Tag Archives: Hardware

In the Middle of the Night…

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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!

 

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Pushing On

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So, what is it now, that has kept me away from writing? I’ve been busy, sure, and tired. There have been a lot of things going on here on Beaver Island, and in my life.

Saturday, for instance. I worked at the hardware store. It was our busiest – by far – day this year. The side of the building has become a nursery, with stacking shelves arranged under a sun shade for perennials and shrubs, annual flowers, vegetables and herbs. Folks were flocking in to our store for necessities for lawn and garden plans as well as all the usual painting, plumbing and home repair projects.

I had started the day loading art work in the car, so that I could drop it off at the Beaver Island Gallery, on its first open day of the season. I did that in the early afternoon, just before running out to attend the memorial gathering to honor my friend, Roy. I then ran to the point, to attend the annual shareholder’s meeting of the Beaver Island Boat Company. Then, back to the hardware to finish my work day.

Home, I changed clothes, doused up with mosquito repellent, and headed for the garden. I’ve been forcing myself to get in at least an hour of work out there every evening, no matter how much I want to collapse. Saturday, I raked, dug stubborn weeds, hauled away another wheelbarrow full of roots, and assembled a raised bed for my strawberry plants, before coming in to shower. I ate dinner in my pajamas, and was in bed not long after.

In addition to long and busy days, I’ve had a few side-line inconveniences that have further complicated my life. I picked up a tick, while working in the garden, and didn’t discover it until it was firmly embedded in the skin of my inner thigh, and fairly well engorged with my blood. That was the most traumatic (and gross!) thing that has happened to me in quite some time! A trip to the medical center, a dose of strong antibiotic, a few instructions about prevention and how to handle it should it ever happen again, and I was on my way…though the nightmares continue.

My car is in the shop for repairs. That has caused me to be using vehicles that I’m not familiar with (Oh! No cup-holder? And where is the knob for windshield wipers?), changing one car for another, begging rides from here to there, and sometimes walking. It’s not a big deal. It will all be over soon, and I’ll have my own dusty, messy car back, with a nice fat repair bill to boot!

Next, my little dog, having worked herself into a frenzy over having her nails clipped, managed to get out of my grasp…and bit me. By the next morning, redness and swelling made another trip to the medical center necessary. “It was an accident,” I explained, “she was trying to bite the vet.” My tetanus vaccine was still good; another dose of antibiotic, and I was finished. All dog bites have to be reported, so next came a visit from the deputy. My dogs are up to date on all of their shots. Still, according to standard protocol, Rosa Parks had to be placed in quarantine (“House arrest,” I told her) for ten days. No rides to visit the inland lakes; no walks down the Fox Lake Road. “That’s what you get,” I tell her, without sympathy.

Yesterday, it rained. That put all yard work on hold. After coming home from work, I took a lovely, long nap. I got up in time to feed the dogs and make my own supper, then went shortly right back to bed. Today, I feel rested, and like I just might make it. The sun is shining. The grass is desperately in need of being cut. The dogs and I could all use some outdoor time. That’s where I’ll be, then, for the rest of this day.

 

Another Day

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Another Monday, another week beginning.

Yesterday, I wouldn’t have counted on it. Disaster seemed to be waiting around every corner. Life seemed dangerous.

In the morning, as Darla and I walked down the Fox Lake Road, the cars (two) that we encountered seemed especially large and powerful as I walked in their path to retrieve my big dog from the middle of the road where she stubbornly insists on walking. The drivers appeared less forgiving than usual. Even little Rosa Parks – having forgotten, by the time we got back, that it was her own decision to stay home – took on a grumpy attitude about not being included in the walk.

At the hardware store, I continued my work in the paint aisle. I was climbing up and down ladders with heavy gallons of paint for five hours. Between stepping too high on a short ladder, leaning too far from the heights of the tall ladder or stepping down before I reached the bottom rung, an accident seemed imminent. After my helper left for the day, I courted catastrophe with every misstep. After running through several possible scenarios in my mind – all of which ended with my broken body not being discovered until the store opened Monday morning – I decided to call it a day.

