Tag Archives: water

Our New Lives

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jen first grade

Jennifer (on the far left) with Sister Marie Eugene and her first grade class on the first day of school

The day after my daughters and I arrived on Beaver Island, in the fall of 1978, I had to get my oldest enrolled in the First Grade. The little community school was staffed mainly by Catholic nuns, who stayed in the convent during the school year, but were away when school was not in session. There had been no one there to help me with arrangements during any of our four visits to the island that summer, so it all had to be done right away.

I started with a telephone call to the convent. Sister Mary Rock, the principal, set a time to meet us at the school. Jennifer would be in Sister Marie Eugene’s room. For the first semester, grades one, two and three shared the teacher and the classroom. When the second semester started, the kindergarten class would be added. Though kindergarten was only one semester long, the students performed well. Jennifer had excelled in every area in kindergarten at Schickler School. Here, we found she was two readers behind. She was also going to have to catch up in Spanish, which they didn’t introduce at the kindergarten level in Lapeer!

Finished with the enrollment process, our next stop was the Shamrock Bar and Restaurant. I had secured a job there, and needed to let them know when I’d be available to start work. I was given a couple uniforms – two sizes too large and of horrid mint green polyester – and a schedule. Though I had never been a waitress before, no training was offered. “You’ll be fine,” the owner told me, “just keep smiling!”

Next, we stopped in to see Carol LaFreniere. She had agreed to take care of my girls when I was working and to see that Jen got to and from school safely. Carol was a pleasant woman with a keen sense of humor and three little red-headed children. My girls had met her on one of our summertime visits, so there were no surprises. I shared my schedule with her and discussed any possible problems. We were ready!

At the farmhouse, we walked the fields. I kept the lawn mowed. We ate our meals together at the big table in the kitchen. We washed our clothes with the wringer washer, and hung them out on the clothesline to dry. We read together every evening.

On warm days, we gravitated toward the water, that year more than any other. On the beach at Iron Ore Bay, the day before my husband was set to come to the island, we piled sand into giant letters that spelled out, “Welcome, Daddy!” After he arrived, on one beautiful October day, we went back there for a day-long outing. We brought picnic fare, and built a bonfire to cook fish fillets and vegetables all wrapped in individual foil packets. We wandered the beach, finding shells and stones. When the air, toward evening, was getting cooler, the water felt perfect. We all swam, at dusk, then wrapped up in towels and blankets around the fire. We drove back to the farmhouse under a sky full of stars.

Jennifer did well in the new school. She caught up quickly with the lessons; she made friends. Both Jen and Kate did fine at Carol’s house. My husband started work right away, and seemed to like it. As for me and the Shamrock, well…that’s a story all on its own!

 

Waking Up Slowly

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september2015 101

Usually, I wake up fast.

I have to.

After hitting the “snooze” button several times (which gives me, each time, an unsatisfying extra five minutes of rest), i have to rush out of bed. I drink a big glass of water with a couple small pills, while coffee is brewing. I slip into shoes and take the little dog for a quick stroll around the yard, in whatever combination of sleep clothes I am wearing. I check my Email over my first cup of coffee. I pour a second cup, fill the thermos and sometimes pack a lunch for work, crush the dog’s medicine onto a tablespoon of soft food in her tiny dish (which makes her start anticipating my departure), shower, dress, put the dog’s dish down (“Take good care of things, Rosa Parks,” I tell her) grab up purse, thermos and lunch bag, and head out the door.

Still, I’m always late.

When Denni used to write up the schedule, she’d add “ish” to whatever time I was supposed to be at work. God, I loved her for that! When scheduled for eight-ish, being on time is easy! Now, it states an unwavering eight o’clock…and I almost never make it.

I get right to work, though, when I get there, and that continues through the long day. Yesterday, after my work day at the hardware store, I went to my aunt’s house to get the upstairs ready for company, and do the rugs and floors. I came home and – after walking the dog and making dinner – worked at the computer until ten.

This day, though, is my day off.

No alarm clock! The sun coming through the window roused the little dog this morning, and she roused me. Ear scratches, belly rubs and cuddles for Rosa Parks, then I lay there, with the sun streaming in, to plan my day.

It will be a full day. I have household chores and baking to do. I have to get to the grocery store and the bank. I have writing and editing and at least one interview on the agenda. I will meet the boat this afternoon, as my friend Donna is arriving for a visit. She and I plan to fit lots of walking, reminiscing and catching up into the next couple days. I have a seven PM meeting to attend.

