Tag Archives: Rain

Riding on Cardboard

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It starts with one thing. One bit of neglect. It balloons from there.

Last weekend, I took the dogs for a nice ride down to Fox Lake so they could have a swim, and then to the woods so I could pick blackberries. When we ride in the car, I put the windows down. Darla gets the passenger seat; Rosa sits on my lap. We notice squirrels and chipmunks. Sometimes I sing. We had a good day.

Last weekend, for some unknown reason, I neglected to close the car windows when we got home. I don’t understand it; that’s not like me at all. I close the windows to keep out rain or snow or ice, but also flies, mosquitoes, chipmunks, snakes, raccoons…with a house in the woods, an open window is not a good idea.

So, that was the first thing.

Then, I forgot I hadn’t closed the windows. Maybe I never even realized I had left them open. In any case, when the rain started, I did not go running out to close them. It rained all night…and for a good portion of the next day.

In the afternoon of the following day, I had to run to town to do an interview. I had endured the accusatory looks and sad eyes of my dogs. I had given them each their treat, a scratch behind the ears, a pat on the head and the instructions, “Take good care of things!” I grabbed my bag, my notebook and camera, and skittered out the door.

There was my car, windows down. The door were wet; the grooved handles were filled with water. The seats were soaked. I couldn’t go back inside for towels or plastic. That would involve – after a joyous tail-wagging greeting – going through the entire sad eyes, treat, scratch, pat and “Take good care of things,” again. I didn’t have time!

In the back seat I had a cardboard box filled with canning jars that I’d been forgetting to bring to Aunt Katie. I took the jars out, flattened the box, and used it to cover my seat. On to the appointment, no problem. Since then, when the sun was out, I would deliberately leave the windows down to help dry things out. Honestly, the upholstery is soaked through!

Yesterday morning, without a thought, I loaded the trash and recyclables into the car, in hopes that I’d have time on my lunch hour to deliver them to the transfer station. I didn’t. When I got in the car to go home, I had about two hundred houseflies sharing the front seat with me! They had easily wandered in through the open windows, lured by the scent of my garbage. Ugh!

So, windows down…back seat full of trash…canning jars rolling around on the floor…my arms waving to shoo the insects outside…while sliding around on a flattened cardboard box…that was my only protection from the wet seat…I wrenched my back. I had to practically crawl from my damp, bug-infested car when I got home!

I spent last night alternating between hot compresses and ice packs. This morning I’m moving slowly, but thankful to be moving at all, and thinking about the importance of every little decision I make.

 

Storm

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This weekend is a free weekend for fishing here in Michigan. Though some rules still apply, no fishing license is needed. The Beaver Island Wildlife Club, along with a few other sponsors, is hosting a fishing tournament Saturday and Sunday. It’s geared toward families, and there are quite a few youngsters that have been anticipating it for days.

Yesterday, the weather forecast didn’t sound good. A big storm was coming through, it said, with thunder and lightning, rain and strong winds. The hardware store was one of the sponsors, and one of the employees was a major organizer. He wasn’t working at the hardware yesterday; he was busy getting equipment ready, gathering life jackets and handling last minute details. Still, the questions came rolling in.

“What is the back up plan, if the storm comes?”

“Will the tournament be rescheduled?”

“What happens if it’s raining?”

My answer to everything was “I don’t know,” though I speculated that rescheduling might be difficult, since this is the free fishing weekend. I freely gave out telephone numbers of people better equipped to answer the questions, and sympathized with their quandary.

“Of course the kids are really looking forward to it!”

“No, certainly you wouldn’t want to be out on the water in a storm.”

“Yes, it will be a darn shame if it rains all day.”

That was it. No matter what, the weather is out of our control. Though I could honestly agree that the timing was poor, I couldn’t change a thing. Which allowed me to – completely without guilt – relish the fact that I was forced by the weather to put off mowing the back yard.

The storm came through last night just as the sun was going down. There were big booms of thunder and impressive flashes of lightning. Great big raindrops fell softly to the ground, but not for long. I found myself wishing it would continue through the night.Maybe it did. It looks quite moist out there this morning, as the sun is coming up. As for the storm, we may have seen the end of it.

