Tag Archives: garden

Walking with Dad


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I was about half way to Hannigan Road yesterday, walking my dog down the Fox Lake Road, when I heard the low rumble of the County road truck. Darla does not chase cars, or even seem to notice them, most of the time. She barely gives them a glance as they go by. If I don’t grab her and pull her away, she won’t even yield her walkway, which is right down the middle of the road. We’re working on it.

However, all of my dogs have always hated the road trucks. Perhaps it’s the sound they make when scraping gravel or snow from the roads, or just the noise of the diesel engines. It might be because they pass by slowly, sometimes stop nearby, and often turn around in front of my house. I don’t know.

Maggie looked at cars as a means of meeting folks, and would run right up to them and jump on the door to greet the driver. She’d always want to attack the road truck, though. Clover was afraid of cars, and generally gave them a wide berth. Except for Randy’s car, which she would lay in wait for, and ambush as he drove by. And the road truck, her mortal enemy. She taught Rosa Parks everything she knew, so the little dog grew up hating the road trucks, too. Now Rosa has taught Darla, and my quiet household erupts in wild leaping and barking whenever one of them drives by.

Not knowing how Darla would react when encountering the truck on the road, I hurried to grab her collar and lead her to the side of the road. We waited together until it passed by, then continued on our way. The truck was grading the road yesterday. With the big blade down but at a slight angle, it was scraping and leveling the gravel road, one half at a time. As it went down one side of the road, it pushed a mound of dirt and leaves into the center. It would do the same thing coming back down the other side of the road. A final pass would “crown” the road, smoothing the dirt mounded in the center.

As we continued our walk, my Dad had joined us. It was the smell that brought him to mind. In the same way that freshly cut grass transports me back to my childhood summer Sundays, when Dad would mow the lawn, worked earth brings thoughts of the spring of the year, and Dad in the garden. Dragging the plow behind his small tractor, he worked the clay soil every year, trying to soften and enrich it with additions of grass clippings, manure and mounds of seaweed.

I think Dad always had a garden. When we were tiny, he worked up a small plot of ground, and taught us to space the seeds by measuring the distance with our hands. He was always thrilled to see things grow. He would compete with any of his gardening friends for the earliest radishes, hottest peppers, tallest corn or largest squash. He was proud to carry in a harvest of peas or beans or tomatoes.

Though Dad was a smart man with good stories and many abilities, the garden is what I associate most closely with him. When I leaned close to give him a hug, for most of his life Dad smelled a little of smoke and tobacco; there was usually a hint of beer or something stronger; always, Dad smelled like the earth. It makes me happy that – as the old woman I am and almost twenty years after my Dad has left this earth – something as simple as the smell of freshly turned soil can bring him right back.

Tuesday: Exercises in Writing #12


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Today’s writing prompt comes from the website thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts. The one I chose suits me today, as I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately. According to Professor Richard Wiseman, scientific studies support the notion that simple gratitude is one of the quickest and easiest ways to change the level of happiness or contentment in your life. My mother would agree. She was big on counting blessings. Because tomorrow is my birthday, and I’ve been struggling with the idea of a list, I think this is it!

Gratitude: Write a poem or journal entry that is all about things you are thankful for.

I am grateful for:

  1. my father, who taught me about hard work and hard laughter, who loved children and chickens and growing things, who always tried hard, and maybe suffered from a lack of appreciation and respect. Sometimes it takes a few years to see how important a person is, in the big picture.
  2. My mother, who lived her life without preaching to her children about how we should live ours, but who – when death was near – demonstrated beautifully all the essential elements of a good life: faith, kindness, strength and love.
  3. My siblings, each for their own good reasons, but first Brenda who will always be older than me…I am forever grateful for that!
  4. Ted, my first brother;
  5. Sheila, who loved a daring adventure, and often turned her life upside-down for it;
  6. Cheryl, who truly lives every single day;
  7. Nita, who has given me some of the best laughs of my life;
  8. Robin, who’s enthusiasm is contagious;
  9. David, for – and in spite of – his crazy view of the world;
  10. Darla, who lives forever in my mind as a beautiful pink-faced infant with a Cupid’s bow mouth and deep blue eyes;
  11. Amy, the baby;
  12. and Bobby, the little one we didn’t get time to know, but always loved anyway.
  13. Brad, who – though not a brother – has always seemed like a member of the family.
  14. My former husband, Terry, who was with me through so many moments of my young adulthood, I can’t imagine that I’d be the same person if I’d lived that part of my life without him.
  15. Dena, a sister-in-law, who has always felt like family to me.
  16. Pat and Jack, my mother and father-in-law who were in exactly the right place in my life, when I needed them.
  17. My daughters: Jen, who at her birth forever changed my view of life and what’s important in it,
  18. and Kate, who’s view of the world has often opened my eyes. Both girls have given me more love, laughter, joy and good memories than I would have ever imagined possible.
  19. My grandchildren, each one a joy: Mikey, who called me this morning for a chicken recipe and a heart-to-heart talk;
  20. Brandon, whose stubborn moodiness is overshadowed by his brilliant smile;
  21. sweet Madeline, who loves animals and Paris, and who once told me that I am “the nicest woman in North America” (which, by the way, might be a great line for my tombstone!);
  22. Tommy, whose smile and gentle disposition make me happy;
  23. and Patrick, whose face shows his curious, thoughtful nature.
  24. The aunts and uncles and cousins who shaped my childhood,
  25. and the nieces and nephews that have enriched my adult life.
  26. The friends that I’ve known since childhood, who remind me, by their presence, of who I am based on the child that I was.
  27. The friends that I’ve gained at various points of my adult life, that have helped me form and solidify parts of my character.
  28. Linda, who fits both categories, having come into my life at a young age…and stayed.
  29. Many teachers over the years, but first: Sister Marietta, whose beauty and kindness opened my eyes to a whole new world;
  30. Miss Timpone, who taught me to love literature;
  31. Mrs. Bates, who made Art History resonate;
  32. Doug Warner, who broke down the elements of design so that growth was inevitable;
  33. Tom Nuzum, who encouraged innovation in art-making;
  34. Pat Mishina, who changed all of my ideas about what art could be;
  35. Marcia Watson, who gave me a love of clay;
  36. Noah Alonso, who helped me push all limits in ceramics, and who – years later – kindly related to visiting friends that I was one of the best students he ever had;
  37. Jim Fiegan, who opened my eyes to print-making and all the wonders of Collagraphy;
  38. Mary Blockma, my friend, accomplished writer, artist, entrepreneur and  wonderful teacher;
  39. Jim Stambaugh, who never taught me, but whose lessons I’d overhear when I was working at the school, and whose kindness made my life richer;
  40. and Donna Stambaugh, whose classroom I was honored to work in, for the chance to watch her educate, elevate and inspire.
  41. My dogs, who make me smile every day: Rosa Parks, who presence has given me comfort and joy;
  42. and Darla, who is a wonderful walking companion and has gotten me moving again.
  43. The waters all around me: Lake Michigan, for it’s size and majesty,
  44. offering big waves and sunsets over the water at Donegal Bay,
  45. and long stretches of white sand beaches,
  46. driftwood,
  47. shells,
  48. feathers,
  49. and smooth stones;
  50. Fox Lake, for it’s proximity to my house, with calming water views and colors in the fall;
  51. Barney’s Lake for the surprise it always offers, coming down the hill toward it;
  52. Miller’s Marsh for the water lilies and beaver-chewed stumps, and for the dozens of little frogs that enjoy the cool shore;
  53. and Font Lake for a sweet memory of fishing there with a friend.
  54. My little, unfinished, falling apart house, for the warmth and shelter it provides.
  55. My studio space, for the possibilities there.
  56. My desk and computer and the ability to write.
  57. My big, old, round, wood dining room table.
  58. My mother’s cedar chest.
  59. The funky little coffee table I made from an old suitcase.
  60. My little piece of land here, with the woods and the wildflowers, old maple trees, wild blackberries, and a spot for a garden.
  61. The trees all around me, in every season of the year.
  62. Books: those I’ve read, and the ones I have yet to read.
  63. My dependable little car.
  64. This life, and all it has brought to me so far.




No Matter


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I didn’t plant a garden this year. No time. I’ve also not had time to weed, water and prune the flower beds and the beds of strawberries, raspberries, asparagus and rhubarb. I’ve complained about it on a regular basis, anticipating the worst.

“I have to plant…” changed to, “If I don’t plant…” which then became, “Since I didn’t plant a garden…” and the sentence always ends, “I’ll be having to watch it grow up in weeds.”

In other circumstances, if I could not plant a garden, I could let it go back to lawn. That’s what my brother has done – shockingly – with the large parcel that my Dad used to turn up every spring. Other than one small, fenced patch of garden, the whole space has gone back to green grass. You’d never know it was once covered with tomato and squash vines!

