Tag Archives: walk

Re-Set

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Today is that day! One extra hour! So – though I haven’t turned my clocks back yet, and they all tell me I should have been at work fifteen minutes ago (per usual on my consistently late workday mornings) – I actually have fifteen minutes to sit here with coffee and oatmeal before getting dressed! Hurray!

The oatmeal is another form of re-set, starting my day with a healthy breakfast. It seems I always start the week strong, with the diet and exercise regimen I’ve been working on, but fizzle out by week’s end. Sunday is always a new beginning. Oatmeal this morning, a good walk this afternoon…and I’ll start to feel back on track.

At work, I have tackled the nearly overwhelming job of re-setting the housewares department. “Housewares” is a side room attached to the hardware store that carries our fishing, hunting and camping supplies, and souvenir sweatshirts, T-shirts and hats in addition to a long list of actual housewares: vacuum cleaners and accessories; shower and grooming supplies; clocks; frames; candles; curtain rods, shades and blinds; an extensive canning and freezing section; laundry and ironing supplies; trash cans and totes; kitchen items including pots and pans, dishes, glassware and baking dishes…and all the serving tools to go with them…and a large collection of small appliances!

The last woman that tackled this area decided to leave the job at the hardware store, leave the island and go back to school. I can’t help but wonder if the housewares department didn’t weigh on that decision! In any case, the area was left only partially done – and not to my sensibilities in any case – which further complicated the task.

I’ve been mulling it over for weeks now, and finally took it on. Two days in, it’s going well!

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It makes me inordinately happy just to see all of the shelves clean and adjusted to all the same levels, to have things organized by purpose (baking, food prep, clean up)and presented attractively. I always have loved to sort and rearrange things.

And finally, the “re-set” that I woke up to today: the leaves are gone from the trees!

Sometimes that might seem to be a sad thing…it marks an ending, and hints at Winter.

This morning, with no leaves obstructing the view of a beautiful sky, it seemed like something to celebrate!

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More Snow

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Once again, our attempts at a good walk have been foiled.

The dogs are bored, and I’m getting discouraged.

Clover and I went down the road for our walk a few times, when the extreme cold or ice didn’t stop us. Guilt at leaving the little dog at home was the only damper on our enjoyment. A bit of a thaw allowed the three of us to get out together to walk the old logging road into the woods. Still, not close to our usual routine for frequency or distance.

Now, we have more snow!

In other years, there has been a long dry spell between the end of hunting season and the beginning of lasting cold weather. Time that we could walk through the woods, keeping grasses and snow trampled down. Time to reacquaint ourselves with the path, the landmarks and wildlife along the way.  Time to get accustomed to our route so that we’d know the way when it was buried in deep snow.

Not this year!

In other winters, the snow has come down wet and heavy, forming a nice crust that would carry my weight. Then, we could leave the path. We could explore deep into the woods, knowing we’d have our footprints in the snow to lead us back home.

Not this year. Not yet, anyway.

We had our first snow early, and it hasn’t let up. Five or six inches at a time it has fallen, accumulating quickly into a deep landscape of fluffy snow. So light, snowmobiles could not go out on it; so soft, it would not carry my weight, with or without snowshoes. I don’t think an entire week has gone by without a fresh layer of snow being added to what is already here.

In years gone by, one companion was my old dog, Maggie. Maggie loved a good walk! Part Malamute, part Lab, she was undaunted by the weather. Cold didn’t bother her. Though she had bad hips, she could “swim” her way through snow that seemed impassable to the rest of us. She would lead the way. Clover and I would follow.

Not anymore. Maggie left this world a few years ago. Her spot has been filled with Rosa Parks.

Rosa has much the same coloring as Maggie. She is similar in shape, carrying a bit of extra weight around the middle. She has the same bossy attitude and snippy temperament. She even has similar health and food issues! However, she is considerably shorter and one hundred pounds lighter than Maggie was. This winter, that’s a definite consideration!

Clover is feeling her age, of late. She doesn’t have the endurance or stamina she exhibited even a year ago.

Me, too! Tramping through deep snow is hard on my knees and exhausting all around. I can go a short distance, but long walks are out of the question in this weather.

This winter has slowed all three of us down!

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Presentable?

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There were a few – not many, but a few – times in my life when I checked the mirror to see just how good I looked.

In my sixty-one years, there have been a handful of instances where everything that I have to offer synchronized with the style of the moment…and I looked really good!

Kindergarten, no. Oxford-style saddle shoes emphasized my tiny ankles, skinny legs and knobby knees. White ankle socks continually migrated down into the shoes. Hand-me-down dresses were just a bit long for my small frame and I can remember having to frequently pull my underpants from where they’d wedged.

Most of my childhood followed that pattern.

There was a time, though, around 1969, when Twiggy was modelling mini-skirts and my skinny frame seemed to suit the styles.

