Chickens, Tarot, Croquet, Etc.

Well, these are the things that are on my mind right now!

Chickens!

The chickens continue to enjoy their new coop. Erin and I constructed a temporary daytime run for them and they are happily exploring the outdoors, eating more table scraps, chasing down bugs, doing chicken things. They are seriously funny creatures; we are really enjoying them. Yesterday I made a roost for them, next up are the nesting boxes, and then the real run, which will be a big job, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m learning so much in this whole chicken-coop building process. I frequently go outside just a few minutes of “chicken TV” to watch them.

Tarot

I’ve always liked Tarot cards; they are so beautiful and mysterious with their lovely art and interesting symbols, and so many varieties! I’ve been tiptoeing into learning them for years; I got a new pack over Memorial Day weekend and I’ve been doing a card-a-day reading — just pulling a card each morning and then writing a short journal entry on what the card brings up for me. It’s been a nice activity — simultaneously helping me learn the cards and also some good self-reflection time. The key is that my journal pages are not huge and I’m limiting myself to one page only — short and sweet! Helps me keep up the habit. Today’s card was The Tower: sudden unexpected change, often for the better, but disruptive and upsetting in the midst. Oh great, just what I need. But as I thought more about it and how it might apply to me and what I’m ‘not expecting’ or what I might need to be paying more attention to, it felt helpful. All good stuff.

Croquet

My dad gave me our old croquet set, which I think was my grandparent’s set. Anyway, it is seriously in need of rehab. Keith wants to have a croquet party so I’m trying to get it all fixed up in time. We may need to find a second set anyway (extra players) but it’s a good excuse to get the set all repainted and pretty. Thankfully the current paint is so old it’s sanding off with zero problem. I need to get some nice polyurethane or something to finish it off, but I’m excited to finish this project.

Etc.

I’ve been feeling a certain degree of burnout lately, just in general. My job is fine as always– a bit busier than usual, lots of medium-grade changes (which also seems to be per usual) — but I’m struggling with feeling burned out over all parts of my life. I think it’s less to do with my job (although that’s certainly part of it) and more to do with the pace of change in general over the past few years; we’ve moved several times, sold two houses and bought two houses, and have been fixing up our current (final!) house all year. It’s fun and has been exciting and satisfying but I feel like I could do with a two-week vacation of doing nothing. Not sure how possible that is, but perhaps at least a few long weekends might be in order.

We’ve been focusing on having fun on our Saturdays: we love thrifting and have been poking around local antique shops, and exploring new restaurants. That’s been very fun. We’ve also been riding our bikes more and trying to keep things low-key. Summertime pace. I love that. I’m trying to keep up on my 52-book goal (I think I’m on-track?) and have been exercising more, which also feels good.

Overall, things are good, I could just use a staycation (maybe with some camping). Speaking of camping, we are considering finding a vintage trailer at some point. Which necessitates needing a truck to haul it, but we’ve been thinking about selling Keith’s car and getting a pickup anyway (needing it for farm chores, loads of compost and such). I doubt there will be any rush on either of these, but it’s certainly fun to think about. Keith doesn’t enjoy many of the aspects of camping but he likes to get out and enjoy campgrounds and nature. I love ALL aspects of camping and will do whatever it takes to enable us to camp more! We’ll see how it goes. Fun to think about and consider. We looked at new trailers (just for fun) and although we liked them, we liked neither the price nor the extreme blandness of the decor. However, I love all aspects of the vintage-trailer idea and there seems to be many for sale; it is sure fun to look at them.

I have pretty much given up on my ‘goals’ for the year — I hereby reclaim my previous stance on yearly resolutions and goals: bah, humbug.

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Summer Start

It’s the week after Memorial Day — the start of summer. Here in Oregon we are having a mild spring; last week was low 60s with some rain. This week is 70s and sunny — it’s definitely feeling more like summer. I have some summer thoughts.

