Ice Can Be Beautiful . . .

December 20, 2008


 . . . but it can be destructive too.

We had an ice storm night before last, making  yesterday  a combination of a winter wonderland, extensive tree damage and power outages.

The power outage started about 6 a.m. involving a large part of the city, including us.  

100_4404  Every home around the lake was dark, except for the Christmas tree in that one.  Do you suppose it is battery powered?  Or are they using a generator to keep their tree on?  For whatever reason, it stood out in the darkness.  (Unfortunately, I had to magnify it so much to show the tree, that it’s blurry.)

100_4336d1  Remember this picture from a few night’s ago of the display in the neighbor’s yard?

100_4419f    Well, now a tree near the display is laying over on it, because of the heavy ice.


100_4475  Fortunately, this little tree of ours is only a couple years old.  Not big enough to have big branches to be weighed down by the ice.  Young enough to still stand up straight and look pretty with it’s icy dressing! (But, I notice the lovely evergreen across the street is leaning a little with the weight of the ice on its boughs!)

 100_4462f1 I like the “abstract-ness” of these photos of a bush taken through the ice on the sun room door.


100_4488t  The ice on the arbor was beautiful in it’s uniformity.



100_4485f  I think it’s interesting that the “ripples” in the ice on the lake give the illusion of open water.


100_4486d  I wonder if it was seeing bushes like this that first gave people the idea of hanging silver icicles on Christmas trees.  That would be my guess.

100_4544tg  Those are water drips just above the little everygreen.  At a friend’s home, water was dripping from the gutter directly onto that little bush, methodically thickening it’s icy coat. 


100_4494df1   100_4495g


The ice from the storm may be new, but the lake has been frozen solid for a few days now.  So, the ice fisherman are doing what they love to do.

100_4382x  You would never get me out there in that cold to fish, but when one of them says, “Come down for a fish fry!”, I’m perfectly happy to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Happy Saturday.  And, remember, if you get lemons make lemonade, but if you get ice, fish!  Right guys?

Kids + Water = Fun

August 23, 2008

One afternoon when DD’s girls were here, I took them to a nearby park where there is one of those “water features” which allows kids to get wet but not drown, and also there was lots of playground equipment.  Perfect!  Not only would the girls enjoy it but it would give me a chance to experiment with using the sports mode on my camera, to capture water.  What I found out is — it’s harder than it looks!!

But here’s what I got:

Coco being “girly” and squealing at the cold water.

Lulu acting “cool” — like, “This isn’t cold!”

And Mimi just being Mimi.

I don’t know who had the idea for this new, improved version of the old-fashioned running through the sprinkler, but my hat’s off to them.  This is a great idea.

But after a while there are just so many times even kids enjoy running through the ring of water, or standing under the bucket that fills up with water and then dumps it on your head.

So then there was some playing on the playground, mostly by Mimi.

But, the older girls did do some sliding on the slide and swinging on the swings.

They all said they enjoyed the park.  But, at home they had fun with a different kind of water.

Whenever there was a “break in the action,” i.e., downtime, during their visit, the girls’ default was to fish.  You’ll notice they’re wearing dresses in some of these pictures.  That’s because they came home from church and immediately went out to fish!

Here’s Papa and Coco discussing her fishing “strategy.”

Fishing in your church clothes gives it a little more “formal” look, don’t you think? (Papa, being not quite as enthusiastic, did take the time to change his clothes!)


Lulu didn’t let church clothes keep her from really getting into it!

Papa is always there to supervise and help.

And when they have some success, he’s there, of course, to hold the slimmy catch, so that the “fisher” can admire the “fishee” without having to touch it herself.  That’s what Papa’s are for, isn’t it?

Mimi uses a Barbie pole with a small piece of wood attached to it, instead of a lure, but is perfectly happy just spending time “casting” and then reeling in her piece of wood.

And while I was taking pictures of the fishing, I took this picture that I kind of like at the water’s edge.


Kids+ Water = Fun (and a chance for Nana to practice taking pictures!)

