December 29, 2010

Tea and Chocolate and a Cold


Today I’m bundled up in warm jammies and woolen socks. It’s cold and windy outside, the remnants of a storm that swept through during the night, flooding roads and knocking down trees. I would have gone to work this morning and been on the road in that mess, instead I’ve got the cold that’s been going around these parts.
My husband is home sick too and, unlike me, is able to sleep his way through a bug. I’m not sick enough to stay in bed, but well enough to be bored. If I could settle down with a book or movie it would be so much better; aimlessly wandering around the house isn’t particularly helpful in the healing process.
I’ve played about as much solitaire as I can stand, checked my Facebook page numerous times, folded a few loads of laundry, swilled down a gallon or so of hot tea, and made a jar of salt scrub for myself; all mindless pursuits.
Food doesn’t even sound good right now. Except for the piece of chocolate ganache goodness I found in the freezer. I’d stashed a slice of cranberry chocolate tart in the freezer last month as a test to see how it would hold up to freezing. Based on today’s taste test it did just fine. Too bad it was such a small bite.
In the time it’s taken me to write this I’ve emptied another mug of tea. Time to put the kettle back on and make another pot.

October 24, 2010

The Worms Crawl In ...

This post is about worms. You can skip it if you’d rather. My feelings won’t be hurt. Worms are gross. They make my skin crawl. Yeah, I know they’re useful, vital even, to soil and decomposition. Worm castings - poop - cost a fortune at better nurseries. At the local “beyond organic” farm where I buy the best tomatoes in the world (yeah, really) they sell small bags of worm castings for ten bucks a pop. I’m quite sure its worth that price, but … really? Worm poop?!?

So, here’s my dilemma. I compost in two bins in the backyard. One is kind of basic, a plastic box with a hinged lid. The other is pretty swizzle. It’s a giant plastic ball with twist on/off lids at both poles. We call it “The Death Star”. Looks just like the big evil thing in Star Wars that the good guys blew up. We roll it around the yard to mix the contents, helping yesterday’s veggie scraps break down a bit faster. I love composting. It makes all kinds of sense to me: from the earth and back to the earth.

This is where the part about worms comes in. Composting with worms is faster. Those little critters are dirt factories. Garbage in one end, soil out the other. It’s a fascinatingly basic process. Except for one little bitty thing. (See first paragraph.) They gross me out. I want a worm bed. I want to feed worms as many of my kitchen scraps as they’ll eat. I just don’t want to see or (dear god) touch them.

Last week, while emptying the kitchen bucket (which is really an old, plain cookie jar) into the composter, I found a lone earthworm crawling along the rim of the bin, just where the lid needed to be fitted back on. I gathered up my gut and, with the edge of a paper towel, encouraged him to wiggle back into the bin. I even spoke to him in a kind and gentle voice, which brought my husband out of the garage to remind me that worms have no comprehension of human language. No matter. I hadn’t retched; it was a milestone moment.

Two nights ago, while doing a last sweep through the kitchen and family room before heading off to bed, I spotted a twig on the floor. We’d both been in the backyard earlier in the day and sometimes track things into the house. I bent over to pick it up … and it moved. There was an earthworm in my house. Inside. My. House.

I’m sure I’d have dealt with the situation if I’d been home alone. At my last house I’d had to remove potato bugs from the living room a couple times, and I’m telling you, you could die from ugly with a potato bug. But, thankfully, my husband was home and he’s not bothered by worms. He carried it outside to the front yard where it is, I’m sure, contentedly doing whatever it is that makes worms happy.

Which brings me back to the fact that though I really like the idea of worm beds, I’m just not quite there yet. Maybe someday, but my skin with have to stop crawling first. It’s going to take a while longer.

October 4, 2010

Sun Day

Early yesterday morning, at about 6:30, we left the house for a day out, away from the projects and chores that have occupied our weekends for most of the summer. We used to do this often on Sunday mornings, but between painting the inside of our house and landscaping the front yard we haven’t had the time or energy to drag ourselves out the door before dawn. We like to take photographs in the morning, and the only way to make that happen is to leave the house at omigod o’clock in order to be somewhere beautiful at sunrise or shortly thereafter.  

