in praise of porches

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I’m not much of a talker.  I often feel awkward. And shy.  Even with friends, sometimes.

There’s some sort of sudden pressure in the first few moments of any casual conversation or unexpected encounter.  A sense of responsibility. A rush of adrenaline, maybe, and a flush to my cheek.

I just don’t know what to say.

And there’s a small moment of panic right there in aisle seven.

Niceties. Pleasantries. Small talk. All challenging, difficult, and uncomfortable for me.

But I’ve learned this summer  there’s something about a porch that unties my tongue. On a porch, conversations tend to drift, unhurried, and flow like the gentle back and forth of the rocker.

It’s easy. Neighborly. We’re in good company. And there’s a gentle silence in the spaces between words. A moment or two spent rocking and watching the birds fly by.

There’s time enough for companionship. A cold beverage and yes, commentary on the weather.

You and me.

Let’s catch up.

Out on the porch.

 

 

 

once seated, I will write

when you sit to write there’s no telling which way your thoughts will go or how far your words will travel

dead ends

curves

unexpected detours

rest stops

roadside attractions

the cursor blinks. waits. encourages. believes.

all the time in the world. ready to listen to me and my ideas

or my silence

but it all starts with the simple act of sitting

sitting down (anywhere)

to write

(I know and use all the excuses for not sitting.)

however,

once seated, I can’t help but get started

once seated, I’m willing to wait myself out

once seated, I will write

-eventually-

what I didn’t know I knew (thank you, Don Murray)

(please … no harm in walking the house. pausing for a load of laundry. or coffee. some nourishment)

but I return to the chair

and write

stubborn

petulant

(pretending?)

proud

 

go gently

DSC_0368 (2)Tomorrow, we all stand at the top of the 2018.

We’ll stand there, in the crisp, clear dawn, able to see far and wide across the span of a whole new year.  The air may be brisk, but refreshing and clean. Hopefully, the sun’s out, the snow’s just fallen, and there’s no path yet broken before us.

So it’s up to us to decide which way we’ll walk.

We’ll decide who we’ll walk with. And what we’ll carry. It’s up to us to choose our pace. When we’ll rest and when to forge ahead. What we’ll gather along the way, and what we’ll leave behind. Maybe, if we pay close attention, we’ll come to understand how to lighten the bags carried by someone else we meet along the way.

There’ll be promises made just as bygones disappear back aways and over our shoulders.  There’ll be both departures and arrivals. Invitations extended and mistakes made. Out there on the horizon, we’ll see both clouds and sun.  Ideas will grow. We’ll forgive and make peace. Offer help. Wish. Dream. And hope.

Standing here, at the bottom of 2017,  looking up at that shiny, new year hill … it feels a little surprising we’ve hiked all this way already since it seems like only yesterday we stood at the crest of 2017.  A full, busy, often fulfilling, and sometimes frightening 364 day journey.

But tomorrow’s waiting, and there’s only this one day left to both look back at the year that was and forward to the year that will be. We’re all standing at another year’s intersection. Betwixt and between. Not quite here … nor there. A simultaneous beginning and ending.

This last day is a day of grace. A repreive of sorts marked right at the crossroads of regret and optimism. And all signs point toward the future.

Go gently.

 

managing email

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Between the time I logged off my computer at the end of a work day last week and logged back on the next morning, I received 20 emails. Not an alarming number, but quite enough for the overnight. What I receive during the work day varies, but one thing’s for sure: there’s a lot to manage.  Day or night.

More than I have time for.

And I’m really not managing all that well, truth be told. A fly-by read at 10 a.m. is almost always buried by the 3 p.m. inbox viewing, for example. So sometimes, I’ve been misremembering  important dates, directives, deadlines, apppointments, and meetings or worse … not remembering at all. And folks wait … probably much too long … for my responses.

It’s hard to stay on top of the inbox and just as hard to find time to write for the outbox. Read. Act. File. Respond. Unsubscribe. Delete. The verbs of email. Notice “manage” is not among them.

