Last night, we received a nice layer of snow or hail, depending on which of my sons you ask. Today, the sun came out, providing all the excuse I needed to head out of doors with my camera.
The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner is the book every novice homesteader should be seeking. Anne Larkin Hansen divides each of the four seasons into an early, middle and late stage. She then takes the myriad tasks that a small homesteader faces in the garden, field, pasture, orchard, beeyard, barn, coop, shed, woodlot, and wildlife habitat and provides a workable schedule to tackle what should be addressed in each stage of each season. Furthermore, interspersed throughout the planner are useful articles and tables of information on various topics, along with charming pencil illustrations. To make matters even easier, each section opens with a summary page of seasonal priorities that includes space for the homesteader’s own notes. The genius of this book is that it brings together and organizes so many possible aspects of homesteading in one volume. Indeed, Hansen makes what at times feels overwhelming seem very workable. And, who knows? The backyard homesteader might even discover some new endeavors to try.
(Reviewed via Netgalley.)
Sometimes, books arrive just when they are needed most. For many, the past few weeks since our Presidential election have been anxious ones filled with uncertainty about the future. Published before the election and without thought to its outcome, Oliver’s essays in Upstream could not have come at a better time. Inside this small book, Oliver shows the reader her world. For a brief moment, the reader walks the forest and coast with Oliver and hears the terrifying cries of the horned owl, marvels at beauty in a fish’s entrails, becomes absorbed in a spider’s life, and chuckles at the prospect of a resident bear. Oliver speaks with eloquence about Emerson, Wordsworth and Whitman, reminding the reader of these troves of wisdom. Maybe most importantly, Oliver embraces with equanimity less pleasant aspects of life: predators eat the turtle’s eggs, the injured gull dies, the town transforms when the economy alters, and Oliver changes with age, but the beauty and strength Oliver finds does not diminish despite those realities. And the same will remain for the reader, whatever the future may bring.
(I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.com.)
I have to preface this post with an apology about the quality of the photography. It is clearly awful, but I was shooting fast across several acres with my zoom lens, and I will readily admit that I will take an grainy photo over no photo at all, if that is my only option.
Yesterday, we had what I believe were two hawks hunting in our goat pasture. I couldn’t see enough to identify either definitely. I know that one got a good meal, though.
You just never what you may see here on a given day!
Once again, I’ve decided to join the Creative Every Day Challenge. I’m late, but what’s new? I realize this probably sounds like a pretty futile task for someone who never seems to finish any creative project. However, I like this challenge for a couple of reasons. First, creativity is defined broadly. It can include a photograph, recipe, poem or whatever I feel required my creativity. Second, I do not have to post every single day. I need to try to be creative every day, but I wont feel like a failure if I don’t get a post up here. Third, even if I’m only creative a few times in a week, the challenge reminds me of my goal to take more time for creativity. Finally, I think I will enjoy looking back on a long list of posts at the end of the year, evidencing how far I’ve come in my goal!
So, let’s see where the 2014 Challenge takes me.
It seems like a decade since I’ve had time to visit this space. So much has happened. I live in a different state, and that is true both literally and metaphorically. We are far from settled and probably wont be for many months. We now live on over 15 acres, fringed with old growth trees on the edge of a river. The climate is very different than in California: we expect snow tonight! Each day presents new challenges. Some are handled with a modicum of grace. Some are not.
That said, this space is not for those challenges. This is my corner to create and ponder. So, I am here to report somewhat proudly that I have begun taking baby steps back to my creative life.
(1) I’ve started a journal. It’s a silly thing, really. In the morning, I make a few simple goals for the day. At night, I see what I’ve accomplished. Sometimes, I’m very successful. Sometimes, I’m not. However, at least I’m checking in and trying.
(2) I’ve managed to carve out a simple exercise routine of yoga and a long walk outdoors most days. Nothing better than the quiet and fresh air to let the mind unwind and percolate.
(3) I’ve picked up my book reviews and copy editing once more, and I’ve accepted an offer to edit manuscripts for publication. I’m very excited to see where that may take me.
(4) Although it may not seem like a huge accomplishment, I’ve located both my knitting and painting supplies among the endless boxes! I even managed to complete several rows on my latest baby blanket. I’ve even been looking at our piano longing, across the room over a sea of boxes. The fact I finally have a drive to get back to these projects makes life feel more normal to me.
(5) Finally, I am dreaming and scheming again! I look outside and see flower, herb and vegetable gardens, a small orchard, and maybe a greenhouse. What about a few chickens for eggs or some bees? What about the concoctions I can make in my kitchen? And wouldn’t I love to make some things for the house! All in good time, of course.
Well, little space, I’m back. Or I’m coming back bit by bit, and it feels wonderful.
I haven’t been here for a while, primarily because being creative has been far from my mind of late. You see, we are in some sort of surreal waiting game here. After two years of looking, we have been in the process of purchasing a home in Washington since late April. If it happens, our whole lives will be turned over by a move across three states. And yet, we really don’t know if we will get the house. Each day seems to bring some new issue. So, we wait.
In the meantime, one our kitties developed a dry cough. An x-ray shows something in one lung. We are trying two weeks of antibiotics. If he gets better, it was a mild case of pneumonia. If not, we may be facing a lung tumor. And so we wait to see the effects of the medicine, each day looking for signs of improvement.
Finally, I have a medical test re-check at the end of the month. Logically speaking, the chances are that the test will be fine. However, I am not a purely logical creature, and I can’t help but working through “what-ifs.” And so I wait, impatiently.
As a result, I haven’t been feeling particularly creative. I can’t even remain focused on reading. Fortunately, I have found a wonderful new coping mechanism. I’ve been taking yoga classes, rediscovering the joy of lap swimming at our local indoor pool, walking our dogs, and, when all else fails, putting in long workouts on my thumping elliptical. The workouts bring a wonderful exhaustion that lets me sleep.
Although I suspect I may not like some of the results when we do finally know the answers, I can’t help but think some certainty will be easier than the waiting. Either way, I’ll be in great shape to handle whatever comes our way. :/
Horton’s Iris Garden with a wonderful friend and her terrific family.
A bit of fun with my paints. This is actually Hanauma Bay in Hawaii. I didn’t exactly get a tropical feel, but I genuinely enjoyed the process.
What a beautiful day!