Daily Archives: December 28, 2015

Looking Back


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Before I retire my daily calendar for 2015…before it is replaced with the brand new, empty-pages-but-full-of-plans-and-hopes daily calendar for the coming year…let me just look. Let me turn through the pages of this record of the year gone by, and remember.

I worked at the hardware store all of the year. There were times that I reduced my hours to four days a week, in order to make time for other jobs. A few weeks I worked six or seven days, to cover the schedule or finish a special project. Most of the year, I was there  five days a week.

I took over the Beaver Beacon at the end of 2014, and my January, 2015, days are filled with notes and ideas for articles. Meetings and interviews were scheduled in. Sketches of possible arrangements fill the margins. It continues throughout the year. The corner of each page where I note creative pursuits, where I might jot down “studio, 2hrs.” or “write, all morning”  now leans heavily to “beacon, receipts,” “beacon, edit article,” “beacon, write,” and the seemingly never-ending “beacon, database.” Clearly, it has taken over a large part of my days.

Though I resigned from my position as Phragmites Coordinator this fall, activities with that job kept me busy through much of the year. In January, I attended a seminar in East Lansing, to be a part of a group discussion on the battle against the invasive plant. Through the year, I wrote letters, answered questions, did some fund-raising, wrote an informational blog, attended meetings and gave talks to further our efforts. I did a little work – also related to invasive plants – for the people fulfilling a Sustain Our Great Lakes grant on behalf of Beaver Island.

I taught three classes at the Community Center last winter. The first, Paper-Making, introduced the craft of making hand-made paper with methods and materials available to anyone. The second was Painted Papers, where attendees were provided with many types of paper, several paint colors and various tools for applying them. To encourage pattern-making rather than picture-painting, they were encouraged to “take a paper and paint it with one color, then do something else to it, then do something else to it.” The “something else” could include folding it onto itself or rubbing it onto another sheet to disperse paint and blend colors, stamping it, smearing it, polka-dotting it…or any of a hundred other choices. The third class, Collage-Making, combined hand-made papers, painted papers and other items to make personal collages. The classes were well-attended, everyone seemed to enjoy the processes, and the results were quite stunning!

My sister, Nita, died last winter. I took a detour after my seminar in East Lansing in January, to visit with her. She was failing, but still herself. She was by turns stoic, sad, scared, grouchy and hilarious. She got up at one point from her hospital bed to make her way to the bathroom. She got lightheaded at standing, and as she staggered and weaved, we all raised up, arms outstretched, from our chairs as if to catch her. She gave a look of surprise and said, “You guys! I’ve been a drinker all my life…I got this!” Nita passed away in the early morning hours of February 14th. I wasn’t with her at the very end of her life, when the disease had weakened her so that she couldn’t even speak. I am able to picture  her as she was that day, grumbling about her lot in life, but making us laugh out loud.

In May, my old dog, Clover died.

June, Livingstone Studio opened for the season, my artwork included among its offerings.

July, I went downstate for a cluster of lovely things: a graduation open house gave me a chance to catch up with lots of friends and family; a class reunion was an opportunity for reconnecting and reminiscing; good visits with each of my daughters were a joy; my granddaughter, Madeline, came home with me, to spend time entertaining me and working at the ice cream shop.

My Uncle Al passed away in July, at ninety years old.

In August, my sisters and other friends came to Beaver Island, with assorted nieces and nephews with their children for a rollicking week of games and giggles, meals and memory-making.

September, my friend Donna came for a visit, with time for talk and laughter and sight-seeing.

October, sisters Brenda and Cheryl drove north, and met me in Petoskey for an overnight stay, before coming back with me to the island. They came, along with cousins Joannie and Mary Jean, to help us celebrate Aunt Katie’s  birthday. We squeezed in a trip around the island and some good conversations, too!

November, more travel! First to Petoskey with Aunt Katie for doctor visits, then to Lapeer to help celebrate my baby sister Amy’s fiftieth birthday. I stayed downstate then, for the week so that I could have Thanksgiving there, with family. That gave me time to see my daughter Kate’s new house, and all the wonderful things they’re doing with it. It provided time to go to water aerobics with Brenda and our friend, Elaine. It gave me the chance to meet my friend Joan for lunch, to catch up on our long list of challenges and experiences of the last forty years. It amazes and pleases me how a shared Catholic school beginning can form lifelong bonds of friendship! It gave me time to visit with family for more than a few rushed minutes, to participate in meal preparation, to watch the little ones play.

December, I am ending the year as I began it, with much of my concentration going to work. The hardware’s last orders before the ferry boat quits running for the winter, Christmas sales and new products to display and organize made for full, busy days there. The Beacon is undergoing a bit of an upheaval and giving me many sleepless nights as I fumble through the changes.

On a personal front, I’m finishing the year with a renewed effort to fit in more quiet time, more exercise and more time in the studio. That’s a good place to end the year: looking forward to the next one.