Category Archives: walking

Super Powers


Today, I mowed the grass. Not the entire lawn, but the small side yard that the kitchen door opens onto, and the whole back yard.

I wasn’t planning to. There are several memes going around about “no-mow May,” encouraging everyone to hold off on mowing until June, for the sake of the pollinators. I was happy to comply. I need very little encouragement to put off chores.

A few things caused those intentions to change. First, ticks. They are very bad this year, and I was getting nervous, thinking of them laying in wait in that long grass. Second, I swatted a mosquito yesterday, the first one this year. My house sits on a half-acre of cleared land surrounded by woods and fields. Mosquitoes can make any outdoor activities challenging; an un-mowed lawn just encourages them. Third, my sisters are coming next week. I won’t want to take time away from them to do yard work. Finally, I intended to spend this day in the studio, preparing for tomorrow’s art class. Nothing makes one job more enticing to me than when I can use it to avoid doing what I should be doing. So, by late morning I had decided that the lawn absolutely had to be mowed. Today.

I started by disassembling the massive puzzle that made up the contents of my garden shed. First, the table, that was the last thing in before I closed the doors last fall. Then, the bench and three chairs, tucked around and on top of the lawn mower. Finally, I could wheel the mower out. I checked the oil, filled the gas tank, pushed the little button three times. then pulled the rope to start it. The rope would not pull! I walked away and came back to it. Several times, expecting – or hoping – that suddenly, miraculously, it would work the way it was supposed to. No such luck.

What could be wrong? Had the engine seized up? There was oil, right to the level that it should be. There was gas. The good gas, with no ethanol to gum up the motor. I have a long, horrible history with lawnmowers. I’d spend hours out there, pulling that rope until I was sobbing in exhaustion and exasperation. When I could, I’d hire someone to come and start my mower, then mow until I was finished, no breaks, knowing that if I turned it off, I’d never be able to get it going again. My grass was always overgrown. I was constantly frustrated.

Then, four years ago, I bought the little mower that I have now. At about the same time, I learned about the problems ethanol causes in small engines. I was careful to always use the right fuel. Joy of joys, this mower would start right up for me every time. Until today. What the hell. So, I pruned the service berry tree, and weeded around the peony bed. I pulled the first of this season’s rhubarb. I worked at cleaning up the garden.

Ready for a break, I came inside, got a glass of water, and sat down at the computer. On a whim, I typed in, “can’t pull the rope on my lawn mower.” That question directed me to three youtube videos, each with a different kind, knowledgeable and not-too-patronizing man, showing me what the problem might be, and how to repair it! In my case, it was a build up of last year’s grass in the undercarriage, now hardened around the blade. It took me only minutes to find the problem AND FIX IT!

I was ecstatic! I felt like I had super powers! I wanted to burst into song, “I am woman, hear me roar!” I mowed the side yard, then moved on to the back. When that was done, even though I’d already clocked more than 12,000 steps on my Fitbit just from walking in circles and rows behind the mower. I took the dogs for a walk.

Then, fading fast, I fed the dogs, jumped in the shower, then made myself the simplest of meals: peanut butter on a flour tortilla, followed by a small ice cream cone, and finished with a large bowl of popcorn. I’m still feeling really proud of myself. As my energy fades, though, I feel like my super powers must have only been temporary. That’s okay…they came through when I needed them!

Doing Nothing


In the United States, today is Mother’s Day. I celebrated by doing almost nothing. Not that I needed a holiday to manage that. Sundays, except in the summer when my second job kicks in, tend to be lazy days. I like to watch the lighter news and features on CBS Sunday Morning. That is followed by Face the Nation which handles more serious issues. I usually make a good breakfast on Sunday. I manage to do the few tasks that I set for myself every single day, and that’s about it. Often, I make big plans for what extra stuff I’m going to accomplish, but it rarely happens. Today, I didn’t even try.

This morning, I woke up early, wrote in my journal, did a little reading, let the dogs outside and back in, then went back to bed. When I got back up, I made coffee, checked social media, read Email, and settled in for my Sunday morning programs. I made a “Dutch Baby,” essentially a large, baked pancake, and had wedges of it with mixed fruit jam for a buttery, sweet breakfast.

