Category Archives: Family

How to Make a “Feel Better” Soup

Standard

[Looking for fresh ideas for things to write about, I came across a suggestion to “write a how-to about something you do well.” I found that idea kind of inspiring, and immediately wrote out a list of topics. I don’t profess to be an expert, but there are a few areas where I am quite competent. Not wanting to look like a know-it-all, I’ll spread these “How-To” blogs out over several months, to fill in when I don’t have any other topic. Happy learning!]

I was home sick today. My symptoms were kind of vague: a sore throat; a slight cough; a general all-over crummy feeling. And a fever. That was the clincher. I can be a bit of a hypochondriac, so I don’t always trust the signs of illness. With a fever, I know I’m not just exaggerating, or inventing the clues. When the thermometer gave me a reading of 101, I knew there was a real reason for the aches and chills I was experiencing. I called in to work, and spent the day at home.

I have fond memories of “sick days.” The ones that I remember with such good feelings, though, are days when I was not really sick. Then, it’s a bonus day. When I was a child, those days were filled with reading, and the unusual undivided attention of my busy mother.

As teen-agers, Brenda and I could sometimes bring Mom in on the conspiracy. With promises to help her with deep cleaning or other projects, she could sometimes be convinced to give us an excused absence. We’d keep still until Dad left for work, then rush around to get everything done before the afternoon soap operas came on. Mom would join us to watch General Hospital and Dark Shadows before our younger brothers and sisters started arriving home on the bus.

Even as an adult, I could sometimes, though rarely, manage a day away from work. It seemed like I could accomplish more in those “cheat days” than on any regular day off!

But a sick day, when I’m really sick, is no fun at all. Today I felt like I should be able to do something productive…or even just some lazy, fun, wastrel activities…but no. There were several projects that I didn’t get to on my regular days off…but I felt too lousy to tackle any of them. I have a stack of seed catalogues, two new magazines, and three in-progress books. I didn’t feel well enough to give attention to any of them. I didn’t feel up to exercise, or even taking the dogs for a walk. I slept a little, but mostly just laid around…doing nothing. The only thing I accomplished of any value was to make a pot of soup.

I put a variety of dried beans in pan, covered them with water, and brought the water to a boil. I simmered them for about ten minutes, then took the pan off the heat. This method eliminates the need for soaking the beans overnight. After they sat in the water until it cooled, I drained them, put in fresh water, two pints of soup stock, and any vegetables I had laying around. That amounted to one large onion, two carrots, four wimpy stalks of celery, a part of a tomato, a few green beans from the freezer, and about a quarter head of cabbage.

I let it simmer through the day. About an hour before I was going to eat, I added a handful each of quinoa and brown rice. Soup is always comforting, and that’s especially true when I don’t feel good. On a day that was otherwise wasted, it was one small thing to do for myself.

When I Can’t Sleep

Standard

I have struggled with insomnia for most of my life. I didn’t always see it as a problem.

As a child, I didn’t worry about the consequences of not getting enough sleep. I would beg to be allowed to stay up later; I’d concoct all kinds of reasons for needing to get out of bed. My sister Brenda and I would secretly stay awake, playing games and whispering for hours past our bedtime. Whenever friends stayed overnight, our goal would always be to stay awake all night.

As an adult, some of my most productive times were the hours when everyone else in the household was asleep. Before we had children, my husband would often wake up in the morning to find that I hadn’t been to bed yet. I sometimes worked on a craft project; sometimes I cleaned house. After he left for work, I’d lay down on the couch for a long sleep.

Having small children gave me a good reason to attempt more regular hours, but I still struggled with being able to fall asleep. Back when television went off the air at around 2AM, I was almost always awake for it. Of course, my days no longer allowed time to make up for the sleep I’d missed. No matter how much discomfort it caused me, though, I was still wide awake through the night more often than not.

I’ve always been kind of a loner, and I used to think that was why I liked to be awake at night. When everyone else was asleep, I had time for just myself. But, through the years, I got divorced, and my daughters grew up and moved away. That theory doesn’t make sense anymore. And, with age, I’ve found that a good night’s sleep is much more necessary. I can’t function the way I used to, on little or no sleep.

I’ve worked hard to maintain a routine that makes it more likely that I’ll be able to sleep. I exercise and meditate. I limit caffeine and computer use. I stay away from scary movies, or news that will keep me awake. No matter. There are still a few nights each month when I just can’t fall asleep.

