Monthly Archives: March 2017

Artifacts to Memories: This Day

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Yesterday, I walked through fog and mist. The Fox Lake Road was slick with ice under a layer of cold water. For surer footing, we took to the corrugated paths made by snowmobiles, that followed the electric lines through the woods. There, the heavy, slushy snow soaked through my boots, and I soon became breathless from the effort of sloshing through it. Though my big dog, Darla, was game to continue, we cut our walk short.

Last night a thunderstorm sent her madly barking from room to room. Finally, she settled onto the rug beside me, somewhat comforted by my hand in her fur as we both listened to the rain.

Today, the snow is on retreat, and a strong wind is drying out the landscape. Spring is once again making an effort at early entry, here on Beaver Island. Like every first spring day before it, this one brings memories as well as hope of warm weather to come. The breezes carry thoughts of other spring days; the fresh smells bring pictures of people and events now far in the past.

There is Dad, up early to pace the garden. Though it’s still too early to dig or till the ground, he would be making plans for when he could. My mother, with a twinkle in her eyes and conspiratorial enthusiasm in her voice, would say, “Feel that breeze! What a great day for drying sheets on the line! Let’s strip all the beds this morning. Think how nice they’ll smell tonight, fresh off the clothesline!” My brother, Ted, would be trying to recruit companions to explore the back field with him, to see what the melted snow had revealed. Suddenly, there are thoughts of Easter dresses, new hats and new shoes.

Overnight, it seems, the grass is green, and the stalks of what will soon be flowers are poking out of the ground. Ice is breaking up in the water. The snow is pulling back from the sun. Soon, warm weather will be here again.

Memories and hope, what more could a day bring? If only a day were an actual artifact, that I could hold in my hands, and pull out for the gifts it offers! If that were the case, the day I would choose to save would be a warm and windy early spring day, just like this one!

I Give Up

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Yesterday, I made a small delivery to the Island Treasures Re-Sale Shop here on Beaver Island: one large food processor, with all of its parts and pieces, and one yogurt maker. I was a long time coming to that end, but am glad I finally arrived.

Lord knows, I have tried, over the years, to become the kind of person who processes her own food, but it never took hold. I grate my cheese with a simple box grater. When making pie crust, I use a hand-held pastry blender. I slice fruits and vegetables the old-fashioned way. The food processor seemed, always, to have too many accessories, all of which needed to be cleaned and stored when not in use.

I eat a lot of yogurt. Simple, full fat, non- Greek, plain yogurt. I buy it in the quart containers and dish out the portions, to save on plastic waste (I reuse the containers to store my homemade chicken broth in the freezer, for extra credit!). I add my own granola, and sometimes berries or a sliced banana, but it’s pretty basic. Making my own, I thought, would save me a pile of money.

Turns out, making yogurt is not difficult, but it’s kind of a hassle. First, the milk has to be heated in a saucepan to just the right temperature. It is then cooled a specific amount before being combined with the starter. It is then spooned into the individual cups of the yogurt maker which sits on the kitchen counter, plugged in to an outlet. For several hours or a couple days…it’s been so long, I can’t remember. Because, the bottom line is, my homemade yogurt does not taste as good as the stuff I buy. I don’t know why. I’ve checked the label for hidden ingredients that might be enhancing the flavor while putting my health at risk, but found nothing.

So, for many years, I stored a food processor and a yogurt maker in my kitchen cabinet, in case I should ever change my mind about either of them. Then, I started cleaning out and rearranging my living spaces. I was encouraged by my sister Brenda, who told me that the time was right – according to the alignment of the moon and stars – for clearing and reassessing. Backing her up was the Power Path site (www.powerpath.org), which labeled March the month of “Surrender,” but not in the usual sense:

SURRENDER is a word that tends to trigger a definition of failure as if we are surrendering to the enemy and as if we have failed in something we believed in and have been striving for. Our definition of SURRENDER for the month is a giving up, a release of a stance, position, or belief that we have stubbornly held onto for way beyond its useful and practical life. It is time to let go of what should have been, could have been and what ought to be in the future. It is time to SURRENDER our anger, our resistance, our judgement and our need to know.

Finally, in trying to get off the island last week, the weather didn’t cooperate. I spent one whole day waiting at the airport, and one day waiting in my home, before finally getting a flight out on Sunday morning. Saturday, I spent sorting and filing while waiting by the phone. Then, I tackled a kitchen cabinet. Everything came out. The shelves were scrubbed. Only the things that I honestly use went back in. Except for the crock pot, which I’m still trying to integrate into my lifestyle.

I’d like to think of myself as a yogurt-making, food processing whiz in the kitchen…but I’m not, and it’s time to surrender that notion. What I am is a person who has one very clean cabinet, feels good about a charitable donation, and is lighter in self-imposed expectations. Happily, I give up!

No Apologies

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As I was waking up this morning, in my own bed after five days away, I was thinking “I should apologize” as I’ve neglected this blog lately.

I missed Tuesday’s “Artifacts to Memories” post. I woke up at my sister’s house that morning and enjoyed a long (part business, part pleasure) conversation with my daughter, Jen. Then, I put away the book work, dressed, and was off to visit my daughter, Kate. Halfway there, it occurred to me that it was Tuesday: a day I’d committed to writing this year. I put it right out of my mind, then, and never gave it another thought.

I missed Thursday’s “Timeout for Art” blog. Or, the “Whatever I’m Doing When I’m Not Making Art” blog that it has morphed into. After a state-wide change in the weather brought snow, ice and blizzard conditions on Wednesday, I had research to do before getting on the road for my long drive. Weather conditions had delayed my trip off the island by two whole days. If I were going to be stranded, I’d rather be in my sister’s cozy home than in a motel along the way.

First, I checked the webcams: Powers Hardware has one that faces down Main Street on Beaver Island. The airport has three views: two of the airport in Charlevoix, and one of Beaver Island. Gaylord, Michigan – which sits solidly in the snow belt, and where my travels lead me through – has a camera downtown. I called the airport, to make sure it looked good for flying. I called Aunt Katie, to let her know I’d be on the road, and when she could expect me home.

Next, there was the packing up of things I’d brought down (too many clothes for a five-day trip, plus computer, files, books and paperwork), things I’d accumulated (one large bag of hand-me-down clothes from Brenda; four pretty saucers to put under plant pots, that I picked up in a second-hand store), and things I’d borrowed (a good James Patterson mystery from Brenda’s bookshelf). All of it had to be loaded into the car, the car scraped of snow and ice, then sad good-byes before hitting the road.

It was after I had filled up with gas, found the correct controls for the heater, navigated my way through the busiest traffic areas of Flint, Saginaw and Bay City, and stopped for a cup of coffee that I realized it was another day on which I had committed to posting a blog. Maybe I’d find time in the evening, I thought. But, no. Between getting my mail, checking the hardware schedule, picking up the dogs, dropping purchases and keys off to Aunt Katie, making calls to let folks know I’d arrived safely, unloading the car…that idea went right out the window!

Evidently, this year I am cutting myself some slack when it comes to my writing commitment. Last year, I never missed a day; this year, I’ve already missed a few. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t even, now, feel the need to apologize. This unscheduled post, I put out there just to explain my absence. Sometimes that’s enough.