m in town today be sure to pick up a couple bottles of household cleaner for Aunt Katie’s house so it’s there when I need it on Wednesday and deal with the two love seats still stored in her pole barn…

And all of this exacerbated by Pain.

Because, one week ago, buoyed by a day without one hundred obligations, I decided to paint the bedroom floor. That was the first step, only, in plans that included putting covers on the outlets, trim around the closets and baseboard around the perimeter of the room in order to have one room in my house finished. It was a humble goal…foiled by the fact that in carefully moving an empty bookcase a short distance, I put my back out.

Followed by visits to the Medical Center, heat therapy, ice-packs, muscle-relaxers and pain pills,  two nights of sleeping on the living room floor (that I wish I had swept more thoroughly when I was able!), one and a half days of missed work, every day walking carefully, treating myself tenderly, doing as much as possible in an ibuprofen fog, cursing myself for the things that I should have done sooner as slowly I start to feel normal again…

As for the Best-Laid Plans, well…

 

 

 

Days Gone By

Standard

poppies and  later flowers 026

 

Here it is, the first of September.

Another summer season gone.

Where?

These flowers open and bloom for one day.

Sometimes I notice how beautiful they are.

Sometimes I pay attention to all of the blossoms, and how many buds are waiting to open.

Too often I see how many spent blooms need to be removed.

Maybe that’s the gardener in me.

Maybe it has  more to do with age, or just my perspective of the world.

I find myself – too often – looking with pensive sadness at days gone by, unretrievable, rather than the days ahead.

Rather, even, than this present, precious day.

September is a time of change on Beaver Island.

The Labor Day weekend marks the end of our tourist season. Children are soon going back to school. Summer residents and visitors are packing up and closing cabins. There is a hint of Fall and the premonition of Winter in our cool nights and chilly mornings. The growing season is nearing its end.

This is a time of good-byes.

My birthday, falling near the end of August, gets my mind going to times past and years gone by.

The melancholy persists with the end of Summer and all the changes it brings.

Punctuated, this year, by the death of a dear one.

Bill Cashman was a good friend to Beaver Island. Map-maker, builder, writer, historian…Bill wore many hats, and wore them all with a dapper sensitivity to this island and its people. He had a keen knack for seeing and encouraging the strengths of any individual. He was a champion of lost-causes and long-shots, and often doggedly pursued an idea that he deemed worthy when all around him were prepared to abandon it.

Bill was a long and good friend to me. He hired my husband and took an interest in our family. He supplied some of the materials to build our little house. He supported me early on in my artistic endeavors, and later helped to set up a website to feature my Collagraph work. He visited my house several times to see my new work and  take notes on my processes. Bill encouraged and promoted my writing, through all my lazy, procrastinating tactics to avoid it.

I ran into Bill in the Post Office just two days before he died. Both on the run, we exchanged pleasantries.

He’d been battling cancer for quite some time. He was skinny and pale, but had a bounce in his step and a twinkle in his eye.

“Good!” was his emphatic response to my “How are ya?”

Bill knew how to appreciate the present moment!

As we move into the shortening days of Autumn, through sad good-byes and seasons past, I aspire to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timeout for Art: Worry Stones

Standard

august2014 084

I have large quantities of these small, pale, flat-ish stones. Perhaps they have a name; if so, I don’t know it. My grandchildren would call them skipping stones, as their shape is good for bouncing over the surface of the water. I call them worry stones. I often have at least one in my pocket. When stress, nervousness or worry want to take hold, it’s good to have a bit of nature to grab on to, for support.

The Book List

Standard

shelves 002

Today is my day off…kind of.

I have to clean, blanch, package and freeze a dozen quarts of green beans.

I have to bake a few dozen cookies.

There are phone calls and Emails to respond to.

This afternoon I will go make beds and clean floors at the farmhouse.

This evening I have a dinner engagement with family and friends.

May as well start the day quiet and slow, I think.

Over morning coffee and trips to the door to let the dogs out and in, I typed up my list of 62 Life-Altering Books. If you’re interested, you can find it under the “Books” tab.

