A Day In the Life …


 

MY FRIDAY BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY weekend was mighty busy. More than I bargained for, actually. It started with me wearing my “Homeowner’s” hat; taking a lawnmower in (hand to wrangle it into the back of my truck, then out again) for maintenance and then paying “bail” to get my weed eater/brush cutter sprung outta jail so I could do some serious work in the yard over the weekend.

Then I switched hats (after getting spiffed-up) and met my mystery writer friend, Joyce Oroz, for lunch up in beautiful downtown San Juan Bautista. Writerly hat donned, I was hoping to leave the grey skies behind as I headed inland, but apparently the grey extended its hand all the way into (and beyond) San Juan Bautista. As I walked the block and a half to the restaurant, I took inventory of my warmer weather attire, and I crossed my fingers, hoping we’d be eating inside at Jardines. Thankfully I didn’t find Joyce outside in the patio, but nestled nicely to one side of the Mexican restaurant’s indoor seating area. A pesky pain in my arm interfered with my high spirits a little bit, but after a lovely, filling meal, we chatted with the assistant manager about utilising their garden patio (dining area) for a book signing. He was quite sure something could be worked out, but would have to get back to us on Monday or Tuesday. We were happy with that and bade our good byes to the manager and each other.

My shoulder and arm kept hurting (I couldn’t figure out why) and by our departure was quite bothersome, so, before leaving San Juan Bautista, I rung up my family doctor to see if I could—by some miracle—be squeezed in … no such luck. They didn’t like the sound of the symptoms and since I could not be seen by them, their automatic (CYA) response was to recommend I go to the emergency room.

Sigh. Not happy with the recommendation, I did comply. But calculating the timing and my itinerary, I chose the hospital on the Peninsula over Salinas because it would be closer to my next destination … and if the worst happened (which I doubted), I’d be closest to my daughter—so much more convenient for her (and I prefer CHOMP to SVMH anyway). Another reason was I’d be more likely to make it to the event at Open Ground Studios since it usually took less time at CHOMP than at SVMH. Even with CHOMP being busier than usual, I made it out in under three hours—just in time for the event.

So, I spent some “quality” time at CHOMP, admiring the paintings hanging in their waiting room as I went through the “triage” of care, then was led into the inner sanctum for further evaluation. Kinda wished I’d brought my edit with me—time would have passed faster (maybe). I always feel like I’ve wasted the staff’s time when it’s a false alarm—but I am thankful it wasn’t the worst-case scenario (heart attack—I always have to consider it since I’m on blood pressure meds and have a wonky heart that likes to skip beats, then add an extra now and again). Instead, it was most likely a neck/nerve issue that I’ll have to address at a later date. (Drats!) Well, with Memorial Day weekend upon us, it was put into the back burner. I can’t read a crystal ball, but I do foresee more doctor appointments in my near future—several, in fact … plus a stress test (ugh). Sniggle and sigh … all in one breath.

With that out of the way, I was finally able to switch hats (Painterly) one final time and enjoy (mostly, since my arm still hurt) a wonderful evening with my fellow artist friends and the public that came to see the exhibition of art created in classes and by OGS members. I didn’t participate this year. It felt kind of weird not having any work displayed—other than the piece on the Co-Op Member’s wall at the back (along with my books), but I’m glad I didn’t—I would have been scrambling the last month or so, even more than I already had been! Time to let other artists get the spotlight—well deserved, too. I’m so proud of the amazing things that are created with the OGS walls.

By the time I got home, I was ready to crash and take some medicine that would work better than the Aleve (which gave me zilch relief). Saturday I awoke to no pain (the cycle was broken—yay!) and the day was spent recovering from the busyness of Friday. I didn’t even touch the weed eater—I’d planned on spending the day whacking away at my burgeoning weedy yard, but recovery was more important. The weeds could wait for another day. Monday was the first day I attempted using the weed eater … oh, my. I am so far out of shape—the vibrations did not feel good on my neck, so I laid it to rest in front of the garage … and have yet to pick it up again.