I plant my garden in raised beds, in rectangles four feet wide and twelve feet long. Some are framed in with cedar boards; others have stakes at the corners only. All, by the addition each year of compost and manure, are raised above the level of the narrow pathways that separate them.In addition, the garden is bordered with deer fence, supported by cedar poles.

I cannot wrestle the lawnmower into the fenced garden area, remove all obstructions of wood, wire or twine, and trim the overgrowth. If I could, and if I did, the raised beds would give the area the look of rows of shallow graves…not the manicured lawn I would hope for.

So, I watch it grow. Occasionally I sigh at the grasses in the pathways and the weeds crowding the berries in their patches. I whine about my lack of time, and how I miss the garden. I complain at every radish or cucumber I have to buy at the market.

Yesterday, coming home from a jaunt to Fox Lake with the dogs, I noticed the climbing roses are opening on the trellis beside the front door. Mint and other wildflowers are blooming under and around the service berry bush. The tall orange daylilies are showing off in the borders and beside the kitchen door. I looked toward the garden, ready to sigh my disapproval. Instead, I smiled.

Brown-Eyed Susans are  at their peak, keeping company with the wild Marguerites. St. John’s Wort shows off yellow flowers next to white Bladder Campion and Yarrow. Magenta Sweet Peas climb into the lilac bush. Milkweed perfumes the air and boasts floppy pink flower heads. One red Hollyhock stands at attention.

In a year when I had no time to give it, the garden gave beautifully back to me!





The 52 Lists Project #26


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List the things you would change in your life right now if you could:

  • I would be financially secure enough to choose when, where and how much I worked.
  • I’d be able, too, to spend time away from the island, and be closer to family and friends when I wanted to.
  • My house would be finished…not fancy, but cute. I’d have hardwood floors in the bedrooms upstairs, and in the living and dining area downstairs. There would be linoleum in the kitchen, bathroom and entryways. I’d have 1 x 6 boards painted bright white as baseboards, and old-fashioned metal cabinets in the kitchen. I’d have a separate studio combined with a garage. That way, I could turn the studio upstairs back into a bedroom, so I’d have room for guests without turning the living room into a camp.
  • I would have more time.
  • I’d have my garden tilled up, planted and weed free.
  • I’d be better organized.
  • I’d be a better housekeeper.
  • I’d be a better person: less self-absorbed; more attentive to my family and friends. I’d send cards – on time – for birthdays and other special occasions, and pay more attention to important events in the lives of my children and grandchildren. I’d be freer with hugs, say “I love you” more often and listen better.

Of everything I’ve listed here, the last entry is most important, and most possible. It doesn’t involve drastic changes in finances or time or energy…just commitment.

Riding in Cars with Dogs


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On the way home from work on Sunday afternoon, faced with the balance of the day plus two days off, my mind runs through the possibilities.

I considered bringing some plants home, the sorry, leftover specimens that have been too long in their starter pots: tomatoes, peppers, cabbages and eggplant. Could I dig up a patch of garden yet? What about that sweet peach tree, with tiny fuzzy fruits already on its branches? How nice it would be to spend the day in the garden! I sensibly – though with remorse – talked myself out of it. Too much to do, to allow myself to go off in another direction.

The entire lawn needs mowing, but the back yard – that didn’t get done last week – is desperately in need of it. I brought home 50 feet of rope, with intention of restringing my clothesline.  It was a nice warm day with a slight breeze: a good day to wash sheets and dry them outside! A good day, too,  to shake out the rugs and open all the windows, give the floors a good sweeping and get the cobwebs out of the corners.

I have several hours (days??) of writing and computer work to do. I have stacks of notes from meetings and interviews to turn into stories. I have others to edit and organize. There are letters to write and phone calls to answer. The subscriber database always needs updating as the checks or changes of address come in the mail. I need to set up a filing system for advertisers, and bill out the classified ads. If I were to get all of that done in a timely fashion, my taxes are still waiting to be filed.

The studio, yes, a dozen things to do there, and the back closet where I started sorting seasonal clothes, and the kitchen cupboards to get ready for the new counter top, and weeding, dead-heading and watering the flower beds…by the time I got home, I was exhausted just from thinking about it!

The dogs greeted me when I got home. I made a sandwich, and wandered the yard while I ate it. It really was a beautiful day. Chance of rain or thunderstorms for Monday.

