Starts and Stops to a Happy Holiday

The month of December has been one of those get all excited, plan and then whoa – stop – no – change plans and try again later. The weather in Minnesota is goofy. It always is but this year it has been a start and stop as well. We have had 9 inches of snow and then a 55 degree day where everything melts. It then turns cold, like below zero cold. Oh, but wait let’s warm up to 42 again. There have been blizzard conditions, rain, ice, sunny and warm.

As we manage this weird weather our household fell into a strange cosmic hole. It started the first week of December when the contractor I have been trying to meet with to plan a re do of a screen porch set up a meeting. Yeah, finally! Only to call the morning of the meeting to say well I tested positive for Covid today so will not be coming by. Ok, that project is now pushed into January. It was suppose to be done at the end of October.

Cookie Bake

We moved on the the excitement of cookie baking for the holidays. A big family tradition. It was super hard to set a day but we got one that at least some of us to come to. Then Friday before we were to meet we got hit with that 10 inches of snow I mentioned. Saturday morning of the cookie bake we were all digging out. It did happen – one person got dropping off so their car would not get stuck, one walked over and one young brave soul after shoveling got on her fat tire bike and rode over. (way to go girl!) So five of us made a complete mess of the kitchen and dinning room with cookies, sprinkles and lots of butter and chocolate. There were great conversations – deep and connecting about current and past events – all while a 2 and half year old ran between our legs sneaking cookies and dough whenever possible.

A glorious day until about 3:00 pm when I realized we no longer had hot water. No, it was not just that we had used it up. There was none to be had. The relatively new water heater was broken. We can fix that. It is under warranty – this is no big deal I kept telling myself.

But..

It is Saturday and they say they can’t come until Monday. We can deal – heating hot water on the stove and finish the clean up. All well and good until I wake up Sunday morning to a house at 54 degrees and dropping. It is 12 degrees outside with those 10 inches of snow. Another call and they will be out – furnaces are a big deal and they will come more quickly. The furnace was a quick fix but after checking the water heater, a completely separate problem, it was going to need a new part to be ordered on Monday.

To make this stories a bit shorter – after several miss ordered, used parts that didn’t work, a holiday weekend, showering at all our friends houses we are 18 days without hot water. We are hoping for a part that really works today. We are told by email it is here in the cities. I am not counting on it but we will see.

Layered over all of this water heater business was Christmas – well sort of. The Atlanta kids were not coming – thank goodness given the new Covid and no hot water. My daughter stepped up to host Christmas eve but on Wednesday before Christmas she calls to say she felt awful and learned she had been exposed to Covid twice in the days before. No Christmas eve gathering. I thawed out ground turkey on Friday morning and made Swedish meatballs, rice pudding and a sweet potato dip. We drove it over with a Christmas eve gift for Mason (the 2 year old) and headed home for a quiet night watching Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Christmas Morning

On Christmas morning daughter had had three negative quick tests and felt much better so we gathered for cinnamon rolls, opened gifts, Face-timed the two in Atlanta and had a very lovely morning with a very excited two year old. Doug and I left them to go see other family and took up the offer from friends in northern Minnesota to come visit for a few nights, have a hot shower and watch lake Superior in all its winter glory.

It was lovely until – there is always an until isn’t there –

Until the forecast rolled in on Sunday morning that there was a blizzard on the way – another 9 to 10 inches of snow, wind and ice. This lovely couple of nights stay was cut short – we shower one more time and head back home before the storm hit. We did’t want to be snowed in up north when we had a water heater to fix.

It is now the last Tuesday of December we are still working on getting a working part for the water heater, it is snowing again (beautiful even though I am sick of it already – just bad timing) and the Wednesday reschedule holiday happy hour with family is canceled once again. Dear daughter was feeling great and now is under the weather again – this time she has taken a PCR test that we expect to be negative but still checking. We are pretty sure she just has a cold and is over tired from teaching but best to check these days. This holiday event will have to wait until some time in January.

