Author Archives: cindyricksgers

About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

Monday Musings

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I’ve noticed that my Sunday writings have migrated to Mondays over the last few weeks. Likewise, my Thursday writings have pretty much gone out the window. I don’t know why, whether it would be helpful to me to get back on track, or even if it’s possible right now.

From my confident commitments on the first of this year, I have declined into simply “as much as I can, when I can.” Not only in writing, but in just about every single course I had pledged to work on this year. And yet, I still feel pretty good about it because, eleven months in, I have not yet descended to the level of “Whatever…”

One of the rules in my house is that if I write a task in my calendar and then don’t do the job on that day, I can’t resubmit the item on the day that it gets done. For instance, if on Sunday I jot down a few lines as reminders (write; fold jeans; take compost to bin; clean sink) and then totally blow off the list to walk the dogs and then snuggle with them on the floor on the dog bed while watching BirdMan, the jobs still need to be done…on Monday. On Monday, when I do them, I can cross them off Sunday’s page, but then I have to do even more stuff to show that I also had a productive Monday. The moral of that story is this:

Only write down jobs as you complete them – never before.

My task manager is not my boss. The only things that should be written down ahead of time are appointments and specifics (like bank days or work obligations) that might otherwise slip my mind. Who needs a list of chores hanging over their head, without regard to the sun coming out, the dogs wanting attention, or a dozen other things that might get in the way of me following that path? Not me. My calendar is there to remind that every day is productive and full, in its own way. I just need to remember to use it that way.

 

 

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Yesterday…Today

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Today is one of those misty days that makes the landscape appear hazy.  Everything looks as if it’s shrouded in gauze. Everything feels damp. Even the air is moist. A quick walk around the yard through the melting snow, and my feet are soaked. I slide out of wet shoes, and put them near the heater to dry. I peel off the heavy, cold and dripping socks, and replace them with thick, soft, warm ones. This is a day to have a pot of soup on the stove…a loaf of bread rising on the table.

Yesterday…did I even make it outside? Maybe, briefly. I didn’t pay much attention to the weather then, or the many times I opened the door to let the dogs inside or outside. I tackled a few chores, but left a list of things undone, too. Yesterday, I got the idea to make slippers…like the slippers I used to make for my husband and daughters when my family was young…for Christmas gifts. Everything else went by the wayside.

First I pulled down the basket of yarn from the top shelf, where it has sat, neglected, for weeks. My last project was a giant sock to fit over one unfortunate grandson’s cast. Before that…I can’t remember. It was maybe a year or more since I’d crocheted.

As a young mother, I crocheted every day. Out of each week’s grocery budget, I’d buy one skein of yarn: a different color every week. All of my projects were improvisations, based on the yarn I had on hand. I made hats and scarves, slippers and ponchos. I made piles of granny squares to be fitted together into afghans. I made stuffed animals and puppets. I plotted needlepoint designs to use up all the bits and scraps of yarn. For every single finished project, I always had a dozen that I’d abandoned half-way through.

Yesterday, after assessing the available yarn, I decided the slippers would – out of necessity – be not quite identical. I used two strands of yarn: one four-ply, one two-ply, and when I ran out of one, I attached another. I finished two pair of slippers, and started a third, while watching about four hours of programs on my computer. I drank coffee until I’d emptied the pot, then water, then wine. It was a lovely, self-indulgent day. I don’t dare repeat it!

Today, I have to get busy! I have to complete the tasks that should have been done yesterday, plus all the ones on the list for today. I have cards to write, and phone calls to make. There are rugs to shake and floors to sweep, and laundry to be put through the circuit. I have a collection of staple foods still sitting on the kitchen counter, where they’ve been since I emptied the old cabinet that housed them…to make room for the freezer. There is compost to be taken out to the bin near the garden, and recyclables to be loaded in the car.

