What a Satisfying Day

Warm weather made the morning walk delectable. Then steady rainfall for hours resulted in delightfully dig-gable soil and gardening. “Parsnip Predator” tool excelled today, helping with stubborn dogwoods that planted themselves in unwanted locations. I love how the roots came up without struggle for the most part. Our pruner cut the 2 most tenacious roots. Thirty young bushes bit the dust today.

Digging on the larger dogwood near the septic tank was not completed. I decided to work smarter not harder since the next 2 days of more rain will help tremendously. I’m not enamored of this garden this year. Raking didn’t go well at all, nothing moved and cleaned-out last week.

The combined super powers of the Parsnip Predator and myself made quick work of weeds around most of the bushes. The magnolia we moved a couple years ago is thriving, yay!

Evening held new family adventures. One bike + one human, one ever-ready pup plus second human holding leash, mild temps and sunshine…ahhh. Rex’s love of running knows new bounds thanks to a safe area where he followed Aaron around and round on the bike. Finally, Rex’s speed is matched by us!

Birthday wishes to a friend of many decades. A fantastic hour spent with another friend supporting, listening. Excited for each others goals and helping problem solve bumps and potential obstacles along the way.

Some time spent on my occupational job as well, learning and updating. A surprising draft of a picture book with a few sketches blossomed when I sat down to work on a scene and character building for my mid-grade novel outline.

Many wonderful moments with Aaron throughout the afternoon and evening. Many wonderful moments with myself. Especially stretching and easing after all that digging and oh, 13,000 steps today without striving.

A very satisfying, compassion-filled day (don’t ask the weeds and bushes their opinion).

Four days later update: The back garden’s stubborn red dogwood put up a good fight, but lost. The amazing network of vines who dominated that garden lost their home also. The soil and plants are breathing freely, while many young saplings and bushes were roughly evicted.

Humming Along with Spring

Sunlight is dull and muted as it hits the winter-faded tangles of grass and weeds. Is there a bulb garden left under there?

Layer by layer the plastic red rake strikes out against loose detritus over and over. One pass. 2nd pass. Bugs scattering once their covers are carried away. Worms bathe in the bright sunlight, uncertain which way to go.

Taking a closer approach. Getting muddy, up close and personal with green weeds wending their way skyward. Some almost breaking through the dirt beyond their purple runners. The smell of fresh dirt finally makes it way to my nose. Ahhh. Now, now this is spring.

Weeds are still smaller than the five yellow crocus – blooming strong since they’re uncovered. Those 5 crocus strengthened my resolve and inspired a bit longer work with the still small weeds, because there are tons more waiting to burst through after being released from the gridlock covering them all winter. (Whose idea was it to fertilize the gardens last year?)

Three Azaleas. My quest the next day. Last year passers-by couldn’t see them through the sticky-seed-weeds and grasses that grew. Cinderblocks placed around them didn’t stop the ever-pushy lilies from crowding in, attempting to drown the azaleas. This garden was created with the left over lilies as the backdrop. Purple geranium clumps and yellow-orange day-lilies were added to the end. Three Azalea bushes planted with hostas in front, rounding out the shape of the garden. Two or three years ago the cinder-blocks were no longer needed elsewhere, so I placed them between the lilies and azaleas, knowing how lilies act and like to take over.

Cleaning this area out took two rakings, two passes with the flat hoe, then the final go-round with a pointy hoe. The flat hoe was a gift from friends, what a fantastic old tool. Weathered wood, slightly rusted blade, not a danger to anything but stubborn as heck to pull out ground-hugging foliage and roots. Many layers of leaves, dried together, they come right along as if carried by a stream from below. Old hosta stalks break off and are carried closer as well. Tomorrow I’ll pick off sticky-seed weeds -gloves, pants, jacket…oh well. Better than in the ground. We’re humming right along!

Two or three more garden areas to clean up. Two tree and bush areas to completely clear under and minimize maintenance in the future. Liberal use of landscape fabric and mulch to the azalea garden. Rain garden will be enlarged again and simplified, persistently sprouting bushes taken out for the last time.

Who knows when things will get completed but we’re using a “slow-drip” approach this year. I’m wishing we’d been able to put in that prairie after clearing this end of the yard a decade ago. Looks like we could in the future with neighboring lots changing. Old dreams for younger people perhaps.

I’m taking the advice I found myself sharing with so many people in the past year…”At our ages, we’ll never have more energy to complete large projects, than we do this year.” We’ll likely have fewer abilities and stamina moving forward. Mostly I was talking with people who’d been admitted to the hospital multiple times within 12-18 months and needed to discuss their true goals and intentions.

Then it hit me. I love our yard and gardens, but there are 19 areas that need tending for weeds and such. I love being outdoors but weeding is relegated to early spring plus a little, then autumn. Ours is not a manicured look. I seem to do well cutting weeds all season long before they seed and spread, pulling them out by the roots. Tracing runners…this year with our friend, the pointy hoe. Simplification is the goal. One of my friends said that’s why she’s kept hers to 2 gardens and very low maintenance. Smart choice for her.

Balance and not overwhelm this year. Writing, gardening, weed management, time with loved ones. Health and time are the greatest gifts I get. Take care and best wishes!

Restructuring, revisiting, revising, refusing, then Onward!

How can a writing corporation of someone who isn’t yet published, restructure? Time spent: Sitting on the curb, scanning areas of growth, interest, strengths and weaknesses. Perusing opportunities offered and possible. Identifying potential.

