The best investment you'll ever make . . .

Monday, January 31, 2011
Back in my college days, as the ever-muckraking news editor of the student newspaper, I had the chance to talk with the college president. We discussed a myriad of topics, including the rapidly rising cost of higher education. Is it really worth it, I wondered out loud. How could tuition prices climb by thousands of dollars every year? 

He admitted it was a lot money. (College tuition in the '00s consistently rose at a rate twice that of inflation.) Then he compared it to buying a house.

"Sure it's a lot of money up front," he said. "But you ultimately you realize: it's the best investment you'll ever make."

Considering that I now have a degree from a college that no one outside of northern Minnesota knows about, I think he might have been pulling my leg a little bit.

For instance:

At the end of last week, a home-owning friend called me up. "Um, what do you know about black mold?" she asked.

My mom called up before the latest snowfall. "If it snows and I have to shovel that driveway again, I swear . . . " she sputtered. .

And then last morning, Andy came home early to deal with the whole ice dam issue. 

Remember the ice dam on our roof that causes ice to drip down into our door frame? It flared up a couple weeks ago, but the cloudy mild days of late kept the dripping at bay. But yesterday dawned sunny and I woke up to the thunk, jiggle, and clunky sound of Andy attempting to open the frozen shut front door so he could leave for work. At mid-morning, when I open the door to check on the whole "inner door icicle" situation, the equivalent of a bucket of water rained down on me. I knew that morning shower was a waste of time!

Andy climbed onto the roof and started redirecting snow and ice.

I filled a couple thermos with hot water and threw them up on the roof to assist with the melting process.

I kept plugging away at my office work. Boots on. Ready to assist where necessary. In less than half an hour Andy had shoveled most of the snow off the roof and broken up a big portion of the ice. The icy drips coming from the door frame slowed and eventually, disappeared completely.

Oh a house. The best investment you'll ever make . . . but of what? Your time? Your worry?

Whatever we call our houses under our breath, at least they'll always be "Home Sweet Home."
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It's A Blizzard (well, sort of) . . .

Saturday, January 29, 2011
Blizzard  Bloghop 2010 hosted by Household 6 Diva

The snow started last night and blessed us with another inch or two of fluffy sparkles and this morning I just launched a snazzy new writer's website. What better time than the present to (re-)introduce myself as part of the Blizzard Bloghop?!

If you're new around these parts, I'm Ada, a twenty-something freelance writer, tucked away in northern Minnesota woods. I live the life many writers dream of. I spend my days sitting at a desk watching the sun rise and set over a scenic wilderness lake while writing articles and commentaries, working on creative prose of all sorts of lengths, blogging, and working as a small museum manager. Of course being 55 miles away from a grocery store or washing machine makes living the dream a little more complicated. The conundrum of  making a life out of woods and words is where the blog comes in . . .
I live with Andy and we spend a lot of our free time taking in the natural beauty that surrounds us. I love to travel and have lived in England and Ireland. I'm always up for a good road trip, or any trip for that matter. 

Around the cabin, we try to live as self-sufficiently as possible. If you've been around since this past summer, you already know all about my obsession with picking blueberries. We also garden and hunt and try to keep the freezers and shelves stocked with homemade food.
During the quiet winter evenings, I love to knit and read, as well as snuggle up with the Netflix du jour. I try to approach the world in an informed manner with a sense of humor. To me, life is about noticing and enjoying the little things: the colorful flock of birds at the feeder, a blueberry pie, or a sentence edited to death until it reads just right.

Now it's your turn. Leave me a comment, introduce yourself, and please, do come again!
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Have you met Miss Jones?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I can't really explain why I have such an affinity for Bridget Jones.

I don't smoke and I hate the taste of vodka. I like to think my streak of bad judgment with men has come to an end.

Still, something about her mildly defeatist personality, the fact that she never has quite the whole story before she takes drastic action, makes me think it could have just as easily been me falling out of a cab onto the street instead of her.   

