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The heavens open up

The heavens open up

Have you looked, really looked, at the sky above you lately?

How marvelously the clouds dance against the sky, changing colors, opening up, obscuring the heavens, then teasing you with flashes of sunlight?

I have not stopped to truly fall in love with the sky until today.  On Day #320 of the outdoor adventure.  Three hundred twenty days of opening the door, walking outside, and I have not fallen head-over-heels in love with the sky until now. 

Of course, I’ve noticed the sky.  Everyone notices the sky. But it’s so often the earth that demands our attention.  The little things, the unusual prizes, the flowers, the leaves, the dogs, the snow.  The Beings of the Earth.

Today the Beings of the Sky tapped my shoulder and said, “Hey!  Look up!”  and I did.

Up, up and away...

Up, up and away...

What an amazing world exists above our heads.  Cloud-creatures sway and form and dissolve everywhere.  You can lay on your back against the earth and watch the ever-changing cloud-creatures.  I remember doing this for the first time at age eight.  I saw our recently dead wire-haired terrier named Buttons in the clouds.  Even though he had choked on a fish bone and died, he was somehow floating in the clouds.  You couldn’t convince me otherwise.

Sky in heavens and on earth (OK, reflected in a pond)

Sky in heavens and on earth (OK, reflected in a pond)

Earlier this year I discovered the sky in ponds and mud puddles.  That was a revelation.  It had never truly occurred to me before that mud puddles could reflect the sky so beautifully.  (And I am not the only one!  One of my good friends, an earth-lover extraordinaire recently confessed that she had not noticed that before either.)  However, do you think I raised my eyes to the sky above and stood enraptured at the clouds and blue?  No.  I was only enraptured with the reflection.

Today I was enraptured with the Real Thing.  The sky itself.

Light, clouds, depth, sky

Light, clouds, depth, sky

This morning I left for Houghton about 8:30 a.m.  Spent a good hour or longer in the coffee shop writing on the laptop, aka Miss Ellie.  Then headed off to recycle and shop.  Felt a strong prompting to phone my nephew Doug who is attending Michigan Technological University.  Would he like to join his aunt for lunch?  I really didn’t expect to get a reply, imagining how busy a college student might be. 

Yet, miracle of miracles, he had seventy-five free minutes.  Could I pick him up down by the library?  Yes.  We ate Chinese at the Ming Buffet, catching up on everything.

Afterward we agreed to meet again, hopefully before the holidays.  I then phoned my son in California (yes, the same son I’m going to visit in one week) who has the flu.  Yes, probably the dreaded swine variety.  Half of our county has the flu.  For the first time in our memory they’ve closed all of the county schools until Monday. 

Driving home, I suddenly felt achy.  Oh no, was I about to join the swine numbers?

I forced myself to stop the car behind the Pow Wow grounds and wander in the 37 degree temperatures, breathing deep the fresh air.

That’s when I noticed the Sky.

Unexpected beauty

Unexpected beauty

Who knows if it was the Sky?  But suddenly all my aches and pains disappeared.  I felt energized and exuberant and totally in love with clouds and sunlight and blue sky.

Things are looking up.

Perhaps other flu victims should spend some time with their heads in the clouds.  Just a half hour a day should do.  The best medicine on earth!  Or, rather, in the sky… What if doctors prescribed, “Take two half hour doses of the Sky for two weeks” instead of antibiotics.  Wouldn’t that be novel?

Ice

Ice

The Anishinabe (Ojibway) call this November moon “The Freezing Moon”.  We all know why.  As the angle of the earth tilts away from the sun, our northern hemisphere begins to cool.  Winter whispers in the ear of autumn, “You’re outa here!”  Autumn waves the last of her vibrant leaves, recognizing that it’s here time to go.

Vibrant oak leaves...last to go...

Vibrant oak leaves...last to go...

I’ve had a challenging day or so.  I feel overwhelmed; spread too thin.  The precious silence and simplicity that I love has been eaten away by too-much-busyness.  It’s not just the new novel-writing commitment for the month of November.  It’s simply that I am not making enough room for quiet space if my life.  My soul is begging for me to listen and I simply brush it away, “Oh, do be quiet now, I’m busy!”   It feels as if an inner voice keeps whispering, “It’s time to let go of a few things in your life right now.  Let go of a few of those autumn leaves that are ready to release into the wind.”

