The 52 Lists Project #22

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List your favorite places you have been:

  • Chicago, Illinois. This may be the largest city I’ve ever visited, and I love it: the architecture, the art, the shops and restaurants, and the many things to see and do. I am interested in its history, and our family history there. My grandmother was raised in Chicago. She learned to drive on the old rail tracks. Her mother, as a small child, was one of the survivors of the Iroquois Theater fire. Her father predicted, when he saw buildings being erected on what had been a landfill along the shoreline, that the foundation would erode and compromise the structures. Grandma took great pride, at eighty years old, of telling us that her father was correct, and that recent news stories were telling of all the expense of saving the skyscrapers, which were too heavy for the foundation they were built on. I have good memories of visits to Chicago with sisters and daughters and friends, of good meals, sight-seeing in the daytime, and night-life adventures.
  • East Lansing, Michigan. For the beautiful campus that welcomed and sheltered my little family, and for the experience, growth and knowledge I gained there, this place will always be one of my favorites.
  • Northern California. I flew in to San Francisco, stayed in San Jose, and visited Calaveras County. We drove through the mountains one night at sunset, to Lake Tahoe, and returned as the sun was rising the next morning.
  • Grand Turk Island, in the British West Indies. I spent time there on a working vacation as a laborer on an archaeological dig. I traveled alone. It was a lovely place and I learned a great deal about archaeology, the history of the area, and the Taino people. The trip stands as one of the biggest adventures in my life.
  • Kissimmee, Florida. Four of my sisters and I traveled from Michigan to Florida in the winter after my mother’s death. My sister, Nita, came from Texas to join us.  Brenda had arranged for our lodging in a luxurious resort. The weather was heavenly. We talked and laughed and played games. We walked to shop and see the sights. Mostly, though, it was a sharing and healing time for all of us. For that reason alone, it is one of my favorite memories.
  • Beaver Island, Michigan. This was always my favorite place to visit as a child, and the place I always wanted to live. I have to admit that, having lived here now for over thirty years, some of the magic has faded. This can be a lonely and difficult place to be. Winters are hard; mosquitoes are vicious; everything is expensive. Still, sitting on the beach to watch the sun go down over the water, driving through the woods after dark, or coming around that last curve into town – with the view of the lighthouse and the harbor laid out just like a postcard – can always bring the magic back.

Saturday, Rain

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The dogs have an almost identical rainy day routine. When, at their request, I open the door, they look out, sniff the air, shake their head twice, take one step back, then rush outside. They come back quicker than usual, anxious to be inside again. Their coats are damp when I run my hands along their back to tell them, “Good Girl.” Not so wet, today, that they spray me with droplets when they shake off the moisture. Not so wet that I have to get the towel to rub them down.

This is a mild rain, soft and steady.

It’s helping, though, to alleviate the dryness and dust. The air smells clear and all the colors are brightened. Buds seem to have magically appeared on the grapevines, that looked like dead twigs just a couple days ago. The grass is growing so fast, you can hardly tell what areas of the yard I mowed. Suddenly, with a little rain, we have moved from Early Spring (when the snow is gone and “thank God for that!” and “it’s not one of those big-mud seasons, that’s good”, but nothing s really happening and “what will the summer bring?”) to Spring, fully arrived, in all of it’s lushness and glory.

There’s nothing quite as nice as a gentle rain!

Respite

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I have, as has become my usual, plenty to complain about. I have been so tired lately, I can hardly think straight. It is starting to take a toll. I was so grouchy yesterday at work, my co-workers could hardly stand me.

This time of year gets so busy, so quickly, whether we know it’s coming or not, it’s impossible to prepare for it. Compounding the Memorial Day rush of people coming to Beaver Island to open their summer homes, the hardware store has, over the course of the last week, received:

  • a new four-foot display of Milwaukee drill bits and accessories,
  • a new eight-foot display of paint color samples,
  • about four hundred gallons of paint including new products all needing to be arranged on shelves,
  • several boxes of T-shirts and other gift shop items,
  • a large shipment of dog food,
  • a huge hardware store order and
  • two large orders of plants: flowering annuals and perennials, shrubs, fruit trees, vegetables and herbs.

On top of all that, the owner is taking veterinary appointments, running for office and rehearsing for a play. Of the employees, every single one of us has other jobs – often several – to contend with in our spare time.