Whew!

All I want right now is a working hot water heater and January to begin. We will try again for a smoother new year.

I am off to read my garden magazines, order seeds for the spring garden and drink a hot cup of tea. Oh and watch the snow fall.

Here is wishing everyone a Happy and Glorious New Year!

I am also hoping your December was more successful than ours. All in all I have to say we had small moments of joy. The 2 year old now has a better idea about snow, Christmas, family traditions and Santy Claus. Also the reindeer, whom he is sure came in his house to eat the carrots he left for them. He can show you exactly were they stood by the door to eat their carrots.

Happy New Year!

There is always joy with a 2 year old!
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Pause – Winter Solstice

We have reached the winter solstice! It is the first day of winter and the shortest day with the longest night of the year. Here in Minnesota with the cold descending and the dark arriving early it is easy to get lost in the darkness allowing the mind to spin deeply into negative thoughts.

It has been a wild few weeks with things breaking down in multiple directions. Some little things and others not so little. There are worries that surface about aging family and health. We have had our own infrastructure break down at the house (we are on day 11 with on hot water in our house – a long story partly influenced by the pandemic supply chain issues). There is the usual back ground noice of government/politic backdowns and the never ending issue of the pandemic/world health issues. I won’t even begin to discuss the climate issues some of what we have been experiencing here in the midwest with warm weather and then dropping temps with wild winds and tornados.

I sit here tonight having missed the poetry and meditation offered by Krista Tippet at On Being and her friends, that I thought might listen to to easy my weary head. I realize I can easily spin into the winter darkness but I don’t think that is going to help. I want to move towards the light. The Christmas holiday is arriving and although we are not fully ready and we will not all be able to gather it still can and will be a moment of light. A time of joy for a 2 year old who is now beginning to process what this season is all about. He now understand snow and the fun that can be had. The making of way too many cookies and the lights upon a tree. He shared in the bringing of cookie gifts to the neighbor friends and the watching of the joy in their faces.

As I find myself tumbling into the darkness I just turn and look to the light. Each day a bit longer – a few minutes each day. Each smile of the two year old as he discovers another joy to be had settles my soul. There are poems to read and music to listen to – all that bring light. (Several new garden books to read)

I find I need to just take pause and look for the light. It is there even on this very long cold dark night.

“When we pause, allow a gap and breathe deeply, we can experience instant refreshment. Suddenly, we slow down, look out, and there’s the world.”
— Pema Chödrön

Here is to the holiday season – however you choose to celebrate and enjoy it!

Find time to pause, breathe and look out for the light because it is there! I promise you!

A two year olds view of Christmas!

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Design with care: “Re-wilding” gardens

I know it is December. I know I live in the northland. It is 4 degrees outside, snow on the ground with a wind chill of 11 below zero. Yes, it December 7th. But I am a gardener and more importantly a gardener that did not get to garden much this last summer. (high heat, drought and a broken wrist are to blame)

Thinking about gardens in the summer rain – my garden helper

So now as the 2022 garden catalogs hit my mailbox I have begun to think and plan. The plans, however, are not the usual “what seeds do I order?”.

My garden is long over do for a reworking. The plants are over grown, the trees and shrubs are too large. This means many sun loving plants are now being shaded, many shade plants are lost under large branches of lilacs or red dogwood bushes. One of the evergreen bushes is half dead due to the tiny yew bush that is now huge and taking over most of the corner garden. The green Hosta’s were eaten down repeatedly this last summer as rabbits were looking for moisture in the heat of the drought. I am not sure these Hostas will return this next year. I am sure the rabbits will. (darn it- I don’t like rabbits in the garden) Also during the drought many of the lilacs dropped their leaves. I am not sure which will return next year. I did notice a few branches did set buds before winter came but we will see if there is enough ground moisture to keep them going until next spring.

