Lake Michigan Shoreline

Lake Michigan Shoreline
original art by Annie Russell

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Moving Into Venetian Festival 2017

photo by me- Venetian 2009

While Venetian 'officially' started this past Saturday with Aquapalooza (the crazy boat-to-boat-filled-party-on-Lake-Charlevoix) for me it really starts today with an entire day of prep for Kids Day at Michigan Beach tomorrow.
Kids Day is a mini Venetian Festival within the larger event designed for young children 12 and under (or so). Its set up down at 'my' beach with games, a petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, and craft booths (and some wandering clowns but I like to pretend that those aren't there). Our little bistro/concession is smack dab in the center of the event and we are responsible for making sure that over 700 kids and their parents get their fill of hot dogs, french fries, smoothies, and snow cones. Its crazy-busy, fast paced, lots of fun and the pinnacle of our season.
Tonight we will go to the first of the evening concerts after work- tonight is Lover Boy (I'm sure my middle and high school Self will be all fan-girl about it LOL) In fact, from now until Saturday night we will finish work, drive home, let the dogs out, change our clothes and drive back for festival and fair activities, fire works and very bad-for-you-but-tastes-great-fair-food. By Sunday everyone in the county is brain dead and hung-over. Its tradition.

Happy Venetian Festival 2017.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Of Beaches and Gardens; of Cooking, Writing and Painting-- summertime life at its best



photo credit- Annie Russell

Good morning out there- this is my 'day off'. Hahahahaa!! Seriously, though, that means restaurant supply time. Its mortifying to hand customers the basket of chips to choose from which is holding 1 bag of Cheetos and 4 bags of Fretos LOL! So there is that necessary chore.

I also need to hit the AT&T store because apparently my cell phone number has been hijacked. There is nothing odd showing on my device insofar as outgoing calls or texts but I have been getting calls and texts from unknown numbers insisting that I have contacted them- and screen shots of my number on texts to prove it. Its kind of creepy. I'm hoping that swapping out the SIM card will take care of whatever this is.

There is also the daily garden visit to Rosecliff Cottage. Planting is done but watering and maintenance will be an everyday occurrence from now until the end of September. So if you need to find me I will be either at the beach or in the garden - rough life, eh?

I'm also working on an outline for a book that I'm hoping will be ready for 2 Paranormal conventions I will be at this Oct. I'm excited about this one as it will incorporate my art as well as my writing; not that I'm not excited about the first one .. but you know what I mean. This one will be a work-book of sorts with meditations based on a garden theme. There will be lots of color and blank pages for the reader to jot down notes, doodles, or thoughts on the activities. I'm anxious to get moving on it...

But for now Summer is moving along nicely; business is beginning to pick up at the Beaches with the new menu items being a resounding success so far- especially the Smoked Whitefish Sliders. I love being busy in the kitchen and then getting to take a break and watch Lake Michigan when it slows down. Ending my day with glorious flowers and cool greenery at Rosecliff's garden's its the icing on the day's cake...

Happy Summer everyone!



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Soul Gardens and Dream Spaces



Red Dahlia by Jennie Marie Schell 

 There are days, no WEEKS, that I just cannot stomach the news. I try to stay informed but the constant barrage of dead children, abused animals, apartment fires, blown up kindergartens (this morning from China), and our own government continually working against 'we the people' feels like the death of a thousand cuts to my soul.
  I sit at 'my spot' at the dining room table, coffee in hand, and try to be an 'adult'; I catch up on emails (70% of which are spam), return those that need my attention, check my digital and paper calendar, pay what bills I can and attempt to stay informed but what I really want to do is lay on my back in the tall grass of a secluded meadow and watch clouds float by over head. And as I mentally add lemonade and a nice blanket to this internal dream space  the next news story is about ticks and lyme disease.

*sigh*

I add a spray can of poisonous Deet to the image and move along to updating business pages.....

  I am seriously considering hacking away at my on line preferences to show ONLY happily adopted children and animals, couples celebrating 75 years of a joyous marriage or relationship, what colors to paint a room, decorating journals, and food porn. I just don't know if 'staying informed' is healthy any more... at the same time I wonder if running from the on-going insanity is giving up and allowing it all to continue.
  Should I be a warrior or an escapist? Is there a way to be both???
I mean, can I work in my soul- garden cultivating beautiful flowers AND be strong enough to weather the constant stream of hurtful insanity that seems to flow from every direction? Can I use that garden to filter the stream so that only those insane items I MUST deal with can come through? And how do I determine what those are???

