Tag Archives: Beaver Beacon

In the Middle of the Night…



A month ago. when I woke up in the night, it was with a sense of dread, and near panic. Forefront in my mind were the one hundred things I had yet to do, at least half of which I was behind on. Deadlines loomed. Mistakes and missteps haunted my thoughts. There were always money worries. My household bills were behind because I was using my personal income to make ends meet for my  business.

I was often driven out of bed by obligations to be met, a budget to review, or jobs to be done that my schedule didn’t allow for. I would sit at the computer, then, trying to write an article covering an event that I had been unable to attend because I was at my other job. Or, I would once again cover the dining room table with paperwork, trying to figure out what I was missing, that there was no profit here. There were many nights of too little sleep.

Days were spent juggling my job at the hardware, a couple other side jobs, the duties and obligations associated with my business, and everything else necessary to keeping a life running smoothly. That was my life for the two-and-a-half years that I held the position of owner and editor of the Beaver Beacon news-magazine.

When I took on that job, it seemed like a good idea. I have many long years of study, and college degrees I have barely used. I’ve spent most of my adult life working at menial labor in customer-service positions. That’s something I am really good at; that is grtifying all by itself. It has also allowed me to live on Beaver Island, which I love. It has provided me with enough income to support myself, and the freedom to pursue my artistic calling. Still, at times, I’ve felt that I’ve sold myself short. So, over the years, I’ve occasionally applied for or taken on other positions that seemed to better suit my qualifications. The Beacon was one of them.

Almost immediately, I realized it was a mistake. I was overwhelmed, incapable of giving it the time it deserved, unable to fix the things that were going wrong.  I spent about two years trying to find someone willing and able to take over. I contemplated other options, none of which were good…for me, personally, or for the long-standing place the Beaver Beacon has held in this community.

When everything seemed hopeless, someone came forward. After several discussions, many questions answered, and papers signed, Steve and Elaine West, who have successfully managed to put out the Northern Islander for more than a decade here on Beaver Island, have added the Beacon to their repertoire. They have good ideas and exciting changes planned. I can’t wait to see how the whole thing evolves under their guidance. I’m looking forward to contributing an article now and then…when it’s not a crucial deadline that keeps me from sleep!

Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I smile. Sometimes I get up to let a dog outside. I may, if the weather is mild, step out onto the porch to look up at the stars, or to see what stage the moon is at in the night sky. Other times I just lay there in the darkness, appreciating the calm, and the warmth of the little dog sleeping at my feet. Sometimes I stretch, roll over, and go back to sleep. This is the way I want to always spend my nights!



These Days



I took some time yesterday to update my bullet journal. Through the busy summer months, it had been kept up in just the most rudimentary fashion. Yesterday, I filled in the workdays and paydays, habits and activities to the monthly charts, based on the notes I’d jotted on the daily pages as I rushed through my days. I went through the long-term lists for home and garden, and highlighted the tasks that I’ve completed.


I made pretty good progress in the garden; in the house, not a bit. But, winter is coming, with more time to devote to painting and repair.

There is still plenty to do around here, no doubt. In addition to all the items on my list – many of which take money as well as the time that I seem to always be so short of – there are sorting, deep-cleaning and organizing tasks all through the house. There is – new to my household – the old footstool to reupholster. Soon, if the weather holds, I’ll have tomatoes to put up for the winter. The lawn needs to be mowed. On top of all that, I have big plans in the studio, with projects to finish and new skills to learn. And, the exercise program that I’ve neglected for so long. Every single new day, week and month, I think, “It’s time RIGHT NOW to re-commit to that!” There is plenty to keep me busy, but – these days – I do not feel overwhelmed.

I was recently able to pass on the Beaver Beacon, the bi-monthly news magazine that I have struggled with (as writer, editor, reporter-at-large, bookkeeper, distributor, bill-collector, and sometimes photographer) for the last two-and-a-half years, to someone more capable of the job. I have gone to press with my last issue, and expect it to arrive any day now. I feel like I’m learning to breathe again.  I’m remembering what it is like to wake up in the middle of the night without a sense of panic and a long list of things to do immediately. Now, there is no guilt and self-recrimination involved when I simply roll over and go back to sleep. These days, I feel like there is time, and that I will find the energy, for whatever life brings.


Check it Out!


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My day off started in the usual way: with mounds and mounds of office work.

There were my own things: bills to pay, papers to file and calls to make.

There were things for the Beaver Beacon, the news magazine that my partners and I put out every other month. I had a pile of subscriptions to update, gift subscriptions to enter and send cards for, advertising payments to document, at least a dozen seasonal address changes and a few letters to answer. Plus bills to pay and a bank deposit to prepare.

I’ve been behind in all of it. It is embarrassing to get a shut-off notice, simply because I haven’t taken time to pay the telephone bill! I couldn’t deposit monies to the Beacon account before I had made the necessary changes to expiration dates, because I simply can’t trust my memory anymore.