Our destination yesterday was a few hours north of where we live, a valley with a small town and not much else. We drove up a mostly empty freeway for two hours, a little more than half-way, and stopped for coffee and scones in a small town known mostly for its secluded gardens and surreptitious harvest. It’s apparently a fairly trusting town even with all that going on. The man in line behind us at the coffee counter left his car running in the parking lot well out of his sight. Or maybe he was too stoned to realize he should have turned it off and taken the keys with him. Either way, it was still there when he got back.

We didn’t stop again until we were well out the road that twists and bends alongside the Eel River. The air is sweet and clean in this part of California. And so quiet that the sound of wind brushing through tree tops is a wonder.

There weren’t many cars on the road, and the only people we saw in the valley looked to be hunters gathered around a truck, maybe planning their hunt. We drove through the quick blink of town, turned around at the far end and headed back the way we’d come. It was never our plan to stop. We just wanted to see what was there, check out the scenery to see if it was really as pretty as we’d heard. We do that sometimes, drive out a road we’ve never been on just because we’re curious.

Maybe we’re lucky, or possibly just easily amused, but every time we point the car in a direction and pay attention, we find magic. Not the kind that knocks our socks off, not usually anyway, but the kind of magic that reminds us that the world, the earth, is an amazing place and we’re lucky to be here.

In the course of our travels yesterday we saw several squirrels; there’s nothing out of the ordinary about a squirrel, but they make me smile. Good enough. A small flock of wild turkeys half flew across the road in front of our car. They’re so much prettier - a bit majestic really – than domestic turkeys. Several deer picked their way along a rocky river beach. We watched them until they rounded a bend. And we were lucky, and alert enough, to spot a family of river otters playing and sunning themselves on warm rocks. We stood at the side of the road taking turns with the binoculars, counting (six of them), and watching until they slipped back into the cool water and swam away.

On our way home we stopped at a winery to eat the grocery store sandwiches we’d bought earlier in the day. It was a pretty place to have lunch and then make a purchase to add to the tiny little cellar closet we keep. We were home again by mid-afternoon, relaxed and more ready to tackle the next phase of home improvement projects in their due time. And we’ll remember, for a long time, that it’s a good thing to play and warm ourselves in the sun.  

September 5, 2010

Rocks, Roots and Clods

Gardening isn’t for sissies. We’re learning that with our backs. We've pulled lots of rocks, a network of old roots, and solid dirt clods out of the yard. The rocks and dirt go into the backyard to raise low spots. Then we dig, dig some more, mix good, new soil with old in the wheelbarrow, shovel it back in around the new plant, pat it down, repeat. So far we’ve repeated this process 26 times, not counting the two flats of ground cover that we cut into more than twenty little squares each and followed the same steps.

The dirt (I hesitate to call it soil) in our yard is adobe, a dense clay that just dares a plant to grow. It has to be amended in order to break it down into something that will drain properly and have the right mix of nutrients for our new plants. Of course, everything we’ve chosen for the front yard requires good drainage.

If When the plants take root they’ll be low maintenance, colorful, and fragrant. Our front yard will be the best smelling in the neighborhood. We’ve put in a variety of salvias, rosemary, a couple kinds of lavender, lambs ear, and lemon verbena. They’ll grow tall and lush and we’ll be glad to have worked so hard to help them along.

August 24, 2010

Hot Damn & Hallelujah (emphasis on the hot)


We’re having the first heat wave of the summer. The temperature topped out at 107 today and it’s still in the low 80’s at nine o’clock in the evening. That’s almost unheard of around here. It’s normal to have chilly summer mornings (sometimes foggy), hot afternoons, and then down into the 50’s at night. This year we’ve had light rain and overcast skies that didn’t clear all day. Until yesterday.

I’m sitting on the front porch as I write this, a tall cold drink sweating onto the table. My neighbors all around have their windows open to catch the slightest breeze. Laughing kids, barking dogs, a siren, crickets chirping, snippets of conversation – they’re all the sounds of summer in the neighborhood. Even the ground is sighing away the day’s heat. I love the smell of fading day, that freshly watered lawn fragrance and hot asphalt mixed with barbeque, trees, and the creek across the road. The full moon has just made its way around the corner of the house, completing the night’s beauty.

I’m sure I’ll suffer for it tomorrow when the air conditioner at work is straining to keep up. But for now, right this minute, I’m glad summer has come to call.

August 6, 2010

Brain Fog

Why is it that every time I decide to make dilly beans I forget to buy ... umm ... dill.

