Best Of

Best Of . . . July 2022


Did you see it?

July? Just flying by???

Today is my last July blogging day, so even though it seems July only just arrived, here I am, already recounting the . . . Best of My July.

This has been One Of Those Summers where scheduling concerns continue to keep me from being up north. Tom has gone up quite a lot. But me? Not so much! In all of July, I spent one chunk of days up there. With Brian and Lauren and their pup, Ferda. It was great fun -- and Ferda is finally getting the hang of swimming!


One of the best things of my July . . . is that the exterior work on our house has finally begun. (That's the main reason I haven't been able to head up north this month.) Of course, it looks like work will continue on into August at this point. But, hey. It's going to look great when it's finished. (The story I've been telling myself for three years now. . . ) I'm patient. But I've gone from this . . . 


to this . . . 


I'm really ready to have my patio back. Y'know? (I imagine that will be on my best of August list. Stay tuned.)

I got a haircut in July; my first since winter! It's so different now that I have long hair. I can go months between visits to the salon . . . AND my stylist can cut 3 inches off my hair and I barely notice.

IMG_0151 2

My favorite plant spot has a spring "incentive" program . . . Bonus Bucks. When you buy plants in the spring, you get Bonus Bucks for every dollar you spend. And then - in July - you can come back and cash them in. I love Bonus Bucks! I cashed mine in last week . . . 


And, as I've already mentioned, I set my "studio" back up in July. I've started painting again. (This is an underpainting I'm working on in my sketch book . . .  eventually, it will be a rusty hinge on an old wooden door. If I remember, I'll show you the finished painting someday.)


Mostly, my July has been . . . very ordinary. Filled with hot-but-pleasant summer days and all those things I love about summer. Time in my garden. Ice cream cones. Beer on the patio. Lovely sunsets. 


July . . . heck, the whole summer . . . is so very fleeting. It just flies by, doesn't it?


How about you? What was the best thing about your July?



Best Of . . . June 2022

For a while now, I've been wrapping up each month with a last-Monday post highlighting the "best of" that month. But then in May, I skipped doing that. Because the Uvalde shooting had just happened, right after the Buffalo shooting had just happened, and . . . I just didn't feel I could muster a "best of" kind of post.

Now here we are in June. And I'm still processing . . . last week. I could easily convince myself to just skip a "best of" post for this month, too. But damnit. I'm not going to! Some shitty stuff happened in June, for sure. But there was also a lot of good stuff. And I don't want another month to slip away without my acknowledging the best parts of it.

So here goes! To the BEST of my June!

I got this! All my kids together for a few days. . . 


And plenty of this. I got Erin for nearly a whole month!


And, gruesome as this looks, JoJo healed well from her surgery. Her stitches are finally out (after 4 weeks!), and her prognosis is good.


And that means . . . I can go up north again! (Where I am this week.)


And last week, we finally (finally) had our new doors installed! This is "Phase I" of an extensive exterior re-do project we've had planned for our house . . . since 2019. This is my new front door -- only recently released from Container Ship Purgatory.


My garden has been absolutely lovely all month long.


A big highlight? My Satomi dogwood was absolutely dripping with beautiful blooms in June.


And, really, my garden is looking good even at night . . . now that we've got new solar lighting brightening our paths and highlighting our pergola.


There WAS a lot to celebrate in June.
Sometimes . . . I just need to remind myself, y'know?


How about you? What was the best of YOUR June?


Best Of . . . April 2022

"If you pay attention, the events of an ordinary day can come together as a found poem."
                        -- Parker Palmer


I came across that quote from Parker Palmer earlier this month, and I've been thinking about it ever since. I'm really taken with the whole notion of "ordinary days" (or even "ordinary months") coming together as a poem. I decided . . . to give it a try. Could I actually turn my ordinary month . . . into a poem???


Much as I love poetry, I am not a poet.  I mean, I like and appreciate words and the rhythm of language, but I've never had "success" (such a loaded word, "success". . . ) with writing poetry myself. I don't feel bad about that, and I don't really care. I have many other ways to express myself, and have no regrets about not being a poet.


Yet . . . I am drawn to discovering a "found poem" in the ordinary events of my days. 


Not WRITING a poem, per se . . . but LIVING a poem! 

I decided to give it a try.


APRIL . . . you were not always easy.
But, then, isn't that usually the way?
Ordinary. Difficult. Pushing and pulling.
But perhaps that's the nature of a poem?

Cold and blustery.
But daffodils and forsythia in the end.
Color, too.
Though most of that was my doing, not yours.

A time of freshening up.
Spring cleaning. 
Repotting the houseplants.
Planning for the garden.