Last night was one of them. I’d had a quiet day and a relaxing evening. I felt tired when I climbed into bed at 10PM. I read for a few minutes; when I turned off the lamp I could barely keep my eyes open. But then, sleep didn’t come.

I changed position. I tried, variously, to quiet my mind, then to just run through thoughts and worries to get them out of my system. I reviewed ideas for art classes. I went over the news of the day. Was I too warm? Too cold? Hungry? Nothing seemed urgent enough to force me out of bed. I continued to toss and turn. Until I had to make a run to the bathroom. That was four o’clock in the morning. Enough! I put on the coffee. There’s no sense in fighting it any longer!

One Lazy Day

Standard

I enjoyed a totally lazy day yesterday.

I started it off by sleeping in. The dogs went out at six-thirty. When they came back in, I went back to bed. They went out again at eight o’clock. At that time, I started the coffee pot. When the dogs were both back in the house, and with the coffee brewing, I thought I’d just close my eyes for a few minutes more. Well, that “few minutes” went long. I woke up with my big dog, Darla, standing beside the bed, looking into my face. “Raaooow,” she said. I think it was shorthand for “Rouse yourself!” And she was right…it was ten AM!

I moved from the bed to the dining room table, where I spent several hours writing, reading and drawing. Exercise was limited to getting up to let the dogs out and in, frequent walks to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup, and an occasional trip to the bathroom. I fried an egg and made toast about 1PM. After that, I turned on the computer. I checked my mail, looked at social media updates, and played a few games of online Scrabble.

At three in the afternoon, I showered and dressed, dried my hair, and took the dogs out for a walk. Home again, I picked up another book and, for a change of scene, sat down in the comfortable armchair to read some more. I fed the dogs around six, then made myself a grilled cheese sandwich, and warmed up the last of the vegetable soup. A good “lazy day” supper. For dessert, a bowl of yogurt with fruit and granola.

Back on the computer, I went through my news feed, then listened to a couple podcasts. My daughter Kate sent me an article that made me giggle. I watched a sitcom, using the commercial breaks to do up the dishes and tidy the kitchen. My friend Linda and I messaged back and forth, comparing notes on diet and fasting. I went to bed at a reasonable time.

After a day of little activity, it didn’t surprise me when I had trouble falling asleep! I finally cried “uncle” and gave up on trying to sleep. I got out of bed at two-thirty in the morning. I found a movie on Netflix. “Leap Year” is a cute romantic comedy with a backdrop of the Irish countryside, that didn’t require a bit of thought or concentration on my part. I made popcorn, with no regard to my renewed commitment to intermittent fasting. Finally, I went back to bed at four AM.

Today, I’m waking up slowly. I am determined, though, to get moving soon. There is plenty to do, to make up for my indulgent, lazy Sunday!

Friday the Thirteenth

Standard

Today is Friday the 13th. When that turns up on the calendar, it is supposed to be a bad-luck day. I don’t worry about it. Broken mirrors, black cats, walking under ladders…I don’t pay much attention to things that are supposed to bring bad luck. I’m tempted to say that’s because I find enough bad luck without assistance, but I’m trying to forge a better outlook. Actually, I could just as easily say that I’ve been very fortunate in my life. Certainly, things could have gone much worse!

I do pay attention to things that are supposed to bring favorable results. I knock on wood, keep a four-leaf clover, and always have black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. For many years, I wore a bracelet of multi-colored beads arranged in a specific pattern, because it was supposed to bring harmony into my life. When I explained that, people would often ask, “How’s it working?” Perhaps, looking at my chaotic existence, they thought not well at all. My answer, though, was always “Good! I think this is as harmonious as it gets!”

Almost halfway through the month of January, this year is going well so far. I’m sleeping well, walking every day, and renewing a commitment to other healthy habits. I managed, this week, to get all of my Christmas decorations put away, and yesterday tackled the same job at work. That always seems like a forward-thinking project, rewarding just for the fresh outlook it gives to a room.

Winters here on Beaver Island, surrounded by water, are often sunless affairs. This year, Mother Nature doesn’t seem to know what direction to take. We have been beset by several big, messy winter storms that bring huge piles of wet, icy snow…followed by several days of moderate weather that allows everything to melt away. The landscape changes from snow, to mud, then back to snow again. Yesterday, the sun came out for the first time in a couple weeks. That seemed to improve everything! And, it’s shining out there again today!

