Category Archives: Books

First of May, Fox Lake Road

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The first day of a new month always seems like a good time to assess how things are going in my life, out here on the Fox Lake Road. Just in time for May, the last of the snow has melted. It is not yet warm, though the sunshine makes a huge difference. On my walk today, I was wishing I’d worn my winter parka, rather than the light blazer I had on. Gloves would have been nice, too.

In spite of the cold, pale blue flowers – Siberian squill, I think – are showing up in waves across the front yard. Daffodils are ready to burst into bloom. Daylilies, tulips and iris have pushed their pointed leaves out of the ground. The tips of branches on vines, trees, and shrubs are swollen, ready to soon unfurl leaves and blossoms.

It occurs to me that, since this is the first of May, we are now already one third of the way through this year. Usually, that thought would inspire dread, for all the good intentions and sincere plans that I made, and made no progress toward accomplishing, that would now have to be tackled in the balance of the ever-shrinking months remaining. At the start of this year, however, I was pretty easy on myself. My list of resolutions is both shorter and less exacting than usual. Thanks to that, I’m not doing half bad!

I did write “walk every day,” “exercise every day,” and “blog at least twice a week.” That’s always a mistake; one miss and I’ve failed for the year! Instead of chastising myself for not meeting my expectations, I’ve simply made a note to remind myself, next year, to not quantify my plans. “Walk,” “exercise,” and “blog” would be sufficient, and would make success much more plausible!

Other items on my list of New Year’s aspirations, proof of my melancholy mood and intent to go easy on myself, include “laugh,” “have adventures,” “be kind,” and “live in the present.” One major actionable plan was “get roof repaired,” which I have done. I also wrote, “continue intermittent fasting.” I have continued it, though I’ve hit a slump in the weight loss department. All in all, one-third of the way into this year, not bad.

The last month was a good one. I worked twenty-two days in April. I read six books. I published a blog twenty-six days in a row. I walked twenty-three miles in April, though the month was cold, and marked by high winds often combined with snow, sleet or rain. When the veterinarian came to the island, I got my dogs in for vaccinations, routine care and, for Rosa Parks, the removal of a large fatty tumor. I set up my new mini trampoline the first of the month, and have worked out on it almost every day since. It hasn’t helped with weight loss (either!!), but I notice improvements in stamina and balance.

So, looking ahead to this month, my list is long. Before the black flies and mosquitoes hatch, I have raking and clean-up to do in the yard. The vines need pruning, blackberry brambles have to be trimmed back from the fringes of the yard, and there is a dead juniper that I intend to dig up and haul away. There is work to prepare the garden for planting. I have to inventory my seeds, and order what I’ll need. Oh, and the clothesline pole needs to have it’s upright position firmed up before I dare use it.

Inside, the list hasn’t changed much from the last time I looked, as I’ve hardly gotten to any of the cleaning and organizing upstairs, that I planned to do last winter. When I still had my hardware discount, I bought polyurethane for my floors with intention of touching them up and putting a protective coat on them. It’s almost time to cry “uncle,” and put those jobs off for next winter; the busy season is coming upon us quickly.

I’m working on an application for a gallery downstate, to have my artwork considered for a show next year. The deadline isn’t until June, but I know how quickly time flies by. When my sisters come up to the island this month (and YAY, my sisters are coming to the island this month, and I’m SO excited, and it’s deserving of SO much more than a casual mention in this blog!), they’ll be bringing my artwork back up to the island that didn’t sell in the show last October. That will go directly into the Beaver Island Studio and Gallery. So, I haven’t been under pressure to be producing new work in the studio this year…so I haven’t. I’m starting to feel the pull, though, for some studio time.

Well, that’s about it, I think. That’s the way things are going on this first day of May, out here on the Fox Lake Road.

Young

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That’s me on the far right, looking exhausted even way back then!