Saturday, Rain

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The dogs have an almost identical rainy day routine. When, at their request, I open the door, they look out, sniff the air, shake their head twice, take one step back, then rush outside. They come back quicker than usual, anxious to be inside again. Their coats are damp when I run my hands along their back to tell them, “Good Girl.” Not so wet, today, that they spray me with droplets when they shake off the moisture. Not so wet that I have to get the towel to rub them down.

This is a mild rain, soft and steady.

It’s helping, though, to alleviate the dryness and dust. The air smells clear and all the colors are brightened. Buds seem to have magically appeared on the grapevines, that looked like dead twigs just a couple days ago. The grass is growing so fast, you can hardly tell what areas of the yard I mowed. Suddenly, with a little rain, we have moved from Early Spring (when the snow is gone and “thank God for that!” and “it’s not one of those big-mud seasons, that’s good”, but nothing s really happening and “what will the summer bring?”) to Spring, fully arrived, in all of it’s lushness and glory.

There’s nothing quite as nice as a gentle rain!

Rain

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Last night, it rained. Boy, we needed it!  Though it seems the snow has just barely disappeared, things are dry here on Beaver Island.

I recently re-typed a notice from our fire chief, explaining the reasons (less overall snowfall, for one) and warning about the increased fire danger. With all the dry brush, and all the dead and dying beech trees, a blaze could quickly get out of control. This rain will help.

Spring seemed to be on hold, waiting for a rain. Though trees are in bud, the leaves are slow to open. Yesterday, finally, my forsythia burst into yellow blooms. My little species tulips opened up. I’ve been watching my rhubarb hedge closely, anxious for the first, tender stalks. Though it showed bright red at the ground level, there was no growth. This morning, I can see from my window that the stalks have pushed up, and the leaves are unfurled. The entire lawn looks, suddenly, like it needs to be mowed.

I never sleep so well as I do when it’s raining. My sleep has been fitful and scattered for weeks, my mind filled with too many lists of things that need to be finished, and concerns  about how to manage my time to get it all done, to allow good rest. I was thinking last week, up to stay at 3AM, how I was becoming accustomed to getting no more than four or five hours of sleep at night. Not last night!

I slept like a baby, through the whole rainy night. When the alarm went off this morning, I tagged the snooze button and went right back to sleep. Then I did it again, and again. When I finally got up, well-rested and good-humored, I could see that – barring a miracle – I would once again be late for work.

Well…I guess I can blame the rain!

 

I’ve Got Nothing

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On this thirteenth day of November…which just happens to be Friday the 13th, too…I have nothing to write about.

I don’t even have a current photograph, as I’ve been arriving home after dark these days. We’ve had several days of strong winds here on Beaver Island, and most of the leaves are on the ground. The photo that I’m posting was taken two years ago, sometime in November of 2013.

I may not have admitted that, if I had more to say. Having been very shy for most of my life, silences in the middle of conversations are not comfortable for me. They bring me right back to childhood, to those long, excruciating voids when I knew I should speak, but didn’t know what to say. I knew that if i opened my mouth, I’d say something terribly stupid. Even if I had something planned, not completely foolish, to contribute, I often couldn’t force myself to speak.

I’ve overcome my shyness, mostly. Still, give me much of a pregnant pause and I’ll chatter on about almost anything, just to keep the conversation going. I’ll tell more than folks want to hear. I’ll tell things that are really nobody’s business. I’ll admit to things I could have kept hidden. I’ll state right out that the photo is a sham.

Maybe I am, too, only thirteen days in to this thirty-day challenge, and already nothing to write about.

Stubbornly, I forge on.

News about my job at the hardware store is not really “subject matter,” but self-indulgent chatter. If I had a husband, he would be duty-bound to listen to the minutiae of my day…no one else should feel obligated.The same goes for updates on my little dog, details about what foods I’m preparing and/or eating, and information about how busy, stressed, tired, sleepless or sleepy I am.