In my family, we’ve all been nervously waiting for news from my sister Robin, regarding some medical tests results. That has made the last two weeks seem to drag by, filled with worry and trepidation. Yesterday, she reported “all clear!” On the heels of that wonderful news, combined with sunshine, this Friday the 13th can be nothing but a very, very good day!

On to the New Year

Standard

Here we are, at the beginning of a new year. And, even though the calendar is a human-made devise that holds only the value that we give it, the first day of a new year always seems important. It feels like a new beginning…and I love a fresh start!

Determined to make the best of it, I got up early and started my day with meditation, gratitude journaling, drawing, and study time. Then, feeling a little under the weather, and having not slept well last night, I crawled back into bed for a long morning nap. No sense in being too “gung-ho” about the new year!

When I woke up, I worked for a while on setting up my new 2023 bullet journal. Before retiring last year’s book, I like to remind myself of my accomplishments and the memorable events of the last year. As I flip through the pages where I recorded the large and small happenings of 2022, reminders of precious visits with family and friends make me smile. There are poignant memories of my sweet little dog, who died last spring. There are flowers pressed between pages, and a small gallery of colorful drawings done by my little niece, Ellie. There are records of events large and small: some important; most quite trivial.

At seventy years old and in what I like to think of as “semi-retirement,” I worked for pay 167 days last year. I volunteered my time at the resale shop thirty-four days. I wrote this blog regularly, though not as regularly as in other years, and read and recorded it for the Beaver Island radio station.

I walked almost every day last year, and totaled 375 miles for the year, surpassing my goal by ten miles. I kept track of the days that I did other exercise, and whether it was yoga, Pilates, strength training or rebounding. My sister Cheryl got me a “fitbit” for my seventieth birthday, so I’ve been keeping track of my daily “steps” since then, too. I write down my weight each day.

I read seventy-four books last year. Nine of those were books I studied. Though not exactly textbooks, I took notes as I went along, and read with the intent of improving my knowledge in one area or another.

Twenty-five were audio books, keeping me company on my walks. Of these, I’ve really enjoyed the Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis. Set in Rome, in the first century AD, they are well researched and historically accurate (at least as far as my own knowledge of ancient Rome goes), with a good storyline that includes both romance and mystery. The series is read by Simon Prebble, and he does an outstanding job, so important to my enjoyment of an audiobook.

The other books were simply pleasure reading, some much better than others. I read at least ten adventure stories by Zoe’ Sharp before deciding they were a little too violent for my taste. The “Irish Cottage” series by Juliet Gauvin was too simplistic. And, after reading three of Michael Robotham’s psychological thrillers, I decided I’d better stop before I scared myself to death!

I re-read, in order, all four books in the Jackson Brody series by Kate Atkinson. I then read her earlier novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, before reading her newest book, Shrines of Gaeity. I read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr before allowing myself to start his newer book, Cloud Cuckoo Land. Though wildly different from each other, both were wonderful. The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn, Light Perpetual, by Francis Spufford, and The Sentence by Louise Erdrich were other treasures.

Visits to the island by my sisters, my daughter Kate, several cousins, and a couple nephews gave me a good dose of family togetherness, just when I needed it. I made three day trips to the mainland in 2022, two for medical appointments, and one, completely unnecessary and totally frivolous, to meet my dear friend Linda for lunch.

After reminiscing about the past year, it was time to get busy with the present year. Rosa Parks opted to stay home today. but the big dog, Darla, and I went for a nice two-mile walk. After that, I made a bean, ham and barley soup, featuring black-eyed peas for good fortune in the new year. I’m not really suspicious about it, but it’s a good soup, and it can’t hurt. If it ensures good fortune, wonderful! If it doesn’t, well, it’s a nice ritual to mark the beginning of a new year! Happy New Year!

More

Standard

I had just finished writing about adjusting, and some of the things I was having to adjust to, due to weather, age, and other factors. I realized, then, that I had forgotten to write about the time change. Daylight Savings Time, which caused me to have to set my clocks back an hour two weeks ago, was my main inspiration for writing about adjusting!

