Monthly Archives: January 2015

Crunch Time

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I guess it was maybe ten years or more ago that my grandsons and I placed a brick in the crotch of this tree.

I don’t remember the reason why.

I noticed it the other day, on my way down the driveway. The tree has grown around the brick, securing it in place.

It seems like the perfect illustration today.

Today is the day I’ve put everything off until. There is no more time for delay.

I leave first thing tomorrow morning for a two-day seminar down-state.To round out the trip, I’ve arranged a birthday dinner with my daughter, and a breakfast meeting with the son of an old friend.

As I’ll be giving a presentation at the seminar, I have notes to review and materials to gather.

I have to pack. That involves pulling presentable “mainland” clothing out of the depths of my closet, plotting four days of wardrobe choices, making sure everything fits, and eliminating any accumulated dust, lint or wrinkles.

This is my last chance to get the house in order. Whatever is left today, will be what I come home to. Because I taught a paper-making class yesterday, I have six bus tubs full of paper-making supplies, unloaded last evening from my car and now taking up space in the kitchen and hallway. Some need only to be brought back upstairs and stored in the studio. Others need to be emptied of their (wet)contents: papers need to be pressed for drying; felts, clothes and towels need to be put through the dryer cycle, then folded. My dining room table is spread with research materials for my presentation. My bed is covered with possible clothing options. This, on top of my normal disorganization and clutter.

This is my last day to spend quality time with the dogs, before they go to the boarder tomorrow. At least one good walk is in order.

I have a meeting at four, of the Natural Resources Eco-Tourism Steering Committee.

I have to stop at my aunt’s house, to pick up the key to her mainland vehicle.

I have a dinner obligation.

Then there is my new endeavor: I am taking over the reins of the Beaver Beacon, our island news-magazine. The position involves writing, editing, and design work, gathering information, covering events…and probably a world of other things I can’t even think of. Today, before I leave the island for several days, was my personal deadline to get everything written, edited and sent off to the dear young man who is putting it all together…since I don’t yet have the computer or software needed to do it.

Then there’s my blog, which I hate to abandon every time life gets crazy.

So, I’ve been busy since I got up this morning…which was late, because I was up into the night working on the things that were worrying my sleep.

This is it…crunch time!

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Goats

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Beaver Island Phragmites Control

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After two days of tri-folding letters and stuffing envelopes, answering Emails, writing letters and writing and editing about a million words for twenty different articles, I was all ready to call it a night.

I had eaten my little bowl of buttered noodles and poured a big glass of red wine. I was headed for the couch. I wasn’t going to write another word tonight.

One last check of my Email…one unopened letter. The title: Goats. I knew what this was about.

“Don’t open it!” my tired self advised…but I opened it anyway.

So, here I am, in the middle of the night, at the desk.

I know.

Goats are an outstanding biological weapon against invasive plants.

No chemicals needed.

They eat Oriental Bittersweet. They eat Poison Ivy. They eat Phragmites. They eat Kudzu, for heaven’s sake!

We can’t use goats here.

Though they are a valuable, non-chemical helper in…

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My Sweet Girl

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Today, my granddaughter, Madeline, is fifteen years old!

I don’t know where the years have gone.

I remember, clearly, her mother at fifteen.

Hey, I remember being fifteen myself!

They say we are always the same age, inside.

I think that holds true for the ones we love, too.

I am always about thirty-five years old.

Oddly, so is my mother!

My daughters, in my deepest heart-held memories, are in the three-year-old to ten-year-old range…though they surprise me constantly with their capable maturity.

My grandsons are suspended in my memory, too, in that time when mischievous smiles and silly giggles could give way at any moment to big hugs and snuggles.

Madeline, sweet girl, is always exuberant, chatty, and wildly in love with life…and animals.

Happy Birthday, Madeline!

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A Late Update

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It has been ten days since I’ve posted anything here.

That’s about the longest stretch I’ve gone.

I’ve been thinking about writing; I’ve been wanting to write.

I have, in fact, been doing a lot of writing for other purposes.

But not here.

Have I even been taking photos? I wasn’t sure. In looking through that folder, searching for a current image, I realized I take many more photographs in October than any other time of the year. And certainly more in June than in January. That holds especially true for this January, when the snowfall has been unimpressive and the cold winds have kept me inside. I did manage to find a few pictures labelled january2015, and chose this one of snow-covered flower stalks.

Now what to write.

As I said, I’ve been thinking of writing.

In my head, I wrote a whole blog entitled “Warm” about my broken thermostat and the bitter cold, my cement floors and several 45 degree mornings in my house. It ended on a happy note, with a brand new working thermostat that keeps the heater working properly and a lovely snowfall that helps to keep my floors warm when the winter winds are blowing.