On days like today, when I wake up tired, with no energy for the day ahead, I think fondly of when I was younger. From this vantage point, it seems like things were easier. Maybe that’s just a trick of memory. I know for sure that I didn’t take full advantage of the strength and vigor of youth. Now, it seems I have more drive…but less ability.

Today, I called the island mechanic about a problem with my car. It has been louder than normal, and I thought the exhaust system might have come apart. Mufflers aren’t the most complicated things on an automobile, but I didn’t even consider for a moment trying to handle the situation myself. It brought back memories, though, of how differently I managed when I was younger.

Once, while living in Lapeer, Michigan, and attending college about twenty miles away in Flint, the exhaust pipe dropped down while I was driving down Court Street. It didn’t fall off, which would have been easier, but just dragged along under the car, throwing up sparks and making all kinds of noise. I was almost at my destination, so I continued down to Mott Community College, parked, and went on to my scheduled classes.

At the end of the day, I scrounged coin from the bottom of my purse, ran in to the campus book store, and bought the largest spiral notebook I could afford. As I walked to my car, I unwound the spiral from the pages it was holding. I tossed the stack of paper and my books onto the passenger seat, and crawled underneath the car. I assessed the problem as well as I could, and figured out how to remedy it. If I fit the wire through a hole in the side of the exhaust pipe rather than try to wrap it around, the wire from the spiral notebook was just long enough to secure it off the road.

That’s what I did. Then crawled back out from under the car, got in, and drove twenty miles to Lapeer. I picked up my daughters from the babysitter, and went home. I said, “look what Mommy brought home for you guys,” as I stacked the loose papers from the spiral notebook in front of them with a couple pencils. Then I made dinner.

Used

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Years ago, one of my daughters mentioned to me that she was buying new living room furniture. I responded with surprise and, if I’m honest, judgment. The furniture they were replacing was not even ten years old! I understood theirs were lower-end pieces to start with, and that young children and pets can be hard on furniture. Still, I jumped in with a story. “Let me tell you about my best piece of furniture…” I began.

My best piece of furniture was an arm chair that sat in one corner of my living room. My Dad had picked it up from the roadside about twenty years earlier, and brought it back to his own house. Mom shook her head and frowned, so it was immediately banished to the back room. The back room of my parents house held two freezers, one refrigerator, the hot water heater, a washer and dryer, a large sink, an old couch, a sturdy table used for folding clothes, a wood stove, and a wall of pegboard that held a few large pots and pans. Dad added the armchair. He’d sit in the chair while reading, or dozing next to the warmth of the fire.

Eventually, the chair was deemed too ragged for even the back room, and it was moved out to the garage. There, it was squeezed in among tool benches, lawn chairs and garden equipment. Then one year when Dad was trying to make some order of the garage, he decided the chair had to go. When he made his springtime trip to Beaver Island, he brought the chair up north with him. For several years, it provided a perch on the enclosed front porch of the family farmhouse.

When my Aunt Katie moved a bookcase and a rocking chair out to the front porch, the armchair was moved again, this time out to her pole barn. There, it was used for several years by the guys who came up to the farm for hunting season. It was a step up from the ragtag selection of folding chairs, old kitchen stools and blocks of wood that provided other seating there. In time, though, Aunt Katie decided to get rid of the chair. “I’ll take it,” I told her, “I’d love a good armchair!”

That’s how it came to be mine. It was upholstered in a faded mustard yellow tapestry with flowers and and leaves in shades of the same color. The fabric had, over the years, lost most of its texture, and was worn through in spots. The springs had lost their bounce and were poking through in places. A thick seat cushion kept that from being a problem. The chair had padded, rolled arms, and the back curved around to cradle my back and shoulders. The chair was wide enough so that, if I were determined, I could curl up for a nap in it. I loved it.

The armchair was already old when Dad picked it up, and it was used long and well before it came to be mine. It served me well for many years. I liked it for the seat, and for its story. For a long time, it was the best piece of furniture I had. It was a good chair.