The dogs don’t understand a time change. No matter what the clock says, they want their dinner at the usual time, which is now an hour earlier than it has been since March. By the time the clock says it’s time for me to feed them, they are languishing around their food dishes as if they think I’m intending to starve them.

We lose a lot of daylight in this northern hemisphere, as winter approaches and the days get shorter. I’m not sure how the time change helps. Maybe nothing will fix that, in November and December. Perhaps it’s not even designed to help. I think in the fall, we change our clocks to go back to “real time,” and it is in the spring that the time changes to the artificial Daylight Savings Time. In any case, it always throws me off. So, that was what had caused all the thoughts about adjusting, and then I forgot to even mention it! I was just about to do an edit, to put in a few sentences, at least, to complain about how it gets dark practically in the middle of the afternoon, and how I’ve had to change my schedule to make up for it. A phone call interrupted those plans.

On the telephone was my friend, Darrell, who I have known since he was twelve years old. I knew him first through his mother, and I always liked him, though we were not always friends. His Mom was my friend. From her, I learned of Darrell’s teen-aged exploits, his disagreements with his brother, and his fights with his Dad. I watched him grow up, settle down, and raise a family. We – from long acquaintance, shared history, and mutual close connections – became friends. He was calling to tell me that his Mom, my dear friend, Chris, had passed away.

I first met Chris in 1978, when we worked together at the Shamrock Bar and Restaurant. We were both new residents to Beaver Island. I loved being here; Chris did not. Moving to this remote island had been her husband’s idea and, like almost anything he suggested, she went along with it. She was unhappy, home-sick, and lonesome for her family back in Wisconsin. Her two sons were nine and twelve; my daughters were three and six years old. We didn’t have a lot in common, but developed a friendship, nonetheless.

We worked well together as breakfast servers at the restaurant, leaning on each other through mad rushes and difficult customers. We had family dinners together outside of work. From griping about our bosses, complaining about our husbands or sharing stories about our children, we always found plenty to talk about. By the end of that first year, Chris and I were lifelong friends.

Chris and her family moved off the island, then came back. Many times. Though she hated Beaver Island that first year, she grew to love it, and always missed it when she was away. I moved away, too, for various reasons over the years, though my heart was always here. Telephone lines and letters kept us connected through all the years, wherever we were. Whenever we found ourselves both on Beaver Island, we’d get together for coffee, and chat like the old friends we were, as if no time at all had passed between visits.

There was a running joke between us. Chris had a hard life, and she often seemed sad, or downcast. Sometimes she vented to me about her troubles; other times it was me complaining about whatever was going on in my life. No matter what, though, her tagline was always, “It’s all gonna work out.” I would tease her about it. “When?” I’d ask, “I’ve been hearing that for twenty years, Chris, when are things gonna work out??” She’d giggle at that, but she never gave up her insistence that everything would get better, in the end.

Now, all the changes that seemed so daunting pale in comparison. Now, I’m having to adjust to a world that doesn’t include my friend. Dear Chris, I hope, with all my heart, that everything has worked out for the best, for you!

Without Power

Standard

Today is election day, and there are plenty of important issues on the ballot. If I were a better person, perhaps my title, “Without Power,” would be in reference to our privilege, in this country, of having a voice about the people and ideas that hold sway. This essay would be about the importance of each of us asserting our own values and priorities, with the power of our vote.

Alas, I am not that good. Instead, my sole purpose of writing today is to grumble and moan about a power outage that was a big inconvenience to me. I wasn’t the only one affected. All of Beaver Island was without power for a while, and even that was a part of a larger outage caused by storms that swept through Michigan on Saturday. But, true to form, I am talking mostly about myself. Saturday evening was when it began,

I spoke on the phone to a friend on the other side of the state. “The sky looks really weird,” she told me, and asked if we were expecting bad weather. It had started raining here on Friday, and continued off and on, but I didn’t anticipate any major storms. The forecasts that I’d heard talked mostly about marine conditions. Since I had no plans to be out on the water, I paid little attention. I was not concerned.

I’d had dinner: baked chicken with cauliflower, and my dishes were stacked in the sink. I warmed fresh apple cider, added a cinnamon stick, and sat down to read. The wind was picking up, but I was cozy indoors. The lights flickered, then went out, then came back on again. I lit a few candles, and went back to my book.