If I get to the point where I can say “enough, this will do,” with the housework, the garden still needs to be put to bed for the winter. The long hose needs to be picked up, rolled, and hung in the garden shed. Vines – from beans, peas, squash and tomatoes -need to be pulled up and disposed of. I have to, then, cover any open spaces with straw, to keep the weeds from taking over. There is at least one shovel and a three-pronged cultivator still standing out in the weather.

If I happen to manage to get all of that done, I have a back-up list. It includes things like re-arranging and repairing the kitchen cabinets, painting the floor, and cleaning the car. And now, of course, there are slippers to work on, when there is time. And the studio, always, with projects and plans awaiting. It’s unlikely that, on this day,  I’ll have time for any of that. Especially since – first on my list – I have to get that bread dough started…and get vegetables cut up for the soup!

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Minor (Major) Accomplishments

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Some days start like an explosion. I was thinking of the times in my life when that happened regularly: on vacation; when newly in love; during the first weeks of an unfamiliar undertaking.  Every day, then, would be filled with adventures. I would leap out of bed like a shot, ready to welcome the morning, and whatever experiences might await.

That rarely happens lately. Even if I’m wide awake, having gotten a full eight hours – or even more – of sleep…with only minor interruptions from dreams or nature’s call…I could happily lay abed most mornings. “Get up,” I tell myself, and then run through the reasons why I should. And I do get up, then, but without enthusiasm.

Some days, after the heater is on and the coffee is brewed, I warm up to the tasks and projects at hand. Not today. Not so far, anyway. This morning, I started slowly and have continued without zeal. On days like this, the small things are big accomplishments: roll over; get up; breathe in, breathe out.

Today, the smallest achievements are noted. Credit must be taken, after all. Even on this lazy day:

  • I made the bed before the dogs claimed the space for their nap,
  • drank an entire pot of coffee
  • while I caught up on the news,
  • and unsubscribed to a dozen sites that have been clogging my in-box.
  • I took two phone calls,
  • greeted one surprise visitor at the door (in my pajamas, no less!),
  • and have been slowly but surely working my way through yesterday‘s “to-do” list.

This bit  of writing gives me one more item that I can check off.

It’s now 1 P.M. I should get out of these pajamas. There is still time to turn this day around!

Away, Then Home, Again…

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I’m struggling to find a way to write this so that it doesn’t sound like an essay assignment about “What I did on my Vacation.” It’s early, though; I’m tired, and have a long list of jobs to accomplish today. Every single task can be interrupted whenever the dogs need attention; they missed me, I think, even more than I missed them! But, in between pats and snuggles and belly rubs, there are things to do.

I have to call the bank to verify the amount of a direct deposit, then write checks for bills that have to go out this week. I have thank-you notes to write to the folks that fed, entertained and accommodated me this last week. When I go to town for the Post Office, I’ll run around to the shops that carry [my last issue of] the Beaver Beacon, and make note of the returns. That will allow me to tally up sales and send final bills out, which will – if I’m lucky – bring in enough to pay the printer, which is the only thing, now, in the way of me being finished, finally, with that phase of my life.

I unpacked last evening, and got a load of clothes through the washer and the dryer. They need to be folded and put away today. The empty suitcases – abandoned unceremoniously at the top of the stairs – need to be stored. The groceries I brought home need to be re-packaged for storage. I could use the freezer space, now, right away; I’ll have to talk to the young man who is going to help me move that appliance.

Temperatures are considerably consistently colder than when I left the island. There were actually good sized piles of residual snow at the airport on the mainland; I was told seven inches of snow fell in Charlevoix on Saturday. My house was no warmer than outside when I came home, and it took most of the evening to get it comfortable enough for sleeping. It is past time for dealing with the issue of my non-working thermostat, so that the heater can come on and go off on its own, as needed. Today would be a good time to look into that.

I’m still struggling with a month-old spider (?) bite, that continues to itch and refuses to heal though I’m working my way through a second course of antibiotics. I treat the spot with after-bite gel and anti-itch ointment as well the steroid cream that was prescribed. I have taken over-the-counter allergy medicines, to try to stop the irritation. If I’m going to get back in to the Medical Center before the week is out, today would be the day for that, too.