Review

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I am a reader. I read newspapers and magazines and even cereal boxes. I read books of all kinds: fiction; non-fiction; cookbooks; gardening books; reference books. I read reviews. I especially love book reviews, and often seek out books based on a good blurb. Sometimes I start a book that has been waiting on my shelf for a while, and can’t seem to get into it. Then, I’ll go back to the review to remember what made it sound good. That reminder will give me the incentive to plow through a slow beginning.

Though I enjoy reading book reviews, I do not like writing them. I am rarely good at it, so I usually avoid it. However, I finished a book a few weeks ago, and cannot stop thinking about it. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr is the most fascinating book I’ve read in years. It grabbed and held my attention so intensely, I sometimes felt like I couldn’t stand the suspense. I would like to convince everyone to read it!

The characters are likeable and engaging; it is a wonderful story. Beyond that, it feels important. It carries messages that transcend the narrative, about how we treat each other, and the world we inhabit, but it is never preachy.

Cloud Cuckoo Land spans six centuries, and tells the stories of five very different characters. Doerr leads the reader along through the downfall of Constantinople. He shows both sides of the horrors of conquest, through the eyes of those most bitterly effected: a child within the walls of the city, and a young boy conscripted, along with his team of oxen, to prepare for the assault, Another character comes to life in the middle of this country, before the start of World War II. Yet another joins the tale in the 1970s. A final character lives sometime in the not too distant future, within the confines of a spaceship. What links them all together is a story written in ancient Greece, Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Written by Antonius Diogenes as a bedtime tale, it tells the story of Aethon, a man who goes looking for a “utopian city in the sky.” Along the way he has many adventures. He finds himself transformed into a donkey, changed into a fish, swallowed by a sea creature, and on and on until he finally finds his utopia.

The wild, comical and unlikely adventures of Aethon provide a counterpoint to the other tense, sometimes tragic stories. At first, the book seemed a little disjointed, and I thought I’d have a hard time keeping the characters and the story lines straight. I worried for nothing. Though the narrative jumps through hundreds of years, different countries and various civilizations, I had no trouble following along, and becoming totally invested in each of the characters.

It becomes more and more clear, as the tale progresses, that the ancient text is the link between all of the characters. Still, I was amazed and thrilled at how tidily the author gathered up all the different story lines, and stitched them together in to one neat package at the end.

I need to say, too, though there were times I was so immersed in the sadness and troubles I was reading about that I was near despair, this is a hopeful and even a joyous book. Parents are kind; children are wise. Each character struggles, and suffers, but also experiences joy and, in the end, finds redemption. One friend, whose review of this book spurred me to read it, called it a “magic carpet ride.” That’s an apt description! What a delicious feeling to be held in thrall by the pages of a good book!