Explorations these past few years have been bountiful! I have much gratitude for new friendships and supports, opportunities, travel; and stretching and exercising of my mind, heart, and spirit. Joy and passion continue. I’ve declined what isn’t a passionate match for roles and projects moving forward. Revised my mission statement. Revisited and recycled drafts into potentially new projects. New paths and partners connected and added to previous supports. And set a priority to build skills I’ve craved, and read many more craft and mentor books.

I rearranged my bookshelves according to current projects and fewer priorities. Synthesizing and reorganizing files, learning Scrivener. And moving my writing space back to how I had it, when it was more comfortable to create in. There’s plenty to restructure, revisit, and revise.

A little less intensity and drive, much more doing what needs to be done after caring for and time for myself and loved ones. Oh yeah, and the bill-paying job I’m still passionate about, Occupational Therapy.

Onward! Or Forward! I oscillate between the two. Sometimes moving forward first involves a pause, or isn’t precisely forward when motion is applied.

Oh, and we’ll locate the January blog that seems to have wandered off, as it’s writer sometimes does.

Anytime Gift Ideas

Gift Ideas to ask for yourself, or consider giving to others any time of the year…

#Taking Care of yourself

AAA membership, even if the person only drives around town. It’s piece of mind to know they can call someone. Ask about annual limits of free towing per membership level just to make sure you get what is needed. I think miles towed free also varies per level of membership.

Vouchers for transportation options the person trusts.

Hire fix-it crew or handy-person to work on your to-do/ta-da lists. This is an excellent gift in many ways.

Search for adaptive equipment/tools for hobbies or chores, any activity that may be getting more frustrating or concerning for you. Or a loved one. Computer search results for adaptive hobby and chore tools have vastly improved.

Buy a few long-handled reachers to use in various places. Vertical open/close tend to work best for the kitchen, and for lower body dressing. I’d buy one with a magnet on the end, 2 sizes of divots/cut-outs on lower jaw piece (one holds pens, utensils, etc.). Often the horizontal closure reachers with circles (almost look like suction cups) work well in yards, garages, or in a storage room.

Fewer trips up a step ladder for people, especially anyone with balance, blood pressure, vision, strength issues, etc. A complete rearrange for how you want your kitchen cupboards/shelves, supply closets, or bedroom closets set up could be nice – as long as you’re involved in the process. This can be wonderful for people with shoulder, wrist, etc pain & limitations.

Ask for yourtools to be sharpened. Shovels, hand tools, all yard-work & gardening tools. Kitchen and sewing tools. If you have decreased sensation due to diabetic neuropathy, stroke, nerve damage, etc please buy cut proof gloves.

Jar openers, there are many to choose from. Tip: for anyone who has painful hands, the silicone or rubber gripping circles/pads don’t seem to help. For anyone with lower/altered vision you may need to try a few to figure out which may be intuitive/useful. The one below works well for many people.

Kuhn Rikon 5-in-1 Jar Opener, Opens Jar Lids, Beer Bottles, Soda Cans, 5Pull Tabs, Plastic Bottle Caps and Small Bottles

Shoes, vision, medications review, blood pressure are all related to falls prevention. Many communities now host Stepping On courses and other falls prevention learning.

Different memberships that people on limited budgets may need to reconsider, but that benefit them greatly. Gym or book clubs, other. Pharmaceuticals, could help contribute to that or gift card.

A bidet can be life changing for people with limited motion, skin concerns, and more.

Simple things like telescoping skin check mirrors with lights for people with neuropathy of their feet and lower legs. People with partial paralysis use these as well. The sooner things are noticed, the better.

Shower chair, transfer bench, grab bars that are well installed in the studs of the wall, hand-held shower. Long-handled lotion applicator, long-handled sponges are also well received gifts.

Adaptive writing tools can make a world of difference. The writing bird is one that many people with arthritis, or other writing challenges like. What is needed depends on the issues making writing more frustrating or harder.

Funny thing about monthly blogs, they’re every month (except July which I take off intentionally). I have many that are near ready but don’t seem finished yet, or don’t fit my current mood. So I’ll share this while I work on profound, entertaining and informative writing for next month.

I have a list of books from many areas of the globe that won 2019 Crystal Kite Awards, but that isn’t my information to put out there…so here is the link if you want to see amazing variety in outstanding books. This award is to books that represent excellence in the field of children’s literature, the Crystal Kites Awards are peer-selected, voted on by SCBWI members from local regions. Congratulations to our wonderful 2019 winners for books published in 2018, listed here by regional division. 


Greetings and Salutations! A key theme for my Taking Care of Your 80 year-old Self blogs is exploring what you have the interest, time, and energy (money & abilities) to do. Alas, to make more time for writing & revising manuscripts which will hopefully turn into books, I will be posting blogs once a month. I wanted to post the four NY 2019 SCBWI Conference blogs in a timely manner. Another goal was to have a healthy start for all the blogs on my newly created website. Thank you for visiting and please return as often as you like, we’ll be here with new authors and artists in the spotlight, new blogs, and more!

Update: George’s party for his 101st birthday was a great celebration! We enjoyed making rootbeer floats for attendees. The live jazz combo was excellent, and George sang Stardust for us! Amazing day. If you want to know more about George, please read Taking Care of Your 80 year old self blogs.