Saturday, January 15, 2022

A New Year and the First Snow

Happy New Year! Just a few days into January we got the first snow of the season, and of the year. It was just a few inches, but it was enough to close schools for 2.5 days. Then, it snowed again just a few days later. Yep, another snow day! "Snow days" are no longer a real thing now that I work from home. It doesn't matter if the schools are closed and the kids are home, we don't have to commute so we can just proceed as usual! Right?? Luckily many of my coworkers are in the same situation and understanding, but it's been one thing after another for two years and we all really just need a break.

The girls really enjoyed the snow, as kids do, and rolled all around the yard, fell down, and came back with frozen faces. A couple days later when the sun came out, our neighbors invited us over to enjoy their epic sledding hill, and it turned out to be a really normal and relieving visit without worry of work, school, or viruses.

This one was outside by 7:30am.

Like most of you, I've been thinking about the new year. I haven't set specific resolutions or goals for awhile now (e.g., exercise 4 times per week, or finish a certain number of projects) because doing that is a setup for failure. Plus, who knows what type of person you'll be in 11 months? I prefer to do a mental reset, reflect on what is working and not working, and evaluate what I what I want my life to look like. This isn't always within our control, of course, but there's no reason not to do what you can.

In 2022 I want to:
  • Pay attention to the stores I am purchasing from: Particularly in the last two years, it's been so easy to order things from Amazon and have them show up quickly. In general I am pretty thoughtful about what I buy, but I want to be more so. When I do need to buy something, I want to give my money to companies with morals, or small businesses when possible.
  • Support artists: I have followed artists on social media for while now, but I recently deleted my art Instagram account. I tracked down the websites and newsletters of artists I love, and I want to support them financially this year instead of just clicking "like." As an aspiring minimalist, this doesn't always mean buying things, but subscribing through Patreon or signing up for paid newsletters or courses.
  • Waste less food: We usually have a lot of leftovers which linger and eventually get thrown away. We also have produce that goes bad before we can use it. I want to reduce the amount of food that is getting thrown away, which for me means planning more and keeping an eye on the fridge. I am not the primary food shopper or cook in the family (yay!) but this has led to me not really paying attention to what food needs to get eaten before it goes bad. 
  • Read what I like: Rather than going after a certain number, I want to concentrate on reading what I like. I want to stop reading a book I'm not enjoying without guilt. This also means that I am going to seek out books I know I'll enjoy rather than just pulling whatever looks interesting off the library shelf. 
All right; let's see how this goes!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

My Epic Reading Year (2021)

Recently I was paging back through my journal, and I noticed that in December 2020 I made a note to  "read what I enjoy, don't focus on the numbers." HAHAHAHA, well joke's on me because that is not how this reading year turned out. Last year I read 81 books, which was my highest total ever. Once I realized that I was reading at the same pace this year, I decided to really go for it and set my goal at 100. Who knew when I'd get this chance again?

I finished the year having read 101 books. I'll admit at times I stacked the deck in my favor by reading shorter books, and by December I was only choosing audiobooks that were less than 5 hours long. I also ended up reading some books I didn't really enjoy, because they were short or because I'd already started them and didn't want to give up and not have that book "count." 

Despite that, I learned quite a bit by completing this experiment. I learned what I like: memoirs of people doing dangerous or seemingly impossible things, any books on creativity, graphic novels (particularly memoirs in this format as well), stories told by multiple narrators over different time periods, and plot-driven books. Writing style is also important; I don't like overly descriptive text, and at the same time, writing that is too simplistic is not all that interesting to me.

Most importantly, I was able to put to rest a niggling existential thought I've had for quite some time. It's probably one that most readers have: "How can I possible read everything I want to, and everything that is good, before I die??" The answer to that is that it doesn't matter. Books can change how they affect you based on when you pick them up. Tastes change. Something that is "bad" the first time you pick it up might turn out to be your favorite book when you try it a year later. Also, a lot of books are frankly the same. This can be comforting, such as visiting your favorite detective in a series. Many romances are formulaic, but that's what we want! Most books we won't read. I'm sure someone has figured it out, and it's something like a small portion of a fraction of a percentage. The trick is to read what you enjoy and what speaks to you at the time. 

