Re-discovering John Updike & a short visit home…

(Writing from home in northern Illinois)

Following the wonderful 4th of July weekend that was filled with kids and grandkids and plenty of

4th of July or Fourth of July
4th of July or Fourth of July (Photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton)

fun in the lake and in and around the cottage, I decided it was time to  venture back home for a few days to attend to those persistent “calls of  necessity.” Those, of course, include taking the recycling containers to the drop-off place at the nearby landfill, shopping to re-supply the essentials for the cottage, doing the laundry, and mowing, trimming, and edging the yard that is healthier than it’s ever been!

Regardless, it was time to come home. I was last home in early June, and today I feel kind of like a stranger in my own house. My routines in the kitchen, which are pretty automatic in the morning making coffee, taking care of clean dishes in the dishwasher, etc., aren’t so automatic at the moment. I find myself pausing to remember exactly where things go and the gentle order of operation when I’m here on a regular basis.

So, today I did the various shopping “runs” to Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart for those items I will take back to the cottage two days from now. I also put back on my bookshelves those books I finished reading during the past few weeks up at the cottage.

Cover of "Pigeon Feathers and Other Stori...
Cover of Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories

One of them, Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories by John Updike, re-affirmed my desire to get back to writing those short stories I keep meaning to finish. It was very good to read those stories I’d first discovered in my American Lit courses at Kent State, back about 1970 or thereabouts, and I saw things this time through that I failed to do then. Could it be that I’m older and wiser now? (Well, older anyway!)

I had two very good–uninterrupted–weeks of working on my novel, Sandbar’s Secret, but I had to shut things down with company and the festive weekend that was the 4th of July celebration.

And I didn’t mind shutting the old MacBook down one bit. Dragging the grandsons around the lake on a tube, dodging the insane “Weekend Warriors” on our lake, was fun, to say the least. The old 90-horse Yamaha outboard ran as smooth as ever, propelling our Tahoe pontoon around and through the waters without a hitch.

Now, with today’s “chores” finished, I can settle in and finish catching up on other e-mail and reading posts from my blog friends and offer a comment where appropriate. Tomorrow’s plan is to do the yard work early in the morning and take care of any other household duties which I haven’t gotten to as yet.

Before I know it, Thursday morning will roll around, and I will be packing the Chevy Equinox once again to return to the cottage on the lake. It’s good to know that there’s still plenty of summer left for writing and reading, and I am most anxious to get back into my novel WIP, Sandbar’s Secret, and find time to read the new biography, Updike, by Adam Begley. We have no company coming this weekend, so that is a good thing!  I love friends and family when they come spend a few days and nights with us, but I also savor those weekends when there are no such visitors!

And so, here’s hoping things are well in your world. I send you good wishes from a beautiful day here in northern Illinois, where today’s list has been checked off, and I prepare for tomorrow’s…CortlandWriter

Hotter than the 4th of July!…Actually, the 3rd

Summer has come to us here at Magician Lake, but we’ve been given a nice gift of a good breeze today, making things OK and really not too bad. After time spent at home last week, and getting used to, and spoiled by, air conditioning, it’s time to adjust to the weather conditions all over again. Our cottage’s air conditioning system consists of open windows, some window fans, and a ceiling fan on the front screened-in porch. As I said, when there is a breeze that comes off the lake, things are pretty much tolerable.

And so this first landmark of summer is upon us and I spend the time now reading, walking and “basking” in the lake, and trying to get myself back into a regular writing routine. I must confess that I have been rather lax in that department, opting, instead, to read the wonderful books I brought along for the summer.

Speaking of which, I am in the third book of the terrific Civil War trilogy by Michael and Jeffery Shaara, titled Gods and Generals. Historical fiction, yes, but they have painted a wonderfully clear picture of how it was before and after Gettysburg. The reader certainly gets to know so much more about Generals Lee, Grant, Longstreet, and others through it all.

And, of course, we’ve had some occasions to enjoy our two grandsons, who, in turn, have taken quickly to the new two-seater tube we purchased. Pulling them around the lake yesterday, capped off by jumping from the front of the pontoon into the cool waters of the deepest part of the lake was a highlight! Even Grandma and I enjoyed taking the plunge and letting the cool waters refresh us.

So at this writing, with the afternoon sun beginning to work its way around to the front of the cottage, making it a bit warmer, Carolyn snores gently on the futon, and I type away here on a wonderful summer’s day. Tomorrow we’ll make a trip over to see my mom and sister in Ohio, and I’ll enjoy a few cold ones and some 4th of July picnic food and be thankful for all the good things about summer.