Monthly Archives: August 2018

Timeout for Art: Drawing Class



drawing 006

I am a painter, printmaker and mixed-media collage artist living and working on Beaver Island. I studied drawing, painting and printmaking at C.S. Mott Community College. I went on to earn a B.F.A. and then an M.F.A from Michigan State University with a concentration in Ceramics. Printmaking and Art History.

I have taught classes in ceramics, drawing, paper-making and print-making to all ages, from my grandson’s pre-school class to adults in the community. My work is in several private collections and has been exhibited in galleries throughout Michigan. On Beaver Island, it is on display at the Beaver Island Community Center, Harbour Market, and the Beaver Island Studio and Gallery.

One thing that has enriched my life immeasurably is the ability to draw. It is a skill that I have both taken for granted and neglected. I have missed the regular habit of drawing.

I developed a drawing class for two reasons:

  1. To give myself a scheduled time each week to draw, with others who share enjoyment in the process.
  2. To provide others with the same venue. If you would like to learn to draw, or refresh drawing skills gone rusty, or simply have a designated time to draw, this could be a good opportunity.

Classes will be held at Beaver Island Studio and Gallery, on Tuesdays, starting September 4th, from 10AM until noon. About half of each class will be instruction, drawing exercises and discussion. The rest of the time will be a long, focused drawing session.

Some materials will be provided; all others will be available for purchase at the class.

Cost: $20.00 per 2-hour class, or $100.00 to attend all six classes.



Home Again (A Photo Essay)



After being waved off on the ferry boat by these good friends…


Bob and Gary

…I spent a few days with my sister, Brenda, and her husband, Keith. I got in a visit with my brother, Ted, and sister, Robin. I did some shopping to round out my planned Chicago wardrobe. Keith and I both went to get our hair cut. I packed up my carry-on bag.

Wednesday morning, I boarded the train to Chicago, along with my daughter, Kate, her husband, Jeremy, and two of my grandchildren, Madeline and Tommy. It was a marvelous time, that deserves its own essay. My daughter is an excellent planner/organizer who managed to fit an amazing number of wonderful things into a four-day trip while allowing it to still be relaxing and fun.

Travel was always an adventure for me. We took trains, water-taxis and ubers. We enjoyed wonderful walks through many beautiful and interesting parts of the city. From the cutest sandwich shop, to the best Mexican food I’ve ever had, to the brightest southern-style breakfast, to a fabulous pre-theater Italian dinner, to (of course!) Chicago-style pizza, every single meal was memorable.  Likewise, every day was filled with wonders: a  blues concert on Navy Pier; Millennial Park; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History; and – on the evening of my birthday – the Broadway production of “Hamilton!” It was all made richer by the company I kept; their insights, love and humor surrounded me, and I couldn’t have chosen better travelling companions.

Then, on Saturday, it was back to Lapeer, where I once again enjoyed the hospitality of my sister and her husband. Though they left early Sunday morning on a vacation of their own, I took advantage of their laundry facilities, their lovely view, the company of their cat, and the steak Brenda had left in the refrigerator for me.

Monday morning, Kate and Jeremy picked me up early, for the long drive up north. It was good to have the day to talk, as I’d been missing them already. We made good time, chattering along, and finished up with lunch and lots of good-bye hugs.

Back on the island, I retrieved my car from the long-term parking lot, loaded my luggage into it, and went to pick up the dogs. They were almost as happy to see me as I was to see them! Home, then, to unload the car and settle back in.

A  glance toward the garden sent me scrambling, with bowls and baskets to fill. I picked what is probably the last of the peas, most over-ripe, two green peppers, five pounds of  Italian green beans, a few pole beans of the Blue Lake variety, three huge zucchini squash, four large yellow summer squash, and over one hundred tomatoes. I then walked the perimeter of the yard, to check the status of the wild blackberries. It was a good haul!


