Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig-Jig

I got home around noon today.  We had a great weekend, talking talking talking, laughing, seeing sights, playing cards, and eating.  I toured them around The Clearing and think if they lived closer they'd be going up for an escape too.  We decided that we need to have a get-away next year.  None of this "we should get together again" and never do it stuff so we're going to Galena, IL sometime next summer.  Info gathering first.  Requests have gone out.

I bought a rug at a different thrift store in Sister Bay.  It's 5' x 8' and I put it on the patio to cover up the marks from MW's impact hammer when he chiseled away the patio glacier.  It wasn't very expensive and when it's served its purpose I'll toss it and get another one.

See the yarn I bought at the new shop in Baileys Harbor?  I was looking for black and white yarn and BV found it.  BV is very good at finding things for other people to buy.  What a good friend she is.

DS posted a photo of the sign that appeared on the fence around the brewery building site the other day so we drove over there on our way home to see it and I was very excited to see that the forms for the footings had been put up.  Baby steps but at least in the right direction.

I found a new purse, a smaller purse, so I can't haul around all of the crap that weighs me down.  I also found these absolutely darling little purses for LC and OJ for Christmas.  The cool thing about the purse is that the lining prevents bad guys from scanning my credit card numbers in my purse.  I never knew that was a thing, evidently it is, and I like it.

30 July--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon. 

        I came back from The Clearing a changed woman.  A week up there away from everyone who knew me gave me the courage to try and worry less about how others think of me and not feel like I’m living under a microscope all the time.  It was a real revelation to realize that those people accepted me for who I was—and they liked me.  No preconceived notions of how I was supposed to act, just Gail the painter from Kingman who had gotten to be pretty good in a really short time.

Once again I'm up too late.  Nighty-night.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Days Away

This morning BV, TW, and I piled our crap into BV's SUV and tootled off to Door County for a couple nights.  For no good reason... other than we don't get to see each other very often... and we wanted to.  We got to The Landmark to check in but our condo wasn't ready so we kept going up the peninsula.  First we stopped at The Summer Kitchen for a cup of soup to stave off starvation.  They have five kinds of soup all the time and wonderful homemade bread.  One trip to the soup bar with your Fiesta cup is $6.95.  A bargain.  BV and TW had French Cabbage Soup and I had Creamy Mushroom Soup.  Mm.

Our next stop was an orchard between Sister Bay and Ellison Bay.  The cherries are ripe for picking starting this week.  We'll probably have to get some on our way back to Green Bay on Tuesday.  Don't they look like gems in the sunlight?

Next I showed off The Clearing where I go every year for a writing workshop.  One of the staff that I see every year was pinch-hitting as the welcome hostess today so we got to visit a bit.  She gives good hugs.

After showing off one of the cabins we walked down to the Council Ring where we admired the bay and the breeze.  On the way down the path we saw this tree that looked to me like it was signaling a right turn. Then we walked on to the Schoolhouse to look at the mural and the weaving sculpture.  They understood why I save all year to spend a week there; it's just so peaceful.

When we left The Clearing I asked BV to drive a mile up the road to Garrett Bay where DS and I floated Durwood's ashes last fall.  I just wanted to have a quiet visit with him but the place was teeming with divers.  First I saw DM and his wife, JM; D has a torpedo shaped propeller he mounts on his tank to assist him as his legs have gotten weaker due to childhood polio.  Next was M and his son C who'd just gotten certified last weekend.  Another diver walked down the boat launch and when M said my name he turned to me and said, "Are you B?  I'm TR."  OMG, I hadn't seen him in 15 years at least.  He was a very active diver when I first started working at the shop but his job changed or something, but there he was today.  Finally as we walked back to the car another diver came walking down to the water, looked up, and said, "Hi, B!"  Another long-time dive shop customer.  What are the chances that I'd see five people who had been customers when I haven't seen any in over a year?  Rare, that's what.  But I felt like Durwood had a bit to do with that, making sure I had a happy visit to Garrett Bay instead of a sad one.  That Durwood, still taking care of me.  *shakes head*

On the way back to our condo we stopped at The Door County Creamery where TW and I split a BLT and BV had the world's biggest prosciutto salad.  We saved room for goat's milk gelato and probably will have to have more tomorrow.  So. Good.

I cast on a camera strap cover this morning but I'm not sure I'll continue using this yarn; it isn't very soft.  I'm sure I have softer yarn at home, lots of it.  Something in baby llama perhaps.  I won't need the cover the next few days anyway, I forgot the battery charger for my new camera and none of the charger cables we have with us fits.  Drat.  It's a good thing I have my phone to take pictures with.