Kitchens

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I’ve lived in a lot of places in my adult life, so I’ve had an assortment of kitchens.
  • My first was an in an upstairs apartment where all the floors ran at a slant. The kitchen and bathroom had been carved out of a space that had, before renovations, been one small bedroom, or a large bathroom. The two rooms shared a sink.
  • Then there was a large country kitchen in a downstairs apartment in the same building. That’s the apartment that I brought my first daughter home to, so I have lots of good memories associated with it. My father-in-law would stop in sometimes, for pie and coffee, and to visit with the baby.
  • Next was a tiny kitchen in a small cottage on a lake. When we first moved in, we thought we’d stay there forever. I bought three potted African violets, one for each little window over the kitchen sink.
  • Tired of remodeling and expecting another baby, we sold the lake house for barely enough profit to get settled in a brand new townhouse rental. The kitchen was small, but perfectly laid out. I loved it.
  • From there, we moved to Beaver Island, and into the family farm until winter. There, I channeled all the good cooks before me, and turned out fresh-baked breads and kettles of soup.
  • Come winter, we moved in to the “Stone House,” where the kitchen had, for looks, an old wood-fired cook stove next to the usable electric model. Pegboard lined one wall, and held an assortment of sturdy pans and utensils. A large collection of old cookbooks spurred my interest in collecting recipes.
  • Spring, it was back to the farmhouse. Summer visitors gave me opportunity to make big Sunday suppers for a crowd. The table expanded to accommodate every guest.
  • That Fall, we moved off the island and back to Lapeer County. Our next home was the rear apartment in a duplex that had once been the Deerfield Township Hall. I loved that kitchen! The back wall held a long bank of cabinets. The room was large enough for our table and chairs, and even, in season, for our Christmas tree! We lived there six months before I had a stove. I learned how to do everything, from birthday cakes to cinnamon rolls to baked lasagna, in my electric frying pan!
  • From there, we moved to a house on Johnson Mill Road. As much as I’d loved the last kitchen, I hated this one! Dark, wood-look cabinets were a dramatic counterpoint to the lively 1960’s era white, blue and green wallpaper. The floor was vinyl tile making an effort to look like brick. Ugh!
  • Then, back to Beaver Island: first the family farmhouse again, then a mobile home that faced the harbor. I can’t remember anything about that kitchen, but I know we had guests over for Thanksgiving dinner, and I prepared the meal.
  • We moved in to McCafferty’s Hotel for the winter. The kitchen there was spacious, warm and easy to work in.
  • Within the year, we moved in to our own little house, still unfinished and with few interior walls, but workable. Until the water froze.
  • Then, my girls and I moved in to the Erin Motel for the winter. Though the room had a small refrigerator and an electric burner, most of our meals were pretty unimaginative that winter.
  • After that, a house in North Branch, where the kitchen is remembered mostly for the bat that visited us there. Dinner was often take-out from the pizzeria where I worked.
  • Then, the Cherry Lane apartments on the campus of Michigan State University. We lived in two during the course of our time there, but they were nearly identical. In the small kitchens as in every other aspect of the space, the designers were masters at making the most of the space. Cooking there was memorable as we were walking distance from a large, cosmopolitan grocery store. Foods from all around the world were available there.
  • Finally, back to my own little house on Beaver Island. I added cabinets in the kitchen, then rearranged them. Four times. I moved the sink, and the window over the sink. I put up shelves for my cookbooks. It’s still a work in progress, but after all these years, this kitchen suits me.

Just in Time!

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For weeks now, I have been meaning to get busy in the spare room upstairs. There is furniture to arrange. A large bookcase has to be emptied and moved to make room for a dresser. Once the bookcase is set up in its new location, the shelves have to be filled again. One chair, a small rack that holds DVDs, and a couple framed pictures have to be moved, too. The box spring should be brought down the stairs and outside, in anticipation of having it hauled away. I’m not sure that I can manage it on my own.

I decided that, as I’m shuffling things around, I might as well put another coat of paint on the floor of that room. Of course, there is sorting and organizing and cleaning to do, too. Every day, I plan to start; every day, I find an reason not to. Once again, because I never do learn, I have built a manageable job up into an insurmountable task, that is now too intimidating to handle.

When that job is finished, if it is ever finished, I have plenty to do on the other side of the landing, in the studio. From cleaning to creating, the studio always has a long “to-do” list. Downstairs, where I manage – though barely – to stay on top of things, there are plenty of tasks to catch up on. Now is the time for spring cleaning. All of the windows need to be washed. The rugs should be cleaned. Thinking ahead, I should order plants and seeds for the garden, and I have a few seeds to start in the house.

I couldn’t seem to find the energy tackle any of it. Every day, more of the same: ice; cold; snow. The end-of-winter doldrums had caught up with me. I did not want to get out of bed in the morning. I forced myself through my daily routines: make the bed; write in the journal; study; draw; exercise; go to work; walk; do the dishes. Most of the time, they are just rituals that add order to my life. Some days, in this long, slow time of year when the landscape hardly changes and it feels like winter will never end, those habits are the only things that keep me from dropping into depression. Often, they are the only things I accomplish in a day.