  • I have identified a need to play — to create and mess around and have fun without needing things to be perfect or to necessarily ‘produce’ anything. To that end, I got a bunch of craft books from the library and found a couple that I really like. Hoping to find some cheap used copies online somewhere, and then choosing 4-5 projects to fiddle around with this summer. I’ll post more on these later.
  • Along those lines, instead of my usual ceramics class, this summer Keith and I will be taking a travel sketch journal class Wednesday afternoon/evenings. I am not sure what to expect, but we’re planning a trip to Belgium and Paris next spring and thought it would be fun to learn how to do this type of sketch journaling. I used to love plein air drawing during my college art days — I’ve completely lost the touch and am looking forward to practicing with a loose-and-easy mindset (no grading!)
  • However, I won’t be abandoning ceramics — I intend to fill up the kiln and do at least one big firing this summer. I have a few projects in mind and some experiments to play around with. Hoping to bring friends in on this — a summer evening of messing around with clay sounds like a nice alternative to movie night.
  • My foot is finally healing enough that I can start my morning walks again. I think a nice way to start the summer day would be some stretching, a 30-minute walk and a few minutes of nature meditation. I’m not setting any goals, I’m just saying… I’d like that, and will try to include that a few times a week.
  • Got lots of house projects too, of course. I’m hoping we can paint Keith’s office and our bedroom/bathroom, and possibly look into updating our bathroom (tiling the shower and getting a new vanity, at minimum). There’s plenty of weeding and trimming and digging to do. I’ve been spending a few minutes after work doing some minor yard meandering with a shovel or clippers and that’s an excellent way to wind down after a busy day. Work has been more fast-paced than usual lately so I’ve needed some downtime to counteract it.

However, one thing is completed: the chickens are in the coop! They are very happy out there and are asking me daily when the run will be started and completed! I will be making a temporary ‘chicken tractor’ for them while we gear up for run construction, and they’ll need nesting boxes and roosts soon, but for now, they are happily exploring their big coop, looking out the windows, and generally getting bigger every day. I love having them; a mid-day ‘chick-check’ is a nice 5-minute break.

Interior self: I’ve been missing my old blog — basically since I stopped writing it. The internet changed, blogs changed — it just doesn’t seem as welcoming to the old spill-all blogs. I’m reluctant to write too much here that’s too personal — it doesn’t feel safe anymore. But, as a personal exercise in what my old therapist used to call “making the outside match the inside”, here are a few thoughts about my internal world lately. I’ve been feeling… stressed and rushed (but not necessarily bad), which doesn’t leave much time for contemplation. Work is a little wacky right now, I was (unhappily) very busy with several weeks of intense chiropractic care following a minor car accident which took up a lot of time, and things in general have felt a little high-pressure for various reasons. To counteract this, I’ve been reading as much as I can, spending time in the yard, encouraging hikes and walks with Keith and friends. I find these physical ways of releasing tension and stress more constructive than spending MORE time in my head, which basically just sounds like, “you should… don’t forget… you need to… do that thing… step it up on that other thing…” and hasn’t been a very welcoming place for peaceful contemplation. So I guess my interior world has been crowded and loud, and I’m trying to focus on making my external world feel more peaceful and let the clamor in the brain settle down. I suppose a few minutes of meditation daily wouldn’t hurt. I’m having trouble getting that habit in place. I have Headspace downloaded but currently it still seems like one more thing to do.

One thing I have been doing is a morning tarot reading, just one card. I’m trying to learn the cards and a single card per day is easy, fun and I’m enjoying it. That could count, right?

I enjoy summer, especially in Oregon, and we’ve tried really hard to keep this summer relatively unscheduled with a few exceptions (the Oregon County Fair weekend, a visit from some friends, perhaps a camping trip or two). I’m looking forward to a creative and fun summer, trying not to saddle it with expectations, just putting out some intention toward a relaxing season of warmth, sun and friends.