I was delayed by long, exhausting work weeks, some enjoyable company that I took time for, and the Beacon deadline. I had to edit things that were sent to me, type things that were handed me, turn all of my notes from various events into news stories (WHY don’t I do that right after the event, while it’s all still fresh in my mind??) and write up a couple things I hadn’t thought of earlier.

With all of that temporarily behind me, today I was able to dedicate time and energy toward getting my desk cleared.

I worked pretty steadily, too, until mid-afternoon.

I ran upstairs, then, to retrieve a folder. I noticed the clock in the corner was flashing: at some point, the electricity must have blinked out. Because the clock was on a high shelf that had a clothes drying rack leaning against it (such is my life!), I couldn’t get close enough to see what I was doing, but pushed a couple buttons in an attempt to get the numbers to stop flashing. No luck, and I gave up on it.

I’m working hard at staying on task these days, not allowing myself to get distracted and pulled away from the job at hand by a drawer that needs tidying…or flashing numbers on a clock.

Back downstairs, and back at work, I started hearing a repeating buzzer. What was it? My little dog, Rosa Parks, was sure it was her arch-enemy, the road truck, backing into our driveway to turn around. She started madly barking, and running through the house, frustrated that she couldn’t see outside. I realized pretty quickly that it was an alarm clock. In blindly hitting buttons to set the time, I had inadvertently set the alarm instead.

I ran upstairs and turned it off. The dog was unconvinced. She continued her wild barking until I let her outside, to see for herself that we were safe.

Poor Rosa Parks! I rearranged the living room furniture a few weeks ago. It’s a small room, and there are only two places the sofa will fit. I had moved it to the south wall, just for a change. It hadn’t occurred to me that in moving it away from the window on the west wall, I was taking away Rosa’s ability to see the yard and the road in front of the house. Her only view had been through the sliding glass doors, into the back yard. Not much activity there, most days, for a dog intent on guarding the homestead.

For the sake of Rosa Parks, I decided to rearrange the furniture. Much to her delight, I moved the couch back in front of the window…

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…where she’ll be the first one to spot the road truck, should it dare come by.

This arrangement, however, reminded me that a coffee table was needed. I had taken the old one – built by my then-husband, of 2 x 6 boards, more than thirty years ago, altered and painted and given a hundred different uses in that time – to use for file storage in my office space.

I had a plan, though! I purchased an old suitcase in a sale many years ago. It is handy for storing afghans and extra sheets. On end, it kind of works as a narrow, somewhat wobbly, side table. Not the best solution, but okay. Then I saw a similar old suitcase – on legs – in one of those design magazines. It was brilliant! I ordered legs and stability plates from “amazon dot com” weeks ago. I already owned a cordless drill (which, if I have not told you, Kate and Jeremy, is one of the most used if not absolute best Christmas gift I have ever received!). I was only waiting for time, opportunity, and courage to tackle the job.

Today, my day off, was as good as any.

I emptied the suitcase, fit the drill bit into the power tool, measured and marked where the legs would go. I drilled four holes without a hitch. My confidence was building. I threaded the bolts at the top of the legs into each hole then, from inside the case, screwed the plates onto the bolts. There were four little screws to hold each plate in place. They had to go straight in so that they would go into the thick top of the legs. The suitcase itself was too thin-walled to hold them. I replaced the drill bit with a #2 Phillips bit in a magnetized bit holder. Ready!

Those sixteen screws nearly finished me! How to get the right angle while working sideways inside of a suitcase? How to put enough pressure on the driver to get the screw started, without having it jump out of the holder? How to stay on my knees that long?  I turned the air blue, with my language, every single time I had to retrieve one of those screws from inside the hinge of the suitcase, or the rug underneath. But I finally got it together.

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It’s a bit shorter than I’d like. The legs are a way too close together (what made me think a sheet torn from a legal pad and folded in half lengthwise was the serendipitous “perfect” distance from the edges?? I don’t know), reminding me of a very large person with very tiny feet. That will have to be changed. The top surface needs some attention, too, now that it’s laid out for everyone to see. I don’t mind the scratches, but the ringed water marks will have to go. Not today, though.

Though I let distractions take me away from my work today, I got a lot accomplished. Rosa Parks is happy, and so am I. It was a good day off!



The Beacon


Here it is: the very first issue of the Beaver Beacon with my name attached.

I had a great deal of help – and many other offers of help – from friends and family and supporters. There were those who  helped for my sake, and others for the sake of this island magazine that has become such a welcome institution over the years. Because I don’t yet have the software that will allow me to do the layouts, Jeff Cashman kindly took the time to put this issue together. Some folks allowed me to write about them; others contributed their own stories. Others offered photographs, creative writing and research. Without their help, this issue would not have been possible. A huge thank you to all of you!

My introduction is here:

I am Cindy Ricksgers.
You probably already know me.
You may have seen me at the Shamrock, where…

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