All done “up there”…

I’ve been away, but I’m back now, all finished at the cottage on the lake in Michigan.

Yep, I’ve managed to “power through” all of the business at hand over the past several weeks and  am settling in once again here at home in northern Illinois.

Back home on the deck, under the stormy skies over northern Illinois farmland.

One week ago, our pontoon was hauled out of the water by some friends who are purchasing her and trailored a couple hundred miles back to a lake here in the western part of Illinois—not too far from our home, by the way. The old girl will be missed, but knowing she’s going to a good place, with good folks to enjoy her, eases the oft-muddled mind of this writer!

We spent the next day finishing up closing out the cottage and filling both of our cars with final loads. There are so many memories we gathered in that place “up there” that it was very hard to pinpoint which one stood out as the greatest or favorite over the several summers we called the place home.

Yes, we have decided to get out of the summer cottage/lake rental game and to pursue other endeavors. An Alaska cruise next August awaits, as does a trip to New Orleans and Florida in late February. And being right here at home more frequently is mighty appealing, too!


this morning, when I finally decided that I’d been away from this blog (and other writing tasks) far too long, I took a deep breath and relished the feeling once more of plopping myself into my comfy desk chair, in front of my MacBook, and knocking the cobwebs off of Scrivener and gleefully letting the fingers do their thing, wandering over the keys to make the words to send along to any reader who’s still along with me. (Now that’s a sentence!)

So a chapter of my life closes and I’m eagerly anticipating what the next one will be about. I’ll look back—from time to time—and recall so many of those wonderful moments and memories made “up there,” and I’ll probably be hit with a touch of melancholy, but I will have moved along into that next chapter that is beginning right now.

Bring it on!
At rest for one last day and night on Magician Lake.


Morning thoughts from JollyYet…

Oh, what a beautiful morning…

100_4645.jpgWriting this from the cottage (JollyYet) porch this morning, I’m visited by my friends the hummingbirds, who can’t decide which of the two feeders to patronize, and so keep zooming back and forth betwixt the two. IMG_1812.jpg

Off to my right, about thirty feet away, are the two “regular” bird feeders (which are going to need refilling today), where a hungry rose-breasted grosbeak picks and pecks away at the remaining grains and seeds. A couple of hopeful chipmunks are on point below, awaiting the sloppy habits of the birds above, knowing that they’ll be IMG_1797.jpgrewarded soon.

The lake, for a mid-week Wednesday morning, is unusually noisy and busy. Already a fast ski boat has passed by below, a talented skier in tow shouting instructions over the din of the motor. Another large and loud one slowly made its way into my atmosphere a short while ago, blasting some equally loud and annoying hip-hop/rap “tune” through its massive speakers mounted on the overhead tow bar. Please…

But, nothing is forever. Like the boats and skiers and noise that show up but eventually go away, so is our summer life at this wonderful, old resort tucked away under the giant oaks and maples and dogwoods.

On such a morning as this (and there have been quite a few this summer), I realize how much this place has meant to me the seventeen summers we’ve been coming up here. And I’m finally realizing that there are but a few weeks remaining in our role as summer “lakers.”

As I wrote in an earlier post, this is to be our last summer taking a cottage. We began discussing this about a year ago and agreed that we’d do it one more summer, especially since Carolyn would be retired from a long career in the hair dressing business and could spend more time here during the summer weeks. And now those weeks are winding down to when we have to close up and be out of here: September 17. Our reasons for giving it up are many, and I will share those in a future post very soon.

We’re having some company over the Labor Day weekend, which is always a very busy time here, and it should be lots of fun, although we’ll be pulling the pier out then (for the last time!) and we’ll be seriously getting things packed up and taken home or into the dumpster. We’re hoping that whoever will be occupying this place after us would like to have the various futons and other items we are happy to leave here for them. We shall see.