Let me just tell you, anyway, that I finally finished reorganizing the light bulbs at the hardware store. Whether the customer wants compact fluorescent bulbs, the old incandescent bulbs, the new halogen bulbs, or any manner of track, flood, fan, post  or Christmas light, we will now be able to find it with a lot less trouble than before!

Hunters are arriving on the island, to prepare for opening day of rifle season. They come to the hardware for propane cylinders, raffle tickets and other odds and ends. They seem good natured and happy to be here, in spite of the wind and cold rain. That, along with normal Friday business and a run on windshield wiper blades, kept us busy all day.

Allow me to report that my little dog is just as cute and smart as can be. She knows “sit,”  “give me paw” and “stay,” and will actually demonstrate, if there’s a treat in it for her. When she does something that she thinks is really good, like bark at the road truck or number two outside, she expects a reward. If I’m not right on top of it, she’ll dart her eyes back and forth expectantly, from the treat jar to me, and back again…just trying to help me “get it right” without making me feel foolish or forgetful.

As for dinner, I made a bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It took me forty years to learn how to make a less than “army-sized” pot of bean soup. Still, I’ve been eating it all week.

Beyond that, I am busy, stressed, tired, sleepless and sleepy, separately by turns or together in weird combinations. But mostly, I’m fine. Thanks for listening!

Mornings Like This

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Yesterday, a warm wind entertained us.

The temperatures were above normal, the strong breeze felt balmy and – I swear – it smelled like spring.

“This must be our Indian Summer,” one person after another suggested.

A day like that is a pleasure, any time of the year.

In November, it’s a gift.

Today, it’s raining.

After a night of the soundest, most uninterrupted sleep I’ve had in weeks, I woke up early.

Rosa Parks would like her walk. The little dog has made several trips outside on her own already, dashing for the shelter of the wild cherry tree, then running back in to demand her reward. The walk can wait for daylight…and at least one cup of coffee.

I woke up, as usual, with a dozen tasks playing ’round in my head that need to be done immediately. I turned on the computer before I turned on the coffeepot.

I remember, like a happy dream, what my life was like before bookkeeping became such a large part of it.

Now, with the Beacon, my life is filled with record-keeping chores. What did I have to worry about, before spreadsheets and Excel files? What joy, when the only address I had to keep track of was my own!

It is amazing to me how much time it takes to keep track of nine hundred and seventy-one subscribers. If I’m not changing addresses – and it seems that they do nothing but move! – I am updating renewal dates, changing names or altering the manner of delivery. Then there are the problems of issues that don’t reach the subscriber: I need to retrieve the address and send out another copy. Other times, issues come back to me, undelivered. That is a mystery that needs to be solved, as it results in addition postage fees. Wouldn’t you think that the list of subscribers that did not receive their Beacon would match up with the stack of returned magazines? But no.

Advertisers are a separate bookkeeping necessity. Two, in fact, as picture ads are a different database than classified ads. Billing seems complicated and difficult, but even harder is keeping them up to date. Once, a man came into the hardware to angrily admonish me for continuing to run his ad months after the property had changed hands. That was the first I’d learned of it and, though I was sorry, I have yet to identify  which exact ad is his, so I’ve been unable to remove it. Since I’m still struggling with billing, at least he hasn’t been asked to pay for it!

For Dion, the “Mailroom Specialist” who labels and sends the magazines, I need to send a check to cover postage and his small fee, then convert my updated subscriber spreadsheet into two Excel files: one for first class, the other for standard delivery. I also need to find time to talk to him about the issues that aren’t making it to the recipient, and the ones that are coming back to me. And, I’ve received a few calls because – though the payments are up-to-date – the labels say the subscription expired last year. What’s going on with that?

These are the thoughts and worries and many unfinished tasks that interrupt my sleep and drive me out of bed before dawn.

This morning, to be greeted by darkness and rain.

Mornings like this, I wrap myself in the fleecy bathrobe. I pour coffee into my favorite little cup: thin rim, sturdy round handle, decorated with a pattern of blackberries. I add real cream (well, real “half and half”) rather than 2% milk. I give Rosa Parks a chewy biscuit that will keep her busy for a while. I thank all the forces in play for the rain, that contributed to my good night’s sleep.

