Even Though…

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I spent more than nine hours today sitting in this computer chair.

I had work to do.

Even though it was a glorious warm and bright day – and lord knows there won’t be many more like this before winter – I worked.

Even though this is the last day off I will have for 33 days – except for October 8th, when I am accompanying my aunt to the mainland for her doctor’s visit – I spent it working.

I had reports to write to the agencies  whose funding assisted with our treatment of invasive species this year. I had a news article to write for our local news magazine reporting on the treatment. I had letters to write with regard to specific issues that came up. I had Emails to answer.

I am not a fast writer. I write, then edit, then rewrite. I search for the correct word or the perfect phrase. I check spelling, definitions and syntax.

Still, it wasn’t all work.

Over coffee this morning, I checked mail, read book reviews and “Brain Pickings,” which arrives in my in-box every Sunday morning. I read several blogs that I follow, and made comments. I checked a familiar social media site for news and events in my family. One nephew ran a 5K today; another went to the zoo with his family. A niece reported that Christmas decorations were already up in a store she visited. I read Phyllis’s weather report. Through the day, during pauses in my writing and thinking processes, I took my turns at “Words with Friends.”

So, maybe seven hours of work, out of the nine I spent sitting in this chair.

It’s not even a particularly comfortable chair.

I did get outside. I have dogs to walk.

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They need exercise…and so do I.

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We need, now and then, just to get out in the fresh air…

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…to walk, and breathe, and appreciate what’s out there.

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So even though there were floors to sweep and towels to fold, weeds to pull and leaves to rake…

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…morning and evening, we spent the best way we could: we just walked.

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Treating Whiskey Island (*sob* without a camera!)

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Originally posted on Beaver Island Phragmites Control:

After two days when weather and transportation woes kept us away from our task, last Thursday was a godsend.

The lake was calm, the day was cool but mild, and transportation was arranged.

On this day, it was just the three contractors: Pam Hilton, Marc Seelye and Christine Miller…and me.

I’d been scheduled to work at another job, but decided last minute that I’d like to get the “full experience,” and rearranged things to make it possible. Having an even number of workers (even one as barely competent as myself) allows for splitting up and thus covering more territory.

As we set out for Whiskey Island, a narrow band of baby blue sky met the steel gray waves at the horizon. Above that, a narrow ribbon of white clouds divided that bit of sky from the ceiling of heavy gray clouds that blocked the sun and were our almost constant…

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Dancing on the Lawn of What’s Left of Summer

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That title is not my own.

It’s a line – I think from a poem – by a writer whose name I should know but don’t.

I think I have an idea where I could find that information, but I don’t dare go looking for it.

If one more single thing distracts me from the task at hand, I may as well throw in the towel.

Trust me…it’s not my line.

I came home from my short day of work today with the very best of intentions.  With the next three days to get caught up on everything, I was determined to give it a good go.

I brought a wall clock home from the hardware store, to fill the blank space on the kitchen wall where a clock used to be, and that I look at a dozen times every day, expecting to still see a clock there. It wasn’t as nice as the one I’d had or the one I wanted as a replacement, but it would serve the purpose.

It turns out, it takes almost an act of Congress to get through the packaging on that ten dollar clock!

First the hard plastic, impenetrable clam shell…and where did I put the scissors? Then two Phillips-head screws had to be removed to detach the clock from the display box.

I spent a half-hour looking for a Phillips head screwdriver before digging my electric drill out of the closet – which needed to be charged before it would work – and finally used a table knife to loosen the screws and release my new clock.

By that time, neither I nor the dogs wanted to be in the house any longer, so we headed down the road.

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We’ve had several days of wind and rain, with an autumn-like chill in the air…but when did the season change?

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By the time we got home, I was sure we were facing frost.

Tonight!

I grabbed a bucket, and picked whatever blackberries were ready for picking. I gathered every green bean,  pepper and summer squash that was out there. I picked all the red tomatoes, then all the nearly-red tomatoes, then any that – if I get terribly lucky – just might ripen on a window sill.

With the day’s vegetable harvest, I started a pasta sauce.

I also began writing the first of four reports I have to complete over the next couple days.

Because I’m crazy, I also started rearranging the living room furniture.

And a few other incidentals.

So, with the dogs attentive to all the goings-on, coffee brewing, laundry in the washing machine, compost to the bin, sauce simmering, paperwork in progress and – no kidding – the sofa halfway into the dining room, I happened to look outside and notice the marigolds.

Four nice marigold plants, blooming exactly where I’d planted them, on the corners of the beds near the beans, pumpkins and tomatoes. There they stood, ready to repel whatever pests their scent is supposed to repel, or suppress whatever blight in the soil they are supposed to suppress.

Working.

Not knowing that – if we get frost tonight – this is the last day of their lives.

I grabbed the scissors from where I’d used them to wrestle the clock’s packaging into submission, and headed out the door.

Sensing excitement, the big dog came, too.

Detecting a hint of Italian sausage in my mostly vegetable sauce, the little dog opted to stay in and guard the stove.

I cut every bloom.

I snipped all the buds. They may open, yet, inside.

A bit past your prime? Don’t worry! Come hang out with the young ones!

A little raggedy or crooked? No problem! Come and join the party; there are no rejects here!

We’re having end-of-the-summer spaghetti and sauce, and my marigold friends are the stars of the show!

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Treating High Island

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Originally posted on Beaver Island Phragmites Control:

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Winds kept us off Lake Michigan and away from our task on Sunday, but Monday dawned with warm sunshine and calm waters.

We set out to treat invasive Phragmites on High Island.

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As you can see on this map, High Island sits on the west side of Beaver Island (that’s the top portion of Beaver Island in the lower center), and is a much greater distance to travel from our good harbor, than it was to Garden Island the other day.

Weather is always a concern on the great lakes. Last year – and possibly the year before that, too – the treatment on this island was not completed due to inclement weather and travel concerns. We wanted to be sure to attend to it this year..

Dave Blanchard, who had helped us on Garden Island, couldn’t make this trip. Stan Eagle agreed to come along.

[Stan Eagle - a…

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Treating Garden Island

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Originally posted on Beaver Island Phragmites Control:

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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…

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Golden

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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

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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.

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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!

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