Category Archives: Self-Improvment

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!

We’re All Still Sad At My House

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Though my remaining two dogs did not, at first, seem to know or care that Blackie Chan had died, the realization that the little dog is not coming back is sinking in. Darla and Rosa Parks are sticking very close to me in the house and yard. They look dazedly around when they finish their dinner, wondering why Blackie Chan is not barking, reminding me to distribute the after-dinner treats. “What do we do now,” they seem to be asking, “are we going to even get treats?” On our walks, Darla seems to forget that Blackie Chan isn’t with us; she circles back to try to locate him, as if he just got distracted and fell behind.

I’m kind of going through the same thing. When I need to roll over in the middle of the night, I carefully lift up on toes and one elbow while I rotate from one side to the other, so that I don’t disturb either little dog. Then I remember that there is only one dog in my bed these days. Funny, I swear I could feel the weight of the little black dog curled up behind my knees. Darla and Rosa Parks watch expectantly when I come home from work, to see if I have their little companion with me. And I walk into the house expecting to see him there to greet me, along with the other two. Oh. Yeah.

This is a bargain we strike when we open our lives to dogs. Their life-expectancy is simply not comparable to ours. Even at my age, I would not expect my dogs to out-live me. Blackie Chan was already eight years old when he came to live here. He was nearly blind, and had severe arthritis in his spine. He had congestive heart failure. I knew that this sadness was inevitable. Still, it came as a surprise. Neither the veterinarian or I expected that he would die that day. When the vet asked me to come back in two hours to pick him up, I fully expected a much improved dog to be coming back home with me. I wish I’d stayed with him, because he died there with strangers. And we are all still sad about it.

With that being said, I know there are bigger things to grieve. The death of a small dog does not compare. I’ve lost people; I know. There is sickness and loss and death right here on this small island, where everybody knows everybody, and most feel like family. A tornado recently touched down in a northern Michigan town not far from here, with some loss of life and extensive damage. The more I expand my view, the worse the news gets. Two more mass shootings in this country in the last three weeks. Ukraine. Global warming. A person could die of sadness and misery!

I don’t want to ignore it; I have to be aware. Still, it’s painful; I can only take so much. After a while, I just have to turn away from the news, put blinders on, and close out the big world with all of its tragedy. Make a cup of tea, light a candle, draw a bath, think of nothing but my own issues. Darla and Rosa Parks don’t like to be too far away from me these days; they crowd into the bathroom with me. That’s okay. We’re all still sad here.

Toll the Bell, Fellow…

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Several years ago, while writing for the New Yorker, E.B. White published a poem about the death of a cow. He prefaced it with a newspaper clipping telling how “Sir Hanson Rowbotham’s favorite Red Polled cow” died following having been “bitten on the udder by an adder.” It is a humorous verse noting the unusual manner of death and, wordsmith that White was, playing on rhymes and near-rhymes pulled from the English town, the cow, and the snake (“What is sadder than udder stung by adder?”).

The first line of White’s poem reads, “Toll the bell, fellow,” and, though this is not a humorous piece, I’ll borrow it, as it seems appropriate for relating the loss of a loyal companion. The health of my little dog, Blackie Chan, took a sudden turn this last week, and he died on Thursday. For him, the sound of a bell ringing out a death knell seems appropriate. With the clapper partly wrapped in leather, the sound would be clear and bright as it struck one side…then dull and muted when it hit the other. He was here, up for anything…and now he’s gone.

Blackie Chan came to live with me three years ago. He was eight years old, and had been a member of my daughter’s household since birth. Kate’s kids were nearly grown, and she was going to start travelling for work. I already had Rosa Parks, who was one of his litter mates, so I offered to take Blackie Chan in. He quickly adapted to this home, and I learned to love him right away. Along with my big dog, Darla, it was now a three-dog household.

Rosa Parks came to live with me as a puppy. She’s always felt comfortable with her self-chosen #1 status. Darla came to me after spending nearly all of her first six years in a shelter. She tries very hard to please, and to always do the right thing. Blackie Chan was the latest to join our family, and was determined to fit in. No dog ever worked harder at it. Blackie Chan melted my heart with the seriousness and sincerity he put into every single activity or interaction.