And all is right with the world.

Copper

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Last week there were reds and yellows in the woods, standing out against burnished shades of gold and occasional greens.

Several days of strong wind did not diminish the display.

Rather, as some of the leaves dropped, the sun was able to shine through the branches, making the leaves that still clung to them more radiant in the glow.

This week, after several cold nights and more wind accompanied by heavy rain, all the colors have gone brown.

We’re in copper season now!

There was a dusting of icy snow on my car when I left for work yesterday morning, a winter-like chill in the air when I walked the dogs in the evening. The wind is howling now.

I’m collecting the memories of these penny-bright days, warm sun through fiery leaves, to carry me through the next  – colder – season.

After the Rain (and Rhubarb Crisp)

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I made a quick dash out through the garden when the rain stopped today.

My destination was that nice patch of rhubarb against the back fence.

I’m going for family dinner tonight, and offered to bring a rhubarb crisp.

I was anxious, anyway, to see what might’ve sprouted, after two days of thunderstorms.

 

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My first mistake was thinking I could make an outdoor run to the rhubarb patch and back, without dousing up with mosquito repellant.

My second mistake was bringing the camera.

I was out there in prime mosquito territory without defenses, and with electronics to slow me down!

They took full advantage of the situation.

I sustained several bites, and a few minor injuries caused by trying to swat the little devils with my arms full of rhubarb.

Everything looks fresh-washed and bright, though.

Spring was a long time coming, and cool when it arrived, but I have hope that we might still get a growing season in, before autumn’s frost.

I used to make this recipe to serve to my daughters – with milk – for breakfast: sweet, but better than many packaged cereals.

Rhubarb Crisp

  • Combine 1 cup each of flour, brown sugar and oatmeal.
  • Add 1/2 cup cold butter (cut into bits) and 1 large egg; use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the ingredients together.
  • Spread half of this mixture in a buttered baking dish (mine is about 7″ x 12″, but anything close will do).
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon, and a handful of chopped walnuts or almonds, if you like.
  • Cover with four generous cups of cleaned, diced rhubarb.
  • Top with the remaining flour mixture and another sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • Bake at 375 for about an hour, or until rhubarb is soft and juicy and topping is crisp.
  • Serve warm with cold milk, yogurt or ice cream.

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First of June on the Fox Lake Road

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And now here it is, the second of June.

I had barely typed the title and was waiting for the photo to download when my little dog let out a cry. I don’t know what hurt or frightened her, but I picked her up, and she proceeded to fall asleep on my lap.

I have a simple “hunt and peck” method of typing that I developed myself (not that it’s much to brag about, really). I use both hands, and a total of three or four fingers to punch the keys;  I’ve gotten pretty speedy at it.

Take away one hand, though – as when a dog is sleeping soundly with her little head cradled in the crook of my arm – and I’m useless.

I was tired, too.

I decided my “first of June” report could wait another day.

Wanting to capture the feeling of the first of June, I had taken a couple photos in the rain, from the shelter of the doorway. That alone limited the viewpoint. I couldn’t avoid the pallet leaning against the compost barrel or the white plastic five-gallon buckets filled with roots and weeds. On top of that, it was nearly dusk, and my little camera, set to automatically make those decisions, could not decide whether to flash or not. Raindrops on the lens altered the view.

I did not get good photos.

Still, I eschewed nice photos taken last week – in May – as terribly outdated in this ever-changing Spring. I decided that using photographs taken last June would be underhanded deceit, and I refused to resort to it.

I chose the best current photo to post, and started the download. That usually takes about 30 seconds. I had waited more than five minutes  when I decided to take my little dog and go to bed.

Beginning again this morning, that photo still refuses to come up.

Is my computer now making judgments about my photography skills?

Can I write a blog without an illustration?

We’ll see.

Yesterday, the first of June, was also Sunday, which marks the end of my work week in town.

