Running Late

Standard

june2016 215

Yesterday was a long, hard day.

At the hardware store, I was up and down stairs, on and off of ladders, and carrying heavy gallon jugs from the back of the store to the front. I took a break in order to run down to the Community Center to do a recording. Home in the evening, I wandered the property to get the ripe blackberries. By the time I was ready to come in for the night, I was exhausted. Too tired to read, to write, or even to think.

In case today goes the same way, I thought I’d better get my writing done before I leave the house. Still, there’s hardly time. After getting up three times in the night to let the dogs out, I hit the snooze button on the alarm clock a couple times too often this morning. I wandered around the yard with the dogs while the coffee brewed. I showered as soon as I came in. I sat down here with my first cup of coffee, intending to write. I had a few ideas to choose between and expand on…until I noticed the time.

Already, I should be in my car and on my way to town. Instead, I am sitting here in my bathrobe. I still have to dress, pack a lunch, pack a thermos, prepare my little dog’s medicine, and give both dogs a treat before heading out the door.

I’m late. Again!

Timeout for Art: Color

Standard

collagraph8

I don’t remember the title of this small collagraph, approximately 9″ x 18″.

I put the plate together with the intention of having a foil for experimenting with different color combinations. The large, overlapping areas that take up most of the picture plane have contrasting textures to add interest and weight to whatever colors I use there. The small band of organic shapes across the bottom lets me pull in bits of complementary or contrasting hues, for balance. Some combinations worked better than others, of course, but all expanded my experience.

I like this one, with that large mass of pink.

A Day Off

Standard

september2015 019

It’s my birthday. I’m not writing today. My gift to any who come looking: a poem by one of my favorites, Mary Oliver.

August

When the blackberries hang

swollen in the woods, in the brambles

nobody own, I spend

all day among the high

branches, reaching

my ripped arms, thinking

of nothing, cramming

the black honey of summer

into my mouth; all day my body

accepts what it is. In the dark

creeks that run by there is

this thick paw of my life darting among

the black bells, the leaves; there is

this happy tongue.

Tuesday: Exercises in Writing #12

Standard

july2016 406

Today’s writing prompt comes from the website thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts. The one I chose suits me today, as I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately. According to Professor Richard Wiseman, scientific studies support the notion that simple gratitude is one of the quickest and easiest ways to change the level of happiness or contentment in your life. My mother would agree. She was big on counting blessings. Because tomorrow is my birthday, and I’ve been struggling with the idea of a list, I think this is it!

Gratitude: Write a poem or journal entry that is all about things you are thankful for.

I am grateful for:

  1. my father, who taught me about hard work and hard laughter, who loved children and chickens and growing things, who always tried hard, and maybe suffered from a lack of appreciation and respect. Sometimes it takes a few years to see how important a person is, in the big picture.
  2. My mother, who lived her life without preaching to her children about how we should live ours, but who – when death was near – demonstrated beautifully all the essential elements of a good life: faith, kindness, strength and love.
  3. My siblings, each for their own good reasons, but first Brenda who will always be older than me…I am forever grateful for that!
  4. Ted, my first brother;
  5. Sheila, who loved a daring adventure, and often turned her life upside-down for it;
  6. Cheryl, who truly lives every single day;
  7. Nita, who has given me some of the best laughs of my life;
  8. Robin, who’s enthusiasm is contagious;
  9. David, for – and in spite of – his crazy view of the world;
  10. Darla, who lives forever in my mind as a beautiful pink-faced infant with a Cupid’s bow mouth and deep blue eyes;
  11. Amy, the baby;
  12. and Bobby, the little one we didn’t get time to know, but always loved anyway.
  13. Brad, who – though not a brother – has always seemed like a member of the family.
  14. My former husband, Terry, who was with me through so many moments of my young adulthood, I can’t imagine that I’d be the same person if I’d lived that part of my life without him.
  15. Dena, a sister-in-law, who has always felt like family to me.
  16. Pat and Jack, my mother and father-in-law who were in exactly the right place in my life, when I needed them.
  17. My daughters: Jen, who at her birth forever changed my view of life and what’s important in it,
  18. and Kate, who’s view of the world has often opened my eyes. Both girls have given me more love, laughter, joy and good memories than I would have ever imagined possible.
  19. My grandchildren, each one a joy: Mikey, who called me this morning for a chicken recipe and a heart-to-heart talk;
  20. Brandon, whose stubborn moodiness is overshadowed by his brilliant smile;
  21. sweet Madeline, who loves animals and Paris, and who once told me that I am “the nicest woman in North America” (which, by the way, might be a great line for my tombstone!);
  22. Tommy, whose smile and gentle disposition make me happy;
  23. and Patrick, whose face shows his curious, thoughtful nature.
  24. The aunts and uncles and cousins who shaped my childhood,
  25. and the nieces and nephews that have enriched my adult life.
  26. The friends that I’ve known since childhood, who remind me, by their presence, of who I am based on the child that I was.
  27. The friends that I’ve gained at various points of my adult life, that have helped me form and solidify parts of my character.
  28. Linda, who fits both categories, having come into my life at a young age…and stayed.
  29. Many teachers over the years, but first: Sister Marietta, whose beauty and kindness opened my eyes to a whole new world;
  30. Miss Timpone, who taught me to love literature;
  31. Mrs. Bates, who made Art History resonate;
  32. Doug Warner, who broke down the elements of design so that growth was inevitable;
  33. Tom Nuzum, who encouraged innovation in art-making;
  34. Pat Mishina, who changed all of my ideas about what art could be;
  35. Marcia Watson, who gave me a love of clay;
  36. Noah Alonso, who helped me push all limits in ceramics, and who – years later – kindly related to visiting friends that I was one of the best students he ever had;
  37. Jim Fiegan, who opened my eyes to print-making and all the wonders of Collagraphy;
  38. Mary Blockma, my friend, accomplished writer, artist, entrepreneur and  wonderful teacher;
  39. Jim Stambaugh, who never taught me, but whose lessons I’d overhear when I was working at the school, and whose kindness made my life richer;
  40. and Donna Stambaugh, whose classroom I was honored to work in, for the chance to watch her educate, elevate and inspire.
  41. My dogs, who make me smile every day: Rosa Parks, who presence has given me comfort and joy;
  42. and Darla, who is a wonderful walking companion and has gotten me moving again.
  43. The waters all around me: Lake Michigan, for it’s size and majesty,
  44. offering big waves and sunsets over the water at Donegal Bay,
  45. and long stretches of white sand beaches,
  46. driftwood,
  47. shells,
  48. feathers,
  49. and smooth stones;
  50. Fox Lake, for it’s proximity to my house, with calming water views and colors in the fall;
  51. Barney’s Lake for the surprise it always offers, coming down the hill toward it;
  52. Miller’s Marsh for the water lilies and beaver-chewed stumps, and for the dozens of little frogs that enjoy the cool shore;
  53. and Font Lake for a sweet memory of fishing there with a friend.
  54. My little, unfinished, falling apart house, for the warmth and shelter it provides.
  55. My studio space, for the possibilities there.
  56. My desk and computer and the ability to write.
  57. My big, old, round, wood dining room table.
  58. My mother’s cedar chest.
  59. The funky little coffee table I made from an old suitcase.
  60. My little piece of land here, with the woods and the wildflowers, old maple trees, wild blackberries, and a spot for a garden.
  61. The trees all around me, in every season of the year.
  62. Books: those I’ve read, and the ones I have yet to read.
  63. My dependable little car.
  64. This life, and all it has brought to me so far.

 

 

 

Kids and Dogs…and Horses

Standard

july2016 327

Once, it seems like a hundred years ago (at those times when it doesn’t seem like just yesterday…), I was in the esteemed position of raising two precious little girls. They were not quite three years apart in age. Jenny, being the oldest, was usually the first to discover and act on little divergences from our normal acceptable behavior.

Jenny was a good girl, and they were minor infractions. Still, whether it was blowing bubbles in her milk at dinnertime, bouncing on the furniture or arguing about bedtime, there were times when I would remind her of the rules, and suggest the responsibility of being a big sister. She should try to be a good influence for Katey, I would tell her, and show by example the way we should behave.

That’s when Katey, who up to that point had been innocent, would get involved. I could always see it coming. First the slight raised eyebrow, then an expression that showed both thoughtfulness and determination. She’d give me that sideways eye, then proceed to do exactly what I had just scolded her sister for doing!

The message was clear: she would rather be in Jenny’s camp, no matter what the consequences.

I am now in the fortunate position of sharing my life and my home with two nice dogs. I make no excuses for talking to them as we go through the day. Not constantly – we’re a fairly quiet bunch – but enough. Sometimes it’s just random chatter; other times it’s flattery, scolding or reassurance. “Good girls, going outside together,” I’ll encourage them, or, “I think we’re fine, girls,” as they madly bark at the road truck passing by.