28 July--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon. 

            I was ready to be the worst in class and spent a lot of time before the drive agonizing over how I'd fit into the scheme of things.  But once class got started I found out that skill-wise I was somewhere in the middle and didn't have to worry.  Merely being in class and loving to paint was enough to fit in.
Most of the students had been painting for years and many of them had followed Laurel from Rockford to take her class.  For all she looked like the prototypical grandmother with her fluffy white curls, round cheeks, and ready smile, Laurel was a tough teacher demanding the best from her students and herself.  As the days passed, I could see my paintings take on a life they hadn’t had before.
            Early in the week Connie had read me a poem she’d written called “Wise Woman” about loss.  It was full of images I itched to paint.  It was the first time words, instead of things I could see, made me want to pick up my brushes.

           wise woman

She stood on the shore of Lake Michigan,
feet firmly planted in the sand.
Cloak tightly wrapped to ward off the January chill.
A time of looking forward – and back.
A time of reflection and change.

No matter how tightly she held the cloak,
the coldness within would not subside. 
She did not expect nor seek a warming yet,
just a calming of the restlessness that roamed her soul.
Roamed through all those empty places.
Places where memories pulled her back.
Places that could swallow the joy from life
if she let them.  But the woman was a wise teacher.
Healer. Truth seeker.
And knew it was time to turn inward, focusing her gifts to heal herself.

Numbness preserves. New growth brings discomfort.
And she was greatly discomforted.
She welcomed the pain as a sign of healing.
She braced herself against the winds of change,
contemplating the paths before her. 
At a time when others were storing up for the winter
of their years, she wanted to see more.
Know more. Feel more.
To fill the empty places
with new thoughts.
New teachings. New people.

A new tribe.  Her old tribe had disbanded.
Her first born now dead through an act of violence.
Her daughter soon to be married, forming an alliance of her own.
Her marriage partner, living apart in his own reality.
She was alone, and left to carry on.
It was nearly a decade from the death of her child
to the rebirth of her spirit.
And she had survived
would continue to survive and seek the way.
For she was a woman with gifts,
a strong woman. 
A wise woman.
                                    --Connie Anderson

She gave me a copy of it and in the evenings when most of the painters went back to the Schoolhouse to work, Laurel helped me paint my impression of the woman in the poem.  On Thursday afternoon I went into town and found a relatively inexpensive (it was a tourist area, after all) frame so I could give it to Connie on our last night to thank her for being a great roommate.
            Mealtimes at The Clearing were fun.  Not only was there fabulous food and fresh-baked bread, it’s a rule that you sit in a different place with different people at every meal.  So instead of cliques forming of painters or writers, everyone sat with everyone else, asked about how classes were going, sharing their own triumphs and tribulations both in class and in life.  I’d never realized that there were so many interesting people in the world.
            By the end of the week Connie and I were getting to be friends; she’d read me her writing and I’d show her my paintings.  Connie had taken a watercolor class at home so she understood my frustrations and I’d been a secretary so long I could help her a bit with her grammar and punctuation.
She was touched when I gave her the watercolor I’d painted from her poem.  She gave me a blank journal because she said she thought from our conversations I should be a writer too.  It turned out to be a wonderful pairing.  We exchanged email addresses and pledged to keep in touch.  On the drive home, I resolved to call Aaron and ask for his help getting a computer.
Laurel praised my work and complimented me on my skills.  I had to give Jake, the painting Nazi, his due; I wrote him a little thank-you note while I was still there.
A couple of the other students in class had heard of Jacques Tunis or read about him in an art magazine and were very impressed that I’d actually taken a class from him.  One night we sat around sharing a bottle of wine and I regaled them with stories of my adventures in Jake’s class, I even told them about yelling at him and throwing my first artistic temper tantrum all over him.  They thought that was hilarious.  I must admit I embellished a bit, made Jake more looming and myself more courageous, but essentially they were true stories.  And no one thought I was bragging about how terrific I was.  I don’t know if they were thinking it but no one said it aloud.
One of the women looked at Laurel and said, “No one could get that mad at our nice teacher.”  And Laurel came right back with, “Oh, don’t be too sure about that.  Ralph can tell you stories of students I pissed off that would curl your hair.”
We all laughed but I looked at the small grandmotherly woman with her fluffy white hair and, without thinking, said, “I’ll bet you can be a real witch if you think it’ll pull something out of your students.”
Everybody laughed.  Laurel laughed loudest and said, “You got that right!”

I'm still tired.  We spent a lot of time walking outside today and, oh yeah, we stopped for a glass of hard cider after our stop at The Clearing and Garrett Bay.  I'm hoping to sleep well.  I might have bought a bottle of the Pear cider.  Yum.  Smooth.