Home, the dogs and I made the rounds to pick blackberries. After recent rains, the bushes are loaded. I especially like the canes that grow tall in the middle of wild juniper bushes…even if getting them is a guarantee of scrapes and scratches, and a risk of a turned ankle, or worse. The juniper branches grow horizontally and form an impenetrable snarl at ground level. To get to the berries, it’s necessary to walk on the springy branches, with nothing much to hold on to for balance or support. I was thinking of how a broken leg would alter my day-to-day existence as I pushed on to scale the rickety slab wood fence, to get to the bushes behind it. I gathered four cups of berries, safe and sound.

Later, as I was trying to go to sleep, I was plagued, as usual, with thoughts of unfinished tasks, and all the things I have to do. My worries were interrupted by other concerns. I became overly aware of my breathing (too slow? too shallow? is that a rattle in my chest?), my heartbeat (too quick?), every single ache (thrombosis? aneurysm? cancer?), and a sudden piercing pain in my head (am I having a stroke?). I filled my time until sleep came by plotting my funeral.

At five AM, I got up to take the little dog outside. Coming back in, I slid the door closed with – somehow – two of my fingers in the way. Ouch!! It was really painful! It still is! Both fingers are bruised; I may lose a nail. Was that the disaster that seemed to be waiting for me all day yesterday? If so, I’m glad to have it out of the way!

And here is Monday, another day.

Running Late

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Yesterday was a long, hard day.

At the hardware store, I was up and down stairs, on and off of ladders, and carrying heavy gallon jugs from the back of the store to the front. I took a break in order to run down to the Community Center to do a recording. Home in the evening, I wandered the property to get the ripe blackberries. By the time I was ready to come in for the night, I was exhausted. Too tired to read, to write, or even to think.

In case today goes the same way, I thought I’d better get my writing done before I leave the house. Still, there’s hardly time. After getting up three times in the night to let the dogs out, I hit the snooze button on the alarm clock a couple times too often this morning. I wandered around the yard with the dogs while the coffee brewed. I showered as soon as I came in. I sat down here with my first cup of coffee, intending to write. I had a few ideas to choose between and expand on…until I noticed the time.

Already, I should be in my car and on my way to town. Instead, I am sitting here in my bathrobe. I still have to dress, pack a lunch, pack a thermos, prepare my little dog’s medicine, and give both dogs a treat before heading out the door.

I’m late. Again!

Two Days

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Monday and Tuesday are my days off. This week, as always, I had big plans. I was going to give my house a good cleaning after getting caught up on all the chores, clean up the yard and mow the lawn, work in the garden, finish the next issue of the Beacon, write letters, pay  bills, do some long overdue paperwork, get into the studio, play with the dogs, do a little reading, of course write every day and (big drum roll here, please…) catch up on my rest.

Monday, I was out of bed at 6:30. The dogs were fairly frantic, afraid that I had overslept. They couldn’t be convinced otherwise…might as well get up. I got my writing in early, over morning coffee. I ran a sink full of soapy water and did up the dishes I had neglected the night before. I worked my way through two big loads of laundry.

Time, then, to douse myself with mosquito repellent before heading outdoors. I finished moving a big pile of pine chips that the tree trimmer had left on the lawn. They are handy for keeping weeds out of the front walkway, and as mulch around strawberries and Rhododendrons. Still, I wish I had thought to ask him to leave them somewhere off the lawn. As it was, they had to be completely moved away before I could mow.

I moved two chairs and a bench off the lawn, picked up a half dozen dog toys, a few sticks and my clothesline pole. I raked the leaves from the back flower bed, from the north side of the house, from the rosebushes in front, and from around the cherry trees. I gassed up the mower, then cut the grass in the back yard to the fence line and the side yard up to the shed. Those areas are closest to the doors I use most, and are filled with fast-growing quack grass that harbors mosquitoes. They had to be done first.

Hot and exhausted, I walked the dogs, next, then did some paperwork inside during the hottest part of the day. Later, I went back to weeding, watering and mulching in the garden. I intended to finish mowing the grass, but it was almost dinner time. I opted for a shower, and a quiet dinner. There was always Tuesday.

Between dinnertime and bedtime, I gathered photos and typed a short article for the news-magazine, wrote to my daughter about a couple formatting issues, took a phone call, and watched on episode of The West Wing on Netflix.

Tuesday, I let the dogs out and back in at 5:30, then managed to sleep in until eight o’clock. Two phone calls alerted me that the contractors were coming to the hardware store today, to set up our new paint rack. I wanted to be there, as paint is my department, so I scheduled it in. Coffee, writing and  bill paying were next. I then went through old blog posts to find some to use for my radio broadcast, and wrote Kevin to schedule that in. I went through the draft – sent in a PDF file – of the next Beacon and made notes for changes and corrections.  Outside with the dogs, then in to take a shower and get ready to drive to town.