So, obviously, getting back to home and “real-life” leaves little time to talk about my trip. It was a whirlwind of activity with lots of driving in between. In my notes, it looks like this:

Wednesday: dogs to kennel; airport; flight to Charlevoix; drive to Petoskey; McLean & Eakin bookstore; Roast & Toast for lunch; Grain Train for rice, grains and oat straw; drive to Gaylord; find Treetops Resort; find [cheaper] motel; Big Boy for dinner; back to the motel for lots of HGTV until I can sleep.

Thursday: up, coffee, news, shower, dress and check-out; Treetops Resort for paint seminar through early afternoon; drive to DeWitt – outside of Lansing – to the hotel where I meet up with my daughter, Kate; P.F.Chang’s to have dinner with Kate and my sister, Amy; then off to see Amy’s [beautiful] new condo before calling it a night.

Friday: the morning begins with trying to catch up with my daughter, Jen, who is late; breakfast at Bob Evans; Schuler’s bookstore to entertain ourselves while we wait; back to the hotel to meet up with Jen, who has texted us that she has arrived; Old Town in Lansing for a great deal of browsing in shops and galleries, and a little shopping before going back to get ready for our evening; Beggar’s Banquet for dinner, then to the Wharton Center, on the campus of Michigan State University, for “An Evening with David Sedaris.”

Saturday: breakfast with my girls at a nice restaurant I can’t remember the name of; pack, load up cars, check out, and lots of (but still not enough) hugs good-bye; drive to Lapeer, to the home of my sister Brenda and her husband Keith; carry in suitcases; set up computer; contact my friend, Gary, who came right over to go over the drives and settings on my computer, to download anti-virus programs and run scans to make sure there were no residual problems from when I fell victim to the scam; a delicious dinner with Brenda and Keith; North Branch, to my sister, Cheryl’s, house where she was hosting card club, and I could catch up with all of my sisters, a couple nieces, and other friends.

Sunday: Brenda and Keith left early for a bus trip, so I woke up alone and drank a pot of coffee by myself; to Clifford in the afternoon, to my daughter Kate’s house, where I was able to catch up with her husband Jeremy, and three of my grandchildren: Brandon, Madeline and Tommy, and get to know Eric (Madeline’s boyfriend) better; dinner was homemade lasagna (some of the best I’ve ever had) and cake and ice cream for dessert; game time with everyone after dinner; hugs and good wishes, then off for Lapeer and bed.

Monday: up, pack, load the car and off; fill up with gas, then hit the freeway for a four-hour drive; in Gaylord, I stopped at the Big Boy for coffee and a waffle; in Charlevoix, I went to K-Mart to buy a cheap watch, to the Family Fare to stock up on groceries, and the gas station to fill the car with gas again; airport, then a flight back to Beaver Island; retrieve the car and load the bags and boxes; the kennel to pick up the dogs…then home.

That’s a week-long trip, condensed. Exhausting, right? Some highlights:

  • Wonderful conversation over Chinese food with Amy and Kate, and a tour of Amy’s lovely home.
  • Time spent together with my two daughters: memories of their conversations, banter and laughter still makes my heart swell.
  • David Sedaris. I have loved his books for years; hearing him on NPR was always a treat. He’s even better in person. I’m still laughing!
  • Over conversation and coffee in the lobby with my daughter, Jen (a treat on its own) I ran into a friend from Beaver Island!
  • Visits with family and friends at Brenda’s house, and later at Cheryl’s. Both places are warm and welcoming.
  • Playing Taboo around Kate’s dining room table with my smart and giggly grandchildren.
  • No viruses on my computer (Thank you, Gary!).
  • A hidden windfall in my checking account (Thank you, Eric!).
  • Walking into my own house, with my waggy-tail dogs, after a week away.