I’ve started several essays about my new business/writing endeavor, but I’m, frankly, still too frightened of abject failure to divulge too much. Soon!

Several other ideas seemed too much like self-centered drivel to waste anyone’s time with.

So here I am, ten days gone and determined to get something published today…even if it doesn’t rise much above the “self-centered drivel” that I eschewed last week.

At the hardware store, we are settling in to our winter routines. We are down to a bare-bones crew, ordering is at a minimum and – though we’ve been happy to see a steady flow of customers with winter projects – business is slow. The boys are re-tiling the floor, one aisle at a time. I’ve been cleaning shelves and re-organizing. Most recently, I am working on one side of the first aisle, tidying up the screen and storm area, re-setting the door knob department, and reorganizing the padlocks. I hope to finish that up today.

For my job as Phragmites Administrator, I’ve been preparing for a seminar in Lansing. I’ll be one member of a panel, talking about our challenges and successes in battling this invasive plant. I’ve been going through the data that we’ve compiled here on Beaver Island over the last several years so that I’m prepared to talk and answer questions about our process. I sent out a letter in support of a grant request that will help with funding if it goes through. I’m going to be spending this evening stuffing envelopes, getting our annual “request for donation” letters ready to mail. I am behind in writing an update for my Phragmites blog site, too. Beyond that, it’s mainly just Emails and phone calls this time of year.

When I was fighting with heating issues I finally, with a big sigh, hung a heavy quilt at the base of the stairs, closing off my studio. Now that the temperatures have moderated and my heating system is working, I can think about opening that up again for art-making.

I’ve been watching – in bits and snatches – a DVD of a Public Broadcasting program on art in the 21st century. I am reading Paris at the End of the World by John Baxter, Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose and The Science of Good Cooking by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.

I’m also re-reading a book of essays by Jim Fitzgerald, who was an editor for the Lapeer County Press before going on to work for a Detroit newspaper and national syndication. His essays, along with those of E.B. White, Barbara Kingsolver and Mark Twain, are what inspire me to write, and what depths of thoughtful observance I aspire to in my writing.

My house is warm these days; the view has improved with a nice snow blanket. The winds have died down, making it bearable – even pleasant – to be outside. The dogs, bored to distraction in this cold season, will get a lively walk this afternoon.

That’s how life is for me, on this eleventh day of January, 2015, on Beaver Island, Michigan.

Underway

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It’s just after noon on the first day of 2015.

I slept in later than I’d planned, but loved it. Then there was play time and petting time with the dogs, who have felt terribly neglected lately. Coffee time and computer time go together: lots of new year wishes, a few turns at the word game I play on-line with sisters and friends, and several Emails to read and respond to.

I spent a half-hour with an exercise tape, trying to keep up with a presenter who is much more flexible – and much more enthusiastic – than I am. That makes fourteen days in a row I have managed to do that, though. That’s a personal record that I hope to continue on into this new year.

I spent a few minutes with my new day book for 2015. I thought it would be perfect for me, with my crazy desire to write down everything that I do, or want to do, or think I should do. It arrived by Federal Express yesterday. Already, I think it’s too much. A day planner should not require ten pages of instructions! I don’t have time to sit down  to decide “what are the MAJOR outcomes for this week” and “what creative ideas will help improve the overall quality of my life this week.” All of that comes after spending thoughtful time choosing “Areas-of-Focus” and goals to consider in 18 areas under five different category headings, and converting general insights into “measurable action items.” I’m exhausted already! I don’t want to delineate “completion steps” that are required to complete the outcomes I’ve selected, or rate personal priorities and other priorities from urgent plus important to important but not urgent to urgent but not important. My big decision now is whether I can make room for this large planner on my messy desk, and just ignore all the extraneous activities it asks for, or whether I should just toss it and go back to my usual Day-Minder. My biggest gripe with that one is that it doesn’t give Sunday a full page. Seems minor in comparison!

I am having homemade oat-maple-cranberry-nut granola with yogurt for brunch. There’s a pot simmering on the stove for my dinner, that will be a heavy-on-the-vegetables boiled dinner with black-eyed peas. I’m not sure what tradition holds that black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day bring abundance and good health all year, but I’ve adopted it. It has been my own annual tradition for a dozen years now.

Cooking black-eyed peas seems an easier method for success than creating a flow-chart of major outcomes. Now that I think about it, taking the easy way out is another tradition I’ve developed over the years. That could be the reason I’m not more successful! That’s okay. I’ll stick with what I know.

Less than one full day into the new year, I’m happy with things so far.