Category Archives: Art

Other Things

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The last time I posted, I bragged that I was, so far this year, keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions. Granted, they are minimal: walk every day; exercise every day; blog twice a week. And, admittedly, we were only just over one week in. Still, I’ve learned to give myself credit when I can, for whatever measly accomplishments I can claim, because that in itself is a rarity.

As a perfect example, now, only three days later, I’ve already lost bragging rights. Monday was COLD! And, it came after a string of cold and wintry days that already had me discouraged and dispirited. Walking is not even close to the joyful activity I expect it to be when I am so bundled in outerwear that I can’t even swing my arms, and even then, my teeth are chattering and my fingers and toes are going numb. So, on Monday, I refused to go for a walk.

That’s okay; I have a back-up plan. I’m big on making promises to myself, but I also know I’m pretty lax about keeping up with them. So, when that happens, I move right on to my next rule: “never miss twice.” If I miss more than one day of a commitment, the skipping of the thing gains as much traction as the thing itself. Then, to get back on track, I have to set a new agenda, and start all over.

“Starting over” is much more difficult than it seems. I give it too much significance; I worry too much about the particulars. Do I want to take some time off, before I start keeping track of this commitment again? Maybe a break is just what I need! I should pick a special day to re-start, of course. New Year’s Day and my birthday are my two favorites. If neither of those days are close, then how about somebody else’s birthday? Or, the first day of a month? But which month? At the very least, I have to wait for Sunday. Sunday is my default “starting over” day. Which leaves six days of every week to screw up!

So, it’s easier to just keep up with whatever intentions I’ve set and, failing that, to try very hard to never miss twice. Tuesday, even though it was still cold, I went for my walk. It wasn’t quite as bitterly cold, the sun was shining, and I was glad I got out there.

Beyond my capital letter “New Year’s Resolutions,” I also have a few lower-case aspirations for the year. There are things I want to get done around the house, and around the yard. I have plans for specific projects in the studio. Getting rid of excess, and concentrating more on what’s important is a recurring goal in my life. The coming of winter and the new year always makes me think about paring down, even in year’s when collapsing cabinets do not underline the need!

My over-loaded bookshelves have been on my mind. When I think about paring down, I always think about my bookshelves. The laundry room, which is actually just a hallway, and the bathroom are the only rooms in this small house that do not have bookshelves. Every one of them are full to overflowing. I tell myself it’s too much; I should cut back. And then I get anxious. The thought of getting rid of books always makes me uneasy.

This year, I’m going at it from a different angle. This year, rather than reading reviews, listening to recommendations, and buying more books, I am concentrating solely on the books that I have. Many of them, I have not read. In some cases, I can’t even remember what caused me to think I needed a particular book. This year, I’ll either read them, or decide to donate them, or both. Others, that I’ve read and enjoyed, I hold on to because I’m sure I’ll want to read them again. Well, this is the year for that, too.

Reading the books on my shelves is not the biggest resolution I’ve made this year. It doesn’t contain deadlines or rules. Still, it holds a lot of promise. I’m looking forward to discovery and insight. I’m excited to see how it turns out!

An Almost Disastrous Holiday

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the inside of my cabinet door, painted

On the day before Christmas Eve, I finished my shift at the hardware store, picked up my mail at the Post Office, and stopped at the gas station, where I picked up a few things: frozen pizza; a bag of barbecue potato chips; a box of “pot-stickers.” At the counter, I joked that, “it’s evidently going to be a junk food holiday!”

I had the next four days off, and was looking forward to a mellow, relaxing time. All Christmas cards had been sent; all packages were mailed. I had a chicken to roast on Christmas day; beyond that, I had no intention to fuss over meals. I had my supplies from the gas station, and a pot of soup to warm up if I felt like it. I was going to put away the gift-wrapping clutter, and give the house a “once-over,” so that I could enjoy its tidiness. That’s how it started out.

The dogs and I took our walk down the Fox Lake Road. I gave them their dinner while my pizza cooked. I read through a nice Christmas letter, and taped the last few cards onto the mirror. I started a movie and watched it while I had dinner. Then I got up to clean the kitchen.

Pizza generates few dishes. From my entire day, I had only a few items in the sink: one coffee cup; one lidded soup bowl and an insulated mug that I had carried to work; one small plate; one fork; one spoon; and the knife I had used to cut the pizza into sections. I could have just left the dishes, but I like to wake up to a clean kitchen, so it’s worth the small effort. I started filling the sink with soapy water. I picked up a bowl that was in the drainer, and opened the cupboard to put it away.