Moving Day (almost)

For the chicks, silly! Dad and I spent all day yesterday finishing up the coop: he and I installed the door and window, and then I spent the remainder of the day sealing up ventilation holes with mesh and hardware cloth. Those v-shaped hefty fence staple things are NOT EASY to pound in; I was incredibly tired last night. But, I was happy to go visit the chicks and tell them that moving day is this week! Not sure exactly when, but either tomorrow or Thursday. I can’t wait to have the guest room back; they’ve been in a large metal stock tank in there and it is sooo dusty. I’m going to have the clean the whole room. That’s OK; it’s been fun to have them in the house. Time for them to move out!

Which reminded me that this was moving time for us, last year right around this time. It’s been a busy year!

  • Got the house reroofed
  • Converted the garage into Keith’s studio
  • Painted 5 rooms in the house (including ceilings!)
  • Sheet-mulched all the garden beds (cardboard, etc.)
  • Fixed All The Things that broke pretty much as soon as we moved in, and continue to break.
  • Keith’s mother passed away
  • My mom’s hip surgery
  • Getting chickens
  • Lots of work-related trave
  • Etc. etc.

All years are busy, but this one has seemed extra busy. Lots of large projects and big life events. It’s been good, though — this is our ‘forever home’ and it’s been fun to fix things up. I’m glad we decided to stay put this calendar-year (no big travel plans except for a November family trip) — rest and recover, get settled here. It’s been fun to watch the seasons and discover all the secrets of this wonderful place we get to live.

I had lots of things I wanted to write about, but all I can think of this week are chickens. They will stay in the coop full-time until we can get the run fenced in… not sure when that will be, we may have to do a temporary daytime run for them while we construct the real one (with better fencing, etc). Hoping we can get that done by mid-summer so they can enjoy a lot of warm outside time before the year swings back to winter!

Friday Updates

So many updates!

First: we have chicks! Seven little cuties.

  1. Dirty Harriet: The oldest, an Americana (some Easter Egger mix, they were labelled Americanas – not Ameraucanas – but who knows what they are)
  2. Henrietta: Another Americana
  3. Piglet: the third Americana, so named because she is the littlest/youngest of the bunch.
  4. Bumbelina: a Barred Rock, so named because she was pasted over and needed some special care when we got her. She’s probably the friendliest of the bunch, maybe because she got handled so much her first few days here.
  5. Henny Penny: the other Barred Rock.
  6. Special Agent Dale Cooper (Coop): A Dominant Copper (get it: a ‘copper’ — she has shiny black feathers like Dale Cooper’s hair)
  7. Sheriff Harry Truman (Tru): The other Copper, because we couldn’t think of anything else funny that goes with Dale Cooper. And Harry had black hair too, so it works. (right?)

The coop is nearly finished; it’s roofed, all we need to do is put in the window and the door and screen in the vented areas. And put some nesting boxes and whatnot on the inside (and build the run…) BUT, pretty soon it will be ready for chicks, who are fast outgrowing their little enclosure in the guest room. They are so funny, I don’t mind having them in the house, but it’ll be nice when they’re out and can start being real chickens. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to focus on for the rest of the year. Keith has been clearing his schedule, unhooking from several time-and-energy-consuming responsibilities that don’t directly contribute to his sense of calm and well-being. I don’t have that many external responsibilities but I tend to overload myself with ‘shoulds’… I should clean the house, I should weed, I should garden, I should do laundry, I should plan dinners, I should take care of that thing, I should do this… all things that I generally enjoy doing, but it adds up to a lot of shoulds. I narrowed it down to three areas that I want to focus on:

  1. Reading: I want to reach my reading goal of 50 books this year, with plans to up it to 60 next year. This is actually important to me and has a direct bearing on my quality of life. I watched a great video about this (caution, will also make you want to travel to all the fabulous bookstores all over the world): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIW5jBrrsS0&feature=youtu.be
  2. Creativity: This is also important to me and worth my time. I do a lot of creative things (weekly ceramics, building a chicken coop, cooking, sewing, painting, gardening, random tiny projects here and there) but I would like to make it more of a priority — finish some projects, come up with some larger things I would like to complete, etc. Make it a priority, rather than what I do when I’m done with all the other things.
  3. Enjoyment: For my purposes, I’m thinking about this in this way: when faced with options of how to spend some time, whenever possible choose the more enjoyable option. “Should I go sit outside with a book or clean the bathroom?” Well, can I clean the bathroom later? Yes, I can nearly always clean the bathroom later. Go sit outside with a book.