tomatoes shared with my garden friend

This description alone tells you I am in need of some real big changes but there are other factors that are driving this changes as well. My neighbor past away this last summer. He was my garden companion. My go to when I wanted to discuss anythings plants. I have been gardening his 6 raised beds for the last two years. (He had been ill for a long time.) Now he is gone and his wife can no longer keep the other gardens going so this land will be returned to green grass next spring. My/His six sunny veggie beds will be gone. I understand and knew this was coming long before we lost him. It is all hard since I was planting this last year with the thoughts of him at least watching from the window and could enjoy seeing things grow and eat what veggies came out of the garden. I always left veggies at the front door as things began to ripen. Cleaning up these beds was difficult this fall knowing he was not there to watch. I left the flowers blooming for his wife until the first light snow. Now they sit bare and quietly waiting for their own change.

My gardens now needs to take on the veggies as well. There will not be as much space since I live under trees with big arching branches and shade. Veggies love sun not shade so the farmers market may become my friend once again unless I can talk my daughter into gardening some of her new found sun at her new house. All that remains to be seen. Best for me to plan on what I can here at home.

My age and arthritis makes it harder each year to tackle the big garden projects. My yard is not huge but there is lots to do and my hands are not willing to work for 8 hours daily any more. Neither does my back like all the crawling and pulling of weeds that I do. This means taking time to plan a garden that is doable as I get older. I need to be realistic. This is something I am not very good at when it comes to plants.

Then there is the changing of our climate and the changing of my understand of what a garden can and should look like. I have always had a more wild garden. I am not a gardener who has a lawn that looks like a golf coarse or gardens so manicured that you feel stiff and tight while you walk through the area. I have however planted flowers I like or flowers from my past that seem fun. Which is great but some of those flowers are not native. They are beautiful but do not support the birds, insects, or other wild life here in this zone. I have not gardened thinking about the bigger world and how my little piece of land fits into the whole. I have not thought through how this piece of land could make a difference. How can it be a supportive habitat for critters? How can it use water resources in a more sustainable way? How can I recycle most of what is grown right here instead of bagging and shipping it off to be recycled else where? (bags even though they are paper and recycled, gas for trucks driving around the city do add to our pollution) Can I make a small difference here on this piece of land?

It is time. I have come to the decision that this garden can and should support more, help more and also be more self sustaining since I can’t do as much as I use to. I am not hanging up my tools and walking away but I am trying to be realistic about what it takes to manage a garden well both for me and for the environment around me.

This means not just sticking in plants wherever I want or which ever plant looks pretty. It does mean thinking carefully, reading and organizing both what I already have in this space and what needs to be added and what may need to go or be reduced. I am sure it means a change in the hardscape as well. The hardscape is the structure of the garden -the pathways, rocks that make edges around beds, the raised beds I currently have and the stone patio/fire pit that has never really worked quite right.

This is a big redo. This has me excited and a bit overwhelmed. I have begun now to sketch out rough plans. I have gathered several design books on creating a more wild garden. A garden that has parts that are more like a mini woods with bushes, small trees and an understory of woodland shade plants to provide food, shelter and shade for critters, included the rabbits that I don’t care for!

Wild Ginger growing in the back garden

This redo means moving some large stones to open up a woodland area in the back of the yard. It means creating new raised beds in a partially sunny area in back to plant a few veggies. The current raised beds have rotted away and are not being used well. It means possibly terracing a small sunny hill to plant with both perennials and veggies instead of grass that is hard to mow.

It means rethinking everything. How space is used? Where the sun now really falls in the yard? How can we reduce the amount of grass that uses both a great deal of water to keep green and growing and then just needs to be mowed because it grew. Lawns are really crazy when you think about it. We work so hard to grow the darn grass and then we cut it down just to water it so it will grow more. That cycle needs to change or at least be reduced in this yard. (oh our mower died this fall, as well, on the last big leaf mulching day. We handed the poor thing off to a small engine guy who was happy to use it for parts but we now are without a mower – another reason to change the growing of lots of grass.)

