I’m Back!

I’m back with exciting news! I finally surrendered to the notion that I will never remember my WordPress password and decided to reset it. I can now log in and post new posts. I have found my way back home.

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I always had the power to do this, but I put it off. Oh, yes, that’s a thing I will do, I would say while I busied myself not doing it. I will revisit my blog and raspberries3connect it to my new website and keep writing about the things that happen day-to-day. The raspberries are ripening. The dogs are growing older (but seemingly no wiser). The kids are moving on. I have much to say about all of this. Why did finding my way back to the spot where I say it take so long? I’m not sure. Why do many seemingly simple things take so long?

Perhaps because I’m too spent from doing the hard things. I’ll get to it, I tell myself, right after I climb down from this mountain. But there always seems to be another mountain. My mountains are work deadlines (Who doesn’t have these? No excuse!); anxiety and delight for the people I love who were once tiny humans but now have their own lives (two quite far away); the need to clear and reorganize the basement and closets of 18 years worth of living; the time to repaint faded walls and replant the flower garden; the desire to sit and be and remember. Remember important things, like my WordPress password.

My mountains are worthy mountains all, but they have not kept me away for good. I’m back. I’ve found that even forgotten things can be reset, and I can keep going.

 

Advertisements

From the files . . .

I found an old interview I did years ago for a student completing her senior project for high school graduation–I think from 2011. She asked some pretty cool questions about writing. It’s fun for me to revisit my answers. It reinforces for me why I love what I do.

  1. When did you first become interested in writing?

My interest in writing came about rather by default. In school, it was the only thing I was good at; but fortunately, this helped with all the other subjects where I was weak. In honors biology my freshman year in high school, we had to do a genetics-probability type of experiment where we kept a journal of our findings. My journal had really nothing of any scientific value in it, but my teacher enjoyed the lively story about my penny collection. He told me I should consider being a writer when I grow up, and the next year I was dropped from the science honors program.

Later, after I had married and had my first child, I watched horrified as footage of baby victims of the Oklahoma City bombing were pulled from the rubble. I vowed to leave my full-time job in banking and find a career I could do from home. At around the same time, my mother gave me a box of stuff she had saved from my childhood and in it was an award I had won for writing in the first grade. I decided to give writing a try. I started by selling articles about family life and child care to local baby magazines, and was soon hired as a reporter for the Brockton Enterprise, where I worked for about seven years before I moved to Rhode Island.

2. Do you ever get writer’s block?  How do you overcome it?

First, I eat. I’ve gained 15 pounds since I went back to work as a newspaper writer last spring, after moving away from the teaching profession. As deadlines loom, I panic, eat, and chew my nails. It’s not pretty, but there it is.

Then, I start writing anything at all. Often, when I’m really stuck, my opening sentence will look like this, “I really hate this stupid assignment and I wish I hadn’t said yes to it, but I did, and now I have to write about stupid people who make money selling crafts on eBay…” And then I go on to write the story, making absolute certain that I erase the first sentence before I submit it.

And sometimes, I just type in all the quotes I’ve gathered from my research in no particular order. After they’re all on the page, I cut and paste them into a flow that I like, and then I fill in between with my own thoughts and connecting paragraphs.

And when I’m done, I eat some more. I’m thinking of replacing the “eating to break writer’s block” technique with exercising, but I’m not there yet.

3. What’s the most interesting story you’ve ever written about? 

Cool question.

One story I’m most proud of wasn’t actually that interesting to write. It was about a woman who had been a physician in Ukraine before she moved to the U.S. She was collecting money, food, and baby items to send to her former colleagues who ran an orphanage in Ukraine. I just wrote a small piece about what she was collecting and where donations could be sent.

I didn’t know this at the time, but the story was translated into Russian and reprinted in a Ukrainian paper, and Russian officials thought that the U.S. was publishing stories about the government not caring for its children.

A government official was prompted by the article to investigate and visited the facility to make sure the children were getting proper care. The official had recently been at an orphanage 100 miles away, noticed a child who resembled and had the same last name as a child in the orphanage I had written about, and brought the two boys together. Each had thought his brother had been killed in the same accident that killed their parents, and of course were delighted to find each other again.

So while the story itself wasn’t all that interesting at the time, it felt good that my writing had made such a difference in the lives of those two boys.

As for the most interesting story I’ve ever explored and written? I just don’t know. There have been hundreds. I’ve written about former CIA agents, a 9-year-old high diver who was blind (can you imagine???), a young man who survived a rare, often fatal form of brain cancer who went on to graduate from college and become a naturalist and a teacher. I’ve also covered drug busts, political scandals, and murder scenes. Not one stands out as “the most interesting.” I think, in general, I find them all interesting because people fascinate me.