I’m going to consider this and use as a guide for the rest of this year, and maybe these will be my only three areas of concern for 2020.

Speaking of creativity: my latest project in ceramics is bird feeders (and a few other things). This one will hopefully go in my dogwood tree, just outside my office window.

Gratuitous pictures of adorable nephews:

The afore-mentioned dogwood tree, in full glory right now:

And speaking of enjoyment, I took a day off this week to go for a day-long hike with my best friend Erin. It was pretty terrific, a perfect day in the woods with waterfalls and excellent company.

That’s it for this week. This weekend holds some nice things: a motorcycle ride, a birthday party, time to paint, prom-dress shopping with a lovely young woman, doing some coop work, choosing bedroom paint. Good stuff. Have a good weekend!

Goals and Such

Trying to get back to weekly (or maybe monthly) goals reports, plus some other stuff. Here is the pared-down list with updates!

Career:

  • Complete the Emerging Leaders training (10 sessions)
    • Attended my third session: learned some stuff, including that many, many people are terrified of writing coherent statements. Interesting.
  • Look into Mediation training; if applicable, take a class or course
    • The mediation company called me to see if I am interested. It is not inexpensive, so I need to review and see if this is something I should move forward with or not. Sooner than later.

Creativity:

  • Get home ceramics ‘studio’ area set up. Make leaf tiles for kitchen windowsill.
    • No progress; chicken coop construction is taking up all free time!
  • Creative practice every week: drawing, painting, ceramics, sewing, etc.
    • I will attend ceramics class this week and I have a painting project to complete ASAP, so hopefully lots of progress here in the next week or so.
  • 3 “other” art classes (other than ceramics)
    • One down; eyes open for two more.

Physical/Health:

  • 25 real pushups
    • Foot is still healing so I don’t want to flex it too far yet, but I am doing weights and can really tell a difference so I’ll say that’s progress!
  • Yoga or stretching every day, even just 5-10 mins
    • Have not got back into this habit yet but I need to.
  • Exercise 20+ mins 3x weekly
    • I have gone on a couple small hikes and foot did OK; I also spent a lot of time walking and flexing and bending yesterday doing chicken coop construction, so I’ll count it towards progress.

Spiritual/Soul-feeding:

  • Read 52 books, including 5 that I already own (15/52, 3/5)
    • I have read 15 books so far, and have lost track of the ones I own, so I’ll just say I need to read two more already-owned books. I’m reading one now.
  • 5 mins meditation 4x weekly
    • I am (currently) bad at this. BUT I am reading a Buddhist/meditation/mindfulness book so hopefully this will inspire me.
  • Visit Quakers
    • This isn’t really a goal but I’m keeping it here as a reminder. Have not yet done.
  • Visit UU service
    • This isn’t really a goal but I’m keeping it here as a reminder. Have not yet done.
  • Read 3 Buddhist books
    • Working on book #1!

House projects:

  • Order and spread gravel on the walkways.
    • This needs to happen; has not happened yet.
  • Landscape the area in front of where the garage door used to be.
    • I have a plan for this! See updates below.

Other:

  • Backpacking trip with Erin (2-3 nights)
    • We have plans for another overnight trip later this month (staying in a camping cabin as it’s too cold still for tent camping). Progress!
  • Use mesh vegetable bags
    • I need to be more consistent about this. I am also repurposing and recycling the plastic bags we have.