Saturday, July 27, 2019


Tonight was the 50th reunion of the Green Bay Southwest High School Class of 1969 and it was a good time.  About 1/3 of the class members attended and it was fun to see people.  It was pretty easy to pick out who was who, the nametag with senior picture on it really helped.

But first... this morning I whipped up a batch of Zucchini Lemon Muffins from The Pound Dropper's blog.  She posts WW recipes, I've tried a couple and they're pretty good.  These are good.  I used unsweetened applesauce instead of the fake butter that was the other choice and I think that made them a little tough.  The next time I'll use a fat which I think might make it a little fluffier.

This morning I finished the Dress no. 3 to wear to the reunion.  The next time I make this dress (and I have two more cut out) I'll do a couple things differently including make it shorter, not too much or the pockets would hang below it.  Maybe I'll move the pockets up a bit higher too.

In the afternoon I baked a batch of 10-Cup Cookies.  Most of the ingredients are a cup--flour, butter, oats, pecans, creamy peanut butter (I used almond butter because LC doesn't like peanuts and I had it on hand), raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, sugar, and brown sugar--with a couple eggs, baking powder and soda.  I used a slightly larger scoop than called for but the smallest one I have and got 56 instead of the 84 suggested in the recipe.  Oh mercy, are they good.

27 July--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon. 

When I got back to the room Connie had arrived.  She was a short intense woman about my age who gave off an aura of suppressed energy. She was dressed in what I immediately recognized as “city” clothes, a trim black vest over tailored black and white plaid slacks topping the most amazing black and white Doc Marten wingtip shoes.  I knew about Doc’s from my shopping trip with Samara.  I coveted them.
Connie was taking the writing class.  We got acquainted while we unpacked.  It didn't take me long but I swear Connie had brought an outfit for every eventuality.  I wouldn't have been surprised to see a ball gown come out of one of her suitcases.  She had all these dressier casual clothes and the only thing she wore all week were jeans, t-shirts, flannel shirts and sweatshirts just like the rest of us.  But she was ready, just in case.
By the time I hauled my empty suitcase back to the car to store it for the week, the campus was buzzing with students moving in, greeting old friends and making new ones.
According to the schedule we'd gotten when we checked in, dinner was at six so I had an hour to take a walk and see more of the place.  I found a winding path and followed it to the edge of the bluff overlooking the bay.  The sound of the waves lapping on the rock far below was a pleasant change from the noise of tractors, and the sighing of the wind in trees made my muscles relax after the long drive.  Every few steps I took on the path along the bluff brought another vista worthy of painting.  I couldn't imagine having enough time in a week to paint all I was inspired to paint.  Good thing I’d brought a camera with an empty SD card.
Along the path at intervals were rings of stacked limestone, some with fire pits in the center.  They looked like ancient council rings.  Connie was sitting in one of the rings sketching in her journal.  We visited for a few minutes and I walked on.
            By the middle of the week at The Clearing I realized that I wasn't the same person with these strangers as I was at home.  No one here knew me or had any expectations of my behavior so there was no reason to be anyone other than myself.  I discovered that I had a lot to say and didn't hesitate to give my opinion.  I stopped examining what I was going to say before I said it like I tended to do with my sons and Clara.  No one at The Clearing had ever met me before so they had no preconceived ideas.  They never knew me with long hair in a bun, dressed in old lady clothes, more worried about what other people think than what I think.  So I didn't have to be anyone but me, didn't have to worry about who heard me, who I sat next to at meals, or what any of them thought of me or my paintings.  Didn't worry that they'd think I was weird or had changed too fast or gone too far.  It was relaxing to just be Gail, the painter from Kingman who'd picked up a brush less than a year ago.  I was determined to keep that feeling alive when I went home.

Tomorrow we're off to Door County for a couple more days and nights of catching up, eating, and shopping.  I woke up at 5:30 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep.  I switched to taking my new med in the evening hoping that the sleepiness of the morning and the insomnia at 5 AM will switch places.  In the meantime, I'm outta gas.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Type Faster


I was so tempted to skip blogging tonight because I'm so tired (only slept 6 hours last night).  This morning I planted the last three Stella D'oro day lilies I bought yesterday.  Planting isn't too tiring and sweaty-making, it's the weeding that precedes it.  I shook a good amount of Preen weed preventer once I'd weeded but I suspect that's only to keep seeds from germinating, not to keep quack grass and creeping charlie in check.  Ah well, such is life.  All too soon everything green will turn brown and then be covered in a blanket of white.  Arrgh.


Yesterday I drove down Lombardi Ave. shortly after they used a front end loader to shove one of the remaining supports and send the entire roof of the Arena falling to the ground.  I sure wish they'd have imploded it instead.  

This Downy Woodpecker spent time on the corn this morning instead of on the suet.