Gathering with actual people again.
Events on the calendar. Like . . . live ones.
Lunches with friends, Sundays with family.
Having a massage.

Deep loss.
But also happy memories.
Love. Gratitude. Adjustments.
Life goes on.

Dirt under my fingernails.
Turning on the grill.
Opening the cabin.
Flipping my closet.

April? Aha! You were a poem, of sorts, after all.


My April.

Completely ordinary.
But full of poetry, too.
(Waiting to be "found.")

LIVE your own poem!


What parts of your April . . . were like a "found poem?"

Best Of . . . March 2022

Here we are, in the last, winding-down days of March.

March . . . such a fickle month! Last weekend, we pulled out the patio furniture and enjoyed sitting out in the sunshine again. This past weekend? Not so much . . . 


(Ah, March. . . )

Still, there's been much to savor about the month.

Like a new rug to brighten up my same old (and perfectly fine) living room furniture.

IMG_7881 2

Really ties the room together, doesn't it?
(Couldn't resist. . . )

We continue to enjoy regular Sunday dinners/gatherings with Brian and Lauren and my dad . . . and the three dogs. It's a bit of happy mayhem every week. 

IMG_7972 2

Especially when I manage to serve up "beers" even the dogs can enjoy!

There have been enough warm(ish) days sprinkled here and there that I've been able to get out in my garden and check things out. It's not really time to DO anything yet (the ground is still frozen, for the most part), but it won't be long now.


I'm always happy when I can wear my "chicken boots" again.

It's been the little, ordinary stuffs-of-life that make up my Best Of list this month. 
And I'm just fine with that!


How about YOU? What's made your "best of" list this month?


Best Of . . . January

January . . . is never my favorite of months. 

It's dark. And cold. It feels like the l-o-n-g-e-s-t month. A real slog, most of the time. Kinda like this (something I saw on Instagram yesterday) . . . 


And this year, January felt particularly ominous. ALL of my kids got Covid. Tom and I continued to hunker down at home. It was particularly cold. The news is always bad. Yada. Yada. Yada.

And yet. . . 


There were some spectacular sunsets! (This one I captured coming down my stairs; it's through the side panel in my front door.)

And even some sunshine now and then. (Shadow-play is always particularly good in the winter -- IF there is sunshine.)


My local art class started up again for the semester (still on Zoom, but that's probably best for now anyway).


And the main floor of our house is freshly painted and looking lovely.


My kids got over Covid. I got a new laptop and the switch-over was seamless. The days are getting longer. It's still cold and we're supposed to get a lot of snow later this week. And spring . . . is one day closer every single day.


And that's the best of January!


How about you? What was the best of YOUR January?

Best Of . . . Thanksgiving Weekend

On a Monday at the end of the month, I've started showing you the "best of" my weekends (which are . . . pretty darn ordinary these days . . . ). Except this weekend was a little longer and a lot more exciting because of Thanksgiving.

Here's what made my "best of" list this weekend . . . 

IMG_6984 2

First, it was so wonderful to gather this year -- around my fireplace, around my table -- for Thanksgiving with people I love! Last year, Tom and I boxed up Thanksgiving dinner portions and delivered them to Brian and Lauren and to my dad . . . and then we all ate at our separate tables. It was really pretty sad. So it was a real gift to be able to be together again. In person. Sharing the day together. (Brian and Lauren put together a tasty charcuterie board for us to get things started last Thursday.)


Second, if the pandemic has taught me anything, it has taught me to simplify! Although we made plenty of food for our Thanksgiving feast, we didn't over-fuss. I didn't stress about putting together a "fancy" table (although I did find those awesome solid-chocolate turkeys to dress things up). We kept everything relaxed and simple. And that felt . . . good and right.


Third, it's always fun to share Thanksgiving with the dogs! This was Ferda's first experience as an official member of the Turkey Security Detail, and she rose to the challenge like a champ. JoJo - who, as you may remember had been suffering the effects of (ahem) "dietary indiscretion" last week - was feeling better, but rather put out as she was thwarted at her begging-for-meat-please attempts. (She is feeling better now, and has had her share of turkey bits that we saved for her.) (Jenny enjoyed the day, but evaded photo opportunities.)


And, finally, Tom and Brian froze their asses off enjoyed a father/son bonding experience on Friday with a guided fishing trip. It was Very Cold, but the fishing was great. Here's Brian with a lovely steelhead, Tom looking on from the back of the boat.


And you know what that meant?  That I had Friday . . . all to myself. I might have been super productive and used my time wisely. But I didn't. I was pretty much a lazy slob all day long. Food hangover I guess you could say? 