IMG_1201.jpgAnd so, the morning edges along with wonderful breezes and pleasant temperatures. I am here until early Saturday morning, when I’m heading home for a few days to attend our grandson’s first football game and, of course, take care of mowing, etc.

Carolyn left for home yesterday, allowing me to be here by myself to work on my writing for the remainder of the week. And that’s how I’ll be spending the rest of my morning here on the porch of JollyYet, my fine, feathered friends close by, and the waters calm and quiet out in front once more.

Lucky me!


Fleeting days of summer…

July, where hath thou gone?

Not sure why I wrote that sentence quite that way. Maybe I’m in a Shakespearian kind of mood at this writing. Then again, perhaps not. Regardless, it does make me pause when I realize that this summer is speeding way too fast.

IMG_1799.jpgSeems as though we were just in the midst of opening up the cottage and getting things pretty much settled and eagerly awaiting those wondrous lazy days of another season up there in Michigan on the magical waters.

Yes, friends and other guests arrived, and somehow the time slipped right on by without us really noticing. Pontoon boat cruises came and went and came and went again. We floated off the pier and out in the deep, delighting in the cool water, and the time crept right on past without us realizing.

Along the way, a few cold nights brought out the heater and an extra blanket on the bed–but only a few! Mornings on the porch welcomed the new day and the warming sun as it skirted around from the east and finally settled in and made us glad to be there once more.

And now the heart of summer has arrived and the shadows have begun to take on their different slants and angles—ever so slightly—as days wear on into night.

July is done. August sets in now with a robust sense of power and heat, bridging things between the early summer days and the new autumn that is yet to come. Thoughts begin to turn to closing things down for the season and putting it all away for another year.

It’s a bittersweet time starting now as we’ve decided that this will be our final summer to do any of this. Much thought and back-and-forth contemplation has gone into our decision. Renting the cottage year after year since summer 2000 has been wonderful, but new horizons beckon.

Travel and other off-the-beaten-path adventures await! An Alaska cruise a year from now and a journey to New Orleans and south Florida in February and March of 2017 are in the works. Cottage and lake life will not be part of things after this season.

And now that summer 2016 is wheeling right on by, we begin to sort things out in our minds to make the final month “up there” the best one yet. We will enjoy the remaining pontoon rides and the “soaks” in the lake and the splendid hours on the porch, watching it all go by. We will laugh and smile and enjoy the wonders surrounding our little summer place and make a few more memories before it’s all over.

Just don’t go by so quickly, summer…IMG_1808.jpg



That morning I’ve been awaiting…

The “lane” through the cherry orchard to the cottage

It rained sometime in the pre-dawn hours. I heard its pleasant patter on the roof above my head upstairs as I was about to get up to put the coffee on. I pulled the covers back over me and lay there and enjoyed the sound.

Now, a couple of hours later, it’s gray, a slight breeze ruffles the wind chimes out here on the screened porch, and all is quiet on the lake and surrounding land. No wave runners or zealous ski boats are churning things up this morning as the “reality” of mid-week settles in.

Coffee cup filled now, it’s time for me to get to “work.” My trusty MacBook has waited patiently these past few days for me to be inspired enough to fire it up and catch up on my writing. Instead, my mornings have been given over to reading rather than the creation of my own words, and all of the noise and excitement of the 4th of July weekend wasn’t too conducive for getting any kind of writing going, either.

This morning is different, though. My current “read”–The Aviators–rests inside and will stay inside until I’m finished with this post and some work on the novel.  Later, we’re heading away from the lake for lunch and a visit to an Outlet Mall in Michigan City. With the change in the weather, I suppose it’s a good day for that, too.

With some company arriving this coming weekend, I guess getting this sort of weather out of the way now is a good thing, and, besides, it is that inspiration for me to start up the MacBook and get back to writing! Let’s hope so…

In my next post, I will share my thoughts about all of those books I’ve read rather than spend time writing. Which causes me to wonder: When did/do all of the good and famous authors find time to read and get their writing done?