And honestly, here, thousands of miles from Bridget's London flat, there are still days when I feel like doing this:  

It's not that I'm really all by myself in the cabin. Andy goes work and I do my thing all day: working, blogging, writing. Andy comes home, we tackle dinner and the dishes and more often than not snuggle up for the nightly Netflix. For the most part, I'm a creature of habit and a structured day after day routine suits me just fine.

There also days when the cabin walls seem to be creeping closer and closer together.
I remember how much I longed for this during the crazy summer months: the quiet, the solitude. And there's nothing I regret about spending these winter days typing away at the computer, gazing out on a sparkly winterscape, watching the sun rise in muted apricot hues and set in splendid raspberry skies. I'm safe here, in a calm, static nucleus of a crazy colorful world.

While my friends off getting advanced degrees, engagement rings, marriages, babies, houses, I'm just here in the woods with a steady job, no significant travel plans, and a new retirement fund. Things plod along steady like and secure as can be, yet hardly a day goes by when it doesn't feel like I'm missing something. There's deep inconvenience to this life in the woods, one that makes sharing in others' triumphs difficult and distant. There are times when phone calls with friends just don't cut it.  

Each invitation to an event or celebration means juggling schedules, worrying about weather, and pounding hundreds of miles of pavement. There's no popping over to friend's house for happy hour. Even the Thursday trips into town for trivia have become a thing of the past with our increased distance from town.

It's easy to feel left out.

Yet, I remember the words of Nick Drake's song, "Road": You can take a road that takes you to the stars now. I can take a road that'll see me through.
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Wordless Wednesday: Scenes from -30F.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
When the thermometer says this:

You should only go outside looking like this:

It's a good idea to make the "hottest" dish you know (Chiang-Mai Noodles):

You should recognize you're not the only one feeling rather chilled:

It's also a good time to don the biggest, most ill-fitting wool sweater you've got:

But do try not to run around ala Colin Firth in Love Actually yelling "@#(*)%! it's freezing!" We already know that.
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Because Video Didn't Kill the Radio Star

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
If Andy had it his way, we would never turn off the radio in the cabin. I structure my Saturdays around listening to Car Talk and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, and I try to catch This American Life, The Splendid Table, and Marketplace Money as well. We don't have a t.v. (just Netflix) so we depend on both the local community radio station and NPR to supply our daily dose of news. Radio was an important component of my childhood and it remains important to me to this day.

The U.S. Congress has recently  introduced not one, not two, but three bills to cut federal funding for the country's public broadcasting services. These services reach out to approximately 170 million Americans every month.

Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn, one of the movers and shakers behind these bills, seems to view public broadcasting as archaic and has stated: The original purpose of federal funding for CPB in 1967 is no longer relevant. The intent of federally-funded public broadcasting was to make “telecommunications services available to all citizens of the United States.” Today, over 99 percent of Americans own a TV and over 95 percent have access to the Internet. In a world of 500-channel cable TV, streaming radio over the Internet, and cell phone Internet access, government-funded broadcasting is completely unnecessary.

As a resident of a rural area, about half of his argument above doesn't pertain to life around here. I can't stream radio over the internet. We don't have cell phone service. And somehow, having all my news come to via private news organizations, like, oh, I don't know, FOX, doesn't seem like the best idea. 

Remember that line from John Mayer's song "Waiting on the World to Change?" Because when they own the information, oh, they can bend it all they want.  

If we remove all venues for unbiased reporting, like NPR and local independent broadcasting services, that means all our information will come to us through a glass darkly. As a writer, I find the prospect of living in a world where objectivity is unnecessary and fact checking "a waste of time" down right terrifying. As educated citizens, we desire to know both sides of the story before we make up our minds and opinions. It  is our responsibility as free-thinkers to foster as many forums for thought as possible. We should have the opportunity to blog, and write letters to the editor, and pen radio commentaries to our heart's content.