But some weekends are meant to be just like that.

(What was the best of your weekend?)

Best Of

Not really a "weekending" post here, but . . . not exactly a "random" post either . . . 
It's more . . .  a look at some highlights of my really typical, pretty ordinary, low-key and not terribly blog-worthy kind of weekend.

Here's what made my "Best Of" list this weekend:

First, we had Brian and Lauren's dog, Ferda, with us this weekend while they celebrated their 7th 6th anniversary in style. (I know. Can you believe it's been 7 6 years???) (Edited to add: Oops. I got a year ahead of myself. Although that makes me feel slightly better about the speed of time, I'm still floored it's already been SIX years.) Anyway. Ferda is a sweet pup. Very high energy. Very curious. And so much fun! Usually, she spends her time with us trying to get JoJo to play - and JoJo does play, but JoJo is 8 and she tires quickly. Ferda mostly ignores Jenny because Jenny (who certainly ignores Ferda) is old and crotchety and, well, not much fun anymore. But sometimes . . . Jenny allows Ferda to be near her. And that's always a highlight.


And . . . Saturday was a glorious day for gardening, so I spent some time repotting a few of my indoor plants. And bringing in all my little garden "tchotchkes" for the season. And doing a bit of fall garden clean-up. And . . . weeding, of course. (No bulb-planting yet, though.) (Maybe soon. ) (Or maybe I'll just force the bulbs inside???) Anyway, it's always a highlight when I can get in a good gardening session this late in October!


And . . .  I got to do some "virtual shopping" with Erin. She took me along (via her phone) as she chose shoes to go with her dress for the Halloween wedding she'll be in this weekend. It's always good fun to shop with Erin, even if not in person. (We shopped for the pattern and fabric for her dress the same way.) The wedding is in Ohio (she'll be so close, but the timing just doesn't work for us to get together), where she'll be a bridesmaid for her college roommate -- who has always adored Halloween. Costumes are required, although Erin and Keith have decided to limit their costume to "fancy masks" because it's too hard to travel with more elaborate costumes. I think it'll be a VERY fun wedding. And . . . seeing the dress on Erin - and seeing that it fit! - was a definite highlight. (Sorry. No shoes in this shot, although they were procured.)


And . . . I discovered a new favorite taco recipe. (I'll link here, although I'm not sure it will work for you. If it does? You're in for a treat.) I have discovered that the New York Times Cooking app is my favorite recipe source these days. The app works great for organizing and keeping track of all the recipes I've "Saved to Recipe Box" from the NYT. Great recipes, helpful advice, and often there are video tips for the tricky bits. Anyway. This particular recipe is for Slow Cooker Chipotle-Honey Chicken Tacos and it is a WINNER (and no tricky bits). Especially served with pickled onions -- which are a new favorite condiment. (And I love condiments.) Great new recipe? Always a highlight!


And there you have it: dog sitting, garden chores, virtual shoe shopping, and pickled onions.
The best of my weekend!

(How was yours?)


What Makes It "Good?"

Today - a Monday - I expect to hear this question nearly everywhere I go and from almost anyone I might encounter: Have a good weekend?

Because that's how it goes, right?
On Mondays we ask "Have a good weekend?" (And on Fridays we ask its close relative: "Big plans for the weekend?")


And I always wonder . . . What makes it "good" anyway?

Because sometimes a "good" weekend means doing something exciting . . .  like going to a big event or visiting a cool place or doing something unexpected and unusual. But a "good" weekend can also mean accomplishing the mundane tasks of life . . . like getting through a big list of chores at home or tackling a big item on our to-do lists. Or a "good" weekend can be a weekend where we do absolutely nothing at all . . . like sitting around in our comfy clothes reading a book or knitting or bingeing a TV show. Sometimes a "good" weekend is dependent on things we can't even control . . . like the weather or a sports win or the behavior of other people.

Basically, a "good" weekend is in the eye of the beholder and can be . . . nearly any damn thing at all. Right?

What's my point with all this? I don't even know. I just think it's interesting that we put so much expectation into our weekends.

And, if you're asking . . . I had a GOOD weekend!


What made it so?

Great weather to be outside -- and lots of time in the garden.

IMG_6235 2

(Tom doing battle with an out-of-control spirea. . . which is now at the curb, awaiting our city's quarterly brush pick-up service later today.) (He's my garden hero.)

A relaxing before-dinner beer on the patio.


(I'll tell you more about my knitting project on Wednesday.)

And ice cream!


Sometimes it's the simplest things that make for a "good" weekend!

By the way . . . How was YOUR weekend?