How I rang out the year:
* got up at six to write—I dared not break the habit over the holidays for fear I’d never get out of bed early again
* fought with my Kindle, which has decided to shun our wifi
* helped Huck build a spider robot or robot spider–not sure which it is but it’s creepy and awesome, thank you grandparents
* took a walk with Scott. Just to the drugstore, but still.
* paid bills & did medical busywork
* wrote a blog post
* revised two poems and submitted for critique
* got caught up on a major project for the advocacy gig
* am supposed to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark with the gang tonight and stay up to welcome the new year in, but for some unfathomable* reason I’m feeling kinda wiped and wondering if I can get away with celebrating on Central Time
(*Narrator: it was totally fathomable)
My Instagram 2018 “best nine” (which just means best liked). Some surprises here! The five non-portrait photos are some of my own favorite captures this past year, so it’s lovely to know others liked them too. And two of the pics in this grid were taken by others: bottom left by Keely Massey; top right pic by my hubby. Amusingly, the crocus shot just below that one is the photo I was taking when I looked up to discover Scott was snapping a pic of me.
Oof, y’all, 2018 was a doozy. Hard in a different way than 2017, which was its own special brand of bananas. I have big hopes for 2019: advocacy, creative work, family adventures, a new book chugging toward launch day. On Saturday I emptied my studio and scrubbed every nook and cranny, Marilla Cuthbert-style. I was exhausted all the next day, but it was worth it. So sparkling and new! And a more functional arrangement of materials, now that I have a better sense of how I work in this room. (Writing: in the gray chair, never the desk, which meant all the things I used to keep in the desk drawer had to migrate to a shelf near the chair. Bills and busywork: desk. Painting: more likely to happen if I keep the round table clear of clutter & paints out and ready to go. Handwork: in baskets within reach of the writing chair for when I need to ponder a bit–this has proven an essential deterrent to the temptation to open new tabs while working. Pens and notebooks: every possible corner.)
Those crocuses began blooming in the last days of January–which means they’re not far ahead now! Unless we have an altogether different sort of winter, which we may. I started to say I “can’t wait” for a return of my springtime walks but the idiom is all wrong. I’m looking forward with happy anticipation to the explosion of Pacific Northwest bloom that dazzled me last spring, but I can wait. I’m happy to wait. I want to hunker in and read to my kids and do all the hygge things and devour some Cybils finalists (the big shortlist announcements are tomorrow!) and make some art and work a few more rows into the blanket I’ll probably still be crocheting on New Year’s Eve, 2028.
Forget best nine—how about best six?
File under: prepare to melt. A Shutterfly email just served up these (rather grainy) photos of the time my three youngest kids dressed up as Magenta, Steve, and Blue for Halloween. I’m DYING of cute here. Mah babies!
…Or maybe I’ll blink and another week will have zipped past. I knew mentioning that blog challenge was dangerous. Nothing derails my plans like sharing them here on the blog. 😉
But here, I’ll just employ the time-honored Flylady principle of jumping in where you are and see if I can recap the past week a bit. We had a double birthday this weekend. Would you believe this little guy is now fifteen years old?
(Interjection: Scott just sent me this post from 2007. I don’t know how he happened to come across it tonight. I had totally forgotten this story and I remain staggered by the event, all these years later.)
Okay, looking at my planner, I see why I got derailed from daily blogging last week after a whopping three-day streak. On the 4th, which is when I began this draft, I did a reading at an assisted living facility which happens to have a preschool on the premises. The seniors had a holiday gathering for a group of about 30 two- and three-year-olds, and I was invited to come read Inch and Roly books to them. Really fun morning.
And from there the rest of the week cartwheeled along. On Saturday Beanie and I went to Crafty Wonderland, Portland’s awesome art sale at the convention center. We could easily have spent a million dollars on prints and bags and paper goods. Finding ourselves short of that sum by several zeroes, we contented ourselves with a lot of window shopping and bought each other small gifts. We’re going to wrap them up and pretend we weren’t standing next to each other when they were purchased. 😉
In homeschooling land, Huck, Rilla, and I finished our readaloud of Alice in Wonderland and rolled right into Through the Looking-Glass, as one must!