When I mentioned a walk, he’d keep up a steady bark (“Let’s go, hurry up,” he seemed to be shouting) while I put on shoes and jacket. Though Rosa Parks often lags far behind, and Darla takes her time exploring every smell, Blackie Chan stayed right beside me, always facing forward, with intense concentration, as if it were a task that he needed to get right. He put that same earnestness into everything he did, from waiting on his rug for dinner to be served, to standing to greet me when I came in the door.

Though he took his job seriously, Blackie Chan could always make me laugh. He was so small that barking, or even a sneeze, would cause his front legs to rise right up off the ground. Nearly blind, he was often hilarious in his efforts to follow my voice. He used his own voice to comical affect. He didn’t bark at birds, squirrels or the road truck as the other dogs do, and often put on a look of stunned confusion when they’d go on a tangent. But, if he wanted in from outside, or help getting down from bed or chair, his whine was impressive. His persistent bark was used mainly to tell me to “get a move on” when he was waiting for dinner, a treat, or a walk.

For his whole life, Blackie Chan never gave up his efforts to gain the “prime sleeping position” next to my pillow. Our nighttime ritual consists of treats and pats and ear rubs, when I tell each dog how pretty, how smart and how exceptional they are. I finish with, “you guys could be in the Westminster Dog Show!” Then I turn to switch off the light. In that pause, Blackie Chan would always bare his teeth and snarl at Rosa Parks, in an attempt to get her to give up her spot. She never did. When I turned to face him, he wore a small smile and a look of perfect innocence (“that wasn’t me…I don’t know who was growling”) as he settled down to sleep in the curve behind my knees.

I laid Blackie Chan’s body in the grass while I dug his grave. I wrapped him in the same pink and yellow blanket he had arrived with three years ago. I spread flower seeds over the soil, and built a small cairn of flat white rocks to mark his resting place. I think of all the joy he brought to this household, in his time here. I miss his presence, and I’m sure I will for a good long time.

Toll the bell…the small black dog is dead.

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.

A Few W Words

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I was going to write about water today. I toyed with the idea, anyway. I mean we can all relate to water, after all. it’s one of those “crucial to life” things, as necessary as air to breathe. There are hard water issues in my house, and all the complications that brings. I have filtered water for drinking. I live on an island surrounded by water. My grandson, Tommy, loves the water. Or, more accurately, swimming. I have dozens of photos of him grinning while up to his neck in water. Once, when he was visiting, he and I walked the length of Iron Ore Bay together, chatting as we went. I was on the sandy shore; he was several yards out in Lake Michigan. Since today is Tommy’s birthday, that would be a fitting topic. Alas, what I’ve written here is just about all I could come up with regarding water.

I considered writing about walking. I walk every day, so it would seem like I could come up with a few paragraphs on the subject. Turns out, it’s not that simple. I could write about writing! That’s another activity that I do every day, even when I’m not posting a daily blog. I write out a list of things I’m thankful for every morning. Then, I write a page of notes from whatever book I’m currently studying. Right now, it happens to be a book on writing: A Writer’s Coach by Jack Hart. I’m in the process of writing a story to tell during Open Mic Night. Still, I couldn’t think of much to say about writing.

Weather crossed my mind, as did Worry, Wonder, Wind and Weeds. Nothing really inspired me. Then. the internet started going out, at least three time in the last hour. When it goes out, it’s impossible to predict whether it will come right back on, or stay out for hours. If I was going to get a blog published today, I’d better get busy. It’s not quite up there with water, but we’ve sure grown to depend on our Wi-Fi!

Sleep

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I fought sleep for many years…and then it started to fight me. As a child, I hated to go to bed. I’d creep down the stairs to beg for “just a little bit longer.” If that didn’t work, I had a whole string of ailments or emergencies I’d try, from needing a glass of water, to all kinds of physical maladies, to outright lies. “I forgot to do my homework,” was a chancy one that was only used as a desperate measure. Was the trouble I’d be in for forgetting my homework worth the few extra minutes I’d gain, at the kitchen table, pretending to do class work? I once tried selling my mother on the idea that “really! I promise! Sister Michael told us we had to watch Bonanza tonight!” That didn’t go over well, either.

