Category Archives: Gardening

All the Things…

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My friend, Paul, came into the Community Center last week. His greeting, on seeing me, was something like, “Oh, there’s the lady that writes when she feels like it…” That was his way of letting me know that he noticed when I didn’t post a blog last week. From Paul, I’ll accept the scolding. He may be my most loyal reader! He frequently offers an opinion or a comment about something I’ve written. He has often told me how much he enjoys my essays, and he misses them when I don’t write.

Still, I gave him a rundown of what had been occupying my time, then told him my next post would be about all the things that I’m doing when I am not writing. “Good idea,” he said. Spring is a busy time of year out here on the Fox Lake Road. There is plenty to do, and I’ve been working hard.

I finally got the box spring moved out of the spare room upstairs. After months of worry and procrastination, when everything else I plan to do in that room (paint the floor, move a small stand and a large bookcase to the other side of the room so that the two dressers can inhabit the same wall, put down a rug, set up my Pilates chair) hinged on getting the box spring out. Finally, I tackled the job, wrestled it through the door and around the corner on the small landing, and down the stairs. It is now resting comfortably in the tall grass of my back yard, until I can figure out where to go with it next.

After tripping over the stuff for a week, I – at long last – got all of the papermaking supplies cleaned, sorted, and put away. I enjoy teaching papermaking, but it involves a ton of prep-work, and even more clean-up when it’s done.

Last Sunday was a warm and beautiful day, so I abandoned my long list of things to get done in the house, and headed outside. I picked up windfall from under the old maple trees. I pruned the vines of climbing rose that had nearly taken over my front door. I cut back the wisteria, then started on the grape vines. They had nearly buried a forsythia bush, and it needed to be pruned, too, when I uncovered it, I cleared some weeds out of the daylily bed, raked around the rhododendron, and pulled some blackberry brambles out of the poppy bed.

My friend Judi stopped by, and I sent her off with a clump of rhubarb and a few Oriental poppy plants. I spent seven hours working in the yard that day. I hauled away twelve wheel-barrow loads of debris. Then I took the dogs for a walk. And then ibuprofen, a hot shower, and a small dinner before I collapsed into bed.

Tuesday was my only other day off last week, and I spent it outside, too. I finished pulling up the blackberry brambles, and worked on weeding and removing leaves from the flower beds. Before and after work, I’ve been trying to put the house in order – or at least in a state of less disorder – and other tasks that are specific to this time of year. I stored winter sweaters, and pulled a few warm-weather clothes clothes out. I turned off the furnace, and opened windows to the screens. On one nice day, I tossed all the dog beds, rugs and cushions outside where I swept and pounded and shook them clean, and left them out in the fresh air while I gave the floors a good cleaning.

Today, I walked the dogs early. Then I baked a cake. I went to town to meet the boat. One cousin, two sisters, a nephew and his daughter, my grand-niece, arrived on the ferry. Happy day! They’ll be here only until Friday, so I plan to spend as much time with them as I possibly can. So, if I don’t post another blog in the coming days, it’s because I’m busy enjoying time with my family!

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.

Vexations

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It’s late, I’m tired, and, since I washed the sheets today, I have to make up the bed before I can get into it. It just dawned on me that I had not yet posted a blog today. And, working my way through the alphabet, here I am, faced with the letter V. That has to be one of the most difficult letters. After walking the dogs, I took a picture of my over-grown grapevines. I was thinking “vines” will have to be my topic, because what else is there?

Unfortunately, it turns out I don’t have much to say about vines, either. I struggled with the topic for a while, then paged through the dictionary. It turns out, there are a few V words that I can write about. And, what they have in common is that they are problems. Nothing to get really worked up about; just minor vexations.

  • Vision. My eyesight is failing me, and it’s a cause of constant frustration. I need a strong light and a magnifying glass to simply read package directions. This evening, I noticed that I had once again left the coffee pot on all day, even though I checked it before I left the house. The trouble is that I cannot see the little green light that indicated “on,” and I forget if the “off” position is to the left or to the right. Granted, that might be a cognitive problem along with the vision issue, but still. So, tonight, I took a black permanent marker and boldly wrote “on” and “off” on the coordinating sides of the toggle switch. I hope that settles it.
  • Vermin. After a winter where my house appeared to be fairly pest-free, Last week I had a mouse come to visit. Though I have mousetraps set along the baseboards, in areas where they seem to find entrance, this mouse was brazenly romping right across the countertop. I’d hear the movement, but he was gone when I walked into the room. I barely stepped away and I’d hear him again. Walk into the kitchen, no mouse; leave the room, and the mouse was back. That is not a game I’m willing to play! I spread a plastic trash bag over the countertop, and set a mousetrap on top of it. Within an hour, I had dispatched one fat mouse. They say if you have one mouse, you surely have a dozen of them. I guess only time will tell, but I’m hoping maybe that was the only one.
  • Vines. Inside, I have one English ivy that is doing alright. Outside, I have three vining plants. I tend to neglect the pruning that they demand, so they are all overgrown. The “Seven Sisters” rose was brought to Beaver Island by my Grandma Florence, from Chicago. There were three of them at the family farm. When I was a child, they ran along a fence, but that fence is no longer there. They climbed their small trellises and then sprawled across the lawn. Aunt Katie gave me one of them several years ago. It makes getting to the front door a thorny challenge. The wisteria vine outside of my kitchen door has never flowered. If it would just do that, I’m sure I’d feel much more accommodating about the space it occupies and the work it entails. I’ve tried, at least twice, to get rid of it, but it refuses to leave. The Concord grape vine provides wonderful fruit in late summer, and has a nice character all year round. It is, however, in desperate need of severe pruning, and I’m not looking forward to the task.

