Category Archives: Books

Lost…and Found

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Lost and found seems to be the underlying theme of my days lately. I blame my failing memory, a lack of care and too many distractions. Whatever the reasons, the facts are undeniable.

A month ago, I went on a house-wide search for the little device whose sole purpose is to retrieve photos from my camera’s SD card. I spent several hours over as many days looking, and thinking about where I might have put it, and searching some more. I know I wouldn’t have thrown it away, but I was running out of places to look. I finally gave up.

Near the first of September, close to the last page in my morning journal, I went to the bookcase to pull out another. Though the journal is a simple composition book, I am particular about the ones I use. I like wide-rules pages, sewn binding, and a marbled black and white cover. I usually order them in a multi-pack, so that I always have them on hand. I use the journal each morning for my gratitude practice, random thoughts and observations, dreams that I remember, and notes from whatever book I’m studying. Each journal lasts from several weeks to a few months. That, it turns out, is plenty of time for me to forget whether or not I have another composition book waiting.

When I couldn’t find one, I went on-line and ordered three more. That should have been plenty of time to get them here before I ran out of pages. It wasn’t. Though the order, when I tracked it, said it was delivered, it was not. I contacted the seller, who asked if I’d like a refund or a replacement. “Please re-send the product,” I replied, “as quickly as possible.” By that time, I was at the end of my journal. Two days later, a reply came from the sender saying they had issued me a refund. Ugh!

The grocery store here on Beaver Island used to carry composition books. Though pricier than the ones I usually order, I was willing to pay…but they had none. So, I went back to the computer and placed another order for three composition books. Due to arrive here in four days, delivery was delayed twice. It shouldn’t be so difficult!

Then, I lost a pile of cash. I’ve been looking at possibly buying an electric bicycle; my house needs a new roof; I was hoping to be able to travel downstate to attend my niece’s wedding. Money deposited in my checking account is quickly absorbed into regular necessary spending, so I’d been keeping some cash out, set aside for one of these “extras.” Before I took my day trip off the island, realizing that was too much cash to carry around, I took the money out of my purse, and put it “somewhere safe.”

Then, I forgot where I put it! I thought I knew where it was, but when it wasn’t there, I had no idea where to look. I’ve been searching for it for weeks! I’ve gone through every file in every file drawer. I’ve gone over everything on all of my shelves, including emptying every basket and shaking out each book, in case I might have tucked the money between the pages.

During the search, I found my SD card reader, tucked into a seldom-used briefcase that sits under my desk. I found my stash of extra, empty composition books, not far from where I had already searched for them. I found my good binoculars that have been tucked away for so long, I forgot I even had them. And, after a prayer to Saint Anthony, patron saint of lost items, I finally found my money! And took it right to the bank, before I could misplace it again! I’ve had enough of “lost and found!”

Well

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Lord knows, I can always find plenty to say when things are going badly. Sometimes I think the only reason I keep this blog going is so that I’ll have a place to voice my complaints! Many days, it seems like if I’m not grumbling about something, I have nothing to talk about. So, for everyone that endures the whining, I think I’ll get a few words down now when things are going well. And plenty of things are, in fact, going well!

Used to be, I’d fall into a terrible, self-pitying depression every year around my birthday. I’d take note of how little I’d accomplished in my life up to that point, how I wasn’t loved or appreciated, and how old I was becoming with nothing to show for it. No amount of well-wishes and birthday cheer could drive that blue mood away. And oh, if I had to work on my birthday, or if one of my children forgot to call, well…it was just that much worse. I’m happy to find that I seem to have outgrown that tired old habit. Now, my birthday comes and goes pretty calmly. This year, I managed to turn seventy without any melodrama.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having time to spend with people that I love. I took a day trip to the mainland to meet my best friend in Mackinac City. It was too short, but we had a good visit and a nice lunch in the time we had. I’ve had time to chat with several cousins when they were here on the island. Recently, my nephew and his wife came here on vacation. Then, my four sisters were here for a long weekend during the Emerald Isle Irish Feile’. I enjoyed the entertainment, some wonderful meals, good conversation and even puzzles and games, all in the company of some of my favorite people. The day after they left, four cousins arrived. It’s always a pleasure to see these women who I’ve known since they were small children.

Animals are active on Beaver Island this time of year. Wild turkeys walk in procession across the roads, and the migrating birds are starting to gather. The chipmunks and squirrels are busy, gathering acorns or just rushing around. I feel thankful every day that so far I’ve managed to get to work and back home without incident, though they seem to rush out in front of my car as if they have a death wish! On my daily walks, I often startle deer that are nibbling in the berry brambles.

