Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Walk with Cindy and the Dogs

Sparky, Lucy, and Cindy

Almost every day this summer I have walked in the morning with Cindy Selfe and her two dogs, Sparky and Lucy. Sparky and Lucy are brother and sister, though their mother apparently slept around because though they were from the same litter, they had different fathers.  They have very different tempraments, but they take care of each other, and then Cindy and then me.

Each day we walk four miles.  Down our road, Frimodig Rd, to Lake Medora Rd, then up to where Lake Medora splits.  Two miles each way.  Here we are starting from my house.

And here's the turn-off to Lake Medora Road.

Here is our piece of "road art," early on Lake Medora Road.

And here is our road, where we walk together with the dogs, talking about what we are reading, our hoped-for round the world trip, our day-to-day activities, and various other topics.  Our motto is what is said on the road, stays on the road.

Our road continues.  Here we are at about the quarter way point, one mile up the two mile road.

And here we are just about at the turn around, whereupon we walk down the road in reverse.

Lots of interesting things on our walk, like deer tracks

And wildflowers

But the absolute best part of the walk is Lucy, Sparky and Cindy.  Alas, they will soon return to Ohio State to get ready for the new academic year. I will (try) to continue this regular walk but it will not be anywhere near as much fun as it is with Cindy et al.  


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

On a Reading Jag

One of the absolute best things about retirement is the ability to read whatever and whenever  you want. In fact, when people ask me what my retirement plan is, the first thing I think of is reading.

Last summer I read a lot about Budapest and Vienna (which I thought we might also visit).  That was my main reading jag: one book kind of led to another.  But I went on a series of mini-jags during the summer.  I read the wonderful novel Euphoria by Lily King which is based on Margaret Mead and her then husband Reo Fortune and her future husband Gregory Bateson, all in New Guinea doing anthropological fieldwork.  I also read Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman about Michael Rockefeller who was looking for primitive art and was attacked by cannibals in New Guinea.  That led me to Peter Matthiessen's Under the Mountain Wall, which was his account of the same expedition Michael Rockefeller was a part of when he disappeared,  Then just some more books about New Guinea art (with which I was utterly unfamiliar).  I also went on a mini-jag about bog people, reading Karin Sanders' Bodies in the Bog and P.V. Glob's Bog People, then some of Simon Schama's Landscape and Memory; that was a completely unexpected turn in my reading adventures.

This summer I am on a sort of World War II reading jag.  I came home from Budapest having learned so much about Hungary in World War II.  The parts of Parallel Stories I found most compelling were those about the war.  I then read Dark Continent by Mark Mazower (wonderfully ironic title) about Europe in the 20th century.  After that I read Martin Amis's unbelievably smart and clever book about one of the Auschwitz camps, The Zone of Interest.  That was followed by W.G. Sebald's A Natural History of Destruction, about the German amnesia concerning the bombing of German cities during the end of the war.  Followed by The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan about Australian POWs building the Japanese train line in what was then Siam.  I kind of like to alternate fiction and non-fiction.  But I am not sure what to read next.

The "problem" with reading such compelling, well-written, important books all together is that it's hard to go back to books that are not so well-written, compelling, or serious.  But really most of life is made up of reading books that are "good," not "great."  I am trying to decide whether to start Orlando Figes' book about the Russian Revolution, A People's Revolution. That is a huge decision because it is a mammouth book.

I should also say that I read flippy mysteries on my Kindle while I am doing "serious" reading.  I read them at night in the dark next to my husband in bed.  Most of them were bought for about $1.99, as part of a Kindle Daily Deal.

I am writing about this in perhaps too much detail because reading is a big part of what I do in retirement and at the lake.  Along with swimming, eating, drinking (martinis or gin and tonics), it is a favorite: perhaps THE favorite.

Do you ever go on reading jags?  What are you reading now?  I would love to know.


Friday, July 3, 2015

The Lake. Retirement.

We first came to Lake Medora five years ago at the invitation of our great friends Cindy and Dickie Selfe.  Cindy and Dickie used to teach at Michigan Tech, but when they left to work at Ohio State, they kept their summer lakeside "camp," which they owned with Jill Burkland and Randy Freisinger.

I immediately fell in love with Lake Medora and their house.  When we left Louisville it was miserably hot, and the first thing I did was ask if I could have a swim.  That night we slept under blankets in a room with window fans.

I love lakes for many reasons.  One reason is that you can really swim in them.  I am not a strong enough swimmer to swim way out in the ocean.  And I don't like swimming in a pool, because you have to keep turning around.  But in a lake I can swim almost indefinitely--sort of like walking.  I do a lazy breast stroke, and if I were ever to get too tired I would just turn over and float.  I also like lakes because most of the ones I have visited as an adult are northern.  The weather at Lake Medora is so easy.  Here it is almost the fourth of July and we are still sleeping under blankets.  (This would not have been true of Lake Marion.). And I love lakes because, as the previous post relates, they are connected to my childhood.

Cindy and Dickie invited us up the next summer, and there was a beautiful little house for sale just across the lake from them. As soon as we walked into the house, we instantly knew we wanted to buy it.

Our house at Lake Medora is perfect for us.  It is small and compact, consisting of a great room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a loft.

We have a lawn that sweeps to the lake and three lovely established gardens.  We are secluded, on a private dirt road surrounded by trees.

I love Lake Medora because I can swim. The Keweenaw where are located is surrounded by Lake Superior, which is beautiful but very cold and basically unswimmable.

Lake Medora, on the contrary, is an inland lake, not very deep and warm enough to swim in from June to October.

Me, swimmming across the lake.

At the lake I live in a beautiful compact house.  I have an outdoor life--walking, gardening, sitting outside in the hammock and reading.  I have friends who I knew before we retired--mainly people at Michigan Tech I met during a sabbatical semester in 2001 who have over the year become important friends.  Here, I spend a lot of time reading and working on various projects (subjects of future posts).  I cook most nights (something I dislike at home but, by necessity, enjoy here).  And because sometimes you just need a little more narrative in your life, Tony and I watch TV series on DVD in the evening.  We favor British mysteries and period dramas, etc.

I am honestly not sure I could have retired (or retired happily) if it weren't for the lake.  The lake gives me a respite from Louisville heat and Louisville routines.  It provides a different way of living.  My days have a very different rhythm, and Tony and I have an almost different relationship when we are here: more rooted in being together day-to-day.

Sunset over Lake Superior