 

Saying it Better Than I Can…

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I (Cindy) was out visiting with grandchildren yesterday, and had no time to write. Today, I’m traveling. Over morning coffee, while catching up on the news and a few blogs that I follow, I came upon this timely and important opinion. I would love to hear views like this expressed by a presidential candidate!

(Note to Readers: Life in the Boomer Lane has recently been appalled by the predictable silence that has followed the Vegas massacre, the proposed new tax code, the administration announcement that fossil fuels will prevent both sexual abuse and reduce climate change, and a just-viewed recruitment video posted by the NRA in June. And now, […]

via Words of My Fantasy Democratic Candidate for President 2020 — Life in the Boomer Lane

Last-Day-of-the-Month Musings

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I don’t have much time: tonight I’m packing for five days away. Today has been filled with the usual “running around like a chicken with her head cut off” behavior that is fairly normal for a day off work, exaggerated by preparing for a trip. Before I let my Tuesday get completely away from me, I have a few random thoughts – in no particular order – to share.

  • love having young people next door! I loved my last neighbors, too, but since the house sold it has been a great pleasure having a young family there. Tonight, one little fluffy owl and an even smaller lumberjack stopped over for trick-or-treat. What a joy! And their sweet parents even brought presents for me!
  • You know how your computer seems to know what your interests are, and present you with ads that will appeal to you? If I have recently looked at clothes or books or shoes, similar items show up in my browser. Well, for the last week – ever since I fell victim to a computer scam – the ads in my browser all have to do with pigs. So far, I’ve seen ads for hog feed, a treatment for hog hooves, a dietary supplement and an anti-lame medicine for hogs. I don’t know what to make of it. It’s a little intriguing…and a little humiliating to think that perhaps the people that scammed me are not computer experts…but pig farmers.
  • Last year, fall lingered. Every single day was a different show as the colors progressed through each glorious stage. Every week, I’d think, “Oh, these colors are at their peak,” only to have them outdone by the next week, and the next, and the next. This year, the season is not lingering. After a September that seemed more like a month of summer, we rushed into fall…and kept right on rushing. Many of the stages of fall color were obliterated by pouring rain, or erased by strong winds. Today, we had our first snow.
  • After more than a year of going back and forth about it, Rosa Parks seems to have remembered that she likes to go for a walk. Darla has never needed convincing. It always kind of put a damper on our outing, though, when we had to leave Rosa Parks at home. Lately, it has been a pleasure to have her with us, wagging her little tail all the way down the road!
  • My daughters and I are getting together this weekend, and I’m so excited about it, I could burst! I’m looking forward to catching up on both of their lives, having lots of laughs and good conversation. On that note…I’m off to finish packing!

Not the Day I Expected…Part 3

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Wednesday, I’d gone to town for coffee, banking and garbage drop-off. I arrived back home just before noon, and was pleased to see that the power was back on. I reset the clocks, made a pot of coffee, and started in on the kitchen.

The next three hours was a flurry of dusting and scrubbing, moving and arranging. Some things were almost done, and just needed finishing touches; others were jobs that had to be started at the very beginning. Files were moved to the dining room. Kitchen shelves were reconfigured and every dust-free book, basket and jar was replaced nicely on them.

The refrigerator was completely cleared: magnets, posters and photos from the metal doors; baskets, bins and boxes from the top; foodstuffs, shelves and bins from inside. I scoured it, then, outside and in. I washed each shelf and all three bins. I stood them on the rug, leaned against the cupboards to drip dry.

I poured a cup of coffee, sat down at the computer and turned it on. A warning window popped up on the screen; the controls didn’t work. “Your computer has been compromised,” the message said, “Call Microsoft for assistance in repairing this problem.” A toll-free number followed. “Damn it! I should have paid attention to all those other messages telling me to upgrade my system,” I thought, as I dialed the number.