5-Star Reads

When compiling this list I realized that everything I rated as 5 stars in Goodreads was non-fiction. (Maus does feature talking mice as characters, but it's the true story of the author's father during the Holocaust.) I've always thought of myself as primarily a fiction reader, but as it turned out I had close to a 50/50 split between fiction and non-fiction.

I had planned to write a short review of each of these, but that is too much work! So just know that I loved these books, partially because they may have been what I needed to hear at the time, and if you want further details on any of them, leave a comment below.

  • Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah
  • 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea - Johnathan Franklin
  • Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking - David Bayles
  • The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are - Danny Gregory
  • Frida Kahlo at Home - Suzanne Barbezat
  • The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman
  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman - Lindy West
  • The Secret to Superhuman Strength - Alison Bechdel
  • Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals - Oliver Bukeman
  • What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat - Aubrey Gordon
  • Life in the Studio: Inspiration and Lessons on Creativity - Frances Palmer
  • The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love - Sonya Renee Taylor

Favorite Fiction (4 stars)

I didn't have any 5-star fiction reads in 2021, but below are my favorites. In terms of the most original and beautiful writing, Lily King and Mohsin Hamid are at the top. If any fans of Harry Potter are looking for something similar, the Nevermoor series seems promising.

  • The Plot - Jean Hanff Korelitz
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid
  • Young Jane Young - Gabrielle Zevin
  • Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow - Jessica Townsend
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker - Jen Wang
  • Writers & Lovers - Lily King
  • Exit West - Mohsin Hamid
  • People We Meet On Vacation - Emily Henry
  • The Last Garden in England - Julia Kelly
  • Moonflower Murders - Anthony Horowitz
  • Long Bright River - Liz Moore
  • The Janus Stone - Ellly Griffiths
  • The Midnight Library - Matt Haig
In 2022 I do want to read more fiction, and am seeking out well-reviewed and recommended titles instead of just grabbing what is new and shiny on the library shelf. I also have 44 books I own that I haven't read, and a long Goodreads to-read shelf that needs some attention. If from the above favorites you have any recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them!