If you feel radio is an important part of your daily life, I encourage you to join me in the 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting campaign.This is not plea for your personal monies (let's be honest, we heard enough of those pleas from public broadcasting) and the campaign promises to treat your personal information with care and integrity. This is your chance to stand up and be counted as a public broadcasting beneficiary. If you learned your alphabet from Sesame Street, if you tune into the local radio station for weather alerts, this is a campaign for you.

After all, public broadcasting has always been about making your voice heard.
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Dear Netflix . . .

Monday, January 24, 2011
Dear Netflix,

I think it's time you and I had a little chat. In this mutually dependent relationship we share, things have grown strained. I've started to wonder if I could make it through the winter evenings without you, while you've been making some assumptions about me that I find uncomfortable. Frankly: you think you know me, but you have no idea.

It really was charming of you to recommend Secretary given my past administrative assistant experience (and because I happen to love Stranger than Fiction). I really like that you're trying to suggest movies that appeal to my whole person. However, I believe you and I have very different idea of what's normally involved in the daily life of an administrative assistant. (FYI: it's not really very PC to call us secretaries anymore.) 

I can assure that during my administrative assistant career, I did all of my typing on a computer; dressed in appropriate, if not inspired, business casual; answered the phone with acceptable competency (although sometimes it did take me 1/2 a second to realize where I was . . . 2, or was 3?, straight years of temping will do that to a person); and never once had a self-destructive, sexual-charged, sadomasochistic employer/employee relationship. Needless to say, I was a little shocked when I sat down to watch the flick you so wholeheartedly recommended.

I mean, what the hee-haw? There are things in that film that made me want to scrub my retinas with steel wool. Seriously, if I get up halfway through the movie to clean the boiled-over yuckiness up from underneath the stove burners, I think we can all agree that this was not "another movie I might enjoy." For the record, I did not <3 this.

Also, I've noticed a disturbing trend that because of my affinity for British films, you seem to think I should also enjoy Parisian flicks as well. Now let's just hold on here. This seems like a pretty big leap.

While I did study the French language for 3 years, I remember next to nothing about the language today. As an Anglophile, I'm secretly thrilled that my native tongue is English. Also, the one time I was in Paris, I had food poisoning. While you think you're recommending movies about the most romantic city in the world, I think you're trying to taunt me with nauseous memories about the city I puked all over.

(Does this really look like a happy memory to you?)

I'm glad you're taking past experiences into account when making your recommendations, but until you have the full back story, I think it's more important for you to remember that I don't really care for films which push my moral and intellectual boundaries. I will always be happy with the fluffiest chick flick you have. If you can squeeze Hugh Grant or Colin Firth (preferably: both) into the film all the better.


Thanks for listening.

Your otherwise super-satisfied customer,
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Comfort Me With Oatmeal

Friday, January 21, 2011
I'm either getting good at managing my time or else the stars magically aligned, but this past Wednesday was the first day, in dare I say, months (?) when neither Andy or I had anything in particular that needed doing or any place that needed getting to. While we parleyed about going ice fishing, it seemed like an awful long walk. (Fyi, we can see the portage to the lake we're heading to from the cabin's living room.) Andy pulled the salted minnows out of the freezer, sat down on the couch, and didn't get back up.

By the time 2 o'clock rolled it was clear that we weren't going anywhere. And that was okay. A double batch of spaghetti sauce was burbling in the crock pot, the sun was shining and we'd spent the morning picking up around the cabin.

"I wish you could blog about how good it smells in the cabin right now," Andy said.

While the smell of fennel, basil, oregano and tomatoes was just fine and dandy, I need something more to truly achieve the "zen-ish" day we had going on.

Ruth Reichl says "Comfort me with apples." I say: comfort me with oatmeal. I can not imagine a calmer, more comforting food than oatmeal. In Madeleine L'Engle's Meet the Austens, Mother always had a pot of oatmeal in the double boiler waiting for the kids as a snack when they got home from school. How cozy is that?

