#2 Midges and Firsts

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Midges are mating on my laptop!

There’s definitely no lack of bugs here. Right now the midges are starting to peak. They are everywhere we walk. Initially I thought they were gnats, but was informed by Hugh that they are called midges. They hatch in the water where they spend the majority of their life cycle as juveniles and teens. Eventually they climb out of the water and start growing wings. With wings they are now adults; horny ones at that. They only have eighteen hours to do their thing, then they die. That is if the spider strings don’t catch them first. Or if they don’t get eaten by birds.

I’m sitting outside on the porch getting dive bombed. (At dinner I asked Hugh “What’s the difference between a porch and a deck?” “Well, generally a deck doesn’t have a roof and a porch does.”) Two midges landed, butt to butt, on my keyboard as I’m trying to type away on my book. Fortunately they are perched on the seven and eight (have to spell it out so I don’t type on them.) Other midges come in for a landing on my arms, shoulders and head with no regard that they are landing on me.

Fortunately midges don’t care about eating, at least not at this stage. So they don’t have anything to bite me with. That means, unlike mosquitoes, I don’t have to swat to stay alive and I can enjoy the sun and fresh air. It’s about 56 degrees this afternoon. Balmy compared to yesterday morning’s low 30s. I’m quite comfy in a long sleeve t-shirt and wool sweater and sunglasses.

Besides the fact that it’s beautiful outside and we try to be out when ever we can, I’m outside because the house feels like a boiler room right now. Well to be more specific it’s 82 degrees and fairly humid. The wood heat stove has been going all day because today was laundry day!

“What fun thing shall we do next?” (or tomorrow or today) is a favorite expression of Hugh’s. When I asked it of him last night he said he needed some laundry done. Doing laundry means really doing laundry the old fashioned way – with a Maytag EL2 washer and wringer. It is electric but it is pretty darn simple. Laundry for simplicity of plumbing’s sake gets done outside. We hook the drain hose to the drain pipe. Turn on the outside (38 degree lake water) hose and begin to fill the washer. Put in a little laundry soap, add clothes, add more water to the “water” line. Close the lid. Turn on the power and turn on the agitator. “Chugga, chugga, chugga, chug…” goes the washer.

“How long does is run? Does it have a timer?” I hadn’t seen one on the washer.

Hugh points to his head.

“General wash cycles are about 12 minutes for regular, 8 minutes for light dirt and 15 for heavier loads.”

We chat about doing wash this way and how it gets clothes just as clean as the newest machines. As we wait our 12 or so minutes I get another “first.” (Today has had a number of firsts as you can well imagine this week and the next few will contain.)

“There he is…” Hugh points to the snowshoe hare poking its nose around the remnants of last year’s garden. Only his feet, tail and tips of his ears, the hare’s not Hugh’s, are white. The rest of him is a soft, light brown. He’s a little timid but not completely scared by us. A red squirrel scampers by our feet oblivious of the chugging washer or the hare.

Also on our list of “exciting” things to do today are fix the bed, make bread, do laundry (doing), build me a bookshelf for my clothes (Hugh), write (me), and do some bodywork on Hugh for his tinnitus.

“Want to take the canoe from this dock to the upper dock?” I’m asked. We had thought about going canoeing but the winds were a little strong this morning and it was too cool for it to be enjoyable.

“When we go I’d like to go exploring rather than just around the bend.” He agrees with my response.

Okay, here’s another first maybe not as exciting as fresh baked bread (yes he used a bread machine. We’ve got electricity from the solar voltaics and batteries so why not utilize it? Yummm!) I’ve mentioned that there’s a composting toilet. Well Thursday I decided that since I’m using it the most (I’ll explain what I mean) that I would make sure it gets turned each day. It gets turned seven times around until it clicks, and that has to be done three times in a row to make sure everything gets thoroughly mixed.

There are also two outhouses. One close to the house and guest cabin and another half-way down the island. Hugh generally uses the outhouse, helps to minimize maintenance, where as I have appreciated the privy being in a warm and comfortable spot. So I’ve been using the composting toilet that’s in the bathroom more than he does. I figure that although I’m technically his “guest,” I’m also actually living here so I’m not about to place myself above doing chores. And turning the compost is no big deal. (Yes, Mom, I wash my hands afterwards. Ahhh! Mothers you always hear them regardless of where they are.)

This afternoon, sitting out in the warmth of the sun I decided it was time for a trip to the outhouse. There was no excuse not to, so off I went. When I got there I just shook my head in amazement. Anyone who spends time with Hugh begins to shake their head while they think to themselves “How does he know that?” or “Wow, make made him think that?” or “Oh my, did he really do that himself?” The more you are around him the more you shake your head in amazement.