Then, suddenly and seemingly without warning, everything changed. There was a hint of spring in the air. The sunshine was especially warm and cheering. Overnight, what had been a thick layer of snow and ice on the Fox Lake Road turned to slush. By the next day, there were large patches of gravel showing, and the slush had melted. My little dog, Blackie Chan, usually hates to get his feet wet. He will shake off each paw with a look of disgust on his face, if he steps into anything other than solid ground. And yet, the day before yesterday, that little dog walked all the way down the road, in water to his knees, smiling the whole distance. I know just what he was feeling!

Today, I can see bare earth in patches across the back yard. When the sun is shining in, it’s warm enough to have the door open to the screen. The rhododendron has unfurled its leaves, and has tiny buds forming on the stems! I think I’ll hang the rugs out on the clothesline today! It’s early yet, for spring on Beaver Island. Here, we can usually expect at least one more major snowfall. Several years, we’ve gotten a blizzard after the first of April, and we often have patches of snow still visible through the month of May. Still, today it feels like spring, and I’ll relish it. I say, just in time!

Excessive Worry Leads to Nothing Good

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Six words to describe my life right now: excessive worry leads to nothing good.

I think radio, television, and the internet have given us all much more to worry about, every day. Of course there are advantages, but sometimes I find myself longing for a time when news was not available twenty-four hours a day, from all around the world. Can you imagine? I think it sounds quite lovely to be unaware, to not feel like I should be coming up with a solution, or fretting about things that I have little power to change. Not forever, but for a while.

Right now, the world seems dark, and ominous. Too heavy. Ukraine. Nuclear saber-rattling. Climate change. A dozen more worrisome things that make the news and, I know, a hundred other travesties that, for one reason or another, are not in the headlines today. I do what I can, but it feels like nothing in the face of such enormous issues. So, I worry.

Yesterday, storms swept through the mid-western United States. Tornadoes touched down in Iowa. One of my daughters lives in Iowa. She’s a nurse, and works the night shift. I couldn’t call her. I spent some time trying to get more information, and pulling up maps of her location, in relation to the path of the storms. And, I worry. I worry about both of my daughters and all of my grandchildren, often, even when I know they’re doing well, even when they’re not possibly in the path of a tornado.

In my own small, sedate, and secure world, I have tiny concerns. A little glitch in my bookkeeping, a small health issue, a leaky roof, three aging dogs, two books underway that I’m right in the middle of the high-stress point…in comparison to what’s going on “out there,” I have nothing to complain about. Still, in the middle of the night, when worries take over, these little things play leapfrog with all the big things, to make sleep impossible.

Sandwiched, as I usually am, between two small dogs in my bed, the decision to get up is not made lightly. Sometimes, unable to sleep, I stay where I’m at just to avoid rousing the whole household. Last night, after hours of frustration at not being able to quiet my mind, I got out of bed. First a glass of water, then a cup of tea. I paced the floor. I sat and read. Maybe, the very least I could do is finish one book, and have that one less thing playing on my mind. I made toast, and ate it with butter and jam. Then I ate a dozen dried cherries, each accompanied by a roasted almond. Another cup of tea. All the while, letting dogs, their own sleep interrupted, outside and back in.

Finally, around four o’clock in the morning, I went back to bed. I had not solved the world’s problems, nor found solutions to any of my own. I had made no progress in any area; I hadn’t even finished a book. I ate – too much, and not particularly healthfully – in the middle of the night. Lacking a good night’s sleep, I’ve been dragging around all day, less productive than usual, even. All I’ve managed is to prove my statement: excessive worry leads to nothing good!