August 1, 2010

One Of These Things Doesn't Belong

Last night we learned an important gardening lesson: do not cook and eat a vegetable you can’t positively identify. An adventurous attitude is a good thing to have – it can lead to all kinds of wonderful experiences. At least, that's what we hope.

So, when several plants started coming up in the garden beds we decided to let them grow and be surprised at harvest time. It made sense. We knew what we’d planted in the past, and had a pretty good idea of what we’d put into the compost bin. The first surprise was that so many seeds survived the composting process and began growing when we spread compost into the beds. We stood over those little seedlings many mornings guessing what they might be. Cantaloupe, zucchini, pumpkin?

Yesterday we delightedly harvested potatoes, green beans - which we'd actually planted, and some strange squash we hadn't. We were pretty stoked to get so much of our meal from our very own garden. Weren’t we clever and headed for great gardening success.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

The wine was poured, our meal plated, we toasted our bounty, and took a first bite. I don’t know which of us made it back to the kitchen to spit it out first. Holy god, what did we just eat? I’ve never tasted anything so bitter. Swigs of wine, chunks of bread, and a dip into the sugar bowl were required to get rid of the taste.

Turns out I’d forgotten about the gourds I’d tossed into the composter a couple years ago. Gourds are vile tasting. You should never cook and try to eat a gourd. Lesson learned. We ripped out the plants this morning.

July 27, 2010

I Spoke Too Soon

It seems this was leaking for a long time. Explains why our water bill is so high. It's fixed now. (I hope.) Did I mention that we're on vacation? Working in the yard, hauling ass let me tell you, and calling it vacation. It's a good thing we love working around the house.

July 25, 2010

A Work in Progress

This is how our front yard looked at the end of the first day of work. The lawn was torn out and later hauled away.


A couple days later the messy trees were gone, the walls built, and extra soil was ready to spread.



And then this happened.


And this.


This morning my husband repaired the last (we hope) of the broken pipes and found all the buried (!!!) sprinkler heads. Then we planted chamomile, creeping thyme, lavender, and Russian sage. There's lots still to do; more plants to plant, tons of bark to spread, trellises to build. It's good.

July 16, 2010

In & Out of the Garden

Once again, I have no pictures to post today. What I do have is fourteen jars of plum jam cooling on the kitchen counter. It’s the last of our plums supplemented with store bought and gift plums from a friend. It’s a little tarter (is that a word?) than usual, but I like it. A lot. It’s going to be delicious with peanut butter.

In landscaping news, our front yard is ready for planting. Now we get to do the fun part – picking out plants, laying out the garden, digging in the dirt. I’m thinking lavender, salvia, butterfly bush, yarrow. That should get us started.

There will be pictures this weekend. Stay tuned.

July 13, 2010

Bzzzzz...

It’s been a hive of activity here at Wild Plum Cottage during the past few weeks. We’ve been painting, watching the garden grow (although the only thing I’ve harvested so far is six green beans – yeah, six), and working on the front yard.

We realized, after three back-breaking weekends, that there’s no way we can re-landscape the front yard by ourselves. So we hired someone to do it for us. What luxury. We’ve had a crew of three guys tearing out lawns, shrubbery, and small trees for two days. Tomorrow they’ll start working on terracing and laying bricks. After that they’ll lay out the drip system. Then we’ll pay them and do the planting ourselves. It’s going to be beautiful. There’ll be before, during, and after pictures when we’re done.

In the midst of all this busy-ness I’ve been canning like a fiend. The chocolate cherry wine sauce turned out amazingly delicious, but I’m not sure it’s safe to can. I put three jars through the water bath, admired them for about a day, got the willies, popped the seals, and refrigerated them. Botulism is a bad thing, and I don’t know enough about acidity to trust my own made-up canning recipe. But if I find out it’s a canning-safe recipe I’ll be slamming it into jars as fast as possible, because, honestly, it’s the best damn thing I’ve ever cooked. (And you, Miss Amber, will be first on my list of recipients.)

July 6, 2010

Mmmmm......

Chocolate Cherry Wine Sauce. More later.

July 4, 2010

Ahhh, A Holiday

This is what we’ve been busy with for the past few weeks:

  • Painting the downstairs ceilings – a huge project.
  • Choosing a color for the kitchen walls.
  • Deep cleaning one room at a time.
  • Picking almost 12 pounds of cherry-sized plums.