That was the start of my nearly disastrous holiday.

Without a bit of provocation – I didn’t pull or lean on the cupboard; I barely touched the knob to swing the door open – the entire thirty-six inch overhead cabinet came off the wall, and down on top of me! There was no time to react; I had barely enough time to think “yikes!” as assorted dinner plates, soup bowls, jars and vases rained down on me. I have always assumed my last words would be something like that, as I absentmindedly did some stupid thing that caused my demise.

Not this time, though. Instinctively, I turned, and deflected most of the weight of it away from me. I took a breath. Assessed the situation. I wasn’t broken, though I was standing in a mass of shattered dishes. One shoulder was sore, I had a bump on my forehead, and I’d jammed the thumb of my right hand. Not bad. I called a friend, just to share the enormous, scary, “holy shit” moment that it was. Then I started cleaning up the mess.

It didn’t take long before my racing heart had slowed down, and I’d begun to see the positive aspects of this disaster. First, I wasn’t killed, nor even badly injured. Second, I’ve been planning for quite some time to move the refrigerator over to this spot in the kitchen; I was stopped by the huge effort involved in moving the cabinets. Now, that job was half done! Third, this manner of weeding out of the excess was far less painful than trying to make those decisions on my own.

Last, and of utmost importance, are the things that were saved. Four vases: one that my friend Judi had given me; another from my friend, Carol; a third, handmade by my friend Ruth; and the fourth made by my friend, Susan. Several food storage containers made it through. One soup bowl survived the fall.

On each of the knobs on my cabinet doors, I have small ornaments hanging. On these doors I had: a felted wool, copper and cork Christmas tree that was a gift from my daughter, Kate: a painted shell ornament that my daughter, Jen, made; and a woven paper star that I’d learned to make in a class held by my now departed friend, Larry. All survived!

I had a set of four red plates that I’d bought several years ago. They were a part of a Jaclyn Smith collection for K-Mart. They are small, for dinner plates, and have an embossed floral design on the surface. I just love them! They were stacked on the lower shelf in the left side of the cabinet, on top of four larger black glazed dinner plates and a red and gold hand painted chicken plate that I had recently picked up at the Resale Shop. On top of them was a celadon green ceramic plate and a pink glass dessert plate. All were smashed. Except for the four red plates that – by some holiday miracle – tipped out onto the countertop, still stacked together, and completely intact!

This wasn’t without loss. I liked my cupboards. Though they were “bottom-of-the-line,” I saved several years to afford them, and it was a big improvement to my kitchen. When I painted them several years ago, I added poster-like images on the inside of each cabinet door. The doors and drawers are adorned with a wild collection of mismatched knobs, a gift from my daughter, Kate. But, as catastrophes go, this could have been much more dreadful. So, I avoided the worst this year on the holidays…I’m hoping yours were equally disaster-free!

What’s Next?

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As the end of a year draws to a close, I tend to look at what I’ve done, and consider what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. In some years, it’s just a tallying of achievements and memorable events, and a fresh list of New Year’s resolutions. At other times, it’s more reflective. It seems that this is one of those thoughtful years.

I will turn seventy years old this year. Simply surviving in this world for that length of time feels significant. The group of young people I graduated high school with, who I remember as young, strong, and capable, has been reduced by almost a quarter! Two grandmothers, one grandfather, and five of my brothers and sisters died long before they reached seventy. In fact, few members of my family have made it to age eighty. So…

With the “finish line” in my life not yet in view, but perhaps just over the horizon line, and almost uncomfortably close, I’ve been looking at the big picture. What do I want my life to represent, when looked at all through the years? What have I done, and what should I do? How can I do better? How can I bring more contentment and joy into my life?

This isn’t brand new. I’ve been operating with these questions in mind for more than ten years now, since my mother’s death shook me awake to the finite nature of this precious life. It has caused me to pay closer attention. It has made me more thoughtful. I’ve expanded my sense of gratitude and appreciation. I have tried to be happier. Still, with a new milestone in view, and a new year right around the corner, it feels like the time for a fresh assessment. That’s what I’ve been doing.

Some things are just normal adjustments. I cleared off my desk, and made new decisions about the things I keep there. I removed an art photo that I’d gotten tired of, moved several old family photos to a shelf near my bed, switched the location of a picture of my Mom, and brought in a photo of my sisters. These simple, small changes give me a brand-new outlook whenever I sit here.