Full List of Books Read

  1. The Midnight Library - Matt Haig
  2. Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah
  3. Troubled Blood - Robert Galbraith
  4. The White Coat Diaries - Madi Sinha
  5. The Janus Stone - Elly Griffiths
  6. When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People - Jeannie Gaffigan
  7. Pretend I'm Dead - Jen Beagin
  8. Naked In Death - J.D. Robb
  9. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley
  10. The Perfect Mother - Aimee Malloy
  11. Cosy: The British Art of Comfort - Laura Weir
  12. At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life - Fenton Johnson
  13. Long Bright River - Liz Moore
  14. The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simsion
  15. 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea - Johnathan Franklin
  16. The Pharos Gate: Griffin and Sabine's Lost Correspondence - Nick Bantock
  17. Walking, One Step at a Time - Erling Kagge
  18. Making Comics - Lynda Barry
  19. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption - Bryan Stevenson
  20. Magic Lessons - Alice Hoffman
  21. Moonflower Murders - Anthony Horowitz
  22. Fortune and Glory: Tantalizing Twenty-Seven - Janet Evanovich
  23. Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking - David Bayles
  24. Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are - Danny Gregory
  25. The Four Winds - Kristin Hannah
  26. The Things We Cannot Say - Kelly Rimmer
  27. The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are - Danny Gregory
  28. Frida Kahlo at Home - Suzanne Barbezat
  29. Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler
  30. The Big Book of Less: Finding Joy in Living Lighter - Irene Smit, Astrid van der Hulst
  31. The Switch - Beth O'Leary
  32. The Last Garden in England - Julia Kelly
  33. Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times - Katherine May
  34. The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman
  35. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed - Lori Gottlieb
  36. North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail - Scott Jurek, Jenny Jurek
  37. Wherabouts - Jhumpa Lahiri
  38. Broken - Jenny Lawson
  39. The Authenticity Project - Clare Pooley
  40. The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience - Jennifer Phar Davis
  41. Something in the Water - Catherine Steadman
  42. When the Stars Go Dark - Paula McLain
  43. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman - Lindy West
  44. The Best American Comics 2018 - Ed. Phoebe Gloeckner
  45. The House at Sea's End - Elly Griffiths
  46. A Runner's High: My Life in Motion - Dean Karnazes
  47. Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor - Lynda Barry
  48. Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness - Scott Jurek
  49. Artist's Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures - Cathy Johnson
  50. Adulthood is a Myth - Sarah Anderson
  51. The Three Rooms in Valerie's Head - David Gaffney, Dan Berry
  52. The New Mindful Home: And How to Make it Yours - Joanna Thornhill
  53. City of the Lost - Kelley Armstrong
  54. The Last Thing He Told Me - Laura Dave
  55. The Stationery Shop - Marjan Kamali
  56. Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love - Jonathan Van Ness
  57. A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean - Tori Murden McClure
  58. The Secret to Superhuman Strength - Alison Bechdel
  59. When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Guide to Staying Put - Vivian Swift
  60. Food: A Love Story - Jim Gaffigan
  61. The Best American Comics 2019 - Ed. Jillian Tamaki
  62. In a Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson
  63. People We Meet on Vacation - Emily Henry
  64. Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life - Ali Wong
  65. Just Eat: One Reporter's Quest for a Weight-Loss Regimen That Works - Barry Estabrook
  66. The Bookshop Girl - Sylvia Bishop
  67. The Comfort Book - Matt Haig
  68. A Room Full of Bones - Elly Griffiths
  69. Exit West - Mohsin Hamid
  70. The Painted Garden - Mary Woodin
  71. Bring Your Baggage and Don't Pack Light - Helen Ellis
  72. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit - Michael Finkel
  73. The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II - Madeline Martin
  74. The Salt Path - Raynor Winn
  75. Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics - Dolly Parton, Robert Oermann
  76. Running Like a Girl - Alexandra Heminsley
  77. The Last Flight - Julie Clark
  78. The Library Book - Susan Orlean
  79. A Long Walk to Water - Linda Sue Park
  80. Writers & Lovers - Lily King
  81. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals - Oliver Bukeman
  82. The Postscript Murders - Elly Griffiths
  83. Fitness for Every Body: Strong, Confident, and Empowered at Any Size - Meg Boggs
  84. The Prince and the Dressmaker - Jen Wang
  85. Billy Summers - Stephen King
  86. The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers - Lynn Bycznski
  87. What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat - Aubrey Gordon
  88. The Lost Apothecary - Sarah Penner
  89. The F.I.R.E. Planner: A Step-by-Step Workbook to Reach Your Full Financial Potential - Michael Quan
  90. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow - Jessica Townsend
  91. Young Jane Young - Gabrielle Zevin
  92. Life in the Studio: Inspiration and Lessons on Creativity - Frances Palmer
  93. Fault Lines - Emily Itami
  94. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid
  95. Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates
  96. In the Clearing - Robert Dugoni
  97. The Plot - Jean Hanff Korelitz
  98. No Cure for Being Human: And Other Truths I Need to Hear - Kate Bowler
  99. The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love - Sonya Renee Taylor
  100. Before We Visit the Goddess - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  101. A Line to Kill - Anthony Horowitz

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The End of Pandemic Year 2

Nearly two years in, and we find ourselves in the worst of the pandemic. No one is unaware of this news, so I will just move on to my obligatory reflective last post of the year. It's a blogger tradition!

This picture was taken before the plague struck the house. Oh no, not Covid, something better: Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Covid was out there taking up the spotlight, but old HFMD was like, "Hey guys, guess what? I'm still around too! Don't forget about meeeeeeee!" Everyone is now better, but not without fever and throwing up all over everything. Happy holidays!

Meanwhile, "The Crows Have Eyes III: The Crowening"

The girls and I made cookies which were... maximalist. Besides cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, this was the only holiday baking I did. Usually I can pawn this stuff off on my coworkers, but for the second year in a row we haven't had our cookie exchange. 

I finally got plastic down to kill the grass where the new garden will go - this is a continued expansion in preparation of opening the flower farm in just a few months! It looks foreshortened in the picture, but the area is 18' by 25' and should give me at least 75 linear feet of growing space.

Another great winter sunset

Mary and Jason went to the Natural History Museum and saw the dinosaur bones.

