Category Archives: writing




Two Dogs

In my too-quiet house,

the inevitable shock

of two dogs barking.


Nothing to Say

When the expected

day comes, with nothing to say,

one haiku…or two.



The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #12



List the people that make you feel happy:

  • My daughter, Kate. I pick up the phone these days with a little trepidation. Often, it’s someone with a great cause, hoping for a charitable contribution. Frequently, it is someone wanting support for a political party, or answers to survey questions. Sometimes, it’s a bill collector. I don’t have “caller ID.” When my “Hello” is answered with Kate’s sweet, “Hi, Mom,” my heart soars. Whether she’s having a good day or not, a conversation with Kate will always be interesting and fun. She’ll enlighten me as to all the current news about my grandchildren, my other daughter, and other family and “ex” family that she knows I care about. She never fails to make me laugh. Visits in-person are rare treasures, but every bit as enjoyable.
  • My daughter, Jen. She and I are on conflicting schedules lately. I don’t talk to her as regularly as I do Kate, but it makes me happy whenever we are able to have a chat.
  • My grandchildren make me happy.
  • My sister, Brenda, makes me happy,
  • and so do my other sisters: Cheryl, Robin and Amy.
  • My brother, Ted, makes me happy. Last week, I received a letter from him. He signed off with “Your brother, Ted.” I’ve been smiling about that all week. As if I’d have otherwise thought the letter – filled with family news and remembrances – was from some stranger named Ted that I never met…if he hadn’t been clear.
  • My new neighbors make me happy. They embrace this Beaver Island life with eagerness and joy. They don’t question my hermit-like ways. They kindly put up with my barking dogs, who feel it’s a personal affront if the neighbors so much as walk out into their very own yard. They remind me, with their enthusiasm, of all the special things about this island, and of the reasons why I came here to begin with.
  • My best friend, Linda, makes me happy. We have been plotting, commiserating, giggling and sharing secrets together since we were eleven years old. I hope it never ends!
  • All friends, old and new, make me happy. Some I met all the way back in grade school: Joan, Kate and Mary come to mind. Some go back to high school: Lynne, Deb, and others that I’ve re-connected with through social media. Many, I know through my family or my life here on Beaver Island. Some friends I have not met in person, but have gotten to know through their blogs: Sara, Lisa, Kathy, Pam, Joss, Linda, Susan, Nat and Nancy. Others I know through my work, or other jobs I’ve had over the years. Some friends I keep in touch with regularly; others not so much. Still, I can say without a doubt that thoughts and memories of them, if not a written or verbal exchange, always makes me feel happy.

Just Say Something



Painfully shy, and uncomfortable in groups, I hardly spoke in public until I was twenty-five years old. Almost every sentence spoken aloud was preceded by long, silent rehearsals in my mind: what the words would be; where the emphasis would lie; and what expression would best compliment the declaration. Imaginary conversations still go on in my head, long before – or often in place of – actual exchanges.

Though I have found my voice, I think the many years of silently telling stories in my mind – to entertain, defend myself, or support an idea or a position – gave me an advantage, when it comes to writing. Most days, I can talk about almost anything. Give me a writing prompt, I’ll give you five hundred words. On days when I can think of nothing to write about, often just putting up a photograph, or typing in any first sentence will be enough to get me rambling along in one-way conversation.

When I held a township position related to that cause, I wrote regular installments on the control of invasive species. I wrote bi-monthly stories for the  Beaver Beacon for a couple years before I became the it’s owner. Then, for the next three years, I was the primary writer for that news-magazine. I have been writing this blog for more than six years. One of those years – 2016 – I wrote every single day. It seems I will never run out of words.

Though my blog has just under two thousand “followers,” they clearly do not all read everything I write. Usually, when I publish a piece on WordPress, fifty to one hundred people read it, before I publish another. That includes friends and family that see the link on social media, and others that see the link on “Beaver Island News on the Net.”