Mondays, I can usually sleep in if I want to. I can write if I choose to. Then, I try to catch up on housework and yard work and laundry. Tuesdays, I devote to paperwork and phone-calls relating to my job regarding invasive species. Wednesday is for finishing up everything I didn’t finish on Monday and Tuesday, plus the day that I go to clean the floors at my aunt’s farmhouse. Evenings almost every day, from dinnertime until bedtime, I usually spend in the studio. Deadlines abound, and I’m usually behind with most of them.

The garden makes me feel anxious this time of year. So much to do! Soon, I know, it will be too late to plant. Soon, I will be too busy for it. The groundwork has to be laid early, for an easy-care growing space, or I will be frustrated all summer long, watching the weeds take over. I’ve been plugging away at it: digging and raking and hoeing, pulling weeds and hauling away debris. I rented a rototiller this year, and hired  a young man to work up the large vegetable area and the weed-choked pathways between the perennial beds.

Yesterday, with rain predicted for the first of the week, I was determined to plant.

I like to have my seeds in before the mosquitoes hatch. I have already missed that deadline this year, and the little vampires are out in force.

Sunday is a short work day; I could be home by three PM.

“My goal,” I told anyone who would listen, “is to get my entire garden planted today, before the rain comes.”

Some said, “You’ll never make it.” Others offered more hope, or at least, “Good luck!”

I went home armed with bug repellant, cedar stakes and garden twine.

I changed into short pants, a T-shirt and slip-on shoes. I put on a layer of sunscreen, then bug repellant oil to my face, ears and scalp, then an all-over spray of the “deep woods” formula.

I moved the outdoor table to my “staging” area. There, unloaded the twine, stakes and bug repellant. I brought the toolbox out, for hammer, tape measure and anything else I might find that I would need. I carried out the garden tote with hand tools and seeds. One big citronella candle, a reference book, a note pad and pencil and a pair of scissors. A big cup of coffee. My large tools leaned against the side, buckets and wheelbarrow at the ready. What else could I possibly need?

Time to get started!

First the rake, to smooth out the soil and remove the roots and weeds that the tiller turned under.

Measure. Stake. Link the stakes with garden twine. Make a furrow. Plant the seeds.

Every now and then a pause…to consult my book on companion planting, to reapply mosquito dope, to jot down notes, lest I forget what is where.

First, three hills of pumpkins against the back fence. The seed was old, so I over-planted, and used an area that wouldn’t take away from my staple vegetables.

Next, a row of onion sets. I planted thickly, as I’ll thin to use through the season, making room for some to grow into “winter-keepers.”

Then rain.

Wait a bit, to see if it will stop. Is it something I can work through?

No.

Let the dogs in first: Clover’s terror of rainstorms makes the little dog nervous, too.

Bring in the toolbox, the garden tote, the books and papers. Make another run to grab the scissors and twine. One more for the coffee…now cold and diluted.

But the rain didn’t last! My heart soared!

Five-thirty…still a couple hours of daylight.

Out with the toolbox; out with the garden tote. Another fogging with mosquito repellent…add a hat…and a face net.

Try again.

A row of collards because they are easier to grow than head cabbage but offer the same flavor for soups.

A row of Swiss chard…because since Aunt Katie taught me how good it is, I can’t ever get enough.

Rake and measure for the next row.

Six-thirty. I looked at two miserable dogs: bored, too warm and bothered by bugs.

“Would you like to take a ride?”

They jumped at the opportunity!

Me, with a thick layer of garden dirt clinging to my skin and clothes, the dogs, with wagging tails and big doggy grins, loaded into the car and headed for water. Windows down for the rain-freshened air and the breeze, two and a half miles to the access point for Fox Lake.

We had the beach to ourselves. I enjoyed the breeze that was keeping biting insects away, the view, and the sight of the dogs in their glory. They explored. They sniffed around the fire pit and picnic area, every beached boat and ‘most every tree in the clearing. They chased a chipmunk and then a black squirrel. They waded in the lake.

When we headed home, tired and happy, I told myself, “I can plant tomorrow.”

It stormed through the night. It has rained already again this morning. Right now, the sun is peaking out. Maybe I can!

And now, finally, here’s that photograph!

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