“Life-altering” seems like a pretty strong term for some of the titles, but it is true in every case.  Often it was a matter of a particular book falling into my hands at just the right time. Perhaps  my my eyes were opened, my thoughts were altered or my ideas clarified. Maybe I learned something entirely new.  Sometimes it was the beginning of a long, on-going relationship with books in general, or with a particular author or field of study. The cookbooks I mention here are only a sampling of the ones I own and enjoy. The same for gardening and lifestyle books. I have gone on to read every single book by Mark Twain, Alice Walker, Louise Erdrich, Maxine Hong Kingston and Barbara Kingsolver, so the entries that made the list are only my favorite or most memorable.

I can already think of several books that should have made the list but didn’t.

Ah, well.

Putting it together brought back lots of memories.

Memories often lead to stories, don’t they? Here is one:

When I was a young mother living out in the country in a tiny cottage near a lake, my husband brought home The Exorcist. It was a brand new title, on several best-seller lists and getting a lot of press coverage. “Don’t read it…” I warned him, “too scary!” He laughed. Not having been raised in the Catholic faith, as I had been, it didn’t seem as real, as possible or as terrifying to him. He read it. “I will never read it,” I assured him.

When I married my husband Terry, he was in a band. It was pretty common back in the seventies for a few guys to get together and form a group, especially if one or more members could play an instrument. Terry and his cousin, Steve, both played guitar and sang. That was plenty reason enough to start up a band. It consisted of Terry, Steve and whoever else was around and interested. They got together once or twice a week to practice and to drink.

They never got any actual “gigs” so the “band” element kind of faded to the background. By the time my first daughter was born and we’d moved to the lake cottage, it was basically just a routine of Terry taking his guitar and going out drinking with the guys. Terry would leave right after supper – or sometimes even directly from work – and not get home until the bars closed. Shit-faced drunk.

Leaving me at home alone with an infant, no telephone, no car and no adult companionship. At least once a week.

It always resulted in a big argument which usually lasted over several days. It always ended with him swearing that he was finished with the band, done with going out with the guys, and that he’d quit drinking.

That lasted until the weekend.

The next argument was accelerated by the fact that he’d not only gone out drinking, but had broken his promise to me.

It amazes me to look back and know that this pattern of behaviors – on both of our parts – went on for years.

Anyway, one night after dinner, when we were young parents living in the country, Terry started telling me that Steve had a friend who played drums, and they wanted to just get together and see what they could do, music-wise, and he wouldn’t be late and he didn’t even think there would be beer there…and I said, “Sure, right, I’ve heard it all before,” and then the threat, “I swear, if you go, I’m going to read The Exorcist!”

“Don’t you dare…you can’t handle it!”

“Try me!”

He left.

I put the baby to bed, and read The Exorcist, cover to cover.

When Terry came home, sometime after 2AM, I was laying under the covers with my eyes wide open, with every single light in the house on, absolutely terrified.

Which he thought was completely hilarious, and which took the starch out of our usual battle.

He didn’t let it go, though. He continued teasing me, knowing how the story haunted me.

I plotted my revenge.

One particularly scary part had been the appearance of stigmata, as a sign from the devil.

One day, when Terry was relaxing after his shower in a pair of bib overhauls (it was the seventies, after all), I looked, alarmed, at his chest where there were a series of grommets and buttonholes on the front placket.

“What??”

“That wasn’t there before,” I said, pointing to one of the buttonholes.

“Oh, it was, too.” he said, “how else would it get there?”

“I don’t know…but remember that story…?”

He got a nervous look, but we let it go.

The next week, after laundry day, there was a new eyelet on the front placket.

I stared at it until he noticed, then just shook my head and walked away.

Two weeks later, there was a new buttonhole (that I stitched by hand, one night when he was out “with the band”)on the front.

When he put the bibs on, my eyes got wide. “Terry, that is new, I know it! What the hell?!”

When he looked, his eyes took on a look of terror. What followed is what his daughters and I have come to call a “Terry fit” with cursing and pounding walls and raging. He tore off the bib overhauls. I think he was prepared to burn them, until he caught the look on my face.

“Gotcha!”

He never teased me about The Exorcist again!