In 2018, I hereby resolve . . .

It’s that time again, time for New Year’s Resolutions. This year, I’m not fooling around. I have some serious resolutions to get to. Number one: stop ending sentences with prepositions. The rest I’ll share with you in case you need a resolution or two. No need to feel left out. They are as follows:

  1. Eat the chocolate. All the chocolate. Right now. Today. You won’t regret it. (Well, chocolatemaybe you will, but it will be worth it.)
  2. Don’t worry so much if you forget a, um, don’t help me . . . um, word. If you forget a word, just replace it with another one. No one will notice (probably). Best case scenario: they will run out of patience and supply your missing word with their own and you can stop searching for it.
  3. Take naps. Do you have any idea how wonderful naps are? If you don’t, this is your chance to find out. I tried them as part of my new Hygge lifestyle. I’ll never go back to that old fashioned, staying-awake-all-day thing. That just does not work for me.
  4. Don’t be afraid to throw things away. Like the living room rug. If you mistakenly 170904 Pippin restingbuy a green one and your senile beagle thinks it’s grass and pees on it several times a day, it’s okay to let it go, even if once upon a time you really liked it (before it got smelly) and you’re pretty sure some store somewhere sells something that will get the stench out. No. Let it go. Throw it away and buy a cheap one so that your senile beagle can pee in peace and you can have peace of mind.

That’s all I have for now. If I come across other issues that need to be resolved, I will post them here, or I will vague-book about them causing unnecessary intrigue and concern across the social medias. What are your resolutions?

The World According to Sarge

The mom-woman. She writes sap. She doesn’t tell the truth. She hates beetles and slugs and never plays with them. That’s dumb. 170905 Kristin Sarge blogShe sprays water on plants but I do that too, so she is wasteful.

170905 Sarge tongue 2I never pee on her, but I do stick out my tongue. She doesn’t know how things really are. I tell you how it really is.

She goes into the woods and doesn’t take me. She says it’s because I kill chipmunks. And rabbits. And snakes. So what? This is good. I do good.

These are the people I live with.

170905 Sarge family

The big-girl-I-love-the-most went away during the sunshine days. Then she came back. She spoke Italian. At least she said it was Italian. I don’t know what that is. The other dogs don’t know either. I was brave enough to ask them because I really wanted to know. I don’t think they like me.

 

The big-boy-who-makes-me-pee went away. Then he came back. He still makes me pee when he comes near, but I bite his ankles so he won’t know that I’m afraid.

The younger-boy-who-used-to-make-me-pee is now allowed to pat me. I’ve known him for 35 dog years and now it is time for him to rub my belly. But I still bite his ankles. I must make him afraid.

The man-I-bite-the-most still feeds me breakfast and cookies. I think if I bite him more, he will give me more. This is how it works.

They are all getting ready for the cold time. I know because they all have new shoes. The new shoes taste good. Pretty soon, life will be like this:

 

I can’t wait.

My New World of Hygge

It’s been about a week since my girrl headed out into the world into parts unknown, and by parts unknown I mean Italy, which has Wifi and other modern conveniences like FaceTime and WhatsApp. She has used these modern conveniences to post pictures of the charming medieval village where she lives: the gorgeous architecture, the cobblestone streets. So, we’ve been in touch and it turns out she’s okay. Happy even. Who saw that coming?

I have decided to follow her example and experiment with new life philosophy. This week I’ve chosen the Danish concept of Hygge, which, loosely translated, means that I should be 100 percent comfortable 100 percent of the time.

Luckily, this has been easily accomplished. I have simply gone out into the woodland garden and created spaces where I can lose myself in complete comfort. I have cleared brambles from beneath a blueberry tree to create a spot for my morning coffee.

19096083_10212891914395419_117491300_o

I’ve moved stones (sorry for the thunderstorms) to plant roses to enjoy while I take my mid-morning tea.

19204650_10212891913315392_8479149_o

I have enjoyed reading time (which may or may not have turned into nap time) here.

19179637_10212891902435120_2035596590_o

Or sometimes I switch things up and do some reading or restful contemplating here. Though Hygge advocates for the comfortably familiar, I want to be careful not to get too complacent. (Or maybe that’s missing the point. I don’t know. I’m new at this.)

19181778_10212891903675151_842799683_o

My late afternoon coffee is taken here, near my way-in-the-back vegetable garden, so I can meditate and tell the deer not to eat my spinach.