A Fishing Story

July 20, 2008

 I had to write three short stories for my fiction writing class.  Two that I wrote were meant to be funny.  This one was my attempt at writing something serious.  This idea for a story has been floating around in my head for several years, so I was glad to get it down on paper.  However, it wasn’t as well received by my classmates as the funny stories were, so maybe I should stick to humor.


A Fishing Story


Allen’s last memory was of lying on the lumpy twin bed in his efficiency apartment, watching a ballgame on the little black and white TV, while drinking shots of whiskey – lots and lots of shots. 


But now, even with his eyes closed, he knew he wasn’t there anymore.  He could tell he was lying on the ground outdoors.  He could feel the uneven earth and twigs and grass under him, and the smell of damp vegetation was strong. 


Allen cautiously pried his matter-crusted eyes open.  It took them a minute to focus.  But when they did, he realized he was lying on the ground in the middle of a woods.  As he carefully moved his aching head, he could see nothing but trees in every direction.  How had he gotten here? 


Had there been an accident?  Had he driven his car blasted again?  After the last time, when he had almost hit a jogger, he had promised himself he would never drink and then drive again.  But, apparently he had; how else could he have gotten here?


He slowly pushed himself to a sitting position. His eyes came into sharper focus, and his headache even began to go away.  Well, if he had been in an accident, it didn’t feel like he’d been hurt.  He slowly got to his feet and checked himself out – he couldn’t see any cuts or scrapes.  In fact, he was feeling stronger by the minute.  He was surprised that he suddenly felt better than he had in weeks.


So, if he’d had an accident, where was his car?  He stood perfectly still, and listened to see if he could hear any sounds of cars on a nearby road.  He didn’t hear any road sounds, but he did realize there was a sound of rushing water.  He must be near the river close to the house!  He had taken the kids there many times to fish, when he’d still lived at home. 


In his drunken stupor, had he automatically headed for “home?”  “Huh, that’s pathetic,” he said out loud and shook his head.  Marla had made it very clear that he wasn’t welcome there any more, or at least, as she had shouted that last day, “until you grow up and act like a responsible husband and father!”  Well, “old habits die hard,” so maybe he had automatically headed for the place his heart still called home.


Allen looked around again.  He didn’t recognize this part of the woods, so he started walking toward the river.  He would get his bearings from there.


As he walked, the sound of the water grew louder and he thought he could hear voices.  Maybe someone there could give him a ride.


Shortly, he came out of the woods at the river, but it wasn’t the familiar river he had expected.  In fact, it was unlike any river he had ever seen before.  All he could do was just stand there and take in the scene before him.


A large, powerfully-built man stood on the bank methodically casting a line into the rough, fast-moving waters, not appearing distracted by the spray from the churning water, the roar of the falls just a few yards away or the din of voices.  Several men stood silently behind the fisherman watching expectantly.


Suddenly, a strange sensation came over Allen.  He began experiencing thoughts and feelings that weren’t his own, and he knew somehow with certainty that they were coming from the fisherman.  He could suddenly feel the single-minded sense of urgency that the fisherman was feeling.


Allen thought, “He knows how important his task is to the people.  He is the only one who is equipped to do the fishing.  He must do it as fast as he can, before the catch is lost over the falls.” 


It was obvious the fisherman was an expert; he wasted no motion.  But, even when a cast was straight and true, many times the line came back empty.  When that happened, Allen could feel the fisherman’s feelings of regret and sadness.


Allen “knew” as if he’d been told, “There were so many.  If only he could catch them all, but the fisherman knew he couldn’t.  But, he would never waiver in his resolve to catch as many as he could – the people were depending on him.”


As Allen walked closer he realized the voices he had heard were coming from the water!  He stared in awe – it was filled with people, many of them seemingly oblivious to the falls they were being swept toward, and the certainty of death.  Over there, some young girls were actually chatting and enjoying themselves, as if they were taking an afternoon swim, totally ignoring the fisherman.  There, a grumpy-looking older man was so busy criticizing everyone around him, “Quit pushing! Get out of my way!  Keep your voices down!” so that he didn’t even see the lifeline when it was thrown in his direction.   A man Allen recognized as an Olympic swimming champion saw the lifeline but swam away from it toward the falls, depending on his own strength to survive.  There were many who were striving for the lifeline, but some of them lost interest and swam away without grabbing it. 