I moved furniture around in the living room, to give a couple house plants more light during this time of year. I’ve been thinking about changes I can make in the dining room, to make the file cabinet more easily accessible, and to give the table a bit more space. I have a few ideas for the studio, too, to make moving around in there a little easier. I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to make more room in the tiny rooms of my house.

I have plans to move the border of the vegetable garden a few feet to the north, come spring. It will be a lot of work for very little change, but then I’ll be able to mow all the way around the fenced garden spot. That will cut down on the amount of grasses, berry brambles and weeds that continually move in from the south side, that now borders a wild field. I ponder more dramatic changes, like building high raised beds or designing a different enclosure, while I’m at it. I try to suppress those ideas. Too often, the more ambitious the plans, the less actually gets done!

This month brought one major development in my life that has been a long time coming: I put in my notice at the hardware store. December 30th will be my last day working there. It’s a change that took a lot of thought and consideration. It’s a little sad. I have been employed there for almost twenty years; it has, mostly, been a good experience. But, the time is right.

With endings, come new beginnings. I’ve started working a few hours a week at the Community Center here. I’m enjoying it very much so far, for the change in scenery and routine, and for the lovely people I work with. Along with my summer job at the Beaver Island Golf Course, my volunteer work at the Island Treasures Resale Shop, my garden, and constant on-going projects in the studio, this ought to be enough to keep me out of trouble!

There are more changes that I’ve been contemplating, many having to do with methods of creative expression. I have many more things to consider, and other decisions to make. That’s enough for today, though. It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes, this one from the Talmud: “Life is so short we must move very slowly.”

Happy Holidays!

Memory

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This morning, like almost every morning, I looked through the pages in my date book, to review what I have to do this week. I noted the days and hours I have to work. I’ve recently added a new part time job to my schedule, and my days at the hardware store have changed. That has forced a change in the day that I volunteer at the re-sale shop. It’s wise to have it all written down, so that I know where and when to show up.

I copied a note to myself about ordering Christmas cards onto a post-it note. I stuck it onto the computer, so that I’ll remember to actually do it, before the season is over. For tomorrow, I wrote a reminder to call the pharmacy to refill my prescriptions. and to call the County Clerk regarding my property taxes. I added a line about filling out the paperwork for house insurance. The forms have been sitting on the table for a week, now, after I finally remembered to download and print them. Insurance and property taxes used to be held in an escrow account; that changed when I paid off my mortgage. Two more things I have to remember to deal with!

Remembering hasn’t always been such a struggle for me. I have, in fact, always taken pride in my good memory. I could memorize a string of historical facts, numbers, or dates quite easily. I could recite long pages of poetry or prose without having to refer to the printed pages. I kept whole lists of telephone numbers in my head; as well as a string of important addresses. Not anymore!

For a long time, I was the one to come to for family history, or to get our childhood memories straight. Lately, I’m not so sure. I still think I remember, but sometimes I have doubts. I find myself saying, “I believe so,” or, “that might be the way it happened.” I’m just not sure.

Standing in the kitchen one day, surrounded by my dogs, I noticed something on the floor. I reached down, picked it up, showed it to the dogs, identified it, “guitar pick,” and put in on the shelf. At two o’clock in the morning, I woke up to the troubling realization that I had it wrong. As I sat up, and the dogs stirred, I told them, “that wasn’t a guitar pick; it’s a golf tee!”

I tell this story often. I think it’s an almost perfect self-deprecating anecdote. It touches on my fading memory combined with very old-lady-ish conversing with the dogs. It makes me smile, and it usually gets a laugh. It’s a good illustration of the tricks the mind plays as I get older. The truest example, though, comes when I tell this story, and I see a particular look on the face of whoever I’m talking to, that’s lets me know they have heard it before. And I forgot that I already told it to them.

Maybe I’ve already told it here, too. It could be that you’re reading it for the second or third time, politely pushing through with a slight, knowing smile as your eyes glaze over with boredom. It’s possible. I just don’t remember!

Timeout for Art: Making Room

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Last week, my “timeout for art” topic was “bare minimum.” Appropriate, because that’s about all I’ve been able to do lately.

