I hope you are in the mood for big birds and creatures because we're off to an amazing day at the Ditch!
So, settle back, have a seat on the bench and enjoy.
There's something about fall that calls for a road trip. And even though it wasn't what I call "full fall" (in fact, it had only just begun), our road trip to Toledo was still filled with loads of fun and yes, a little bit of color!
Sometimes there isn't a lot of new to share, especially since I'm trying to lay a little low these days. So I figured I'd look back on the old! Old photos, that is! I thought maybe I'd find a bit of inspiration in some images from years past. And, I thought I'd throw out a recipe or two!
Well, we can't say we aren't well into September, only a few days from "official" fall. Time is flying and I'm -- not!
I did get a very few fall things in the house. Here's a peek. I'll start to bring up Halloween the first week of October unless we are able to go to the lake that week, in which case I'll probably bring a few things up before I go.
I feel half-in, half-out these days. Home most of the time but still anticipating weekends or even a few extra days at the lake. I find it odd to be home, to be honest. When I turned on the local news, I realized how out of touch I've been for two months. Not that I've missed much, but more of a feeling like, "So, this is where I really live."
To top it off, I haven't had the energy to dig into "projects" and the fact that nothing much is getting done frustrates me. Now, whose fault is that?
For weeks I thought August was a slow reading month. Too much computer time? But somehow I finished seven books and they were all good ones. In this month's reviews, series mysteries by Donna Leon, Martin Walker, Mark Pryor and Ann Cleeves; as novel by Jodi Picoult; a delightful memoir of actor Martin Short, and a remarkable, wee book that is timely and important. (And yes, there is a drawing in this post. Read on!)
September tends to be a favorite month for many reasons, but it also has its moments when I want to clutch the best days and bottle them for the days that are far from the best. Yes, "the days grow short when you reach September."
Recently, in the New York Times, Melissa Kirsch shared some thoughts on the end of summer saying "We're in the down elevator." She referred to how summer was "visibly diminishing with each earlier sunset." And, she spoke about how it is good to be home -- or is it?
The walks at the end of summer are a bit bittersweet in many ways. It's the same path I walk throughout the summer and it rarely seems to change. Except it is changing every day.
In these latter days of August I notice there is greater quiet. Fewer cars are parked by their cottages during the week and even on weekends. The properties look lonely, as though they are lying in wait -- not yet locked tightly for the winter, but waiting for the next arrival. Yet, those arrivals seem fewer, further between. Yes, it feels lonelier here.
Home alone (at the lake) for a bit. It has its pluses and minuses. First thing on the plus side, I captured Lizzie unaware and so an early departure was successful. As I mentioned to some of you, I could practically hear her go "Curses! Foiled again!" The minus? The weather is awful!
As I was headed to the lake, I listened to an interesting interview on NPR's "On Point" series about awe, and how wonderful it is to incorporate into our lives. They discussed the idea of awe and how it is different for everyone. Viewers had phoned in their "awe" experiences" and it got me thinking about some of mine. In no particular order, here are a few of them.
About a week ago, I dropped off Rick and his bike about an hour or so past home to give him a head start on his ride last week. It was a great day -- a perfect day for pedaling!
I misjudged timing a bit. I forgot that I don't just let him out of the car and off he goes! He has to get the bike out of the trunk and put the pieces back together...
Then attach his paniers (saddlebags) to the back...
Stepping back in time for a minute, I was home for a few days when I took Nancy back down state to head back to Colorado. Of course I had to visit the Ditch! And I wasn't disappointed.
Often, there are many walkers but on this morning it was especially quiet and peaceful.
"The corn is as high as an elephant's eye
And it looks like it's climbing clear up to the sky!"
~~~ Oscar Hammerstein Jr., "Oklahoma!"
Rick and I headed home for a few days -- a doc appointment for me, time for his cycling trip to Ottawa for him. It was a gloomy day when we left -- it's always easier to leave the lake on a cold, gloomy day!
Summer is moving so quickly -- too quickly for me. It seems we got a late start. Well, a funky start, at best. It got very hot too early; then very cold. And finally, it was well into June with commitments and I didn't get to the lake till July 1! Now I'm dreading the fact that soon we'll be counting down.
But not yet!
What do you do on a beautiful day in the north? A road trip is always a good idea! Rick and I decided to head north to Sault Saint Marie, Michigan and the site of the famous Soo Locks. Here we are, two happy travelers!
