Tag Archives: work

Not Quite

Standard

IMG_1153

This is the season, it seems, for qualifiers. My birthday is almost here; I am not quite sixty-five years old. Summer is nearly over; fall is coming soon. It’s that “in-between” stage that begs for evaluation and invites plans. That’s where I’m at right now.

Summer. It came in slowly, with cold, rainy days through most of June. Even when it warmed up, it seems the hot summer days were often balanced by chilly nights or cool, windy or rainy days. Mosquitoes were never unbearable. I almost always slept under a light comforter.

I spent the early part of the summer getting my back yard reconfigured and my garden planted. Though it was a lot of work, it has pretty much taken care of itself since then, and has been a source of satisfaction and fresh vegetables for weeks now.

Most of my flowers are finished blooming, though the ones that are still offering their bright faces are more appreciated than ever. The low hedge of  “Autumn Joy” Sedum is healthy and bright green. Before long, its flat flower heads will be glorious bronze tones.

Aunt Katie’s illness dominated the summer season. When she was home, the goal was to buoy her spirits; the wish was to see her improve. “How are you today?” I’d ask whenever I stopped. “Not good,” she’d answer, discouraged. “I wish I had a different answer,” she once said, vehemently.

I brought her a large potted tomato plant, to grow on her kitchen porch. My cousin Bob planted a tub of salad greens just outside the door. His sheep grazed just behind the farmhouse. She watched them from her kitchen stool as he did her breathing treatment.

Morning Glories came up from seeds dropped in other years. Aunt Katie was never well enough to put up the rows of string for the flowers to climb; I never thought to do it for her. Now, in August, the vigorous  vines have tumbled over and formed a thick mound, reminding me of my neglect.

When she was getting care on the mainland – between two hospitals and a rehabilitation facility – telephone calls became a focus. There were calls to Aunt Katie’s room and to her cell phone. There were calls to the keyboard and to the nurse’s station. Because she was often out of her room, away from her phone, or unable to talk because something else was going on, and because the nurse’s station was poorly staffed in the evenings when I was able to call, I was usually frustrated. When I was able to get updates, I called family members downstate to spread the word. My cousin Keith changed his route to be able to visit with Aunt Katie on the way to and from his cabin. His phone calls were highly anticipated and welcome for the good information on her spirits and her progress.

When Aunt Katie finally came home, she knew – as we did – that she was coming home to die. Friends started calling, and stopping by. Dishes of food were dropped off. Family members altered their summer plans to get to the island. Though she was clearly weak, struggling, and in decline, I thought she’d be with us for a while. I packed a week’s worth of clothes, to bring to her house, and anticipated being there a month or more. That was not the way it worked out.

On, then to the services to honor my aunt. Bringing together many of her nieces and nephews and their families, islanders who knew and respected her and the contributions she made in her long life, and friends who wept openly at the dear heart we had lost. It was exhausting…and wonderful…as many events like this are, but a fitting send-off to a wonderful woman who has been a big part of my life.

The funeral was a sad start to the planned, week-long vacation on Beaver Island for my sisters and their families. Still, good company, fine weather, and lots of little children helped to bring perspective and joy to a transitional time. For me, especially this year, their presence was a blessing.

Work was the second major focus of my summer. Extended hours at the hardware store made for long, busy days. In addition, there was writing, event-covering and business to be taken care of for the news-magazine. Getting artwork where it needed to be – and myself where I was supposed to be to promote it – was another pull in yet another direction.

Though my diet and exercise plan went out the window less than two months into the New Year, I have somehow managed to lose about eight pounds. Walks with the dogs went from daily – as promised – to a couple times a week, as time and weather allowed. Our rides down to the Fox Lake were often foiled by other people and dogs on the shore. I only made it to the Lake Michigan beach a couple times this summer, and I never went swimming. That should be considered at least a venial sin in the evaluation of both my summer and my 65th year. I live on an island, for God’s sake!