My first stop was the hardware to print out the writings I’d use for my Island Reflections, then to the Post Office. The bank was next, then to McDonough’s Market to replenish their rack with Beacons. A short visit with Sue, at her little gallery, then on to the Community Center to do my recording. I finished just in time to make it to the hardware to meet the contractors and watch the installation of the new color display. Back to McDonough’s Market, then, for a few groceries, and on to Aunt Katie’s to do her floors.

Home again, in time to take the dogs down to Fox Lake for a romp, then supper, more paperwork, then bed.

Two days are never as long as they need to be, for the things I want to fill them with!

 

Camping

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It was my own fault.

I thought I was stronger than I am.

Or younger.

More able.

Or super-human.

A couple weeks ago, I spent several days organizing a corner of the basement at the hardware store. I needed to make room for the multitude of grills that my boss purchased at the trade show this year. Some were being stored in the lumber building; some were still due to be shipped. They were all going to have to fit in the basement. In addition, they all needed to be visible and accessible, so that they could be sold, pulled out and assembled. I decided to combine that task with some much-needed re-organization.

Knowing my age and physical limitations, and that of some of the other employees, I felt it was necessary to arrange the large buckets of drywall mud (weighing up to 65 pounds each), bags of ice melt and water-softener salt (40-50 pounds) and other things in such a way that a person would not have to climb over, shimmy through or reach and heft over other stuff in order to get any of it out. I arranged it in neat, accessible aisles that a hand cart would fit through, so there would also not be reason to carry anything long distance. I cleared the pathway in front of those aisles so that the large UPS cart could be pushed all the way to the back, to pick up automotive batteries, 5 gallon buckets of paint or bags of floor leveler.

The young guys moved the grills in to the spot I had opened up for them, one day while I minded the store upstairs. Then the ferry boat made its first run of the season on Wednesday, with a good load of freight for the hardware store…including another pallet full of grills.

It was in putting away that freight that I noticed  I had no space for the grills.  I couldn’t get down the pathway with the UPS cart. I know I said I wanted that space clear. I’m pretty sure I mentioned that I was going to make room for the other large items in the plumbing area. But no, in the space designated for grills – and blocking access to the back of the basement with a cart – were three large air conditioners and five hot water heaters.

That’s when I forgot I was not super-human.

That’s when I got the hand cart and single-handedly moved three large air conditioners and five hot water heaters to the plumbing area. Then I got the pallet jack and moved the pallet of grills to the spot where they belonged. John came to help me move the grills. Lifting together, we were moving the second one when my back went out.

John’s an old hand with back trouble. He ordered me to stop immediately. I half-walked,  half-crawled up the stairs and went directly to the phone to call the Medical Center. They got me in that same day. I left there with prescriptions for pain medicine and muscle relaxers, instructions to spend at least the next two days flat on my back, applying heat and ice alternately for ten minutes each.

Not being the best at following instructions, I finished out my day at work (though there was no more heavy lifting and moving) then went to the library to get a few movies. Home, there was one more thing I had to do before I dared stop. My bed is terrible when my back is out. It’s too soft, and the stairs are hard to navigate. The couch is better, but not for sleeping on my back. I dragged the twin bed mattress out of the attic and down the stairs. I laid it out on the living room floor, added sheets and comforter. I moved the lamp, TV and coffee table, so that I could access everything I might need. Only then did I take the prescribed medicine, which tends to knock me out.

I’m getting a little better each day. Rosa Parks is loving it. The entire living room is now covered with things she can sleep on. What seems like “sick bay” to me, to my little dog seems just like camping!

Hitting the Wall

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Isn’t this the most beautiful baby?? My newest little great-grandchild, Lincoln…I’m so glad I had the chance to meet him!

I had never been to the east coast before, either. I have always wanted to see New England, so this was a great opportunity. My daughter and her family were fantastic travel companions. The trip there and back was tiring but fun; the time spent with Michael, Samantha and this new baby was a treat. All of our side adventures were memorable. I don’t regret a thing.

Still.

Back from Connecticut, one night in Lapeer, then a four hour drive to Charlevoix, a twenty minute plane ride to Beaver Island, a rush to go pick up my little dog, then home.