  These words float to the top of my consciousness as I ponder that question :

~Ritual

~Guides

~Meditation

~Yoga

~Art

~Goddess

~Strength

~The Color Red

~Breath

~ Ground, Center, Shield


Time to work on my Soul Garden. How about you? What will you plant in your's?


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dancing and Balancing -My Card

2 of Pentacles card by Kim Richelle of House of Rue


  My dear friend Kim Richelle has been drawing and illustrating a Tarot deck and chose me to represent the 2 of Pentacles - I love it not only for the artwork and thought but because there is such a positive spin to the balancing act portrayed - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Balancing On Beams Of Light. Isn't that wonderful? 
  It is a perfect reminder for me this morning that I have the skills necessary to not only get the things done that I need to but that I can do it joyously as well. And in the end if a (self imposed) deadline is pushed back a bit the sun still rises and sets, the planets still dance along their cosmic course and I still can don a pink tutu and tights and dance along with it all...
 Thank you Kim <3

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rain Days and Painting With Words

 
'Lilacs At The Mac' -original by me. Available now

Its 'summer' now so one of my morning rituals is to check the weather forecast and the radar for the beaches -- this morning's radar showed large blobs of greens and reds headed over the lake to the shoreline. That lovely image coupled with a high of 45* at the beach means a rain-day for me. While a little disappointing its par for the course this early into the opening season. So instead of of rushing out the door to open The Beach House I dressed in non-kitchen clothing and put on a little bit of make-up just because I could.
 Over coffee my husband and I went over the logistics of opening the next two Concessions and potential employees to call for interviews. Given that everyone who *says* they want to work actually shows up I may have a summer-time first in that I will have all necessary employees before July-Yay!
 After that I gathered up the last week's etsy sales, packed, addressed them and sent them off to be shipped. My husband headed into Charlevoix to drop things at our daughter's place and start the
set up of new equipment at the Ferry Beach location- that one will open in a couple of weeks.
 I may or may not go in to plant more flowers at Rose Cliff- if the rain continues then its a definite NOT. I have been battling a migraine for several days and standing out in the cold rain seems like a very bad idea.

  In 'new' news to some of you I have wandered into a different art form; this past winter I wrote a small non-fiction book. I have to say that creating the written body has been oodles more fun that editing and formatting for printing. But after my husband left this morning I worked through yet another edited file and re-submitted it for review in the hopes that this is the LAST one for this book.
I have some ideas floating around for a second one but this headache is severely curtailing my computer time so I will let those ideas perk around for a bit before I begin an outline and typing.
  Writing anything longer than a blog post has been really interesting; the creative process is like painting with words- crafting the language to create a mental image and I've enjoyed it immensely.

  That's your news and updates from my corner of the North for now- Here's to Sunny Days to Come!

until next time...
Annie
 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Summer Season 2017 Is Here

The Beach House at Michigan Beach - Open for Summer 2017


 The calendar is telling me that its summer. The extra people in town are saying its summer. The fact that my restaurant is open and I'm cooking food tells me that its summer. The weather is NOT saying that its summer! Typical Northern Michigan!

  I am writing this from the very middle of the Memorial Day/Opening Weekend of the 2107 Summer Season. Its still pretty chilly down at Lake Michigan Beach but the sun's been out so its doable. Or rather would be if it weren't for the biblical plague of tiny black gnat-like things called Midges that have descended on the lake side environs of northern lower Michigan like some cloud from Hades. Thank goodness they don't bite! However they land on and stick to everything and everybody- tables, benches, trees, grass, buildings, people..... The swarms are so thick that you have to hold your breath walking or they will get in your mouth and nose. This is NOT conducive for outdoor dining. Or outdoor anything....
  So for our opening weekend my loyal can't-wait-for-those-fries customers are covering their noses and mouths against Midges, running to the window to order take out and hurrying back to their cars as fast as they can. Kind of a let down for all of us. This horde of awful winged demons should only last another couple of days and then we'll all enjoy the patio, the lake breezes and the fresh beach air.

Happy Summer Ya'll

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Little Did I Know...




Hello after an almost full winter of no blogging. Its not because I had nothing to say - Lord, no! There was SO much to yammer on about but I was unsure as to how public I could be so I didn't write anything here. It seems now, though, that the situation is for the most part public so I finally feel comfortable chatting.