This is a busy time for me, even in years that I’m not preparing for an art show. The garden needs to be cleaned up: vines pulled, tomato cages stored; raspberries cut back. Leaves settle in to all the flower beds, around the shrubs, and against the house. I don’t battle them as vigorously as I probably should, but I make an effort, until the snow comes. Inside, this is the time for weatherizing against the cold. For two weeks in a row, I picked up extra days at work. Good for my budget, but a strain to my schedule.

This year, my focus was on the October art show: art-making, matting and framing, documenting, pricing, packaging, shipping, travelling, setting-up, attending the opening reception, follow-up tasks, and then finally arranging to have it taken down, boxed, and stored. Though I received a bunch of support and much-needed assistance, and it was a successful show and a good experience, it was still exhausting!

So, I gave myself time to recover. Time to mull over the adventure of it all, the mountain of things that had to be ticked off my list to pull it together, and the fact that I managed to do it. Time to settle back in at home, taking time with the dogs and with all the necessary fall activities. Time to get back to a regular schedule. I’m not always good at functioning “full-throttle,” but when it comes to “recovery-time,” I’m a master at it. But, it’s been a month. I’m getting anxious to get back into the studio. So, this week my focus was on making room for doing just that.

The small upstairs room that has been my meditation/exercise space, and was given over to matting and framing activities over the last few months, had been then converted to a bedroom for my grandson. He moved in for about ten days, to take care of my dogs while I was away. He and I pulled the metal bed frame out of the side attic, and set it up. In order for the bed to fit in the small room, I had to move my Pilates chair, a small table, and a side chair into the studio.

We dragged the metal box springs, that I’d gotten free at a yard sale, up the stairs, around a tight corner, up and over and onto the frame…where it fell through, to the floor. Though we tried it several times, all accompanied by lots of groans and cussing, it was clearly not going to work. Unwilling to re-visit the struggle of getting it up the stairs and around the corner, only in reverse, we just left it on the floor. We pulled out the wooden support that served the same purpose, though without the bounce and comfort of springs, then dragged the mattress out and put it on top. Sheets on, and we were done.

And, though I knew it needed to be dealt with, I’ve been pretty much ignoring it for the last month. During which time I’ve added to the already impossible crowded studio with several packing boxes. It seems, in getting things ready for the show, I ordered frames, in the 16 x 20 size, three times, thinking that the problem was that I had forgotten to order them, when in fact they were on backorder. Which I would have known, if I had read the company’s letters, rather than being so quick to believe my memory was failing! So, the studio has been packed, clumsily, to the rafters, impossible to even get through the door.

To remedy that, the bed had to come down, so that the side chair, small table and Pilates chair could be returned to their places, so that I could start to make sense of the rest. Getting that bed in to or out of that narrow side attic is a monumental job, that I should not have tackled alone. I managed it, but then spent the last two days in bed, with my back out. I had to miss work yesterday. Today, I’m better. And, feeling better, I can appreciate the progress I’ve made. Eventually, I’m confident I will once again have room for making art!

Timeout for Art: The Bare Minimum

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Blackie Chan

One smart thing I’ve done in many areas of my life is establish a bare minimum. I always make the bed and do the dishes, even on days when I have no energy or inclination for housework. I fill one page in my journal each day, even if I have no desire to write. If I am too lazy to do an entire exercise program, I’ll at least do the warm-up. I always walk the dogs.

I have spared myself many slothful days by maintaining minimal standards: clean one shelf; do one push-up; weed one flower bed. Sometimes, by the time I’ve finished the required minimum, I find I’m on a roll, and manage to surprise myself with how much more I can accomplish. Other days, I console myself with the idea that, “at least I got that small bit done.”

In art, I have a series of “first steps” that are sometimes exactly what I need to nudge myself into a productive day. I’ll convince myself to just go into the studio, just to have a look. Or, maybe, to just do a little organizing there. Or simply gathering materials for another day’s work. Sometimes, even these small steps seem like too much to fit into a day. Daily drawing is my absolute bare minimum.

These certainly aren’t “fine art.” Small thumbnail drawings, they don’t even fill an entire page of my sketch book. Some pages, in fact, have a dozen little drawings. None take more than a few minutes to complete. There are days when I feel like I’ve expanded my observation or rendering skills, or learned something new about how to depict shadow and light. Most of the time, it isn’t that dramatic. The reward is simply in the discipline. On even the most uninspired days, I can accomplish the bare minimum.

Learning

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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?

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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

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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!

Going Away

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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!