Summer Intentions

I’m participating in the Big Time Literacy blogging challenge and doing some of the posts here and others at my professional blog, In Another Place. The intention board seemed more personal so I’ve shared it here. It was a perfect assignment for yesterday as I’ve had these intentions in my head but had yet to execute, especially the yoga and bike ride. But, by the time I sat down to make the board, I had done both yesterday!

I LOVE my new bike with its basket and bell. And riding a bike gives me a different view of the neighborhood. I stopped to say hello to a gardener about his lovely vegetable patch and waved to a man waiting for a ride. I haven’t been out today: we are in the midst of the first major heat wave so today’s exercise was a long dog walk. Maybe I’ll get on the bike later this evening.

I parked my bike by the garden down front and took a few pictures. My gardens are a labor of love and have taken five years to get where they are. There is always work to be done but for now, the beautiful blossoms cover up the weeds.

And part of the intention is to eat better: we have squash and cucumbers flowing from the garden right now and I should be able to get fresh tomatoes and corn at Saturday’s market.

intention_posterI added the superhero avatar today after spending last night and this morning reading Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stephenson. I made a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative but I want to do more. It may be letter writing or online advocacy, but I also have a sense that I can do more hands on kinds of work with local kids in areas of coding and robotics. Focus on ways to have a positive future.

Finally, I am just excited about the blogging I’ve done in the past few days!


Changing Perspectives: A Few of My Favorite Things

If, when I was living in my quiet suburban bungalow, you had asked me to name a few of my favorites things I would have mentioned my sets of family dishes. I am lucky to own my great grandmother’s Johnson Brothers china as well as my in laws’ Glidden pottery. Meals served on these dishes seem to take on a larger sense of family as we eat and remember the many other meals we have shared on them with family members long gone. They connect us to the past.

However, after moving to the farm, my list of favorite things has changed in a way that demonstrates how my perspective on much of life has changed. Oh, I still love my dishes and one of the draws of the farm house was its built in china cupboard where I am finally able to display them. But, as I immerse myself in the work of the farm, especially during this rainy winter, the top of the list is occupied by the practical objects that make my life easier, as in drier and cleaner. Number one on the list are my boots. They are Bogs–my second pair–and I wear them at least three times a day, every day for most of the year. They are easy to get on and off, easy to clean with the hose, and actually comfortable enough to walk the dogs. I can splash through standing water, sink into ankle deep mud, and walk over tree roots comfortably. And they have a fun pattern that livens up even the dreariest of mornings.

mytractorAs the polar vortex headed our way, we were also quite grateful for our little tractor. Even in the sub freezing temperatures, it started up with a roar and made it easy to haul bales of hay and buckets of water to the pigs. The truck would have sunk up to its rims in the mud. When the tractor did get stuck, I was able to jump out and give it a solid push to get it moving. I told my husband we need a name and he suggested Old Yeller. That was not a book I ever read, as I was avoiding the sad ending, so I’m still thinking about it. I considered Old Reliable but that’s a bit dull. Now I’m thinking about women’s names after reading one of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books. Her bicycle is named Gladys. Trudi the tractor? Maybe too cute?

Finally, I have a new found love for my espresso machine. A small Krups that I found at a thrift shop, it has been with me for many years, churning out my daily four-shot latte. When your fingers are a bit frozen and your nose is cold, hot espresso and steamed milk are a wonderful thing.

Dear NPR


I am writing this blog post in response to your request on Facebook:

If you’re a book lover, you probably have shelves upon shelves of literary treasures. We want to know for an upcoming story: How do you organize all these? Do you keep fiction and literature separate? Do you go alphabetical? Or do you sort by size and appearance? What has to be in hard copy and what only lives on your Kindle? Where do you hide those guilty pleasure reads?

First, the book lover part: My husband and I actually bought an old house partially because it had a library where I could finally put out the bulk of my books. Many years ago, I rented an apartment for the same reason, and in those days, the collection was probably not even 1/4 of what it is now. My previous house was very small, and I had to find interesting places to put all the books I couldn’t resist buying. It led to a funny story about hiding books in the linen closet. They weren’t particularly guilty reads, but I had made a pledge I wasn’t buying any more books so when I broke the pledge almost immediately, I needed to keep them out of my husband’s sight. He found them when he went looking for toilet paper.

Even in my new house, there are still a few books stored in the cupboards below the open shelves, and the collection has spilled over to other rooms. Almost every room in my house has at least a few books that live in it.

booksYou seem particularly interested in organization. I’m currently working on scanning my books into a database and have been thinking a lot about how I organize. For now, my books are loosely organized by genre. I have several major collections: children’s books, education, nature and history, and they are housed together in groups but not in any other order. I also have a huge collection of fiction and literature, but they are in no particular order and tend to be sprinkled throughout the shelves as I don’t have any more open areas so I just shelve them where I can. Probably my favorite shelving pair is the Kama Sutra sitting next to the Bible, something I didn’t plan but that a friend pointed out.

Some books were placed where they are because of the height of the shelves. The house came with books from the previous owner, a doctor whose children were not book people. He had a huge collection of dime store paperbacks that fit perfectly in the top shelves. They are put together by author since I had to move all of them and took the time to put them together as I placed them on the shelves.

At this point, with books spilling over everywhere, I try to limit my purchases in general. I buy first editions and hard covers in the  nature and history categories since they are my major areas of collecting. I will buy hard cover first editions of other kinds of books. I also buy analog books when I’m supporting independent book stores, part of something I call book store tourism. I make it a point to seek out local stores when I travel and usually have room for a couple in my suitcase. Kindle and Nook purchases and library checkouts are for books that I’m going to read quickly, in a day or two. But, I will break that rule if the books are used and cheap. I don’t mind reading ebooks, but there are times when I just crave a real book.

As for guilty pleasures, earlier this year I announced that I wasn’t going to feel guilty about reading anything ever again. I’ve read my share of the classics, tackled some tough nonfiction, so I don’t have to justify my reading habits to anyone. My books are on the shelves for me, and I’m old enough that I just don’t care about what other people think. If you’re ever near by Bottle Tree Farm, feel free to stop by and browse.