I took a long walk. Rosa Parks opted to stay at home. We miss her, of course, but when we aren’t hampered by the Chihuahua’s short legs and bad joints, the big dog, Darla, and I are able to go both faster and farther. Today we walked to Hannigan Road, then turned and went quite a ways down that road, too. Sometimes that area is pretty wet in the springtime, but it was dry today.

I was watching for morel mushrooms. The time is right, the weather is good, and several people have found them already this spring. I don’t have a good eye for spotting them, so I didn’t have much hope, and, in fact, did not find a single one. The wildflowers are out in force, though. Trout Lilies and the tiny Spring Beauties are bountiful, and I’ve never counted so many Trillium. They seem to have all opened at once!

In my own yard, the forsythia is already dropping its yellow flowers, and the cherry tree blossoms are just about to burst open. Daffodils, tulips and hyacinth are blooming. The rhubarb is unfurling its leaves. The garden spot needs lots of work; I just glanced at it as I walked quickly by. I wasn’t in the mood for that today!

I received Mother’s Day greetings from sisters, friends, children and grandchildren. I warmed leftovers for my dinner, and cleaned up the kitchen. Of course, tomorrow will be a full day, doing all the things I didn’t do today in the areas of housekeeping, gardening, prepping for my art class, and planning for family coming to visit next week. On this day, though, I was happy to do nothing!

Shadows and Blessings


It was a rough weekend.

On Saturdays and Sundays, I start with morning news. The coverage of the coronation couldn’t outweigh the preponderance of grim reports. More devastation in Ukraine. Violence in Sudan. Another mass shooting in this country. In another city, a driver plowed into a group of people waiting for a bus.

Here, it rained. I didn’t sleep well. There is turmoil going on within my family that I’m unable to fix or alter. Doing nothing is difficult, even when there are no helpful actions to take. And, I’m still working at getting over this sickness that has grabbed onto me and held on.

I’m much better; sometimes I think I’m completely recovered. But, I still have a persistent cough that that catches me by surprise at the most inconvenient times. And, I’m lacking stamina. My daily walk wears me out. Yesterday, I stripped the bed, laundered the sheets and comforter, and remade the bed. For how exhausted I was after that endeavor, you’d have thought I’d run a marathon! It was all I could manage to get through after-dinner clean-up and a bath before collapsing into bed, dead-tired.

No matter how bleak things seem, though, I have learned to look for the blessings. There is always something of value to find.

A phone call from my daughter, Kate, was a nice surprise. A long walk with my big dog did us both some good. Words of encouragement and understanding from friends and family made my heart swell. A long, hot bath, with scented salts and a good book, is always so relaxing. And it is such a good feeling to crawl into bed between freshly laundered sheets!

Today, the sun is shining. I think it’s going to be comfortably warm. I have the day off. There is nowhere I have to be. As for what to do, I could go in several directions. The flower beds need to be raked out. There’s still organization to be completed in the studio. I have to go over my notes for art class. Right now, I’m going to pour another cup of coffee while I consider my options!



Here I am, at the end of the alphabet, and almost at the end of April. Like most every year when I take on the challenge of writing my way through the alphabet, I spend about half of the time feeling uninspired, and wanting to be done with the commitment. Then, suddenly, I’m at the end, and I realize I’ve wished my way through another month. What happened to April, and all the things I hoped to accomplish? Gone, already.

Counting this one, I have written 25 blogs this month. Some were pretty short, but I’ll count them anyway. With today and tomorrow not yet tallied in, I’ve walked twenty-six miles in April. That’s down from my previous monthly totals this year, but that’s okay. I have not ordered plants or seeds, nor stepped one foot into the garden to start the clean-up there. I haven’t gotten into the studio, either, to tackle any of the necessary tasks up there. Even my reading, which asks so little in terms of energy or commitment, has been neglected. I’ve been sick this month, and that has thrown everything off. I’m not a hundred percent yet, but I’m definitely doing better, and hope to be back to normal soon.