My meager garden has been offering up loads of cherry tomatoes, and enough summer squash for my use. In addition, my cousin has shared the bounty from his garden. I’ve enjoyed lettuce, peppers and kale, and enough green beans to put several quarts in the freezer.

I repaired my clothes dryer. I was able to get my whole five pound bag of coffee ground. I cleaned the refrigerator, and the freezer above it. I started a new book. The dogs are both doing well. I won four dollars on a scratch-off ticket. I lost three pounds and, for five days in a row, at least, have not gained it back! There’s a hint of fall in the air, and that makes me appreciate every single warm day. Usually, I’m able to notice everything that’s going wrong. Right now, there seems to be an abundance of good things!

One Author

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As a person who loves to read, I go through a lot of books. Though I have a list of authors that I know I can depend on, I’m always on the lookout for others. When I come across a book that intrigues me, I’ll look for others by the same writer. That’s an over-simplified explanation of how I came to read Kate Atkinson’s books.

First, I read Life After Life. I saw it in a bookstore. The image – a rose – on the front cover caught my eye; the description on the back cover drew me in. It was an easy choice for my “next read,” and it did not disappoint. I’d never read a book quite like it before and, though the story line intentionally jittered around, it held my rapt attention all the way through. I hated for it to end!

Next, I read A God in Ruins which, though not exactly a sequel to Life After Life, had many of the same characters. As the style of the two books was so decidedly different, it gave me an idea of both the scope and the talent of the author. That put me on a quest to find more of Kate Atkinson’s work. I read Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Transcription, and When Will There Be Good News?

Then, after a pause where I was catching up on new books by other authors I follow, I kind of got confused, forgot Atkinson’s name, and started reading books by Kate Quinn, instead. Quinn’s books are well-researched, and often set in World War II. Like Life After Life and A God in Ruins. I’d read a couple of them before I realized that the authors, both named Kate, were two different people. Kate Quinn is also a very good writer, and I’ve now read many of her books as well.

Then, I came upon Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson. It is the first of her Jackson Brodie mysteries (there are five), and I loved it! I followed with the second in that series, One Good Turn, which was also wonderful. The third is When Will There Be Good News? I was going to skip it and jump to the fourth in the series, but a few years had passed since I’d read it, and I’d learned more about the Brodie character from the first two books, so I re-read it.

I’m so glad I did! For whatever reason, on the first reading, I’d missed a lot of the nuance and subtle humor injected into every page. I had also forgotten quite a bit of the story, so was held in suspense just as much as when I’d first read it. With the history of many of the characters gained from the first two books, I understood them better, and loved them more.

Next, I read the fourth Jackson Brodie book, Started Early, Took My Dog, and the the fifth and final one, Big Sky. And, though it didn’t detract a bit from my enjoyment of both of them, I was more than a little surprised to realize that I’d read them both before. When?! I have no record of them in any of my lists of “Books Read,” so that tells me it has to have been at least five or six years ago, before I started keeping book lists. I can only guess that I read them before I knew the author from Life After Life, so I was not appreciating them as much as I would when I knew her capabilities.

Anyway, Kate Atkinson has provided me with a good summer’s-worth of reading material. I’m now listening to Behind the Scenes at the Museum, to see what I missed in that treasure the first time around, and looking forward to her next book, Shrines of Gaiety, that will be delivered to my electronic reader in September.

Jumping In

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This summer, like any other, is a mash-up of good things and bad. Some stretch around the world; others at least nationally. Others are very close to home. Today, I’m jumping in to talk about some of them.

I am continually horrified by the war in Ukraine. I’m reading The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn, a well-researched historical novel set in the early years of the second world war. It is told from the perspective of a young Russian soldier, a female sharp-shooter, as the Nazis – violently, horrendously, and without provocation – push through their country. Now, in real time, the Russians are the invaders. Their actions are the ones that are unbelievably heartless, cruel, and that they have to lie to try to justify. How can we humans be so awful? How is it that we can’t seem to learn from our own suffering, that inflicting suffering on others is not the answer? This is only one conflict in a world that is full of them.

In this country, there is continuing gun violence. We have no time to recover from one devastating incident, before we are faced with another. The politicians rant on about the loss of our second amendment rights while the funerals are still going on. And our judicial system has just made it easier for folks to carry concealed weapons.

The dust from that news had not even settled before the Supreme Court went on to reverse Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that ensured a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. That feels like a “punch to the gut” to all, including myself, who have worked hard in the fight for the women’s rights and equality. I know this is a highly controversial topic; conflict-avoider that I am, I hesitate to even bring it up. But I think the time for measured silence is long past.

