Monthly Archives: October 2021



I love to learn. I say that easily…but is it true?

More accurate, I guess, is that I like knowledge. I like knowing things. I like being smart. What I often lack, unfortunately, is the required humility to be a good learner. It’s often difficult to be open to instruction. I’m impatient. I want to jump ahead, to already have the information or ability. And, because I am pretty smart, am a good reader, have some problem solving skills and artistic ability, I tend to over-estimate what I’m capable of.

I have often walked into classrooms fully expecting simply to show off the knowledge or ability I already possessed. Then, at the first test, submitted paper, or art critique, I’ve been stunned to realize that I’m not nearly as exceptional as I led myself to believe. After that shock comes defensiveness and false justification. Who or what could I blame for the fact that I’m not as bright as I thought I was? Humility follows, and with that, finally, the ability to learn.

It’s not usually easy to get to that point. It feels like a surrender. A failure, somehow. Once there, though, it’s a good feeling, to be receptive to new information and to give in to the idea that there is more out there to learn. That, in fact, I don’t already know everything.

That’s not always the case, of course. There are classes I’ve taken that were clearly well beyond my realm of knowledge or experience, when I entered knowing that I was a novice, and was fully open to being enlightened. Spanish, for instance. Art History. Geology. And any course involving Mathematics. The experience, then, is like that huge leap from zero to one. That’s when learning is most rewarding: offering brand new ideas; opening windows and doors in the mind; and creating pathways for thought and comparison that hadn’t existed before. For that feeling of enlightenment, I am a lifelong learner.

Though my instruction comes mainly from books these days, I actively pursue new information and insights. One book leads to another and then another. I became interested in Women’s Studies in the 1970s; after reading Greer, Friedan, Daly and other modern authors, I was anxious to know more about the history of the movement. That led even farther back, to the persecution of witches, women’s lives in Medieval times, and then back to ancient Greece and Rome. A few years ago, I went down a path on Arctic and Antarctic exploration. They are good books to make our Michigan winters seem mild and quite bearable! Recently, a historical novel set during the French Revolution has spurred me to learn more about that period of time.

I am always striving to be a better – more enlightened, healthy, contented and organized – person. To that end, much of my reading is in the realm of self-help. And, though I could count a dozen books I’ve read, for instance, on forming good habits, and they often even reference each other, they rarely seem redundant. Part of that stems from my belief that I have a lot to learn. Part of it is because I forget. It seems my memory is not as good as it once was, and I don’t retain knowledge the way I used to. That’s okay, I guess, as long as I keep giving myself more information. Luckily, I love to learn!

Timeout for Art: What’s Next?


For most of August and the entire month of September, my focus was on getting work ready for an October show. I had to put all “work in progress” on hold to give my attention to matting, framing, boxing and shipping. There was paperwork to be done for the gallery: some to aid in their promotions; some regarding liability and compensation. Titles, sizes, and prices had to be reviewed and recorded for each piece of art submitted.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about my processes and techniques, as well as my motivation and direction. Perhaps like many visually-oriented people, I have an easier time making things, than I do talking about the “how” and “why.” Yet, once the work was delivered and hung, the gallery was hosting a reception, during which I might be called upon to do exactly that. I had to be ready for questions.

Finally, there was the travel, and all the unrelated-to-art activities that go along with it. Like packing, getting a hair-cut, shopping, and catching up with family and friends. And all the art-related activities: delivering the work, helping to hang the show, taking photographs, and expounding on my methods and materials to all the kind people that showed interest. Home again, it took me a while to recover. Travelling is hard work!

Now, finally, I’m beginning to think about the studio again. When I drew the line on working on anything new, in order to get the finished pieces ready to display, I had a group of six panels underway. I applied black gesso to a large, square stretched canvas several months ago, and have been playing around with different ideas for that. I framed one black and white collagraph for the show, but I have several other images from that plate that I plan to add color to.