The Freezing "Moon"

The Freezing "Moon"

People often move to the woods or country desiring a less hectic lifestyle.  They want simplicity, quiet, ease of life.  That can happen if one cultivates it.  But more often than not, Life and Busy-ness have a way of finding you even in the backwoods.  Busy-ness can take over your life, wherever you go. 

When Busy-ness starts getting overwhelming, we need to have a talk with her. 

“This is what must go,” we might say to Ms. Busy-ness.  “This and this and this.  You might like all these things, but are they really necessary?”

And we know what is simply wasting precious minutes and hours in our day.  We know.  But it’s often challenging to let that autumn leaf fall off the branch.  To simply let go of that which is not serving us, in order to give more quality time to that which nourishes our souls.

Snowy bike

Autumn slipping away...

Snow fell on the morning of the full moon.  Less than an inch draped our car, scattering on the fallen leaves.  In town, at the top of the hill, as I drove to get my hair trimmed, I noticed at least two or three inches of white.  Amazing how one area has no snow; three miles away you almost need boots. 

Every person is different.  Some of us need huge vistas of silence, of space, of walking in the woods with the companionship of the sun and moon.  Another person is satisfied with much less.  The snow falls in different proportions everywhere; we must listen to our inner guidance and follow the quiet direction which prompts us.

A frozen Buick

A frozen Buick

Too often if we refuse to heed our wise inner voice, our body speaks up instead and suggests a nice vacation with the flu or perhaps some other illness. 

I’m going to try, starting today, to make room in the midst of busy-ness.  Perhaps the busy-ness will sit back and relax.  Perhaps she and I will share a cup of jasmine tea and some silence.

Perhaps the leaves will effortlessly release from the trees and drift in the autumn wind, beneath The Freezing Moon.

Perhaps.

Miracle

Miracle

Outdoors today:  helped Barry move and cover the wood splitter.  Then we carried long heavy boards for his garage edition.  Later we covered the woodpile.  More checks off our “to do list” before winter arrives.

All good fairy-tales start with “Once upon a time.”  Do you remember sitting on your mama’s lap, perhaps with a thumb in your mouth?  Her voice gently soothed you as she read stories of long ago and far away.  Her voice sounded like a lullaby as she brought you to lands from the past.  You no longer lived in the present on your mama’s lap; you were gone into a story.  So far gone that you later blinked and wondered where the time disappeared and how that story was so real, as real as your living room and your mama’s voice.

The old high school made into an apartment building; the Ford water tower

The old high school made into an apartment building; the Ford water tower

Stories have the ability to send us into other worlds.  Where would we be without stories, without books, without tales of overcoming and learning and crying and loving? 

I am thinking a LOT about stories since starting NaNoWriMo three days ago.  About the value of stories, and the challenges of stories.

As some of you may have guessed, my fictional story is set in our nearby ghost town of Pequaming back in 1932.  Henry Ford bought this village and aimed to make it into a model town, a sociological experiment.  He insisted that the villagers get rid of their chickens and cows claiming the animals were unsanitary and that on $5.00 a day wages each family could afford to buy milk and eggs.  He required each family to cultivate a garden.  He banned drinking, insisted workers save a percentage of their wages and did “general surveillance” of their homes.  He maintained stringent village rules, and pioneered an educational system in his private school system accredited by the University of Michigan.

The "Bungalo"

The "Bungalow"

Henry Ford was especially fond of Pequaming and annually spent a few days in his Bungalow, a seven-pillared, fourteen room home.  When he arrived, the whole town turned out to greet him with a band concert and old-fashioned dances.  Both the Mr. and Mrs. enjoyed dancing.

The Ford's view of Lake Superior through the southern-style columns

The Ford's view of Lake Superior through the southern-style columns

You may be wondering:  what the heck am I writing about?  OK, here’s the scoop.  This is actually a story which has been rambling around in my head since I was in my late 20’s.  It’s the story of a young school teacher who comes up on a train from Chicago and teaches in one of the four elementary school buildings in Pequaming.  She has two suitors, a Ojibway fellow named David and a Finnish socialist (yep, there were a lot of Finnish socialists living here at that time) named Christian.