Over and over the fisherman would throw the lifeline, unerringly, near one of the people and if they grabbed hold, he would quickly pull that one in, and the men standing behind him would welcome them and wrap them in a warm, beautiful white robe.  Then that person would join the group gathered behind the men that Allen now saw was a huge throng of white-robed people – men, women and children – of every age, color and nationality, all praying and singing songs of praise, and watching expectantly for the next “catch” to join them.  The glow from so many assembled white robes hurt Allen’s eyes it was so bright, and the songs they sang were the most beautiful he had ever heard.


He suddenly understood.  He knew this Fisherman.  He was the “Fisher of Men” Allen had learned about in Sunday school.  But, why was Allen seeing and feeling all this?  Was he dead?  Was this Heaven?  If he was in Heaven, why didn’t he have a white robe and why wasn’t he part of the singing throng?


He turned back toward the river and looked at the people in the water again, and he realized that he knew many of the people there.  There was Aunt Millie, there was Dr. Bateman, there, there was — his family!  He watched with tears in his eyes as the Fisherman pulled Marla and then James and then Maddy to shore.  Allen was overwhelmed with feelings of thankfulness and joy that his family was all saved.


At that moment, for the first time, the Fisherman turned and looked Allen directly in the eye.  He didn’t say anything, but Allen felt a powerful emotion in those eyes specifically involving him.  Was it regret or was it relief?  He couldn’t tell.  Then the Fisherman turned back to his task. 


Next the Fisherman threw the line to a man struggling to stay afloat.    The rushing water swept him closer.  Now Allen could see the face – it was him!  The Fisherman cast the lifeline toward the thrashing man.  At first, he didn’t see it.  Then he saw it, but he seemed confused and unsure whether to grab it or not. He was going to miss it! Allen wanted to yell, “Grab the lifeline!  Grab hold – it’s your only chance – don’t you see the falls?”  But he couldn’t make a sound.  All he could do was watch helplessly.  And then, at the last possible second, he saw himself reach up toward the lifeline.  He could feel the muscles in his arms stretching to reach the line — but he was almost past it, in a second it would be out of reach! He tried stretching even harder one more time – he could feel every muscle in his body painfully straining, trying to reach the lifeline before he was swept over the falls.  Just a few more inches — reach! – reach!  And then . . . .


Allen awoke with a start.  He was bathed in cold sweat.  He had spilled the rest of whiskey on the tattered, thin blanket on the bed, so there was a nauseatingly sweet smell of sweat mixed with booze.  The ball game must be over; an infomercial was on now.  And then he was shocked when he looked at the travel clock on the wobbly little table and it said 5:36 a.m.!  It was morning!  He must have passed out and slept through the night.  It had been a dream. Thank you, God, it had been a dream.


He jumped up and grabbed the phone.  He knew Marla and the kids would be sleeping, but he was filled with such a powerful need to talk to them and care for them and love them that he couldn’t wait to call – he had to do it now!


Marla answered on the third ring.  Hello,” she whispered in her husky, just woke up, voice.


“Marla, it’s Allen.  I’m sorry to call so early but I have to talk to you right away.”


Marla was instantly, fully awake.  “Allen, what’s the matter?  What’s wrong?  Has something happened to you?”


Allen said, “No, Marla.  Nothing’s wrong.  In fact, I feel really good.  And, before you ask, no, I’m not drunk.  I have something really important to tell you.  Can I please come over?” 




“Marla, please listen.  I finally feel like I can give up my ‘whiskey crutch’ and, if you’ll give me another chance, I know now I’m ready to be the husband and father you and the kids deserve.” 


Still silence; and then, a sound of teary, uneven breathing.


Softly, “Marla?”


Marla cleared her throat and regained her composure, “Allen, I can’t tell you how much I want to believe those words.  How many times I have prayed for you to say those words.  But, I’m so afraid to hope.  Please don’t say them if you don’t really mean them.”


