Monday, September 22, 2014

last day of summer

Today is the last day of summer. I like to recognize the official change of season by thinking, planning, reading, and writing. Today, I am sitting in my pajamas drinking cinnamon tea, looking out the window at my garden, and writing.

I got home yesterday afternoon from the writing retreat I attended at Knife Lake with five women I met through Livestrong. We didn't know each other all that well before the treat but we had much in common and we bonded quickly. We spent our time writing, listening to each other, eating fabulous food, doing yoga on the deck beneath an oak tree, and sitting on the dock watching the pelicans float by the sand bar. It was glorious.

I remember telling my writing classes during my teaching years that there is no forced sharing of your writing, but something magical happens when you do share it. Sitting around the dining table in the beautiful room with the full wall of windows onto the lake, we were warriors, we were better together, we celebrated, we wept, we lifted each other up. It was pure magic.

This is my morning task: to get dressed, to drink tea, to eat lunch. This afternoon, I am doing the final prep on the bathroom so it can finally (finally!) be painted.  As I put things away from my trip this morning, I appreciated so much my de-cluttering efforts. Things had places, there was room where they needed to go, it was easy to unpack and feel done. is so good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

a list of random and wonderful things

  • I had my annual physical this morning and all systems check out fine. I got three immunizations: pneumonia, shingles, and tetanus. I am grateful to have access to such good health care.
  • I woke up at 6 am and began the long-awaited task of cleaning out the refrigerator. I took everything out, cleaned the entire inside, washed all the shelves and gizmos, and restocked. It took about an hour so it made me wonder why I dread doing it so much.
  • We made steaks on the grill with mushrooms and onions. Also had some of our zebra tomatoes grilled. A delicious meal.
  • We bought groceries in Mankato. We're lucky to have access to such good food. We stopped at one of the big box pharmacies that sells everything now...even groceries. I think it's somewhat disingenuous of them to proclaim, "Be well!" when they sell frozen pizzas, chips, and mac and cheese. I don't like the idea of buying my food there...or at Menards for that matter. I like the idea of food being separated from drain cleaners and paint.
  • I subbed in a small engines class this afternoon. What I know about small engines you could put on the head of a pin and have room left over. The students were tickled that I did not know for sure what a piston was and thought the muffler was where you put the gas. I didn't regale them with all my stupid car stories. They would have lost all respect.
  • I changed the sheets on the bed last night and that has to be one of Woody's favorite things. He loves to snoop under the fresh sheets, lie on the pillow cases, and recline in splendor when I'm done. This blanket is one of his favorites, too. The only thing that will motivate him to move is if someone comes to the door. Then he has to come and see who it is.
  • I've been working on de-cluttering and organizing my house for two years but I am nearing the end of my enthusiasm for now. Tomorrow, I am going to finish up and put the last ten boxes on the curb. It does contribute to peace of mind to know that I can actually put things away in closets because they aren't filled with crap I don't need.

  • I finished Daniel Silva's The Confessor and started All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Both books have to do with World War II. The Confessor is a grand spy novel and it influenced me yesterday to imagine myself speeding home from Mankato in a red Fiat with a chiffon scarf and big sunglasses instead of in the gray Honda Accord. Spies in Rome don't drive Hondas, you know.

  • I've been on the road a lot this summer...more than is typical for me. We went to Canby last week and Gus came along. He is looking at me with his soulful eyes...such a sweet dog. Friday I am going to a writing retreat somewhere up north. I'm not sure where but you have to watch closely for deer the last 40 miles. The friend who is driving is not aware that the limits of my congenial passengerhood is 2.5 hours. If this limit is exceeded, I have been known to burst into tears or demand a stop at the DQ. I'll try very hard to behave.
Well, that all I have tonight. Tomorrow, I'll check in earlier!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

it's a new morning, bob dylan

I slept like a baby last night. Drifted off to sleep, woke a few times for minutes, then woke slowly at 8 am. Wow! Wonderfully refreshing! The result is that I feel energetic and optimistic about the day.

I have been thinking about lifestyle. I thought I had a physically and emotionally healthy lifestyle but it turns out there are some gaps. I have been using the chart I made a few weeks ago to keep track of my goals: exercise, healthy food/drink, peace of mind, relationships, and creativity. I like it for planning and for looking back to see how I spent my time. It's not that I document every piece of food or every minute of exercise...that would get oppressive for me. It's a general review of how I spent my time.

Yesterday, I baked oatmeal peanut butter cookies, molasses cookies, and banana bread. Our kids are good to help us with tasks like tree trimming, pet care when we are out of town, furniture moving, roof work. I like to bake cookies for them sometimes in return. I made enough that I could walk small batches to neighbors. One lady wanted to pay me which only shows how far we have come from the days when people did that regularly...shared with neighbors. I tidied my house, mailed a letter, went for a walk, played Scrabble, read a book, and filled the bird feeders. On my way back from the walk, a young squirrel played hide-and-seek with me...jumping from tree to tree, peeking at me through the leafy branches. If I stopped, he stopped, tail twitching. It was a sweet moment.

Today, I am digging out some of my fall clothes and jackets. It's getting too cool here for summer pj's and skirts and such. I'm anxious for the fall colors to emerge! Also think I will dig out my many tubs of Halloween decorations. I LOVE Halloween. I might bake some bread...something dense and grainy.