Shortly after eight PM, the power went out again. This time, it didn’t come back on. This isn’t unusual. We have lots of trees in close proximity to electrical lines. Our beech trees are dying, and come down easily in any wind. Great Lakes Energy, the cooperative that provides the electrical service here on Beaver Island, has a full time employee here, and he works hard to keep us all going. Outages are usually a few hours at most. Inconvenient, but not impossible. A few things happened to complicate the issue this time.

First, our full-time electrical service guy was not on the island; he was with family on the mainland, due to the death of his grandmother. Two other employees were sent over to replace him. However, as I understand it, the corporation decided to pull them off the island on Saturday. Maybe because they didn’t think the storm would be so bad; maybe they thought their presence elsewhere was more crucial; maybe they didn’t want to spring for hotel rooms for them here. I don’t know.

Second, the island was assailed with strong winds (50mph) for many hours. The main pole that brings electricity to the island was knocked out. Several other lines were down, around the island. There were difficulties with our back-up generators. And, we had to wait for the sun to come up on Sunday before it would be possible to get a crew back here to work on it! So, for many reasons, this was an unusual and extreme outage.

photo by Jon Bonadeo, posted with a warning to stay away!

Without electricity, I have no internet service. I never have cell phone service at my house. When the lights go out, I unplug my cordless phone (which depends on electricity), and plug in an ancient, large, ugly beige, corded telephone. On Sunday morning, that worked. I called the toll-free number to report the outage. I listened to the recorded message telling me that over 17,000 customers were without power, and that they were working on it, and that if it wasn’t resolved by 10PM, I should seek shelter elsewhere. By Sunday evening, even my corded phone had gone dead. Evidently, when the power is out, even corded phones depend on batteries, and our island telephone company doesn’t have enough battery back-up to keep all of us going.

With consideration to my two dogs, and the knowledge that likely everyone on the island was in the same predicament, I did not seek shelter elsewhere. Still, by Monday morning, I was anxious to find out what was going on! So, I drove to town. I enjoyed the first cup of coffee I’d had in over 24 hours, got the rundown on what had happened, and received the good news that those of us who still were without power could expect relief by that night. Which it was!

I was one of the twenty-five households here that were without power the longest, about 53 hours. As I was able to get back on-line, I saw many offers of help from those islanders whose power was restored earlier. “If you need water, or a meal, or a warm place to sleep…” was a common refrain. One friend sent me a message, telling me she wasn’t at home, but the generator was working, and I was welcome to go there. A volunteer at the Community Center made big batches of soup and chili, and put the word out that anyone could come there for a hot meal.

Now that it’s over, I guess it wasn’t so bad. It could have been better, though. I could have had kettles and buckets filled with water, for when the faucets ran dry. I should have made sure my tablet was fully charged, and that extra books were downloaded, so that when, in my boredom, I blasted through the last pages of three titles, I’d have another to turn to. I should have checked that batteries were handy for flashlights and lanterns. The next time I hear mention of a “weird sky” or a storm coming through. I’ll pay attention!

Now, though, I’m off to vote!

October, Fox Lake Road

Standard

Fall is a beautiful time here on Beaver Island, and this year is no exception. The changing leaves are “nearing their peak,” I hear, from the folks that monitor those things, but I think we still have a few weeks of breathtaking color ahead. More big winds or heavy rain could change that prediction, of course. The cycle-of-life, displayed so well by the bright autumn landscape, asserts itself in other ways throughout our lives.

This fall, the island has lost two much-loved residents. Marilyn was an inspiration to many. She had strongly-held and fearlessly-voiced opinions on many topics. She was active all through her life; until very recently, she could be seen daily riding her bicycle down the length of the King’s Highway, whenever the weather allowed. Though she lived well into her nineties, her vibrant personality was such that her death seemed to come much too soon.

Gerald lived his entire life on this island, except for the years he spent in the armed services. Red-haired, with a crooked grin and a twinkle in his eye, he was always a character. Family and friends were important to Gerald, and he enjoyed time with all of them. He was a big supporter of the school athletic teams; he served on several community boards. Gerald was active in the Beaver Island emergency services, for fire, health and law enforcement. And, he was a plumber. So, his presence was felt by every single life in this whole community, and his death – from cancer, too soon – touched all of us.

On the bright side, my next-door-neighbors are expecting their first baby. Any day now, as I understand it. Fall weather can make travel by boat or plane unpredictable, so they are on the mainland, near hospital and doctors, until the little one arrives. It seems like the whole island is waiting, with them, for this welcome addition to our island community!