So, as I look back over the year, and the summer season, I’d have to say it was not quite as successful as I would have liked. That’s okay. There was joy, and progress, and change. It was not quite a failure, either!

 

Pushing On

Standard

IMG_0690

So, what is it now, that has kept me away from writing? I’ve been busy, sure, and tired. There have been a lot of things going on here on Beaver Island, and in my life.

Saturday, for instance. I worked at the hardware store. It was our busiest – by far – day this year. The side of the building has become a nursery, with stacking shelves arranged under a sun shade for perennials and shrubs, annual flowers, vegetables and herbs. Folks were flocking in to our store for necessities for lawn and garden plans as well as all the usual painting, plumbing and home repair projects.

I had started the day loading art work in the car, so that I could drop it off at the Beaver Island Gallery, on its first open day of the season. I did that in the early afternoon, just before running out to attend the memorial gathering to honor my friend, Roy. I then ran to the point, to attend the annual shareholder’s meeting of the Beaver Island Boat Company. Then, back to the hardware to finish my work day.

Home, I changed clothes, doused up with mosquito repellent, and headed for the garden. I’ve been forcing myself to get in at least an hour of work out there every evening, no matter how much I want to collapse. Saturday, I raked, dug stubborn weeds, hauled away another wheelbarrow full of roots, and assembled a raised bed for my strawberry plants, before coming in to shower. I ate dinner in my pajamas, and was in bed not long after.

In addition to long and busy days, I’ve had a few side-line inconveniences that have further complicated my life. I picked up a tick, while working in the garden, and didn’t discover it until it was firmly embedded in the skin of my inner thigh, and fairly well engorged with my blood. That was the most traumatic (and gross!) thing that has happened to me in quite some time! A trip to the medical center, a dose of strong antibiotic, a few instructions about prevention and how to handle it should it ever happen again, and I was on my way…though the nightmares continue.

My car is in the shop for repairs. That has caused me to be using vehicles that I’m not familiar with (Oh! No cup-holder? And where is the knob for windshield wipers?), changing one car for another, begging rides from here to there, and sometimes walking. It’s not a big deal. It will all be over soon, and I’ll have my own dusty, messy car back, with a nice fat repair bill to boot!

Next, my little dog, having worked herself into a frenzy over having her nails clipped, managed to get out of my grasp…and bit me. By the next morning, redness and swelling made another trip to the medical center necessary. “It was an accident,” I explained, “she was trying to bite the vet.” My tetanus vaccine was still good; another dose of antibiotic, and I was finished. All dog bites have to be reported, so next came a visit from the deputy. My dogs are up to date on all of their shots. Still, according to standard protocol, Rosa Parks had to be placed in quarantine (“House arrest,” I told her) for ten days. No rides to visit the inland lakes; no walks down the Fox Lake Road. “That’s what you get,” I tell her, without sympathy.

Yesterday, it rained. That put all yard work on hold. After coming home from work, I took a lovely, long nap. I got up in time to feed the dogs and make my own supper, then went shortly right back to bed. Today, I feel rested, and like I just might make it. The sun is shining. The grass is desperately in need of being cut. The dogs and I could all use some outdoor time. That’s where I’ll be, then, for the rest of this day.

 

Long Day, Late Night…

Standard

img_3662

Yesterday was a long, hectic day at work. Freight days always are. Even when there are few customers needing service, there is plenty to do. Often, it involves heavy lifting, climbing up and down ladders and running up and down the aisles. There were plenty of customers needing service yesterday, too: keys to make, pipe and conduit to retrieve from the high storage area and paint to mix. It kept me busy!

Near the end of the day, I got a dinner invitation. As I’d been eating nothing but chocolate-butterscotch treats all day, it was an invitation I couldn’t refuse. I rushed home after work to pick up the dogs, who were invited, too, their dinner, my bread dough and baking stone, and headed out again.

To complement my friend’s offerings of an asparagus and pasta salad flavored with yogurt and lemon, homemade tabouli  and hummus, I made fresh pita bread. We also had wine. And ice cream. We watched an excellent movie. The dogs chased chipmunks. It was a lovely evening!