I think I’ve finally resigned myself to not doing any of the heavy work needed to bring my yard back into a more tidy form … instead, I’ll be making a call to have someone come in and do the work for me—this is a very hard thing for me to let go of. I love my gardening—even the hard stuff. Maybe I’ll have him out to work this weekend. Maybe I’ll have another story to tell. We’ll see.

I cannot believe it’s June already (insert serious eye-rolling here)!! Until next time, I’ll say adieu. Have a fantastically blessed Friday and weekend.

Aaah, Well … Photo Journaling

IT’S NOT THAT I FORGOT … well, maybe for a couple of days, but “It” is upon me—Blog Day … and I’m nowhere near finished with any of the ones I’ve started. So, today will be a photo blog day—a photo journal, if you will. Pictures I’ve taken over the last week or so, documenting what’s going on around me.

I’ve plenty to choose from. I nearly died when I saw how many (nearly 1300!!) I had on my iPhone that needed to be off-loaded onto my Photo Drive. Yup, I’ve got one external drive almost exclusively dedicated to my photos. Dangerous, I know. At least my phone is functioning faster now … lol.

So without further stalling … here we go with my photo

Fresh Produce

Fresh produce at our local farmers market in Monterey

WestEnd Celebration

Part of Open Ground Studio’s booth (and my books) at the annual WestEnd Celebration in Sand City

journal of the last few weeks:

Greens at the Farmers Market

Love the fresh veggies here!

Reductive Wood Cut

Alyssa Endo working on her current project at WestEnd Celebration

Demos & Creativity

OGS had demos all weekend long of the different things available at the studio

Photopolymer Printing Demo

Susie showing the print she just pulled from the press

Gearing Up for Alzheimer's Walk

Very soon (24Sept) I’ll be walking in Aptos for the Alzheimers Association, to bring awareness to the disease and to help raise funds.

My Goofy Sebastian

Always entertaining—Sebastian plays (very noisily) every night … just as I’m trying to get to sleep (of course)!

Sunrise in the Dale

One morning I actually was up early enough to catch the sun before it was visible!

A Visitor

It’s not often a mallard duck (or any animal) comes to take a look into Open Ground Studios …

Preparations for an Opening

Alyssa Endo loves to create geisha images. Her opening on 9September will showcase her beautiful woodcut prints of various geisha images she has created over the years.

Sunsets Make Me Smile

Actually captured a sunset recently … which really made me smile!

More Sunset ...

Another view of the same sunset

Gardening at OGS

Gardening at Open Ground Studios … making it pretty for Alyssa’s opening!

Whether it’s going to a farmers market, playing or working at Open Ground Studios or events, I always find time to do things that are dear to me … like getting ready for a walk on 24September to bring awareness to Alzheimers … or enjoy time with my critters … or watching the sun set—or on occasion, actually see it rise.

There’s plenty to do to keep me busy. These shots are only a very few of the ones I’ve taken in the recent past. Perhaps, someday I’ll even get a chance to get them onto my Flickr account and you’ll be able to see them all …

Until then, enjoy this little window into my life and have a wonderful Friday and Labor Day weekend!

Blessings to you all …

There's even a place to sit!

There’s even a place to sit!

A Selfie

Snort … never been very good at this sort of thing …

Designs In Nature

Discoveries while cutting up cabbage for a meal—design is beautiful, don’t you thing?

Investing Time

LIFE HAS ITS UPS AND DOWNS … and my life is no different. I’ve done a pretty good job keeping positive through it all. Through plenty of health issues, surgeries. Some awesome highs, like the birth of my daughter … and definite lows, like the death of family members and friends.

Through it all, I’ve managed to stay positive. Or at least pull myself up by the bootstraps, so to speak, and continue on working my way back to a good spot.

I’ve lost pets before too. As a kid, I had turtles, dogs, chickens … and more—becoming quite close to each. My very first dog—such a sweet little girl—ended up with distemper and was put down, crushing my spirits. Then my friend’s dog, along with a pack of others, managed to tear into our chicken coop—decimating the few hens I had. Crushed again. But my craving for critters kept me going, pouring my love into each animal that came into my life. Pigeons, fish, rabbits, a goose … a pony—plenty of critters.