The last two photos are from my parents' neighborhood in Williamsburg, Virginia. Again the weather continues to be oddly warm, and it hit 70 degrees several days. The camellias in the south are always beautiful; I haven't been able to keep one alive here in our colder microclimate. 

At the beginning of the year I wrote out "Things I Started in 2020 That I Want To Continue." Here's the update:

  1. Walking: My walking time was drastically lowered once I started taking Cora to daycare in the mornings starting in April. I did spend a lot of time on trails this summer, however, training for the half marathon I ran in September. 
  2. Audiobooks: I listened to 26 audiobooks this year, which contributed to my highest reading total ever. I'll have a reading post coming up soon.
  3. Minimizing ongoing projects: Does starting a flower farm count as minimizing projects? Even so, I consider this goal a success. I didn't start any large crafting projects, and refrained from buying patterns, yarn, or craft supplies for projects I wasn't ready to start and finish right away. 
  4. Separation between work and home chores: I mostly kept to this. I still do laundry mostly on the weekend, and kept cleaning the kitchen to the morning and after work. I do mostly vacuum during the work day though, since my kids overdramatically freak out if I vacuum with them in the house. 
  5. Reduce/eliminate social media scrolling and choose inputs intentionally: While I still have a way to go with this, I am getting better. I deleted my art Instagram account, leaving just my personal account where I only follow people I know in real life. I also unfollowed all my Facebook groups and moved the app to a hidden part of my phone (I still need to keep it to give away and sell items, and to manage my flower account.) I subscribed to blogs and mailing lists of artists I like.
Setting goals and reading about others' goals is one of my favorite parts of the new year, so that post is upcoming. There is so much potential, and it's fun to dream. The year rarely works out how we imagined, but there's no reason not to enjoy the feeling of a fresh new year!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Danger Section

Hey guess what, it's still December! Hard to tell because it was nearly 70 degrees today, but that's the world we live in. Today I had my work holiday party, which was the first time since the pandemic started that I've been around so many people at one time. It was a little unnerving, but the location was open to the outdoors and it was so, so NORMAL to see people. Do you watch TV shows or movies where people just walk around with no masks on, packed close to each other, and it's just... fine? It's hard to imagine that world, but I hope we can go back there some day.

Last week on a walk I discovered a curious sight. Do you see it? The pan of bread, casually hanging out on top of this stone column? Now, I do frequently encounter abandoned food on this particular route: a stray mandarin on the sidewalk, or an intact egg in the grass. This pan implies intent, however, and I can't figure it out. Perhaps someone is trying to feed the local wildlife, and if so, it's remarkable that bread was still there. Our neighborhood is full of skunks, foxes, racoons, groundhogs, squirrels, and the occasional bald eagle. This sort of thing shouldn't last an hour. Mystery.

Last week I had to go into work, and I took the chance to visit the huge Friends of the Library bookstore close to the office. Although this place is amazing, I have fantasies of volunteering here so I can clean and organize it. There is so much empty shelf space and bins full of uncategorized books. Ahhhh! 

My favorite section is labeled "DANGER". I have struggled in past to name this genre, which includes anyone stranded in the ocean, missions to climb mountains, feats of endurance, and heaps of natural disasters. I love this stuff. Now if someone asks what my favorite types of books are, I will just reply, "Danger."

In my mission to appreciate winter instead of just being annoyed by it, I have been loving the sunsets and dried, seedy grasses. I ran this weekend for the first time since my half marathon, which was 2 months ago. I definitely needed the break. It was freeing to not time myself or care about my pace. I can safely say that despite my love of the concept of ultrarunning (another topic for the Danger section), I will never be an ultrarunner. Mostly because it takes up way too much time. Maybe someday I'll walk really far, and that will be enough.

One morning this week it was below freezing, and I couldn't bring myself to go outside. I know that in Scandinavia or Canada they would laugh at me, but I hate being cold. The problem is my face. My face gets too cold, tenses up, and I have a headache for the rest of the day. Is there a solution to this? Anyway, it worked out because I decided to spend the time painting instead. I have been struggling to fit painting into my days, so it was great to have this option. It seems a little weird to be doing something creative first thing in the morning, but that's a mental block I have to get over.

Excuse the blurry cell phone photo, but lately we have been plagued by crows. A murder, if you will. There are frequently hundreds of them across the street and in the yard, I suspect drawn by the sunflower seeds in the field. While fascinating to watch, they do tend to poop all over everything. Thanks for nothing, crows!

