Monthly Archives: March 2014

Time Out For Art

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I have come to the conclusion that I never jump into a project with as much enthusiasm as I do when I am doing it in avoidance of another project.

I didn’t just conclude this.

I probably first noticed it fifty years ago, when a homework assignment took on monumental urgency and importance when faced with the job of cleaning my room.

Or, vise versa.

I probably spent several years in denial…convincing myself of the necessity of one thing rather than the other…justifying the clear hierarchy of task importance.

I think I finally spent time pondering it long and hard – and thus finally concluding it – while trying to avoid some other pending deadline.

(Maybe I have A.D.H.D.!)

I have been pretty lax in my blog writing, lately. I planned a blog to say that I have recovered from my “funk” and thank you all very much for your kind and generous thoughts…but I went right from my “funk” into a “fit” of activity that left me no time for writing anything.

(Manic-Depressive?)

It started with a desire to get my bedroom in order.

No, it started with a string of writing commitments.

I had agreed to write an article for the Spring and Summer Newsletter of the Beaver Island Association. Another for the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative. Plus reports for the Northern Islander, the Beaver Island Forum, the Beaver Beacon and Beaver Island News on the Net on the Archipelago Meeting I attended in Lansing last month.

That got me thinking about getting my bedroom organized.

Which led to the necessity of digging out the (non-working) vehicle that I use for storage (a sort of garage-on-wheels), to get to the shelves I had stashed there. Which led to  the decision that the shelves that really belonged in the bedroom were the ones holding cookbooks and gardening books in my kitchen. What followed was a scenario worthy of a full length feature starring Laurel and Hardy.

The kitchen bookcase went upstairs. The kitchen wall got a fresh coat of paint…which forced the decision to put up the nice white shelves that used to be on that wall (because weren’t they just the best?) despite the fact that three of those shelves were now working shelves in my studio, and two others were employed as my desktop in the dining area AND that fitting the shelves in the kitchen would involve moving the all-wood 32 drawer cabinet out of the kitchen (wasn’t it always too large for that small room anyway?) and ultimately out of the house (because there is not another spot it will fit!). Which means that I had to build a new desktop, cut new shelves for the studio and empty the contents from thirty-two drawers!! I have only two shelve up in the studio, as all of this re-structuring left me short on shelf brackets, and they won’t get to the island until  the first boat runs in April. I have the contents of 32 drawers in boxes and bags on my kitchen floor. My dining room table is laden with overflow from drawers and shelves and desktop. Ditto, the kitchen counters. The bedroom is possibly the only room “in order” at this moment.

(Crazy???)

Soooo…faced with all that, of course I got very inspired to get busy in the studio…and then to blog about it.

I’ve been totally negligent about posting art on Thursdays for months now.

In fact, though I’ve had quite a few things underway, I haven’t gotten many things finished in the studio this Winter.

Faced with the disaster I’ve created around me, art-making took on epic importance.

It is Time Out for Art Thursday, after all!

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Where Am I?

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Well, here I am.

I was away from home for two weeks. I attended a meeting in Lansing filled with interesting, knowledgeable and helpful people. I was able to connect and spend time with one daughter, two nieces, one grand niece, one brother and five sisters. Plus assorted and dear in-laws. I went to Nashville with my sisters! I came back from my vacation energized from new sights and sounds and adventures.

And then I ran out of steam.

I’ve been sick. We’re fairly protected, here on Beaver Island, from many of those things that make the rounds in the wintertime. When one manages to get away, it usually results in some sort of contagious nuisance grabbing hold. I came home with a bad head cold that – just when I’d decided a head cold was the worst ailment – moved down into my chest. I truly believe a broken leg would be easier to live with than a bad cold. But then, I’ve never had a broken leg.

My method of dealing with a cold is to mask all symptoms with as many over-the-counter medications I can manage: non-drowsy tablets to get me through the day, and the strongest drowse-inducing liquids for nighttime. So, I’ve been pretty drugged-up.

I came home to still Winter. Normally, the end of February is a good time to get away. Usually, by the first of March, signs of Spring are starting to show even when we’re still in Winter’s grip. The days are longer, the sun is brighter…there is hope. This year, I believe Beaver Island recorded a temperature – or at least a wind chill – of something like 25 below zero on the first of March. And, it wasn’t just a fluke. That was just an average day in the mass of cold days we’ve had this month…finishing off a winter that came early and hit us hard. In fact, today – March 19th, the eve of the first day of Spring – we are getting more snow! I am winter-weary.

