Monthly Archives: November 2014

Timeout forArt: Not Much

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Another day. Another blog. Will November never end? WHY did I commit to writing a blog a day this month?

WHY did that seem like a good idea??

I’m in the middle of a busy time at work, and working on weekly art commitments, a daily exercise plan, daily cleaning time and daily walking, plus all the extra time it takes to shovel the walkway and clear the car…and I thought it was a good plan to add daily blogging to my list??

Oh, wait…it’s Thursday!

Timeout for art day!

I don’t have to write!

Oh, wait…

There’s not much drawing going on here this month, either.

Did I even draw? Do I have a single sketch?

One.

One Hershey’s Kiss.

That’s all I’ve got today.

Weather

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It is not Winter yet.

More than a month to go before Winter.

The wintry weather came early last year. By the time hunting season was over last December 1st, we had eighteen inches of snow on the ground!

Winter came early and stayed late. It gave us record breaking cold and snow and ice. It tested our budgets and our patience.

We didn’t complain – not too much, anyway – because weather will do what it will, unconcerned about what our preferences might be.

In this part of the world, Winter will come, without fail, and all the details are just a matter of degrees.

And, far ahead of the calendar, Winter seems to have arrived once again this year, with big winds and lots of snow.

Driving home after work today, I traveled at a snail’s pace. The blowing snow created white-out conditions many times during that trip. At best, visibility was only a few yards. Snow was a foot deep in the roads and still coming down. It was hard to determine where the lanes and edges were. It was a relief to get home!

The weather will do what it will…but I sure don’t feel ready for it yet!

Here I Go Again

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I am sixty-two years old.

I’ve been down this road before.

Seems like I’d learn my lesson.

Obviously not.

It begins like this: I am perhaps mildly depressed, suffering from a bit of malaise, lonely, bored, or just have a little too much time on my hands. My attention will be drawn to something that is not quite right. That “something” will generally fall into one of two categories.

The first is home repair. I’ll notice a patchy wall, a leaky faucet or an uncomfortable furniture arrangement.

The second is my hair. Always nearby; always in need of help.

No matter how I try to distract myself, once noticed, the offensive “something” will not go away. I may be able to delay action…for hours, or even days…but it will eventually win out.

It continues this way: I will jump in and take action. Euphoric at first, I will delve in to that five-gallon bucket of drywall compound, pull all furniture out of a room to get a fresh perspective, start disassembling a faucet…or begin perming, dying or cutting my hair.

During this phase of the operation, if I were thinking out loud, you’d hear things like this:

“Do drywall finishers even train for that job? I bet they just do it, and learn by doing. Who couldn’t do this?”

“Plumbers obviously make too much money! It’s the mystery of it all. If people would just jump in and try it…look how easily everything comes apart!”

Hairdresser is just a title. Mother’s have been cutting their own children’s hair for hundreds of years! What did people do before we had hairdressers? It’s just a matter of cutting it evenly, isn’t it?”

That blessed phase gives way to doubt:

“This isn’t going as far as it should. I wonder if I’ll have to buy another bucket of this stuff. This [table knife/ piece of cardboard/ spatula] might not be the best tool for the job…”

“Now that I have it all apart, I wonder where the problem is…”

“Oh, so I’m clearly not the first person to think of pulling all of my hair into a ponytail on top of my head, and cutting it off. That must be how the “mullet” was invented. And there is no way to cut the back without being ambidextrous…”

Desperation leads to poor choices:

“Maybe I’ll actually go for that deep stucco look…like the walls in early Taco Bell restaurants…”

“…wonder if I turn the water back on?”

“Possibly if I cut every single strand the exact same distance from my head…if I can find the tape measure…”

Which then devolves into failure:

“Clearly this product should not be falling off the wall in big, damp chunks…AND IT”S TAKING PIECES OF THE WALL DOWN WITH IT!!

“…Dear God, please let me just get this back together the way it was so I can call the plumber…”

“If I call in sick to work, and beg the hairdresser to get me in before hours…in secret…and maybe I could tell her that my hair was caught in machinery…or that I was drunk…”

It almost always goes this way.

I should know better.

Clearly, I don’t.

Though the wind is howling and there’s snow coming down and the roads are slippery…

Though this is my day off, and it would be nice to be able to stay home all day getting the house back in order, with soup on the stove and bread in the oven, with a good book waiting by my chair to read when I take a break…

Not this day.