We started the morning at the Mackinaw City restaurant, Darrows, where we met up with our friends from home, blogger/writers John Schneider (Waiting for Home: The Richard Prangley Story") and Sharon Emery ("It's Hard Being You: A Primer on Being Happy Anyway"). Time with John and Sharon is always fun and it was a great way to start the day.
I had hoped to have a few more (at least one more) book to share with you this month -- but then I started having fun and something had to give! So, there are five this month -- and all were well worth the time.
Rick celebrated another circle (or cycle!) around the sun this past week. I'm a firm believer in celebrating birthdays -- sometimes it takes a lot to make it through a year and that life should be celebrated!
Lake life continues to move at a slow and gentle pace. Lovely sunsets, (almost) daily walks (the rain is a factor) and sometimes even a celebration or two!
Well, here in the last postcard I was talking about our mostly lovely weather and that it was warm. Then the rain came and cooled it off. But enough is enough. We don't need a week of cooler temperatures, even when it is sunny! Last week was Gaylord's annual Alpenfest, which I confess isn't my favorite time of year up here. So I've been hanging at the lake.
I have decided that it takes a good week to begin to get a new routine going, to look at time differently than I do at home. There is no schedule -- a Zoom doc appointment was the closest I'll probably come to one. It's caused me to ponder the question of time a good deal. But that's for another day! Meanwhile, here's a look at the week!
As I begin writing this, it's my first evening at the lake. Finally. Between appointments and physical therapy, along with a couple of fun weekend things that kept me home, I hadn't been here once. It's good to be back.
Somehow I managed to squeeze in six books during June -- no doubt because most of them were so good I couldn't put them down! Not surprisingly, five of them were mysteries (including a recent entry in a delightfully popular series) and one a lovely and moving novel. The last book in the post, "Haunting Paris," is my first entry for the annual blog event "Paris In July." Hosted by Emma at Words and Peace, Paris in July is your one-stop place to find posts about the City of Light (and France) related to books, film, photography, food and more.
Well, things have a way of working out, even if it sometimes takes a stupid mistake to facilitate it! Here you see my yard sale! It was a success, or success enough for stuff that I didn't want anymore. Most of the rest has already been donated to our local community theatre's rummage sale. I was lucky -- Molly came to help and brought things, too, and Rick chipped in. A team effort.
So, what was that stupid mistake that worked out?
May wasn't my best reading month, but for the most part the books I did finish were well worth the time. They included two mysteries, a biography, a NYT fiction bestseller and a fabulous book of essays. And that book of essays? It will go on list of all-time favorites.
It seems like everything happens in June -- graduations, weddings, parties. It's no exception here! We've had a few fun times and celebrations of late. Read on -- and don't forget to join the party with the youtube video! (And yes, Wrennie is still in residence! I wonder if she has eggs in there?)
Sketchbook Revival 2023, hosted by Karen Abend, wrapped up in late April and it was a good one! For the uninitiated, it is a collection of two daily workshops (archived for a month) focusing on various art-related practice -- painting, urban sketching, breaking down your own creative barriers, collage and more. Finally, I'm sharing some of the things I painted during that time.
I chose to do mostly the painting/drawing sessions, though I did watch a couple of the collage pieces. Even though I've done enough of it that I don't really want to do it anymore, you can still learn about color, design and placement regardless of media.
The Memorial Day weekend and the time leading up to it brought a couple of species of critters into our lives. First, it's time for new life down at the Ditch. When I saw a marvelous photo by our neighborhood nature photographer, I knew I'd better get down there before all the babies grew up! And I wasn't disappointed!
I went to a wonderful estate sale last month -- but it was also a sad one. The resident of the home was the dad of a high school friend of mine, former neighbor, church friend and friend of my parents. Although it was a different home than the ones they lived in when we were kids, my memory bank flashed back to the Christmases at their home and Lisa's wedding reception in the back yard.
I wanted a remembrance of Rex -- something Christmas, of course. And I did get a small angel and small nutcracker (and a big elf!) What I didn't expect to find was a treasure trove of books -- the kinds of books I love to read. Biographies, history, and travel. (And I came home with a few!). But the real treasure was this.
We all know Monet painted lots of things like this...
But this one, called "The Red Kerchief," (1868-70 and an oil on fabric) rather surprised me!