I took the dogs for an evening walk, enjoying the woods and the quiet and remembering all the things that I love about this place.IMG_3627

Back in my kitchen, I cleaned and lightly sugared a bowl of blackberries.


I cooked Italian beans with bacon for my dinner.


As a storm brewed outside, I cleaned and peeled tomatoes, and set them to simmer on the stove in the large enamel pan. I filled the big kettle with diced squash, some peas, green pepper and tomatoes with a little water and put it on the back burner to cook. Then, before I had time to tackle the mound of beans, the lights went out.


That signaled the end of my long home-coming day!

The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #35



List the elements of your life where you feel challenged in a positive way:

[This is a perfect time for this list! It’s my birthday week, and I am just back (not quite home yet) from a wonderful birthday trip, to Chicago with my daughter, Kate, and her family. I am assessing all the usual signs of aging, plus taking note of accomplishments and goals. I am warmed by time spent with family, amazed by the bright wisdom and kindness of my grandchildren, and awed by my daughter’s determination, bravery, common sense and ability. I feel inspired and changed by my experiences, as I look toward my goals for the next year of my life.]

  • We did quite a bit of walking over the last several days. Chicago is a good city for walking, and the weather was perfect for it. It was fun, at the end of the day, to ask Kate how we did. She’d tell me the distance in miles, and also how many steps we’d taken and flights of stairs we’d climbed. I was pleased to be able to keep up with the young people. I’m determined to reincorporate daily walking into my life.
  • If anything has slowed me down in life, it is a lack of courage. I almost always stay close to my comfort zone. Listening to my daughter and her family discuss big changes, I realize how much I’ve chosen to play it safe, despite the cost. I am sixty-six years old, with only a fraction of my life still ahead of me. It’s time to stop letting fear dictate my direction. Time to be brave!
  • Having wandered, enthralled, through three wonderful museums, I feel challenged to get into the studio and be guided by all the fresh inspiration!
  • Seeing my daughter, who works very hard to be able to have the life experiences she enjoys, put out the effort and never lose sight of the big picture, I am encouraged to expand my boundaries, too.
  • I read every day. Sometimes, though, it’s a challenge to commit to good books that expand my view of literature and the world. This year, I selected five books for summer reading that seemed able to do that. Four were authors I had not read before. Of those, two are authors I will now seek out.
  • I write every day. The challenge is to not simply devolve into mindless drivel.
  • Everyday, I feed myself. I aim for meals that enrich me, beyond just physical sustenance. I think about flavors, colors and textures. The preparation. The arrangement of food on the plate. The experience as a whole.
  • I challenge myself, always, to be nice: to find an honest complement to give; to put a positive spin on something; to say the kind thing. Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes not. It’s always worth it.

Time Away



Last Saturday, after a flurry of preparation, I brought my dogs to the kennel, brought my luggage to town, dropped my car off at the airport and – with two of my sisters and their partners – caught the afternoon ferry boat for the two-hour ride to Charlevoix. From there, a four hour ride brought us to Lapeer, Michigan, where I grew up and where much of my family still lives. I’ve been here since then, enjoying the hospitality of my sister Brenda and her husband, Keith.

Brenda and I have gone out walking, had nice meals, good conversations, and – in the evenings – played games. I did some shopping and a little laundry, re-thought my Chicago wardrobe, and repacked my suitcase. This morning, I got a haircut. I’ve had a chance to talk to my daughters, see some friends, and visit with other family members. I always feel comfortable here.

Tomorrow, early morning, I’ll board the train. Along with my daughter, Kate, my son-in-law, Jeremy, and two of my grandchildren, I am going to Chicago. This well-planned trip is a birthday gift from my daughter, and will include good food, visits to art museums and other cultural enrichment, and the Broadway musical, “Hamilton!” I’m so excited, I can hardly stand it!

I love my home, and my life on Beaver Island, but sometimes a little time away, with all the adventure and benefits it brings, is exactly what I need!