As you can tell I am off on a big adventure. I will be working to create a “wild” space in our yard. Not wild in terms of a mess but wild in terms of a natural environment of animals. Wild in terms of using more native plants that will support birds, insects and others. Wild in that I may not have a neat set up veggie bed and flower beds but they may be blended together having both kinds of plants side by side to use space more efficiently. It is a big change that will happen slowly I think.

This blog will change over this new year also. It has been a place I just share my thoughts on anything that is going on but I want and need it to change for now. I hope to have it be my journal of thinking, planning and doing in and around the garden. A place where I will explore this journey of changing a typical city yard into a more ecological space and a space that is more fun to be in as well as garden in.

For most of us writing with Two Writing Teachers the writing a Slice of Life each week is about what comes to mind each week, what small event happened that you wish to share. It is about finding a moment or slice of your life to share in words. Mine will change from that slice of life for a time. Now hopefully it will be a slice of learning around gardens, ecology and what works for an aging gardener. A more focused blog about a garden also becoming more focused.

Each year we have looked for the one little word (OLW) to follow us into the new year. For me I think I have found it early this year. I had thought all along it would be about change but the bigger word that fits this is sustainability both for myself, for my blog (I have struggled to find a moment to write about for months now – time to move on and focus) and for the world around us.

I am beginning this process with reading and learning so the next few weeks I plan to share what I am reading and learning and importantly how what I learn can be applied to my little piece of land here in the northland.

So here is to exploring, learning and developing a wild sustainable garden in 2022!

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After the party – silence is golden

It is dark and still. The house is silent. Even the loud refrigerator is quiet. Ahhh – silence is golden!

It has been a week of family, and friends visiting. It has been seven days of house guests. Lovely family staying – coming and going. There was a day of cooking last Wednesday. A long evening of cooking and eating and chatting on Thursday. There was a turkey and a duck frying in the back yard next to a roaring fire. The kitchen full of bowls, pots, good food and every small kitchen appliance I own. There was the stand mixer, the immersion blender, the blender, the food processor, spoons and the instant pot all in use at some point during our preparation. You would have thought we were feeding a small army of folks. Really it was just 9 of us and one of us is two years old. There was wine and laughter and much talking. (oh and a short Covid scare but all was good just a head cold – whew!) That was Thanksgiving!

Then came Friday with snacks, drinks, more family, another roaring fire out in the cold dark yard. A family Happy Hour with my brothers family, my family and my sister. That HH started at five and most left for home about 9 and few more left closer to 10. Then my son, husband and I remained chatting until 1 a.m. Another glorious time with food and family.

The weekend quieted down but still folks around and activities keeping us busy.

Then came today. My son and wife flew home to Atlanta this morning. My husband headed out to dinner and music with an old friend. Little Man, my grandson went home a bit later (another covid scare needed to be checked out before Mom could pick him up. Again all good – this is where negative is a happy thing).

And now I am here alone. Lights are low. I have had a wonderful potato carrot soup, and a piece of left over cake found in the refrig – must have been from my son and daughter laws dinner out last night. It was sweet but great.

It is the glorious quiet after the party! The last week was fun, busy and full of love and caring. There were some deep conversations, there was some sharing of hard times and worries but there was also laughter and joy. There were hugs and quiet moments. There was to much rich food.

There was family! Now I get to sit and reflect, remember and enjoy the quiet of this night.

The after party of me sitting alone with a good book, a hot drink and silence!

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Looking Back and Back to move me forward

This is a post I wrote a few years ago – like 2018 or so. Tonight as I sit down to write I am short of words and thoughts so I returned to some of my old posts and found this. It seems to still fix both my thinking and the quote from Terry Tempest Williams. Sometime we do indeed need to go underground. We need to create a balance for ourselves and our family. These last few years have been hard and we need to give ourselves grace and time. A space to right ourselves again. So I share these thoughts with you again today.

_____________________________

I am looking to hold on to positives.

