Monday, August 3, 2020

Postcards from the Lake: Summertime and the Living Is Easy

It's hard to believe it is August and that I've been pretty much isolated from the world as I used to know it since mid-March. My mask hangs around my neck daily with another in my purse, along with the surgical gloves I wear if I absolutely must go anywhere. Hand sanitizer is in the pocket or my purse. I'm almost out of my favorite soap but I have plenty of back-up with others equally nice.

Survival Prescription: Find a bench in a garden. Sit. Take it in. Repeat. Endlessly.

I don't watch as much news up here as at home but I still follow it carefully. I check facts regularly with several online sources, aghast at the volume of misinformation that is being spread by those who find the virus a hoax and the anti-Fauci conspiracy theories. (I suggest everyone do the same, whatever your political persuasion -- there are loads of conspiracy theories out there and believing some of them can be just plain dangerous; others are just lies.)

Michigan is one of the states "doing better," thanks to our terrific governor, but it doesn't mean our people are any less stupid or selfish than anyplace else and it's likely she will be tightening some of the restrictions that had been eased up. Fortunately. I am afraid that for many, it will take someone close to them dying or being on a ventilator or knowing a healthcare worker in an area that is hard hit to realize this is real and to get over their "I won't wear a mask, it steps on my freedom" arrogance. Testing positive won't be enough for them. It will take something far more tragic and extreme.

Or, as Rick says, "America -- Live Free and Die." Rick has a good turn of phrase.  He was talking about the "United States of aMErica" three years ago and long before I saw it in any kind of political cartoon.

Lake hydrangea -- small blooms, not made better by Japanese Beetles. Not sure the variety.

Before I returned to the lake, I had doc appointments and asked them all their take on this and they said it is as real as it gets and will probably last a good year or more from now, especially the way the U.S. is treating it. That doesn't mean it won't be back after a year but by then there might be vaccines that are tested, FDA verified and reasonably effective -- if taken. Stats stats seem to indicate right now that these odds are around 50/50.  And it will only happen if people are still behaving. Hello, frat party, 50th anniversary and gala event.

Isolating at the lake hardly feels like isolating. It is my typical summer. But instead of having people stop by or inviting them in, we stay on the porch or outside. Bring your own food if you are coming to eat. Actually, I kind of like that -- it makes things much easier! The neighbors are on their deck and we're on the porch and can easily chat.

Days seem to have an even keel to them, a routine of sorts, that always starts with feeding Herself (Lizzie is very good about not waking the human but once my feet touch the floor she doesn't stop nagging till food is down). Then it's on to computer things and eventually breakfast. There is always time for reading and I've done a lot. On days when it is too windy paint to on the porch there might even be a bit more.

Lizzie would prefer we not put the ottoman back on the ground after the rain. She loves her high perch.

Most days include a walk or a swim. And my one excursion out is to the cherry lady who has those fabulous Traverse City/Michigan sweet black cherries, on which we gorge ourselves shamelessly.

We've had a lot of hard rain and wind this summer and the weeds are growing back on the beach. The water table is higher than usual and that's not helping matters. I sprayed them down with my horticultural vinegar when the wind eases, and in a few days after, pulling them out of the beach with my "claw" tool. Best garden tool ever. One of my two "good" neighbors is going to run his tractor through again to help pull up the roots after the vinegar takes hold.

Meanwhile, the "bad" neighbor has become more irritating, shooting off one of those flash cannons if he sees the geese come on the beach I have not once, in three years, seen them sit on. The cannon makes a super loud bang, worse than fireworks, and a big flash, sending the geese scattering. I know -- geese can make a terrible mess. But all it takes to move them along is to just walk out toward the beach and they fly off in a flurry.

The rains have brought interesting skies. I promise, the photo below did not have a filter on it. It's very odd, though.

When I see the rain start to move across the lake, I grab up the chair cushions and stack the ottoman to avoid it getting too wet. It's a fast moving game. The sunsets can be fabulous after or right before the storm or just so-so. I thought this one was interesting. It has nothing to do with the one above, a different evening entirely.

Rick has been here a lot this summer, which is great. With our new and more reliable internet, he can work from the cottage. We go home to tend things and then eagerly return. That means the house often smells like baking bread.

As the day closes, the moon begins to pop, even though the sky is still blue.

We'll enjoy a game of Scrabble as we look at the beautiful sunsets, which vary in their intensity.

And watch the geese go by in twilight -- sometimes in a large pack, sometimes small.

I don't for a nanosecond forget that I am very lucky to be able to be here and every morning when I wake up, before I get out of bed, I thank my parents for having bought this place after my grandparents died. Sometimes it's a challenge to keep things up and handle taxes but it's worth it and this year, more than ever.

When all is said and done, this one always has something to say about it.

Me? I'll take the peace and quiet of a summer evening.

Those days and nights go by so fast.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Postcards from the Lake: More from the Art Table

Back at the art table and happily playing with my palette and brushes.

