Tag Archives: home

Pull

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I am pulled in two directions.

I’ve always been drawn to Beaver Island. It holds my family history, and it holds my heart. It feels like home to me. Whenever I’ve had to be away from this island, I’ve kept a poem by Langston Hughes close:

Wave of Sorrow

Do not drown me now.

I see the Island

Still ahead somehow.

I see the Island

And its sands are fair.

Wave of Sorrow

Take me there.

Still, as I get older…as issues of companionship, health and capability move more to the forefront…as loss of friends and family becomes a regular part of life…as children grow up and away with hardly a backward glance…I am drawn to my home town. Lapeer, Michigan is where I was raised, and where my remaining siblings still live. My daughters are close by, as are several of my grandchildren. Driving to see other friends is less of an issue when it doesn’t begin with boarding dogs and getting on an airplane.

I join my sisters for an evening of wine, conversation and word games, and I realize how much I miss my family. I chat with my brother in the house that we grew up in…I talk face-to-face with my daughters…I have actual conversations with my grandchildren, and I feel drawn to that place.

Some things hold me on Beaver Island. My little house, in its current state of equity and unfinished disrepair, is probably unmarketable. Even if it were, the struggle to get – and then keep – this small piece of real estate makes it difficult to consider letting it go. My job here is secure, where jobs are hard to come by in other parts of the state. My aunt is in poor health and – though she gets assistance from others who love her, too – she depends on me for help and companionship. Just as I depend on her. My dogs are well suited to Beaver Island. The fields and trails and beaches welcome them. The sky full of stars holds me here…the canopy of trees…the water all around.

But still, I feel the pull.

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Summing Up

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Four days off.

In a row.

Without leaving the island.

In fact, I didn’t leave my yard except to walk down the road with my big dog. That, I did every day. Two miles on Saturday, Sunday and Monday; yesterday, just one mile in the rain. The only time I used the car was when my cousin Bob stopped by with the tractor. He had just mowed the trails through the wood lot, and offered to go over my lawn, too. I backed the car into the far front corner of the yard, so that his path would be unencumbered.

I had a long list of things I wanted to get done.

Of course, I didn’t get all the way through it.

I wasted more time than I care to admit. I stayed up late; I slept in. I talked myself out of getting panicky. And, mostly, I kept plugging away at my long list.

Yesterday was typical. I poured coffee into a lidded mug and started with a walk. I wrote my blog. I answered eleven telephone calls, responded to three Emails, downloaded a couple dozen photos, updated the subscribers database, forwarded several articles, wrote, edited, and pulled up the file for the classified ads. I cleaned out both dressers in my bedroom, and put fresh liners in the drawers. I sorted through, tried on, and weeded out clothes to be donated, and others to be thrown away. I put all my fall and winter clothes in the front dresser, and summer clothes in the dresser that sits in the back of the closet. I changed the sheets on the bed, hung two pictures on the wall and swept the floor. I did two loads of laundry, cleaned the counters, shook out the rugs and swept downstairs. I baked one loaf of bread, made baked macaroni and cheese for supper, telephoned a friend for a good chat, watered plants, did up the dishes, took a bath and went to bed.

I did not get caught up, but I made good progress.

I also did not get bored.

Or lonely.

In fact, I could quite easily adapt to this lifestyle!

 

Long Day, Late Night…

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Yesterday was a long, hectic day at work. Freight days always are. Even when there are few customers needing service, there is plenty to do. Often, it involves heavy lifting, climbing up and down ladders and running up and down the aisles. There were plenty of customers needing service yesterday, too: keys to make, pipe and conduit to retrieve from the high storage area and paint to mix. It kept me busy!

Near the end of the day, I got a dinner invitation. As I’d been eating nothing but chocolate-butterscotch treats all day, it was an invitation I couldn’t refuse. I rushed home after work to pick up the dogs, who were invited, too, their dinner, my bread dough and baking stone, and headed out again.

To complement my friend’s offerings of an asparagus and pasta salad flavored with yogurt and lemon, homemade tabouli  and hummus, I made fresh pita bread. We also had wine. And ice cream. We watched an excellent movie. The dogs chased chipmunks. It was a lovely evening!

I am not, however, accustomed to having anything to do outside of my own home after work. A dinner out is a big change in my routine. Even if I get home at a decent hour, which I did, it takes a while to wind down after a night out. So, sleep came late. Morning comes early, always, no matter what. And work is waiting. So there you have it.

The Good Stuff

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The picture accompanying this post is a new image! It’s not the best, granted, but that’s not the point. The point is that I was able, finally, to figure out how to get photographs from my camera to my new computer! Since I lost the ability – with my new modem – to get my old computer connected to the internet, I have been forced to use old photos. They offer less inspiration, for one thing, for the “up-to-the-minute” writing that goes along beside them. Also, I have lived in fear that someone would notice. I imagined hearing from observant readers that the same image that illustrated my recent complaints about not sleeping were used in 2014 to accompany some whining about another issue.

I ordered an SD card reader, which may be an easier solution, but it’s on back-order, and won’t arrive until next week. Undaunted (well, daunted, but plugging along anyway), I continued to work at figuring this system out. It’s a long process, but – it turns out – not impossible. It involves downloading the photos from my camera onto the old – not internet connected – computer using its built-in SD card reader, plugging in the external hard drive and – with interminable pointing and clicking – moving the photos onto it. I then plug the external hard drive into my new computer and repeat the selection process to download them there. The final – and most important – step, which I happily just figured out, was finding the downloaded images so that I could actually use them. And I did it! Finally!

[The images are stored on the new computer in a document file rather than an image file, so I can’t see the pictures until I move them into another site (thus the “so-so” image today) but that’s  negative information that has no place in this good news post today!]

I had some time yesterday between getting out of work and another obligation in town. I stopped in for a visit with my aunt. I poured a thimbleful of wine, and told her the latest news around town (two deaths; one house fire; a lively township meeting). My cousin Bob showed up, and they invited me to stay for supper. Which, it turns out, was toasted bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches with tomatoes fresh-picked from the garden. I had just enough time for one quick sandwich. Delicious!

That rounded out a whole day of good meals I did not have to prepare myself. Breakfast was a well-toasted asiago cheese bagel from Dalwhinnie Bakery and Deli. Lunch was a dish of (fantastic!) spaghetti with meat sauce that my co-worker, Kathleen, brought in for me. Dinner was that perfect sandwich over good conversation with Bob and Aunt Katie.

My downtown event was up-lifting and fun; The rest of the evening was spent on minor chores, walking the dogs, and blackberry-picking.

After three nights of restless, poor and not-enough sleep, I got a good night’s rest! I went to bed early (9:00PM) and read for not even five minutes before turning off the light to go to sleep. The dogs woke me up later to go outside. I’d been sleeping so soundly, I thought it must be the early hours of the morning. No, only 11:30. I was able to go immediately back to sleep as soon as the dogs came in. They wanted out again at 3AM. Sometimes, awake at that time, I’ll start thinking about all the things I have to do. I’ll debate about sacrificing sleep to make some progress. The thoughts themselves will keep me from sleeping. Not last night! I went back to bed and slept soundly until the alarm went off at 6:30.

Sometimes, it seems like nothing goes right. At other times, everything is just fine.

Running on Empty

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I have often remarked that when things start to slow down around here, I’m right on top of it. I slow down, too. I’m not so quick to speed up when business speeds up in the spring. September presents its own set of problems.

Let’s look at just one of my jobs: the hardware store. Business has fallen off, sure, by a good percentage over what it was a month ago. Let’s say business is a full quarter less than it was. Okay. One month ago, we had four full-time employees, one adult working part-time, two students working part-time and a few young people working occasionally.

Come September, we are back to two full-time employees and three part-time employees. Plus, we’re all tired from the busy summer we just came through. And we’re still pretty darn busy! I’m  ready for a break! Though I know we are fortunate to still be getting the customers, I am worn out. I’m at least ready for business to slow down as much as I have!

Then there is the news magazine. It is a  year-round job, and demands every spare minute I can give it. My cleaning job is always there, too, even when it’s September and I am exhausted. And it’s blackberry season. At least every other day, I have to make the rounds to pick a few cups. I enjoy a bowl of berries with milk after dinner, and freeze the rest. They will add interest and vitamins to my cold-weather diet, and remind me of summertime in the dead of winter. No matter how tired I am, I can’t pass them by!

Another problem is this: all summer long, my life has been pushed to the side to accommodate my many other obligations. Everything has been neglected. My house needs a good “rafters to floor-boards” cleaning. My lawn needs to be mowed. The garden and flower beds, which were left to fend for themselves all of this year, need attention before they go completely wild. My dogs want the time and attention I’ve been promising them for weeks. I know how they feel. I’d like to collect on the professional haircut, teeth-cleaning, facial mask and leg-shaving that I’ve been promising myself!

Finally, I’ve been dying to get into the studio. Ideas have been popping! In years past, when things slowed down in the month of September, I took to my studio and started projects that would keep me busy through the whole winter. Lately that hasn’t been possible. Less studio time generally results in fewer ideas and less inspiration. This year, when I’m fortunate enough to have the urge and the purpose, I have to find the time…and the energy.

Energy is something I don’t seem to have, in this busy month of September.

One Week Into September

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Seven days into this new month, and everything is fine.

Though we had a very dry summer, the last few weeks have provided several nice rain showers.Nights have been a little cooler, and good for sleeping. Our K~12 students went back to school yesterday. Tourism has slowed, now that Labor Day is over. Many of our summer residents are already gone. Though the daytime temperatures are still plenty warm, there’s a hint of fall in the air.

The blackberries are ripening in the woods and fields. If the weather holds out, I’ll be berry picking until frost! I eat a dish of blackberries with milk every single day. I stir them into oatmeal or yogurt; I put them over a bowl of Rice Krispies. Yesterday, I used them in pancakes. I already have four quarts in the freezer, and yesterday came home from the store with a fresh box of zip-lock bags. Blackberries will be a nice reminder – in the middle of the winter – of this friendly time of year.

I’ve been dreaming of making art. Patterns and colors fill my brain. My muscles remember the arc and weight of a loaded paintbrush. Ideas are flowing freely. I know…it has happened before…all of that may come to a stand-still when I actually get into the studio. Still, it’s nice to have the inspiration. From this point, it takes showing up and working to bring the seeds to fruition. As things slow down here on Beaver Island, I’m starting to have hope that I will find the time.

I spoke to both of my daughters yesterday. We used to have a steady telephone date on Sunday afternoon, and I never went more than a week without hearing their voices. Now, with work schedules, travel and other obligations, sometimes several weeks go by without a word. They are always in my heart, though, and often on my mind. It’s a special day when I can have a conversation with each of them, too.

My youngest grandson, Patrick, had his first day in high school yesterday. When I tried to call him, I accidentally dialed the wrong number. A deep, familiar voice said, “Well, hello, Grandma Cindy!” I had a moment of panic that Patrick had grown up overnight…until I realized I was speaking to my oldest grandson, Michael. He’s out of school, and a new father, and we managed to have a good conversation, too.

Seven days in, so far September is going well.

 

Assessment

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Now that I’m home from my little trip, let me look at what I did with my two days on the mainland.

  • I had a mammogram. It was overdue, as I’ve neglected to schedule the procedure for a couple years now. It will ease my mind and quiet my hypochondria-fueled fears and imaginings.
  • I walked. More than five miles one day, and at least two the next.
  • I slept. Though the mattress was not the best, I enjoyed both an afternoon nap and a long night’s sleep in my little motel room.
  • I watched Jeopardy. It was the second and last day of the finals in the Teacher’s Tournament, one of my favorites. I knew the answers to the first five questions! Though my success rate dropped of drastically after that, it was still an enjoyable program.
  • I read. I am reading The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan, and it’s a hard book to put down. I also went through several magazines – unavailable on Beaver Island – that I picked up while I was over there.
  • I shopped. A trip through K-Mart resulted in a wrist watch, a canvas purse, B&B cream, toothpaste, disposable razors, underwear, ibuprofen and O magazine. The grocery store yielded items from Aunt Katie’s shopping list, two cans of soup and a Real Simple magazine. From the three bookstores I visited, I came away with three note cards, books: A God in Ruins by Kay Atkinson and Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins, and magazines: American Craft, Dwell, and Spirituality and Health.

 

Now that Labor Day is here, what did I do with my summer?

  • I worked. Long hours and many days each week at the hardware store. I spent too many (yet still not enough) hours working on the Beacon, or doing bookkeeping or other things to support that business. I cleaned at Aunt Katie’s. I gave what I could to my own lawn, garden and house.
  • I managed some creative work. I wrote every day. I completed thirty small paintings. I did my radio broadcast.
  • I walked. With a new dog that likes a walk, I have happily reintroduced walking to my regular schedule this summer.
  • I read. In stolen bits of time over lunch, in the bathtub, or before sleep at night, I managed to get some reading in. I finished a couple good books and have several others underway.
  • I enjoyed time with family and friends. Sue, who runs a seasonal gallery here on Beaver Island, and I have had several good chats and a couple good meals this summer. Mary, my friend since grade school, visited for a long weekend. My grandson, Tommy, came for two weeks and my daughter, Kate, surprised me with a short visit, too. My sisters, Brenda, Cheryl and Amy, came with children and grandchildren, spouses and loved ones for a wonderful week of laughter and fun. Aunt Katie and I managed to squeeze in a few good conversations…a couple of them while eating ice cream. Before the season was over, Lois, Pam, Shirley and I made it out for our annual dinner.
  • Other stuff. With company or on my own with the dogs, I made it to several beaches. I attended two concerts, saw one movie, and went out to dinner a half-dozen times. I had a thrilling, short boat ride out into our harbor to see – close up – the Viking ship that was anchored there. I went on the Garden Tour. Though I have not been swimming or climbed Mount Pisgah, there are still a couple weeks left of summer.

 

Now, already 10:00 on my day off, I’ve accomplished nothing so far except for drinking three cups of coffee and this bit of writing. I’d better get busy, or the end-of-day assessment will be a disappointment!