Barry, by the way, raised his eyebrows at the name of the suitors.  What kind of name is “David” for the Ojibway suitor?  Or “Christian” for that matter?  I refused to budge.  That was their names.  End of story. 

And, strangely enough, I later opened the history book of Pequaming and discovered that a chief named David King had sold Pequaming to a white logger named Hebard in 1879.  Perhaps my make-believe David could be a descendant, do you think?  And when wandering in the Pequaming cemetery on Sunday I noted one of the old-time graves belonging to a fellow named Christian. 

Perhaps the ghosts are whispering the story to me…

The beautiful gardens were here

The beautiful gardens were here

Here is where Henry kept his Model T's and Model A's

Here is where Henry kept his Model T's and Model A's

Here is what I have learned about writing in three days:

1.  Don’t believe your thoughts about the quality of your writing or whether you have a story to tell.  Just keep writing. You can edit later.

2.  Don’t believe your feelings of frustration about what you are writing. Feelings are like the weather.  Changeable.  One minute it’s raining and the next sunny on your inner landscape.  Just keep writing.

3.  It doesn’t take much time to sit down and write 1,600 words a day.

4.  Just face the empty page and let the words come out.  Just keep writing.

Leaves of rust

Leaves of rust

Every lesson I have learned while writing this novel has mirrored the lessons of this outdoor commitment.  Do not believe your thoughts and feelings about why you don’t want to go outside.  Why you prefer to stay inside.  Why it’s too cold, too hot, too rainy, too snowy.  JUST GO OUTSIDE.  You won’t regret it.

** Outdoor time today~~raking.  And then more raking as Barry drove the little lawn tractor around chopping up leaves.  Another autumn chore checked off!

Floating on reflections

Floating on reflections

This post is really about an indoor adventure.  But since our indoor adventures sometimes mirror our outdoor adventures, they sometimes require announcement.

Here is my announcement:  starting tomorrow morning, November 1st, I will be writing my first 50,000 word novel.

Did anyone choke on his or her coffee at that announcement?

I hope not, for it is most assuredly going to happen.  We hope it’s going to happen.  We’re pretty sure it’s going to happen…

Life reflects itself on many surfaces

Life reflects itself on many surfaces

This novel-writing month is happening courtesy of NaNoWriMo.  (I dare you to say this really fast at least ten times!)  Here is what the folks at NaNo say about this process:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2008, we had over 119,000 participants. More than 21,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

Yellow leaf in mud puddle reflections

Yellow leaf in mud puddle reflections

Starting tomorrow morning I will now be maneuvering between TWO commitments, at least for the month of November.  Writing between 1,600-2,000 words a day on a novel AND going outdoors and writing a nightly blog.  Does this sound crazy?  Yes, it’s crazy.  Lets not forget two part-time jobs and a trip to San Diego mid-month to visit my son. 

Wet reflections in wind shield with leaf

Wet reflections in wind shield with leaf

You want to know what the novel is about?  Hmmmm…..  I don’t know.  I have a rough idea, a baby idea, a tiny plot.  But who knows what will come out of the typing fingers tomorrow morning?  You can start writing a love story and end up with a murder mystery.  A historical piece and end up with fantasy.  Fiction and end up with truth.  Or, probably more accurately, you start off writing fiction and end up with a reflection.

Reflections that leave you wondering "what...?"

Reflections that leave you wondering "what...?"

Just wanted to let you know that my attention might be a little preoccupied this month.  Knock  me on the side of the head if you ask a question and I don’t answer.  If I forget to read some of your blogs with as much diligence.  If I start writing outdoor adventures that sound a little…strange.  You guys keep me “real”.  Please.

Red reflection

Red reflection

Actually, I think we need our outdoor times even more when we’re deeply involved in indoor activities.  We need to breathe fresh air, to exercise, to walk slowly in the weather, to clear away the cobwebs words string in our minds.  Don’t you agree?

P.S.  I raked leaves today.  Not once, not twice, but three times!  Usually Barry is running his little lawn tractor around, chopping up leaves.  But this year our grass is too wet for efficient chopping.  Hopefully it will dry out before snow.

Four red leaves

Four red leaves

There arrives a perfect autumn afternoon.  Warm, near 50 degrees.  Check.  Not raining.  Check.  Partly sunny.  Check.  No swine flu or sickness. Check.  Nothing much to do.  Check.  A friend wants to go hiking.  Check.