One large painting was a new direction for me. I liked it, but then started second-guessing myself. I went back and forth about whether to even submit it for the show. Sometimes I like to sit on things for awhile, to make sure my initial assessment was correct. No time for that this time. I nervously boxed it up and shipped it, thinking, “at least I’ll get some feedback on it.” It created a little bit of a buzz at the opening, and it was the first piece I sold there. So, now I’m thinking of several variations on that theme that I’d like to explore.

So, I guess I’ve got a few possibilities for what comes next!

Coming Home


Though going away can be invigorating, rejuvenating, refreshing, and exactly what the spirit needs, eventually, one has to come back home. And, no matter how well a trip goes, I always look forward to coming home.

I miss the dogs when I’m away, no matter what trusted, conscientious and caring hands I have left them in. For my last trip away, since the island has lost its kennel, my grandson, Patrick, came up to take care of the dogs. Darla and Blackie Chan took to him right away; Rosa Parks was the last, stubborn hold-out. Even though he made every effort to make friends, even stopping in on his vacation last August to let her become familiar with him, Rosa Parks refused to be nice. She continued to respond to his presence with snarls and scowls and constant barking.

Patrick came up here two days before I had to leave, to get to know the routine, and let the dogs get used to him. When Rosa Parks snarled and barked, I closed her in the bathroom for “time out.” After five or ten minutes of that, she was willing to join the group, limiting her bad behavior to a ferocious scowl. On the day after I left, Patrick sent me a message telling me “Rosa Parks is finally warming up…” Great news! Other messages informed me of their behavior, both good and naughty, and let me know that Patrick was taking his responsibility seriously. Even though I knew they were being well cared for, I was glad to get home to them!

I loved having time with family and friends when I was downstate. Leaving them to come home is comparable to ripping off a Band Aid. It hurts! It’s hard to wake up and not have my sister Brenda right there to talk to! I have to get used to not having my family nearby, to not being able to run into old friends on the street. Though I love my solitary life on Beaver Island, coming home is always an adjustment.

I have to get used to letters and phone calls instead of in-person visits. On-line shopping replaces quick (though, granted, overwhelming) trips to Meijer’s or Walmart. And, though my time away was short, local prices give me a bit of “sticker-shock” when I first get home.

On top of all that, coming home is exhausting! Or, maybe it was the travel that wore me out, and it just catches up with me when I get home. Either way, I was drained! My first day back, I saw Patrick off on the plane, picked up my mail, and got a few groceries. Home, I greeted the dogs, and unloaded the car. I pulled the clothes from my suitcases, swept the floor, did a couple loads of laundry, and washed the mound of dirty dishes my grandson had left. A walk with the dogs, a simple dinner and an early bedtime finished the day.

The next day, I excused my laziness as a need to catch up. I did a lot of sitting around: a little writing, a lot of reading, and too much time staring at the computer screen. The day after that, I checked the garden, picked what was ready, and stewed the vegetables to process and freeze for soup stock. That was just about all I accomplished that day. The following day, though still spent in lazy restfulness, was also my day of reckoning.

I noted that I had let my good morning exercise habit, developed over many months, drop by the wayside between travel and home-coming. The rest of my well-established morning routine was hanging on by a thread. I had let rain and drizzly weather keep me from walking the dogs two days. My kettle of steamed vegetables was still in the refrigerator, waiting to be processed. My empty suitcases were still sitting at the foot of the stairs. Enough! Time to get back on track!

There have been times in my life when a trip to the mainland has ended with me going immediately back to my job. I’m so glad that wasn’t the case this time! This particular trip demanded almost a year of preparation, and several months of long days and intense labor on my part. Travel is always an adventure, tiring and exhilarating at the same time. And, maybe my present age is a contributing factor. Whatever. In any case, it appears that I need almost a week to recover upon coming home!

Walking in October


There are a many good reasons to get out for a walk. Walking has benefits for both my physical and mental health. It strengthens my bones, makes me feel fit, and is a great stress reliever. My dogs love their daily trek down the Fox Lake Road. So much so that, when I wasn’t here to take them, little Blackie Chan set out on his own. It sent my dog-sitting grandson into a panic, and gave me quite a scare, too, but it all turned out okay. Now that I’m back home, I make sure to get them out for their fresh air and exercise.

