Monthly Archives: May 2019

I Forget


After my Aunt Katie retired to Beaver Island, she’d always pick me up in her station wagon this time of year, to help her decorate the graves at the cemetery. Her dog rode in the back seat, with his head out the window to catch the breeze. Or, sometimes he’d ride in the front seat between the two of us, trying to get to the window by climbing onto my lap. The back end was loaded with everything else we’d need.

There would be a shovel there, and a couple hand tools for raking and digging, a five-gallon bucket for getting water from the spigot, a smaller bucket, a box of water-soluble plant food, and the flowers. She’d have chosen the plants based on their ability to tolerate the sun and sandy soil, keeping in mind the blooms her mother had loved the best.

At the cemetery, the dog was allowed to run while Aunt Katie and I got to work. First the soil had to be loosened and the weeds pulled out. Holes were dug for the new plants. We’d walk to the spigot together to fill the large bucket with water, and we’d each take hold of the handle to carry it back when it was full. The fertilizer was measured and added to the water. We’d use the small bucket to dip, and we’d fill each hole with this mixture. Next, the plants were set into that muddy space. The dirt was moved back and tamped down around them. Done, except for the clean up.

We always decorated the graves of Aunt Katie’s father, mother and stepmother. Sometimes, if we had enough plants, we’d also do the graves of a couple aunts, uncles, or cousins. It was a nice ritual, and I had planned to continue it now that Aunt Katie is gone. For all the importance she placed on it, she should have flowers blooming on her own grave, too. Yet, for two years in a row now (which is every Memorial Day since she died), I’m ashamed to admit that I forgot.

And, though it’s true I can be thoughtless, and careless about ritual and duty, I’m beginning to think forgetfulness may be a legitimate excuse after all. I have been known for my good memory, but lately I’ve been forgetting a lot. I forget to pay bills; I forget appointments and deadlines. I forget to balance the checkbook, put gas in the car, or what I did with the grocery list. Which I need, because I can’t be trusted to remember what’s on it!

Maybe it’s age, or too many things on my mind, or simply not paying attention. I don’t know the cause, but it’s cropping up all the time. This week, leading up to the holiday weekend, has been a busy one at work. People come to open their homes and cabins for the season; they almost always have to visit the hardware store for one thing or another. So, over the last week, I have been asked about three hundred times, “So, how was your winter?”

“Great,” has been my answer, “I had a good winter!”

To the follow up questions of “wasn’t it hard…wasn’t it cold…didn’t you get a lot of snow,” I stumble. I don’t remember. It was long, I guess. All winters are cold. Was it extreme? I told a couple people that, well, I never missed a day of work all winter due to the weather. Then I wondered if that was even true. I seem to have a vague memory of calling in to say I couldn’t make it in until the road truck came through. Mostly, though, I’ve forgotten.

I think that’s kind of a blessing. Now that spring is here, I’ve been noticing lots of other things that I’d forgotten. Like the way the moisture hangs in the air some days, making everything look foggy and mysterious. And how the ramps and trout lilies come up together in such a wild blaze of green across the forest floor. The way the just-barely-there buds on the ends of the tree branches look like emeralds in the morning light. And how many colors reveal themselves in every single view. It’s like I’m seeing it all for the first time; I’d forgotten how glorious spring can be!



My friend, Kate, died last week. In the wake of that event, and knowing some of the struggle she and her family have endured over the course of the last two years, my thoughts have turned to life, and quality of life, and death. From my long distance view, it has seemed sometimes that Kate was already lost, as she struggled to get back to the life she loved. Her intelligence, wit, and tremendous loving presence in this world continued to shine, though, throughout her physical struggles and way too many hospital gowns. I wrote this piece several years ago. It makes me smile today.


My friend, Kate, has been making me laugh.

I’ve known Kate since grade school…though she was Kathleen then.

We all went by our full names at Bishop Kelley School. I’m not sure, but I think we may have gotten extra credit if the given name was an actual saint’s name. In any case, no shortened versions. Twice, in the eight years I attended, I had to bring a note from home, verifying that – in fact – Cindy was not short for Cynthia or Lucinda, but my given name just like that (I was actually named after Cinderella, but my mother had the good sense to keep that off the birth record!). I’m fairly sure my younger brother – we called him Teddy back then – would not have had to repeat the first grade if he hadn’t had to spend so much time trying to write Theodore Ricksgers on…

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A Sunday Report


I was just about to go to bed. The big dog, Darla, is already asleep on her own thick bed. Blackie Chan is resting on my pillow, watching me, and waiting. Rosa Parks is sleeping on the cushion behind me. I’m in my pajamas. I have taken a big dose of cough medicine, set up the coffee pot for morning, washed my face and brushed my teeth. Ready to call it an early night.

I’m sick, after all. I haven’t decided, quite, if I’m really, really sick with a terrible, awful virus…or if I’m just a big baby about having the common cold. One or the other, definitely. And either way, it’s been a long week of not feeling well. I wanted, of course, to still spend time with my family while they were here, and needed to keep up with my job. Medicine to keep the symptoms to a minimum allowed me to keep going. But barely.

Now, with company gone and my work week finished, I have plenty to catch up on. But tonight, I’m tired. I decided that all unfinished jobs (wiping down the kitchen counter, putting away dishes, cleaning the sink, folding the blue jeans and sweeping the floor) could wait until morning. Even though my original goal was to finish up the housework tonight, so that I could devote tomorrow to yard work.

If I have one superpower, it is surely procrastination. Even when I’m feeling my best, I can manage to come up with reasons and excuses to put off whatever jobs I’m faced with. When a nasty cold makes me feel groggy, well, there. Easy to set everything aside.

And yet, tonight, scrubbed and pajama-ed and ready for bed, I remembered this blog…and my plan to write each Sunday. And though I have little success to report, other than making it through the week, I delayed my bedtime to do it. I call that progress!

This is Sunday


I didn’t post a blog on Sunday through all of the last month. I posted something every other day of the week, though: twenty-six blogs in April. Twenty-six blogs, one for each letter of the alphabet. It was a lot more writing than usual. It was fun!

Maybe, for the month of May, I’ll post a blog only on Sunday. That might give me time to be super-productive every other day of the week. I might get to some of the winter projects, still not complete. Like painting the floor, repairing the kitchen cabinets, or finishing the trim. Or completing the set-up of my new exercise room: a project started, then stalled, and still waiting to be finished.

I could complete some things in the studio. There are collagraph plates to be finished and sealed, and others ready for printing. I have four paintings underway, that still need some work. There’s plenty of cleaning and organizing to be done there, too.

Outside, there are leaves to be raked, and flower beds to be cleaned out. There’s always windfall to pick up. The small fire pit in the backyard needs to be bordered with stones. The garden fence needs repair. There is planting to be done. Soon, there will be rhubarb to harvest.

This weekend, we had a funeral in our family, which brought a crowd of visitors to the island, so I excuse myself for my lack of accomplishments. Today, I met my sisters for breakfast, then saw two of them off at the airport. I accompanied the other two as they moved out of their motel room and into the farmhouse. I helped to carry in luggage and make up beds. My cousin Keith aired up the desperately low tires on my car. Then I came home.

We’re getting together this evening, along with several cousins that are still here, for dinner. In between, I wanted some time at home. I did one load of laundry, cleared some leaves and debris from the peony bed, and took the dogs for two long walks. I picked a bouquet of daffodils, and another of hyacinth. Not the most productive of days, but a nice one, anyway. Maybe by next Sunday, I’ll have something more momentous to report.