Since coming back from NYC I've fostered a very unoriginal love for the Magnolia Bakery and was charmed to get their cookbook for Christmas. I must say, at first glance, the recipes are less than thrilling. There's nothing crazy or terrible innovative about the recipes but both recipes I tried so far have turned out wonderfully and taste a lot more exciting than they look on paper. It's just good ol' simple, delicious baking. Imagine my excitement yesterday when I found a recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Almond cookies in the cookbook that I had all the ingredients to.

In no time at all, the smell of almondy, buttery, vanillay, oatmealy goodness was mingling in the air with tomato sauce.
Now that's comfort in one compact package.

Happy Friday to all!

P.S. It did get darn cold last night. We woke up to about -35F this morning. And just remember, that'sbefore wind chill. ;)  
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If I hear "wind chill factor" one more time . . . .

Thursday, January 20, 2011
There's some chilly weather headed Minnesota's way: today's forecast calls for a high of 0F and a low around -24F. And that's before wind chill folks.

The Twin Cities media (and to a certain extent, the local media too) have been freaking out about the impending cold weather. As per usual, the wind chill factor is blown way out of proportion. For one thing, it hasn't been a windy winter. And for another thing, why are we so very keen to make it sound 10 - 20 degrees colder than it actually is?

On Tuesday night, Andy pulled himself up from a sleepy daze on the couch and yelled at the radio "If I hear 'wind chill factor' one more time. . . ."

Since we've already hit -30F three nights so far this winter, no one around here is terribly, dear I say, interested in the chilly forecast. Winter is winter is winter. Once you get into the minus 0 temps, it's just plain cold. Make sure the firewood's stacked high and make sure you're bundled tight before you head out the door and you'll be all right. It's just business as usual during a Minnesota winter.

Over at Mama Kat's, people are posting what winter looks like in their neck of the woods. I know you've all seen plenty of snowy pictures, but here's the northern Minnesota winter in review so far.

Out in the first 6 inches of snowfall this season

It all started on November 13th. For some reason, I thought the first snow had come on November 15th and was shocked(!) to find it actually started coming down on the evening of November 13.That means we're already in our 10th week of a winter wonderland. 

Even after the first foot of snow settled in for the long haul, we still had to wait another 2-3 weeks for the bay outside the cabin to completely ice over.

Now it's hard to believe there was ever open water outside our window. Let me tell you, it's a lot faster trip out to island now than in July.

I've never been winter's biggest cheerleader, but there's no denying there have been some spectacular moments. 

It offers a chance to participate in all sorts of once a year activities like snowshoeing,

heading home from ice fishing trips.
There's a big ol' winter wonderland out there.

A winter wonderland that's not planning to go away, anytime soon.
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Wordless Wednesday: Birds of a Feather

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
flock together. . . .
 If you have a Wordless Wednesday post, please consider becoming a follower of "Of Woods and Words" and link up below!

This neck of the woods has always been a haven for an assortment of characters who just wouldn't quite fit into the mainstream life. One such character was a man named Al who became so good at popping by your house just as you were sitting down to supper that he earned himself the nickname, Al "the man who came to dinner."

I think our little pine marten friend has started to turn into "the (furry) man who came to dinner." From now on, I shall call him Al. 

Ah, the freeloading life is the good life.

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You Can Do It, I Can Help . . .

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Time, time, time . . .see what's become of me . . .

I hear this a lot from people who think they might have a book hiding inside of them or who think they like to pocket it a little extra cash by penning a freelance article. "How," they ask, "How do you make time to write?"

The simple answer to is that writers don't make time to write.  Nobody does. There's no secret elfin factory manufacturing extra hours to the day. (But if there was, no doubt, the elves would chip away at hours and minutes and seconds and days in a tree like this.) We're all given 168 hours each week. How we spend that time is up to us. It's a choice. (Unless of course, you're my friend Sarah who's an auditor and works crazy hours this time of year. If you have a job which swallows your life whole, this time management post is not for you.)

Let's make something clear here: I am by no means the model student when it comes to allotting all the time I could to my writing pursuits. Like everyone else, I'm easily distracted.