In my own life, that stretches beyond my small world here, there are similar ups and downs. My mother-in-law died this last week. I first met Pat when I was just sixteen years old, and she was a huge influence in my life. She seemed much more youthful than other adults I knew. She had only two children, both nearly grown, and she worked outside of the home. She was feisty, foul-mouthed and lots of fun. I can picture her, still, with her red hair, in orange-and-brown-striped bell-bottom slacks, a cigarette in one hand while shaking a finger in someone’s face, giving them her “what-for.”

We didn’t always get along so well. We clashed over my relationship with her son; we argued over how I raised my daughters. Some of the things that I valued about Pat when I was a teen-ager were the same things that drove me crazy about her when I had teen-aged daughters. Still, I always loved her. As dementia took away her sharp mind, she seemed to have forgotten some of our disagreements, and some of her grudges, too. The last time I spoke to her, Pat said, “we always had good times together…” Yes, we sure did.

Also, this October, on the date of my Dad’s birthday, my niece, Sarah, is getting married. A wonderful family event, that I’ve been looking forward to. As I live hundreds of miles from most of my family, any excuse to get together is welcome. Weddings are special, because it’s a good opportunity to see everyone at once, all gathered for a joyous occasion.

This year, it turns out, travel is not possible. We no longer have a kennel on Beaver Island, and I have two dogs. My dogs aren’t good with strangers and, especially after over two years of Covid restrictions, everyone is a stranger to them. Even if I could find someone willing to come to the house to feed and water them, see that they got their medicines, and let them outside, it wouldn’t work. If someone could manage to get the dogs to go out the door, I’m afraid they wouldn’t come back in. I’ve been gathering information about kennels on the mainland, but so far have not gotten anything worked out.

So, I’m unable to make it to Pat’s funeral. And I won’t be able to attend Sarah’s wedding. I’ll be thinking about everyone, though, as I take my October walks, with my dogs, through the beautiful ever-changing display of colors on the Fox Lake Road.

Well

Standard

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!

Coming Toward the End of Summer

Standard

Here we are, one week in to September already. If the calendar didn’t tell me the end of summer is coming, the cold mornings certainly would. I put on my heavy, fleecy robe as soon as I get out of bed in the morning. It’s too early to light the pilot on the heater, but I think about it when I’m shivering in heavy socks and layers of clothes as I go about my morning activities.

The end of summer is always a mixed blessing. I love the warm, bright and sunny days, the bustle in town and the swarms of visitors enjoying our beaches. By the time September arrives, though, I’m looking forward to the quieter days of autumn. This year, these end of summer days bring special joy.

Right now, my nephew, who hasn’t been on Beaver Island in twenty years, is here with his young wife. They are both interested and enthusiastic visitors. Yesterday, we did a little tour of some of the businesses, beaches and historic sites. This evening, I’m joining them at the family farmhouse for dinner. We’re hoping to be able to entice my cousin Bob to join us for a couple games of Euchre.

On the same day that they are scheduled to leave on the boat, my four sisters will be arriving. They will be here for a long weekend. That is the weekend of Beaver Island’s Irish Feile, when we celebrate the heritage of “America’s Emerald Isle.” There will be lots of music and other activities that we are planning to take advantage of. Mainly, I’m really looking forward to spending time with my sisters!

When their visit ends, a couple cousins will be here. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with them, too. Late summer is an easier time for me to find time to enjoy company, as work is less demanding after Labor Day. Though the mornings are cool, the days are still pleasantly warm this time of year.

Though I don’t have much of a garden this year, I harvested enough tomatoes to cook up a kettleful to put in the freezer. I’ve had summer squash as a part of my dinner several times a week for the last month. Today, I’m going to pick beans at the farmhouse, and I brought cucumbers and kale home yesterday from that garden. My grapes are ripening, and so are the wild blackberries. I have an assortment of wild fall mushrooms brightening a corner of my front yard. As I don’t know the edible from the poisonous, I only enjoy the way they look.

The Northern Lights have been visible lately in our night sky, and the Milky Way can be very impressive this time of year, too. Next weekend, the full harvest moon will brighten the sky. Though I hate to have summer end, this end-of-summer time brings me plenty of joy.