Making and canning the following crazy delicious things:
  • Cherries in Wine
  • Brandied Cherries
  • Plum Jam (51 jars!)
  • Blackberry Jam
  •  Trying to figure out if a reduction of zinfandel, cherries, cocoa powder and a few other ingredients is safe for canning, because, omigod, if it is, everyone on my Christmas list is going to looove me.

  • Harvesting basil, making and freezing pesto.
  • Harvesting lavender and hanging it to dry.
  • Oh, and working full time.

Today we’re hanging out at home, resting, catching our breath, letting life slow down for a while. And remembering why I love living in this amazing, frustrating, busy, beautiful country of ours.

 
Happy Fourth!

June 17, 2010

A Summer Morning

My best friend asked me to teach her how to make jam. We started with an easy recipe, strawberry jam - only a few ingredients and minimal fruit preparation required. On Tuesday morning I packed up all my canning equipment and drove to her house in the country where she’s surrounded by apple trees and grapevines and fresh air and we talked and canned and talked some more. It was wonderful.


The beginning.


The end.


The bonus - spending time with this sweet girl.

June 14, 2010

Laundry Day

Today I may have stepped firmly into the land of crazy. I did laundry all day and loved every minute of it. You’re shaking your head right now, thinking, “It’s a pity she’s lost her mind. She seemed so … normal.”

Laundry is something I only do so I’ll have clothes to wear to work during the week. Because, honestly, is there anything more boring than sorting and folding clothes? No. Okay, maybe cleaning the bathrooms. But, as of today, hot damn & hallelujah, I have a clothesline.

My husband, bless his city boy heart, put up the clothesline this morning that’s been in the garage for two years. (I was very patient while he came to terms with the whole clothing flapping in the breeze thing.) Our agreement is that there will be no underwear hanging out for the neighbors to see. Fair enough. But there will be towels and sheets that smell like summer, and dresses that float on my skin, tee-shirts that go on crisp and soften with body heat.

Who needs yoga when I can stand in the sun and stretch from my toes to fingertips and bend deep to get another towel from the basket? Geese fly overhead twice a day, calling to the earth as they go. Ladybugs land on towels and have to be carried off to a shady tree so they won’t get folded into the linen cupboard.

Hanging laundry on the line is a simple pleasure. The small amount of extra time doesn’t seem like work, but rather like an escape to a place where I breathe a little more deeply and smile a whole lot more. Crazy? Who cares?

June 11, 2010

Ahhh...


The summer heat is finally here. We’ve had a few days when I’ve thrown open the windows and set out fans to move cooler air through the house. Maybe the rain is over for the season. We hope. It’s been a long, wet winter and I’m ready for consistently blue skies.

Last weekend we decided it was time to install a ceiling fan in my office. My husband is handy and had that thing wired and working in short order. Now I don’t have to use papers from my desk to fan away a hot flash. Hot weather + hot flashes = cranky & miserable. Ceiling fan = ahhh.

May 31, 2010

Thank You

Photo by my brother, M.

May 21, 2010

In The Garden

The duck that came to visit for a week.






A Sunday morning worth of yard cleaning.

April 20, 2010

Soaking Up The Sun

The weather was astoundingly beautiful this past weekend, sunny in a way that warms you all the way through. I can’t complain about the weather, because, really, it’s California after all. Not that we don’t have our share of rain. And then it rains some more. And then the news people start talking about flooding and landslides. Our winters can be pretty soggy. But it’s Spring now and Sunday was perfect. It was worth waiting for all Winter.

We were at the garden supply store before they even opened and sat for a while in the parking lot with our mugs of tea, planning our garden. We bought soil to amend the raised beds and enough vegetables and herbs to get a good start. I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty easy to over-buy, and then you’ve got 27 tomato plants and enough parsley to supply half the town. We restrained ourselves and bought just two Roma tomatoes, but still more parsley than we’ll ever need, along with a couple tomatillo plants, green beans, and basil. You can probably see where this is going – I’ll be freezing and canning what we don’t eat straight out of the garden. (I might get another tomato plant or two, just because.)

By noon we’d weeded all the raised beds, turned and moved the compost bin, replanted a struggling rosemary, and my husband made good use of the tiller he bought a couple months ago. The veggies are sitting in the kitchen in front of a big window – the weather turned yesterday with rain and a chance of hail. We’ll plant them later in the week.