“Do you want to take a ride?” I asked.

Darla jumped up from where she was laying in the grass. Rosa Parks gave a series of yips as she ran for the car. I grabbed the can of mosquito repellent, my camera, a book, and one bottle of beer.

“Let’s go!”

Darla jumps in first, and takes the passenger seat in front. Her posture is impeccable as she sits tall watching out the windows. I pick up Rosa Parks and take the driver’s seat. Rosa scrambles across to position herself on my lap, with her nose out the window, her chin resting on my left arm. Darla smiles benignly across at me, to let me know that she believes that spot on my lap should be hers, but that she’ll make the sacrifice.

It’s one and a half miles to Fox Lake, down a barely traveled, narrow gravel road. The breeze is nice. Every now and then, I point out a bird or squirrel or chipmunk. If they were on foot, they’d be very interested. Riding in the car, they pay no attention to the wildlife. They know when I come to the drive that leads down to the lake. They murmur and shake in anticipation. If I accidentally drive past it, they turn to look back. Still, they each politely hold their places until the car is parked, and I open the door to let them out.

The lake is an adventure unto itself, with water for wading and new smells to investigate. For me, it’s an hour of blissful relaxation. The ride home is a repeat of the trip there, only in reverse…and more damp. No matter what’s on the to-do list, riding in cars with dogs is an excellent way to spend an afternoon!




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I will either wait to write tonight, after work, when I already have 12 other things waiting, or I will hammer out a few words right now and be done with this one commitment before my day gets underway. I choose the latter. Maybe.

I have now published five hundred posts on this site, since I started it in October of 2011. More impressive, to me, is that I’m almost half-way through a year of writing every single day.

Ah, and now, already, I have run out of things to say, today. It was the boasting that cleared my mind, I’m sure. So, on that note, I will “save” instead of “publish,” and rush to get in the shower and off to work, hoping that today brings more to say.

And here I am, more than twelve hours later, exhausted, and wishing I was done for the night. I’m not.

After a long and hard day at work (the one short break I got was spent at the post office and the bank), I had to go to the grocery store, then rush to the gas station before it closed, then home.The car had to be unloaded of purchases and packages. Groceries had to be put away.

Finally, I took the dogs down to the lake. I managed to sit, quietly, with  a book, even, for a solid twenty minutes while the dogs played in the water. Three men in a boat pulled up to the shore then, and my dogs refused to be polite. The charged into the water, barking sharply and growling. Though their tails were wagging, I didn’t have leashes for either of them, and I didn’t trust them. Behavior that may be predictable in one dog, becomes unpredictable with two together. I loaded them back in the car for the ride home. “If you can’t be nice,” I scolded, “You can’t stay at the beach.”

Home again, there were chores. I emptied the compost pail into the bin that sits on the edge of the garden. I pulled a few weeds. I picked a colander full of ripe strawberries. They sit on the counter waiting to be cleaned. I fed the dogs, and started my own supper.

A well-intentioned phone call was next. Evidently, I had hurt someone’s feelings. I didn’t do it on purpose, and didn’t even know about it, until I got the call. Now – though I feel like friends could give one another – sometimes – the benefit of the doubt, and that it is not necessary to jump to the conclusion that I am ignoring or shunning someone just because they don’t hear from me regularly – I will take the time to explain myself and apologize for my neglect and try to salve hurt feeling…because I care. Not  because I have the time to spare. Because I don’t.

On that note, I don’t have an ounce of energy for another single word this evening.





The 52 Lists Project #21


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List the things you want to make:

  • I want to make a cookbook. I’ve been thinking of it for a few years now: the 60 most inspirational women in my life, with stories and recipes.
  • I want to make this house feel like a home. It has devolved into an eating, sleeping and working space that serves it’s base purpose but doesn’t bring joy. And it should.
  • I want to make art! My mind is full of projects and ideas! I have plans for new color combinations and different ways of manipulating space. I want to paint. I want to get my hands in clay. I want to try encaustic. I want to put that printing press to work again.
  • I want to make a vegetable garden. Last year, I didn’t get it planted, and was forced to watch the weeds take over where there should have been beans and squash and tomatoes. The time is now! If I’m going to do it, I need to do it soon!
  • I want to make peace! (1) With my dogs, who have good times – like yesterday, when they ran together, tails wagging, through the woods and on the paths around Fox Lake – then bad. Like this morning when they got in a altercation over – to the best that I can figure – which one of them was going to wake me up. Turns out, their growls and barks and yelps drove me out of bed, to put them outside with a good scolding. Now they’re sulking. (2) With my life, and all the things that vie for my attention. I create the craziness myself. Even when I imagine a winning-the-lottery type scenario, where I could quit working so hard, I find my mind wandering to areas like, “I could get a dozen chickens and raise all my own food,” to “maybe I’ll buy a restaurant” or “then I could build that wood fire kiln.” I have to make peace with openness, space and free time in my life…or I will never have it. (3) With this entire aging process, which – since it continues to, by turns, surprise, discourage or infuriate me – I cannot yet say I’m resigned to. And I’d might as well be, because it’s happening. Oh, yeah…and (4) world peace, too, of course.