But all that wondering about how to become a writer, all that waiting around for the magic key, kind of reminds me of that Mary Oliver quote: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

If you're really serious about being a writer, you need to at least put writing on your to-do list. And then, theoritically, you will do some writing and check it off the list. 

If you haven't noticed, I'm a big fan of to-do lists.I make pretty elaborate to-do lists for each week and am frequently disappointed when Saturday afternoon rolls around and I haven't checked off half of the things on the list. Because here's the issue: I fashion to-do lists with so many items that run the whole gamut of my lifestyle, when I looked at the long list I would get overwhelmed and inevitably I chose the task which requires the least effort on my part. 

Then last week I tried out a tip I found in the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens: only put two or three things on your daily to-do list. You have to select the very most important things you need to get done in the day (namely, anything you get paid to do) and anything you feel guilty about not getting done, like that writing project. Make each tasks as specific as possible. Don't say "start writing novel." Instead write "outline chapters 1-3." You can't list making supper, hauling in wood, checking the mail or whatever other everyday tasks you're bound to do anyway. (I do however have to list "exercise" on my task list.) I still keep the weekly to-do list and then divvy up my tasks in little bite-sized chunks each day. Let me tell you, it felt really good checking off things on two separate lists and having a completely accomplished weekly to-do list last Saturday evening.

Try it out. If you can wiggle writing time into those few all important tasks you need done each day, you might be pleased at how the words start piling up on the page.
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The Secret Life of Hairdryers

Monday, January 17, 2011
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man (or woman) in possession of a good house in northern Minnesota must be in want of a hairdryer.


Well certainly not for drying hair.

Personally, I try to limit my wet hair's encounters with a hairdryer for a couple reasons. For one thing, I see no reason to use the energy it takes to operate a blow dryer when ever-abundant air gets my hair dry in a good 4-12 hours after I hop out of the shower. Also, when I use a blow dryer, I kind of end up looking like Mariah Carey, circa 1998 VH1 Divas Live.

So, no, the secret life of hairdryers has nothing to do with self-beautification. (Did you really expect beauty tips from the girl who thinks plunking eyebrows is some modern spawn of medieval torture?)

No, around these parts, hairdryers are necessary because things like this happen:

 I spent my waking moments on Saturday morning, clad in my pajamas and robe, crouched in the cabin's open doorway, using a hairdryer to melt the ice (and icicles) that had formed overnight on the threshold and on the screen door. We have an ice dam on the roof which is causing the roof's melting snow to run down the side of the cabin (instead of dripping off the eaves) and in between the door frame.

While, I'm a big fan of icicles . . .

they're a big problem when they start forming where they shouldn't.

As I watched the ice melt away under the heat of the hair dryer on Saturday morning, I couldn't help but recall the first hair dryer my family bought. In my teenage years, my brother, father, and I maintained a small ice rink, 28 x40', in our backyard. We resurfaced the rink about twice a week and the process included either my brother or I heading down to the basement and using a hairdryer to thaw out the pipe which ran to the outside spigot. It worked like a charm every time. No doubt about it, those hairdryers are handy tool for every backwoods man to have in their arsenal.

In all seriousness, the ice dam is not a "haha" issue but an "oh @!$*%&" issue. It's resolution will require more than just a reckoning with a hairdryer. But until Andy has time to get up on the roof (or until we hire a professional to deal with it), you don't need to worry about me: I've got my hairdryer.
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In the Technology Free Zone

Friday, January 14, 2011

On a daily basis, the low-tech cord phone gets used more frequently

I have a friend who gets a little nervous whenever she drives through a national forest and loses cell phone reception. She worries about if something happened and she wasn't able to call for help.

When I start the drive out of town and towards the cabin, cell phone service peters out after about five miles. For the next 50 miles, I can depend only on me and commonsense (and lots of helpful neighbors) to get me home safe and sound. And the thing is . . . most of us like it this way.