There were days in the seventies where – in my worn jeans and tennis shoes – I felt very “of the moment.”

There was a brief period in the late eighties when slouchy socks, big sweaters and big hair made me look almost fashionable.

Most of my life, though, that quick look in the mirror was just to make sure I was “presentable.”

“Is my hair just awful?”

“Does this outfit make me look short?”

“Will the jacket hide my belly-fat, or make me look dwarf-like?”

These are the types of questions I would ask myself before heading out the door.

This morning, getting ready to walk the dogs, I put clothes right over the long underwear I had slept in: a paint spattered, long-sleeved black T-shirt, gray sweat pants purchased from the Re-Sale Shop and scissored to the correct length and a navy blue sweatshirt, inside-out. I added wooly socks in an off-white shade and faded red athletic shoes. Over that, the magenta parka that has seen better days. The front is stained and the zipper doesn’t grip, but it’s still warm. I pulled up the hood. Added gloves: one red, one blue.

I stole a glance in the mirror before I left the house.

This is November, after all.

Though – with their red plaid or blaze orange combined with “camo” and Carhartt‘s – they are not known for their fashion sense, there are hunters in these woods.

There is a possibility that I could encounter someone, while out on my walk.

I wasn’t pausing to appreciate my good appearance.

I wasn’t making sure I was presentable.

What I said out loud as I stopped to check the mirror was, “Okay, let’s see how bad I look…”

Finding Fall’s Rhythm

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This morning, I threw on warm, loose clothing and filled my lidded coffee cup. I added a tattered wooly blazer and a black felt hat with a large, orange silk flower in the rim. I put the camera in my pocket, and set out for a walk.

The dogs were stunned!

In the last several weeks, every invitation for a walk has turned into a disappointment to them.

Summer traffic discouraged walks down the Fox Lake Road.

Any off-road walks were necessarily abbreviated because of the mosquitoes.

All excursions were limited by my schedule.

There were days when, having arrived home late, I tried to convince them that a brisk jog two or three times around the perimeter of the yard counts as a walk.

Or a few trips back and forth to bring groceries, mail and other supplies in from the car.

A wander through the garden to pick what’s ripe. Perhaps followed by the added bonus of pulling weeds and dead stalks, and adding those items to the compost.

Most often lately (and most convincing, I might add) it has been a long meander through the berry brambles, in the woods and fields that surround my house.

In my busy end-of summer mode, multi-tasking was key.

The dogs weren’t fooled.

They know that when I have my bucket and head for the blackberry bushes, they are getting a “wander” not a “walk”. They follow for a while, then find a patch of sunshine for a nap.

They know a true squirrel-chasing, smelling-every-new-thing, heart-racing walk when they get one.

This morning they got one.

We headed out the back door, across the side yard and through the field to the old logging trail. Dodging mud puddles, we turned left toward the deep woods. We did not turn back at the moss-covered stone that marks the back of my property. The cool morning had at least temporarily quieted the insect population. We took the curve to the right.

Past the little deer blind, tucked into the woods.

Past the cut logs and treetops where Dusty has been cutting firewood.

Around the next bend to the left, then several curves more before we came to the open area with the little hunting camp.

Just beyond the building is a pond, almost completely hidden by the tall grasses this time of year. If we get close, and wait, I’ll sometimes be rewarded by the sight of a Sandhill Crane. A pair of them have nested there for several years now.

The dogs generally find something wet and mucky to roll in, and consider that their own reward.

They were thrilled for the long outing!

They didn’t realize I had more on my agenda than their good jaunt.

I was scouting the path to make sure it was passable for my planned hike with my friend, Judi, this afternoon.

I was gathering ferns and grasses to try out an idea for a children’s art project.

I was taking photos of this lovely Fall day.

Finally, now that cool weather has made the woods more accessible, I was checking to see if the blackberries were producing well out beyond my patch.

This time, happily, they were duped. They thought the walk was for their benefit alone.

This afternoon, with Judi, we retraced our steps for another pleasant walk.

Invigorating, relaxing, beautiful.

Just exactly what we’ve been waiting for, here on the Fox lake Road.

UNemployed

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Well, let’s see…after two days of high drama at work  (none of which directly affected me, but anyone that works knows everyone is affected), I drove home Wednesday evening, took the dogs for an especially long and thoughtful walk, sat down at the computer and composed a letter, quitting my job. After considerable pacing and arguing with myself, I hit the “send” button.

There.

Done.

I slept like a baby that night.

I had stood up for myself, and my friend. I had spoken my mind in a way I am often too timid to do, but not unkindly.

I woke Thursday morning with the world laid before me, pregnant with possibility.

A morning to linger over coffee and then take a long walk.