Have a good week, everyone. 🙂IMG_0866.jpg




Miles to go…

Been home from the lake for a week.

Mornings on our deck–coffee & reading

Doctor appointment, grandsons’ ballgames, yard work, and friends’ 50th wedding anniversary party necessitated our vacating the cottage last Wednesday. Within the last two weeks, we’ve logged many a mile traveling to the NASCAR race, and then the following day motoring on to Fairborn, Ohio, to attend Carolyn’s uncle’s funeral services. He was almost 93 and had lived a good life and everyone celebrated that fact.

After the meal that followed at the church, we made the four-hour drive back to the cottage in Michigan and quickly made ready for the drive home to Illinois the next day.

And now, all of the duties, etc., completed, it’s time to reverse the process and gather up the clean laundry, pack the suitcase and my MacBook, a cooler with “stuff” we bought at the store, and get it all in the back of my Equinox for the trip back to the lake sometime tomorrow. I say “sometime” because I’m expecting a visit from a technician for Frontier Communications (our Internet service provider) to check out why our Internet has been dropping out way too frequently lately. I would like to be here when he/she arrives, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an early arrival. But, it will be what it will be…

But wait, there’s more!

cms1209.pngOnce back at the cottage, we wont be there for long. It will be a quick turnaround, just long enough to unload and spend the night before taking off for Ohio for the weekend. My mom’s high school 70th reunion luncheon is Saturday afternoon in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, and a few weeks ago she strongly hinted that she’d love to attend but had no way to get there.

It didn’t take me long to see where she was going with this, and I figured I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to get her there! With nothing definite on our calendar for this coming weekend, I told her we’d enjoy driving her up there (about three hours or so) from Port Clinton. Obviously, there aren’t that many classmates remaining, but a couple of her best friends are, and she deserves to be there with them.

Anyway, I always enjoy going back there—my birthplace—so it will be a nice occasion. We’ll get her to the gathering and go explore the area as I remember all of my summer visits there as a kid. We’ll go out to the old farm that was my grandparents, and the place that inspired my short story “Pinewood Farm.”

A few hours will pass, and it will be time to pick Mom up and drive on back to Ohio, spend the night, and zip on back to Michigan on Sunday. We’ll be tired and ready to plop on the porch or the pier for a couple of days and realize all of the miles we’ve accumulated. At the same time, I’ll smile and know just how good each of those miles was.images-1.jpeg

Race Weekend & a great birthday…

images.pngA week ago today, I celebrated another birthday. And it happened to fall on our NASCAR “race weekend” at our cottage in Michigan.

This annual event begins on Thursday, with the arrival of my sister and her husband from Ohio, followed on Friday by my son and one grandson, accompanied by a couple of other friends. Every June, we all make a pilgrimage two-and-a-half hours over to Brooklyn, Michigan, for the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday.

Before that, though, there’s plenty of fun in the lake and a traditional pontoon “Sinatra cruise,” on late Saturday afternoon. (I had to fend off the many requests by my little grandson to change the music. He’ll learn.)

In years past, we’ve had good weather, lousy weather, and in-between weather. This year’s was probably the best ever. Pleasant temperatures during the day and comfortably cool ones at night were more than we could have expected.

And then there is always the concern about what the weather will be like for the day of the race on Sunday. Again, we’ve run the gamut from unbearably hot conditions to miserable rain, more rain, and still more rain in years past.

Not this year. It couldn’t have been any better from the time we pulled away from the cottage at 5:30 a.m. until we returned about nine that evening. Our pre-race tailgating was outstanding, and the race itself was one of the best. Afterwards, we all enjoyed the pulled pork our son had smoked on charcoal and hickory chunks all day on Saturday at the cottage.

Our son, Josh, getting ready to get the pork butt on the charcoal 

When it was time to break down the canopy and flagpoles, put away the tables and chairs and load up the F-150s for the trip back to the cottage, we all were in agreement that it had been a terrific day at Michigan International Speedway. And it had been a most wonderful way to celebrate my birthday!