Whenever cell service is purposed for up here, usually about half the residents get all up in arms about it. The general attitude about cell phone service in the area seems to be that a great host of cell phones will descend from the heavens . . . and ruin everything! I think it's probably only a matter of time (like a decade or so) before cell phones are part of daily life up here, but for now, the general argument residents give against having cell phones is that, as a region driven by tourist industry, people come here "to get away from it all" and cell phones defeat that purpose. The vast majority of rental cabins up here don't offer televisions either. We kind of like to impose our lifestyle on others. 

While the majority of my phone calls are made on an old touchtone from 1970 with a cord that allows me to move in three foot circle while on it, I do have a cell phone. I use the phone when I'm in town or when traveling. It's on the cheapest plan you can get when you sweet-talk Verizon.  (They're pretty reasonable about it when they realize you only use your phone for eight minutes every month.)

I often forget how ubiquitous cell phones are. Several times last summer I would give someone a telephone number, expecting them to use it when they got back to their cabin, only to have them whip out their cell phones and start doing the "do I have service here" interpretative dance.  "Oh no, I'm sorry," I'd have to say. "That's not going to work here." Actually that's not completely true. You can often pick up a cell signal from Canada, but let me tell you, international cell phone rates are expensive! And how many times did I have to tell people heading out into the Boundary Waters that their phone probably wasn't going to work out there. So how about not twisting your ankle on that portage, eh?

I wonder if we've turned something meant as a convenient tool into a bit of crutch. I certainly don't view cell phones are harbingers of the apocalypse, but I do think there are benefits to living your life as though help isn't just a phone call away.

The news earlier this week that Verizon and iPhone have partnered, kind of went over my head. I have slowest thumbs in the west. I probably couldn't figure out how to answer your phone if you asked me to. All that flipping and sliding and shaking and you can take pictures on this thing too, oh boy! What a complicated world of teeny, tiny screens we've crafted for ourselves!

Life without cell phones suits me fine, but the thought of not having our satellite internet (which has wonky bandwidth requires and will soon be replaced by high speed fiber optic option, oh please, oh please, oh please make that replacement come soon) makes me shudder. Technology is everywhere. What we can and can't do without depends upon how we structure our days and our lives. 

How would you feel without a cell phone?
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Thursday, January 13, 2011
So much for getting 2011 sorted out. The intrepid winter warriors (Andy and Andrew) returned from their winter camping trip a day early, arriving at the cabin Tuesday evening, ready for chili and the last pieces of Sunday's blueberry pie.
In the 30 short hours they were gone, I'd gotten quite comfortable in my temporary singlehood: it's amazing how quickly you can revert to eating at random hours, getting a ton of work and writing done, you know, doing your own thing. Still, I wasn't surprised or disappointed to see the two trekkers out of the woods early. But I did know it meant all those plans I'd made for Tuesday evening and Wednesday proper were going to need amending.

So yesterday proved an impromptu day off, one which involved a run to town for groceries and supplies and afternoon ice fishing adventures. With blue skies above us, temperatures in the high teens and a mostly packed trail before us, we hiked into a Boundary Waters lake and set up shop.

Let's be honest, staring at this for an extended period of time kind of has a finite amount of fun packed into it. After about fifteen minutes, feet start to get antsy, hands grow a little cold and even the lake hole itself starts to ice over. Luckily, there were plenty of distractions.
Aircraft aren't allowed to fly over the Boundary Waters. (Well, they are, but they need to be way up in the air.) So we were surprised to see this helicopter flying very low and very deliberately about the area. Probably the DNR doing moose surveys.
There was also this cliff right behind our ice fishing operation which I thought I ought to climb up.
But about 2/3rds of the way to the top of the cliff, I ran into an obstacle. The hike had turned into rock climbing, or what I assumed was rock climbing. In actuality, the snow had packed itself into thick ledges which I could clamor over with some success. However, when I finally ran out of hand holds, I had to concede that this was not going to be the way I was getting to the top of the cliff. At about the same time, the snow under my foot remembered it wasn't supported by any physical feature. It let go and I slid 10 feet backward down the cliff side, coming to an abrupt stop in the crooks of a cedar tree.