I am not, however, accustomed to having anything to do outside of my own home after work. A dinner out is a big change in my routine. Even if I get home at a decent hour, which I did, it takes a while to wind down after a night out. So, sleep came late. Morning comes early, always, no matter what. And work is waiting. So there you have it.

Asleep, Awake

Standard

august2016-050

My mind works overtime. When I’m trying to fall asleep, no matter how exhausted my body is, my brain is busy. I run through all the things I should have done and yet need to do. I make lists and plan schedules. I have imaginary conversations. Busy, busy, busy. Until I get out of bed, determined to accomplish enough of something to put my mind to rest.

Then, I’m tired. I can’t think. I can’t focus. I am overwhelmed by the number of things there are to do. Impossible to tackle them all. What one thing can I get done, so that tomorrow, there will be one less thing to face? What will be enough of an accomplishment to make up for the sleep I’m missing? These are my nights.

Sometimes, with a cup of herbal tea, I do some writing. Maybe just a list to help organize my thoughts, or a bit of correspondence, always overdue. Sometimes I’ll tackle a news article, an essay or a blog post, though I’m rarely an inspired writer in the middle of the night. Other times I’ll take on bookkeeping. I may balance my checkbook and pay some bills, or work on the never-ending record-keeping that goes along with the Beacon. Sometimes, I clean.

Too often, I turn on the computer under the guise of working, and instead just waste time. I’ll check the news, then the weather. I’ll see what’s going on in social media. I’ll play a computer game…or two. No matter how unproductively I spend my time, though, it is still not actual rest. The next morning I am tired, with little to show for my lack of sleep.

At night, I am worrying and working over in my mind all the things I need to do. In the daytime, I am fog-brained, sluggish and less productive than I could be if I had gotten a good night’s sleep. This is my dilemma.

 

Running Late

Standard

june2016 215

Yesterday was a long, hard day.

At the hardware store, I was up and down stairs, on and off of ladders, and carrying heavy gallon jugs from the back of the store to the front. I took a break in order to run down to the Community Center to do a recording. Home in the evening, I wandered the property to get the ripe blackberries. By the time I was ready to come in for the night, I was exhausted. Too tired to read, to write, or even to think.

In case today goes the same way, I thought I’d better get my writing done before I leave the house. Still, there’s hardly time. After getting up three times in the night to let the dogs out, I hit the snooze button on the alarm clock a couple times too often this morning. I wandered around the yard with the dogs while the coffee brewed. I showered as soon as I came in. I sat down here with my first cup of coffee, intending to write. I had a few ideas to choose between and expand on…until I noticed the time.

Already, I should be in my car and on my way to town. Instead, I am sitting here in my bathrobe. I still have to dress, pack a lunch, pack a thermos, prepare my little dog’s medicine, and give both dogs a treat before heading out the door.

I’m late. Again!

Just This One

Standard

july2016 367

Just this one. I’ve been saying that to myself lately. Maybe I always have.

I remember saying to my children, “Just this one game, and then it will be time to get ready for bed.”

To myself, “Okay, finish just one chapter, then put the book down.”

Or, “Finish just this one job, then take a walk.”

Lately, the bargains made are more demanding of my time and energy, the rewards less, you know…rewarding.

“Just work through this one night, and get that article finished, then you’ll be able to concentrate on the next one.”

“Just make it through this one day with no sleep, and you can go to bed on time tomorrow.”

“Just work all the extra hours you can, this one season, and get caught up – or at least almost caught up, if nothing else falls apart – by summer’s end.”

“Just make it through this one crazy summer, and things will slow down in the fall.”

“Just put off doing this one good thing (sunset, walk, visit, event, entire season of gardening…) and maybe you’ll get another opportunity.”

“Post just this one lousy blog, even if you have nothing good to say, and maybe it will come easier tomorrow.”

Always one to strike a bargain, that’s me.

 

Rain

Standard

august2014 083

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!