Tag Archives: Madeline

Travel

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On the last day of November, I loaded my luggage into the car, brought the dogs to Andi’s kennel,  stopped at Aunt Katie’s to say good-bye and pick up the car keys and went to the airport. I was going on a trip!

I’d been unable to leave the island over Thanksgiving, but still wanted to get visits with my brother, sisters and daughters before the weather turned bad. My friend, Bob, hosts a Christmas Party on the first Saturday in December, so I planned my trip around that. Complications caused him to have to reschedule his party, but my travel dates had to remain the same.

My flight was at eleven 0’clock. This time of year, the water temperature is often warmer than the air. Steam rolls up from the water.  As I flew over it, the shoreline was completely obscured by huge masses of fluffy clouds beneath us; I couldn’t see the big lake until we were halfway across it. It was a calm day, though, and a good flight.

Upon landing, I retrieved the “mainland car” from the parking lot and pulled around to load my suitcases. Five bags for five days travel: one with changes of clothes: one with pajamas, medicines and my toiletry bag; my computer case, with computer, scanner, and some paperwork inside; one bag of paperwork and reading material; one bag – my purse – loaded to the brim with everything else I might need.

I had one stop to make in Charlevoix, and was then on my way. M-66 south through East Jordan then onto M-32 east to Gaylord. I filled the car with gas there, and went to the Big Boy restaurant for coffee and a late breakfast. I was a little disoriented, as the restaurant has a totally different look. Had I made a wrong turn?

“What town is this?” I asked the server.

“Gaylord.”

“Well, that’s what I thought…Didn’t there used to be a gigantic Big Boy statue outside?”

“Oh, yes,” she smiled, “that has been moved to the Big Boy Museum.”

Well, that explained that.

I got onto I-75 south after my meal, with about three hundred miles yet to travel. Just outside of Flint, I switched to the I-69 freeway, which took me right into Lapeer. From there, it was a quick drive to my sister Brenda and her husband Keith’s house, where dinner was waiting. That would be my “home-base” for the next several days.

Thursday, I drove to Clifford to see my daughter, Kate. As I walked through the door, she handed me her telephone, to say hello to my oldest grandson, Mikey. Kate’s house is cheery, decorated for the holidays and adorned with her collections of art, books and antique toys. She and my son-in-law, Jeremy, took me to Frankenmuth, for lunch and some shopping. I got my glasses fixed. We got back to her house in time to catch up with Madeline and Tommy, just home from school. Kate helped me solve some computer issues.

Friday, my daughter, Jen, came to Brenda’s. We set up two computers, and spread our paperwork over the dining room table and the kitchen island. We managed to sort out many billing issues for the Beaver Beacon, and plot out the next two issues. Jen helped me solve some more of my computer issues, approved my bookkeeping method, and straightened out my database. We managed a little bit of a visit, too, but agreed that – if time allowed – we’d like more opportunity to catch up on things. Friday night, sisters Cheryl, Robin and Amy came over for a dinner of salad, pizza, wine, with lots of laughter and good conversation.

Saturday, I picked up a small gift, and went to North Branch to help celebrate the first birthday of my grand-niece, Ellie. That turned into a good opportunity to see other nieces and nephews, and more of my family. That evening, Brenda, Keith and I watched movies.

Sunday, I drove out to Lake Nepessing to see my brother, Ted, who has had some serious health issues lately. They were getting ready to decorate the Christmas tree, so his whole family was there. Jen stopped in, too, and we traded ideas around the table on healthy low-fat and diabetic diets before my daughter and I left them to their decorating, and went to have a less-than-healthy lunch at the bar across the road. Brenda and I drove to Cheryl’s house that evening, for dinner and several games of Scrabble.

Monday morning, up at seven 0’clock to start a long, hectic day. First coffee, and write, then pack: dirty clothes separated from clean and crammed back in the suitcases; new acquisitions and gifts put in bags that would endure the luggage compartment on the plane; computer – with all of its cords and paraphernalia – tucked back in its case. More coffee, then, and last minute conversation with Brenda and Keith before the final sad good-byes.

I filled the car, again, with gas and hit the road. My next stop was Gaylord, where I revisited the Big Boy restaurant just off the freeway. In Charlevoix, I topped off the gas tank and handled a little business downtown before going to the airport. Back on the island, I checked in with Aunt Katie and returned her car keys, went to Andi’s to pick up my dogs, then home.

Monday night and all day Tuesday were spent catching up: loving up the dogs; unpacking; laundry; assessing what groceries I need, what bills I need to pay and what other things I neglected in my time away. Rest! I came home with a virus, and no energy at all. Travel takes it out of me. Today, it’s time to get back into the swing of things.

Potatoes

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Aunt Katie would prefer potatoes every day with her main meal. She rarely has bread with dinner, and eats a well balanced mix of lean meats and vegetables, but potatoes are a mainstay. “It doesn’t seem like a whole meal without potatoes,” she has told me.

I like potatoes. I sometimes make a simple meal of fried onions, potatoes and tomatoes. I enjoy a baked potato, with butter and sour cream. I like crisp baked potato skins, with butter melted inside. Mashed potatoes are good, on occasion. There’s nothing nicer, on a Sunday morning, than homemade hash browns with eggs and toast. I like potatoes cooked with boiled dinner in a ham broth, or nestled, along with carrots and onions, in with a beef roast. Rarely, I’ll make a boiled potato. It seems too plain, and needs gravy to make it taster good. I love pierogi, filled with cheesy mashed potatoes; my daughter, Kate, makes them from scratch. I make potato gnocchi, potato pancakes and potato bread. Still, I certainly don’t need potatoes at every dinner.

I am okay with sweet potatoes, as a special flavor at holiday time, but there flavor is not one I would want regularly. My healthy gumbo called for sweet potatoes. They weren’t bad, but over the years I’ve substituted carrots, which I prefer. My sister Cheryl and I used to always split a baked sweet potato at Thanksgiving, and that was just enough.

When I was in college, and my girls were in school in East Lansing, we were only on Beaver Island for three months in the summertime. We didn’t have time for a garden, but I always grew potatoes. I brought seed potatoes up north with me. I split the big ones, and removed extra eyes. Without even working up the soil, I planted potatoes. I pushed the shovel into the ground, jumped on it to get it in deep enough, tipped in forward and dropped a potato in the space behind the head of the shovel. Pulling the shovel out buried the seed potato. One giant step forward, and I’d repeat the process. On and on until all were planted. They took care of themselves, then, through our busy summers. Before we left at the end of August, we’d dig up our harvest. Any missed potatoes would grow up as new plants the following year. I often carried about a bushel back to campus with me.

A few years ago when my granddaughter, Madeline, was here, she was invited to help my cousin Bob with his harvest. I dropped her off on my way to work. When I picked her up, she was covered from head to toe with garden soil, with a great big grin. “You’d think she was digging for gold, as much as she loved finding those potatoes in the ground,” Aunt Katie told me. For that story alone, I like potatoes!

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy Jig

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It was wonderful to get away!

I had good visits with two of my sisters, both of my daughters and three of my grandchildren…plus quality time with Lincoln Phillip, my tiny new great-grandson.

I waited at the airport on Beaver Island for more than four hours with a driving snowstorm going on outside, before finally making my way to Charlevoix. The flight was good, Charlevoix was clear, and the four hour drive was uneventful. That was Tuesday.

On Thursday I met up with the Clark family: my daughter, Kate; her husband, Jeremy; their two youngest children, Madeline and Tommy. They would be my traveling companions for the next several days. We were headed for Connecticut to visit with Kate’s oldest son, Michael, and his little family.

I hadn’t seen Michael in a couple years. I had not yet met his girlfriend, Samantha. They had recently added a new family member, that we were all excited to meet.

The drive was long, but good. There was plenty to see (except in Ohio, of course) and lots to talk about. Kate and I had each brought stories to read aloud. She brought a short story collection by Steven King; I brought essays by Evan S. Connell. We played travel games; we napped.

Jeremy is a good driver. He doesn’t get nervous, or angry, or impatient. He can change lanes quickly and safely when needed, and he doesn’t mind if we miss an exit and have to backtrack. He doesn’t get agitated when a passenger (me) audibly sucks in her breath or says, “Oh, shit!!” or “Yikes!” or “Look out!” He doesn’t mind stopping for rest rooms or hunger. He doesn’t seem to mind driving for hours on end through pouring rain.

Kate is a fantastic navigator. She was in charge of the map, directing the driver. She had the trip plotted out ahead of time. Kate helped us avoid areas that were costly or that would slow us down, but she also was on the lookout for areas of interest that we might want to see. She could tell us how far we’d gone, how far yet to go and what our elevation was at any given time. When we crossed a bridge, she’d tell us the body of water. When we came to a new state sign, we cheered.

We had a lovely visit with my grandson and his family (I’ll devote a separate post to that).

We took a slightly different route back to Michigan, to change the view. We made a couple detours and stops to enrich the experience.

I spent Monday night back at my sister Brenda’s house, and drove back to Charlevoix Tuesday. I caught the last flight of the day, went to pick up my little dog and came home.

Happy to get away…so glad to be home!

 

Traveling

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Yesterday was crazy.

My list was long and diverse.

I had to “copy and paste” several blog entries to Wordpad, and mail them to myself so that I could print them out when I was in town (I no longer have a printer). Then I had to take them to the Community Center to read them into a microphone, to be broadcast on our little radio station (WVBI…”the voice of Beaver Island,” found on Beaver Island at 100.1 FM, and worldwide at http://www.wvbi.net). My appointment was at noon.

By two o’clock, I had to be at the County garage, to catch up with the head of our road crew. I interviewed him for the news magazine, and wanted to give him the chance to correct any fallacies in the article before we go to press.

I had laundry to finish: dark clothes in the dryer to be folded; towels to be dried.

Clean house, keeping in mind that whatever I neglect will be there, a black mark on my happy homecoming, when I get back next week.

Because, yes, I am traveling. I’m going to Connecticut, to introduce myself to my tiny new great-grandson, Lincoln, to see the parents: my oldest grandson, Michael, and his love, Samantha. Grandchildren Madeline and Tommy will be there for good company on the long drive. My daughter Kate and her husband Jeremy will share the driving, so I don’t have to worry about that.

Good thing, as I had enough to worry about!

I had to pack – secretly, so the little dog wouldn’t notice – clothes for this variable weather (which means layers!) that would be suitable for out to dinner or other excursions, comfortable for travel, plentiful enough so I won’t have to consider laundry and compact enough to fit into one small suitcase. Then, of course, there are the other rules for clothing: nothing binding; doesn’t make me look fat, or short; doesn’t make me look old trying to look youthful…but doesn’t look like grandmother clothes. Finally, everything must match, or at least coordinate, so that I can make last minute variations to planned outfits.

Then there is everything else that needs to come with me. Credit cards (check balances beforehand!), books, notebook, camera, sketchpad. Appropriate writing instruments. Yarn and crochet hooks, because I am at the last possible moment finishing a gift for the new baby. Medicine. Make-up. A special reminder to remember tweezers and the small magnifying mirror, as it is discouraging to have that annoying chin whisker make an appearance when I am hundreds of miles from home.

I had to spend time with sweet Rosa Parks, who will (my heart breaks) spend the next seven days in the doggie kennel. I had to give her lots of loving attention, without being so over-the-top that she’d know something was going on. Because I cannot tolerate those sad eyes, that reproachful stare…

I had to schedule my flight and call my sister with an approximate time of arrival. I’ll have an overnight at her house before we head out.

I had to take time to see Aunt Katie, to bring her up to date on my travel itinerary, get the car keys and last minute instructions.

I had to figure out my blog. At this time, I am toggling between two computers. The archaic one, that is about to become obsolete, is the one I understand. I can easily download pictures onto it, I know how to hook the scanner to it, and I can predict it’s behavior. The new one, which I’m sure is capable of doing everything the other one does, is still alien to me. I don’t know how to download photos from my camera; I’m not sure how it works with the scanner; the keys often seem to be a little bit off to the left. Foolish to pack two computers, when even one may not fit in the car for the trip.

I worried I wouldn’t find opportunity to write.  Do I want to pull away from rare enough time with loved ones to get my daily blog published? Do I want to shelve it for a week? The answer to both is NO! One solution I thought of was writing a weeks worth of blogs before I left. That might have been workable if I’d thought of it before my last – too busy already – day at home. So, I’m going to compromise.

First, I am putting the address series on hold until I get back. We’ll just pause, at Corner #16, with no great drama, until I’m back home. I loaded a bunch of photos to the WordPress site, so I’ll have access to them when I’m away. I am cutting corners: while I’m traveling, these 500-words-a-day are not going to happen. But I’ll still check in with a daily post.

So, that’s how yesterday went, full of worry and preparation.

Today, I’m off!

 

Me, Getting Older

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The poppies burst into bloom two days ago, and have grown more spectacular each day.

In years past, I’ve been able to tell one grandchild or another, “They opened just for you…they’re so happy that you’re here!”

I still have hope that Patrick may make it to Beaver Island this summer, though he will have missed the poppies.

Madeline and Tommy will not be coming this year.

It’s always hard to coordinate, with their activities, their parent’s schedules and my obligations. When everything comes together, it’s wonderful. When it doesn’t…well, we must forge on.

Last night, I had a lovely visit over dinner with my sister, Cheryl, and her friend (my friend, too!), Joel.

The night before, I treated myself to a special dinner at home.

Once a week, my friend, Heidi, delivers me a nice round loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread. It’s absolutely delicious, and a great bargain, too. It’s a nice accompaniment to soup or salad, or toasted to dunk in fried egg. It makes the very best grilled cheese sandwich.

That’s what I made for myself, night before last. Grilled sourdough with sharp cheddar cheese, thin slices of heirloom tomato, a couple rounds of red onion and diced avocado. It was a large and messy sandwich, but I enjoyed it tremendously. I ate at the table, with a book as company.

I’m reading an author that is new to me, Donna Leon. Her mysteries are set in modern-day Venice. Her detective is a thoughtful “romantic” who walks the city – from crime scene to station to suspect – to take advantage of the sights and sounds of Venice. So far, very good summer reading.

After dinner, I moved up to the studio. I’m doing prep work for a series of larger collages, so mark-making, clipping and tearing papers, paint washes for possible backgrounds and other research was going on more than actual art-making.

At one point, I stroked my chin…and found something stuck there. I pulled it off. Between that moment and me then extending my hand so that I could examine it, this conversation went on in my head:

“A tick!!

Oh, gross, a TICK!

Sucking my blood!

Now I’ll have to watch for Lyme disease. I wonder what the symptoms are. I’ll have to “Google” it.

I hope I got it all. I heard they bury their head into your skin to suck your blood. Body, arms and legs are on the outside. I heard that sometimes the arms and legs wiggle.

Oh, I am SO grossed out!

Thank god I found it when I did! I wonder how long it has been there. Oh, yuck, what if someone else had noticed it first?!

Thank god for that chin whisker!

I hate that chin whisker so much…it grows so fast, and I forget about it sometimes until I’m somewhere without the right light, the magnifying mirror and a tweezers, so I can’t do anything about it, but I imagine it stands out for everyone else to notice, so then I’m self-conscious about it all day…but, if it weren’t for that chin whisker, I wouldn’t have formed the habit of rubbing my chin like that, and maybe I wouldn’t have found the tick for hours…and it would be fully engorged, more like the size of a raisin (I’ve seen them that size in the  vet clinic) instead of like the size of a…tomato seed…”

And there it was…not a tick.

A tomato seed, from my messy dinner, stuck to my chin.

Crisis averted!

I may have let this pass as one more isolated incident…not anything to be concerned about.

Certainly not an indicator that I am becoming one of “those people” that walk around unaware of food or other matter clinging to hair, skin or clothing.

Until today, three hours in to my shift at the hardware store…when a customer asked why I was wearing a fabric softener sheet on my back.

Evidently, this is me, getting older.

From what I’ve seen so far, it’s not going to be pretty!

The Grandmother I’ve Become

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This has nothing to do with the grandmother I am.

I’ve been a grandmother for more than twenty-one years.

As evident in this photograph of myself with my daughters and my first grandchild, Michael, I was a young grandmother, just as I had been a young mother.

Not only young, but modern in thought and actions.

When preparing for my first daughter’s arrival, I painted her bassinet bright orange. No mind-numbing pastels for my child!

I was the mother who was also bohemian, defender of good causes, feminist, forward-thinker, hippie, raising children like no others…do you see how young I was??

As a grandmother, I was the woods-walker, snake catcher, story-teller, beach-lover, dune-climber who offered all the wonders of Beaver Island to my grandchildren.

When Mikey was a baby,  I kept chickens. One glorious morning, with baby on my hip, we found our first two eggs in the chicken house. By the time his mother woke up, Michael and I had composed an entire bluesy song about it! When he and Brandon were youngsters, I’d pack a book, fruit and snacks and a thermos in the morning, and we’d go to the beach. I’d read and drink coffee while they built amazing structures in the sand. Madeline, Tommy and Patrick have had their share, too, of exploring the woods and fields and sand dunes.

For evenings, there were other activities. I hold firm to the idea that children like foods they help to make, so mealtime has always been a joint project. Like my own Grandma Florence, I taught them how to play “King’s in the Corner.” As a nod to my father-in-law, Jack, I taught them how to play poker (complete with his wonderful repartee: “pair of deuces…pair of tens…pair – a – goric”). I kept an art case, for entertainment on rainy days, just as my mother always had.

The “grandmother” I’m referring to is the stereotypical grandmother…you know, the one “I would never become.”

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I’m referring to the grandmother who has rows of holy cards (from funerals, no less!) lining a mirror…

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who  has too many little vignettes featuring photos of children and grandchildren…

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and doilies…

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religious icons…

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little collections of succulents…

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and a fat little dog, sleeping wherever she chooses on a loud-patterned piece of furniture (should I say davenport?).

(SIGH)

This, alas, is the grandmother I’ve become.

Madeline

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This picture, of many wonders of Beaver Island, still hangs in my kitchen where I displayed it last summer.

There is a poster just inside the door that states “I love Grandma Cindy” in a multitude of bright colors.

There is a note in the bottom of the storage bin, in my granddaughter’s handwriting, that reminds me “Don’t forget dog food!!!”

On the trim board that frames the stairway wall, Madeline’s name, along with the names of her brothers and cousin, is penciled in along with dates, next to the painted, stenciled numbers to chart their growth.

On my desk is a photo of Madeline, receiving a kiss on the cheek from her mother. “I don’t especially like that picture,” she told me last summer, “Do you know I’d been crying?” I still like the photograph, but take less enjoyment from it now, with that information. Madeline is a generally happy, enthusiastic and joyous child, and I like best to think of her that way.

I have a string of photos on my computer that reflect those traits.

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In my mind, all that warm, bright summer sunshine doesn’t begin to compare with Madeline’s bright spirit!

Happy Birthday, Madeline!

New Floor

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It was last July – when my granddaughter, Madeline, was here visiting (and her visit was generating a great deal more laundry than usual) – that I noticed that my washing machine was leaking.

Rather, I noticed that what I’d thought was a small dribble was actually a large leak.

It was July when I realized the chipboard floor was destroyed from the water seeping into it whenever I ran the washing machine. I had mushrooms sprouting from the boards!

It was July when I hauled the dryer – also ready to be retired – outside to make room to pull out the washer to investigate the problem. July, in summer’s sunshine, when I decided it wasn’t all bad living without a dryer, and that garments dried on the clothesline sure smell good. July when I started buying wrenches and socket-head screwdrivers and other devices that seemed like they might help me get to the root of the problem with the washing machine. July when I started – with hammer and chisel and mini-crowbar – to pull up the rotten floor.

Yes, it has been all the way since July that I have been growing accustomed to the washing machine as a fixture in the hallway to be navigated around when needing to get into the bathroom or either of two closets.

Three long months that the laundry room floor has been a mass of punky OSB board and dustpans full of wood chips as I whittled away at it. The more I removed, the more I revealed: there were crumbling 1″ x 2″ boards that were nailed to the concrete  underneath, slabs of blue rigid foamboard in between and a layer of wet tarpaper under all of that, put down to act as a vapor barrier on top of the cement slab.

There were days that I came home exhausted from work, just to drop to my hands and knees in the laundry room to chip away at the floor.

There were days and even weeks where I just shook my head in exasperation and ignored it.

There were times when I spoke to everyone I could about it, hoping for assistance, or a solution.

There were times I refused help out of embarrassment for the mess I’d gotten myself into.

My sisters, Brenda and Cheryl, came for a visit in September. “Let’s make a project of it,” they suggested. It was tempting. Brenda and Cheryl get things done! Neither one would live with an issue like that for weeks on end. We always could find the fun in tackling major repairs and dirty jobs. It might have been a blast. Or it might have occupied all of their vacation in the most frustrating way. Or I might have never lived down the shame of having them see the disaster I had created, and was living with.

I declined.

Let me tell you, hanging clothes on the line loses a lot of its charm in the cold, rainy days of Autumn! Many weeks, the rain started as soon as I finished hanging things out, and didn’t let up until – several days later – I hauled them in, soaking wet, to dry by the heater.

Spending my only day off in the laundromat seemed like cruel and unusual punishment.

When I took my aunt to visit her doctor on the mainland two weeks ago, I went shopping for new appliances. I arranged to have them shipped across on the ferry boat two weeks later. I needed time to arrange for delivery from the boat dock to my house. I had to find someone who would come out and hook up the new washer and dryer for me. And I needed to finish dealing with the floor.

I had my day off planned.

First, unhook the washer and move it out of the house. I had bought a new wrench that I was certain was going to enable me, finally, to undo the hoses that kept the machine attached to the wall. I had moved the dryer out on my own, and had been sliding the washer around for months; I felt sure that I could handle it.

Second, take my new Multi-Max tool with its oscillating blade and cut through the OSB board around the perimeter of the room. Then, use hammer and chisel and crowbar to remove the rest of the floor.

Third, measure the space. Take the measurement to the lumberyard and have a piece of chipboard – in the correct thickness – cut to the exact size. Bring it home, drop it into place and secure it.

Congratulations to me, pat myself on the back, pour a glass of wine to celebrate.

Two nights before that planned day off, my friend Vince came over to join me for a supper of soup and bread. When he saw the mess the laundry room was in, he was flabbergasted.

“You should have asked me to help!” he said.

Actually, I did. Or I at least strongly hinted at it. Unfortunately, my desperate cries for help too often sound like murmurs of, “It’s really no big deal,” or “No, I’m fine,” or even sometimes like an amusing anecdote. The despair I feel does not often come through in my words. Combine that with a summer season that was busy for all of us, and that had Vince taking on a challenging new position, it is no wonder he didn’t realize my dire need for assistance.

In any case, he stepped up, and offered to come Tuesday, on my day off, to help.

I couldn’t be any more thankful that he did!

First of all, even with my new wrench, I could not get the hoses unhooked.

I needed help to move the washing machine over the hearth and past the cobblestone walkway.

My Multi Max tool was missing the hex key that would tighten the necessary blade and – even after Vince used his hex key to tighten it – it wouldn’t cut through the boards.

All but one of the 1″ x2″ boards had to be cut, removed and replaced as well. I hadn’t even considered that!

The nails that held the boards into the cement were impossible for me to pull.

Finally, every one of the three walls were at least 3/4 of an inch out of square, from one end to the other. If I had – by some miracle – made it to that point in the job on my own, I would have come home with a piece of OSB that wouldn’t have fit into the space.

At that point, I would have broken out the wine that was planned to celebrate my success, and used it instead to drown my sorrows.

Vince saved the day!

My floor is down, new appliances will arrive this week and I’m retiring my clothesline until Springtime!

August: Sun Shine

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The month of August, for me, brings a wide mix of emotions.

It always has.

As a child, the hot days pulling weeds in the garden were balanced by time at the lake, splashing around at the Hill Top Beach, or fishing from Magabelle’s dock. The stifling nights were often spent camping in large tents in the the backyard, with an assortment of sleeping bags and army cots to accommodate the masses of over-heated children.

The field behind our house offered mysteries and danger, wild berries and lots of hiding places. The willow trees, front yard and back, always offered a nice shade. The privet hedge shielded the back yard play area from the passing cars. We wore as little clothing as possible, and were barefoot except for church-going. I treasure one photograph of a cluster of us little children, squinting into the sun in a mad collection of underpants and shorts. My brother Ted, the only boy in the photo, is the only one with a shirt on!

August was birthdays and birthday parties, family reunions and family vacations. The start of school loomed just around the bend, but even that brought new supplies, a fresh wardrobe and its own level of excitement.

August was the best month of summer…made even more sweet with the knowledge that the season was coming to an end.

Now, as an adult, I still feel the bittersweet mixture of joy and sadness all through the month.

Here on Beaver Island, the cooler nights of August remind us to treasure each summer day. Warm weather and our “Home Coming” celebration bring the crowds. Visitors pour off the ferry boats and planes, or their own motorboats or sailboats. They enjoy the beaches and wander through the shops.

Yet, every week is marked by people leaving. The businesses are forced to rearrange work schedules to make up for employees who go to get settled into dorms or houses, to get registered for classes, to get ready to start another job, or just to get a break before the season has passed them by.

Every joy at seeing loved ones come to visit is juxtaposed with sadness at their departure.

To the many birthdays we’ve always celebrated in August, my family has added a whole collection of memorable dates. Many are happy ones: we have several wedding anniversaries in August. Others note passings: my sister Sheila and both of my parents died in this month. It is almost impossible for a day in August to go by without a memory attached to it.

This year on August 2nd – which is my godson’s birthday but also the day that, two years ago, my sister, Sheila, died unexpectedly – I had a meeting before my regular workday. My granddaughter, Madeline, and I walked the dogs early. We picked raspberries in the evening as we watered the beans and squash. We took our simple dinner upstairs to the studio to watch Jeopardy while we ate. We read two chapters before bed.

The next seven days – which included two birthdays and two wedding anniversaries – were spent in similar fashion.

On August 10th, family and friends came: Robin and Dick first, then Bob, Gary, Brenda, Keith, Amy, Danielle, John, Lillie, Nicole, Jim, Kristen and Chris. Cheryl and Joel arrived the next day.

Sunday, August 11th, was our “Home Coming” Dinner, a much anticipated annual event held at the Holy Cross Hall here on Beaver Island. This year was special, as a series of events had caused the dinner to be cancelled last year. Madeline and I made pies to donate to the dessert table.

We didn’t attend, though.

In our group, Sunday was “Thanksgiving in August.” Brenda cooked turkey and all the trimmings! Because I am never able to get off the island for that holiday, it was wonderful to enjoy that lovely meal surrounded by my family.

August 11th is the birthday of our dear family friend, Mary, who watched all of us grow up.

It is also the anniversary of the day our Mother died, two years ago.

That wasn’t forgotten, through the laughter and chatter and, “pass the gravy down this way, please.” We are happy, though, to build new memories to go along with the other ones.

Tuesday, Madeline left on the ferry boat with my sister, Amy, and her family. I waved them off, then went to work. I felt like I could cry uncontrollably if given half a chance. Yet when I stopped at the house where my sisters were staying, my friend, Bob, greeted me at the door with a big hug, and before I knew it, I was happily surrounded by the love of my family.

And the week went on, joyously.

Yesterday, all remaining family and friends left.

Last night’s dinner was a simple affair.

The evening, without diversion of any kind, seemed to drag on a bit too long.

It was awfully quiet out here on the Fox Lake Road.

I went to bed early.

The sun came up warm and bright this morning, though. It shined through the trees as I walked the dogs, leaving dappled patterns on the path.

Summer is not over yet.

There are still warm days to be savored, memories to be made, sunshine to enjoy.

There is still some August left.

Summer Wash-a-Day Blues

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I love the look of clothes hanging on a clothesline.

Not everyone does.

Even here on Beaver Island, there are communities that have banned them.

Happily, that’s not the case at my home, here on the Fox Lake Road.

I threw out my dryer a few weeks ago.

Lord knows, I had gotten my money’s worth out of it. My husband and I bought it – used – for fifty dollars back in 1979. Lately, it had been sending out a fine mist of lint every time I used it. It took me a while to figure out where all the dust was coming from. It took me another great while to do something about it. I might still be putting up with it, if the laundry room floor hadn’t started sprouting mushrooms.

My washing machine was leaking.

I had noticed dampness around the base of the washer whenever I did a load of laundry. I assumed the leak was from a hose. Because the washer and dryer sat side by side, the only way to access the back of either of them was by pulling them straight out. I can push a great deal of weight, but to pull either appliance straight toward me was not possible. There was no place to get a grip. There was no room to do the zig-zag push and pull technique that I employ when moving the refrigerator. I worried that if I were able to somehow manage it, I’d displace the hoses so that I’d be unable to diagnose the problem anyway. I was equally afraid of upsetting the vent-work for the dryer.

It didn’t seem like that much of a problem. A little moisture, a bit of dust.

Then summer came.

With summer came my granddaughter, Madeline.

Madeline, who loves painting and gardening and beaches.

Who is not above climbing trees or playing in the mud.

But who (heaven forbid!) cannot possibly wear the same outfit twice, ever, without laundering it first, can’t use a towel more than once, must dress appropriately for every occasion, whether it be a trip to the ice cream shop or an hour in the garden and firmly believes our dining room table needs a fresh tablecloth at least every second day.

I’ve had considerably more laundry than usual.

My laundry room floor started growing mushrooms.

One day, when Madeline was at day camp, I dismantled part of a shelf support in order to move out the dryer, so that I could get behind the washer to try to fix the leak.

It turns out, I had bigger problems than I had anticipated.

The moisture put out by the washing machine was much more than what was evident from the front. The particle board floor under both appliances was spongy, wet and rotted.

As far as I can tell, the hoses are all intact and working fine. The – reasonably new – washing machine seems to be leaking from the base.

The back of the dryer had bare wires and missing panels and was harboring enough dryer lint to be a huge fire danger. It should have been replaced years ago. I retired it immediately, better late than never.

Since then, we’ve been drying everything on the clothesline.

I’ve always used the line for drying sheets and blankets, rugs and sometimes towels…when the weather was warm. Other clothes get too wrinkled, I thought. It was impractical to try to dry everything, with my work schedule, I insisted.

It turns out, it takes a bit of forethought and discipline, but it’s really quite possible. Enjoyable, even!

Madeline has become quite expert at the process, too, and helps with the hanging out and folding. She insists that we’re saving hundreds of dollars this way.

Her amounts may be an exaggeration, but I’m sure we’ll see a difference in the electricity bill.

Still, there have been a few rainy days where I’ve watched my clothes dripping on the line and wished I had a dryer to make my life easier.

And we’re not yet into the cold weather.

For now, though, having clothes hanging outside to dry seems just right.