“Mar, I mean them with all my heart.  I suddenly feel an overwhelming need to heal my relationships — with you and the kids, and with God.  If you will take me on as a ‘project’ just one more time, I promise I’ll work and love and pray and appreciate with every fiber in my body.


Again, there was silence.  Maybe it was too late.  Maybe he had tested Marla’s love one too many times. 


Finally, Marla said, with a first glimmer of hope in her voice, “Okay.  Come for lunch.  The kids will be at your mom’s, so we can talk.  I will not give them false hope before we’ve talked this out.  If you’re going to come home, I want it to be for good.  They need their daddy so bad, but I don’t want them just to have you back for a little while – it has to be all or nothing.”


Relief and hope flooded Allen.  “That’s what I want too, Marla.  I’ll be there at noon.  Good-bye. . . . Wait!  Just one more thing.  Marla, even through all this, I never stopped loving you.  Do you believe me?”


“Yes, even with all that’s happened, I’ve always known you love me, and I’ve always loved you.  And, it’s only because I know that that I think there might be hope for us.  We’ll talk when you get here, Allen.”


 “Okay, I’ll be there.  Oh, and, Marla, let’s take a walk down by the river after lunch, okay?   I have a fishing story I’d like to tell you.” 




Gone Fishin’? Not Me!

October 9, 2007


Four years ago, Hubby and I were made an offer by a developer for the farmhouse we lived in and the land around it.  So we accepted the offer.

Soon after we had made the decision to move, we were invited to dinner with several other couples at the home of some retired friends.  When we walked out their french doors onto a patio that overlooked a small lake, we were in awe of the view.  And then they told us that even though this was a development, the lakes could actually be used — for swimming, (non-motorized) boating and fishing.  And, by the way, they said, the house second door was going on the market next week!  Long story short, we bought the house second door.

In many ways, the location of our new home on a lake has been a real treat for Hubby and me.  We love the view of the water, there are several sail boats on the lake that are beautiful to watch, and we know more about ducks, geese, loons, etc., than we ever imagined we could.  It’s a wonderful place to live, but fishing just isn’t something that holds alot of interest for us.  In fact, I have NEVER fished.

Well, our retired friend second door is an AVID fisherman, including ICE fishing, which I personally think looks like about as much fun as having all your teeth pulled!  In the winter, it makes me soooo cold when I see him hauling all his “stuff” way out on the ice and setting up his little shelter and then sitting out there for HOURS all bundled up looking down at that hole in the ice!  (Although, I have to admit that, when they invite us down for a fish fry, I’m glad he did it!)

When we moved here and Mr. Avid Fisherman found out I had never fished, it became a game between us to see if he could convince me to fish.  He was SURE that once I tried it, I would love it.  I was just as convinced that I didn’t have to experience it to know that I wouldn’t like it.  But, my lack of enthusiasm was no deterrent for him.

So, soon after our move, he asked me several times WHEN I was going to try fishing.  So, finally, I thought, “Okay I’d play his game”.

I said, “All right, you’ve convinced me.  I’d really LIKE to fish, but I don’t want to touch the slimey worm, so could you please come over and put the worm on the hook for me?”  Ahhh, he saw this as the first step to making me a fisherman, so he said, “Sure, I could do that!”  Rats.

So then I said, “Well, I have never touched a wiggly, scaley fish before, so could you come over and take the fish off the hook for me ?”  He said, a little less enthusiastically this time, “Yes, I would be willing to do that.”  (He was seeing this as a little more work for him than he had anticipated.)  

Well, then, I said, “Since I’ve never fished, of course, I’ve never cleaned one before either, so would you be willing to take it over to your house and clean it for me?”  (I certainly didn’t want that mess at MY house!)  He was starting to smile because he knew what I was doing, and wasn’t going to let me off the hook, so he said, “Yeah, I suppose I could do that.”  And, just to add emphasis, he said. “Anything ELSE?”

I said, “Just one more thing.  I like it lightly breaded!”

The four of us are still good friends, and I still don’t fish.