So, barely before midnight, I’ve managed to keep up my streak. No matter how difficult the letter, I guess if I can complain, I’ll find something to say!

Promise

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So far, here on Beaver Island, it’s been one of those Aprils where you can’t count on the weather. One nice day is followed by winter-like cold. Instead of gentle April showers, we’ve had ice, and snow, and sleet. At the Community Center, we’re keeping the snow shovel beside the door, and I’m doing the same thing at my house. Sometimes, it seems that all it takes is that show of smug overconfidence, storing winter’s tools for the season, to curse us with one of those not unheard-of late spring blizzards.

April, 2018

I can remember at least three years of the last ten when the “April Fool” was a big storm dumping several inches of snow, on or around the first of April.

April, 2019

Our ferry boat made it’s first run of the season last week. When it pulled out of our harbor in the morning, it was in open water. By the time they made there way back across Lake Michigan in the afternoon, they were pushing through ice much of the way. On top of that, the winds had driven the ice back in to the harbor, so even getting in to the dock was a challenge.

April, 2020

I used to be easily fooled. I’m always ready for spring, and the first warm days send my hopes soaring. There were several times I was sure I could start working in the garden, only to be brought to my senses by the return of winter.

April, 2021

I have a photo, though I can’t find it today, from a not too distant spring, of a bouquet of daffodils on my table in April. The daffodils, narcissus and jonquils have started to push up out of the ground, but are not nearly ready to bloom this year. I have bunches of early snowdrops just outside my kitchen door; they are always first here, and I’ve seen their blossoms come up right through the snow. Today, I was encouraged by a small clump of crocus. That offers promise, anyway, that we will get spring.

and today, April, 2022

Lazy

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If I were asked to describe my character in five words, my list would be: shy; stubborn; trust-worthy; hard-working; and lazy.

“Shy” would get a snort of disbelief from the questioner. Nobody thinks I’m shy anymore. I talk all the time. I talk too much. I have a tendency to interrupt, or to talk over people. I know. But, I was painfully shy as a child, and I still feel shy. I spend a good deal of my alone time cringing and shaking my head over something I said, or the way some interaction went, and mumbling to myself, “stupid…stupid…stupid!”

“Stubborn” might not seem accurate to those that know me a little, but everyone that knows me well would nod solemnly in agreement. Thinking, probably, to themselves that “stubborn” might not be a strong enough word. Maybe “bull-headed” would be better.

“Trustworthy” would probably not be challenged.

“Hard-working” would be easily agreed upon by those who have seen me at any of my jobs.

“Lazy” is a puzzlement. How can Cindy be lazy?? She works all the time! And how can she describe herself as both hard-working and lazy?? Isn’t that a contradiction? Well, apparently not, because I am definitely both. Again, if you look to my family and friends and former partners, you would see lots of affirmative nods. And I’d have to agree.

I do work hard. In addition to jobs I hold to support myself, of which I often have more than one, I do volunteer work. I plant a big garden; I mow my large yard. I walk the dogs every day. I write and study and draw every morning. I publish a blog regularly. I exercise every day. Sometimes, I think I fill my days with work to challenge my firmly held belief that I am lazy. But there is truth in the adage that says, “You can run, but you can’t hide.”

When I was little, there was lots of evidence of my lack of ambition. I was a master at avoiding chores. Once, my mother noticed that, rather than bend over to retrieve something from the floor, I’d developed the ability to pick things up with my toes. “Oh, Cindy,” she grinned, shaking her head, “that has got to be the height of laziness!”

Fifty years later, I went on a weekend trip with my sister, Brenda. I mentioned that I needed socks because most of mine had holes in them. “Really,” she said, “I don’t think I’ve ever gotten holes in my socks.” “Hmm,” I thought, “must be that I work much harder, to wear out my socks.” Later, getting ready for bed, I watched Brenda lift one leg at a time, cradle each foot in her hands, and gently peel off her socks. “Wow,” I told her, “that’s pretty impressive!” “Why,” she asked, “how do you take off your socks?”