In October, there are a few more reasons to step out. First, I just received a new book: Walk Your Way to Better: 99 Walks That Will Change Your Life by Joyce Shulman. I’ve only gotten through the prologue and first chapter, but so far find it to be both inspiring and motivating. Second, an on-line course I’m taking today talked about “Gratitude Walking” for good health and peace of mind. Third, the colors are beautiful, and changing daily. Fourth, the weather is outstanding, mild and warm here on Beaver Island. Fifth, winter is coming. No matter how mild this season, it will be followed by cold weather, and snow, and ice that will make walking outside less pleasant often, and sometimes nearly impossible. Better to take advantage when I can.

Finally, and this is new information to me, this is “Walktober!” I learned about it through my friend, Kathy, who writes her blog, Lake Superior Spirit, from the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She has, over the years, often been a source of information and enlightenment. This is no exception. She told me (well, me and any other person who is wise enough to read what Kathy has to say) about Robin, who whose blog is Breezes at Dawn, and who had the bright idea to share our October walking experiences. Kathy wrote about a lovely walk with her mother, and inspired me to share my walk as well. Because it’s so lovely out there, today I’m going to share it with a few photos.

Going Away


I was away for a week. I left the island, and travelled down the state to the town where I grew up. I saw family and friends, and met new friends. I helped set up my artwork in a beautiful gallery space, and attended the opening reception. It was a wonderful time!

I stayed at my sister Brenda’s house, so we were able to get some good conversations in. We also managed a few games of Scrabble, including one night when my sister Cheryl joined us for additional competition. I got out to “the lake” one evening for a visit with my brother, Ted, and he came to the reception at the gallery, too. There, I was able to connect with my brother and sisters, and many nieces and nephews. One of my grandsons came to the opening, along with his lovely fiancee, and my beautiful little great-granddaughter, Delilah.

I met up with my friend, Mary, who I have known since I was six years old. She brought along her son, Jeremiah. I last met Jeremiah when he was about six years old. He’s now all grown-up, handsome, intelligent, and retired after twenty years in the service! Where have all the years gone?

On my way to meet Mary, I ran into my dear friend, Susan, who had just walked through the show. She was, as always, tremendously positive and encouraging. As we crossed the street, I met another Mary. She had just gone to the gallery because she recognized my name. It turns out, we are related! Her mother was Myrtle, who was a sister of my Grandpa Ted! We exchanged phone numbers and made plans to catch up.

Richard, who, like Mary, I first met in the first grade at Bishop Kelley School, came to the opening. So did Darlene and Sue, who I graduated high school with. And Doug, who comes to Beaver Island, and often delivers the hometown newspaper to me there. And my friends Bob and Sue, who I have a summer home on Beaver Island, and who I know through the hardware store.

Joyce, who was once married to the cousin of my ex-husband, was there. She writes a column for the Lapeer paper, and did an article about me, the week of the opening. We’d had several telephone conversations; it was nice to see her in person, to be able to thank her for her kindness. Lois and Kevin perhaps travelled the farthest to attend the opening reception. They are relatives as well as my friends, and they own the Beaver Island Studio and Gallery, that carries my work here. Though I am fortunate to have so many supportive friends and family members, I’m happy to report that there were also people there that I hadn’t met before!

The purpose and the highlight of this trip was the art show, but as any islander knows, any excursion demands that we get as much in as possible. So, going away also means shopping; I bought toothpaste, deodorant, and a new wristwatch, and remembered how much I despise huge department stores. I got a haircut. I had many good meals that Brenda prepared, and a few meals out in restaurants. I spent quality time with family and friends. When going away from home is necessary, I wish it could always go as wonderfully as this trip!

Timeout for Art: On Display


Finally. after almost a year of planning and preparation, my work is on display at Gallery 194 in Lapeer, Michigan. It feels like a huge accomplishment! And, though the artwork is mine, this would never have happened without the support and assistance of many others.