That starter above (you can see the photo I was working with on the left) ended up looking like this.

I redid a Cotswold cottage I painted quite awhile ago to see if I was any better. This is the old version...

  ...this is the new. I don't know if one is better or worse than the other -- just different, although I do need to work a bit on the window which looks a little crooked!

In my Paris in July post I told you I'd recently done a very ugly Notre Dame. I tried to fix it and I don't think it can be done, although I'll give another pass to the wall and water and maybe try some pen and ink detailing to see if I can help it out a bit. Then I'll move on. This may well be cut into salvageable sections for bookmarks.

The fact is, not everything "works." Sometimes they can be fixed, sometimes not. For example, in the iris below I'm not sure I like how the background paint looks when it nears the actual image. And I'm not quite sure what to do about that than just keep practicing.

I have been trying to work on sky and water. Here's another from a quick sketch in my book. I'm liking the sky, the water -- not so much.

My fun project has been working on some Christmas cards for a friend. This was the prototype she chose for a tree. The finished ones will have a star at the top. They've been loads of fun to do and I will share some of the finished ones, along with another group of cards she ordered soon!

Meanwhile, just keep practicing!

Sharing with:     Pink Saturday      /     Tuesday Turn About    

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Postcards from the Lake: On My Walk

I have minimal gardening skills. That's one reason why when I take my up-north walks, I enjoy seeing what people have done to their yards and the wildflowers and blooms along the way.  So, walk with me. We'll start near the cottage where a lovely birch helps frame some bright orange lilies.

And of course, there is that favorite of mine, Queen Anne's Lace. Their heads are big and beautiful!

And never forget to look down! These bright blooms are pretty much flat to the ground.

This home has gorgeous hydrangeas.

Rounding the bend, another grove of birch trees. They are truly my favorites.

A branch has fallen from one of them.

A closer look reveals interesting details.

This person has done a wonderful job with a tidy hosta garden.

I'll spend the most time with Ean's garden. He lives two doors down from my cousin's cottage.

Ean loves trees, which is yet another reason to love Ean. He's put in these beautiful arbor vitae and they make the area cool and protected.

He also has a whimsical twist and I love his garden ornamentation. Just enough. Not too much.

I love these. I don't know what they are but they're so bright and beautiful -- and grow well in shade.

A closer look. Any ideas, gardening friends?

On occasion, the perfect sunny face greets me!

And back to the beach where we find the knapweed! Thanks, Jenny Woolf, for the ID!

I leave you with another look at the lilies.

They make me smile.

Sharing with:     Pink Saturday      /     Tuesday Turn About    

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Paris in July: Notre Dame -- Good News

None of us who love Paris will forget the tragic fire that took down much of the famed church, including its elegant spire.

When that fell, live on television, people standing, watching the television in the restaurant we were eating collectively gasped.

And even more wondered -- what happens next?

After the fall, there was much discussion. Could the church be saved? (Quite possibly, with much work and expense.)

Were most of the treasures removed? (Yes, including the remarkable Rose Window.)

Would the spire be rebuilt as it was or would a new, more contemporary design take its place?

That question was up for grabs until just recently.

The original spire will be duplicated. This interesting article highlights the history of the cathedral post-fire and announces plans for the new spire.

There is good reason to rejoice.

This post is part of Paris in July, a blog event hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea. Check the lnk for other posts related to Paris and French books, film, travel, music, food and more.

Sharing with:     Paris in July    

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Postcards from the Lake: Butterflies and Birds!

I have to admit, it's lovely to wake up each morning and nature is right outside the front door. Start with a beautiful view...

...then add a duck (or two of more!)

The Quackles (family of seven) are getting quite big. I have noticed a second family, the Duckles (family of eight), but they are less frequent visitors.

The Quackles, meanwhile, seem very content to swim in front of the house and settle on the beach.

Mrs. Q is continually vigilant. She knows there is a bald eagle on the lake and she's going to be quite sure nothing happens to her brood.

And when she says "March," off they go.

Here are a couple photos of the Duckles, elusive as they are.

 They stay close together and are smaller than the Quackles, but getting bigger every day.

We've had some major storms and on this day they sat peacefully on the beach as the dark clouds and thunder rolled in, along with the heavy winds (see the whitecaps on our small lake?).

I've also often been accompanied by this beautiful strain of dragonflies when I go out on my floatie. They hover closely, never bite and just glow a wonderful shade of blue.

There seem to be fewer seagulls this year (even in the grocery store parking lot).

But when they fly, they look so very elegant!

You saw my beautiful beach butterfly in a recent post.

I couldn't resist sharing a couple more images!

These two flickers seem to hang out quite a bit together.

And this is the juvenile -- almost as big as mom and dad!

When evening comes, the curtain comes down with the sunset a grand finale.

Life is wonderful at the lake.

Even if you're a cat! (One of nature's greatest creations!)

Sharing with:     Saturday's Critters     

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