Ah, summer!

The pier, the pontoon, and the lake as viewed from where I write this.

Sunday evening. A quiet and peaceful atmosphere now at the lake. The gray and overcast day has finally given way to late sunshine and temperatures that don’t require a fleece or a sweatshirt.

Just back from another walk out to the highway a quarter-mile away, I decide that I’d better fire up the MacBook and ease on back into the blogging world and see if any comments or messages await my attention.

It’s been over a week since we moved in and gotten settled for another summer, and even longer since my self-imposed hiatus from posting and trying to keep up with the social media world. So, here I am once again.

Our weather has been terrific, although today was overcast and cool—one of those perfect for getting lots of reading done. It would have also been perfect to work on my novel, but I’m still not motivated to do any of that just yet, and I’m wondering if I ever will get back to that. I’m confident that I will.

The walks have been good, reminding me just how much they meant to me last summer, getting myself back into better shape and losing a bunch of unnecessary weight. And that is a great motivator for me to continue with the same thing in the weeks ahead, especially since I’m going to be another year older (and wiser?) come next Saturday (June 11).

I’m awake and up by 6:30 each morning, and after I get the coffee going, I set out for my twenty-minute walk. Then I grab that first cup of hot coffee and my book and settle out on the porch for an hour or so of quiet, uninterrupted reading. It’s my favorite time around these parts—before the lake comes alive with the noise of wave runners and ski boats and various other sounds of summer.

However, tomorrow morning is a “work” morning, in that I have to pay a visit to the laundromat to catch up on a week’s supply of dirty clothes. It’s a grueling task, but someone has to do it! And the bathroom will need attention and the vacuum run throughout the cottage in preparation for some company we’ll be having later in the week. It’s pretty standard practice and it doesn’t require a great amount of time—one of those “necessary evils” around the place.

It feels good to be sitting at the MacBook once more, creating a post to send out there. And now the dark of the night has settled in, the frogs are singing out back in the swamp across the lane, and the warmth of the bed upstairs beckons.

Ah, summer!


A pause in the action…

100_1844.jpgThe pier putting-in of which I wrote about in my last post went very well, even though we soon discovered one of the support pieces had been broken–somehow–during the off season.

Good fortune, though, as I have had an extra one stored under the cottage for the past few years, and with some adjusting and finagling, we made it an almost perfect fit–even better than–the one that had broken.

The weather was ideal, thank you, and we completed the job in just a little under two hours, even with the slight hitch in the process.

Now, I’m busier than ever getting all things ready for the early morning drive back up there this Friday with two loaded cars to “officially” open the cottage. As such, my blogging time and keeping up with my good friends out there is pretty much shot for the next several days.

Once opened and settled in up there by early next week (Memorial Day), I’ll jump back in here and resume my regular posting. And that goes for my weekend feature of One Good Thing as well. Stick with me, folks, I’ll be back.

In the meantime, I wish everyone well during my little respite and look forward to getting this all going again with much to tell you from our little cottage by the lake. Smiles… 🙂

Ready to hit the water for another summer.



The Walrus is right…

“The time has come,” the Walrus said…”

Yep. Just like the Walrus, I realize that the time has, indeed, come—as it has for the past several years—though not to talk about shoes and ships and sealing wax, but for the annual event of putting in the pier at the cottage up in Michigan.

As always, we perform this necessary task the weekend prior to our “official” move-in (May 27) for the summer, which makes this coming weekend the time to which the “Walrus” has spoken.

The “we” that is our intrepid and brave “pier putter-inners” consists of my son and anyone else we can coerce into going along for the two-and-a-half hour ride to the lake and getting into the water and putting all of the pier pieces together in the correct order! This year, our third soul is my son’s father-in-law, Ed.

Our pier in hibernation.jpg
Right where we left them in September. Just waiting to be awakened.