My previous dog’s final years were miserable with Cushing’s Disease. And now, I’ve finally said good-bye to Kaeli, after she dealt with health issues for the last couple of year.

So now, I am down to a cat and a rabbit. And am already craving a dog again. A critter I can give a bear-hug to without crushing … someone that can “protect” me and my home. (And the “call” to acquire some baby chicks is almost overwhelming …) Oh, my (insert small, mischievous grin) …

My cat and I have spent many quality hours together these last few weeks … I’ve noticed that Sebastian is less aggressive now. The frustration of his old playmate ignoring him appears to be gone. I didn’t realize how much Kaeli’s inactivity and grumpiness had effected him. He’s now more loving, back to giving gentle “love bites” rather than chomping down out of frustration. Also much more kittenish—I’m loving the entertaining he’s providing.

Maybe I need to rethink the idea of “replacing” Kaeli (she, of course, can never be replaced—she was one of a kind …). At least for now—just love on the two that are present in my life. Give my bunny more attention—poor girl has a huge pen—I call it the bunny condo (so she does have the room to zip around and burrow to her hearts content)—in the back yard, but nobody to come visit her except to feed and chat now and then … kinda wish she’d been able to be in the house, but I knew the cat and dog would have been reduced her chances of survival, if ya know what I mean. I once had parakeets (I inherited them from my dad when he passed away) that had to stay outside because of my cat. They flourished for years outside in a protected area (even had a heat lamp set up for really cold days) … until one harsh winter ended up being too much for them.

Invest quality time with my little critters—that’s what I must do! They are, after all, part of the family and should be treated as such. Not an afterthought or an inconvenience. Definitely not throw-away objects, as some parts of society would make you believe.

And, since I’m not traveling this year—oh, yeah … surgery is keeping me from traveling—I can spend even more time with my critters … and my garden. Now, those are two things I can get excited about: pets and plants. Well, those and … well, just about everything in nature.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
~by Cecil Frances Alexander

Look around you. Enjoy what you see. Embrace each day anew. May this day and the week that follows be truly blessed.

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’ …

I’M ON A ROLL … AND IT FEELS GOOD! (Sniggle … that title immediately makes me think of the old western tv show, Rawhide … that wasn’t the plan.) The fog is lifting and energy is finally returning. I wonder if it’s residual from all my walking on Wednesday of last week (I think I managed three miles in one day—that’s a lot for me). On Thursday (last week), I made good progress on the edit of book four—and had fun face-to-face interacting with two other “writerly” NaNoWriMo members. Or maybe the awesome evening I had at Open Ground Studios for their Social Paint Night (if you’re in the area, you really need to check the next one out … not sure there’s a date yet—I’ll check)—oh, yeah! I was able to get a tax extension, so that pressure is off (whew!). Or maybe it’s the fact that, on Saturday, I miraculously scored four hard-to-acquire tickets for the 2017 Gallifrey One event in February and made room reservations for half of us—a friend will make the second room reservation.

I’m on a roll, aren’t I? Well … I did miss the Sunday’s Paint Out with the Aromas Hills Artisans at Point Lobos. They changed the time last minute and I wasn’t able to make the new time work. It would have been great—they paint and sketch whilst I usually wander around with my camera capturing images. Oh, well. There’s always next time.

I even worked in the garden over the weekend. Spring is here in spades—actually, over the weekend, it was more like summer with temps in the high 70s and low 80s! Gorgeous day to play in the garden, even if only for short bits … there’s so much to do. Even though I spend a good hour toiling, it’s hard to see much progress—but I can now walk pathways without getting attacked by thistle plants (yay).

Buoyed by all this wonderful stuff, I walked in on Monday to hear the doomsday lecture from my neurosurgeon. I was prepared for it (plus, I had my extended church family praying for me—thank you—you know who you are). I knew (kinda) what was coming and was prepared with lots and lots of questions. It went smoother than anticipated and there was no lecture (yay!). It took a few more days, but now I’m on the cusp of having a date for my surgery—and the daunting task of cancelling my trip to the UK (that’s the only sad part, really). Air fare and rooms … with the aid of the doctor’s office, I should get most of my money back … I hope.