P.S. Thanks, Kathryn, for suggesting Wilding by Isabella Tree. It’s en route!
December 3, 2018 @ 8:32 pm | Filed under: Bloggity
Guess I’ve returned just in time, because my friend Chris O’Donnell tagged me in a 31-day blogging challenge. Several of my favorite homeschooling bloggers from the olden days (circa 2005) are participating. I don’t know that I’ll be able to manage a post every day for December—that’s pressure, and I’m doing my best to give myself a break—but it’s fun to see a burst of activity on blogs I’ve been missing for ages.
I’ve been making a list of things to write about. But it’s like the scene in Overboard:
“Captain Karl, we never talk.”
“Well, there’s no time now!”
Huck is waiting for me to come tuck him in, so I won’t linger here. But one of the post ideas I jotted down was a peek at what he’s been reading lately. Some good stuff! And I need to catch up my own book log as well. My sidebar is months out of date!
How about you? Whatcha reading right now?
I took this photo a couple of weeks ago; most of those glorious leaves have fallen now and the sky is hung upon the bare arms of the trees. Light glows from behind the clouds. I hadn’t realized how much I missed clouds, all those years under the clear blue Southern California sky. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the sky is painted by Maxfield Parrish, shot through with light. Even when it’s overcast and gray, there’s a glow behind the veil.
I made a list yesterday of things to write about. I’ve tucked so many stories in drafts this past year! But everything on my list feels like work. And I’m trying really hard not to work today.
So I’ll talk about Project Feederwatch instead. 🙂 Are any of you participating this year? We missed it last year. And our San Diego feeder attracted rats, so we abandoned it. But here, the birds are putting on quite a show. Our count days are Monday and Tuesday. Last week we counted 25 goldfinches, a flock of bush tits (we lost count at 25 but I think there were more), a handful of house finches and juncos, a female Northern Flicker who visits the suet feeder every morning, a downy woodpecker, two chickadees, two scrub jays, and some starlings. A highly satisfying count. The best view of the feeders is from my studio window, and it amuses me no end to come in here and find the chairs pulled out for better viewing. Huck and Rilla spend a lot of time in here, watching the show.
If you’re interested in taking part in the project, it’s not to late to join for this season. It takes a few weeks for the packet to arrive, but you can download a data sheet to tide you over. Once you get your registration packet in the mail, you begin entering your bird counts online. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology uses this data to “track long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.” I think it’s open to U.S. residents only (and costs $18 to participate), but there’s a Canadian version linked on the site.
I fill our two tube feeders with sunflower seeds. One suet feeder holds a peanutty cake, and the other is a suet-and-insect cake that the woodpeckers seem crazy about. We scatter a bit of millet on the ground for the juncos, and they clean up any sunflower seeds spilled by the squabbling goldfinches. We also have a mesh sock full of nyjer thistle for the finches. But my favorite is when they descend upon the big pot of cosmos and pick out the seeds from the flower centers.
I keep watching for the varied thrushes who began visiting our yard last winter. No luck yet but I’m hopeful!
I would love to hear about the birds that visit your yard, feeders or no!
Ahhhh. Here it is, the day I’ve been working toward. There was no nice clean line between buried under work and wooo I’m free!—it’s been a gradual digging-out process, like shoveling snow. But my walks are clear now and I can at least emerge from the cave.
I’m blinking a bit. It’s ironic that this hemisphere is heading toward its darkest, coldest season, and here I am feeling like spring is on the way. The icicles haven’t even formed yet and I’m already hearing them drip. Sometimes the seasons of our personal lives don’t sync up with what’s happening in nature.
I’m glad, though, that the chilly weather, the rain, the early dark, will keep me physically cloistered a bit longer. I need some time to regroup, to restore balance. And of course there’s the holidays to consider…I’ve just barely begun the shopping and the house is still wearing autumn clothes.