I do the scheduling for the hardware store. I make a good wage, but I don’t get extra for doing the schedule. I try to carefully consider what every one wants in terms of hours or days, with respect to their families and other obligations. My goal is to have enough help without being over-staffed. It seems I have almost never gotten it right. Days like yesterday, when exhaustion has put me in a bad mood anyway, I’d like to hand that job over to the next person that speaks up about it, and let them see how thankless it is!

Thank God I have dogs!

If I didn’t have dogs, I would think of twelve things that should be tackled right away when I stepped into my house, and there would be no pause after work. Dogs need fresh air and sunshine, though, after being home all day. Dogs need love and attention.

When I get home from work, their smiles and wagging tails welcome me. We load in the car for a drive to Fox Lake. Windows down to let in the breeze, the drive alone helps to release tension. At the lake, the dogs explore and play. Sometimes I take photos; sometimes I read. I let the view of the water and the movement of the trees do their work. By the time we pile into the car for the ride home, I have let go of all of the day’s aggravations.

Then, I’m ready for the evening’s work.

Timeout for Art: Just Art?

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collagraph, Touch Point

In response to my request for ideas to fill these pages every day, one friend suggested that I just post a picture of a piece of art:

“Just the art. No description needed. Just something you did. That we can appreciate (because we will!). Let us see the art and add our thought/feeling that it provokes……”

Well bless her heart! That sounds wonderful! Not only would I not be needing to make art to talk about, I wouldn’t even need to talk…or write.

But is it cheating? Unfortunately, it feels kind of like cheating. If I commit to writing a blog a day…and then manage it, through hell and high water, for one hundred and forty-five days…I don’t want to take the chance that someone will pull out a rule book and tell me I failed because a blog means words or some such nonsense. So i will write, dammit, even if it’s foolish drivel like this.

Another friend suggested that I post a piece of art and talk about it:

“How about talking about one piece of art that you created per week and any memories surrounding that piece?”

Well, just to avoid the “foolish drivel” designation, let me give a little background.

This is a collagraph print. It is made using a collagraph plate that I created when I was a graduate student at Michigan State University. I was in a not-always-successful relationship; I had two teen-aged daughters; I had a killer schedule of work and classes; I was often desperately lonely for my home on the island. In the middle of a long winter, I got a card from my friend, Topper, on Beaver Island. He gave me all the “news” from home, most of it lies and invention, and it made me feel connected when I most needed it.

I made the collage from his card and letter: I cut the heart from the card stock; the envelope contributed the rectangle shapes; some worn out sandpaper scraps formed the wing-like bits on either side of the heart. Drops of glue march across the top border. It makes me think of a stage, with the curtains pulled back…and there is the heart, exposed, open, sharing.

I titled it “Touch Point.”

Two Days

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Monday and Tuesday are my days off. This week, as always, I had big plans. I was going to give my house a good cleaning after getting caught up on all the chores, clean up the yard and mow the lawn, work in the garden, finish the next issue of the Beacon, write letters, pay  bills, do some long overdue paperwork, get into the studio, play with the dogs, do a little reading, of course write every day and (big drum roll here, please…) catch up on my rest.

Monday, I was out of bed at 6:30. The dogs were fairly frantic, afraid that I had overslept. They couldn’t be convinced otherwise…might as well get up. I got my writing in early, over morning coffee. I ran a sink full of soapy water and did up the dishes I had neglected the night before. I worked my way through two big loads of laundry.

Time, then, to douse myself with mosquito repellent before heading outdoors. I finished moving a big pile of pine chips that the tree trimmer had left on the lawn. They are handy for keeping weeds out of the front walkway, and as mulch around strawberries and Rhododendrons. Still, I wish I had thought to ask him to leave them somewhere off the lawn. As it was, they had to be completely moved away before I could mow.

I moved two chairs and a bench off the lawn, picked up a half dozen dog toys, a few sticks and my clothesline pole. I raked the leaves from the back flower bed, from the north side of the house, from the rosebushes in front, and from around the cherry trees. I gassed up the mower, then cut the grass in the back yard to the fence line and the side yard up to the shed. Those areas are closest to the doors I use most, and are filled with fast-growing quack grass that harbors mosquitoes. They had to be done first.

Hot and exhausted, I walked the dogs, next, then did some paperwork inside during the hottest part of the day. Later, I went back to weeding, watering and mulching in the garden. I intended to finish mowing the grass, but it was almost dinner time. I opted for a shower, and a quiet dinner. There was always Tuesday.