Yesterday, we were out in the front yard together. I was gathering sticks and branches that had fallen during the storm, checking the blackberry bushes and taking clothes down from the line. Darla and Rosa Parks were chasing scents: wild turkeys had been in the yard. They each found smelly patches to roll in, so that they could carry that odor through the day. Darla took off, then, through the thick brush beyond the maple trees, with Rosa Parks on her heels. The partridge they were interested in took flight, and Darla came right back into the yard.

“Where’s your sister?” I asked her, “Where did you leave Rosa Parks?”

Rosa Parks is still nursing a dislocated kneecap. Though any exercise she will take is good for her, she can’t always manage to get over, around and up onto things the way she used to. In her enthusiasm to be on a hunt with the big dog, she had managed to get over logs and through brambles. The way back was a different story. “You can’t just leave Rosa Parks behind,” I told Darla as I scrambled through the underbrush to retrieve my little dog, “You have to watch out for her.”

Just as we were all safely back in the front yard, two riders on horseback came down the road. The big dog, barking, bounded down the driveway. “Darla, NO,” I shouted with enough authority to give her pause. That’s when I noticed Rosa Parks. First a slight, raised eyebrow. Next, a look of both thoughtfulness and determination. That old, telling sideways eye. Then, she went tearing down the driveway to chase after the horses!

The message, once again, is crystal clear.

 

The 52 Lists Project #34

Standard

 

june2016 431

List the things that make you excited:

  • Family or friends coming to visit.
  • A new issue of the Beaver Island Beacon getting published.
  • Getting mail.
  • Receiving packages.
  • A new book.
  • Christmas season.
  • New socks.
  • Big, flashing, booming thunderstorms.
  • A brand new journal.
  • Art supplies.
  • Visiting galleries.
  • Changing seasons, the good stuff, only: the first tulip opening in the spring; the first hot summer day; the first golden leaves of autumn; the first snowfall.
  • A bargain, when it is something I needed anyway.

One Productive Day

Standard

july2016 148

Oh, my gosh, that title deserves an exclamation point!

The countdown is on, with just a few days until my birthday. This will be my sixty-fourth. That seems as momentous as any of the thirty, forty, fifty, sixty milestone birthdays, and even more meaningful than the sixty-fifth. Why? Well, sixty-five no longer means retirement. Even if I were not on the “work until death” track, sixty-six would be the minimum desired age for retirement considering social security benefits. “Sixty-five” is still more than a year away, while “sixty-four” is right here. Finally and most importantly, because the Beatles sang about age sixty-four. It’s been in my head for weeks…”Will ya still need me, will ya still feed me…when I’m sixty-four?”

So, with a momentous birthday coming up, I’ve been making self-improvement plans. My birthday is second only to January first when it comes to recharging and renovating my entire life. So far, I have started reading The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, 59 Seconds (Think a little, Change a lot) by Professor Richard Wiseman, and 52 Small Changes (One year to a happier, healthier you) by Brett Blumenthal. I’m also working through a book of inspirational quotes that my sister Brenda gave me. I scheduled a mammogram. I started a new journal. As a gift to myself, I met with a psychic/ Tai Chi instructor/ reiki healer for an insightful session. I have plans to get a new haircut, improve my diet and solidify an exercise habit. I am going to do better about making this house a pleasant place to be. This is just the beginning!

Yesterday was a good start. I accomplished a great deal in nine hours at work. I restocked shelves, then went down the housewares, paint, caulk and cleaning aisles to add items to this week’s order. I tidied areas of the basement and brought up all the corrugated cardboard for recycle. I organized the overhead storage of buckets, cleaning products and drywall corner bead. Finally, near the end of the day and with Kathleen’s help, I brought the Libman display upstairs and started putting it together.

After work, I filled the car up with gas, came home, picked up the dogs and took them to Fox Lake. I did not carry the little dog to the car when I wanted to leave, but waited until the dogs were ready to go. It was a humid day, and they were loving the water. Rosa Parks went in swimming six times! Darla waded the shoreline, investigating prints left by horses in the sand. We didn’t get home until after eight o’clock. By then, they were wondering why I was so late with their dinner!

While the dogs were eating, I put what was left of a roast chicken in a big pot of water with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms, to make soup. I hooked up my new dryer vent, and did a load of wash. I washed a sink full of accumulated bowls, cups and silverware, took the compost out to the bin, swept the kitchen, then sat down to supper…at eleven o’clock at night. It was a really productive day. I don’t know how many more of them I can stand!