So you dig out your backpack and camera and an extra jacket, hats and mittens and head for Little Mountain.  (For all you new readers, Little Mountain is a Michigan mountain.  It doesn’t count as a “real” mountain.  It’s a rocky crag which juts up above L’Anse, a lovely little steep-ish hill with a panoramic view of Lake Superior and endless trees.)

Here's where we start

Here's where we started

Bertha and I sloshed in on a rather wet trail, narrowly avoiding getting our feet soaked.  We chatted away as if we hadn’t seen one another in months.  Which we hadn’t.  How can four or five or six months slip by just like that?  Especially since our last words were “Let’s get together again SOON!”

We used to work together, half a lifetime ago.  OK, it wasn’t that long ago.  It only seems like it sometimes.  We spent our youth (by that I mean our 20’s and 30’s) hanging out together quite regularly.  These days we try to meet for occasional walks where we try to condense months into a couple hours.

Bertha atop the mountain

Bertha atop the mountain

Here’s the best kind of friend in the whole world.  You ask her if you need to bring anything.  She says no.  She says she’ll bring some wine and we’ll have a toast to friendship and mountains and sunny autumn days.  And when she arrives, guess what she has?  Red pepper hummus.  Cut up vegetables.  And two of the healthiest yummiest cookies on the planet (with pumpkin seeds!)

Zee hummus!

Zee hummus!

So we sit and talk and the sun heats us just so wonderfully.  And then that sun dives beneath a cloud bank.  We both dig in our packs, looking for little gloves to keep our fingers warm.  We solve all the problems in the universe.  We sip our wine.  It’s a glorious afternoon.

I wander off to take photos of red leaves and lichen.  She scoots down the hill and sits quietly.

Lichen

Lichen

Bertha in silence

Bertha in silence

The sun moves across the sky, ducking in and out of clouds, playing its elusive game of hide and seek.  We munch the last vegetable and sip the last of our wine. 

What the other side of the mountain looks like

What the other side of the mountain looks like

We promise, “Let’s do this again SOON!” and head down the mountain.

Time to go home

Time to go home

I’ve been to the mountain three times this year (well, maybe four times, but I can’t remember when the fourth time might have been.) The first was last winter with my daughter Kiah.  We climbed up in the snow and admired icicles along the way.  That was the moment the idea for this outdoor commitment and blog incubated.  We had so much fun on a cold snowy day that I said, “Why don’t I go outside more at this time of year?  Maybe I should make a commitment…and write a blog…and…!!!”  That’s the way ideas get started, you know.

The second time was an adventure with Amy and Dan when they visited at the end of July.  Click here to read that blog.

Hopefully all you readers have an opportunity to picnic on top of a mountain soon!

Bear Lodge

Bear Lodge

If this was a blog without a commitment, I would not write today.  I would leave the sweat lodge blog from yesterday up for two, three or maybe four days.  To give more people the chance to read it.  Because it doesn’t feel like it was an “ordinary” blog.  It doesn’t feel like it was one of those everyday blogs.  It feels like the rocks and fire dictated it.  I would prefer to honor the spirit of  the mystery of the sweat lodge ceremony and leave it up at the front for days and days.

But this daily blog commitment supersedes such a desire.  So a blog shall appear.  But if anyone hasn’t read yesterday’s blog about the Sweat Lodge, please click here

Red leaves atop spruce branch

Red leaves atop balsam branch

Most of these photos come to you courtesy of yesterday’s walk along the beach and in the woods in the pouring rain.  Today’s outdoor adventure was this:  helping Barry measure from here to there in his new garage addition.  Holding on to the “dumb” end of the tape measure.  Listening to pronouncements like “102 and 3/4″.  And then more pronouncements:  “Oh no!  This one is 102 and 5/8!”  (Kathy frowns in agreement; yes, this is bad news.  No, this is good news.  And where should we put the tape measure now?  And “Do you still need me?”)

Yellow

Yellow

And that’s it.  I still don’t want to be writing a blog tonight.  But a promise is a promise.  Fifty seven days to go.  I will leave you with a fish head.  Please turn away now if you don’t like to view dead animals!  This one has a very wise eye.  A hollow wise eye.  It was washed up between the rocks and perhaps died recently.