Between dinnertime and bedtime, I gathered photos and typed a short article for the news-magazine, wrote to my daughter about a couple formatting issues, took a phone call, and watched on episode of The West Wing on Netflix.

Tuesday, I let the dogs out and back in at 5:30, then managed to sleep in until eight o’clock. Two phone calls alerted me that the contractors were coming to the hardware store today, to set up our new paint rack. I wanted to be there, as paint is my department, so I scheduled it in. Coffee, writing and  bill paying were next. I then went through old blog posts to find some to use for my radio broadcast, and wrote Kevin to schedule that in. I went through the draft – sent in a PDF file – of the next Beacon and made notes for changes and corrections.  Outside with the dogs, then in to take a shower and get ready to drive to town.

My first stop was the hardware to print out the writings I’d use for my Island Reflections, then to the Post Office. The bank was next, then to McDonough’s Market to replenish their rack with Beacons. A short visit with Sue, at her little gallery, then on to the Community Center to do my recording. I finished just in time to make it to the hardware to meet the contractors and watch the installation of the new color display. Back to McDonough’s Market, then, for a few groceries, and on to Aunt Katie’s to do her floors.

Home again, in time to take the dogs down to Fox Lake for a romp, then supper, more paperwork, then bed.

Two days are never as long as they need to be, for the things I want to fill them with!

 

What Next?

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Today, a mere one hundred and forty-five days into this year-long writing commitment, I’m beginning to wonder how I’ll fill the rest of the days.

Sundays are okay.  The 52 Lists Project is designed for one each week. There are thirty Sundays left in this year, and thirty lists yet to write.

That leaves one hundred and ninety-one days.

Timeout for Art – which has been filling the Thursday slot – has become pathetic. I have exhausted all angles of talking about art right down to complaining about my lack of time for art. I think I should put it on the shelf until I actually make some art to talk about.

I have almost come to the end of my list of addresses. If I stretch them out to the absolute maximum, they still won’t fill more than five or six days.

I wrote about one failed business, and have two others I could write about, on two separate days.

I could (dread!) go back to those thirty days of Creative Fire writing prompts that I hated so much I quit after only seven days. Even if I can bring myself to do that, there are just 23 of those left.

You see my problem.

I need direction. Without proper motivation, this blog will devolve into nothing but the rantings of a self-absorbed, over-worked, dog-loving whiner.

I’m open to suggestions!

Adjustment

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One week ago, I brought Darla home to Beaver Island. I didn’t want a second dog for my own sake, but rather to enrich the life of my little dog, Rosa Parks. I knew she could use more exercise; I felt she’d be happier with a dog that – being of the same species – would understand her better than a human could. One veterinarian explained to me that only another dog would have the same acute senses of smell and hearing, and so would be able to share their experience. It all seemed very sensible at the time.

Well, we are all getting used to each other. No matter about shared experience, it seems that both Darla and Rosa Parks think they’d prefer to be an only dog. They relate to me – the human – better than to the other dog; they both love me…but are still deciding whether they even like each other. They vie for attention whenever I’m around.

They do relate to one another, though. When one hears a sound, they both erupt into fits of mad barking. When one pees, the other one runs right over to pee on the same spot. Sometimes that goes on so long, I wonder where they continue to come up with the pee! When one finds an interesting smell, the other one rushes right over to investigate. When one needs to go outside, the other one follows.

Darla is obsessive about food. She is mild-mannered most of the time, but takes issue when edibles are in the picture. Rosa Parks is an instigator. She’ll bark to announce the invasion of a bird, snake or chipmunk, then sit back while Darla does the chasing. Together, when they are getting along, they seem intent on mischief. It’s as if they are a couple of teen-aged hoodlums, forming a gang.

At Miller’s Marsh they sat together on the shore, barking at a flock of geese in the water. At Iron Ore Bay, where the smell of fish is in the air, and the beach is covered with seaweed, they both developed acute deafness. Neither one could hear me call, when it was time to go. Yesterday, with Darla for back-up, Rosa ran right toward the road, intent on chasing a car. Rosa has never been a car-chaser!

Just like with children, a second one is not twice as difficult; it’s more like ten or twenty times harder. The whole dynamic changes. I think we’re going to be fine…eventually…but right now, we’re all still adjusting.

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