This week, I have a couple of therapy appointments, a yoga class, a community education thing where I will be paired with a new immigrant family, I'm subbing in an industrial arts class, and next weekend, I am going with 5 friends from Livestrong on a writing retreat in the north woods.

Off into this beautiful day, my friends.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

the best day ever

I have two grandsons, both five years old, born within a week of each other. They each had their first day of kindergarten yesterday. I decided on my way to yoga this morning that I am going to emulate them in a couple of ways.

Alex, quieter and not as demonstrative, gets so excited about everything but expresses it as "This is the best lunch ever! This is the best band ever! This is the best ice cream ever!"

Today, walking home from yoga, I decided this is the best day ever. I slept until 7, mostly sound and restful sleep. I went to gentle yoga which I loved. So peaceful and energizing at the same time. I went for coffee with Michele, ran into several more friends, had a wonderful egg sandwich, saw lots of gold finches and sun flowers, and enjoyed the autumn-like breeze and lower temps. So there is my Alex emulation...the best day ever.

Elliot is the louder and more demonstrative one. Every person he meets, he runs to and hugs with unabashed joy. He will stop what he is doing and say, "I love you SO MUCH, Nana!" He always hugs his cousin, Alex, goodbye at the end of a visit. Today, I am hugging the people in my life who love me, the people in my life who have supported me, the people in my life who bring me joy. This is my Elliot emulation...I love you all SO MUCH!

It's been a long and slow moving river of change. I feel like I waded in about five years ago and had no idea where I would end up on the other side. There have been so many scary moments...and so many absolutely beautiful, heart-wrenching moments. What a journey. Gratitude has been my partner through it all. Even in the darkest of times, I tried hard to be grateful. I wrote a list of 100 things I am grateful for and sent it to my surgeon...things I could not do prior to surgery. And it was easy. I think I could do it again today. 100 things to be grateful for on this...the best day ever.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

favorite things about fall

  1. Joe Pye weed, pictured above. Dusty mauve flowers on lanky stems, often visited by butterflies, it's a sign the end of summer is near.
  2. Sunflowers as tall as the porch roof.
  3. The county fair. The sheep and goats. Cheese curds. The dairy place with real strawberry ice cream...with real strawberries. 
  4. Geese. Every time we go for a walk now, they are winging their way to or back from a big pond somewhere. Probably Swan Lake. 
  5. Food. Even sweet corn is a harbinger of autumn. Tomatoes...we're going to make the tomato tart at least one more time. Peppers. Plan to stuff, grill and freeze them. Nothing tastes better in January than grilled peppers in an omelet. End of summer food.
  6. Sounds. No more tractor pulls and baseball games. The sound of Friday night football on the hill.
  7. Shorter days. Waking at 3 am, I have almost four hours of dark before the sun is fully up. By September, I am still awake when it gets dark.
  8. Food. Meatloaf and baked potatoes. Soup. Pot roast with root vegetables. Baked squash. Fresh bread with crisp crust you can hear crackle as it cools.
  9. Birds. Finches, turning dirty yellow, flit around the bird feeder. Cardinals, the young pair have taken up residence and sent the old folks somewhere else. Hummingbirds stocking up before they fly to warmer spots for the winter.
  10. Friends. Some go back to school. Some leave for the winter.
  11. Hot tub. Maybe a couple nights under the stars.
  12. Family. Two grandsons starting school. A granddaughter going to a new school. Parties move indoors. Goodbye pontoon! Goodbye swimming pool!

Monday, September 01, 2014

labor day 2014

We had a fine Labor Day party at Tom and Betty's with, as usual, lots of food, family, friends, and laughs. We were in the pool for a while, then the hot tub. The rain held off until we were done.

Tom and Betty's backyard is so looks tropical.

Today feels like the first official day of autumn. Regis wore his Hawaiian shirt yesterday because he said the rule is no white shoes or Hawaiian shirts after Labor Day. Maybe he's right.

I know I'm ready for the next season. I find it harder and harder to wear summer clothes, I'm starting to ignore my garden, and I have developed a hankering for meatloaf. All signs of fall. I can't wait to get my boots and sweaters out.

I have a busy week coming up so I might not do anything today. I might stay in my pajamas until noon. I might bake bread. I might take a nap. Ah, the possibilities.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

good food to stoke the soul

I see I started this, then forgot. What a surprise. It's from A Pioneer Woman Cooks. I'm going to make it again tomorrow since we have such a bountiful harvest of tomatoes and  it's so good. I'm not going to smush the crusts together only to spend twenty minutes rolling them out. I think I'll use a tart pan and something else...not sure what. Maybe a round pizza pan.

Well, that is all I have to say about that this morning.

something told the wild geese

I had to tease my school teaching friends about my activities this week. They are sitting in a warm auditorium, listening to the motivational speaker of the year and I am sitting in my hammock chair, feeling groovy. My big accomplishments for the week so far are also pictured; coffee drinking on the porch, reading, tending the little library, and watching the geese fly over the meadows and fields.

Yesterday morning, when we walked you could smell autumn in the air. And then we saw the beautiful geese.

I have had two blissful nights of sleep. Pathetic when you have to brag about sleeping, I know.
Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field
Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered,-'Snow.'
Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned,-'Frost.'
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.