Tending a garden calms me; it reminds me to stay in the moment while looking hopefully to the future. Besides, there’s nothing that tastes as good as a homegrown tomato.

What have you planted this year? How does your garden grow?

March 29, 2010

Back To Real Life (and a recipe)


This morning is the end of our vacation. By noon we’ll be back to our work-week schedule. As much as I love living unstructured days, I also need routine; it’s the way I’m wired. I function best with a starting point and a plan, but it’s really nice to step back from that once in a while and see what happens.

It was a great vacation. We spent a couple days in Monterey, walking through Cannery Row, visiting the Aquarium (so worth the cost of admission), having early morning coffee in Carmel, and wandering through the Carmel Mission. The weather was a little chilly in the mornings and evenings, but mid-day was glorious. Not bad for March.

We brought home swordfish from the Monterey wharf and artichokes from Castroville. They made a meal I’ll remember for a long time. Delicious. I also picked up a bag of baby artichokes to marinate. I’ll find out in a day or so if they’re delicious too.
Here’s the recipe:

3 quarts water
2 cups white vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
24 baby artichokes, trimmed to edible stage – keep whole

(This recipe didn’t make enough marinade, so I had to make several batches.)
1 cup wine vinegar (I used red and white.)
1 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil.)
½ tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbs. minced parsley

Bring water, white vinegar, garlic, and salt to a rolling boil. Stir in artichokes and continue stirring for one minute. Cover and boil 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool. Cut artichokes into halves or quarters. Snip off any purple leaves.

Mix together wine vinegar, oil, garlic powder, and parsley. Add artichokes. Stir, cover and refrigerate. Will keep several weeks in the refrigerator. Stir occasionally.

March 24, 2010

Monterey Bay


The most amazing thing I've seen in a long while - a leafy sea dragon.

March 17, 2010

Slainte (Cheers)

I’m in a coffee shop right now, taking a break in my work day, enjoying the gift of late winter sunshine. We’ve had an awful lot of Irish weather this year – rain, rain, more rain. Then it rained again. Today people are in flip-flops and tee-shirts, not a jacket or umbrella in sight. Not a bad way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. I might have an Irish coffee later, most likely not (it’s bound to give me hot flashes).

Dinner is cooking in the crockpot – corned beef – with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots to be cooked when I get home. It’s a once or twice a year meal, not really traditionally Irish, but close enough. The cabbage and potatoes are traditional of course, but the corned beef doesn’t belong to us. (It has more flavor than the average Irish palate could imagine. And I’m sure someone will find this post and pounce all over me for saying that, but it’s true; I grew up on traditional Irish cooking and it’s booorrring.)

Honestly, the best part of Irish food is the bread and dairy foods. There’s nothing like a good thick slice of Irish bread slathered with butter. I didn’t make soda bread for the holiday, but might get to it this week sometime. Now that I’ve given it a bit of thought I may have to. Or, I might just make some custard. I cheat, of course. I haven’t a clue how to make actual custard, and don’t really care to learn, especially when I like the taste of Bird’s Custard so much.

So raise a glass, a fork or a spoon, and have a happy St. Paddy’s Day.
Slainte.

March 8, 2010

Breathing In

February is finally over. The shortest month of the year was too busy, packed with deadlines and long days that weren’t quite long enough. Or maybe it was that my energy was running short. In the middle of working extra days and hours I decided to take a short course at the local college and work on my taxes at the same time. Whew.

March is starting at a slower pace and I’m letting myself ease into more gentle projects around the house. Of course, after the craziness of the past six weeks there’s a lot of housework that needs catching up, but no one ever died from needing to dust the baseboards, so I’m not pushing too hard on those things. No, instead, I’m taking time to stare out the windows at trees whipping in the wind and big, fat raindrops splashing on pavement.

That’s what’s calling to me right now, the small moments that are coaxing me back to the present, making me feel the wonder of approaching spring. The air is clean and I’m inhaling huge gulps of it every day.

This time last year I was in over my head with caregiving. This year I’m done with that. There was terrible loss mixed in with the hectic joy of planning my wedding. My emotions swung from fear and stress to hopeful happiness. Today, right now, I’m on a more even keel. It’s a good feeling.