Actually, the job is not difficult, other than unstacking the planks and sawhorses from where they have been neatly stacked on the landing at water’s edge since last Labor Day.

Once all of the pieces are  in the water, the job of sliding them together is quite simple and the job doesn’t take much time at all.

But it’s necessary to have three people to complete it all, although it was just my son and me the very first time we did it years ago. Talk about the blind leading the blind! But that’s a post for another time.

That being said, I always look forward to the job, knowing that all of the pieces should be in good shape, or at least they were when we left them in September. And the water, as shallow as it is, will not be too unbearable after that initial shock. It’s only waist deep and the bottom is sandy and very level.

According to the forecast, it’s supposed to be in the 70s, so I’m hoping that there will be sunshine a few days ahead of our immersion next Sunday so the water has been warmed somewhat. Regardless, it’s a “cleansing” experience, so say the least.

After an hour and a half at most, we’re done and ready to head back home, but not before we get dry clothes on and visit TJ’s, where the food is good and the meal is my treat. We’ll toast another successful pier installation and set sail back to Illinois. Then it will be time for me to get serious about the move up there early the following Friday.

The time has come to open her up for another summer.

Even though there is so much to do to get ready for it all, I am happy that it’s that time once again. The Walrus is definitely right!


Blogging 101-Day 11: In the Summertime

“Sunny conditions with a wind chill of -22°”

I read that over a couple of times to make sure I’m seeing it correctly, and there’s no doubt IMG_1395about it: It’s cold! Darn cold!

And though it’s a very comfortable 69 degrees here in my writing room, I can almost feel the numbing cold out there, and the bright sun in the clear blue sky is deceiving.

As such, my morning thoughts race ahead about five months to those delightful and glorious early days of summer, when the sun and the air are just right and we’re settling into our cottage on a lake in southwestern Michigan.

Late May. The feeling of newness and freshness is all around, and the air of wonderful anticipation for the memorable summer to be is everywhere. We re-connect with our “lake friends” once more and catch one another up on the past fall and winter exploits. We all agree that it’s good to be back, in the old familiar cottages, making summer memories all over again!

The first pontoon cruise of the season feels like the first one ever. Plying the waters during those early days is an annual rite that never fails to accentuate the fact that we’re here…free to breathe and forget winter’s chill! We’re all younger and healthier and happier than we’ve been in such a long time.

There are the Friday nights on our screened porch, talking and laughing and enjoying cold beer, where we fall just short of solving all of the world’s problems. But there will always be next time, we all believe.

There are days full of sun, spent on the pier and in the water, and playing kids’ “stuff” in the magical water. Weekends we moan about the out-of-control “weekend warriors” who show up for a couple of days and disturb our pristine and perfect conditions!

Come late Sunday afternoon, though, the noise level diminishes, the lake settles down, and our lives are peaceful once more. Dusk creeps in while we’re not looking, and the lights all around the lake begin to flicker on—one by one—as another summer night arrives.

Sometimes the days are void of sun and blue skies—that’s OK—given over to rain and low-hanging clouds. There is often thunder and lightning—terrifying at times—and we wonder how the ancient structure that is our cottage manages to remain upright.

The tall, old oaks sigh and groan at the wind’s persistence, tearing forcibly out of the southwest, straight across the lake waters.

A rainy day is welcome, after so many idyllic ones in a row. These kinds of days are my IMG_1074.jpg“writing times” when I work on my novel or short stories in the perfect spot on the porch, where I’m sheltered from the storm outside. I can look out over the curtain of gray pounding down through the trees and steadily pelting the lake. All is good!

Summer days. I haven’t given them much thought until just now. The frigid state of things outside, and the reality of the little blurb that popped up on my computer screen when I sat down to write, triggered thoughts and memories of so many summers past and the summer ahead.

And if only for a brief time this morning, I’m warmed by the good days that lie in wait five months away–far removed from -22° wind chill!