  • the smile of a child, or friend
  • the daily sounds of workers in the neighborhood,
  • the birds early morning song
  • the feeling of the rhythm of the day

I have been returning to strong women writers to look for words and thoughts to hold on to. Searching for steps to take that make sense for me and the folks around me. So today I found a passage I pulled from the start of an unfinished post in Feb. 2017. Terry Tempest Williams was talking of our political life but it still is relevant today.

She provides a suggestion to step back from the frenzy of the social media. A thought to pay attention to the things at home – family, friends and work at hand.  Writing, reading and planning for the next steps when we are able to come out of the cocoon we find ourselves in.

So here I share her thoughts from 2017 – edited a bit. I find them helpful and carry a sense of the future. This to shall pass – it is what we learn from this and what we do about it that will matter.

  • From Terry Tempest Williams
download.jpg

“… How we choose to navigate this new territory will be up to each of us. Tonight, I am signing off of social media for awhile. I need to get my bearings, pay attention and do the work at hand: write. I am taking Badger as my mentor, knowing when it is time to go underground and when to surface.  It is time for me to go underground. Today in a conversation with Caroline Casey, she reminded me of “defiant joy.”  We need to stay focused. We need to be strong in our resolve to both resist distractions and insist on doing the right thing, galvanize our love to protect and fight for all we hold dear  — Climate change is real. The Open Space of Democracy is vulnerable. But I believe in the enduring power of our collective will to protect our planet, the only home we have. Consciousness is a forward motion.  We cannot go back. Watch your hearts.”

So friends Watch your Heart and take time for yourself and family as we enter this winter season. Read, write and reflect.

Thinking of you and your families!

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Stepping into November

Suddenly November is here and seasons are turning quickly. Summer was long, hot and dry here in Minnesota. The tomatoes loved it and grew like weeds. Then September came and life cooled. The crispy parched leaves rattled in the fall breeze and fell quickly leaving us to think we would miss the glorious colors of the hardwood trees.

Mid – September showed up and with some of the trees and bushes still hanging on to their leaves they turned to brilliant colors. There were reds, oranges, and yellows popping out among the green leaves. They hung onto this color show well into October. When Halloween approached us they turned the colors to browns and yellows and begin to fall so tricker treaters could swish and crunch through the leaves on their way to finding goodies at the neighborhood houses.

We woke Monday morning to November one and the world seem to have changed. The sharp clear blue sky has turned to large grey clouds. We saw them forming on Halloween night. The temperature was dropping on the 31st and by the first we were down to freezing and nights dropping deep into the 20’s. The bright fall has turned to browns, deep dark reds, hazy yellows and grays. The branches of trees are now visible reaching out to the clouds. The bird’s nests are sitting empty as the little ones have grown and left for warmer locations.

There is a hush that has joined this dark time as people retreat inside. The patio’s at restaurants are empty except for a few brave souls huddled under the heaters. The children playing ball in the street are inside with homework and video games. The veggie gardens are cleared and the perennials are standing dried with seed pods waiting for birds to pick them clean. Squirrels are feeding and collecting whatever they can find to store for the winter months ahead. There are only a few more weeks that the ground will be soft enough for digging.

This is a time of year that I often sink – it is cold, dark, gardening if over and the days are so very short. This year as I felt that darker emotion rolling over me there was a little note that rang in my ear but wait it said. It is the end of this season but it is the opening of new life as well. If you take the time to bundle up and head out you can find that spring has already been set.

I was out planting tulip and iris bulbs over the weekend and needed to move a few perennial tubers over to make room. As I went digging there just under the surface of the soil were the new shoots for next spring. The tubers dark brown and muddy but the shoots glistened white with excitement for spring which is so many months away. This made me look around to see what else was waiting. The buds on the lilac bushes are ready to go. Under the dying rhubarb leaves are the budding heads of next years plants. They are just under ground ready to go but hiding from the winter frost and snow that will join us soon.