What followed was a lengthy interaction between me and a technician. He had me open an internet sharing window that allowed him access. He showed me lines and lines of the many harmful things that were in my system. “It’s pretty serious,” he told me. he asked about the age of the computer, what virus protection it has, and whether the warranty was still valid. He quoted a price ($299.99), then explained that there would be an additional charge of $99.99 because my warranty was no longer good.

I wailed; I whined; I told him I was just starting to make progress on getting my credit cards paid down. He said, “Look, lady, you called me!” Finally, I agreed to the amount, and gave him my credit card information. He told me to leave my computer on, that the other technician would be working on it for about an hour, to remove the viruses, scrub the system and set up protection. I would get a call when they were finished.

I went back to my housekeeping while waiting for the call, grumbling about how impossible it is to get ahead. The second call came in; I sat back down at the computer. The technician – a young woman, this time – used lines and arrows to show me the security features she had added. She showed me the location of their toll-free number, should I need further assistance. She said, “Your credit card will be charged four hundred dollars.”

“No way,” I said, and seem to recall that caused her to gasp, “what I agreed to was two charges that would total three hundred ninety-nine dollars and ninety-eight cents.”

“Of course, you’re right,” she said, “I was just rounding up.”

I was feeling pretty bleak…and considerably poorer…though still proud of myself for catching that two-cent error…by the time I got back to the kitchen. The phone rang again. This time, it was a woman from the electric company. I thought, at first, that she was calling to apologize for the recent electrical outage. No, she was collecting data for a survey. She didn’t ask if I had time, or would care to participate, but just started firing off questions. I was balancing the telephone between my ear and my shoulder, while trying to reassemble the refrigerator. Juggling shelves and bins while trying to keep the phone from sliding away, my answers were peppered with curses and protests.

“How much longer??” I demanded at one point. “If you quit complaining and just answer the questions, about two minutes,” was her sharp rebuke. Such was my state of mind that day, that I meekly followed orders: I quit complaining, and answered the questions.

Hours later, discouraged, dejected and depressed…but with a sparkling clean kitchen…I sat down to dinner. The telephone rang. I almost didn’t answer it. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone; the phone had not been my friend that day. I picked it up, just before the answering machine kicked in.

My friend Linda! A friendly voice, at the end of a rough day. I started to tell her about the rotten day I’d had, from the power outage and lack of coffee to the old man’s toenail clippings to the awful telephone calls. When I got to the part about the pop-up warning with the number to call and the high cost of repair, she immediately said, “Oh, Cindy, that’s a scam!”

As soon as she said it, I knew that she was right. How would Microsoft know I had a virus? Why would I consider paying nearly four hundred dollars to fix it, when I could practically get a whole new computer for that price? How very stupid I had been! Then, I started thinking about the consequences: they had my credit card numbers! What had they been doing in my computer…and what did they actually download onto it?

“I gotta go,” I said, near tears, “I’ve got to figure this out.”

In the days since that happened, I’ve had several conversations with my credit card company. I’ve cut up my card, and will be issued a new one. I’ve been struggling to remove everything that was added to my system that day, and have been very cautious about using the computer at all. I’ve changed passwords and security measures. I have cried in utter humiliation. I have chastised myself constantly for my foolishness.

Today is my Dad’s birthday. Because of that, I’ve spent some time imagining how this whole episode would have gone over with him, if he were still alive. Dad was often unpredictable in his response. It’s hard to guess if he would be angry for me…or angry at me. I can guarantee, there would be a lot of “goddamn”s involved.

I can picture Dad going on a rant about the “goddamn scammers” who would take advantage of my ignorance. He might rail on about the “goddamn computers” which have made such things possible, and completely changed the world as he knew it. He might have even gone after the “goddamn telephone,” which he never was comfortable with.

I like to think, though – because Dad could be light-hearted, too – that he’d be impressed with my ability to tell the story, and that he’d see a bit of humor along with the tragedy of it. I can picture him wagging his head from side to side, with a look of both sympathy and understanding. I can clearly see his mischievous grin as he speaks: “Cindy…how the hell did you get to be so goddamned STUPID??”