I can’t speak as knowledgably as many. I don’t have a medical background. Psychological, medical, economic and ethical reasons for needing to terminate a pregnancy are wide-ranging. I can’t quote scripture, but I know that scripture can be, and has been, used to energize and support whichever point of view you want. I can’t even accurately talk about the historical precedents, when laws have been invented, passed, repealed and changed to suit the whims and needs of men, and to keep women “in their place.” But all of this information is out there. I am not pro-abortion; I don’t think anyone is. But I stand firmly with science, and a woman’s right to make that difficult choice.

My friend, Paul, has always read everything I write and has frequently offered me his opinion. Over the years, I’ve learned that we share a love of learning and quite a few political opinions. We have often commiserated over current events and the condition of the world. I know that he appreciates some abstract art – though not mine – and that his preference lies in realistic paintings of beautiful scenery.

Last week, I started my blog with a Mary Oliver poem. Paul stopped in at the Community Center to tell me that he was glad I had found time to write, and that he prefers poetry that rhymes. I didn’t argue. At more than 90 years old, I think Paul is welcome to his opinion, whatever it is. We spoke for a bit about the state of the nation, this busy season, and the wonderful cadence of E.B. White’s poetry. Unlike today, that was as controversial as I was willing to be. On Saturday, Paul suffered a massive heart attack and died. I’m glad for the time I spent listening. For Paul, a rhyming poem:

Village Revisited

(A cheerful lament in which truth, pain, and beauty are prominently mentioned, and in that order)

by E.B. White

In the days of my youth, in the days of my youth,
I lay in West Twelfth Street, writhing with Truth,
I died in Jones Street, dallying with pain,
And flashed up Sixth Avenue, risen again.

In the terrible, beautiful age of my prime,
I lacked for sweet linen, but never for time.
The tree in the alley was potted in gold,
The girls on the buses would never grow old.

Last night with my love I returned to these haunts
To visit Pain's diggings and try for Truth's glance;
I was eager and ardent and waited as always
The answering click to my ring in the hallways,
But Truth hardly knew me, and Pain wasn't in
(It scarcely seemed possible Pain wasn't in).

Beauty recalled me. We bowed in the Square,
In the wonderful westerly Waverly air.
She had a new do, I observed, to her hair.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^





Thursday Thoughts

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This blog is going to be a bunch of jumbled thoughts. I don’t have time to be fussy about it. Usually, I jot down a few ideas, and put them in a kind of sensible order before I begin writing. Then I edit as I go. I check spelling if I have any doubt, though I am a good speller; I go to the Thesaurus if I have the urge to re-use a word too often; sometimes I rearrange sentences or even whole paragraphs. Not today.

It’s already late in the day. I stripped the bed this morning, washed the sheets and comforter, and have yet to remake the bed. My supper is in the oven. It has been a busy, stressful day, and I’m ready to be done. I’ve been feeling guilty, though, about neglecting this blog. There are few things in my life that I have stuck with for as long as this, and I don’t want to let it go. So, here I am, rushing to get something down, while my chicken finishes cooking.

This is my first day off in a week! I started my summer job at the golf course, which takes up my weekends, now, until the end of September. At the Community Center, a couple of my co-workers were out sick, so I filled in. Some of those were short shifts, and nothing was too difficult; still, a day when I have to go to work is a day when I don’t get much else done. It all piles up and waits for me.

Yesterday, after working a couple hours in the morning, I went to the bank, the post office and the grocery store. I took the dogs down to Fox Lake for a swim, which was a nice break for all of us. Then, I hunkered down to put together a packet for a gallery where I’d like to show my work.

I had a good start on it a month ago. Knowing the deadline was in June, and knowing my propensity for procrastination, I was determined to be ready. Then, my family was here for a visit. Then, my little dog got sick, and then died. And my job at the golf course started. And a couple co-workers got sick. And suddenly, the deadline – June 10th – was right on top of me.

So, yesterday I rewrote my Artist Statement and cover letter. I opened a Paypal account, necessary for the entry fee, and I started revising my resume. Because I tend to go right down a rabbit hole when confronted with things like that, I spent far too much time reading about and looking at samples of resumes and CVs and went to bed last night with the deadline still looming.

A couple recent rains have sent my lawn into a growing frenzy. It really needs to be mowed! I have to get the garden worked up and planted, if I’m going to get anything out of it. I bargained with myself: take today to finish everything that has to be done in order to submit the application to the gallery, then tomorrow, take the whole day outside.

It worked! I submitted the packet just before 4PM. I did a little victory dance, then took the dogs for a long walk. I made a big salad, and put a couple drumsticks in the oven to bake. It should be done any minute now. Tomorrow, I’ll be outside. Maybe, I’ll get to some semblance of “on top of things” by the weekend!

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.