I cleaned up and came into a warm house, a cup of tea and realized there were many good books waiting to be read on these long cold and dark evening. There are many close friends and family members with vaccinations that will allow us to meet this winter indoors. And it is only about 6 weeks before we turn our eyes towards spring. (oh I know the winter solstice is the real start of winter but it is also the time when we begin to see the lengthening of daylight.) It is the time of garden catalogs, garden planning and preparing to start a few seedling inside.

Late fall and winter are a time of slowing down, regenerating and looking to new growth and beginnings. There is the New Year will all the wonders of new goals and new starts. A chance to begin again.

So as these dark days arrive and the cold begins to settle into your bones find a friend for tea or a blanket and a good book to read with a bit of chocolate and remember that spring is already waiting for you in just a few short months!

There is always a bit of color in the darkness

So tell me what are your go to books that you return to each year when the winter arrives and the days are short? Or what new read is on your winter to be read list?

I always read The Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver each January. It takes me away from the winter cold and reminds me that we need and seek connections with nature and family. It also helps me feel the warmth of coming of spring!

Enjoy – it is November!

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Not Writing

It has been almost a month since I last was here and writing. My handwritten personal journal is almost the same. I have shown up there to try and hand write but find I can only write a half of page before my hand gives way and I become frustrated. Typing here is better but still not a task that is done without breaks and thinking about how I move my left wrist so I feel less pain.

The broken wrist bone has long since healed but the soft tissue, nerves and joints with arthritis are still struggling to heal and find a new normal. It all feels a bit like life these days with the pandemic. We know some things have healed but we are all still hunting for what is our new normal. Things like: when and where do we wear masks? Should I eat out or continue doing take out and eating at home? Where is it safe to take my 2 year old grandson? (he is learning to wear his mask at the library and in the grocery store) Do I travel or is it still best to stay at home? How do I deal with relatives who have still decided not to get vaccinated? What is my best bet for holidays that are quickly coming this way?

I have the same number of questions when I think about my wrist and neither of these sets questions have good answers.

So this leads me to the no writing – I find it physically hard and emotionally I seem to keep coming back to the same questions and topics – health, healing, pandemic – none of it very cheerful and at times all of it very boring. We seem to be stuck as a society and I am feeling stuck as well.

Time for a new goal to help find my way out of this hole. I have decided I need to make a list of topics like I do for the March Writing challenge. I need to make sure the topics are interesting and fun. The key word here is fun. There are plenty of wonderful things going on but I have let the pain and negative take charge. Sometimes we need to fake it to make it and this seems to be one of those times.

So here is to setting goals to get me back to writing and having fun with it!

Topics for writing:

Grandson and his animals
  • Little Man (my grandson) and his love of farm animals
  • Fall weather in Minnesota – the glory of colored leaves
  • The ups and downs of unexpected sleep overs with a two year old
  • Chasing Milkweed and other seeds: What I learn from “teaching a two year old”
  • How many journals can I write in? gardening, Masons, personal journal, blog, drawing
  • How to house clean your computer? or at least try
  • Fall weather in Minnesota – the glory of colored leaves
  • The ups and downs of unexpected sleep overs with a two year old
  • Closing down the garden for 2021
  • What are we reading? Board Books to Adult novels and Non Fiction

What do you do when you find yourself in a writers slump or just not writing at all?

See you next week with a new topic? Hmmm which one should I start with? animals maybe?

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Happiness moments

Sunflowers

Writing prompts are sometime great because they ask odd and surprising questions. My daughter joined a writing prompt meme that sends us a question once a week. The idea is to help us share bits of ourselves with your children or grandchildren, if we have them. (We do have one but at two years of age he is more interested in whether we have a play barn and farm animals, then listening to us talk about what our life was like.)

A few weeks ago the prompt was: when in your life were you most happy and why. Easy I thought and then I realized it was not so easy. I spent a lot of time thinking about times I was happy but there was also so many time of strife and disappointment.