Other Stuff:

In other news, the chicken coop is coming along! My dad has all the plans in his head so I am unable to make progress without him (and also I have pathetic building skills so I can’t do much without him anyway), but thankfully he has committed to seeing it through so we are working on it weekly (weather permitting). So far we have a floor and a wall! We have about five more solid days of work ahead to get it ready for chick-habitation, which should work out since we’re getting chicks this weekend. They’ll live in a box in the guest room for a couple of weeks and then my plan is to get a large stock tank and put them in the tank (with a mesh cover) in the garage while they grow and while the coop is constructed. Then, once they can go into the coop, I will use the stock tank as a large planter in front of the house where the new wall is, since the ground is basically packed gravel and dirt (driveway) and impossible to dig in. So, I think this plan is very tidy and I am very pleased with it. Hopefuly it will work out as planned!

I have been really enjoying the coop construction project. I love working with my hands in general and being outside, doing physical work, really agrees with me. It’s also fun working with my dad, who is a very good teacher. I did some electric sawing and tons of hammering, plus holding up large pieces of plywood while Dad leveled them, etc. It was hard work (in the rain!) but it was really fun and I am excited to keep working on it. Dad reminded me of this little joke he and a friend used to have about their joint efforts to construct their houses and such, back when they were young and poor and had to use their creativity to get things done. They called themselves “Rinky-Dink, Inc.” which I vaguely remember. Funny. We have a slightly larger budget than the original Rinky-Dink, Inc., but we’re still using scraps and doing this as budget-minded as possible, so it’s the second generation of Rinky-Dink, Inc.

Rescue Efforts:

The other thing that happened this weekend was we rescued a little kitty from our yard. We noticed her on Saturday, wandering around in the rain and cold, obviously lost and not doing great. We couldn’t do anything then, but kept an eye out for her. The next day we saw her again and a few things were obvious: she was very young,  and she was suffering from a kitty cold and an eye infection of some kind, and she was completely unable to take care of herself as she kept wandering out into the rain, looking VERY lost and sad. Our hearts were breaking! We borrowed a humane trap from a neighbor and locked it open and put food in it so she would get used to going into the trap for food, then once we knew she’d been in and out of it several times, we set the trap. Actually it turned out this trap didn’t work correctly and I had to go rent a different trap, but once we got one that worked well, we got her. What a relief! I think she is feral but she is so young, she might be tamable. We took her to the humane society where she will be assessed, given medical attention, and fixed (once she is healthier). I’m hoping she pulls through, she’s pretty sick. We are such soft hearts and are now attached to her and her well-being. I don’t know if we will have a larger role to play in her life from here out or not, but for now, she is safe and cared for.

 

The year marches on; as usual things shift and change and we adapt as we go. So far this year has been much more relaxed than the last few; we are aiming to keep it that way!

 

Catching Up: Goals Post

As usual, the year is going a slightly different direction than we’d planned. Keith’s mom passed away and Keith has been going through the grieving process; it has been transforming in many ways. He is taking it to heart and making some good changes in his life, including removing several outside responsibilities that aren’t serving him (several art-related community boards or committees, no CatCon this year, etc.), and we have stepped up our health routines and committed to lowering stress and busy-ness this year overall.

In that light, I have pared down my year’s goals and gone back to my usual attitude of “practice, not perfection.” Goals are good and these are ones I want to achieve, but I also know that I only have so much time and attention. With that, here are my pared-down/updated goals for 2019.

  • No goals here; just taking opportunities when we can to spend time with the people we love as much as possible.
  • Including our ‘digital-free days’ as needed.

Career:

  • Complete the Emerging Leaders training (10 sessions)
    • Working on this.
  • Look into Mediation training; if applicable, take a class or course
    • This is now available again; I need to see if I can and want to do this again.

Creativity:

  • Get home ceramics ‘studio’ area set up. Make leaf tiles for kitchen windowsill.
    • I do want to get this studio area set up and make the leaf tiles. Keeping this one.
  • Creative practice every week: drawing, painting, ceramics, sewing, etc.
    • This is a good one to keep also; ceramics class counts and I have several projects I want to work on. No structured goals; we are artists, after all!
  • Be able to play 3 of my old piano pieces by the end of the year
    • Ditching this one. I love playing but it is clearly not enough of a priority right now. I will keep my piano out and work on things as inspired.
  • 3 “other” art classes (other than ceramics)
    • Keeping this one; I have one done, and would like to do two others if they present themselves.

