Winter Pursuits

February 15, 2021 | My Jottings

We have had a long stretch of such achingly cold weather. I’m a homebody, so I usually love winter, but this has really been getting to me. For days upon end, it has been way below zero at night, and mostly not even above zero during the day. If you live where Celsius readings are used, we’ve been between -16 degrees to -40 degrees in some areas north of us. Or for those used to Fahrenheit, we’ve been seeing the thermometer go between -2 degrees to -46 in some areas north of us. This morning, it was 38 degrees below zero at Lloyd’s cabin about fifty miles from me. Twenty-two below here. I know that so much of the country is experiencing snow and cold.

Last week a bunch of ice fishermen were sitting out on the ice of Lake Superior, when a crack in the ice formed. The wind blew the thin ice floe they were on further out into the huge lake, away from shore. Emergency crews with boats were called, and a couple dozen people were rescued, but all their ice houses, augers, sonar depth trackers and tackle stayed on that ice floe. (Photo credit Minneapolis Star Tribune).

Over the next few days people reported seeing a lot of it sink into the lake, and some of the anglers interviewed said they’d lost hundreds of dollars worth of equipment. I never understood the desire to walk out onto a frozen lake you’re not sure is stable, set up a tent, drill a hole, and sit in the frigid cold hoping a fish would take your hook. When you compare that with a pot of soup simmering on the stove, some soft music playing, a fire in the hearth and a good book in hand, how is that not obvious which setting is best?

Rather than taking up ice fishing, my three daughters Sharon, Carolyn and Sara and I have been taking a Fundamentals of Drawing class at Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art. It’s on Monday nights, but if it’s 25 below zero on that Monday night, it’s a little hard to go. We are learning how to draw in the most exacting and detailed way, and it has been so challenging and yet so soothing. Here are my three beloveds at their easels.

We have drawn facial profiles, feet, hands, and lips. And it takes me two hours to draw one thing exactly as the example shows, and even at the end of that two hours, mine still needs refining.

The instructor is teaching us to “see” dark and light, lines of demarcation, volume, envelopes, and weight. Soft music plays while seven of us work silently on our drawings. Some have taken the class before and have moved on to painting, and I hope our occasional giggles aren’t disrupting the otherwise very zen feel to the atmosphere.

Here is one of my drawings. The part on the left is what I’m trying to draw; the four faces on the right are what I ended up with after much drawing, erasing, stepping back, changing glasses, breathing deeply.

The guidelines we’re allowed to draw to help us get things right are very helpful. I’m afraid if I have to stop drawing horizontal and vertical lines I will never be able to draw.

I would say Carolyn is the best artist among us. Sara is also very artistic but likes to paint more freestyle. Sharon is so creative but she resorts to drawing narwhals and orcas toward the end of the classes for some comic relief.

It has been nice to be side by side with my daughters doing something new.

Have a peaceful week,

2192 Days

February 9, 2021 | My Jottings

It has been six years since Michael left this earth. At the very time of this writing, six years ago I was waiting for the funeral home to come pick up the body of the man I had known and loved for over 33 years. His suffering from Agent Orange-induced Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia was cruel. But he bore it with a patience and a submission to the Lord that still inspires me today, and makes me want to be like that.

I miss Michael’s grin, his huge, kind eyes. His rough hands, rubbing my ankles or clasped in prayer.

I miss how no project was too tough for him. He was willing to work at anything, and he threw his whole body and soul into whatever he was doing. Without ever complaining. Not one word of complaint in over 33 years, even if it was an outside job in 10 degrees below zero weather. That in itself is astounding.

I miss how when something really struck him as hilarious, he laughed so hard he shook silently and tears same out of the corners of his eyes. He laughed at himself, and wasn’t too proud to do something silly to make us howl.

I miss how animals instinctively knew he was trustworthy and gentle. He was a bird-whisperer, for sure.

I miss and admire his heart for the underdog, how all people had the same value in his eyes, and how he never thought he was above anyone else.

His lack of self-absorption was quite refreshing. He never wanted the spotlight and didn’t care a lot about what others thought of him.

Michael asked me to marry him before we ever met. He pursued me across the miles between Duluth, MN and Anaheim, CA, by writing letters and calling me for hours-long conversations every day for three months. Like most couples, we had some bumps in our road, but oh, what blessings have come to my life because Michael was mine, and I was his. I could write pages and chapters, maybe books, about the ways my life continues to be blessed because of my Michael.

I rarely stand in line at a grocery store without thinking of Michael. For some reason, he always thought waiting in line with our cart was a good place to wrap both arms around me in a big hug, plant a kiss on my cheek and whisper an I love you into my ear.

He became aware of the love of Jesus for him when he was thirty years old, dove headlong into that ocean, and never came out to dry off.

I’m so thankful for his beautiful life, and the unlikely way the Lord brought us together. Even though six years have passed and I’m happily remarried now, I don’t ever feel like I’m moving further and further away from Michael. On the contrary, I feel like each day brings me closer to him again, and thoughts of what he might be doing in heaven make me smile and yearn.

Friend, if you are reading this today, did you know Michael? What do you remember about him?