Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Out-of-Sorts Sorting

I have been sorting through my ancestor’s leavings, piece by piece by bloody piece. For years! All left for me to sort, donate, sell, or find the unknown relative who would want the item. The other day. I decided to tackle photos and letters. This was interesting, if not productive, until I moved into the mid-1800s and the Civil War became the focus. This photo was taken just before the "cousins" left for the war. It appears they all mustered in August, 1862. My challenge was identifying them. The person who named the individuals on the cardboard back, described each of the six as “Cousin Jim,” “Brother Jim,” “Cousin Ike”, etc. My dilemma was, just who did the labeling? If I knew that, the task would have been much easier. And so I am, once again, sidetracked in my attempt to catalogue and dispose.

 Overwhelmed by the research involved with this Civil War photo, I move on to some correspondence. And once again I was cruising along nicely until I came to the Civil War letters. Now just where or to whom should these go? I would have to read them to find out. But they were too depressing. Many of the letters were written by women who were maybe more grieved than their husbands and sons. Or perhaps just better at expressing their feelings.

I feel such agitation working my way through all this “stuff.” My parents just packed it all away and left it to me and my brothers. My brothers simply turned tail and ran. I try to look at what might be the advantageous angle of taking on this burden of all my ancestors. Why did I, who has always been the one to keep possessions and collections to a minimum, inherit the chore? It does not seem that this is my lesson. Right? It’s a lot of family energy that is not mine.

Now for those of you who are tempted to suggest reasons for this or benefits to me, don’t! I will snap back. I’m just venting. Unless you are a relative who wants some of this. In that case, I'm very happy to hear from you. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Hole Up

I'm good. Really, I am. I hear from many of you who doubt that but, I repeat, I'm good.

Most of what's happening in MI with Covid-19 is in the SE corner (Detroit) of Michigan. It's pretty sparse up here in the NW corner of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. So far anyway. A few spats have broken out between the locals and people with summer cottages and camps up here. We tell them to stay home. They want to come up where they feel safer. But our meager medical system can't handle the influx. So there have been some scuffles. Mostly at the grocery store when a local notices Fred and Marge, who don't usually open their cottage until early- or mid-June, are buying up all the toilet paper. Then it's just a matter of a short time before their kids and grandkids have joined them at the cottage because nobody is working or in school. I figure when The Marge and Fred Family realize that without the lake to play and boat in (the ice is just off), no dairy bar, closed restaurants, a closed hardware where they buy the little nuts and bolts necessary to get the water running and the toilets working again, and limited internet access (certainly not at the bandwidth it takes to watch a movie), they'll scurry on back home where isolation is easier.

In and around my home, it's just me and the dog and the birds and the squirrels and the rabbits and the deer and the beaver and the coyotes. Too, the bear are emerging from hibernation and raiding known food sources and hungry as a... well, as a bear. We will have to remember to bring in the bird feeders at night.

It snowed today. I've started spring cleanup and I've managed to rake some spots around the snowbanks. Isolation is a piece of cake for me; my middle name. Another week and I'll be gathering the elusive morel mushrooms and wild leeks. Two of my favorite solo activities. And right now the river is high and the fishing is good. I won't get antsy until the 3rd Saturday in May when Walleye season opens in N Ontario and I can't cross the border. Then I'll be pissy.

This morning, first thing, I threw a log on the morning coals. As soon as the log went in and I had shut the glass door on the woodstove, I saw a big old spider scrambling around seeking an escape route. There’s really no escape when the door to the stove is closed. But as I peered into the glass I knew I had to help. I mean he (or she) survived the entire winter on the woodpile only to be burned alive!? I don’t think so. I opened the door but every attempt to catch him only encouraged him to scurry away toward the growing fire. Finally, I put on the woodstove gloves (big leather mitts) and coaxed him on to one finger and then transported him all the way to the kitchen door where I flipped him outside. Something in him just clicked and he turned from frantic to mellow. Spider Zen. Isn’t that the way it often happens, when we give in and give up, life turns around.

It’s a wacky, wacky world out there. Use your Spider Zen, find your hole, and stay under the radar.

And do send me your thoughts and news.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

March Doldrums

There comes a time in a Northern Michigan March when I am a bit disagreeable. I’m stuck in the doldrums.

One moment, the very thing to do is get up and out. To turn my face to the sun, if I’m lucky, and move; move anywhere as long as my back is to winter.

But still, it is winter here in the North. We know to not be fooled. Some of our worst winter storms come in March. And so, beware you novices to Northern winters. As often happens immediately after that urge to move, you will find yourself being sucked into the couch with the duvet up to your chin. Like Mars, the Roman God of War, March can easily do battle with your desires.

I’ve seen March days so stunning I’m flying a kite over an open field with the warm sun on my face and breezes that feel almost tropical at my back. And I’ve experienced March days so cold the creek is frozen over. Most often though, the warm but heavy March snowstorms are what take me down. One day, I’m thinking I’ll not have to move another bit of snow from the driveway. All that remains will surly melt. The next day I’m thinking maybe I’ll have to finish my winter travels to and from the garage in 4-wheel drive.

Oh, March! Your “In like a lion and out like a lamb” is nothing more than a traitorous saying designed to give us hope but, instead, slaps us silly and walks away laughing, leaving us licking wounds in a pile of slush.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Under The Weather

I love the first snow. It’s coming down fast now, piling up on everything in the yard. It’s beautiful. It’s stunning. And it’s peaceful and quiet. Me too!

I’ve settled down, I’m feeling peaceful, I’m quiet, because I’m done. All the yard chores that I was hustling to finish (the wood pile, the leaves, the fire pit, the dead trees, the garden and the compost pile) are done for the season. Oh, they’re not complete. Not by a long shot. They’ll be right where I left them come April.

But for now I can stop feeling underneath a pile of chores because that pile is buried underneath a blanket of snow. Sometimes what we see is not the truth of the situation. But sometimes, just sometimes, it is. At least until Spring.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Living Out Loud

It's the day after Christmas. Sometime during last night, I was awaken from my post-Christmas stupor by thunder and lightening. That's not normal for Northern Michigan in late December. Now, during midday, the temperature is surpassing 50 degrees. We were just far enough into winter that the dog and I were adjusting to the silence.

I live in the woods, you see. So when winter throws its white blanket upon us, there's a soft sigh as the noise lessens, and lessens, and lessens. Like dropping a bouncing ball, winter noise becomes a high-pitched ping, a softer boing, a few little bouncing rattles and then settles into silence. And that's it until sometime in March.

Now the dog can't shut up. Only a month ago, what sounds like racket to her now, were just normal wood noises and did not warrant barking. Now she's protecting me from every twitter, chirp, chatter, drip and rattle. Dried leaves and branches brushing against almost bare trees on this windy day sends her into courageous lunges at nothing. "It's not normal!" she insists as she adds to the cacophony.

As her barks echo off the high banks on the other side of the creek, the birds and squirrels and deer could care less. They are claiming the ability to do more than just seek food. Oh, they're eating for sure. But the woods around my home is more like a noisy diner than an intimate restaurant. They're sliding out of their quiet booths and coming together on stools at the counter.

Winter will be back soon. There are promises of cold and snow on the way. High winds and whiteouts are just west of me and heading east I hear. We'll see. Right now, it does not even seem possible as I step out into this temperate weather.

But we in Northern Michigan know better than to expect any kind of weather to last. So for now, we're all living out loud.