One of the exercises T-the-trainer had me do yesterday was vertical pushups.  I did ten, five regular speed and five slow.  It felt good and I thought my new workout clothes look good too (and I don't really even like the color blue, go figure).  I love Meijer sale racks.

I blame these three women for how tired I am.  BV and TW arrived around midday today so we lunched at Kroll's (along with all of the Packers shareholders in town for yesterday's meeting and today's start of training camp; can you say "crowded"?), walked around Titletown Park, went to our old school but didn't have a selfie stick so we went to Walmart because TW wanted new Packer stuff and I found a cheap selfie stick, then we went to Meijer for a card game they both like, and I had the brainstorm that I'd grill some chicken breasts for us for supper.  *pant, pant*  After they left I sewed the other side seam, turned the vent side hems, and hemmed the sleeves.  All that's left is to bind the neckline and sew the bottom hems and I've got a new dress for the reunion.

26 July--Barbara Malcolm, Horizon.

             Before I knew it I'd gotten a letter from Laurel saying how happy she was that I'd be in her class and giving me a list of the things I needed to bring.  I had most of the stuff and went into Simpson to the craft store to pick up the rest.
Not wanting to stick out like a sore thumb, I called the office up at The Clearing to find out what kind of clothes to pack.  Kathy told me that it's usually cooler up there on the bluff and that most people wore jeans or other comfortable clothes.  Good, that meant I didn't have to buy a whole new wardrobe to go to camp.
I showed the catalog to Clara when she came over for coffee a few days later and we pored over the pictures and the sample schedule.  It looked like heaven--wooded grounds with old stone and log buildings, and best of all, they did all the cooking and cleaning up.  There were a few pictures of painting classes and I hauled out a magnifying glass to try to see if they were better painters than me.  Clara thought it was funny but I realized that in my first two classes I’d gotten used to being one of the better painters and wanted to be prepared if I was going to be one of the worst.
Sunday, June 15 dawned bright and beautiful.  I'd laid all my clothes out on the bed the night before and figured I'd probably packed too much but wanted to be ready for anything.  Check-in started at one p.m. so I left nice and early so I could spend every last minute of time up there.  It was only a two-hour drive but Door County's a big tourist destination and I hoped to avoid the worst of the traffic.  I figured I could take a walk around the grounds if I got there way too early.  Traffic wasn't bad, most of it was going south, so I could relax and enjoy the scenery—miles and miles of cherry and apple orchards, picturesque herds of black and white cows, small wineries and roadside stands selling fruits, jams, cherry pies, and art.  Maybe I’d stop of the way home and find some special wine for Jack’s wedding gift.
I turned off the highway onto Garrett Bay Road and nearly missed the driveway of The Clearing.  As soon as I turned in, the blinding sunlight bouncing off the asphalt was replaced by dappled sunshine through tall old trees.  The curving gravel drive wound through the woods and meadows leading me further away from my regular hectic life.  A small sign directed me to the student parking lot where I parked and sat for a moment drinking in the silence.
I saw another small sign with an arrow pointing to the Lodge for check-in.  There I met a smiling woman named Kathy who turned out to be the woman I’d spoken to when I called the office. She gave me a nametag on a string with instructions to wear it at all times, a map of the campus, and directions to my room.  I couldn't afford to have a single room so I'd have one roommate, a writer named Connie from suburban Chicago.  I asked Kathy for my key and was amazed to discover that there weren't any.  She said they'd never had problems with people losing things and were very aware of strangers on the grounds, but she'd get me a key if I felt I needed one.  I said I guessed not if no one else felt the need, and went back to my car to haul in my things.  Kathy told me I was welcome to take my painting supplies down to the big room of the Schoolhouse that afternoon so I'd be ready to start early tomorrow and that I could drive down if I had a lot to carry.  While I’d thought ahead and brought a dolly to haul my things, it turned out I didn’t need it.  The Clearing provided wheeled carts.  I grabbed one and took it back to my car.
I was pleased to discover my room, number six, was right near the parking lot overlooking the propane tank.  Not the most inspiring view but I didn't figure I'd be in my room much. I intended to make the most of my week in the woods.
I was pleased at how pretty the room was--a pair of twin beds with lovely handmade quilts, a desk and chair beside each bed, two built-in armoires with plenty of space for clothes, and a roomy bathroom with a shower.  There was a set of towels and soap on each bed.
Leaving my painting things in the cart, I put my suitcase on the bed nearest the window since I like to have a window open when I sleep.  Then I walked my art supplies in the cart down a sawdust path through the woods to the Schoolhouse.  There was a couple from Illinois, Don and Jane, there who had been in Laurel's class before and helped me pick out a spot to set up my stuff.  They were friendly and funny and made me feel welcome.  I was glad to have met someone right away to help me settle in.

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.