My week continued to be pretty darn great—a walk in a cute little park, a bit of editing on my work in progress, then a wonderful speaker at Central Coast Writers (perfect for me … she spoke about writing a series). Though I’d already grappled with many of the things she spoke of, I learned plenty. CCW has terrific speakers!

And, after a busy Thursday of talking with doctors, juggling non-painterly things at Open Ground Studios and getting zapped in a “nerve conduction test”, then working on editing with writerly friends, here we are again … at Friday. There’s still plenty on my plate, like the ongoing editing project, finishing and confirming the cancelling of all my flights/rooms and an upcoming book signing in May—May 7th to be exact … in a garden setting—lovely—in Aromas! I’m praying for good weather, but I will take whatever is thrown at me.

Oh … and there’s that pesky “major surgery” near the end of May. God’s got my back on that one (along with all my friends—bless each and every one of them!!), so I’m not going to worry unnecessarily. There may be a few weeks where I’m in hibernation, incoherently babbling from pain medications (grin) so, no blog during that time (I’ll give you warning) … but I’ll be back to my old self soon enough.

I love my life … with all it’s ups and downs—it’s pretty darn exceptional. I am blessed. Indeed.

May your day … and weekend—the whole week, really—be gloriously and serendipitously blessed.

I’ve Been Thinking …

UH OH … THIS COULD BE DANGEROUS. I always come up with some very profound thoughts and fantastic ideas when I’m in the shower—awesome thoughts I’d love to share. And ideas for the garden or yard … or a storyline for my book—or even some places to go take photos. But it never fails—the moment I have pen and paper handy—able to get those thoughts down so I won’t forget, the thoughts evaporate from my mind. Same thing when I’m driving down the road, enjoying the scenery as I barrel towards my next destination. I’m never prepared for these moments of spontaneous thought. And it is frustrating.

Sometimes, I can compose an entire blog in my mind that is so perfect. So very perfect. Or the perfect scene for my story—but apparently not memorable enough for me to get it into written form. Artistic ideas that would be stunning once implemented into my yard or crafted on paper and framed … yet they are lost forever (well, perhaps not forever). It’s so blasted frustrating.

My head is always teaming with ideas that are begging to explode into life when I least expect it, so why is it, since this happens so frequently, that I don’t expect it? (I feel a headache coming on … giggle.) I should be prepared, right?

This is a weird month to be working on writing of any sort, anyway. With all these ideas floating around, one would think it would be ideal … but I look around my yard and house in its woefully

Back Yard View

I’d certainly like a better view as I sip on tea or nom on food …

neglected state and am drawn to work outside—away from the computer and/or pen and paper. The computer nags at me to work on my blog, the galleys for The Scymarian — and my WIP, Mischiefmaker—but the gorgeous weather pulls me the other direction.

Yard View Improved

It’s a slow process … but it is improving. It’s a pity, with this drought, that I can’t plant anything.

Away from all electronic devices.

I hate it when I’m of a divided mind. I’m not the most logical person in the world. I’ve always been a seat-of-the-pants kinda person, no matter what I’m doing. Common sense is my go-to tool, but I’ve also got this gut-level thing going, too—especially where outdoor activities are involved. Either I’m all in … or not (insert grin). Whether it’s walking, gardening, yard work, tromping through nature taking photos … yup—all in or not.

Speaking of all in or not … this is the NaNoWriMo’s July Summer Camp, which I foolishly signed up for—and am now kicking myself, for thinking I could manage to “finish” successfully. The idea behind

Tea in Pacific Grove

A very creative friend and I at Bookworks in Pacific Grove—she with her knitting and jewelry for sale, me with my books and some tea.

signing up was to give me the impetus to keep working towards an end on my WIP. The rules for the Summer Camp are (thankfully) much more laid back than in November. November requires 50,000 words minimum for the 30 days of writing. NaNo’s summer camp allow you to choose your goal, no matter how small or grand it may be. Even with that, I’ve tried it in the past and should know better that just signing up for it does not work with me. Well, at least it hasn’t in the past. I guess time will tell.