The weather, in April, on Beaver Island this year, has been all over the place. We’ve had high winds, and rain. We’ve had at least three days of significant snowfall. And there have been warm, sunny days when jackets could be set aside. The loons are back, on the inland lakes. I’ve seen the Sandhill cranes in the fields near our family farm. Wild leeks are pushing their green leaves up through last year’s leaf litter. Waves of snowdrops are blooming in my yard; in the woods, the trout lilies are just beginning to open.

Our ferry service, which operates from mid-April until the third week in December, has resumed. That means a better selection on our grocery shelves, and greater liveliness in the downtown area. Winter activities are wrapping up, and businesses are planning ahead for a busy summer. Winters progress, here on Beaver Island, very much like the month of April does for me. First, it seems like it will last forever, with time enough for all of my plans and every good intention. Then suddenly, it’s over.

Out here on the Fox Lake Road, this is a crucial time. There is a narrow window of opportunity between the time the snow melts, and the hatching of large swarms of mosquitoes and biting flies. This coincides with the small window of time between when I realize how quickly time is passing in relation to all the things I have yet to do, before business picks up and my second, summer job kicks in. This is the time, and I’d better not waste it!



When I was younger, the belief was that dogs aged seven years for every one human year. There is some debate, now, about whether that is accurate. Still I, at age seventy, think that my dogs, each around twelve years old, are about the same age as me. In disposition, if nothing else. We are all set in our ways. We are stubborn and a little cantankerous. We’re all noticing it’s becoming more difficult to get around. We have discomfort and stiffness in our joints, and some losses of vision and hearing. For our age, though, I think we’re doing quite well.

When we head out for our daily walk, my big dog Darla practically dances through the door. She jumps and rolls, and wriggles with excitement. All the way down the road, she keeps watch. According to Darla, squirrels, deer and turkeys are not supposed to cross the road while we’re out walking. If she sees any wildlife, she’ll break into a run to clear the way. If a human comes down the road, whether on foot, on bicycle, or in a vehicle, she hurries, tail wagging, to greet them.

My small dog, Rosa Parks, doesn’t always walk with us. Though she needs the exercise as much as the rest of us, she often stubbornly refuses to come. She’s nearly blind, and must feel more vulnerable when she’s away from the house. I always invite her, but I rarely force the issue. When she does honor us with her company, she certainly seems to be enjoying herself. She grins and wags her tail all the way down the road.

Lately, when I come home from work, both dogs are often still napping. They sleep much sounder than they used to. When they were younger, they’d have noticed my car pulling in the driveway, and they’d be waiting at the door to greet me. Now, as I put down what I’m carrying and strip off coat and boots, they rouse themselves. They look a little sheepish when they come to say hello, as if they were caught sleeping on the job.

Both dogs, though, still adjust their habits. When I get into bed at night, Rosa Parks joins me there, and Darla sleeps on her bed, in the same room. Daytime sleeping is a different story. Ever since our third dog, Blackie Chan, died – almost a year ago – the other two have changed their routines. Darla now prefers to nap in the far corners of the house. I’ll find her curled on the small rug beside the bathtub, or in the laundry room, or way upstairs. Rosa Parks has taken to sleeping inside the crate that came to us with Blackie Chan. Even Blackie Chan did not spend time in his crate, once he found that he had other options!

Rosa Parks has had the habit of, when she comes in from outside, going under my desk to wait for a treat. This winter, I often had a basket of yarn sitting beside my desk chair, and a project underway. When she followed her usual path, the little dog would often get tangled in the yarn. She didn’t like that, and she liked even less the detangling process. So, she changed her behavior. There is no longer a basket of yarn near my chair; I have put my crochet work away for this time. Still, when Rosa Parks comes in, she now makes a wide circle around the dining room table, and over the dog bed, to scoot under my desk from the other side of the chair.

Though Darla sometimes rests on my bed after I’ve gotten up, she does not sleep with me. It’s a small bed; she’s a big dog, and she has a bed of her own. It’s always been that way. Last week, though, after a restless night, I was desperately trying to get a little sleep before getting on with my day. When Darla came snuffling around – because it was clearly time for me to get up – I patted the foot of the bed, to invite her up. She took me up on the offer, and I dozed as her wagging tail thumped against my leg. A few days later, when I was trying to sleep in, she came around, then climbed onto the foot of the bed, without even an invitation!