A day to give the house a thorough cleaning: I tell you, if my floors had eyebrows (which they probably could have fashioned from the dust that was accumulating), the eyebrows would have been raised in wonderment at the attention they were given that day. I actually removed the sofa cushions to vacuum underneath; under normal circumstances, that rarely happens twice in a season! I cleared the dining room table, which had been looking quite a bit like a work station, and gave it a bouquet of peonies to celebrate.

A day for getting work done outside: I spent actual hours digging and weeding in the garden, trimming around the stones and trees in the yard, picking strawberries and watering everything.

A day for getting caught up on things in the studio: I assembled frames and unwrapped plexiglass. I matted and mounted new work. I knocked down and cleared out a bunch of cardboard shipping boxes. I finished writing out a plan for Drawing Classes to be offered this summer.

A day to spend time with my dogs: I thawed a packet of sliced turkey and worked on some of the training methods I’ve learned from watching “Dogs in the City”. It turns out, those television dogs are faster learners than mine…or maybe there’s some editing involved. We fit in three long walks, and one nice afternoon nap.

A time for contemplating my future: I balanced my checkbook and went through my bills. I checked the “forum” for job possibilities. I made a few lists, and a few calls.

In addition to all this, the man came out to do my roof repair. He even fixed my screen door while he was here!

I fixed myself a simple meal and ate at the dining room table with a cloth napkin, a lit candle and a glass of wine.

It was a wonderful day, with not one moment of regret.

Until bedtime.

When my head hit the pillow, my heart started pounding.

What had I done???

I had placed my principles above my security.

That would be fine, if I were independently wealthy…or even had a reasonably-sized savings account…or if I had a husband to help support the house-hold…or had another job in the works…

Principles are fine, but they don’t pay the bills.

What followed was not pretty.

Six hours of tossing and turning, pacing the floor and self-recrimination. I wavered between extreme worry and all-out panic. I cried once. I fell asleep, finally, at five A.M.

Yesterday, I picked myself up after two hours rest and gave myself a good “talking-to”. I am a good worker. I have skills that are useful. I am not too old to be of service.

I started making – and taking – calls. By early afternoon, I had a job.

And my unending gratitude goes out to the universe.

Unemployment does not sit well with me for long.

Happy Easter!

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I’m doing quite a bit of juggling today, to get everything done that I want to do.

I started the day with a very pleasant, early phone call from my grandson, Tommy. Before I got off the phone, I had also spoke to Madeline, Brandon, and my daughter, Kate. The younger ones were wide awake and enthusiastic;Brandon and Kate a little less so.

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By the time our very entertaining conversations ended, the dogs were more than ready for their first walk, so we headed out. We got a bit of rain last night, so everything is looking fresh. The trout lilies, spring beauties and Dutchman’s breeches are showing their leaves in the woods…no flowers yet, though. The wild leeks are the brightest green; they will be ready soon.

I’m trying to get some garden clean up done every single day, no matter what, so that was next. I made good progress clearing grass, leaves and roots from the beds where I’ll put my tomato plants. Clover relaxed…

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in the back flower bed, while little Rosa Parks…

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dug this gigantic hole:

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Almost eighteen inches deep, no kidding!

I’d saved last night’s dishes, because nothing cleans the garden grime out from under the fingernails like a sink of soapy water, and that was my next job.

Remembering Easters with my Mom and Dad, I decided to do up a small batch of onion-skin dyed eggs. I only had a few onions (as kids, we used to save the onion skins for months ahead, to be ready for Easter!), so I used a small pan and did only six eggs. I put the onion skins in first – just the brown, papery covering – and covered them with cold water, then nestled the raw eggs into the pan, and hard-boiled them as usual.

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The finished results are quite pretty, I think.

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Now, I’m making dinner rolls and dessert to bring to Aunt Katie’s house at dinnertime. The milk is scalded, butter and sugar have been added, and it should be just about cool enough now to combine with flour, salt and yeast. While my dough is rising, I’ll be peeling apples for pie.

Happy Easter!

Looking Up

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I look down when I walk.

I like the patterns of leaves and pine needles strewn across the path.

I enjoy seeing the way my footprints and the paw-prints of my two dogs mingle with the heart-shaped hoof prints left by deer, and the large twiggy prints left by ranging flocks of wild turkeys, on the road created by the logging trucks that cuts through the woods behind my house.

I like to watch the dogs as they, by turns, walk purposefully forward as if headed for a specific destination, meander – nose to the ground – investigating what went this way before us, and run, full out, after a chipmunk or robin or squirrel.

Out of necessity, I watch the ground for safety’s sake. In the winter, ice; this time of year, it’s holes in the road or wind-fall branches or frost-heaved rocks that could trip me up.

So it happened that I was almost a mile from home this morning, before I noticed the sky. Such a beautiful, intense blue! How could I have missed it?

More important, what if I had missed it?

How many things go unnoticed because I’m looking down when I should be looking up? And what a metaphor for life!

It’s a fine thing to be well-grounded, but I intend to spend more time looking up!

 

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