My galleys should be taking precedence over every other writing—and it’s really a non-writing task—except that I am finding many, many formatting errors and it’s keeping me from even wanting to work on it.

Petunia Up Close

The deer haven’t nommed on my flowers yet—knock on wood

I’d rather be outside, slaving in the hot sun than working on the galleys. Or wandering around the yard taking photos. Sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

It’s probably because I am one that enjoys the gratification of seeing what has been accomplished.

Yard Work in Progress

Improving my view is hard work … but I’m getting there. And it’s a lot more fun that working on the galleys …

These galleys do not afford that luxury at this point. But what I’ve been doing outside certainly has! And watching the progress of my plants is even more fun than working on the galleys. Sigh.

Succulent Up Close

Hmm. Didn’t know this variegated plant was a succulent.

Tresspasser

A young doe is sneaking around in my yard, looking for things to nom on.

And when I see a deer wander in the yard, I get excited and thrilled!

When I work on the galleys (or my WIP) at Open Ground Studios, I take a few minutes out to wander around, stretch my legs and take photos of things happening in the studio.

Playing On-Site Photographer

I try to catch our DOG (Director of Open Ground) and others as they play and work at the studio

Workshops, classes … there’s always something going on. There are so many different things to keep my mind stirred up and rarin’ to go on to the next project. Some could (and do) call that a bit like an attention deficit problem. I’d prefer to call it keeping things fresh. I certainly don’t get bored.

So … now that I’ve procrastinated whilst writing this blog, done a bit of reminiscing of what I enjoy—and shared a few photos (insert smile) … it’s now time to get back to the task at hand. Writing. Wait. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing? Yes, but it doesn’t count against the NaNo word count, nor does it help with the galleys…

Did I mention I am really good at procrastinating? Yup.

I hope your Fourth of July weekend is blessed with many wonderful memories. I’ll be walking in a parade with other writers (part of the Central Coast Writers group) on Saturday in Monterey. Maybe you’ll be there. Maybe not. Have fun in either case!

Enjoy your weekend.

Good Intentions and Detours

A WRITER FRIEND OF MINE POSTED on FB recently—something about procrastination—that she normally doesn’t and cannot understand the reasons for those that do.

As a confirmed procrastinator, I—perhaps too proudly—responded with my affirmation and preceded to explain why it happens with me.

And that got me to thinking—always…I repeat, always a dangerous thing 😉

My life is filled. Filled with lists of things to do, places to go, things to see, people to talk with, books to read (not necessarily in that order) … so much stuff. My intention is to get it all done. But, I find it seldom works out the way I plan. Life happens. Maybe, for lack of a better word, doldrums sets in, or pain happens or things explode (figuratively, of course) from out of nowhere. Or, I simply get lazy. Yes, I said lazy.

Hmmph. Not being accountable to anyone but God can and does make me lazy sometimes. It shouldn’t, but it does. Free will can definitely have it’s bad side. I can see Him staring down at me, slowly shaking his head when I choose to chill rather than be doing something—anything—on that long list of mine. My excuse—and yes, it is an excuse (even if it is legitimate)—is my pain. And/or fatigue. Once upon a time I’d just “do it” anyway. The heck with it—”…till you drop” is the way I used to go. But the level of pain and fatigue I’m willing to live with is beginning to be my decision maker. The big question is, should it be??

So, with these ideas fresh in my mind, I set out to knock out one or two of my “to do” items on my ever-growing list. Mind you, I was not looking at priorities, because if that was the case, I’d be working inside on my taxes. I wanted to be outside. It was beautiful. Not too hot, not too cold. “Just right”, as Goldilocks would say.

