Archive for the 'rambling' Category

Planning for early 2018

It’s a cold, wintry day here on the east coast. I’m trying to work up enthusiasm for today’s walk. While I delay on my errands, I’m drinking hot tea and making plans for February (and January too). It’s sort of a tale of more and less:

  1. The Great Backyard Bird Count is over President’s Day weekend. Maybe I could do some short road trips to look for raptors? If you’re interested in participating, it’s a worldwide effort. More details here: http://gbbc.birdcount.org/
  2. More exercise (thanks to gingerbread cookies, this is needed more than ever). I’m considering hiking trails nearby, as well as places with indoor pools. There might be a chance of spotting wildlife, due to the reduced green cover. If you want to explore winter wildlife, check out these ideas and bundle up.
  3. More art and creativity. Visits to museums; making space/time for more drawing/painting/printing; working on some short story ideas.
  4. More volunteering. Seriously thinking about ways to make the world a better place. It’s a nice chaser to the stress of last year.
  5. Reduce the stash of yarn. I sent some finished knits off as Christmas gifts in 2017 and I’m getting charity hats ready to send away (one needs blocking, one needs finishing). I’m matching well-marinated yarn to knit projects, and trying to figure out what yarn is unlikely to ever be knit into something by me ever (on the pile to donate). Sometime next week, I’ll probably post some of my photos of projects, with details about patterns.
  6. Less clutter. This is a tedious, ongoing project that involves going into the unheated attic to find things that are missing or things I want to remove from the house. Today I may recycle/sort a whole mess of paper in my toasty office while listening to my music collection over the wind’s roar.

What are you making space for in 2018? Any cool ideas you want to add to your life? Or are there things you need to let go?

Wishing you all the best this shiny new year. If you’re further north, in the Boston area, hope you have electricity and heat.

 

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Sporadic like sunshine

Another beloved aunt passed while I was at a business conference, and so … much of July and part of August has been me settling my mood. The world seems unbalanced by losses of people I’ve known all my life, even though it was great to reconnect to their children and grandchildren.

Which is why I’m exploring changes — either reducing clutter or talking with the family about moving away from the land of government work. I couldn’t picture myself working as a lobbyist 2 years ago. I don’t think that will change now.

So, if you had to rethink your life, what would you do or where would you choose to go?

The family conversation has led to a lot of surprises. Sporadic changes have started breaking through like sunshine. We started to repaint the kitchen (which had been in a holding pattern, partly due to the heat and humidity and partly due to the unending tyranny of travel).

Due to the heat, I’ve been reading a lot more than knitting. Two books particularly broke through the gloom of impending thunderstorms and ever present humidity.

Paper Love: Searching for the Girl my Grandfather Left Behind” by Sarah Wildman. Thoughtful, somewhat devastating read about the author’s research into people her family left behind in Berlin. It’s fascinating and interesting to see the research connections and learn the choices that saved people (or didn’t).

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” by Winifred Watson. An enjoyable farce from 1938 (filled with glamorous 1930s nightclubs and some typecasting). I can’t remember if Dovegreyreader‘s site or Cornflower‘s site that recommended it, or if I read about it on the Persephone Books site, and remembered it when I saw it on the library shelves. Anyway, whoever told me about it, thank you.

Chaos

So… There’s been a lot happening. Which seems like the understatement of the century.  I’m heartsick: I love my country, and the best I can do here is focus on art. So, I’m going to review work I did in 2016, when I didn’t feel blocked by a wave of news items… It seems like now is the best time to get back in the writing habit. Working on a follow-up for “Bit by the Printer’s Devil“. Some camera downloads need to happen first, though.

Postcards

I have postcards all around my office. Some of them are antique, framed ones, showing photos of places that were near a camp I used to be a counselor at. Others are of bookish things from the British Isles. Still others are art postcards, bought when a local artist’s work delighted me, or a museum had a postcard of a particularly meaningful painting. I’m in the process of making more room in my office, and find that I’ll need to have a postcard framing and hanging afternoon, hopefully when it’s icky outside.

Artists whose postcards I’ve collected:

Martha Dougherty is a contemporary artist who does lovely watercolors set in Baltimore, Maryland — both interior views and external street scenes. Truly lovely. Here’s another one [Madison at Charles Street]. In some of the saturated street scenes, she’s the artist whose work is the closest reflections of the way I see color in landscapes. Very interesting. Linda Hall is another contemporary artist who does watercolors in Chestertown, Maryland.

So, have you collected postcards? If so, are they just mementos of places you’ve been, scenery you love, mail you received from loved ones, or affordable art?

 

 

Spring driving

When winter is nearly over, and spring is starting to bloom or leaf out, I like to vary my commutes so I can take advantage of the sunshine and see a bit of the countryside before I head back to the city. This evening I drove through the hilly valleys where there are state parks and many, many farms with white farmhouses. Some homes had bunting on their gates for St. Patrick’s Day (not sure that was the goal, or it’s a reference to Easter?). A few have egg trees, one house has a northern magnolia in bloom and another has very early forsythia.

And in one place, near where a creek bed snakes along the road, and there’s a small pond, I could hear the spring peepers. I talked about them last year too. Their song is one of the mysterious gifts given to us living on the east coast of the USA. I’ve heard them up in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont. As a city dweller, when I hear them, I’m enchanted. People who live near them during the entire spring peeper mating season may have different reactions, since they can get quite loud.

In my yard, I have an egg tree set up (plastic eggs hung by wire from a miniature magnolia), and underneath it there are mini daffodils and crocuses blooming. Truly lovely. Maybe we’ll have a day without fog and rain when I can take a picture.

So, any detours that invite you when springtime arrives? Or are you more likely to do small auto trips in autumn, to enjoy the cooler weather? It will be cold again by the weekend, so I’m trying to soak up as much sunshine and warmth as I can before then.

 

Countdown to a blue moon

Step outside at sunset on July 31st, and this will finally be a full, blue moon [NASA explanation here].

countdownbluemoon

But right now we’re just counting down (and maybe humming along to the Nancy Griffith song, Just Once in a Very Blue Moon, although that might just be me (possibly better sound here)).  And admiring the daisies in the neighbor’s lawn, as well as black-eyed susans by garden gates. Hopefully, if you are dealing with summer’s hot weather and grass allergies, you have beautiful flowers to enjoy in the early evening.

daisies

Very little sleep to be had in Charm City

The Gardener and I spent all evening watching news reports from the east side of town and the west side of town. I’ve been calling family members to let them know I was stuck in a traffic jam tonight, but nothing worse. I’m heartbroken by what led up to the need to protest, saddened that the peaceful protests changed so drastically, and angry that a family who lost their son hasn’t been given the time to grieve. I recognize that it’s complicated…. too complicated for this little blog.

Businesses have been looted, a retirement home (in process of being built) has gone up in flames… the City has put in place a curfew for everyone starting tomorrow… and the National Guard has been called in. The local news media has been providing nuanced reporting (if I look at the national coverage, it seems very oddly skewed). We’ve had a news reporter seeded in with the local chaplains walking towards where the violence was coming from (modern cell phones are wonderful), information about what the smoke in the city was from, and good coverage of which roads were blocked.

Hopefully things will quiet down, so we can have a decent discussion and demand that justice be done. And this blog can go back to what it’s supposed to be — a place where news events don’t intrude so much.


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