Two years ago, in the middle of my “writing every day” escapade, I started reading and recording my blog posts for our local radio station. Called “Island Reflections,” the bits play three times a day, five days a week. I don’t know how many people tune in to WVBI (the Voice of Beaver Island), but I have to guess that it is quite an expansion on my readership.

I may be confidant that I won’t run out of words; I’m starting to worry, though, that I may run out of stories. Lately, I’ve encountered a lot of evidence to that fact. Talking long distance on the telephone, I’ll start to tell someone about the weather, or a recent occurrence here, or a project I’m working on in the studio. “Oh, I know all about it,” I’ll hear, “I read your blog!” In conversation here, I’ll try to contribute a personal anecdote only to be interrupted with, “I heard you tell about that on the radio.” I started to mention a family member the other day only to be countered with, “Oh, your Grandpa Ted, yes, you wrote all about him.”


The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #11



List the things that made you happy as a child:

  • Books! They were my favorite gift, my greatest treasure. I loved books even before I could read. I loved the colors, the feel of their spines as they stood in the bookcase, and the promise of a treasure inside.
  • Make-believe. Whether it was playing house, playing school or playing church, make-believe was a common activity in our large family. If company were coming, we’d plot in advance what the game would be. Lots of young children? We’d plan to play school, as we’d have lots of students to boss around. If Uncle Al and Aunt Mary Lou were going to visit, we could play house, as there would finally be boys (beyond our one uncooperative brother) to be the husbands that we could send off to work. When we had candy wafers to be the communion hosts, playing church was always the order of the day. As we got older, we played make-believe through our Barbie dolls. We created elaborate apartments out of the shelves in our upstairs bedrooms,  took lots of time-outs for costume changes, and let the dolls be the characters in whatever action we designed.
  • Sunshine. I’ve always been buoyed up by a bright sky.
  • Gleaning. I wouldn’t have known – as a child – to call it by that name, but I enjoyed picking berries, or picking peas, or even catching pan fish that could make a small meal.
  • Bicycle riding. I was old – maybe nine or ten – before I learned to ride a bicycle, but I really loved it. I’d go around and around the house, front yard to back, for hours it seems.
  • Christmas season. Our house always seemed calmer somehow, when it was decorated for the holidays. The light was softer, the rooms were cleaner, and all of us were making a huge effort to be on our best behavior. Anticipation was high, and so were my spirits.
  • Vacation. Always on Beaver Island; always in August; always special.

This Tail-End of Winter



Six days into March, we are seeing signs of the winter’s end here on Beaver Island. There’s still plenty of snow along the Fox Lake Road, which is in the woods, in the middle of this island. Still, the trees all have a ring of bare earth around them, where the snow has melted away. My back yard is clear past the wild cherry tree, and much of the ice has melted from the driveway.

Closer to the big lake that surrounds us, in those places where the sun, when it shines, can more easily reach, everything melts faster. In the downtown areas, where paved roads help the process, the snow is nearly gone. This is still winter, though.

At the hardware store, we brought the snow blowers – usually on display and for sale all winter – back down to the basement. I didn’t push them all the way to the back corner where we store them through the summer, though. I suspect we may want them back upstairs before the seasons change. Often, when spring promises to come early, with melting snow and warmer days, winter smiles and gives us a foot of snow on April Fool’s Day.

Two “ice-breakers” came through last week, to break up the ice in our harbor, so that the tug boat pulling the barge loaded with fuel could get in. That barge had been locked into the ice in Michigan’s upper peninsula since late last fall. Guys with ice drills and chain saws have been out working every day, to help them get all the way in to the dock. Even now, a week into March, that ice is thick.

I walked the dogs last evening down a snow-covered trail. Someone had tried to pull in with a car, which drew my interest. Though the trail goes a half-mile into the woods, it is actually a private drive, and I didn’t think any of the owners were here. The car tracks stopped a short way in, leaving ridges more than 12 inches deep. Boot prints in the snow suggested that the explorers continued on foot, in and then back out again.