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These dogs were good buddies. Clover and Rosa Parks entertained each other. Whether out on a chipmunk-chasing walk through the woods, a sniffing and swimming adventure at Fox Lake, or just sitting around watching me work, they kept each other company.

Ever since Clover died – just a little over a year ago – Rosa Parks has been a little down. She knows I’m her “pack” and she loves me…but I’m just not very much fun. I have no interest in finding the garter snakes that hide in the flower beds. I don’t chase chipmunks, or squirrels, or birds. Even walks have been less fun, without Clover. “What good is it to find smelly stuff,” Rosa Parks thinks, “without anyone here who wants to smell it?” Sometimes, when I am working at the computer, Rosa Parks lets out an audible sigh, and drops her chin onto her paws. I feel like she’s been bored, a little depressed and even sad without her friend.

I’ve been thinking about adopting another dog. I’ve gone back and forth about it. There is the expense: sometimes it’s a struggle to cover the vet bills for one dog. I work long hours. Rosa Parks gets lonely, and I feel guilty. Would I be just doubling my guilt? Putting a second dog into the same boring rut? I’ve been advised that’s not the case. Two veterinarians, plus the dog boarder and several animal lovers have assured me that – even though they may not interact much when I’m not at home – it would be reassuring to have another dog around.

Last weekend, my friend Linda and I visited the humane society near her home. We were introduced to several sweet dogs, learned their stories and observed their dispositions. In all, we visited three days. Darla is a mix of Boxer and Pit Terrier, just as Clover was. She is good with other dogs, and good with cats. She – due to household situations, not her own behavior – had already had four homes, and had three times been brought to the humane society kennel. Before I left for home yesterday morning, I stopped and got her, to bring her back to Beaver Island with me.

Darla is a big, gentle dog who was anxious for a home. Every time I stopped along the trip to walk her, she’d look around, find the nearest house and, wagging tail, start to walk toward it. Every time I guided her back into the vehicle, she seemed disappointed. Finally, we made it to Charlevoix and, after a scary (for her) plane ride, we were home. She seemed happy with her new yard and house. She rolled in the grass, and got quite excited about the big basket full of hardly-used dog toys. She wandered through every flower bed.

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After getting Darla settled in, I went to pick up Rosa Parks from the kennel. We were happy to see each other. I was nervous, hoping that my little dog would like Darla as much as I do. There was a little grumbling on first meeting, and there has been some growling coming from each of them since then. I’ve been able to intercede, though, before it escalates. Rosa Parks spent some time letting us know her nose was a bit out of joint about the new addition.

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Eventually, though, after wandering around the yard and garden together, they seem to have reached a level of acceptance. Rosa Parks practiced her manipulation techniques all evening. She’d look out the window and give a sharp bark (“Bird!”). Darla would rush to the door; I’d open it and they’d both run out. Darla would run after the bird; Rosa Parks would go sit under the cherry tree, and look back toward me with a little grin that said, “She fell for it again! Silly dog – you can’t catch a bird!” Then they’d both come back in for a treat. I think we’re going to be fine!

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A Change in Attitude


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I’ve been neglecting writing about addresses lately. I wrote myself right into one of the most difficult times in my life, and then just settled there, mired in the sadness of endings. I have other locations to write about: places filled with hope and laughter and promise, where I learned about moving forward even when the path isn’t there. I needed to rest a bit, in the space where I learned about letting go. I’ll be moving on to the next address soon.