The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #34



List the foods that taste great and make you feel good about yourself when you eat them:

  • Oatmeal, served hot, with fresh berries and cold milk. I never add sugar.
  • Yogurt, plain, with fruit and granola.
  • I make a salad of cauliflower, garbanzo beans and slivered almonds, dressed with plain yogurt. It’s rich in flavor, has a good texture, and feels like a healthy choice.
  • Chicken salad. The one I make is savory, with onion, celery and mayonnaise. It is wonderful served with a wedge of fresh pineapple.
  • Dinner salad. This starts with lettuce and other greens; I add cauliflower, cucumber, tomato and avocado. Toss in hard-boiled egg slices, garbanzo beans and nuts. Sometimes dried cherries. Top it with a grilled chicken breast and either ranch dressing or a raspberry vinaigrette. One summer, I ate this salad almost every single night.
  • Soup. I start with any combination of dried beans, cooked until tender. I add vegetable stock made from tomatoes and other garden excess, then diced celery and carrots. I toss in a handful each of barley and wild rice. Sometimes a few spices or a shake of hot sauce. I make this weekly, in the wintertime, and have it for lunch almost every day.
  • Smothered protein. The protein, in this case, is usually either a burger or a chicken breast, but a small steak or a salmon fillet would work, too. To the cooked meat, in my cast iron frying pan, I add a mountain of diced cauliflower, sliced brussel sprouts, cabbage, trimmed green beans, or any good, fresh and plentiful vegetable. I top the mound with whatever cheese I have on hand, add a couple tablespoons of water, broth or tomato juice, cover and let it steam. One pan, one plate, and a reasonably quick, easy and healthy meal.
  • Fresh fruit. Growing up, we picked apples, pears, peaches and plums from the trees in our yard, and could eat them to our heart’s content. We got grapes from the vines, and raspberries from the bushes. Oranges and tangerines were a special treat. Fruit is always refreshing, and never makes me feel like I’m not eating well.

There are, of course, many other foods that taste great and that I love to eat, but that don’t leave me feeling that I’m taking good care of myself when I eat them. I’ll save the noodle dishes, pizza and macaroni and cheese for another discussion!

Family Time



This is the happiest week of the summer, for me. Three of my sisters are here on the island, for a week-long visit. Dinners are well-planned, masterfully prepared, and served family-style, with lots of laughter and good conversation.

Other activities include beach days, shopping and exploring. Last night, several of us went to Donegal Bay to watch the sunset. Later, we circled around the kitchen counter for a long game of Yahtzee. This morning, another group came out to my house, to walk next door to see the goats that live there.

I’ve been fitting in my own necessities – picking beans, doing laundry, mowing lawn – while trying to take advantage of as much family time as possible. I know well how rare – and how precious – these opportunities are.


The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #33




my grand-nephew, Wyatt, in the giant birch tree

List the people you want to spend more time with before the end of the year:

  • My family. Just when it seems like I will succumb to loneliness, August is here, and family abounds! Last week, my nephew, Bob, came to the island with his family: his wife, Casey, and their children, Wyatt and Ellie. Yesterday, sisters Brenda and Cheryl arrived with their partners; today, my baby sister, Amy, will come, with her family, on the afternoon boat. It sounds like there will be a steady stream of cousins on the island through Labor Day. I’ll be leaving the island near the end of this month, for a birthday adventure with my daughter, Kate, and her family. I’m planning to get a visit in with my brother, Ted, my sister, Robin, my daughter, Jen, and others that I don’t see enough of.
  • Friends. In addition to the partners and spouses of family members (that are both friend and family), Bob and Gary arrived on the second boat yesterday. It’s always a pleasure to see them, and a special treat when they are able to make it up here for a visit. Soon, the summer pace will be letting up, allowing for more time with friends here on the island, and more time – I hope – to get together with other friends. I’d love to find time for visits with Linda, Donna, and two Marys – one on the east side of the state, the other on the west side.
  • Other artists. I miss having the time to discuss processes and ideas. Of course there are other artists here on the island…all just as busy as I am. I’m looking for opportunities to spend time with artists in a teaching, learning and sharing space.