Physical/Health:

  • 25 real pushups
    • I had a foot injury that prevented me from being able to flex my toes properly to do pushups, but I have been doing our weight workouts for the past 3 months and that certainly counts. I’m not sure how many pushups I can do now but I know I’m stronger. I’ll keep this one.
  • 5 real pull-ups
    • Ditching this one; we can’t figure out where to put the bar and I might as well take the pressure off.
  • Yoga or stretching every day, even just 5-10 mins
    • I should keep this one because it is truly helpful when I do it.
  • Exercise 20+ mins 3x weekly
    • I had to temporarily ditch this one too because of my foot injury. I am going to keep it as I am now working my foot back up to active level.

Spiritual/Soul-feeding:

  • Read 52 books, including 5 that I already own (6/52, 3/5)
    • I love this goal so I am keeping this one. Not sure what number I’m on but I’m working on it.
  • 5 mins meditation 4x weekly
    • This seems important too. This is hard for me for some reason but I want to get this going.
  • Visit Quakers
    • Would like to do this; keeping but it’s not necessarily a goal, more a reminder.
  • Visit UU service
    • Would like to do this; keeping but it’s not necessarily a goal, more a reminder.
  • Read 3 Buddhist books
    • Working on book #1!

House projects:

  • Finish painting 4 remaining rooms in house.
    • This will happen when we want it to. It’s not a goal, it’s a necessity.
  • Initial upgrade to the hall bathroom.
    • This may or may not happen. Taking it off.
  • Learn to do a drywall patch, repair/patch 4 heater grates.
    • This may or may not happen. Taking it off.
  • Order and spread gravel on the walkways.
    • This needs to happen. Keeping.
  • Finish taking out the rotten edgings and replacing the edging on the garden beds.
    • This may or may not happen.
  • Landscape the area in front of where the garage door used to be.
    • I have a plan for this!
  • Install a dishwasher, hook up fridge to water for ice maker
    • Ditching this one, it’ll happen or it won’t.
  • Install shelving in the laundry room for storage.
    • This may or may not happen.
  • Get the wood stove in the outbuilding garage going.
    • This may or may not happen.

Other:

  • Backpacking trip with Erin (2-3 nights)
    • Difficulties have arisen with Erin’s new job and schedule, but we are determined to make this happen!
  • Make and use mesh vegetable bags
    • I need to be more consistent about this; our grocery stores make it a little difficult but we’re working on it.
  • One new recipe a month from actual cookbook I already own
    • I don’t know if this needs to be a goal; I already do this and enjoy it.

Friday Photos

Here are some current pictures…

Chicken deck! It looks like Keith and my dad are mad at each other but Keith was just getting out of the direct sun to check a message.

Dad says it should be “cat height” so the cats can get under there to catch mice. Thomas is testing it out. Looks about right. The farm next door has lots of barn cats, I’m sure they’ve investigated as well.

Every year I think daffodils are my favorite spring flower, but then tulips come and I think it’s definitely tulips. But then all the other flowers start blooming and I can’t make up my mind. But this year, definitely the daffodils. :) There are so many on our property! I look forward to planting lots of different varieties to continue the legacy.

So. Many.

Ok, the daphne is a favorite too.

My brother got chicks and my nephew loves them. Cutie.

Speaking of my brother, we sneaked in a couple hours of night skiing a few weeks ago. I’m definitely doing more skiing next year.

These kids are killing me. So sweet.

I’m glad spring is here; it wasn’t a particularly bad winter here but it got cold and dark and snowy and I’m ready for a brisk, rainy-sunny, green and fresh Oregon spring.

5 Things That Are Great Right Now

I should include pictures for this post. Maybe next time.