Saturday, December 4, 2021

It's Weird That December Is Technically Fall

Isn't it weird that December is still fall? It looks like winter, it feels like winter... let's just call it winter. I try to get out for a walk at least twice a week (Monday and Tuesday mornings, since I don't have to take Cora to school), and although there are a few scenic parts of my walk, it's mostly McMansions. I don't photograph them because who wants to look at those architectural follies? I dream for a beautiful walking route right outside my door, but that is for a future house. Until then, I will continue to fool you.

This post is just a jumble of random photos. They can't all be Pulitzer Prize winners, right? First, see Cora in the backyard doing something, probably thinking about what she is going to whine about next.

Next up are photos of the upstairs, where I have my office and library/quiet hiding room. Because I work from home now, I see an awful lot of these spaces. I'm always tweaking but I have gotten them to the point where I really like them, and don't mind staring at the walls 8 hours a day. It helps that I have wonderful light and greenery. The plant below is less than a year old and has grown several feet. Gotta love a pothos, they really are indestructible. 

I am 94 books into my 100 in 2021 goal, which means that I've started thinking about my 2022 reading goals. I won't do 100 again - it really takes quite a lot of time (surprise!) and there are podcasts I've been putting off in favor of audiobooks. I've also been skewing the odds in my favorite by choosing short books. Next year I am going to focus on reading books that I have been wanting to read for a while. This includes books that I own but haven't read; I counted them up and have 44, which actually isn't too bad.

OC is always in the window, waiting for his children to get home. We really lucked out when he showed up, because he's the perfect cat for kids. Eternally patient, loyal, and maybe a little bit dumb. If you look closely you can see me taking the photo in the window.

A couple of weeks ago I helped out on a local flower farm in exchange for dahlia tubers! I helped them dig up tubers and clean them for storage. With 10 people helping it went pretty quickly, and I even came home with fresh eucalyptus, a variety of dried seed heads, and a dozen fresh eggs.

Finally, because it can't all be aesthetic and cozy, here is the recycled fire station and fire truck (Pontypandy from Fireman Sam, for those in the know) currently occupying the kitchen floor. I will likely not be able to remove this until my children go to college, because they hoard everything, including actual trash.

Monday, November 15, 2021

A Few Days Away From Home

This week Jason and I had the rare opportunity to get away for a few days sans offspring. We traveled south to the Shenandoah and stayed in a little cabin (without wifi!) tucked in the woods. A lot of our time was spent lounging about, reading and playing with the various ways to make coffee and tea in our rental house. We discovered that we really do need an automatic milk frother, but definitely do not need an espresso machine. Also, these mugs from Ikea are stupid and no one should buy them. Thankfully, Jason went out to the dollar store to buy us some actual mugs that didn't burn our hands off, because there was no way I was spending two days in a mountain cabin without a proper mug.

This gas stove proved quite useful for holding a coffee pot and teapot at the proper temperature.

We spent the afternoon at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home. I love a good historic home, but this one was a tad small. The gardens though, oh, the gardens! It was fun to pick out the fellow plant people: you could recognize us crouched down, smelling a plant or cradling tiny produce in our hands. Imagine my joy when I found out that the gardeners here had fallen prey to snake gourds as well. Oh, you think they will be a novelty to amuse and delight your friends, but then they take over like the vegetable reptiles they truly are! Watch out. 

Jason has taken up photography in the past few years, which has made my job easier since I can just steal his photos upon occasion. The below are all his.

We had the most gorgeous fall day in the history of gorgeous fall days. The air was the perfect temperature, the sky blue, the leaves in all shades of yellow, orange, and red, and just but a subtle breeze. The ride back home the next day was magical, and makes me want to return to the mountains every fall from here on out. 

