Category Archives: Self-Improvment

Fixing the Dryer

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A day of rain at the first of last week gave me the incentive I needed to finally fix my clothes dryer. It’s a terrible job that I’d been putting off. Something had fallen into the hole when I was cleaning the lint trap. It was rattling ominously against the fan whenever I tried to run it. So, the clothesline has been getting good use!

I don’t mind using the clothesline. The process is rewarding in many ways. There’s the extra exercise built in to simply getting the wet clothes out to the backyard, and the repetitive act of hanging them. I sort the clothes as I hang them: pajamas, underwear and socks – in pairs – go in the back; shirts, folded in half over the clothesline are next; and slacks hang on the front line where the clothesline pole will keep them from dragging the ground. I fold the dried clothes as I take them down. Things dried on the clothesline hold onto a fresh air scent that no fabric softener can compete with. Sheets and towels are especially wonderful after hanging outside.

Still, there are disadvantages, too. The clothesline doesn’t remove wrinkles the way the dryer can. Unless it’s an especially breezy day, it also doesn’t remove the dog hair that seems to coat everything. The dryer tends to tighten up the weave in jeans and sweaters, making them fit me better right now when I’m between sizes. And then there is rain to contend with. And, inevitably, winter.

Fixing the dryer, though, is not easy. It involves first wedging myself through an eight-inch space between wall and appliance, to get behind the machine, so that I can unplug it and push it out into the room. Then, the vent hose has to be disconnected, the back removed(seven machine screws), and the vent guard taken off(more screws). A million things could go wrong! Screws drop to the floor, roll away and sometimes disappear. The vent hose is difficult to remove, but even harder to reattach. And, there is always the possibility that, one of these times, I’ll get hopelessly stuck between the wall and the dryer!

But, with cold weather coming, it would have to be dealt with eventually. The rainy day gave me the motivation I needed. I had work clothes in the washing machine, and I needed them. So, with plenty of cursing and pacing the floor, I tackled the job.

In this case, the offending object was a short pencil from the golf course, that I had evidently found in a pocket and thoughtlessly tossed on top of the dryer. Once it was removed and everything reassembled and pushed back in to place, the dryer works like a charm. And, though I chastised myself for the carelessness that caused the problem (and repeated promises to myself to not let it happen again!), the completed job gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. Success!

Well

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain

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Today is my day off. I had a few things planned, but on top of my list was getting the lawn mowed. I call it lawn, but it’s actually just a mown field. If left to its own devices, it goes back to its true nature: a collection of various grasses, wildflowers, juniper, and blackberry brambles. That is what surrounds the area I’ve dedicated to lawn, and I’d be happy to let it all go, if circumstances were different.

As it is, I need to maintain a yard. The little dog becomes hesitant to go outside even when the grass is only a bit overgrown; from her vantage point, it must seem daunting, with grasses waving over her head. I walk the field, and I know how difficult it can be to navigate, in areas where the long thorny blackberry branches reach out to snag clothing and any exposed skin. I wouldn’t want to maneuver through it on my way to the garden, clothesline, or car. Also, there are all the critters – snakes and mice and mosquitos – that harbor in the long grass. I’d rather have some discouragement between them and my back door! So, I mow the lawn.

After a few days of rain in the last two weeks, it is ready. In August, the grass is slow growing, but the weeds thrive in summer’s heat. My yard is polka-dotted with long, tough stems rising up out of the grass. The blossoms of Queen Anne’s Lace are opening up randomly around the yard. Long grasses are crowding the rocks that border walkways and flower beds. It is definitely time to get the mower going.

So, that was my plan. I had already sabotaged it a little, by forgetting to put a gas can in the car yesterday, so I could stop at the station after work and fill it. So, that would mean a trip to town today, to get gas. To make the trip “worth it,” I would plan a trip to the bank and the post office as well. The bank had been unexpectedly closed the last time I stopped; I’ve been carrying around two small checks to deposit since last Thursday. I’d write a check for the phone bill that’s sitting on the dining room table, and drop that in the mail. Maybe, since I’d already be in town, I’d take myself out to lunch…or stop in at one or two of the little shops…or pop in for a visit with a friend. Because that’s just how my mind works.

By the time I got home, I’d think, “No sense is starting a big project now; this day has been wasted.” So, I’d take the dogs for a walk, or maybe for a drive down to the lake, and everything I had planned to get done today would be put off until tomorrow. Except, I woke up today to pouring rain. There will be no lawn-mowing on a day like this! All of my good intentions…that I would have probably frittered away on my own…have been set aside by circumstances beyond my control. Hurray! This is my day off!

Summer, Still…

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Three weeks ago, near the first day of summer, I wrote about my childhood memories of this season. I could have chosen to write about summer days when my daughters were young: long walks to the park, outings to local swimming places, and long hours spent on the white, sandy beaches of Beaver Island. I could have written about summers when my grandchildren visited here: mornings at Iron Ore Bay, days full of adventure, and evening drives to see the deer. In my memory, this warm season meanders slowly along, allowing me to savor every sensory summer offering.

But, here I am, in real-life summer. The days speed by. How can we be halfway through July already?! And all I feel, most days, is exhaustion. It’s not only that it’s busy, though it is. There are hoards of people in the shops and on the streets. The harbor is filled with boats, and the beach downtown is full of people, every time I pass by. There is also the tiredness that comes from the long list of “to-do”s that are not getting done.

Always, there are things to do, and I’m behind in almost everything. My income taxes have still not been filed; there are galleries to contact regarding future shows; I have to follow up on some paperwork for the state. My flower beds are weedy, and the lawn is ready to be mowed.

I gave up on the garden when July got here. If I did manage to find the time to clear the weeds, turn the soil and plant, there would still not be time left in this short season to see results. So, my vegetable garden, this year, consists of three tomato plants, a few kohlrabi, four hills of summer squash, and one row of beans.

I’ve closed the door of my studio. Expecting company, and needing to clear space upstairs for them to sleep, I used the studio – which was already over-full – to store two totes, three big baskets and a large piece of exercise equipment. Those things can now be moved back out, but it doesn’t solve the problem: there is too much stuff in that small space, and I don’t have time to do anything about it. Even if I did, I don’t have time, this summer, to work in the studio.

Last week, My daughter Kate came for a visit. I expected her, plus her husband and two of her sons, but at the last minute, work conflicts got in the way of any of the men making the trip. What a treat! I love my son-in-law, and seeing my grandsons is always wonderful, too, but I almost never get to enjoy Kate’s company alone. I loved it! Having her here gave me a reason to stretch beyond my little world, as well as a perfect companion.

We visited all the gift shops. We walked the dogs together. We took a drive around the island, and I got my feet in the sand, at the beach at Iron Ore Bay, for the first time this year. We went out to lunch, two days in a row! We had simple suppers at home, and spent the evenings playing games. Having come from a big, competitive, game-playing family, that’s one of the things I miss most, living alone. Kate and I got in enough Boggle and cribbage to satisfy me for a while!

Kate’s visit was short, but enjoyable. It reminded me what summer can be, if I allow myself to relax and take part in it. I intend to do just that…before this summer, too, is just a memory.

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.