All I could see was this, a filtered view of the lake below through the tree tops. And I was nursing a big knob of a bruise on the back of my thigh from my not-so-soft landing on a broken off branch. Undeterred, I soldiered on. I headed back down to the lake ice and tried the route to the top of the cliff on the other side of the cliff.  It was a lot easier going the other way -- just a hike up a hill. But when I finally got to the top, it seemed like you could see forever.
You can make plans, but that doesn't mean you'll keep them. You can set out to climb a cliff, but sometimes you have to come down and try it from a different angle. 

P.S. Speaking of owls like we were yesterday, Jenn over at Rook No. 17 whipped up some cute Valentine's Day owls. Definitely worth a peek!
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Wordless Wednesday: Things Get Owly

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
It must have started with the pumpkin we carved for Halloween last October, but lately things have been a little owly around the cabin.

Remember, when I headed over to the nearby environmental learning center before Christmas? My friend Kati is a grad student at the center and is certified to handle the two owls who live at the center.

We got to meet Hunter, the Great-Horned,
and Arcadia, the pint-sized Saw Whet. She's missing a eye, because she was hit by a car in the Twin Cities area and had to have the eye amputated. Luckily she survived and now she's able to help educate people about owls. (Hunter also has injuries that wouldn't allow him to survive in the wild.)

Then on Monday, we found this little fluff ball (another Saw-Whet) taking a morning snooze in the cedar trees near our bird feeder area. 

When it's the middle of January, we're all bound to have a few "owly" moments.
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Back in the Saddle Again

Tuesday, January 11, 2011
This is me, pretending to be thrilled to be riding Traveler. Ireland 2005

Yesterday, my 2011 day planner showed up in the mail. While this fact in and of itself proves that I'm not totally on board with the 2011 concept just yet, but I was still surprised when I flipped open the planner to this week and realized  . . . we're already approaching the middle of January and, consequently, my middle of January writing deadlines. Wha?!

I feel like January has somehow sneaked in the back door of my life and hasn't bothered to check in at the front desk.

Anyone else feeling like this?

Personally, I blame the holidays. Don't get me wrong, I loved the holidays 2010 style. They were a ton of fun. (Maybe a little too fun?) But I think I contracted something which is referred to as "the Itis" over at the Writer's Den. You know: the "I ate way too much and have spent too much time running around like mad woman" blahs.The "I can't even think about taking down Christmas decorations yet" crazies. Of course, promptly  followed by the "If I don't take down these Christmas decorations soon, I'm going to go crazy" sentiments. 

So yesterday, I welcomed a return to my normal freelance writing life with open arms. Plugging away on one project for a few hours, doing an interview for this article, frantically scribbling a fiction idea onto a Post-It note after I got back from checking the mail.*ahhh* I heaved a huge sigh of relief. At long last, normality!

Last week, I mentioned that I don't do resolutions, but I make goals. Especially when it comes to the writing life. Perhaps no other path in life can evoke more floundering than one like the freelancing writing life where you're completely in charge of your own destiny. It's like that saying my boss at the canoe outfitters used to tell canoeists who didn't think they needed a map: "If you don't have a map you're actually lost; you just don't know it yet." I need yearly writing goals or else I'm apt to sit down at my desk every morning and turn on my computer and fritter away the morning on Facebook "liking" things. Let me tell you, "liking" things does not the bills pay.

Luckily, the mail today also brought not only my 2011 planner, but also the latest issue of Writer's Digest and a copy of The Productive Writer. Just what I need: a gentle nudge in the derriere to spend some time really thinking about writing and getting on paper a set of writing goals for 2010 that will look as faded and tired as last year's goals when Jan. 2012 rolls around.

I'm looking forward to getting down to business, making a plan for 2011 that I can stick with, and getting back in the saddle again.

Has everyone else got a firm hold on the reins of 2011? What are you hoping to accomplish this year -- writing or otherwise?
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