A Jumble of Thoughts

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I’ve been tossing around ideas for what to write about. I have a few, but haven’t taken time to flesh any of them out. To avoid letting another week go by without a blog post, my plan is to let the thoughts flow through the keyboard.

The last two (or three…or more?) books I’ve chosen for my morning study time have been in the Self-Help category. I always feel like I need help, so books offering ways to improve myself often appeal to me. Until I reach a point where I’ve had enough. Eventually, I get tired of the implied criticism wrapped up in pointed advice. Finally, I am fed up, at least for a while, with reading how to make myself a better person. Halfway through Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, a guide to quit procrastinating, which followed the similar and self-explanatory Getting Things Done by David Allen, I promised myself that I would shelve the entire self-help category of books for a while.

There are ways to improve myself without nit-picking about my flaws. Studying Spanish, for instance, doesn’t make me feel bad about my current state of foreign language skills. Learning a new method of making art would not diminish what I’ve already done. There are plenty of areas of interest for me to explore, and I’ve been looking forward to getting started. A Writer’s Coach by Jack Hart is the book I chose to delve into. What a pleasure it is!

In fact, by sheer coincidence, I’ve started three new books all within a day of each other. For reading before bed, and for reading in restaurants, airplanes or waiting rooms. I depend on my Kindle reader. It’s easy to transport and, as my vision gets worse, the screen is easier to see in situations where the light is unpredictable. I finished Killer Instinct, the first in a series of mysteries by Zoe Sharp, and downloaded the second, Riot Act. I listen to books on Audible when I’m walking the dogs. I just finished The Maid, by Nita Prose, and started All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. For reading in the morning, when my mind is clearest for concentrating, and when I’m at the dining room table, with good light, and the ability to take notes, I am now enjoying A Writer’s Coach.

Hart suggests that there are two types of writers, planners and plungers. A planner likes to know the central point and the general direction his writing will take before getting started. A plunger jumps in to a topic and starts writing whatever comes to mind. “After a while,” he says, “a focus emerges.” This process is “free writing.”

It’s early yet – I’m only on page eleven, after all – but I may differ with the author on this point. Rather than “two types of writers,” I think it might better be introduced as two ways of writing. I know I work both ways, at different times. Sometimes, I know what I want to say, and have a good idea of how I want to say it. Other times, like today, I just plunge in!

First Five Word Friday

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My friend, Judith, who writes her blog from New Zealand, said, “come join us in this new challenge. You know what to do. Describe your life now in only five words and then go on to tell us more.” I was almost stopped when she said, “link back here,” as I don’t know exactly how to do that. But, I’m up for a challenge (especially when it only involves five words!), and happy for the inspiration, so I’m in.

Technology. Ugh. I have a lap top computer, a small Android tablet, and, since last October, a cell phone. I feel like they are each necessary and helpful devices that I should know better. The computer sits on my desk. It is where I write, watch the news, check social media, and stream videos. I feel like I’m well acquainted with its operations and capabilities. Until someone says, “link back here.” or some other such process that I haven’t done before, or don’t on a regular enough basis to remember how. Then, I’m right back at “square one.” The tablet has a good camera, my Kindle account for reading, my Audible account for listening, and a word game that I play with my sisters. It gets a lot of use, and we are usually on pretty good terms. Until it tells me I’m out of storage space or some such nonsense, and I have to call a daughter to figure out how to delete files or “send things to the cloud.” The cell phone, oh my gosh, I can’t even begin! Oh, that link, I think, is here: https://growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com/2022/02/04/16854/

Cold. I could not possibly describe my life, in February, in northern Michigan, in the middle of this winter, without considering the cold! It has been bitter! We’ve had a spate of low temperatures, and wind chills that make it feel even more frigid. It seems to permeate the walls of my little house, making it difficult to leave my warm bed in the mornings. Walking the dogs is a chore in this weather, with fingers and toes burning with cold, no matter how many layers I pile on. Snow has frozen into sheets and blocks of ice, making it a challenge to get around. When I left work last evening, I had to scrape ice off the inside of my windshield!