Some foolish person – that refuses to learn her lesson – cut her own hair last night.

IF the hairdresser will see me, I think I’ll leave my warm house and go out in this weather to go get a real haircut.

They are trained professionals, after all!

Happy Birthday, Amy Beth!

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The youngest in our family, Amy holds a special place in all of our hearts.

We doted on her because she was the baby. She was tiny and cute and cuddly. She grew up surrounded by love.

This may have something to do with her sweet disposition, or maybe she was just born with it.

Either way, Amy’s a sweetheart, kind and generous and loving.

Happy birthday to my baby sister, Amy!

amy now

Fresh Snow and Trivia

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Fresh snow this morning!

I am so happy to see it!

It’s not the first, this year. We’ve had snow, cold and icy, clinging to the windshields, making roads difficult and reminding us that winter is on its way to Beaver Island.

This is the first “fluffy” snow.

This snow has power.

It has already softened the landscape. You almost wouldn’t know that I didn’t get my garden clean-up done. It’s no longer obvious that my lawn hasn’t been mowed since late August…and now it won’t be, either, until springtime! It’s impossible to tell that there are leaves under that snow, that I never got around to raking up.

This snow has greatly improved the look of my “to-do” list, just by blanketing all of the undone tasks in soft white.

It has also changed my outlook.

I’m starting to look forward to the holidays. I’m thinking of the inside activities that this weather is good for: reading, writing and art-making. I’m thinking of comfort foods: soups and stews and casseroles. Baking, for the warmth of having the oven going, and all the goodness that brings. Sleeping under layers of comforters and quilts. I’m thinking of all the little projects around the house that I didn’t have time for in the summer. It’s time now!

Today, after work, I’m heading for the Stoney Acre Grill to meet friends. Today, we play Pub Trivia! We have our own Powers’ Hardware team, and there is some good competition. It’s all good-natured competition, though, and it benefits a good cause, the Beaver Island Food Pantry.  It’s going to be a good day!

No Wandering

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There are hunters in the woods today.

Here in northern Michigan, this is opening day of whitetail deer hunting season. There are cars and trucks parked on roadsides and in “turn-arounds”, with no driver in sight. As night comes on, the lights of vehicles are visible deep in the trees as hunters leave their blinds for the warmth and camaraderie of restaurants, bars and cabins.

The dogs and I stay home this time of year.

No walk down the Cotter’s Trail; there are at least three groups of hunters down that way. No wandering down the trail to the hunting cabin behind me, as it’s being used this year, too. I won’t try to walk down the Fox Lake Road, with the woods on either side. Hunters are generally a friendly bunch, but they are still strangers to my dogs, and turn up in unlikely places. Hunters are careful, but they still carry guns.

We stay home.

I walked three miles at work today, mainly running from the housewares section – where I am still arranging things – to the telephone or the cash register.

At home, I took the dogs for one circle around the yard, only.

Inside, I worked through my exercise tape while rice was cooking.

I made soup this evening – Avegolemono, with chicken broth, rice, lemon and eggs – and ate two big, lemony bowls of it.

I think next I will take my good book – Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – and go curl up on the sofa.

It’s a nice day to be a “homebody.”

“If I Only Had a Brain…”

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I’m quite the singer.

By that, I do not mean that I’m a good singer, only that I love to do it.

When I was in the fourth grade, Sister Aloysius leaned down during Mass to whisper in my ear, “It’s okay to just move your lips, Cindy, you don’t have to sing out loud.”

Once while cradling my tiny daughter on the edge of our bed, singing to her and feeding her, my husband leaped out of bed with a horrible shudder, gave me a terrible scowl, and went downstairs to sleep on the sofa.

A group of couples – relatives and friends – used to go on an annual weekend canoe trip. A few of the guys could be convinced to bring their guitars…as long as my sisters and I agreed not to sing.

I have never let things like that discourage me.

I love to sing!

I sang many of my younger brothers and sisters to sleep when they were babies, then did the same for my own daughters. I have quite a repertoire of lullabies and songs that will pass for lullabies.

My husband (who actually had quite an impressive singing voice) and I had a collection of interactive “traveling in the car” songs. We did a great rendition of There’s a Hole in the Bucket, with him doing the role of the kindly, dense Henry while I answered with the voice of bossy, all-knowing Dear Liza.

Now, I sing my dogs to their dinner, and I sing them along on our walks.