I demonstrated my method: step on the toe of the left sock with the heel of the right foot; pull the left leg firmly back, dragging the foot out of the sock; repeat on the other side. Brenda grinned, and nodded, and the look she gave me said 1) “No wonder you wear out your socks so quickly,” and 2) “That has got to be the height of laziness!” Yup, there’s no escaping it, the truth comes out.

Garden

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[This is something I wrote many years ago, and not really appropriate for this snowy spring day, but I like it, and it fits the category. It’s original title was “In the garden with Dad.”]

My father was never an easy man to talk to. At least for me, that was the case. If I was going to visit him, I’d make mental notes of topics he might find interesting, things that might force a grin. Subjects that would not be judged “Nonsense!”

When I moved to Beaver Island, my communication with Dad was mostly through letters. I collected tidbits to write to him about. I do it, still, though he’s been gone more than twenty years.

If I count six deer on my way to town, my first thought is that Dad would be glad to hear that. A good stack of firewood in preparation for the winter, a new building going up in town, the health and well-being of any of the “old-timers” he’d remember: these are all good topics.

The garden was always a welcome subject, with Dad.

He’s not the only one!

I remember a warm day many years ago when Peter “Doney” and his wife, Dolores, came to the island. They were late in arriving that summer, as their oldest daughter had recently passed away. Throngs of Beaver Islanders were on the dock that day, to greet them, and to offer their sympathy. Dolores took it all in stride: the hugs and tears and words of comfort. Peter, uncomfortable with the situation, kept his face set in a grimace. He seemed to wince at every encounter.

Then Russell Green, the ferryboat captain, strode across the dock. He reached out his arm for a handshake and said, “Peter! Good to see ya! How’re your tomatoes doing?” Peter’s face broke into a wide smile. “Well by the god…a damn sight better’n yours, I’ll betcha,” he grinned.

When Dad lay dying, his sister, my Aunt Katie, came to the hospital. “How’s your garden doing this year?” was his greeting. That’s what they talked about, in the last hours of his life…the amount of rain, the chance of early frost, and that damned quack grass.

Today, working out in my garden, I kept a running conversation going with Dad, in my head.

He had opinions.

I grow pole beans because I like the look of them climbing the tepees. They are not the wisest choice, according to Dad. Pole beans spend too much energy putting up their runners, rather than producing beans. On Beaver Island, where I’m fighting a short season anyway, bush beans would be a better guarantee of a good harvest.

As for the flowers, nonsense. If you can’t make a meal out of it, it’s a waste of good garden space.

In Dad’s opinion.

Remembering how bad his knees got, toward the end, my raised beds are not a bad idea. And if I keep jumping on that shovel to force it through the sod, I’ll have bad knees, too.

Dad sure had something to say about the man who promised he’d come back today to finish repairing the fence and clean up the mess he left. He had a few choice comments for me, too, for being foolish enough to pay him before the job was done. Dad wasn’t very happy with my cousin, Bob, either, when he didn’t show up with the rototiller as he said he would.

I’m getting a pretty good rhubarb bed…the tomatoes are looking fine…that’s a nice little raspberry patch…and why the hell do I have fifty horseradish plants growing if I never use it?

All in all, it was a nice conversation.

I’m working in town on Father’s Day. That’s okay.

I spent this day in the garden with my Dad.

April

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Spring is fickle here on Beaver Island. Two days ago, I noted that fully half of the back yard was cleared of snow, thanks to rain and warmer temperatures. Then, the weather turned nasty. Rain turned to freezing rain, then sleet, then snow. Getting anywhere became nearly impossible. Yesterday, on the first of April, there was snow right up to my back door again, and I had to clear several inches of ice off the car, before I could drive to town. Today, I can once again see patches of bare earth from my window.

Yesterday, the Biscayne Bay, one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s ice breakers, came in, a highly anticipated annual event. The ship cuts a path through the ice in our harbor, in preparation for the season ahead. Soon, our own ferry boats will make regular trips from our dock to the mainland. Their first trip is scheduled for April 13th. Sometimes, a trip into the harbor by the ice breaker is all it takes to cause the remaining ice to float away, or sink. In other years, ice forms in the new channel as soon as the Coast Guard cutter leaves. When I drove through town along the harbor after work yesterday, there was still plenty of ice out there.

This is April, on Beaver Island. The days are longer; the sun seems brighter. I know that, underneath the snow, the jonquils and snowdrops and daffodils are pushing up their green leaves. Soon, the ground will warm up and the flowers will bloom. As snow melts, our gravel roads turn to rivers of slush and sludge. This early spring time is often called “mud season.”

Before long, the ferry boats will be making regular trips; the shelves in the stores will be fully stocked again. In a short time, the summer residents will arrive. They’ll be followed closely by tourists and summer visitors. Soon, I’ll be caught up in the busy-ness of the season. Between lawn and garden, work and home, there will hardly be time to contemplate the activity around me. But, for now, this is April.

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!

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?

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!