Rosa Parks had been left at home on Sunday, so yesterday she was eager to show me she was up for a walk, too. Darla wagged her tail and watched as I put on boots and coat; Rosa Parks went right to the door to wait. She had no intention of being left behind again!

My big dog, Darla, loves a walk, and is a calm and steady companion. Her ears flap up and down like bird’s wings, in time to her footsteps. She keeps me in sight as we walk down the road and – while investigating the sights and smells – never strays too far from where I am.

Rosa Parks is often indecisive about the walk. She’ll pause at the end of the driveway, thinking. No matter how much I call, and coax, and beg, she will not come with us. Sometimes she turns, then, and goes back to wait on the porch. Other days, I’ll look back to see that she has ventured out onto the road, though she is making no effort to catch up with us. Then, we have to turn around and go back…in fear that a car would come along while I am far ahead. That behavior is what caused her to be left inside on Sunday.

When the little dog is in the mood for a good walk, she’s a joy to have along. She was in the spirit yesterday. She beat us to the door, and then she beat us to the end of the driveway. “What’s keeping you?” her gaze seemed to ask, as she looked back at us, tail wagging. All the way down the snowy drive, Rosa Parks zipped from one smell to another. She bounded ahead, then circled back to see what Darla was doing. She’d glance my way, then run off again with a grin, and a wag of her tail.

Though the sun – just above the treetops on the horizon – was bright, the day was cold. The surface of the snow was firm, so that I walked on top of it, rather than sinking in, yet it was not icy. It was an easy walk, and a good one, on a beautiful, cold winter day. I think I paid more attention, and was more appreciative of the season, knowing it is nearly at its end.




The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #10



List the ways that you feel lucky:

  • I’m lucky to have a good memory. Not everyone does. I’ve been told that my mother’s mother had a photographic memory. Mine’s not that good.
  • I am fortunate to be a reader, with good comprehension. It makes me feel like the whole world is accessible, if I have the time to read. I have learned how to do many things through written instructions, from crochet to encaustic painting to strength training to building shelves. Books have broadened my knowledge, opened my mind to new ideas, and entertained me. I can’t imagine a life without reading.
  • I am lucky to to have the family that I have,
  • And the friends that I have.
  • I am lucky to live on Beaver Island,
  • And to have been born in this country.
  • I am healthy,
  • Able to work,
  • And support myself.

No Whining



Last evening, between her dinner and my own, I had a long telephone conversation with my friend, Linda. The talk was filled with my rantings about everything that seems to be going wrong in my life right now. I would have called my friend Chris, too, except that I lost her number. My sister Brenda is on vacation. So, Linda got the full dose: all of my complaints.

Today, I started the morning by grumbling to myself, and to the dogs if they would listen, while I started the coffee pot, stripped the bed and put the sheets in the washing machine. Next, I wrote out my troubles in a letter to another friend. Then, still on a roll, I capped it off with three pages of stream-of-consciousness longhand in my black and white composition book, designated for “Morning Pages.”

“Morning Pages” is a place to spill out – without a filter – anything that is on my mind. I use it for brainstorming, developing ideas for writing or art, complaining, expounding on grievances large and small, reminiscing, planning and writing affirmations. This morning, it was all whine.

So, there will be no complaining here today. Though this blank screen seems to be just waiting for me to pour my heart out about work problems, home troubles, health issues, financial worries…it’s not going to happen today. I am tired of it. I have been so absorbed in self-pity, however, I have little else to talk about.

I barely noticed the bright planet visible last night in the east sky, and I didn’t take the time to identify it. I hardly paid any attention to the full moon, though it cast a cool glow right across my bed at four o’clock this morning. The snow is melting in the back yard, so that bare winter ground is exposed far past the cherry tree, and through the flower bed. The side yard that includes the driveway is solid ice, almost impossible to walk on. If it weren’t for the dogs going in and out, I doubt I’d have even noticed.

It’s time to start paying attention, and that’s what I plan to do. No more whining!