I came home broke, and behind in everything. None of my jobs offer “vacation days.” We have a quaint old arrangement that an hour of work results in an hour’s pay. If it doesn’t interfere with business – or the plans of others – it is possible to get time away…but it will not be compensated. This vacation has been on my calendar for months. The fact that this hard winter resulted in less business (so fewer hours of work), higher utility bills and a whole new idea of the cost of snow-plowing would not cause me to cancel this trip. I’d figure it out. I had a few obligations for articles coming up in the first couple weeks of March. I work well under pressure, I assured myself. I’d figure that out, too. So, I’ve been busy…working, writing, turning in hours and paperwork, paying bills and filing taxes (while drugged up on over-the-counter cold medicine).

After two weeks out in the hustle and bustle of the mainland, a full week in the big city of Nashville and seven (twenty-four hour) days with my sisters, it might seem logical that I – the loner in the family – would be happy to get back to my little house on the Fox Lake Road on my little island away from the fray. The opposite is true! I have been so lonesome for my family, I wake up every day missing them! I wander this sad house alone every evening. I almost never suffer from loneliness, but now it has me in its grip.

I woke up this morning with the remnants of a dream still on my mind. It was filled with family, living and dead (though all very lively in my dream!), and busy with buying and selling houses and moving furniture. It was noisy with planning, friendly discussion and debate. As I awoke, I struggled to keep my Dad’s voice in my head. His words: “It’s good, then, you’ll be down here when it’s time to put in the garden.”  Though tears were drying on my cheeks as I got out of bed, it was comforting to note that Dad – from his high perch – knows that Spring is coming.

And I’m here…waiting for it.

Sister Time

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I just spent a week on vacation with my sisters!

We drove to Nashville, stayed in two large side-by-side apartments in a lovely resort (thanks to my sister, Brenda!), had a wonderful tour of the city that included a traditional dinner and “honky-tonkin'” down Broadway (thanks to my sister, Amy!), took in a fantastic show at the Grand Ole Opry (thanks again, Brenda!), and all-in-all just had the best time with the dearest women I know (thank you Brenda, Cheryl, Nita, Robin and Amy!).

We started out on Sunday, in two cars. Cheryl drove one, with Brenda keeping company beside her, and me lounging in the back seat. Amy drove the other, with Robin as co-pilot and Nita relaxing in the back. Both cars were loaded to capacity with the luggage of six women off on a jaunt. Each car took a different route, but arrived within a half-hour of each other.

We unpacked and settled in, opened bottles of wine, ordered pizza delivery and started plotting our week. Some things had specific dates and times, others were just ideas or possibilities. We’re big on possibilities in my family. We prefer to not book every moment, leaving openings for serendipity and the wonderful surprise. We keep in mind that on vacation, relaxation and enjoyment trumps an agenda every time.

The wine was the first of many bottles we worked through; the pizza was the first of many wonderful meals.

Cheryl was called away on a family emergency. She left in her car on Tuesday to be with her son and his family in South Carolina. We missed her, and worried along with her, but did our best to soldier on. I’m happy to report that everything seems to be going well there, and we’ve all been able to relax a little.

I could report on all the activities we managed to squeeze into our week, all of the sights and sounds of Nashville, the many interesting shops and marvelous restaurants, the terrific characters we met. They are nice memories, but not most important.

I can say, honestly, that there were moments of tension, of anger and hurt feelings. When you get a group of people together who were all children together, those things come out. They were only moments, though, quickly resolved, and not the memories I will hold when I think of this vacation.

When I remember this time with my sisters, I’ll be thinking of other things:

…the way we kept informed and kept Cheryl “in the loop” by frequent text messaging and long-distance word games.

…early morning, sitting in the outdoor hot tub chatting with Brenda as the steam rose into the cool air.

…high fives all around whenever we pulled a correct answer out of the air during Pub Trivia.

…eating a nice meal at a brewery, Brenda and I decided to order the six-glass artisan beer sampler. I expected double-shot sized samples, but we received our beer in 8-ounce glasses. I tasted each, shared with Nita, and drank my favorite with my meal. Brenda started at the left and worked her way through every one!

…Robin and Amy, the youngest in our family, shopping for their grandchildren.

…Nita, reporting to her grandson, “I’m having SO MUCH fun!”

…the candle we lit for our sister, Sheila, to keep her close though she’s no longer with us.

…packing to go home, with one less car, more passengers and many purchases: when the hatchback finally closed successfully after many failed attempts, we cheered and embraced.

…running into bad weather on our way home, we ended up in a motel for the night. Shortly after we checked in, the electrical power went out. We drank beer and wine and played our game with one small LED flashlight, and the glow from Sheila’s candle.

These, along with the giggles, the bright eyes and sweet smiles of each of my sisters, are the memories I’ll cherish.