Exercise. With the new year, of course , come new resolutions. Exercise is not new to my life, but I’ve increased the type and quantity, and renewed my commitment to make it a daily habit. I find that I work best in small increments. Hour-long exercise tapes seem unbearable; I feel defeated before I even get started! Fifteen minutes seems just about right. There are plenty of short routines available for free on the internet. I usually do several of them back-to-back, tricking myself into getting a decent workout.

Spring. This is the time of year when seed catalogs come almost daily in the mail. Their variety alone is intriguing. Some opt for bright photos, while others go for the look of an old-fashioned catalogue. Some emphasize hardiness and disease-resistance; others on the history or heirloom nature of a particular plant. Every single one is worth a good look. Together, they have me planning my garden, and wishing for spring!

Work. I really like my new job! I work in a beautiful building right in the center of town. I feel that I’m able to utilize many skills that I’ve acquired through my life. I feel appreciated! And, since I’m due to be there in an hour, I’d better get moving!

That’s it for my first five-word Friday. Maybe I’ll make it a regular thing! What five words would describe your life, right now?

Nostalgia

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It’s after four o’clock on this Sunday afternoon. I should have published a blog by now. It’s time to get outside for a walk with the dogs. The day is practically gone, but I’ve been busy. Because this is my oldest daughter’s birthday, I made sure to set time aside to call her, not too early, in case she worked the late shift last night; not too late, in case she had plans. I also spent quite a bit of time reminiscing about all the lovely times we’ve shared.

I made granola. I don’t eat breakfast, but I like a bowl of cereal with milk after supper. It kind of stands in for dessert. As children, my brothers and sisters and I all liked a bowl of cereal at night, before we went to bed. Yesterday, I paid over six dollars for a box of cereal. It was a smallish box, too, for that price. I’ll be lucky to get five or six bowls out of it. So. today, I got up and made a big kettle of oats, nuts and seeds granola.

When I pulled out the spiral notebook with my tried-and-true granola recipe in it, a dozen or more pages came out in my hands. It is, granted, just an old, cheap spiral notebook, but the recipes it holds are precious. I bought it at the grocery store in 1978, the first winter I spent on Beaver Island. We were renting a big old stone house that had belonged to a retired priest, Father Donahue. It came furnished. The shelves in the dining room were filled with vintage cookbooks. I divided the notebook into sections for appetizers and beverages, breads, side dishes, main dishes and desserts, and started copying down any recipes that looked interesting.

I’ve continued to add to it over the years. That’s where I recorded my mother-in-law’s directions for the best no-bake cookies. My Mom’s rhubarb crisp. My daughter’s broccoli salad. My sister-in-law’s cheese ball. I copied the recipe for “Spicy Perk-a-Punch” from my mother’s Farm Journal magazine, and I make it every year at Christmastime. The pages that have cookie recipes are spattered with evidence of their use. Though I own a large collection of interesting cookbooks, that old spiral notebook is where I turn when I’m looking for a specific recipe that I know I can count on.

Before it’s all lost for good, I decided it’s time to get the recipes copied. Because I never seem able to take the simplest or most direct path, rather than just re-writing the recipes, I decided to type them into the computer. That way, they could be more easily turned into a book, to share with my children and grandchildren.

Because it’s the first complete day off I’ve had in five days, and because I added to my wardrobe with a few good pieces from the Resale Shop, I had laundry to do. Luckily, all of those things fit nicely together. I got the granola mixed up and in a low oven, then started a load of wash. I typed a couple recipes, stirred the granola, then typed a couple more. I got up to put the clothes in the dryer, another stir, a little more typing.

In between, there was the steady rotation of dogs going outside and coming back in. And lots of good memories filling in every pause. From the January night when Jennifer was born, through all of the years, and every single cherished moment. A good Sunday!