 

Or sometimes here, for a better view of the roses.

19179467_10212891913115387_2071913946_o

Late-night chamomile tea, taken to offset the late afternoon coffee, is enjoyed outdoors under the stars and the moonlight, which is not crazy at all, no matter what people say.

19179371_10212892149281291_4820488_o(1)

I’ve also made some lovely new friends, who also speak a language that I don’t understand.

In short, I have stopped at nothing to create a world in which I am always comfortable, all the time. I believe the complete and total physical comfort promised by Hygge is a worthy goal, and if I have to suffer poison ivy rashes, insect bites, burns, bumps and bruises to get it, then I’ll do what I have to do.

So you see? Though my girrl is far away, she’s still inspiring me. I’ve embraced a different culture and a new way of life right here in my very own back yard, thanks to her ambition and boldness.

19179534_10212892200082561_682695448_o

By the way, I’ve found Hygge to be exhausting. Next week I’ll try something else.

Time for an April Fool’s Snowstorm

Sorry. I’ve missed you. I took some time off from blogging to have some quiet time.Zen frog 2

I spent my quiet time being quiet, in the garden and in the greenhouse mostly, meditating and resting.

Also, I was on a treasure hunt for the cause of some weird health issues. The whole thing is not completely sorted out, but I’m on the mend after months of doctor visits and blood tests that left me looking like a boxer who punches solely with her inner elbows.

Also, I worked very hard at work, because I love it so much. When asked to take on an overload, I can’t resist and won’t say no. I know am blessed to feel this way.

Also, I wrote a series of nonfiction children’s books on the U.S. military, which I found to be challenging because military information is, by nature, classified and top secret. I learned some kind of gross things that didn’t make the final edits, but I can’t un-know them and they’re really fun and gross, trust me.

Okay, I see it now. My quiet time was not all that quiet, but it was quiet enough for me.

Now I’m back. I supposed there’s no better time celebrate the noise and chaos of a busy life than right before an April Fool’s snowstorm.

Elsie and Nick April snowstorm 2

This picture is from the last time we had an April Fool’s snowstorm. Elsie is a college graduate now and Nick is in his junior year at UConn. May it be that long before we have another one.

Happy Anniversary, Garden of Envy!

It’s been a year since I celebrated Father’s Day by going off by myself and enjoying a local garden tour.

BLOG GT roses at Jackie Marro's I want them

I saw things that filled me with envy: strawberry patches, flower beds, climbing roses, sun-dappled frog ponds. I wanted them all, and I’m pleased to say that following a year of dirty, itchy, back-breaking work, I now have them, but they come with a price.

The strawberry patch has brought with it a game of drama and suspense. The strawberries are delicious—when I’m allowed to eat them. The chipmunks swoop in and grab them just before I decide they’re ripe enough to pick. So far owl decoys have not worked. I’m thinking of installing a motion sensor security alarm.

160619_strawberry pink                     160619_strawberry red

 

160619_coneflowers2I love the flower beds. Love them. But they’re new, so they’re not yet yielding anything I’m willing to cut. In fact, I wonder if they’ll ever yield anything I’ll be willing to cut. I planted those seeds, watered them, nurtured them, talked to them (yes, I do this constantly; do with that information what you will) and I can’t imaging going at them with a scissors. So much for fresh cut flowers in the house. You can only see them if you go down the hill in my back yard and sit among them on the bench next to this little fairy.

160619_fairy      160619_honeysuckle

Oh, and the climbing roses. I wanted them so much. I’m so happy to finally have them. 160619_roseskyHere’s the thing though, they attract caterpillars. Caterpillars turn me into a barbarian.

Never before have I gone after a species with such violence. I step on them indiscriminately. I squeeze them with my bare hands. None are spared. I’ll take my life in my hands and climb to the top rung of the ladder to squish one single caterpillar. One. No leaf is worth sacrificing, and no caterpillar will be left behind. I look in the mirror after a killing spree and think, “Who am I?”

16MaygardendayfrogThe frog ponds are the best.

They started out as vernal pools. They were always there, filling up in the spring and emptying in the fall; I just never paid them much attention. Now that I’ve cleared paths around them and created places to sit, I see that they are frog ponds. Frog ponds!

The music is majestic. Come sundown in my back yard, you’ll hear the birds, crickets, and frogs all singing together. It’s gorgeous, and worth every thorn, poison ivy rash, and muscle sprain.

I’ve spent a year creating the Garden of Envy. Now it’s time to sit and enjoy it.