This time last year I started a practice of writing Morning Pages a la Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Three pages longhand immediately upon waking, before opening any tabs or apps. I kept it up for a couple of months, then fizzled out. Resumed the practice in June and shifted my work routine so that right after finishing my morning pages, I worked on the novel for a couple of hours before breakfast. That was a wonderfully productive schedule for two or three months, and then summer ended and the family’s morning rhythm changed, and I had less solo time before breakfast. I dropped the morning pages and kept plugging away at the novel.
I’m shifting back now to my summertime rhythm, with tweaks. Up early, twenty minutes of quiet writing time, then Huck joins me in the studio for an early morning snuggle and chat. We watch the black sky fade to navy blue, steel blue, sky blue streaked with cream-colored clouds. The birds wake up, crows winging past the window, goldfinches arriving at the feeder, juncoes perching on the rain dome. Steven wakes for school and comes in to tear off the page on my ‘year of tiny pleasures‘ calendar. Then both boys scoot out to get their breakfast and I try to work for another hour or two. The temptation to climb back in bed next to Scott for a few minutes is strong, and some mornings I succumb. Never for long, because he gets up to make Steve’s lunch, and then the bus comes, and the girls begin arriving in the kitchen, and the busy day has begun.
For the next few weeks, instead of morning pages I’m going to do the lessons in Holly Wren Spaulding‘s 21 Day Poetry Challenge. I’m excited: I don’t think I’d be enthusiastic about getting up in the early dark on these cold December mornings just to write my morning pages. (I find the pages to be a valuable practice, but I don’t enjoy writing them. I’ve never been a journaler.) The theme for Holly’s course is “interior,” which is just right for this change-of-season I’m in. I also plan to choose a corresponding art practice for these twenty-one days, something simple—a daily sketch of some kind, perhaps sparked by a Creativebug* lesson, perhaps just something on my desk. My sketchbook practice has been a bit sporadic of late, although I did manage some good work this fall.
I recently read Austin Kleon‘s Show Your Work, a book that felt like a fresh pair of batteries for my blog. It made me realize that “showing my work” was exactly what I did here from 2005-2015: I was thinking out loud, learning in public, about homeschooling and parenting. Tidal Homeschooling grew out of that pondering. My sketchbook habit great out of it. A lot of things grew out of it! And I realized that’s what I want to return to. I don’t yet know where in the day a regular blog practice will fit but I plan to spend December playing with rhythm to see if something clicks.
What does your December look like?
*That’s an affiliate link because there’s a sweet deal on right now: three months of Creativebug for $1. I consider our CB subscription to be the best five dollars I spend every month.
Thanksgiving is one of the three days a year on which I do the cooking. I’m sure it’s a total coincidence that this morning my family is developing a treatment for a cooking show.
“I know! It’ll be called ‘Ms. Frazzle’!”
“Tagline: ‘This gravy isn’t my best.'”
Howdy. I’m finally climbing out from under a crushingly busy autumn workload, and the first place I wanted to come—blinking like a mole emerging into the light—was here. I’ve missed this space, and I’ve missed you.
I’m sitting on a pile of unfinished draft posts that I don’t know if I’ll ever finish. But I’m keen on fresh starts, and Thanksgiving week is a good time for one.
I’m rusty, though! What did I use to write about? 😉
While I’m rediscovering my bearings here, I’ll keep it simple: a list of three happy things from the past couple of days.
• Spotted a downy woodpecker on our suet feeder, and later that day Scott and I saw two nuthatches during a walk down Klickitat Street.
• Just being able to say I took a walk down Klickitat Street makes me pretty darn happy. Several years back, I heard that the chocolate-colored house from the Betsy-Tacy books was for sale. A move to Mankato, Minnesota wasn’t in the cards, but can you imagine? We could have lived in Tib’s house!! Well, I think living a block from Klickitat Street thrills me even more.
• Jane is home for Thanksgiving—for almost a whole week!
There. It’s a start. Glad to be back.