The next day, it was back to work. Plus attend a meeting, mid-morning, at the Community Center, pick up a week’s worth of mail at the post office and collect my luggage – which arrived a day later than I did to Beaver Island – from the airport. In the evening, three hours of computer work regarding the news-magazine, then bed.

Yesterday, up early to write my blog, nine hours at the hardware and  a visit with Aunt Katie before going home. There, I had a stack of subscription renewals and address changes to enter into the database, several phone calls to return, one story to rewrite for length, my personal bills to pay, two bank deposits to prepare, laundry, play with Rosa Parks, then bed.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that vacations – no matter how joyous – are exhausting!

I’m so tired!

I have this day and two more to work at the hardware before I have a day off. I am also in the thick of trying to get one issue of my magazine to the printer, and the next issue plotted out and written.

Today, for my daily writing, this is it. I have hit the wall. A complaints list…a bit of whining…that’s all I’ve got this morning.

One Day to the Next

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Some of these mornings, I am not prepared to write.

There are days when I wake up so bursting with ideas of things to talk about, I can hardly type fast enough. Other days where I turn to my writing prompts for inspiration, and work it into a post.

I started doing that this morning: day five of the thirty-day journal writing challenge. I put in the prompts; I found a photo; I even found a good, inspirational quote. Nothing came of it. I am uninspired. I’ll save it for another day.

Winter is finally upon us here on Beaver Island. It’s not one of those extreme winters we’ve grown accustomed to. Not so far, anyway. But the snow has arrived, and looks like it will stay awhile. Our ferry boat quit running before Christmas. Business has slowed.

Time, then, for all of the things I put off…until winter.

I’ve been cleaning, at work and at home: the kind of thoughtful sorting and deep cleaning that never gets done in the busy season.

At the hardware, I’ve been arranging the basement so that overstock merchandise and seasonal products are orderly and accessible. I cleaned up the screening area, hauling out glass and plexiglas pieces, rolls of old screen and metal scraps. I put all the holiday merchandise into one side of one neat aisle. I’m helping to set up a display of new faucets.

At home, I’m incorporating some”Zen habits for de-cluttering” that I recently read about. I never get up from the desk without filing or otherwise taking care of five items that are on it. I never leave a room without fluffing a pillow, wiping off a surface or tidying an area. Last week I thoroughly cleaned my underwear drawer. I threw out every pair of socks with holes in heel or toe. I got rid of anything with worn out elastic. I pitched every single uncomfortable undergarment. Then I folded everything that was left, and lined it up nicely, in rows. One small step, I know…but in the right direction!

In the studio…well, I’m working on it. All of it. The organizing and cleaning. The matting and framing. The actual art making. I just plug away, with the time I have for it, but it is definitely a discouragement.

The list is long, of things to do, wherever I am, and whatever I’m doing. Usually just a bit longer than the winter allows for. All I can do is continue working on it all, day to day.

Pause

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Yesterday.

I got up in the middle of the night – actually “the wee hours of the morning” would be more accurate – to write my daily blog. Yesterday was Thursday, so it was “Timeout for Art” day. I got a dish of cottage cheese. I remembered to photograph it before eating it,  so that I could post it on the social media page dedicated to the “5 day clean eating challenge.” I finished my writing and my snack, brushed my teeth and went back to bed…and slept right through the alarm.

Running late, I made coffee, turned on the heater in the bathroom, turned on the computer, packed breakfast and lunch, took snapshots of each, posted my blog, posted my photos, ran Rosa Parks around the yard, got into the shower, dressed and was out the door.

Still, I arrived late for work. I’m trying to do better about that, but so far with limited success. John, as always, had gotten there on time, had the lights on and all the opening chores done by the time I walked in. I started right away putting away freight, answering the phone and taking care of customers.  Jeff was taking vet appointments. The day continued.

In the early afternoon, Erin – home on break from college – brought her dog, Sadie, in to see the veterinarian.

“There’s a Snow Owl on the roof,” she announced excitedly as she came in the door.

“Really! Aren’t they beautiful?” I said.

I thought, “Too bad I’ve got all this work to do,” and continued stocking the shelves.

Jeff, the veterinarian, came downstairs. Erin repeated, with the same excitement in her voice, “There’s a Snow Owl on the roof!”

“There is?”

He grabbed his camera, and was out the door.

Erin followed, with Sadie.

Hmmmm….

Maybe they had the right idea…

I got down from the ladder, stepped outside and crossed the street.

Sure enough, there it was, perched right on top of the web-cam that sits on the roof of the hardware store.

The Snow Owl is a spectacular bird. Its size and presence are stunning. Sightings are rare enough that every one seems like a blessing.

Years ago, a Snow Owl sat all day on the roof of the Beachcomber Restaurant. I was working next door, serving breakfast at the Shamrock Bar. Between pouring coffee, taking orders and delivering food, I’d run outside just to stare up at the huge bird. I telephoned friends all over the island,  to tell them to come and see. By the end of the day, there was a small crowd outside, all looking up to the roof of the Beachcomber. I finished my shift and went outside to join them.

Yesterday, I almost worked right through it.

I’m so glad I was reminded otherwise!

The appearance of a magnificent Snow Owl on the roof of the hardware store on an otherwise average January day is an occurrence to pay attention to.

When the extraordinary presents itself, pause, step away from the ordinary, and appreciate the experience!

(photo by Jeff Powers, DVM)

 

 

 

 

This Sunday in December

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Today was another beautiful December day.

Almost every single person that came in to the hardware store mentioned it, too.

“What a gorgeous day it is!”

“Fantastic weather!”

“Who could complain on a day like this?”

I could have…but I refrained. Why cast a shadow on a lovely day, because of my own foul mood? That wouldn’t be very nice.

So, though I was grumbling to myself about how I had to be inside all day, first at work, then with a mountain of duties at my desk at home, I responded with, “Yes, it sure is a nice day!”

Though my pessimistic, doomsday thoughts were blaming global warming for the unseasonable warmth, and thinking we’d probably all be baked in just a few years, I said only, “You’re right, it is warm for December!”

On a lighter note, I thought, perhaps it is just El Nino causing the unusual temperatures, and it will simply result in floods, droughts and other  disastrous events around the planet, to add to all the man-made disasters already in progress. Aloud, I replied, “Beautiful!”

The only way to get rid of the huge list of urgent items on my To-Do List is to do them. I can’t single-handedly change weather patterns or world events.  Being grouchy and miserable about it doesn’t solve anything. By the time I got home, I had convinced myself to shake off the bad mood and enjoy the day.

First, a walk.

Rosa Parks is getting more accustomed to walking with me again. She does well on the leash, though she doesn’t like it. Today, once we got across the road and onto the trail, I unhooked it so that she could walk at her own pace. She didn’t run off into the woods or head back home on her own. She stayed pretty close to me most of the time.

Though I don’t find the views very impressive right now – fall colors are pretty much gone, and we don’t yet have the dramatic black and white landscape provided by a covering of snow – I took lots of pictures. I’m trying to work a little more exercise into my daily walk, so I did some  intervals of speed-walking in between stretches at my own not-so-speedy pace. I tried to appreciate the weather, the view and the fresh air.

My little dog had her own agenda. First she snuffled into the leaves all the way along the edge of the trail. She noted the hoof prints of deer, and followed them along, sniffing at each one, until they disappeared in the tall grass. She peed on several branches and leaf mounds along the way. Nearly home, she uncovered a small green snake that had been dead for quite a while. She scraped the leaves away, then flung herself down on her back, to writhe around on the dead snake, to pick up its scent.

When Rosa Parks was still a baby, she came in to the bathroom one day, to keep me company while I scrubbed the bathtub. I removed the items that were stored around its edges: the bottles of shampoo and conditioner, the pink net scrubby thing, a razor, a jar of exfoliating face masque, the soap and the soap dish. I had lined the soap dish with a little sheet of silicone, to avoid the soapy gunk from accumulating in the bottom of the dish. As I was scrubbing the tub, the little dog found that sheet of silicone. She picked it up and moved it to the center of the room, then flung herself down on top of it, wriggling around on her back to pick up the scent. My heart melted.

“Rosa Parks wants to smell pretty,” I said.

As life went on with my little dog, and I saw her behavior around turkey droppings, fish skeletons or frogs that had been crushed by cars, I realized that a truer statement would be, simply, “Rosa Parks wants to smell.”

Today, home from our walk, I gave her a treat and a hug. I said, “Rosa Parks, you smell just like dead snake!” She smiled that I had noticed. I smiled right back.

I guess my mood has improved!