how do I know it is time…

How do I know it is time? What internal alarm clock wakes me from the sleep of routine to consider another day, another way, another world?

I want to rearrange my room. For the past seven years it has been static, arranged around the huge floor to ceiling bookshelf Dennis built me, seven years ago. This bookcase occupies the only wall in the room long enough and tall enough to handle the bulk.

There is, and has been, this urge to change. One major huge bookcase, three smaller, fold up bookcases, a desk, a chair, a bed, a rocking chair, a footstool (file box), a printer stand (file cabinet) and two magazine racks  compete for space in this room. Last fall I eliminated one bookcase (now in the basement) and another file cabinet.

This morning Dennis and I sat at the kitchen table and talked about many things. We discussed selling the house, what it was worth, how we felt about this place we have spent, respectively, over forty and over twenty-five years. Memories, attachments, collections, likes and dislikes. We talked about what we need in a dwelling place, what we could live without, what is important, how we can make it work. Why we feel we need to take on this permanent change. What steps we have to take to make a major, life disrupting change in our routines.

Will we move overseas? Probably. Will we sell the house and everything in it. Yes, if it comes to that. Will we miss our safe, quiet, comfortable place in the country? Possibly, but we are ready to see what else is out there.  Will we regret our choice? We won’t know that until we make one. Do we need to take this chance? I think we do.

So that room that needs to be rearranged. I think the alarm has sounded loud and clear. It is time to downsize, clear out, and minimize. I am going to start with the books. All those lovely book spines I look at everyday. All those lovely books of essays, stories, and poems I haven’t opened in years, but remember vaguely in some cases, vividly in others. All those books and authors I have collected with the intention of reading at some point. All those important books I should open, read, and consider but can’t find the block of time I need to do justice to the wisdom within.

When something becomes more burden, more habit, more prop than potential it is time to make room, lighten the load, and open the space. Instinctively I know what books I need to keep, I know when I am reading what I need to read, and I know those books will come to me as I need them. The rest, those read and still unread are just conveniences, possibilities waiting for my eyes to catch the title, my hand to pull one from the shelves and my fingers to open the pages, always with the hope called maybe. Do I really need  four bookcases of maybes?

Maybe it is time to stop hoping for the right book, the right place, the right opportunity and just get out there and pursue something fleeting and risky. That alarm ringing in my mind seems to indicate it is time to wake up, make a change in staisis, do something drastically different.

Books and bookcases for sale. It is a start.



Everything in a box

When we went on family vacations when I was a child each of us got a cardboard box for our clothes and everything else we wished to bring along on the trip.  Each person had a single box.  Clothes got top priority in the boxes, but after that we could put anything in the box as long as the box could be closed.  I always added books to my box.  Lots of books.

Now, no longer a child, I still have a box I can fill when we go on vacation.  The box is the back part of the cab of the pickup truck.  Only thing is I have to share it with Dennis. Still it is a pretty good-sized box (extended cab).  It will be stuffed to the ceiling when we leave.  Somewhere along the line leaving home for two weeks got very complicated.  It’s not just clothes and books anymore.  Although books are important, there is so much other stuff we “need.”  Like camera equipment, computers, smart phones, battery chargers and extra hard drives. We will have food and coffee and extra shoes and boots and rain gear and the “tool” box and bungy cords and rope and flashlights and …this is not an expedition; we are going to North Dakota.

I’ll bring my pillow.  Sorry, I don’t like sleeping on other people’s pillows.  I’ll bring two or three current knitting projects. I’ll bring extra socks and more clothes than I will need.  And, although reluctant to admit it, I will bring books.

Remember the Kindle I bought to carry with me when I travel?  The one that holds 3,500 books?  I’ll pack it.  The smart phone with the kindle ap on it will go too.  And so will (so far) four books of poetry and a toss away trade paperback.  So much for traveling lighter.  I get the irony.

It’s getting harder and harder to leave the world behind.  It has gotten so portable, so convenient.  So much of it will fit in a box.

I’m packing up and heading out

It’s raining, it is the first day of spring.  The tulips and daffodils are up in the flower beds around the sunroom.  The rabbits are eating the tulips.  The tulips will prevail.  No one likes the taste of allium.  There is mud everywhere and dog shit and the driveway is squishy and slick and there are patches of green grass but the ground is still frozen.  Robins, eagles, a hawk or two, flying about the skies.  The winter birds have abandoned the feeders; probably defending their nests from the returning snow birds who don’t tough it out in this northern climate. They will settle it raucously.  Yea, spring.

I have spent the last week preparing for today’s adventure.  Ist Annual Flock Party to occur from 1-4 today at Open Book.  I’ve got boxes full of stuff to load into the truck.  I’ve got a stop at the bakery for tasty treats, another at the grocery store for healthy snacks, another at the office supply store for paper (how can one possibly have a flock party without paper?) and then finally that last long bit of the ride to downtown Minneapolis.

This is all new to me, hosting a party, trying to generate interest in art and books and publically declaring my fascination, obsession really, of all things made of and on paper.  I might just have to write a poem about paper.  But first I have to prepare for the party.