We recently headed to Cleveland for an extended family wedding. It was the first trip I'd taken (apart from to the kids or to the lake) since Covid and what a treat to connect once more with friends and family. Our first stop was to see friends Jane and Mike. Jane had kindly given us tickets to the Tudor exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art for the following day and we enjoyed a terrific dinner and catching up. Mike had recently returned from Ukraine where he was training doctors and civilians in emergency medicine. He had some fascinating and harrowing stories to tell.
The next morning we were off to the museum. The period of the Tudors -- Henry VII through Elizabeth I -- was a time of an arts renaissance. It was also a time of great political change -- separation from the Roman Catholic Church, wars, and more.
April wasn't a bad reading month for me, partly because I was laying low and also because it was so darned cold that I wasn't cleaning up the yard! I read several mysteries, a gorgeous book by colorist Kaffe Fassett, and a biography of the Gershwins that was far more than a biography.
It has been a week of off and on bits. Last week Rick was away, cycling to Bloomington, Indiana, to watch the Little 500 cycling race. If you have seen the film "Breaking Away," then you know what this is!
He was supposed to cycle the whole way, camping for part of it. But snow and temps in the 30s caused a change in plans, so rather than leaving on a Sunday, I drove him to the Ohio border a couple of days later.
I took my first spring walk around the Ditch on April 13 and wasn't disappointed! My friend Harry the Heron is back!
But more on him later. There were loads of birds, though for whatever reason my Merlin app wasn't recording any of them. Not sure what that's about. My first sighting was a red-wing blackbird. (Merlin should have recognized him -- he was singing like crazy!)
Given that March isn't our most beautiful month, one would think there would be more reading done! But "Eleanor," a bio of Eleanor Roosevelt was very big! But it was fascinating, although I was definitely ready to move on. So, here are three worthy mysteries and a biography to kick off the spring season.
It's hard to believe Easter is almost here and I still don't have all the bunnies in place yet! (But I'm close!) I'd better get on it because we're expecting the family for Easter dinner and an egg hunt that day so I want it to look right!
... Make something wonderful from them!
It's probably no secret to anyone who knows me well that for the most part I can take or leave chocolate. But I will never leave a lemon-anything untouched! So, when my friend Barb suggested a day making preserved lemons, followed by a lemon-themed lunch, how quickly do you think I answered "I'm in!"
Spring is doing its best to enter my world. It's still colder and less sunny than I wish but the daffs have buds (please, please -- no more ice!) and on occasion, a sunny day! The gloomy ones have their charms -- they give me time to paint!
On a recent bright, blue-sky day I went to the nearby town of Owosso to see the art show my friend Kate's lino group.
Family Search tells me that Abraham Lincoln is my ninth cousin, five times removed. (Of course, that depends on everyone in the food chain doing their research properly!) That's on my dad's side. On mom's, I'm a cousin to Stephen Colbert -- we share the same seventh great grandfather, I think. My former work colleague and IT guru, Kim, is also related through the "Lincoln" line on dad's side, though we're not quite sure of the specifics yet. But we're both Parmalees back then.
|Great Grandmother Delia Davis, the link to Abe Lincoln|
I suspect I'm probably related to a lot of you, as well!
Between company, medical appointments, stressful moments in our city, and not feeling all that well in our winter weather, I didn't think I'd have much time to read. I was wrong.
This month's books include two recent mysteries, a British Library Crime Classic, two "real" biographies and a biographical-fiction novel. Every one was worth my time.
I shouldn't complain -- and I'm not, really. We've had so little snow this year and it hasn't been impossibly cold, either.
When I first retired, almost ten years ago, someone said "try to put something on your calendar every day, even if you decide not to do it. A lunch out, a certain task."
Wait a minute? Wasn't the point of retirement to retire? To read those books, take those walks, go shopping on a work day?
|At my retirement party in 2013. (Photo: Tony Cepak)|
So, while I've always tried to have something fun on the calendar, there were many empty pages. Now I look at it and wish I had a few of those empty pages back!
At an earlier Cork Poppers group, one of our members asked Rick if he'd provide a little concert on his classical guitar sometime. So, when he decided to host a pared down version of our group music was on the menu too! (Four of our members were away for the season; two were unable to come -- one of those being the guy who had suggested the music!)
Rick had said "bring finger food and a wine that goes with an Argentinian tango or Italian sonata." We were off and running! (He did say, "Tomatoes should be sliced and on the platter, not whole and ready to be thrown." Protecting the musicians and their instruments is always a good thing!)