My sisters, Cheryl and Brenda, worried – when I hadn’t had the foresight to be concerned – how I would get my work from my home studio on Beaver Island down to the gallery in Lapeer. They formulated a plan, and put it into play. It involved Cheryl taking care of two of her grandchildren, so that my nephew Bob and his wife Casey could drive up north and bring their truck across on the boat. Cheryl also covered the round trip passage.

The ferry has gone down to its limited fall schedule. Bob and Casey came over on a Monday, and couldn’t leave until Wednesday. On Tuesday, they came to my house, and helped load dozens of boxes into the back of the covered pickup. It went back on the ferry the next day, and they drove it downstate, to be parked in Cheryl’s garage until we could deliver it to the gallery.

If this hadn’t happened, I would have made at least a dozen trips to the airport, to get all my boxes there. I would have paid freight on each one. On the day I flew across, I would have come to the too-late realization that they would not all fit in the Envoy that I use on the mainland. That would leave me scrambling to rent a trailer of some kind to get the work three hundred miles down the state. If I could find a trailer to rent. If there is a hookup for a trailer on that mainland vehicle. If I could manage the nightmare scenario of that long drive on the freeway with a trailer, having never pulled a trailer for even a short distance.

Then, of course, the trailer would have to be unloaded and the artwork stored for three days until we could deliver it to the gallery. The trailer would have to be returned somewhere downstate, or else I’d have to bring it back with me a week later, having paid to keep it all of that time. Then, the artwork would all have to be transported to the gallery. By the time it got there, those boxes would have been moved and handled a dozen times!

That’s just one example of the help I received. My grandson, Patrick, rearranged his work schedule in order to drive up north to take care of my dogs, so I could get away. Brenda and Keith put me up in their house, fed me, entertained me, and put up with all of my comings and goings. Cheryl delivered the artwork to the gallery on set-up day, and helped unload the many boxes.

The gallery crew was exceptional. Though I’d had some pretty specific ideas about how I’d like the work hung, Katie quickly demonstrated her advanced knowledge of setting up shows, and the space we were working with. I bowed to her expertise.

Then, there were friends and family who came to support me and give me encouragement, and many others who sent good wishes from afar. The work looks good on the walls of the gallery. The opening reception was well-attended, and fun! I made a few sales. It was a whirlwind of a trip following a very busy year, but all well worth it.



On Beaver Island, fall color comes first to the King’s Highway. Or, that’s where I notice it first. The long, mostly-paved road runs, after a few curves leading out of the downtown harbor area, straight down the middle of the island. A border of trees on the way out of town opens up to a few homes and businesses, and a couple old farmsteads. Then, for a good stretch, it becomes like a hallway, showcasing a mix of trees and foliage on both sides.

First, it’s only a slight dulling of the colors, less contrast between the many shades of green. It seems almost like a trick of the light. Comparison with the evergreen pine and cedar trees, that hold onto their bright tones, make the change undeniable. Then, the needles of the Tamarack turn yellow, and ferns surrender to variations of brown. Blackberry brambles are suddenly a wash of burgundy. Milkweed relaxes into shades of beige as the leaves dry up and the pods burst open.

Next, a maple tree will suddenly burst into color. The orange leaves still retain their green undersides, telling that their fall show is just barely getting started. Here and there among the other trees, a shot of yellow, a whisper of pink, a dash of gold. A little farther down, one single tree – I don’t know the kind – is clothed completely in red. When did that happen? Was the change overnight?

This year, a third of the way through October, we are just at the beginning. It’s impossible to know how long the colors will last, or how intense they will be. Much depends on the weather we’ve had up to this point in the year. The amount of moisture in the ground has a lot to do with how late or soon the colors change, how intense they are, and how long they last. Of course, winds and rain in this season can alter any predictions, too.

Soon, the pavement of the King’s Highway will become a canvas, each day covered with an ever-changing pattern of multi-colored leaves. The narrower dirt roads will wear carpets of falling leaves, as all of the trees through the whole island relax into fall. Sunshine streaming through bowers of gold make every walk or drive a breath-taking wonder. As always, I’m looking forward to it!