I slept well last night, surprisingly well, considering I am usually a nervous wreck about these social things- no one will show up, I will say the wrong thing, I will run out of paper…

But this time, for the first time, I know I have prepared as best I can, I plan to have fun, and I am not going to second guess myself or my purpose.  This is supposed to be fun, a celebration of creativity, something we all have and don’t recognize often enough.

So, to all the birds making nests in the kiwi over the deck, the rabbits evicted from the brush pile in the woods and the raccoon not yet in the bole of the maple tree, its spring, time to get on with it as best you can.    It’s sort of what creativity is all about- day-to-day trying and then trying again until you reach your goal.

Goal for today: have fun, celebrate creation.

Only silly sally dilly dallies

No time! No time!

A week into the new year and I still feel like it’s last year.  Nothing significant has happened, nothing astounding has occurred, nothing but wasted time and circling the projects that need to be started.  What?  I need a sign from above?  Permission to proceed?

It changes today.  No resolutions, what a farce!, just getting down to business and concentrating effort and energy where I want to see progress.

It might be the two cups of coffee this morning, but I am ready to roll.  Stand aside, I am moving forward.

I think I’ll start by getting dressed.

Sunday stroll

I have lived in the area nearly thirty years and Sunday I finally got to the top of Barn Bluff.  Dennis and I were joined by two young and enthusiastic photographers for a morning assault at the bluff and a few other areas of photographic interest around Red Wing.

We began our day at the Blue Moon coffee shop where a single waitperson attempted to fulfill our caffeine needs as well as the needs of a dozen or so early morning risers on her own.  Lily’s, wisely, doesn’t open until 10 on Sundays.  We were in town at 8.  From downtown we headed out to Bay Point Park and Marina to check the early morning river mist.  As Dennis explained, the most common photographs taken in Red Wing often include shots of the boat houses at Bay Point.

boat houses

I liked the ducks.


From Bay Point we headed down to the park on the other side of the bluff, Colvill Park.  More river shots, a parked barge on the river, the local garden club flower beds and just about anything else that looked interesting.  The shutters were fluttering at the park.  I spent most of my time at the flower beds.  But I did get one good shot of the river and barge.

back water barge

The monarchs got most of the attention in the flower gardens.

monarch lunch

It was mid morning before we got to the base of Barn Bluff, a curbless stretch of city street near the old NSP steam plant.  The steam from the plant on a winter’s day can be seen from highway 35 in Wisconsin, about half way down Bay City Hill.  The Izaac Walton Park is next to the Steam Plant and just down the road is the Water Treatment plant.  It is not the best area of Red Wing, unless you want to climb the bluffs.

The original trail up to the bluff top consisted of cement steps from main street up the north side of the bluff.  When the new highway 63 bridge across the Mississippi was built, most of the stairs were dismantled and used on the south end of the bluff, and through out the park.

After checking the map which listed interesting things like old quarries, tunnel and north view, we decided to take the north trail.  Actually I decided, and my companions graciously did not remind me of it.

The north trail is narrow, shaded, wet, slippery, buggy and long.  It is scary in spots, especially the last half where the trail is the verge of the cliff and all that is between you and a long slide down the side is the tread on your shoes.  It was an interesting walk.  If you wish to rock climb, the north trail does lead to the old quarry site where we found many sets of rock climbers going up the side of the cliff.  The path to the quarry is not as scary as the path past the quarry.  We never did find that tunnel.

We did get to the north side of the bluff and saw the river and Red Wing spread out below us.  It is an impressive view.  The men stayed at the lookout while I went up the prairie for some candid shots.

lesson on the bluff

From Right to left: Travis Johnson, Eric Steele and Dennis Newton.

We found walking up the bluff hot, tiring,and appetite building.  The walk down, along the wider, drier, sunnier south side of the bluff was faster.  Lunch was at Lilys Cafe.  Dessert was at the Smiling Pelican Bakery in Maiden Rock.  Passion Fruit Pie was consumed in the garden before we moved on to Pine Creek and the American Legion Grounds for more photographing.

I convinced Eric to do some wading in the spring fed Pine Creek.  I also got my feet wet, on purpose, trying to get the best angle to shoot the creeks path.  water dance

The DNR and Nature Conservancy now own the creek from the Legion Picnic Grounds almost all the way to the river.  They are busy restoring the creek banks and removing some of the brush trees from what once was cattle pasture.  The spring at the side of the road is still there in its own little green grotto.  I plan to go back for more photographs in the near future.

But it was late in the afternoon so we headed down to Stockholm and along the lake to Pepin and finally ended up in our back yard.  The younger members of the expedition continued to photograph in the yard while Dennis and I relaxed on the deck.  Eric and Travis left before sunset with plans to stop back in Red Wing and get photographs of the river at sunset.  Their photographs of the day are showing up on their face book pages.  I will be posting a few of Dennis’ photographs (with his permission) on my page as well.

It was interesting to watch and see how other people view their surrounding, what they find interesting enough to photograph.  Eric and Travis’ photographs of our yard were surprising.  They found things to photograph that I take for granted, seeing them every day. It was good to take a fresh look at the commonplace.  And I finally got to the top of Barn Bluff.  It was another excellent adventure.