I constantly find myself wanting to ask “What inspired you to…?” or “How did you know how to do…?” Again, here I was shaking my head in amazement wondering about the workings of Hugh’s mind. An outhouse is supposed to be an outhouse, right? Okay, I’ve seen a number of outhouses – including a couple two seaters and a six-sided one. But never have I seen one with a real, actual door including glass window and a window in the wall. It was the sunniest outhouse that I have ever visited. And the sun was behind clouds!

Yes, you don’t want others to wander by and gaze in at you doing your business. You want some privacy. Well he located the door so you can’t see it or into it unless you are standing right in front of the door. And the window looks out into the woods. There is no footpath on that side of the accommodations. Animals are the only thing you would have to “worry” about gazing in at you. And if one happens to be a black bear, which do visit here, you’re in a really safe place!

Laundry is hung up to dry. Fresh bread is already half devoured. Composting toilet is turned. Outhouse has been duly visited. This morning we “fixed” the bed. No we didn’t bust any bed springs but it does sag in the middle. I mentioned this to Hugh last night as we were playing Scrabble. He thought I was wooping him because I cleared my rack (50 points) and scored 78 points with “dolphin” and a few other high scoring words. But he consistently had scores in the high teens and beat me fare and square by 20+ points. Sorry I’m digressing from telling you about fixing the bed.

We love sleeping curled up with each other. This means his side, my side or in the middle. However I’ve noticed that when we’re both in the middle it really sags. “Well it’s a brand new bed. I got it a year and a half ago.” There goes my suggestions that we eventually get a new mattress. “I had some money burning a hole in my pocket and was feeling a little rich from working on the Sullivan.” I interpret this as “After I set aside into savings for what I need for the year I had some extra that could be spent on something worthwhile.” He expressed slight disbelief when I mentioned the bed being quite soft. Yes it has a pillow-top on it. No, it can’t be flipped.

“I noticed last night that I did tend to roll down into the middle towards you,” he told me this morning over oatmeal with dates. “Let’s try putting some bath towels under it and see how that does.” So we did. We’ll see.

Well my bookshelves are ready to be inhabited. When Hugh picked me up Monday afternoon he told me we had some errands to run. “I want to find a dresser for you to put your clothes in.” This made me smile. How thoughtful of him. “I made you some space in the closet, but you’ll need more room.” How considerate of him to not make me live out of my suitcases.

“Even boxes will work stacked on their sides.” I told him with a kiss. “I lived that way for a number of years. It was no big deal.”

“Let’s see what we can find in a used shop. And if not I’ll build you some shelves.” No dressers were to be found that weren’t made of expensive cardboard/pseudo-wood.

Lunch was leftover ham and bean soup, homemade hash browns, a thick slice of bacon and an egg.

“Do you want the one-yolk egg or the two-yolk egg?” Hugh asked as he was frying the eggs.

“It doesn’t matter to me. Did you scramble mine?”

“Ohh!” Quickly he scrambled mine.

Now the spiders are careening into me. They are spinning gossamer strands to catch the midges. Thoughts of “I don’t know why she swallowed the fly perhaps she’ll dies…” come to mind as I try to coax this teeny spider to go somewhere else before I accidentally squish it. It’s playing ‘possum with me hoping I’ll be the one that goes away.

“Well I better get to work on your shelves or else I’ll want to take a nap.” Off he goes to the workshop on the first floor. After three hours of pulling out rough lumber in eight and ten foot planks, he’s measured, cut, planed and joined beautiful pieces of elm and sassafras together into shelves for me. I’m not to put any wet tea mugs or such on it yet as the wood is still unfinished as he said they may need some finishing touches.

But now I have a place to put my treasures as well as my clothes and books. The ten dollar bill that I found picking up garbage. The seagull skull, some feathers yet to be identified, pretty stones (even though there are lots of pretty stones all over the island) and my smaller puddingstones. And most importantly the card he gave me telling me how his days won’t be lonely and his problems won’t be unbearable with me in his life.

Last night he told me again, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Me too.”

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About juliemckaycovert

I am a therapist, teacher, photographer and published author. I am a lover of life and nature. My husband, Hugh, and I live off the grid on a remote 40 acre island, Shelter Island, just off of Drummond Island in the far eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This blog is about my life, a life I thought I'd never be able to live. This blog is about dreams and ideals being manifested. It is about daily events with a backwoods twist. It is about the simple pleasures and wonders being brought forth. I invite you to be inspired and even, as some friends have, live vicariously through my words.
This entry was posted in Laundry, Michigan, Midges, Off the Grid, Puddingstone, Shelter Island and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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