Writing, reading, editing, gardening, putting up veggies, spending time with family, cooking, crocheting now and then, and cleaning house when it gets ahead of me. That is how the days go by. And this year they have gone by far too fast for me. I've been chronically ill a couple of times. I just got over a three week plus bout with viral bronchitis, which hit me in the worst possible weather—mid to upper 90s and very humid. So glad to have that murky stuff behind us. August has been far more tame than July was, when if it wasn't hot & humid, it was pouring rain.
Work on the house is stalled for now, as we've been paying off bills most of the year. It was a tough winter and spring for that sort of thing. Glad to be moving past that too. I don't like running up substantial debts, but old houses need work. Still have some monetary things to deal with, but the fall and winter are looking far rosier at this point. I sure hope so, we could use a break! I am still going through things we've moved over here, now with a far more critical eye. Things are getting donated, recycled, and tossed, and other items are out of mothballs and being used again (or finally in some cases). Life on the farm this year has become more of a harmonious rhythm than a bunch of discordant pieces that never seem to fit together. That's a good thing too. For too many years I have bounced from one interpretation of who I am and what I do to another. Being able to integrate them all certainly makes things easier.
I have not been a very regular blogger because between the garden, my writing, and being ill off and on, I am playing catchup on a lot of stuff. I didn't do anything much for thrifting this summer, and I have not even taken as many pictures as I would have in the past. But I do have some summer pics of the garden—when it still looked good and was weeded—as well as wildlife and assorted nature shots to post the next time I get here. I will have more after that too, as I have plenty of produce coming in from the big weed patch, and some lovely things that other people have given me. Gifts from the heart are always a nice picker-upper.
Two big changes this summer are I am now writing for the town newsletter once a month, and the birth of my next grandson is imminent any time. Little Mr. Zachary Connor Hansen should be making his debut within the next two weeks. Looking forward to reliving that miracle once more.
Family has become very important to me now that we have 4 generations that regularly get together. Besides the small fry, my mother is still in very good physical health, though she is far more frail these days, and starting to show some troubling signs of memory loss. I have her here on the farm for a day or three almost every week, and because she lives less than 15 miles away with my adult sons, DDIL & Grandson #1; I am updated regularly about what is going on in her life. We were fortunate several weeks ago to have one of my cousins from Long Island volunteer to drive her mother (mom's sister) from upstate NY to my home, and they picked up an uncle (brother) along the way. I had the three of them here in my kitchen yakking away and having a good time, and I brought in as much family as I could get together. I'm glad Kathy did that for us, my days of driving might be over now with the poor eyesight, and they all needed that. While this old farm might be a bit tattered and timeworn, it's still happy to host whatever holidays and special occasions I can pack under this roof.
So it's been an introspective year, as well as a busy one. I've had to reevaluate how I want and need to spend my time. Over the last three years, writing has taken over so much of it that it's become the biggest part of my day. Being sick off and on, watching the family grow and age, I started realizing I was pushing myself so hard, I'd forgotten how to enjoy life. I'm learning that I have to pace myself, choose my projects wisely, and that a variety of interesting activities makes for a far more contented me. I don't want to wake up one day and realize I wished I'd spent more time doing this, rather than that—especially poignant when it comes to loved ones and friends. Life does not stand still for anyone. As I said to someone recently, I want to be both a human being, and a human doing things. There's no 'either/or' in that equation. I want to experience all sorts of new creative outlets, but I also want to spend time with people I care about before something happens to tear us apart. It's all about balance.
Thirty years ago on August 7th, we lost my dad very suddenly and unexpectedly. He would have been 52 the next day. I never had a chance to say goodbye. He never met either of my sons. I was five months pregnant with the oldest at the time. It was the worst day of my life. Dad said one thing to me before he suddenly stopped being able to breathe, the result of a pulmonary embolism that caught us all off-guard. He said, "I'm not working any more overtime." I know a lot of those years when I was growing up he had to do that, because we were a one income family that was barely scraping by. The wolf was always at the door, when I was growing up. My life has improved a whole lot since then. But I never forgot those words, and what they meant. He had been so busy doing things, he didn't have time to enjoy life. The problems that put him in the hospital were dad's wake up call, and unfortunately, it came too late for him.
I saw this year, what over two years of pushing myself, burning the candle at both ends, trying to be everything to everybody, and impress my potential audience to the utmost, can do. I had two very debilitating brushes with illness within 4 months. What's even worse than that though, is the time that passed with all sorts of wonderful and important memories in it, that I barely took a moment to enjoy before putting that nose back to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel. Writing is a wonderful outlet of creative expression; and being published, read, and enjoyed is the penultimate thrill. But like any hobby turned vocation, it can take over your life. I spend a lot of my time when I'm not writing promoting my work, and networking with other writers. It began to take up so much of my day, I had little time for anything else. Not only did my physical health deteriorate, but I felt plain old burned out. Life wasn't 'fun' anymore. Now that is just plain wrong!
Life isn't always going to be fun, but we need to grab the best moments any time they present themselves and just enjoy. Even the small quiet times mean a lot. I hear people say they don't like Christmas because it's so commercialized, or don't see the point in celebrating birthdays because who wants to be another year older? Well... that's one way of looking at it I suppose. These days, I see any excuse to get people together as a good thing. Who cares what the occasion is, we'll make some food and sit around swapping tales of days gone by. That's how you pass on what you know and have been through to the next generations. With these grandkids cropping up, and my mother having trouble remembering who did what and when, I know I have to keep the home fires burning bright. It's just as important to be the family historian and enabler of good times as it is to be lauded for my work ethic. We're making memories, and when our lives are dust, those memories will go on to kindle the home fires of the future.
As a writer I'm doing what I love. I have the gift of making stories that sound interesting. As a middle aged family member, I want what I have seen, done, and learned passed on. That means I have to actually be there with the ones I love, or make sure they have some way to spend time with me. Doing and being—you can't have a full life without both. I have to work as diligently at making good things happen in my private life as I am working on making a name for myself. Otherwise, the people out there who encounter me through my work will know me better than my own flesh and kindred; and that's not right. Another type of balance to achieve.
So that concludes today's rambling thoughts. I promise the next post will have more pictures and less words. LOL!
In the meantime, here is my latest published work. This story is the first in a series of books for kids, from peepers being read to through the years of our second childhood. It launches a wonderful collaboration with my two bestest friends in the whole wide world—who just happen to share this blog with me—Mr. Lee Houston Jr. and Mr. Roger Stegman. Companion Dragons Tales #1: A Familiar Name, featuring Lazlo Dragon, is now live and for sale!
You can read all about that here: http://allpulp.blogspot.com/2013/08/companion-dragons-tales-volume-1-debuts.html
This was a long time coming folks, as Roger started writing his initial stories back in 2005, and Lee and I jumped on board with our own tales to round out what is now going to be a regular series of very funny and exciting stories featuring little dragons and their adventures with their human companions in otherworld places where chocolate is more valuable than gold or oil, magical things exist right next to the most mundane, and the worst puns you could ever imagine are a staple of everyday life. You're going to love them!
Yep, live some and write some. My new motto.
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