I am encouraged by the fact that both dogs are still able to grow and change. I hope that I, also old, am able to as well!



When I’m beginning the April A~Z challenge, and I come to the letter B, of course my topic will be books! Books have always been a big part of my life. As a shy and somewhat reclusive child, books were my closest friends. As a young adult trying to navigate the larger world, books were my teachers. And now, as a person who lives alone and is still shy and somewhat reclusive, books keep me company.

I always have a few books underway at any given time. Currently, I am savoring The Night Portrait by Laura Morelli. It is one of those books that I don’t want to end! I carry it with me, to read during my lunch break at work, or when I’m out to lunch in a well-lighted restaurant. The Simple Home rests on the bookshelf near the dining room table, for my morning study time. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd waits for me on my nightstand. Jon Irving’s latest novel, The Last Chair Lift, is on my tablet, for situations where it is easier or more practical to read from that format. I also have The 2 Meal Day, 1000 Creative Writing Prompts, Project 333, and The Power of Self-Discipline on that devise, for when I’m in the mood for a little instruction.

Audible has opened up a whole new world of reading for me! It allows me to listen to books while I’m doing something else. I “read” while driving, walking the dogs, or doing housework. It has added tremendously to the number of books I can devour in any given time. I’ve also gained great understanding of what used to seem quite impossible: the pre-television phenomenon of sitting around listening, and being entertained by radio programs! Recently, I’ve listened to the books by Lindsey Davis, all set in first century Rome. They have accurate historical references, along with relatable characters, a little romance, and a good mystery.

This year, I finished her Marcus Didius Falco series, and then read all she has published in the Flavia Albia series. The next installment is due to come out in July. That puts Lindsey Davis in a list with a few other authors, who publish slower than I read. I’m always on the lookout for new books by Louise Erdrich, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Laurie R. King, and Kate Atkinson.

On my shelves, books fall into a few categories.

  • There are books that I have read, but that I keep so that I can refer to them again. Art and photography books, and books of poetry are in this category, along with a few reference books, and everything written by David Sedaris.
  • There are books that I have finished, but that I loved so much, I know I’ll want to reread them. Heidi, by Johanna Spyri, falls into this group. I have read that book more than a dozen times since I received it for my tenth birthday. Silences, by Tillie Olsen, is another, as well as all of the writings of E.B. White.
  • Finally, there are books I have not read yet.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever have time to get to them, as my attention is easily drawn to newly published work. But, I take comfort in the idea that if I’m ever trapped in my house without access to new books, I will always have reading material!

Assessment: A Quarter-Year Check-In


Here it is, the first of April. We’re already one quarter of the way through this year. Its a good time to assess how I’ve been doing, with all my big plans and good intentions. Everything seems so possible when I start a new calendar; it seems I lose momentum quickly as the days pass.

First, I was going to divide the failures from the areas where I’m still plodding along, That doesn’t seem very nice. I’m not going to be that unkind to myself. I am old; winter is hard. I continue to push myself…though there are things I need to give more attention to, if I’m going to get back on track.

  • Writing. Every day, I write in my gratitude journal. Sometimes I do some other journaling, too. I have a book where I’m writing down memories, dates and other bits of information that might be valuable to me or others later. I have another where I take notes from books I’m studying from. I’ve started a family history for the Beaver Island Historical Society, but I have to crack down and put a lot more effort into getting that finished. Having fallen off in my blogging last year, I intended to do better. I started out the new year strong, then got lax about it. In an effort to try to get back on track, I am once again going to attempt the “April A~Z Challenge” where I post a blog each day of the month except Sundays, with titles and subject matter based on the letters of the alphabet.
  • Studio. I have a long list of cleaning and organizing tasks to do in the studio, to make it even possible to get in there to work. And I intend to get some good work done in the studio this year. At this time, so much space is taken up with storage of frames, materials and old work, there is barely a pathway through. I have hardly even gone into the room, except to pull out supplies for the classes that I teach. Sometimes, in a rush to find what I need, I create even more disarray. This is an area where I have to prioritize NOW, before summer’s busy-ness makes it impossible.
  • Health. I went in for my yearly “Wellness Check,” and managed, finally, to get across for annual screenings and treatments. I continue to walk almost every single day, and have logged over a hundred miles so far this year. My other exercise, a selection of aerobics, yoga, Pilates or weights, depending on my mood and the time available, has been sorely neglected so far. I blame it mostly on a lack of energy which I has been an ongoing issue this winter. My weight, despite all my efforts, has crept right back up to where it was when I started Intermittent Fasting over two years ago! I have to admit that it is not working for me. I still think the regimen has promise, and it fits well with my lifestyle, but it obviously needs to be adjusted if it’s going to do me any good. So, I’m reading a couple new books on the topic, and paying closer attention to quality and quantity.
  • Friends and Family. As always, I need to put more effort into my relationships. Make more regular telephone calls, send notes, make contact. This is an area where I consistently fall short, and carry a lot of regrets.
  • Dogs. I have two, and they are both doing well at this time. Though I swear living with dogs brings me just as much guilt and self-remonstration as I had when raising small children, I’m doing pretty well. I only wish I’d shown as much patience with my daughters as I display every single day with two spoiled dogs!