Fish head

Fish head

Goodnight all.  Blessings to you all when you do want to do things, and when you don’t.  Good luck discerning the best choice!

Day 305 out of 365.  Wow!  Time is really flying now.  Less than two months and…the outdoor commitment will be completed.  Finished.  Done.  Hurray!  (And then comes the challenging part of figuring out what to do next.  Keep blogging?  Here?  Elsewhere?  Stop blogging?  Start a different topic altogether?  Escape to the tropics?  Sit INSIDE for 365 days?  Oh so many options…)

First, before we discuss anything else, the promised shot of Barry’s garage addition:

The back of our garage (newly poured cement floor and blocks)

The back of our garage (newly poured cement floor and blocks)

There you have it.  What’s going on outside our front door this autumn.  Oh so slowly.  It’s because the weather Refuses to Cooperate.  It rains and snows without regard to cement-pouring activities.  It snubs its nose at all of Barry’s attempts to build the addition before winter.  But he’s persevering.  He now has the cement floor poured and the cement blocks lining the edge. They are covered with hay and plastic to prevent freezing.  In the next few weeks you will begin to see walls and roof beginning to form.  We hope.

Even though it’s raining today, I am going to show you sunny  pictures from a couple days ago.  Just so you can ascertain the state of the autumn leaves in our area.  While the vibrant reds have dulled, the yellows are going gangbusters.

Yellow leaves and bright blue sky

Yellow leaves and bright blue sky

So you look at trees like that and breathe, “Wow!  How beautiful!” and then you look at another patch of trees and think, “Yep, the leaves are almost gone.”  Here’s what the trees look like in other places:

Looking more like autumn here in the woods

Looking more like autumn here in the woods

But in case you’re getting depressed thinking about Winter, let’s return to a quick glimpse of Barry’s Studebaker and some more yellow leaves.

More autumn beauty with Studebaker

More autumn beauty with Studebaker

Yesterday or the day before I emptied out every last carrot, beet, kale and green onion from the garden.  The garden is now empty for the first time since May.  It’s lying fallow (in farming terms) awaiting the rototiller to dig it up before winter.  Barry will wrestle our giant rototiller with its whirring chopping tines into the garden soil (if it ever stops raining.  Although you can’t tell that from these photos that it’s raining, can you?) and he’ll chop up all the weeds and mix the soil well.  It will then be ready for next year’s planting.  Although, if other winters prove similar to this one, he’ll add in several fish guts and some compost to the mix.  To enrich the soil.

One bucketful of the best carrots of this century

One bucketful of the best carrots of this century

The best carrots of our century, anyway.  Most years we have teeny tiny carrots the size of maybe your ring finger.  Or big toe. Usually we throw these finger- and toe-sized carrots in maybe four bags in our frig and munch on them until January.  But this year!  This year if carrots were money we would be rich.  There are at least eight bags of giant carrots.  Maybe not store-sized carrots, but big carrots for gardens in the woods. We’ve given away one bag so far and I’m looking for takers.  Anyone want a bag of carrots?  You have to come and get them.  No shipping across the country or overseas!  But any local takers…?

A single beet for your Greek Salad

A single beet for your Greek Salad

So the gardening season is over.  The garden is kaput.  Here are our chores which now must be completed before winter:

1)  clean septic tank (not us…hire someone)

2) put away deck furniture

3)  mow and rake leaves

4)  finish garage edition

5)  rototill garden

6)  oil change both vehicles, put on snow tires, take down electric fence, finish last load of fire wood and I think I’ll stop writing now before I think of too many more things!

The empty garden.  Or should we say:  A garden full of dirt!

The empty garden. Or should we say: A garden full of dirt!

Big Erick's Bridge

Big Eric's Bridge

After work today I drove out to the river.  Ahhh…how nice to relax along the banks of the Huron River after a morning of squint-eyed juggling numbers and filling out forms.  I thought about calling a friend to walk, but, as usual, opted to spend time solo just contemplating life and listening to the noisy roar of the river’s rush.

Thought about how I never know what the day’s blog will be about until sitting down beside the trusty computer and uploading the photos.  Then letting the photos speak for themselves.  Tell their story of the day. 

In the beginning, way back in January and February of this outdoor commitment, I spent way too much time thinking about what to write in this blog.  How to craft it.  It almost became an obsession, trying to figure out what to say, day after day.  What could possibly be entertaining, interesting?