  1. The scent of early spring outside. Seriously. I mowed the lawn last weekend for the first time this year and now, coupled with the daphne and daffodils blooming, it smells amazing outside. Especially today, when it’s overcast and damp, and everything is just about ready to burst into flower and leaf.
  2. Erin and Madeline exploring Spain and Morocco. I would love to be with them, but it is still pretty amazing to see their photos and get texts from them on their adventures. I am thoroughly enjoying their trip vicariously. Plus I got to spend a few evenings with Abigail; we indulged in nerdy documentaries and peel-off face masks. Bonding with teenagers!
  3. The baby calf in the field next door. Yes, I know ‘baby calf’ is redundant, but he is such a sweet little baby calf! Prancing and leaping, all soft brown fur and big eyes. The cows in general make me happy, even with they are mooing all through the night. The little old white ponies have come out from their barn too, and I gave them some carrot tops the other day. We were all happy with that!
  4. My book: Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman. It is reminding me of Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen, a guilty pleasure author. This book is definitely a bit grittier than Garden Spells but it’s still very enjoyable. I have not seen the movie; I know it didn’t get great reviews, but I still might watch it when I’m done with the book.
  5. The chicken deck! We are currently calling the newly-constructed floor of the coop the ‘chicken deck’ because there aren’t any walls yet, but it is a very nice deck right now, and perfect for sitting on and enjoying the view of the meadow. Soon we’ll put up walls and get it ready for the chicks, but for now it’s a deck. Bonus item: thinking about getting chicks in a few weeks!

There, 5 great things. There are plenty of things to obsess uncomfortably over, including the 1.25 acres of winter detritus that needs to be mowed, trimmed, hacked, raked, etc. Actually, I am looking forward to it and am also just sort of observing what happens as the weeks go by; what truly needs to be cleaned up and what can be left to naturally decay or get blown away by the wind. Sadly, I think we do need a leaf blower. I was trying to get away without one (I hate the sound of them) but there are SO MANY LEAVES and we couldn’t keep up with it last fall, and honestly I was at a loss what to do, so I just left a lot of it. I was hoping they’d all crumble over the winter. Some of that happened but there are still plenty that need to be cleaned up or moved into bigger piles to turn into mulch or whatever. I think we’ll get an electric blower and just use it as needed to clean up the leftovers, and blow the dried leaves onto the lawn/meadow and then mow them up. Next fall we can do the same when they first fall, and they can make the meadow happy as mulch.

I travel to Tennessee this weekend for a few days of work-trip, and then I think I’m home for awhile, with a few day trips here and there for work, but nothing big planned. Keith has been working very hard to pare back his extracurricular activities and responsibilities in the hopes that we can have an actually relaxing, fun summer this year. We have decided to spend at least two days (possibly all three) at the Oregon Country Fair this year, and have reserved our camping spot. I’m very excited; I’ve wanted to camp at Fair since I was a teenager. We chose one of the quieter campgrounds but I’m sure there will still be plenty of free-spirited fun to observe and enjoy. I really want to spend more time enjoying the entertainment at the fair this year — so much music and theater, so many costumes, so much to see. I want to slow down and really enjoy it. We are also planning to keep the rest of the summer weekends as free as possible, to allow for more spontaneous activities. I hate it when the entire summer is booked up before it even starts. That is not relaxing. There are no big birthdays, no overseas trips, no extended-stay visitors planned yet, and we are trying to keep it that way! Time to relax. We’ve moved three times in the last three years — it’s time to just stay put and enjoy our home.

Coming Up For Air

So… yeah. A lot of things happened recently.

  • My mom had hip replacement surgery. I was supposed to stay with her for 1-2 weeks while she recovered. Unfortunately…
  • My mother-in-law, who hadn’t been doing well for a long time, got pneumonia and things steadily got worse, until…
  • Sadly, she passed away the day of my mom’s surgery. Which meant that we suddenly had to plan travel to Florida and all the other stuff, and we needed to find replacement care for my mom (who is fine, thankfully!) so that meant…
  • There was a week or two where things were just really all over the place, with hospitals and surgery and death and funeral home stuff and memorial planning and travel plans to cancel and rebook (we had intended to go to Florida to visit in a few weeks) and last minute plan changes and snow and travel and family and all the everything.
  • In the midst of all this, a small foot injury that has been lingering but not getting better, finally reached the point where I went to the doctor and long story short, I ended up with an air-cast (a boot).
  • Plus add in some minor work travel, some more mom-visiting, and I’m pretty sure some other stuff happened there too.