From what I hear, this has been a difficult year for a lot of gardeners. Michigan weather offered snow late in the spring, unseasonable cold that lasted through planting season, then suddenly hot, and dry, dry, dry. Along with many others, I worried, watered and waited. Like most gardeners, I know that there’s always something that gets in the way of perfection. Still, there are always rewards.Big winds and pouring rains toppled one tomato plant (not fatally), gave the pole beans incentive to reach for the sky, and caused the summer squash to produce overnight.

This year, the cabbage butterfly has found my kale, and it is pock-marked with holes. The pole beans were late in going in, and slow growing. They have finally climbed up the tepees I fashioned for them, and have blossoms, but no beans yet. I’ve had two small pickings of bush beans, and there will be more. The peas are still offering a few delectable pods each day; the Chinese cabbage is sprawling out its beautiful puckered leaves. Tiny “Juliet” plum tomatoes offer perfect red jewels every day.

Even when the garden offers almost nothing, it’s okay. I enjoy the process of preparing the earth and putting seeds and plants in the ground. I love watching things grow. Where there are failures, I think about how I’ll do things differently next year. When it is productive, it’s like Christmas every day. To me, it’s always worth it.

The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #32



List the ways you can “fake it ’til you make it” in being happy:

[Well, let me start by saying, I AM happy. I have a good life, and I know it. Still, I find plenty of things to grumble about. It is in that spirit that I respond.]

  • I am so, so tired of working with the young people at the hardware store. I’m weary of their lack of care and cleanliness, their refusal to listen to or remember instructions, and their constant need for direction, lest their work day devolve into the male equivalent of a slumber party, with stories and jokes and banter. I’m tired of hearing “wasn’t me.” I am fed up with the rolled eyes and the snickering behind my back. I am exhausted from having to follow behind to set straight what has been done haphazardly. And yet, in consideration for their effort, not a one of them leaves without hearing, from me, “Thank you for all your hard work today,” to let them know they are appreciated, just in case it will make a difference.
  • When I hear, “How are you?” my answer is “Good, how are you?” Unless I am ranting to friends or family in a mutually-agreed-upon  bitch-session, I think that is the right answer. No matter what.
  • Likewise, to questions about how my my job is going, my garden is growing, or my artwork is coming along, I will almost always accentuate the positive. It feels like an honest answer, even if it’s not all perfect.
  • When I come home from work, I always greet the dogs with pats and love and expressions of pleasure at seeing them. I tell them what good girls they are. Even when the laundry room is strewn with trash from the upended garbage can, I can’t manage much more negativity than a solemn, “Not good, Darla, not good.” Even when Rosa Parks has gone number two on the freshly cleaned bathroom rug and peed among the cans and papers rolling around on the laundry room floor, she gets not more than a “Really? Couldn’t hold it, Rosa?” and a slight frown. I doubt they would understand why I was scolding, if I were to scold. Why bother making them feel bad, if it won’t change anything? Better that they know, always, that they are good dogs, and that I love them.

Timeout for Art: A Gathering



Today was the annual gathering of artists, musicians, and those who appreciate the work of either. Everyone worked really hard to pull it all together, and it was a great success. There was a steady stream of visitors coming through to listen to the music, look at the art, and enjoy the food and drink. Several sales were made.

It’s a good opportunity for an artist like myself, who is often seen only in her normal day-to-day (read: non-artistic) job, to mingle with others of the right-brain persuasion. It’s a chance to talk about my work. Many who know me only as a friendly hardware store employee are surprised to learn of this “other life.”

It’s lovely. And it’s exhausting. I’m more tired this evening than I often am after a long day of lifting, climbing and carrying at the hardware. I’m simply not a very social person. It wears me out to spend a day making conversation. Tonight, I have set aside everything I could or should be doing, for a lazy evening and an early bedtime. A few photos: