Tag Archives: Phragmites

Crazy Busy…Or Just Crazy?


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So what is going on with WordPress, now?
When I have zero time to sit at the computer to do anything, now the simplest thing has become a nightmare. The image – I hope it will publish as an image – appears to be in HTML code, as a series of words and non-words and forward slashes combined with numbers and punctuation marks. It looks like I’m typing on Mom’s old Royal typewriter…not the font I’m accustomed to.
I am behind in my writing, both in outside obligations and personal commitments.
I am behind in the studio, with several finished pieces to frame(that frames have not yet been ordered for)and others that need to be completed.
My garden is growing up in weeds.
I’m behind in getting Aunt Katie’s house ready for company.
My house is not fit, even, for discussion.
I am behind in my payments. Summer tax bills arrived last week, and I have yet to pay the winter taxes. I have barely made a dent in the large amount owed for keeping my house warm over that long, cold season. Insurance is over-due. I still have that drainage issue to resolve before the ground freezes. I’m due for more blood work and have not yet paid the bill for the lab work that was done six months ago. The list goes on.
I’ve had a full work schedule at the hardware store, with long, hectic days that leave me with little energy by the time I get home.
As Phragmites administrator,I am coming into the busiest time of the year.I’ve had meetings and conference calls and Emails zipping back and forth. I have notices to write and meetings to plan. I am past due in publishing my invasive species blog.
Just about the time that I learned that my grandchildren would not be able to come to visit this year…when I was right on the verge of falling into one of those funks with a “my-life-is-nothing-but-work,work,work” theme…an opportunity came up.
An archaeological dig was going to happen here on Beaver Island, in an area of great interest to me. A friend had organized it…and would welcome my assistance.
As busy as I was, as behind as I was…I nonetheless jumped at the chance!
To keep my budget intact, and not put too much strain on my co-workers, I filled in as much as I could beforehand.
I worked eight days in a row, with meetings squeezed in after and around other obligations, so that I could take this week off.
To dig in the dirt.
Who is crazy enough to take time off work in order to work for free?
I am!
I come home each day filthy, bug-bitten and exhausted, but I’m having a blast!
Today, with a little bit of energy left, I thought I might catch up on other things, before I collapse.
So what’s the deal with WordPress?


Bush Honeysuckle


Sometimes, when I’m not writing my own blog, I am spreading the word on invasive species in this area through this blog

Beaver Island Phragmites Control



I wish this plant looked a little less attractive.

It seems to have a lot going for it.

Bush honeysuckle is a nice looking plant: its glossy leaves are some of the first to emerge in the Spring, and hang on well into the Fall. Attractive, scented flowers blossom in June, followed by edible berries that remain on the bushes through the Winter. It can tolerate some shade, and its root system can help to stop erosion. No wonder they were deliberately and thoughtfully introduced to this country!

Sounds good, right?

In fact, of the four types of bush honeysuckle that grow on Beaver Island, two are native. On the surface, they are almost indistinguishable from the two types that we label “invasive.”

So, what’s the difference?

Not all non-native species are “invasive.” My hyacinths are not taking over the yard, no matter how much I encourage it. Many plants…

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Time Out For Art



I have come to the conclusion that I never jump into a project with as much enthusiasm as I do when I am doing it in avoidance of another project.

I didn’t just conclude this.

I probably first noticed it fifty years ago, when a homework assignment took on monumental urgency and importance when faced with the job of cleaning my room.

Or, vise versa.

I probably spent several years in denial…convincing myself of the necessity of one thing rather than the other…justifying the clear hierarchy of task importance.

I think I finally spent time pondering it long and hard – and thus finally concluding it – while trying to avoid some other pending deadline.

(Maybe I have A.D.H.D.!)

I have been pretty lax in my blog writing, lately. I planned a blog to say that I have recovered from my “funk” and thank you all very much for your kind and generous thoughts…but I went right from my “funk” into a “fit” of activity that left me no time for writing anything.


It started with a desire to get my bedroom in order.

No, it started with a string of writing commitments.

I had agreed to write an article for the Spring and Summer Newsletter of the Beaver Island Association. Another for the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative. Plus reports for the Northern Islander, the Beaver Island Forum, the Beaver Beacon and Beaver Island News on the Net on the Archipelago Meeting I attended in Lansing last month.

That got me thinking about getting my bedroom organized.

Which led to the necessity of digging out the (non-working) vehicle that I use for storage (a sort of garage-on-wheels), to get to the shelves I had stashed there. Which led to  the decision that the shelves that really belonged in the bedroom were the ones holding cookbooks and gardening books in my kitchen. What followed was a scenario worthy of a full length feature starring Laurel and Hardy.

The kitchen bookcase went upstairs. The kitchen wall got a fresh coat of paint…which forced the decision to put up the nice white shelves that used to be on that wall (because weren’t they just the best?) despite the fact that three of those shelves were now working shelves in my studio, and two others were employed as my desktop in the dining area AND that fitting the shelves in the kitchen would involve moving the all-wood 32 drawer cabinet out of the kitchen (wasn’t it always too large for that small room anyway?) and ultimately out of the house (because there is not another spot it will fit!). Which means that I had to build a new desktop, cut new shelves for the studio and empty the contents from thirty-two drawers!! I have only two shelve up in the studio, as all of this re-structuring left me short on shelf brackets, and they won’t get to the island until  the first boat runs in April. I have the contents of 32 drawers in boxes and bags on my kitchen floor. My dining room table is laden with overflow from drawers and shelves and desktop. Ditto, the kitchen counters. The bedroom is possibly the only room “in order” at this moment.


Soooo…faced with all that, of course I got very inspired to get busy in the studio…and then to blog about it.

I’ve been totally negligent about posting art on Thursdays for months now.

In fact, though I’ve had quite a few things underway, I haven’t gotten many things finished in the studio this Winter.

Faced with the disaster I’ve created around me, art-making took on epic importance.

It is Time Out for Art Thursday, after all!






This Tired Time of Year



Here it is…September.

I’ve been looking forward to this month all summer long!

When cooler nights and milder days provide relief from the heat of August.

When a slower pace with fewer tourists offers more time.

Time to think, to relax, to recuperate from a busy season.

And yet…

The garden is offering up its harvest. Every day there are things to pick, to prepare, to put up for winter. I’ve had to defrost and clean two freezers to prepare for this winter’s storage. My counter is lined with jars and containers, ready to be filled. Last night I was up past midnight processing chili base from my tomatoes, hot peppers and various greens. That’s been pretty much the norm, these last few weeks. The raspberry bushes need to be cut back. Peonies need to be mounded with straw. The potato plants are yellowing; it will soon be time to dig the potatoes.

The blackberries are ripening. How can I ignore them? They won’t wait until my schedule opens up! So, every day, bucket in hand, I wander the paths and fields and woods-edge around my house, to gather what has ripened. I don’t venture beyond – I don’t have the time! Sometimes, though, the thought of the berries down Camp #3 Trail or Green’s Lake Road dropping to the ground when they could be going in my freezer disturbs my sleep, and I wake up thinking I have to find more time. A day off, maybe?

But, no. This September, I don’t get a day off. My schedule as server, which gave me four days a week most of the summer season, has expanded to five days a week now that many of the workers have gone back to other lives. My job at the hardware store is one day per week, soon to expand to three days per week. Then I have my collection of “a few hours a week” jobs. I clean for my aunt. I teach after-school art. I write an article each month for our local news magazine.  I am the Phragmites Administrator for Beaver Island. I work in my studio.

Some of these jobs I know by heart; I only need to show up and put in my time, doing the work I am hired to do. Others are more of a struggle.

I spent four early-morning hours recently writing, editing and re-writing a public notice about a meeting regarding phragmites treatment…only to find out I’d effectively written a press release, not a public notice. Because I’m still in the learning process regarding invasive species in general, and Phragmites in particular, I’ve had to allow time for research. Because September is a critical time for dealing with this problem, I’ve been learning on the fly!

I put a dozen hours into my class plan for the season, complete with a time-line going back to the Paleolithic Era, to illustrate the breadth of time we were covering…then was told my class will – this year – be divided into two classes, with less time for each. Everything needs to be re-worked. And, I need to find time to do an inventory of the materials-on-hand in my shared closet at the school, so that I can put in an order for what I need. Dependent, of course, on my class plan…which I need to re-do entirely, based on shorter class time.

Writing is always a long, hard, time-consuming process for me. In college, I’d wait until the 11th hour to start a paper, and sweat over it for long, sleepless nights before turning it in. The problem was this: if I started six weeks before it was due, leaving myself ample time for editing and re-writing, I would still be pulling “all-nighters” before deadline, doing last minute touch-ups. I’m just never satisfied. Taking on a writing project is, for me, killing off the last bit of spare time I might find!

The studio is similarly open-ended. If I finish three paintings and twelve collages for next year’s gallery opening…well, I could start that series of collagraphs I’ve been thinking about…or do a piece for the “Goddess Show” or to submit to the Alma Print Show or to “ArtPrize”. I could tweak my artist’s statement, or design a better business card, or send out a few letters to a few galleries. I could always clean the studio.

On top of all this, the lawn really needs to be mowed. The house could really use a good once over while it’s still nice enough to open windows. I’m halfway through tearing up the laundry room floor…which will then have to be replaced. The grapes are starting to ripen. The leaves are starting to turn; before long they’ll be falling.

Here it is: September…that tired time of year.




“…and the livin’ is easy…”

I love that song. Every word, every sentiment.

It brings me, in my imagination, to a breezy screened room with a sturdy wicker chair and a tall, cool drink. Looking out, of course, on a perfectly groomed lawn and garden. The sun is shining. No obligations hang over me. Warm and comfortable, I may just doze right here.

Real life is a little more hectic, for me, here on Beaver Island in the summertime.

My granddaughter, Madeline, and I went to a concert last weekend.

Claudia Schmidt is a former employer and a dear friend of mine, as well as a wonderful musician and singer. She used to live here on Beaver Island, and it’s always lovely when she makes it back. She performed at the Community Center last Saturday evening.

We dressed for the occasion. Madeline chose the “very similar to the styles that Taylor Swift wears” dress that she’d worn for her own recital (she plays stand up bass). The sash was a bit frayed from the wash, but was elegant nonetheless. I wore the gauzy, tie-dyed “summer of love” dress that I’d purchased when visiting Florida with my sisters. Unaccustomed to wearing dresses of any kind, I managed to briefly flash the people in seats behind me while trying to disentangle my flowing dress from the folding theater seat. Fortunately, my grandmotherly underpants and sixty-year-old fanny caused only laughter, and the evening continued shamelessly.

Claudia intersperses her concerts with anecdotes, reminiscences and commentary. A poet at heart, these bits of information are generally heartfelt, thoughtful and thought-provoking.

One thing she spoke about this time was “Busy.”

That has become the stock answer to any questions regarding how things are going or what one is up to. It’s not an answer, really, but a definition of a condition.


“Busy, busy, busy!”


It starts to sound like gibberish after a while, she noted.

She avoids that answer, on principle.

To instead answer, “Nothing,” when asked, “What have you been up to?” has value for the looks of horror it evokes.

“What?! NOTHING??”

Generally, though, when activities seem overwhelming, her answer is, “I am living a rich and very full life.”


So, as I look out from my messy desk on this Monday in July, onto a lawn that needs mowing and a garden that needs tending, trying to plan my week that involves three outside jobs, preparing for and attending an art event, finishing a commission piece for a very patient client, making some progress on housework and yard work, sending out resumes and letters of interest for possible employment, a trip to the mainland to visit the Secretary of State, paying bills that have been ignored too long, repairing my washing machine and finding time for some worthwhile and memory-making activities with my granddaughter, I say…

“This summer, I am living a rich and very full life!”