So I scheduled a 45 minute chunk of time to do just that. Manage. In less than 60 minutes, here’s what happened:

  • Over 150 emails deleted
  • 4 emails received responses
  • 13 meetings/dates/deadlines recorded in calendar
  • 2 emails filed in ongoing folders
  • 3 notes taken for future action
  • 2 emails printed for future action

Forty-three emails remain in my inbox, acting at this point as a filing cabinet of sorts. I’ll be needing to do something with those 43, just not today. I don’t want to file them … because out of sight, out of mind… so they’re in an email limbo of sorts, and I’m okay with that.

So here’s the new email plan I’m promising to live by:

I will only check email when I have the time to act on its contents, i.e., Read. Act. File. Respond. Unsubscribe. Delete. And manage.

Up next: personal accounts.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

postcard: billings farm

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Step into the 1890 farmhouse and make yourself right at home.

Can you smell the biscuits in the oven?  Feel the curve of the pump handle in your hand?

Don’t get too comfortable though, there’s work to be done.

Maybe the cows are ready for milking.

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Or it’s time for butter-making in the creamery.

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Could be there’s ripe tomatoes ready to pick in the heirloom garden. Or supper to cook on the kitchen’s grand black stove.

There’s always work to be done, but be sure to make time for a quiet moment to graze awhile and simply smell the sunsoaked grass.

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Are you ready to receive visitors in the front parlor?

Or is it time for bed after a long day’s work?

Early to bed, early to rise is a way of life on the farm.

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There’s so much to explore at Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, VT where blue skies and green pastures meet at the horizon and the rural history of Vermont is a  just short walk back in time.

An interactive museum, the Billings Farm features films and exhibits on farming history, maple sugaring, ice cutting, and life in the farm community.

The farm animals befriend visitors right there at the pasture fence or back in the barns: draft horses, dairy cows, chickens, and sheep.

The 1890 Billings farm house offers you a home and hospitality from the past: the business end of farming and function in the farm office with its majestic standing desk,  family living quarters, and the glorious pastoral views from every window.

Billings Farm is owned and operated by The Woodstock Foundation, Inc., a charitable nonprofit. An interactive museum and working dairy farm, be sure to try some of the Billings Farm cheddar cheese!

Open daily, May 1 through October 31, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

www.billingsfarm.org

802-457-2355

 

 

A Lick and a Promise

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Sometimes living, quietly and without much fanfare, takes over my whole house. Bananas brown in their bowl. Last Sunday’s flowers wilt and dry on the kitchen island next to half a week’s mail, and yesterday’s lunchbox. I’ve kicked off a pair of sandals (or two) at the tired end of a day and left them right where they landed.  And despite my very best intentions to maintain order, it’s time to admit I’ve somehow lost all control and the detritus of life, my life, is utterly in charge.

(Again.)

This post is not about down and dirty cleaning. Let the dust bunnies stay where they lay. This is about giving the house a lick and a promise, as my Nana used to say.

A lick and a promise cleaning restores order, plain and simple. It’s straightening the couch cushions, starting a load of laundry, and giving the throw pillows a quick lesson in who’s the boss. It’s about hanging the dish towel nesting next to the sink and hauling upstairs whatever’s been sitting patiently on steps one, two, and three for a week or so.

A lick and a promise cleaning isn’t about doing more, or even doing better. It’s about doing later.

It’s about promising to dust the very next rainy day. It’s noticing the disorganization of the pantry cupboard, and planning to rearrange it this summer when you either have more time or more inclination. It’s about understanding you have better things to do today, and giving yourself permission to put off all the rest of the stuff until tomorrow.

A lick and a promise is knowing what you can live with and what you can’t.

For me, that means a clean counter and no dishes procreating in our sink.  And I don’t much care about what’s going on behind the scenes in the cupboards. Not today.  I’m okay – today – with laundry in the basket, but I’ll be sure to gather any left stranded on the floor. Maybe I’ll make the bed, but I’ll leave changing the sheets for tomorrow. Could be I’ll sweep, but I won’t vacuum.

You get the idea.

Because a lick and a promise gives you permission. Permission to enjoy today … because today, I’ve got places to go and the world out there is sunny, and warm, and spring!

And so I’ll give the house a lick and a promise, and leave – knowing at least it’s peaceful and tidy when I’m ready to return.