So, there are the basics. I may have missed a few areas completely, and I’m sure others could use further examination…but this is it for today. After all, I’ve still got the rest of the alphabet, and the whole month of April to go!

First of Spring, Fox Lake Road


I don’t imagine that we are all done with winter weather. I wouldn’t dare to hope! I’ve noted blizzards coming through more than once on the first of April, and I often post photos to show my grandchildren that there is still snow to be found well into May. Still, the days are noticeably longer, and the Fox Lake Road is a river of mud. These are dependable signs of the change of seasons. This year, on this first day of spring, the sun is out, and the snow is receding.

Spring brings hope. There will be milder days ahead. The ice will disappear, and we’ll be surrounded by open water again. Flowers will bloom. The garden will warm, ready to accept new plantings. I won’t need to pile on winter layers for my daily walk.

Spring, though, also brings along with it a great deal of work. Just the small patch of back yard revealed by the melting snow shows wheelbarrow loads of leaves, pinecones and small branches to be raked up. The entire lawn, both back and front yards, will need attention. I have 3 agricultural panels, a gift from my cousin Bob, and plans to put them to use. One, I plan to turn into an arch support for my wisteria, since I seem unable to get rid of that unruly vine. The other two, I intend to make into a grape arbor. Then, I can give that grapevine a much needed pruning.

The garden, sorely neglected last year, is in line for a good bit of attention this spring. I have to reset several of the support posts, put up new garden fence, double dig and fertilize my garden beds, pull weeds and put down mulch in the pathways, and prune the raspberries. All before planting…which reminds me that I have not yet even ordered my seeds!

It’s too early to tackle any of that. The ground is still frozen, and much of the yard is still covered in snow. It’s not even warm enough yet to store my winter clothes. What I can do is clear away other things from my “to-do” list, to open up time for those other activities when the time is right.

To that end, I’m giving the house a once-over. When winter’s darkness and cold put me in “hibernation” mode, it’s easy to let things fall into neglect. After awhile, I don’t even notice the dust and clutter! Last week, I got a call from a contractor, who said he’d stop by “in about twenty minutes” with an estimate I’d requested. Suddenly, I saw my surroundings as someone else would see them. I blasted through the downstairs, clearing and tidying. A most productive twenty minutes! Usually, though, I’m pretty lackadaisical about housework. Today, though, I’m paying attention…and doing something about it. Spring is here!

How to Enjoy a Wasteful Day


[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!]

If you’re like me, “lazy” is a word that comes with many negative connotations. I associate it with feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment. I go to great lengths to convince myself, and others, that I am not a slothful person. I fill – often over-fill – my schedule with obligations in order to drive out the idea that I’m lazy.

When I’m not working outside of the home, I have a whole list of expectations for myself. This includes basic chores that keep my living space from devolving into chaos, and things like writing, exercise and meditation that help to keep my life on track. I also have separate charts containing major projects in areas that include home improvement, gardening and studio, in case I find myself with extra time. If I’m looking for something to do, there is always a job to tackle. I would never want to waste a day.