Back home, the neighboring field has been mowed, cover crop planted, and the leaves have started falling from the trees. I went for a walk this morning and wished I had brought a hat. I put the last of the spring bulbs in this weekend (90 daffodils to add to about 450 tulips), and the fall gardening is nearly done. It's only 2-3 months before I have to start seeds, not leaving too much time for rest before the next flower season is upon us. In the meantime, I will be huddled under my blanket on the couch, reading, watching literally anything (I am not picky about my TV) on Netflix or YouTube, thinking about painting but not actually doing it, and drinking any dessert-flavored tea I can find.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

On Blogging, and Some Flowers

Hello hello! Recently I've been seeing many posts on Instagram about how the video-centric changes and algorithm have changed what used to be a fun place into a stressful, ad-riddled experience. I couldn't agree more. I'm not sure when Instagram decided I only wanted to see videos of people making weird faces and pointing at words, but I certainly don't. What I do want to do is spy on people - yep, I want to see pictures of the inside of your house, what you're knitting and making, and what sorts of tea you are drinking. I use Feedly to read blogs, but I wish there was a better platform where it was easier to interact (many sites require special log-ins to comment). Tech person, invent this please! I recently put 20-minute-per-day timers on Instagram and Facebook, and it has been marvelous. If you have a blog, please let me know so I can read your lovely words.

I remember the days when I used to post a lot of knitting projects, and while I'm still knitting, I don't take the time to actually go outside and take photos of my WIPs. Most of the time I'm huddled into my cozy, dark couch-cave, and everything looks like a grainy blob. Perhaps now that flower season has come to an end, I will endeavor to actually photograph my knitting. Stay tuned, on the edges of your seats, to see if that will happen!

I don't get to walk every single morning these days, since I have the daycare run once again. After that apparently I am expected to be at work (how annoying). The light and the colors are beautiful these days, however, and I'm always happy to get outside. 

Cora has been wanting to go to Sugarloaf Mountain for several weeks, after the day she looked out the car window and noticed there was a mountain hanging out in the distance. She had many questions about how one climbs a mountain (I think she expected ropes) and asked every day when she could go. I finally took her and Mary and let them "climb" (walk up) the mountain which is technically a monadnock. Us and about 1000 other people. Despite the fact that she fell down many times, she cheerfully chattered the entire way, informing every person we passed that "I AM CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN!" (She is 3, for new readers.)

I grew some red sunflowers, aren't they cool? I planted them at the last minute toward the end of August, and I wasn't sure if they would bloom. Most of them did, but several fell victim to a windy storm. I definitely won't plant that late next year, but it was a fun experiment.


Once I came to accept that I wasn't really going to go back to the office (apparently it is opening in January, but R.I.P. my personal cubicle), I re-arranged my office. I have a spiffy standing desk and a shelf with some stuff on it. Stuff! There are plenty of plants, art books, Frieda Kahlo, and a notable absence of coworkers who do annoying things like talk. I particularly enjoy turning off my camera during meetings and rolling my eyes dramatically. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

And Just Like That

And just like that, it's fall. Last year this blog was instrumental in getting me through those crazy days of everyone in the house 24-7, online schooling and going nowhere. While things are certainly not back to normal, they are normal-ish. The kids have gone back to school and daycare full-time (albeit with masks), birthday parties are back on, and I continue to work from home. 

If you scroll down to the previous post, you can read about the mystery of the turnip. That mystery has been solved! The turnips were part of a cover crop that the farmer across the street sowed in his field over the winter. That field eventually turned into a sunflower field, where I sold some flower arrangements over the summer. That led to the creation of my new flower farm, Gemini Flower Farm! This endeavor should be taking up most of my "free" time next summer, and a lot of the fall and winter while I prepare, seed, and buy a bunch of stuff.

Not just a ton of crafting has been going on, since I've spent a lot of time outside gardening, and for a while, trail running (since I completed a half marathon this past weekend.) I also have a goal to read 100 books this year, so I've been sneaking in paragraphs whenever I can. I'm currently at 75 and I think I can make it! There are definitely times I don't want to read or want to give up on a book, but I'm so close I can't give up now; I'd have to start all over again next year.

There has been a trip to the Chesapeake Bay, visiting the cousins in Williamsburg (and a trip to Busch Gardens), a solo 40th-birthday trip to Washington, DC, a girls trip to a lake house, and many library trips since it finally reopened. Now it's autumn, so the requisite pumpkin acquisition, leaf peeping, and pumpkin spicing of everything can commence. I want to start an unpredictable fall tradition. Maybe we can construct a tree-like structure out of sticks and decorate it with cured meats?