I sing in the car.

At work, I hum…but try not to break into song.

About twenty years ago, just about this time of year, my daughter Kate was on Beaver Island, with her young son. When I took my evening walk, I’d take Michael with me to give his Mom a little time to herself. One night as we were going out the door, Kate said, “Give me a minute to put on my shoes, Mom, and I’ll come along with you.”

I was thrilled!

As we took turns carrying Michael on our shoulders, we sang and danced our way down the Fox Lake Road. We sang all the standards: Red River Valley, She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain, Red, Red Robin, My Darlin’ Clementine…

We sang John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, shouting in all the right places.

We sang all the songs from Mary Poppins.

We sang every song from the Wizard of Oz.

Without a care in the world, we belted out the songs…out of tune and at the top of our vocal capacity. What fun!

The next morning, I went in to serve breakfast at the Shamrock Bar and Restaurant.

For November, the place was surprisingly full.

Of men.

In blaze orange and camouflage.

All giving me quizzical looks.

It was opening day of hunting season!

The woods lining the Fox Lake Road had been full of hunters the evening before, as my little troupe made our singing, dancing way down the road.

I’m quite the singer, alright!

End of Day, Nothing to Say

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It is the end of what has been a long,tiring day for me.

I almost forgot all about my November writing commitment .

Clearly,I have nothing to write about today.

Shall I leave the page blank?

Shall I try to write a blog about having nothing to say?

I don’t think so.

Some writers might be able to pull that off. Not me.

Let me share a poem by one of my favorite writers.

It has nothing to do with me or the weather or this day, but it’s sweet just the same.

The Cornfield

by E. B. White

Up to the cornfield, old and curly,

I took Joe, who rises early.

Joe my yearling, on my shoulder,

Observed the old corn growing older.

And I could feel the simple awe

He felt at seeing what he saw.

Yellow light and cool day

And cornstalks stretching far away.

My son, too young and wise to speak,

Clung with one hand to my cheek,

While in his head were slowly born

Important mysteries of the corn.

And being present at the birth

Of my child’s wonderment at earth,

I felt my own life stir again

By the still graveyard of the grain.

There you have it. Isn’t it wonderful?

Now, goodnight!

Glimpses

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I looked up, in a dream last night, and was looking directly into my little kitchen at Charbridge Arbor.

And – in that dream – I was suddenly changed: the eyes I was looking through and the mind that was racing were those of my younger self, when I lived in that place.

There was the divided counter with the entrance between, separating the kitchen from the dining area. A simple corridor kitchen with a window on the far wall that looked out to the parking lot. The sink was in the left bank of cabinets, the harvest gold appliances on the right. From my position, I faced the window. I had used heavy cotton twine and a pattern for a rectangular filet crochet doily to make a window covering. It was stretched between two tension rods, softening the view with the floral pattern.

I moved into Charbridge Arbor just about forty years ago, weeks before my youngest daughter was born.

Out of the “Lake House” where the floors tilted and the curtains moved with the wind outside…where the mice ran rampant up the pipes from the Michigan basement and into the metal cabinets of that small kitchen…where the only truly warm spot was right on top op the floor grate that brought the heat up from the furnace. I moved out of the “Lake House” that we’d had such ambitious plans and high hopes for, but never quite enough time or money to accomplish them.

I moved out of the “Lake House” with my husband and my toddler, and in to a townhouse in the brand new Charbridge Arbor complex. New gold carpet matched the appliances. A basement had hook-ups for washer and dryer. Two bedrooms (so large! with real closets!) and a bathroom were upstairs. Every single thing worked, from light switches to windows and doors! The complex was unfinished, so our view out the sliding glass doors in the living room led to a little patio with a sweet little woods beyond. It seemed like the answer to a dream!

It was into this home that I brought my second daughter home, making our little family complete.

It was from this home that I taught myself how to cook Chinese food, started taking college classes and began painting.

I’d walk my daughters to the park – so often in warm weather that they thought it was their own – and to visit friends and relatives nearby.

My sisters visited me here, and – surprisingly – even my Mom and Dad, who were not prone to visiting, stopped by.

When my older daughter started kindergarten, we walked to her school together.

This seemed in many ways like the ideal place for us.

It was only Beaver Island, with all of the memories and hopes and dreams wrapped up in that place, that pulled us away.

I left Charbridge Arbor in 1978, and didn’t look back.

Until last night.