At first, my body resisted the idea of getting outside to weed. I couldn’t find the hula-hoe (this is an amazing little device—every gardener should have one!) … had to do some serious searching and wondered if it was worth it. Yes. But, I think I unconsciously chose the closest thing that needed weeding—just to get it done. It also happened to be one of the hardest bits of dirt around the yard. Filled with base rock (can you say cement??) I’m laughing now, but at the time … oh, the moaning and groaning (insert huge sweaty grin). It didn’t take too long—perhaps ten to fifteen minutes—of hard labor. It was just a tiny patch, under the eaves along the kitchen wall. Maybe a foot wide and twenty feet long. I drug myself back into the house to have a drink of tea and rested. Serious rest. Complaining all the while to myself at how out of shape I was. Panting, shaking from such little work. Honestly …

But, once I was feeling better, I cautiously went back out and looked at what I’d accomplished. Not bad. I felt good about it. So good that I went to work on weeding a much larger area out by the driveway. Last year I’d planned on creating a parking pad near the front drive’s gate … with a retaining wall, a plant-arbored gate … didn’t happen. I think I may actually get it done this year (insert grin)—yep, it will get done. I’m sure. When I finished the area, I was tired and sore, but felt very good about what I’d accomplished. It is nice to see the results of hard work.

I rewarded myself with lunch (and a yummy dessert—I’d burned enough calories to enjoy it without feeling guilty) and pondered what else I could do. The tax return—piles of receipts waiting to be sorted and recorded—was still waiting for me, quietly tapping me on the shoulder. I vetoed it. The mind-numbing number crunching would have to wait for another day. I went back out and did a bit more weeding—well, raking with a sort of thatcher rake (not sure what it’s real name is)—in the patio/”lawn” area. Not quite as much enthusiasm as before, but I was definitely getting excited at all of the “improvements” I was seeing. Did I mention I have a tendency of going overboard. I was going to do more, but my energy levels were diminishing fast.

And, I was also starting to feel the consequences of so much work. Not muscle pain from unused muscles—I keep myself busy enough so that is not much of an issue—but rather, flat-out fatigue … and my arthritis rearing it’s ugly head. This is the reason I usually try to reign in how much I do and when I do it. The problem is, when I’m really excited about what I’m accomplishing, that kinda goes out the window.

The same “bout of excitement” happened the Saturday Open Ground Studios was up for an award—while other members helped kids/adults paint and print things, I spent the whole day standing (a no-no) or bent over (a really bad no-no) working with kids and adults making accordion books. We all had a blast making our presence known and our director, Denese—and Open Ground Studios—won … and it took three days for me to recover from the enthusiasm. So worth every bit of the pain!

Then, yesterday I completely ignored everything on my to-do list—especially the piles of tax receipts—and spent a lovely late afternoon and evening with a friend. That’s important. I don’t have it on the to-do list, but it is equally important to spend time with friends. A delightful and necessary detour in my busy life. We had a grand time … dinner at the Fishwife Restaurant in Pacific Grove, then we braved blustery, chilly—no, rephrase that—icy cold weather as we climbed over rocks and across sand to get the perfect pictures of a moonrise, crashing waves and finally, a sunset (and I will reward you with a few shots taken yesterday). They are not perfect, as I still have not had the camera cleaned (insert huge frown).

Sunset at Asilomar

One of several view of a sunset along the coast of Pacific Grove

Rocky Vantage of Sunset

Playing with angles, ragged rock in foreground

Moonrise at Asilomar

Playing with surroundings to capture the moonrise

Moonrise at Asilomar2

More playing with imagery

Waiting for Sunset at Asilomar

Blustery weather as we waited for the sun to set along the coast

Moonrise and Chain Fence

Love capturing the landscape surrounding a moonrise or sunset

Procrastination has presented me with a mile long (and then some) list of things to do, in no order particular of priority or preference. I do an internal check of my energy/pain levels and decide from there. I used to get very frustrated at how much I could not accomplish. Now, I just go with the flow. Things will get done—eventually. And I’m happy when they do. No stressing now. That’s all that matters for me. In any case, I’m not sure I’d defend procrastination for others, but I do see that it has it’s place—at least in my life—if one doesn’t fret about the list that grows. And grows.

What’s on your procrastination list? And do you fret about it or take my philosophy?

May your days be filled with a list of blessings, peppered within your “to-do” list.