  Regarding the title of this post - My last post was Oct 29, just before we left for New Orleans. One month later to the day  my granddaughter was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with catastrophic heart issues- the general diagnosis is Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome as well as Ebstein's Anomaly and a Coarcted Aorta. I believe there was a heart murmur in there as well. No problems has been found during the pregnancy so this all came as a huge shock. My granddaughter - named Aurora for the northern lights her parents love so much - was flown from Marquette to CS Mott at U of M Hospitals in Ann Arbor. My daughter and her husband drove the 4 hours from the U.P. to Charlevoix where the 3 of us took a chartered Cesna to Ann Arbor. We arrived at about 11 pm that night with Aurora getting in at about 1am. My son-in-law's family as well as members of mine all converged on the hospital and we spent a surreal night and morning in the family waiting room of the NICU ward on floor 10 of CS Mott Children's Hospital. ( this waiting room will be forever burned into my consciousness.) It was several hours before we were able to see Aurora and when we could it was devastating.  Over the next few days I would learn exactly how sick this baby was and the amazing people who kept her alive in order to stabilize her and give her a fighting chance.
   But when I wrote the last entry here all I could think of was how behind I was getting ready to leave for New Orleans and how grateful I was that my son didn't need an appendectomy. I had no idea how familiar I would become with navigating huge hospitals and how this last trip to New Orleans would be so difficult.
  So we left on time - headed down to Louisiana with no issues or hold ups. We arrived and settled in but we were both uncomfortable and remained so. It was a different kind of year. For one, I was no longer working for a nola client having released that contract the month before due to severely dwindling orders. Secondly both kids were on our minds- our son and his health and finances and our daughter with her pregnancy and finances. Our finances were becoming a concern as well due to their finances (parents: you know how this goes lol). Finally Jack and I talked and agreed to leave a week early. We were antsy, uncomfortable and running low on funds. We could've stayed but it would have pushed everything to the limit and that made us nervous. And thank the GODS we listened to these feelings! The day my daughter and son in law and myself flew to Ann Arbor was actually the day that Jack and I were due to be home from New Orleans.
I will forever be grateful that my husband and I are believers in intuitive action.

Ronald McDonald Hospital - Ann Arbor,Mi



    So my family and I were suddenly thrown into a fairly exclusive club- that of the care-takers of a "Heart Baby" - we families of these babies become very well versed in non-verbal cues; are the nurses and doctors running when an alarm goes off? If not- we can't panic. If they are we hold our breath, step out of the way and start texting friends and family for prayers and candles.
  The Ronald McDonald House becomes a life-saver providing absolutely everything a family could need that has been dumped into the U of M complex with literally the clothes on their backs and nothing else. Food, linens, beds, clothing if necessary-- its all there and available. If you are a donation minded reader please add the Ronald McDonald Charities to your list. My family and I could not have made it through 3 months of surgeries without them.


  We members of this club learn what a 'tree' is and what all the medications hanging from it are doing for our baby. We learn what med is maxed out and we rejoice with the nurses every time one of those is brought down because each lowered dose means a larger bulwark against catastrophe should our baby need more of any medication.
   We learn what 'the bay' is and how to be supportive yet non intrusive to other families with babies residing there.
  We learn that like Baby Ducklings many Heart Families become decidedly attached to one or two nurses so much so that when they are moved to another child's bedside we mourn and must learn to accept the next nurse.
  We learn that 'moving to the 11th floor' in the Pediatric wing is akin to Dorothy getting to the Emerald City - its almost a myth because its the last floor to successfully navigate before your child is released to go home.
  Then we discover the sadness and fright of being released; we have learned to love and trust the security guards, the nurses, techs, surgeons and janitorial staff of this place. We have cocooned ourselves and our baby within this submarine where time is slippery and life moves along a secondary path to 'out there'.


   And then we are home with this baby that seems both terribly fragile and incredibly mighty to have survived open heart surgery at only a few weeks old.
   We learn feeding tubes and how to administer 15 different medications that will keep her alive. We learn to measure oxygen levels and count calories and check weight gain. And we count down to the next surgery.... Mostly we get to know this tiny yet mighty Being that has been sent here to us. It is humbling.
  And that is where we are now- Aurora has just completed her second open heart surgery at CS Mott in Ann Arbor; safe and  once again cocooned within the walls of that place. We have once again been awed with the skill and dedication of its surgeons, doctors, and nurses; the good nature of the security guards and janitorial staff. Once again bearing right at the literal Fork in the hallway to head to the dining room and seeing what new knitted hat has been placed on Superman's head to ward off the chill in the front lobby.
 We have learned of friendship and generosity - the people at home who have gone above and beyond with financial and spiritual support. It is humbling. Aurora should be home again within the next two weeks with a corrected heart and minimal medications. We are all hoping to gather the friends and family who have been so supportive over to actually meet this child that they have all held in their thoughts and prayers all of these month. I cannot adequately express my thanks and gratitude.
 So little did I know a few months ago when I typed my last post...