Until one day, I just stopped.  Decided the blog could write itself.  I would work as the typist, and let the fingers have their say.

The rush of the waterfall

The rush of the waterfall

After I quit controlling output, the enjoyment of writing increased.  I can’t TELL you how many hours of amusement I’ve experienced sitting behind the keyboard, letting the finger’s type, laughing hysterically at whatever decided to present itself.  (A few family members and friends can attest to this.)  Unlike other blogs I’ve written in the past, which could be very deep and serious and deep and serious and deep and serious…this one could be free and random and funny and whatever it wanted to be.  Of course, it had to include the outdoor adventure.  But beside that, anything was game.

Underwater rocks

Underwater rocks

Then some days the typing fingers seem to get serious.  There’s a mood around here sometimes, an ambiance of philosophical pondering.  It isn’t necessarily too deep (like those other blogs elsewhere) but it likes to speak in metaphor.  It compares rocks and frost and trails and leaves to human scenarios.  This voice has presented itself in the last few days.

A certain someone said last night (when I mentioned this fact):  “I like your serious blogs best.”

Immediately I began to think:  oh no!  Should the funny one be censored?  Refuse to let it come through?  Should we axe her?

By the banks of the Huron River

By the banks of the Huron River

Within five minutes of this exchange (five minutes, mind you!) I checked my email.  Someone had written with these exact words:  I like your funny blogs best.  Your funny blogs are the best!

Right.  Hmmm.  Goes to show you can’t please everyone, so, as the song goes…you got to please yourself

Yellow-green leaf dangles over river

Yellow-green leaf dangles over river

I like to see what comes up.  Funny.  Serious.  Philosophical.  Photo essay.  Whatever. 

And that’s kind of fun in viewing other blogs, as well.  The different tones and moods and parts of ourselves which reach up to express themselves.  I don’t think we’re singular people.  We’re so multi-faceted…and perhaps we like to keep some of our sides under wrap too often, tucked away in dusty corners of our psyche.

Shadows on fallen leaves

Shadows on fallen leaves

On the way back toward the bridge, smelling that autumn fallen-leave smell along the moist river-bank, I detoured up into the woods.  And came upon a surprise, a mystery!  The fruit of an unknown plant.  Something never before seen by these eyes.  What could it be?

Tiny yellow fruit!  New!  Exciting...never before seen.

Tiny yellow fruit! New! Exciting...never before seen.

I like the mystery of life.  The unexpectedness of it.  The way you can be silly one second and crying the next.  The way you can feel unemotional and then deeper than the deepest river.  Life is so unexpected.  It’s such a gift, isn’t it?

The imacculate spotless refrigerator

The immaculate spotless refrigerator

OK, this is the scoop.  We’re getting company tomorrow.  And you all know what that means, right?  It means you need to Clean the House.  All that dust needs to get outa here!  You need to vacuum, to scrub, to make everything spotless and shiny and beautiful. 

It’s the advantage of having company, you know.  The rest of the year you can let the windows get cloudy and dirty.  The rest of the year you can let the dust collect.  But when Company comes, get out your brooms and vacuums and dustpans and rags. Chop, chop!  Get a’moving!  You can do it!

So you work an hour or so, and pretty soon you’re tired and your inner voice is whining, “Why DO we have to do this ANYWAY?”  So what do you do?  Open the door and walk outside.  And there, just outside your front door, is a riot of red and orange and yellow color.  It’s breath-taking.  You breathe deeply and admire the autumn leaves.

Beauty

Beauty

Then, when you feel relaxed and easy enough, you return to your check-off list.  Have you vacuumed upstairs and downstairs?  Washed windows?  Dusted?  Scrubbed countertops and toaster and stove and frig?  Have you cleaned the bathroom?  Swept the steps?  Windexed the glass table?  How about the lights?  C’mon now, times a’wastin’!  Get cleaning!

Can you hear that vaccuum cleaner running?

Can you hear that vacuum cleaner running?

My mom and dad are coming to visit tomorrow.  We are excited about their visit.  They last came in September, 2008, and Barry took my dad out on a friend’s boat for a fishing trip.  This weekend it doesn’t look like the weather is going to be extremely cooperative.  Possible snow.  Hmmm….what the heck are we going to do?  What outdoor adventures might appeal?  Nothing too strenuous like a hike up a mountain, but perhaps a color tour?  Or a drive out to Pt. Abbaye?  We will be driving up to Michigan Tech to pick up my nephew Doug and his roommate for dinner on Saturday night.  But other than that…please send me inspiration as to what we can do!