We’ve had a nice little walk, the dog and I, and I just poured my third cup of coffee.

Today, I’m waking up SLOWLY.

Catching Up

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Wasn’t it less than two weeks ago that I mentioned we were getting more snow?

I know it was only last week that I woke up to icy frost covering everything.

Working outside today, it’s hard to believe we so recently left winter weather behind!

 In the woods, the Spring Beauties, Trout Lilies and Trillium are glorious. Ramps are ready to be harvested; morel mushrooms are out there, though I haven’t found any yet. In my flower beds, hyacinth, narcissus and tulips are blooming. Asparagus is poking out of the ground, rhubarb is nearly ready to pull and I made a meal the other day with some kale that made it through the winter under all of that snow.

The birds are singing.  Shrubs and trees are budding. Snakes are sunning themselves on the path. Two big flies are buzzing in my window, for heaven’s sake!

Spring has finally caught up with the calendar!

I’m working at getting caught up, too.

This winter was terribly hard on my house, and on my budget. The cost of heat alone was through the roof, with the combination of a long winter and extreme temperatures. Snow plowing was another major necessary expense. On top of that, I’ve had roof troubles, electrical problems and water issues that are just now getting ironed out.

Because the cold weather kept people away, and inside their warm homes, businesses were struggling, as well. My work hours were cut back or cut out. Even with six jobs, I wasn’t putting in forty hours a week.

When the first of May came around, I had annual car insurance, plus a mortgage payment and one credit card payment due. Telephone, propane and electricity bills were all over due. In addition, I had a bill from the hospital for lab work, from the Medical Center for a blood draw, and from the pharmacy for prescriptions. I had a winter property tax bill that was due on Valentine’s Day.

I had less than three hundred dollars in my bank account.

On top of all that, I had no drainage. When the washing machine emptied, it filled the bathtub; one sink backed up into another; the toilet overflowed. For over a month – waiting for the frost to go out of the ground and the snow-melt that was saturating the field to dry up and the plumbers and septic workers to find time – I’ve been taking military showers, washing clothes at my aunt’s house, doing dishes in a bucket (that had to be then emptied outside)and allowing myself one flush per day.

But the weather is changing.

People are coming out of their homes and looking at Spring projects. Visitors are coming to Beaver Island. Business is picking up. With it, my hours at work are increasing.

Friday evening, money in the bank, I sat down to sort and prioritize bills. I couldn’t catch everything up, but it felt good to make progress.

Yesterday, water issues resolved, I spent the evening doing laundry, housework and dishes, relishing my ability to actually put water down the drain. I took a long, hot shower.

This morning, I took time to read. I truly enjoy all the blogs that I follow, and care about the people that write them. I like to know what’s going on with them, just as I do with family and other friends. With work picking up…and other issues to deal with…I’ve been sorely behind. My comments – when I have stolen the time to read and taken the time to comment – have been speedily composed and extremely brief. I have been very lax in acknowledging comments made to my own blogs. Today, I spent a lovely morning turning that around.

Finally, it seems like I am catching up!

Off-Track

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I told myself I’d publish one essay a week.

From years of experience, I know better than to set my sights too high. Lists are easy for me. Charts are a breeze. I excel at the planning stages of any endeavor. It’s the follow-through that kills me.

So, one post a week, usually on Sunday. Maybe an extra one here and there for a special event, but no pressure.

And here I am, less than three months in, already off track.

I have a good reason for my neglect: I took a vacation!

Six sisters, having survived one of the worst years of our lives, convened in Florida to celebrate our survival, our precious lives and our constant love and respect for each other. We laughed and cried and walked and played together. We relived old memories and made lots of new ones. We loved the sand, the sun, the water, and each others company. We filled every single day with wonderful experiences! It was a time to catch up with each other, and a time to catch our breath. It was healthy and healing and just plain fun!

I was away from my computer for ten days, from Friday through the following Sunday. During that time, six of us shared one computer. Two of the six were handling business issues via the internet; one of the six was looking for housing and employment; all of us were using the computer to keep up with family back home.

So, here I am, off-track, but still glowing from the experience!Image

In order from oldest to youngest (as we have posed for pictures all of our lives!), my sisters and I: from the left, Brenda, Cindy, Cheryl, Nita, Robin and Amy.