I began to wonder if I was depressed or was I depressed for lot of my life. The harsh moments seemed to just jump out first. The time when my Dad died colored my early childhood. Later there were the struggles with school – my lack of attention/focus and my reversals made some learning hard. College presented its own struggles with long papers and heavy reading. In the adult years there were the death of friends, the change of jobs or moving from one place to another. The making of big decisions like moving out of state or buying a house, having kids.

As I continues to think about this, while walking and drawing and exercising the healed broken wrist, I realized that through all those times of frustration, fear and loss there were alway happy times. I could think about the fun I had as a little kid while playing on the family farm. We visited the farm often because Mom was dealing with the loss of her husband but as a five year old it meant haystack to climb, cousins to play with and meals made from the garden.

The learning to read although hard opened up a world of wonder and joy once I got the letters going in the right way. Books became my joy and escape when needed. My Aunts, both school teachers, had books on a high shelf in the closet bedroom. The cousins always got too pick a book to keep from that shelf. The more we visited the more books I could collect. Joy and happiness abounded.

College came with hard work but there were new friends, new adventures, long late night walk and talks with a boy. There was the learning about freedom away from my mother. The joy of making choices for myself (some were great, some not so great but I learned from them.) The learning although hard was a joy in its self.

Adulthood brought the nervousness of moving, buying a house, having kids and working our way through jobs – all of it with deep learning but hidden joys of new adventures. The joy of making an old house new again for us. The smiles, kisses and snuggles of little kids that were yours to help grow and release into the world.

The boy from college and our grandson laughing at an Old Mac Donald video

Now in our older age there are still movement that are not great – like last summer when my lung was not working or this summer with a broken wrist, or this long and hateful pandemic. But then I look at all this there are these wonderfully happy and joyous moments. The times that our grandson comes running for a goodby hug. The bright golden sun on leaves turning from green to yellow to red while the cool breeze blows. The late night talk and walks with that boy from college who has been with me now for almost 50 years.

Grandson running with a paper wind sock he made this week

When you stop to think about it you realize that happiness is not one certain time period but it is the little moments of everyday. It is waking up to hearing rain on the roof, a hello from a long time neighbor, a FaceTime call from my son. Happiness in the past was time spent talking with my mother even when she was ill with Parkinson’s. We would stroll through gardens she loved, sit in the sun to have tea and chat. Yes, it was sad and hard but it also contained happiness. Those little moments of joy that we share with each other or with ourselves are the best.

If you try you can find a bit of happiness in everyday.

I admit there are days that finding that happiness is hard. (I am thinking of days when my daughter was so sick from chemo and pregnant with our grandson. Those were rough days for everyone and yet I could smile at the sun, fresh air and be just a little bit happy because we had good care and she and baby were going to make it through these heavy times. We all would and did.)

If we look we can find just a few moments to smile, breath and find a bit of happiness everyday.

Where have you found happiness today?

Our Garden Sunflowers with a little Bee visiting
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Thinking about a long life lived well

It has been a long time since I have really written anything. A broken wrist early in the summer stopped the hand written journaling, the hand written garden notes and the typewritten blogging. I have showed up here once in awhile to say I am trying. Age slows everything down. The physical healing as well as the mental processes all slow down when you stop moving and doing.

So as I read Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski post on 100 words of health from Ben Bergeron I had to nod and agree. It was the first line that for me said so much.

Create an environment in which it’s easy to eat well, move often, sleep lots, think deeply, & create real connections.

This is what I have been working on all summer. It also what my Aunt told me this last weekend. We were suppose to drive to Iowa for her birthday party but it was called off due to Covid, of coarse. We were all disappointed since this was a big birthday. My Aunt Gen turned 100 a week ago. Can you image? – 100 years old!

We chatted on the phone instead. Well, she chatted and I listened. She was bubbling with joy and excitement even though she missed having her big party. I wanted to asked the question that everyone one else is asking – what is your secret for health and long life?

