Our bullmastiff Lucy, pictured here in spring 2008, liked gnomes, too.
Ah, the New Year! Always such possibility and promise--a chance to begin again and renew, or at least to improve upon or update the old, like hitting the "reload current page" button on your Internet server. Sometimes the year takes a bit of getting used to. I don't always set resolutions but in the past few years the Cupcakes have been gathering to write lists of "Goals and Plans" of what we want to do differently, or be doing better. It doesn't hurt to write things down and, being the list maker that I am, in doing that I often surprise myself.
Here are mine (the ones I wish to publish, any way!). For 2009 I want to strive to:
- do what I can, in my own small way, to make the world--including my family and community--a better place to be
- spend more time with my children and husband (making things, being outdoors, farming, hiking, recreating)
- take time each day for spiritual reflection and renewal
- find a church that fits and a choir to sing in!
- be a better communicator (this involves more blogs, more hand-written notes and letters, the occasional phone call--yes, I have phone phobia--but also more actual visiting)
- carve out more time for writing (now that we've settled)
- spend less time on the computer (or at least more regimented time and less of it)
- read more (I read a lot but if I read more, I'm into media less)
- knit more this year
- keep up daily with the laundry piles, clutter and dust bunnies
- tackle family archives and photographs...at last
- make next Christmas almost entirely handmade or homemade
- try more recipes and create more dishes with vibrant colors (more recipes with vegetables and fruits...which sounds like the Talking Heads second album, More Songs About Buildings and Food...YES to that, too!)
- continue to reuse, recycle or adapt things and rely on less consumption of purchased things (produce more of our own food, consume less, buy local as much as possible)
- walk every day, even if sometimes only down the hill to the mailbox and back
- maybe learn to play the mandolin (if I can find someone who will teach me)
Our dear Lucy on moving day, December 28, 2007 ~ She had never left New Hampshire before and proved to be an excellent long-distance traveler. [Perhaps she is wondering where she is going and if she'll ever come back? Fortunately, we all had one last summer together again, along with our daughter, at our New Hampshire home before selling it in the fall.]
No matter where you go, there you are.
If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.
If you don't know where you are, you don't know who you are.
What more than you have so far learned will you need to know in order to live at home? (I don’t mean “home” as a house for sale.) If you decide, or if you are required by circumstances, to live all your life in one place, what will you need to know about it and about yourself?
Bellarmine University, 2007
I admire writers--like Kentucky native Wendell Berry--who come back to their family homeplace and stake a claim there and then work, tend, and write about their land. [The Cupcakes are reading Berry's novel Jayber Crow in January.] Sometimes you can go home again and sometimes you can't. It's a conflicting, often complicated, proposition. Berry has made a successful career of it--not only as a farmer but as a writer of essays, novels, and poetry. His countless essays on land stewardship, the environment and sustainable living have long been relevant. Now their time has come. [Or has it just come again? Or to fresh and eager ears?]
Louis Bromfield had many beloved boxers, some of whom are in this portrait that hangs at Malabar Farm in Mansfield, Ohio.
In 1938, Louis Bromfield, an established novelist and screenwriter, came home by returning to the rolling hills of Lucas County outside of his hometown of Mansfield, Ohio. There he constructed a new farm by gathering an assortment of old, run-out farmsteads and making them viable again. His writings about farming influenced an entire generation of back-to-the-landers, including my maternal grandparents. They fled Radburn, New Jersey in 1946 after the war and bought a New Hampshire farm where they had a produce and greenhouse business while raising their six children. Jane Brox did it by moving back, for a time, to her family farm in northeastern Massachusetts before tensions drove her away (but she claims she was ready to move on). Place affects who these writers are and their writing reflects their knowledge and kinship with their land.
We are reinventing that notion here in a new land, after leaving our former homeplaces well-tended, in good hands or in conservation easements. Thus, we have done what the pioneers would have done 150 or more years ago: coming to wilderness territory, knowing no one, wanting a new start, making a new claim, tilling up new soil. Perhaps this will be terra firma for our boys, a place for our grown daughter to rest on occasion, and a new family gathering spot for generations. I hope so. Who knew that I could shake up "my familiar" and actually like it?
I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.
If you haven't touched base with the blog recently, I have quite a few recent holiday posts. Just scroll down to read them.
Cheers and many blessings to you all,