Maybe I’ll even get back to this page more often. I’m not going to make a promise or set a goal; instead I’ll let myself string some words together and see where it leads me.

February 15, 2010

Getting Some Sunshine

A happy cow.

We’re finally getting a break from the rain, and just in time too. I’m beginning to feel like I should grow gills or webs. We’ve had more rain than normal - three times the amount we’d gotten by this time last year. So we got out of the house early yesterday morning and headed to Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s as pretty a place as you could imagine, and the weather is surprisingly warm, given that it’s on the northern California coast and our beaches are not so sunny.

We had breakfast in Point Reyes Station at the Bovine Bakery - a bran muffin and chai tea – and then drove to Drakes Beach where we watched huge waves crash onto the shore, saw magnificent Tule Elk (see photo here), and scratched the foreheads of cows who seemed as happy to see the sun as we were.

February 1, 2010

Winter Nest

The rain has been pouring down here for a good portion of the last couple weeks. This year, for the first time in quite a while, I’ve been enjoying it tremendously. It’s good weather for nesting. We’ve done a bit of re-arranging the furniture, making a cozy office/studio space for me so my creative pursuits aren’t spread all over the house, but are instead corralled to one room. Makes the rest of the house feel more open and organized.
Of course, now that I have lots of space to be crafty, I’m finding I’d rather be in the kitchen. It’s citrus time and I’ve had an abundance of oranges and Meyer lemons, too many to eat or make lemonade (besides, it’s the wrong season for ice cold lemonade, brrr), so I’ve made orange-lemon marmalade and lemon bars. Let me tell you, they’re both so easy I don’t know why I haven’t made more before now.
Marmalade is nothing more than slices of citrus fruit, sugar, and water. It takes a while to cook to the gelling point, but oh, is it worth it. And lemon bars! I had no idea how easy these are to make. I’m not a baker by any means and if I can turn out a pan of something this yummy, well, anyone can. Really. You can find the recipe here.

January 19, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring

(Why we need rain.)

 
It’s supposed to be storming right now, heavy rain and gusty winds. The weather forecasters have been advising that we’re going to get clobbered this week. We need it. We haven't had a normal amount of rainfall in several years, but it looks like we might get it all at once. It’s a day to stay home.

Right now the sun is breaking through, the sky is dark and clouds speed by, heavy with the next round of rainstorm. They’re beautiful when they’re lit by scattered sunlight.

Early this morning I dashed out to get grocery shopping done before the worst of the rain hit. I hate trying to unload grocery bags in the rain. Later I’ll roast a chicken - there’s nothing like filling the house with good, warm cooking smells on a rainy day - and finish the marmalade I started last night. That’s what today is all about - staying cozy and capturing orange sunshine.

What makes you feel cozy in the middle of winter?

Update - Wednesday night: The rain arrived, along with wind, thunder, lightning, and now, hail. We're into the fourth storm in four days with more to come. The sky has opened ferociously.

January 13, 2010

January 1, 2010

From Chaos

The great guest room/studio transformation of 2010 has begun. The bed we donated was picked up yesterday, making it easier to empty the rest of the room. There was more stuff in there than I’d realized. I’m apparently very good at stashing things away. Now that it’s mostly empty we my husband will paint the room a delicious color that will (hopefully) inspire me to be terribly creative.

In the meantime, my books, pictures, and boxes of I-don’t-know-what are shoved into the guest bathroom. It gives me the perfect opportunity to sort through it all when I move everything back.



It’s the beginning of a new year and the perfect time to let go of that which no longer serves me well. That’s my theme for this year, letting go. I’m not one to make resolutions, but this morning, while I was showering, I realized that I’ve let myself get pulled into other people’s drama too often, letting it color my happiness with worry and anxiety. Last year saw me get in over my head caring for other people. That’s no way to live.

I won’t say it won’t ever happen again –  that's setting myself up for failure  – but I’ll work very carefully to make sure I keep my feet planted in my own life. How I go about doing that is going to be a work in progress. While it will surely include exercise and making time to play, it will also mean asking myself how a thought or feeling or situation serves me. Can I really make a difference or am I just driving myself into the ground? It’s kind of a big life lesson.

So this year begins with sorting and choosing; what to keep, what to let go, asking how it contributes to my quality of life. Who knew such soul-searching could come from moving furniture?