Listening to her it was clear – I did not have to ask her. She joyfully told me about her day – up and moving each morning – a sitting exercise that she follows on her TV (designed for the folks in the care facility she has her apartment in.) Then mid morning (9:00 am) she is off to her exercise class and later she walks on the Nu-Step to be sure she gets enough walking in.

She giggled about checking in on friends and leaving her apartment door open so friends know they can stop by to chat. She mentioned a few things that disappoint her but she lets them go and moves on to what CAN happen instead of holding on to the things that can’t. She was looking forward to going out with a friend for lunch and talking to her sons. She was busy making calls to say thank you to the over 100 people who sent her cards!

If asked directly she says health is all about moving and exercise -“not just walking!” But I think there is more there than she is saying –

Here is what I heard as she laughed and chatted:

keep moving – all parts of our body

be joyful – laugh a lot

keep busy – doing and thinking

stay connected – build a community around you

let go of the past and move towards the future

She is surprised she is still around and is looking forward to enjoying each day she is given.

I hope to live as joyfully as she does and to hold onto and follow her thoughts on a long life lived well.

Happy Birthday Gen!

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Beginning again – slowly

My last post was June 29th just a week after I broke my left wrist. (I am left handed!) I posted that I would see you all later once this settles down. Today the beginning of August was my hope that I would be here writing again. Six weeks without writing in my journal, without drawing or painting, without blogging has been hard. Not driving has also slowed things down just a bit. I was told I could drive but when you can’t bend your wrist, your fingers don’t work right and it hurts to move any part of my hand it did not seem like a safe thing to be doing.

In those six weeks I have been able to weed my garden one handed (sort of). I have made pesto one handed. I have watched my grandson with the support of my husband. I am back to walking although icing my wrist upon return is needed to keep the swelling down. Over time I figured out how to tie my shoes and get dressed by myself. All big accomplishments.

The wrist is healing but the work is slow. After six weeks the left arm has no real muscle strength and either does the hand. So slowly I begin working on range of motion hoping that after next week we might be able to begin strengthening. I won’t go into the shoulder and back issues that resulted in this fall. They are also healing thank goodness.

I know I am luck – no surgery, 4 weeks in a cast is a short time, and the removable brace I have now at least allows me to shower and wash my hair alone. All said and done I should not complain but geez this was not how I thought I would spend the summer.

My summer goals involved drawing 100 images, helping my daughter and her family move into their new house and a redo of several of my gardens. The basement redo did not happen as well. It was pushed off till next spring or summer. All of these fell off the list of summer to dos. They are all things that can wait or in my daughters case they found other helpers. I watched “Little Man” since he now knows I can’t pick him up. It is all ok!

The all ok and this will heal is great but there are evenings and days when I wander the house feeling a bit lost and indulging in a bit of self pity or frustration. It never lasts long and a sweet treat (I found a fudgesicle in the freezer last night) plus a walk around the neighborhood can always help. A reminder that I am not dealing with long haul Covid also kicks me back into reality – this is not bad. A short slow down is all. I am and will continue to heal.

It is all in how you look at things and what you compare yourself and your life to. There are always people who are better off but there are also those who are suffering much more than I. So todays writing is just that – to help me keep things in perspective.

Writing today was also a test to see if I could actually type something without running for Tylenol and an ice pack. I have typed something and I am good without the Tylenol but I will be icing for a short while once I am done. I am just happy my fingers were able to reach the keys, that I could actually hit the keys without pain and I think I am making some sense when I write. Progress for sure!

Here is to being able to write on the computer, to healing and working on positive thinking with a little bit of help from yoga, walking and my husband!

Just for fun a few photos of the garden and my grandson. (one of the helpers when they moved this last week)

Little Man moving his stuff
Balloon Flower or Pop Flowers as Little Man calls them.
The beginning of the tomato harvest
Black eyed and Brown Eyed Susans
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