Red leaves

Red leaves

About 2 p.m. today the house was 80% cleaned.  I needed some photos for tomorrow’s blog (after all, I’m not going to sit down tomorrow night right after Mom and Dad arrive and say, “Excuse me, guys, entertain yourselves, I need to write a blog.”) so when my friend Lyn called wanting to take a walk, I agreed.  Much photo-taking ensued. So tomorrow’s blog will be written about 8 a.m. from a Houghton coffee shop before a work-related meeting.  (Even though it won’ t be posted until its usual time–don’t get impatient!)

Whew, this commitment gets a little dicey at times…  A little hard to fit in outdoor activities and blogging EVERY SINGLE DAY.  But, so far, 292 days later, it’s still working.

There is only one place in the house that I’m refusing to clean.  The upper windows.  They’re about sixteen feet above the floor and guess why I’m on strike?  They’re buzzing with dozens and dozens of crazy live flies.  We usually wait until they die and then knock them down with a long long handle and vacuum up the corpses.  It’s not time for their funeral yet, so the flies will have to remain as background music.

The joys of living in the middle of the woods!  Mom and Dad, hope you don’t mind. I know…you come to see US and you don’t care what our house looks like.  Right??  (oops, and watch out for those flies!)

Our upper windows.  OK, a little dirty.  But do we really care?

Our upper windows. OK, a little dirty. But do we really care?

Disappearing act

Disappearing act

Dear blog readers,

If you remember anything from this year of outdoor adventures, do you know what it should be?  (In other words, Kathy, if you learn anything from this year of outdoor adventures, do you know what it should be?)  I have repeated this at least sixteen times and you poor readers will probably have to hear it ANOTHER sixteen times before the year ends.  You poor things.

But here it is, once again for anyone who is still reading after that first paragraph:  Do Not Believe Your Mind When It Tells You Not to Go Outside.  It will attempt to abort your opening the door and walking outside.  It will tell you, over and over again, often in a slight whine, “I don’t WANT to go outside. It’s too cold (substitute the current weather condition which might not look or feel optimal).”  If you believe that Mind you will stay inside.  I have too often believed that Mind before this year.

Today, Day 283, the thermometer said 44 degrees in the early afternoon.  The memory of yesterday’s cold and rain surfaced.  Momentary dislike for having to go outside surfaced.

And guess what?  After about three minutes of feeling slightly cold, it suddenly felt JUST RIGHT.  Once again, the Mind could not see accurately.  It was even pleasurable.  And, you know what?  I might even go outside tonight again and help split up yet another load of firewood.

So there, Mind.

Here are some pics from two evenings ago (or was it three?)  when I walked down by the lake.  Today I wanted to spare you more photos of garden produce and soggy leaves.  Except of course for the leaf which hangs above this blog.  It’s already posted, so it can stay. Here we go:

The lovely Huron Bay

The lovely Huron Bay

Log, water, earth, sky

Log, water, earth, sky

One thin reed

One thin reed

I actually could be babbling on, telling stories about the evening down by the lake, but let’s just let the pictures tell the story today.  You can supply any inner story-telling you like, if you want to imagine the feeling of spending an hour down on the lake during one of the last 70 degree evenings of September.  Of maybe the rest of 2009.  But we won’t go there in our story-telling, shall we?

Guess what these are, littered all over the sand.

Guess what these are, littered all over the sand.

Then, because we can’t really stand NOT to photograph leaves (it’s going to be an autumn of leaves, let me assure you!  Just like it was a winter of snow, and a spring of flowers and now it’s Glorious Leaf Season…)  here you go:

Leaf and sky and a lil bit of sun too

Leaf and sky and a lil bit of sun too

Here’s to autumn!  Let’s raise our apple cider to the sky and enjoy the glories (and, ahem, the colder days) of the season.

Love, Kathy

P.S.  8:15 p.m.  Just finished splitting another load of wood.  Only maybe two more to go!  I LOVE splitting wood.  Really.  Hope you didn’t believe any previous blogs you might have read.   :)

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