I finished the book, Helter Skelter, that I was re-reading after forty years. I learned things that I didn’t know or had forgotten, both about the crime and the trial. I’d forgotten, for instance, that President Nixon had made a statement about Manson’s guilt while the trial was still underway. It made headlines, and could have unhinged the entire trial, but for some quick back-stepping. I didn’t remember the plot to hijack a 747, in an attempt to free Manson. I had forgotten that he had children. The author seemed a bit self-aggrandizing; I didn’t notice that the first time I read the book. He was extremely critical of the officers investigating one of the crimes. I’m interested in how that assessment was received at the time. Mostly, though, the questions that had caused me to pick up the book again were answered. The reading of it has disrupted my thoughts and disturbed my sleep. I’m happy to put it to rest.

I have a few hours of writing, editing and office work to do, but if I just hunker down and get it out of the way, I should be done for a few days. It seems like I’ve been strapped to this computer whenever I’m at home. In the spring of the year, when I’m being pulled in so many other directions, that is not a good feeling. The idea of being able to step away from it is greatly improving my mood!

I started my day off this morning with a walk around the yard and garden. In my mind, I ticked off a list of things to do. The grass is getting long: I’ll have to fill the gas can and get the mower fired up. Though I’ve been steadily working at clearing the flower beds of leaves and grasses, there is still much to be done there. If I’m going to plant vegetables, the garden needs to be worked up. The poppies – which I erroneously reported yesterday were not up yet – are definitely ready for transplanting. I’ll have to call the friends who are taking my excess this year. I’ve got to get some straw for weed control in the garden paths. I have to finish moving the mound of pine chips to the front walkway.

I picked a fragrant bouquet of hyacinth before I came back inside. Now, with the scent of spring filling the room, and a hot cup of coffee beside me, I’m ready to take on this day!



Fox Lake Road: the Dream


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First of all, dreams are easy.

They can ignore reality in ways so extreme, it is only in hindsight – when wide awake – that their unreasonableness comes clear.

My plans and schemes and dreams for our home on Fox Lake Road were based on other buildings I’d admired: my grandparent’s house in Lapeer, Michigan, and the granary at the farmhouse on Beaver Island. Ideas were gleaned from books, magazines and diagrams of house plans. I filled notebooks with clippings; I drew diagrams on graph paper.

I did not consider available time…or money. I had no idea about the sequence of events that had to be incorporated into the building process, when they had to happen or how much they would cost. I didn’t know building codes or practices. I complained loudly when trying to redraw my perfect plans to show 4″ interior walls and 6″ exterior walls. Graph paper does not easily accommodate the fracturing of the square foot. Everything was skewed!

My plans were of a more ethereal, artistic nature. An imaginary grid would overlay our property on a north-south axis. All buildings would line up with the grid, presenting the roof pitch on the north and south sides. Passive solar features were considered in the house’s design, and we wanted to be open to other solar options as they became more affordable.

The house (28′ x28′, with a basement) and the garage (24′ x24′, on a cement slab) would each be one and a half story buildings. All others structures (garden shed, chicken coop, tree-house, barn) would mimic that shape in smaller versions. All  buildings were going to be square, each roof would have a 12/12 pitch, and each finished shape (adding the overhang of the eaves) would be divisible by five (I KNOW!!). Windows and doors would be placed symmetrically in each structure. All siding would be dark gray, board and batten; all roofs would be shingled in a lighter gray, to give the appearance of being bleached by the sun.

The basement would have winter play space for the girls. It would also have room for my art studio. Beyond that, there would be laundry facilities, a large chest-type freezer and storage shelves. There would be a door leading to a second stairway up to the outside; in the winter that area could be used as a root cellar. We imagined growing most of our own food, buying in bulk and keeping a well-stocked pantry and freezer.

On the ground floor, skylights would brighten the spaces. Wood floors would be of maple we’d milled ourselves. A centrally placed wood stove would provide heat. There would be a view from every window. Upstairs, a bathroom and three bedrooms.

Paving stones laid out in straight paths would lead from one area to another.  Fence lines would honor the grid that dictated placement of all man-made features. Wild bursts of flowers and other plantings would provide contrast to the strict layout. From the sky (at that stage in our lives, my husband was still talking about learning to fly an airplane), it would look like a series of Monopoly houses scattered across the landscape.

These were the plans we made, with papers spread out over the dining table at Charbridge Arbor and the big kitchen table of the farmhouse. They were discussed at length, fine-tuned and improved upon while we lived at Corner #16 and the house on Johnson Mill Road. Plans for our island life could lead us away from almost every argument, and bring us back to a place filled with big dreams for the future.

‘Course, like I said, dreams are easy. Real life, on the other hand, is…real. That’s what we came face-to-face with when we started building on the Fox Lake Road.