So. I have not written in awhile. I have not worked on my goals in awhile. I missed a ton of ceramics class.

We are fine; Keith’s mom was ready to go and isn’t suffering any more. Keith is OK; he is grieving and sad, but OK. My mom is healing up and doing really well. My foot will be fine. Work survived without me and the train just keeps rolling.

The next few weeks look busy as well, but with exciting things:

  • We are building the chicken coop! We will be getting chicks in April, hopefully!
  • I decided to run for local office: my tiny town’s Fire Board. This is a volunteer position and shouldn’t take up much time, but is very relevant to my life (since we are surrounded by a very large, very dry field) and I’m excited to have my name on a ballot. So far, I’m running uncontested, so there probably won’t be any election night ballot-counting, but it’s fun anyway. The election is in May.
  • Spring is here, the flowers are bursting out of the piles of winter detritus and there are daffodils and crocus everywhere; soon it will be time for after-work sitting on the back porch and lots of lawn mowing. Right now there is a lot of tree-trimming, yard-debris picking-up, and garden planning.

So, I don’t know what I will do with my goals; some of them have emerged as more important than others, so I may edit them again. However, I will pick up my reporting again next week.

Just wanted to break the non-post streak with a mini update.

Actually, This Is What Matters

I came up to see my brother, sister-in-law and nephews today, driving through snow and over the mountain to get here — a little nerve-wracking but it was totally fine. Upon my arrival, nearly immediately my brother and I went back out and spent 2 perfect hours cross-country skiing in perfect conditions and it was amazing. We are going downhill skiing tomorrow, before I take a late evening flight to Oakland for a work meeting all day Tuesday, and then I fly home Tuesday night. It’s kind of a lot, but we are having the kind of snow that begs for a ski day if you can manage it, and I don’t get a lot of time to ski with my brother (or to ski at all – didn’t go at all last year so I am trying to make up time this year). I am a tiny bit worried about my flight — tonight is supposed to be a huge snowstorm and it may delay flights tomorrow which could make for a very late night, and a tired day Tuesday, and a long drive home Tuesday night, if I can get home at all Tuesday night (more snow expected). But, I was reminded today that that stuff doesn’t really matter. A good friend from high school, who has already battled breast cancer and has been in remission, just found out that she has another tumor on a lung and another possibly in her liver. I cannot imagine how she must be feeling, and I keep thinking about her. I think about my little nephews and how much I love them, and how much I could be missing if I don’t make the effort now. I think how I could spend all my time working, or making sure that I never over-extend or do too much, or cram too much in, and that sometimes I struggle with feeling oddly guilty for enjoying my time with my family and friends. I mean, I spent a long time far away — I want to take advantage of every opportunity to do these memorable things with my brother, my nephews, my mom, my dad, my best friends. But still, that feeling lingers that somehow I should be spending my time differently, more productively, or something. And then, I get a reminder like my friend, and it makes me think how fragile and fleeting this all is, and how I just have to take advantage of everything I can, when I can, and if I get a little too tired sometimes from cramming in too much, well, oh well. I can always take a nap, I can always go to bed at 7:30 if I need to. I can’t always read adorable storybooks to my 2-year-old nephew and talk to him about kitties and spaceships and dump trucks. I can’t always snuggle my chunky six-month old baby nephew and kiss his chubby little hands and squish his adorable sausage legs. I can’t always spend a perfect 2 hours skiing with my brother, or a day with my dad on the mountain, or a week or two with my mom helping her recover from surgery (she is fine, and will be fine). Indeed it is my responsibility as a human, with the privilege of being alive and healthy, to do these things. What a waste if I didn’t. These are the things that really matter, and I am so glad to know this, so that I can fully enjoy them while I’m experiencing them, and know that they are special, and to be treasured.