Forced to stay in bed, my sister and I would whisper for hours. Or, with a flashlight, read or play games under the covers. Most board games and playing cards weren’t bad, but when we got hooked on Chinese checkers, we had to learn to be very stealthy. When my father came home, around midnight, from his second shift at the factory, it was too much. He had good hearing, and very little patience for his children being up late on a weeknight. He never came upstairs, but a sharp tone when he told us to “settle down up there,” would send us scurrying under the covers.

As a young adult, I was often unable to sleep, but it didn’t bother me. For one thing, I could get by on much less than the recommended eight hours. For another, nights were often extremely productive times for me. When my daughters were tucked into their beds, and my husband was asleep, I’d scrub floors, start craft projects, bake, paint, rearrange the furniture…I’d find ambition and inspiration in the midnight hours that was often missing in the daytime.

Then, the tables turned. My circumstances changed. I really needed my sleep, and a regular schedule was necessary. School-aged children, jobs, and college classes demanded my alert presence during the day. I could no longer function well on little or no sleep. Yet, often, I could not fall asleep. I spent too many nights watching the clock, willing myself to fall asleep, and calculating how much rest I’d get if I fell asleep instantly. If I gave up and got out of bed, there were none of the productive nights I’d managed when I was younger. The extent of my ambition was a marathon session of solitaire, a good book, or maybe a raid of the refrigerator. All the while knowing I’d be too tired to get anything accomplished the next day.

My insomnia went on, relentlessly, for so many years, I thought I’d never get it under control. The remedy came to me through a back door, in a way. I read The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, and started getting up at an early hour. Every day. Having always thought of myself as a night owl, I was amazed at how quickly I adapted. I’m surprised at how much I’ve grown to love my mornings. And, after only a few weeks, how ready for sleep I was at a reasonable hour. What a wonderful feeling it is to know that I can drop off to sleep without a battle! Now and then, a bright moon or a troubling worry might keep me from sleep. It happens rarely, though. Mostly, it seems that I’ve finally managed to make peace with bedtime.

Out

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I started the April A to Z blogging challenge the first of this month. I didn’t announce it, thinking that I’d then have an easy way out if I got tired of it. I’ve been pretty lax about posting blogs the last several months, and it’s been a year since I tried to write every day. I’ve been blogging for more than ten years. Sometimes I feel like I have no stories left to tell. Still, my initial intent, of paying more attention to day-to-day life as I live it, is still valid, and important to me.

Many of the people that regularly read my early posts have fallen away, but I’ve gained a few new readers over the years. I still often feel like there are things I want to write about, so I continue. Blogging every day, though, is a challenge. So, I didn’t announce that I’d post every day, and I didn’t sign up for the challenge. In fact, this year I didn’t even see ads about the A to Z challenge, or get an invitation to participate. Maybe it’s been discontinued. Except for me, trying to do it in the most uncommitted way possible.

“I could stop anytime,” I told myself as I worked through A, B, C and D, “nobody would notice.” After that, just about the time I was running out of steam…and subject matter…somebody noticed. WordPress, the blog-hosting service that I use, that may or may not even be an actual person, started sending me little notes. Daily! “Congratulations,” they say, “you’ve posted 4 (or 5, or 6, or whatever) days in a row! Keep up the good work!” So, I let that encourage me through another slump or two.

Now and then, something essay-worthy actually happened in my life, so I’d have a another topic. If I’m in need of writing material, bad occurrences are as valuable as good ones. Then, surely, by the time I got through J, K and L, every reader would have noticed that I’m working my way through the alphabet, so I’m locked in. Stopping now will demand an explanation. That’s what I tell myself, anyway. So, now more than halfway through the alphabet, and with all those hard V, W, X, Y and Z letters still ahead, I’m in for the long haul. No way out.

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.

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.