PushmiPullyu

I FEEL LIKE THE LLAMA IN THE Doctor Doolittle story…two heads and meets itself in the middle, constantly trying to go it’s own direction and being pulled back by the other half. I think if I had two of them all melded together, that might just about take care of all the directions I feel like I’m finding myself trying to go at one time…

I am so excited about going on my trip…

Yet–my yard, my home and creative bend beckon me to stay and get serious. It truly is a very frustrating feeling. I’m so excited about this trip. But…there are so many things to be done around here! I’m hoping it’s just a case of Spring Fever. Spring is breaking out all over: grass to mow, weeds to pull, a garden to plant and tend, repairs to make…a house that screams for help: need for new windows, rooms sorted and tidied, furniture rearranged…and my in-home studio wants some love, too (I refuse to take any pictures of the disaster that is my studio, but here are a few of the yard…). Home ownership is so much fun.

Chill-time on the back porch

Nomming on a meal, soaking up the beauty in the yard…working in the yard. That’s what I want to be doing…(taken last year before the weeds took over)

My mind is overflowing with ideas for the yard, garden and home. But the mental countdown has begun for my trip and I must focus on getting the basics around here done (after I finish up with my book signing on Saturday, that is)–get my taxes done and get the manuscript out of my hands (that actually may happen this weekend–finally) and into the publisher’s hands, so that I can pack and flee!

Can I bring it back to this?

In the last year, my yard had tanked…weeds everywhere. I’d really like to get it back to the little haven it once was…

In addition to the craving to work in the yard, and house…and on my artwork, I’ve contemplated dragging out some old short stories I’ve done and turning them into an anthology that I could publish this fall. There’s never a lack of things to do. Never. It’s just what to do and when. Priorities, of course, but I’m still pulled in so many directions it’s hard to decide which has more priority.

What to do…PushmiPullyu is working, full steam ahead.

Ebb and Flow

AS I WANDER AROUND MY YARD, I am constantly reminded how much effort it takes to keep the balance between Mother Nature’s natural desires to grow — to take over, really — and man’s desires to control that rampant growth.  Maintaining and ‘growing’ a yard, no matter what the size, takes plenty of enthusiasm, creativity…and energy.  Oh.  All of those, coupled with massive funds to make it happen. I have oodles of the first two.

It’s those every-elusive energy and funds that are my nemeses.  I have so many projects that have been started, my mind filled with ideas of grandeur, to make this my little piece of heaven on earth.  It’s the getting it done…finding the energy — and/or the money — to complete the jobs that fail me…quite often.  There are times I feel like chucking it all and huddling in some small apartment with no garden at all.  Let the manager deal with keeping everything green.  But, the itch returns and I’ve got to get out there and dabble.  I love gardening.  I love creating.  I just wish I could win the lottery and have buckets of money to throw at gardeners and landscape designers so they could build what my mind creates!

Don’t we all…

But, it boils down to a simple question.  I may want, but do I need all of this fancy-dancy stuff I’ve created in my mind?  To keep my sanity I need to ask, just what do I need?

A roof over my head (check–a more than adequate roof); money to give back to my church, support my sponsored kids, feed & care for myself and my critters (check, check, check…); a place I can be, whether at home or when traveling, where I can re-energize and express my creativity…both the artistic and writerly sides.  That’s not much of a ‘need’ list, really.  But I keep coming back to the actual ‘need’ — the desire to have so many critters.  I love them all dearly.  Clearly.  But can I care for them they way they deserve?  Probably not.

So, I am slowly winnowing my possessions, both animate and inanimate.  A long, slow, and painful process, to be certain.  But something that must be done if I am to be able to do anything more than just ‘maintain’.  I am looking for a sustained existence.  A simplified existence, where I can focus without so much clutter in my mind and life.

This is what is important in life…to be able to focus on what really matters:  God, family, friends and, of course, my artistic outlets…engaging in life on a simpler level.  It is as simple as that.  But it’s the getting there that is the hard part.

So, I begin.  Right now.

May your days be filled with simple beginnings, blossoming into a meaningful life that is more than just maintained.