Except that, once in a while, a lazy, unproductive day is exactly what the spirit needs. How to pull it off, when we have convinced ourselves that we should aim for the exact opposite? I have a few pointers:

  • Think about snow days. Or “sick days” when you weren’t really very sick at all. That’s the energy we want to bring. No rules! This is a day off from the ordinary.
  • Stock up on reading material. Books that are wildly different in subject matter make it easier to skip from one to another when boredom sets in. Take a break from a psychological thriller by paging through a cookbook. Then move on to a light romance. Then a how-to book about a subject you have thought about learning. Magazines are a pleasant alternative. Photography books and graphic novels allow the eyes to rest. And don’t forget that stack of interesting catalogues!
  • Be well-versed in what the computer offers. YouTube has videos on just about everything under the sun. I have learned to do several household repairs through available videos, but you can also watch stand up comedy, or catch up on the latest royal gossip. Facebook, with all of its memes and news and snarky comments, is extremely handy when I’m trying to be lazy! There are streaming services, on-line games, and a million other offerings on the computer. It is a big time-waster, even when that’s not my intent. It is certainly a useful tool when trying to enjoy a do-nothing day.
  • Have a wide range of time-wasting diversions. It may be difficult to spend an entire day at one thing, no matter how pleasurable. The eyes can get weary from too much reading; guilt can start to invade your consciousness after too many hours in front of the TV; even laying abed can become tiresome after a while. Be limber! Move from one fruitless activity to another.

When you get to the point where you feel like you can’t sit still a moment longer, when you are bored to tears, or when guilt and shame have started to play on your mind, it’s time for these hard core tactics:

  • Prepare a meal. Or at least an unhealthy snack. A giant bowl of popcorn fits nicely here.
  • Pull out a deck of cards, and remind yourself how entertaining a game of solitaire can be.
  • Take a long, hot bath. With scents or salts or bubbles. Treat yourself to a facial. Music, or an audio book is a nice addition.
  • Take a nap. On the sofa, with a cozy blanket, and maybe a pet. If the afternoon sun is shining in to warm you, and the television is on for background noise, perfect!
  • Explore something new. Learning macrame’ or teaching yourself the cyrillic alphabet will satisfy your need to do something productive. If it is totally alien to anything you would normally do, it will still feel like a vacation from the ordinary.

If you still, after all of this, are having trouble setting everything aside, sit down and make a “to-do” list. Write down every single thing you feel you should be doing, and everything you are neglecting. Even add a couple extra tasks, as penance for your slothfulness. On the top of the page, write tomorrow’s date. Then, for heaven’s sake, relax and enjoy your wasteful day!

Three Years in Pictures


My plan was just to write a blog, to publish tomorrow morning. I had a title, and a good idea of the subject matter. I brought my camera on our walk today, and took a few pictures so that I’d have something current for illustration. I didn’t realize how that would complicate my evening.

For the last couple years, I have not used the little “point-and-shoot” camera much. I found that my small electronic tablet was easier. It has a larger screen, so it is easier to focus in on what I was trying to capture, and – being about 10 years newer – produced better photos. I always have it on hand, as I use the tablet for both reading and listening to books. So, once I got used to it, I’d often leave the camera at home.

Recently, though, the tablet would not let me take pictures. “Not enough space,” the error message explained. It has stubbornly maintained that stance, even after I’ve deleted every single thing that I can do without. So, finally, in frustration, I pulled the little camera out, put in fresh batteries, and tucked it into my coat pocket.

Preparing to sit down to write, I found the device that transfers the images from the camera’s SD card, and hooked it up. I checked on its progress as I was making dinner; it was sure working very slowly. I continued what I was doing while the computer continued working. When I finally took time to notice, I saw that it was downloading over seven hundred images!

What an adventure! What a trip through time! What memories! There is my sweet granddaughter, Madeline, with me, at Crow Canyon, when we went on an archaeological dig together, for her high school graduation. There are hundreds of photos taken in Hawaii, of my family, the amazing sights, and the back-yard rooster. There are all four seasons here on Beaver Island, showing spring blooms, fall color, tomatoes on the window sill, and my dogs at all times of year, both inside and out. There’s my darling little Blackie Chan, who died last spring. He always was the most photogenic of all my dogs!

I’m sure you can guess how my evening was spent…not writing, but reliving memories of the last three years!