One of the biggest cues that winter is ending is the emergence of the Spring Peepers. When you have a lake in your back yard, sometimes they can be so loud they make it hard to fall asleep at night. Most folks, when they hear that first “peep,” they think that spring has sprung.
But I know — the peepers always freeze twice.
It’s been about a month since we heard the first peep around here, and two weeks ago, there was a spread of snow. Then, we had warm days with rain, hail, thunder — all a small taste of spring. I planted seeds, inside and out. The hens began laying again. Crocus bloomed, forsythia bloomed, daffodils bloomed.
But last night the peepers were silent, and this morning — there’s snow.
As much as I would like to think we’d be delivering the April issue along sunny roadways with the windows down, I realize that’s not the weather predicted for the upcoming week. And though the Vernal Equinox has passed, I know the loading docks at the printer in Parkersburg tomorrow will feel as windy and cold as pick up in January.
The new T-shirts I ordered for Frank and I to wear on delivery sport our logos and a new promotion arrived yesterday. Looks like they’ll be pulled on over thermal shirts and hidden beneath coats all week. Bummer.
The arrival of spring is a month filled with disappointments — because once we start seeing the signs, we have higher expectations of sunshine, warm breezes and open-toed shoes. But I have learned not to get my hopes too high, and to leave the electric blanket on the bed.
I may switch from snow boots to rubber boots for yard work, but I know to keep the wool socks handy.
I clip daffodil blossoms and forsythia branches, and bring them inside to put in water.
Because the peepers always freeze twice.
I do a lot of planning in the winter. It’s my routine. I spend that cold indoors season planning out projects for the spring and summer. Usually, come spring, I’m off and running.
But this year, when time came to put all those plans into action, I got sidetracked by – The 2010 Census. I applied (who couldn’t use a federal paycheck) and besides, I needed a break from my life — a life I should have been appreciating more, a life that should have had some kind of direction.
But, I was tap dancing. Garden plans were easy to work through – manual labor, in many cases, requiring little mental focus. But my writing, publishing, business goals — I just wasn’t focused.
I love being a publisher — but I’m still new at it. Meanwhile, the venues and outlets for publishers grows and grows every day: facebook, twitter, blogging, video, ebooks, photo stories, the options seem endless.
Meanwhile, I have discovered that my goals as a publisher — whatever they be — do not align with my needs as a writer. I write three regular pieces each month for Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine, and I feel that is more than enough for each issue, for sure. But, there are other things I want to write about that aren’t columns, aren’t “articles.”
I started Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine so I could learn with our readers. After three years of learning and educating myself though — I’m feeling that need to do some teaching with my words. I’ve been studying culinary and healing herbs — from seed to skillet or herbal tea or tincture — and have never found many books or resources that organizes the information the way I would. I hope to soon be publishing some eFiles (white papers, special reports, ebooks – whatever you want to call them) that shares the information in a more practical way.
Frank and I have also sacrificed our travels and travel writing for our garden and our magazine. Our camping gear is dusty and disorganized, but I feel a trip coming in the next 30 days. It’s been too long, and I have my new little Olympus camera to play with. I’m sure we’re going to Audra State Park (which we’ve covered several times before because it is our ultimate favorite place) but we’ve never taken video, we’ve never blogged about it, and we’ve been away for far too long.
None of this did I realize though, until I put it on the backburner, behind the 2010 Census. I worked exactly 53 days for the census before I resigned. I was trained, trained others, and coordinated CLD 105 until all the Assignment Binders were complete. I started with 18 active crew members, and the day I left, there were four left to wrap up the details. They didn’t need me any more — and the garden did.
The moment I turned in my notice of resignation, all my other plans and projects and ideas came into focus. Just as I was beginning to think my plans for a local community market would have to wait another year — our site location was approved. Research and development I was struggling to understand jumped out at me from the pages of a new book – clear as day. Herb seeds, tossed out in the early spring and since forgotten, appear and remind me of my hopes for them, and I caught the potato bugs arrival in the garden — just in time to win the first battle.
Before the census, I had drafts and plans and projects too many to process. But upon my mental return, they are simply waiting to be brought to life.
I’m still not organized. Things have come together in my brain and not yet in my life. Paperwork, dishes, laundry, dog walking — all these things also have to be done. But the direction is so clear now. Whatever was keeping my mind in a tangle has simply — disappeared.
I can’t wait to go camping now. Four or five days away from the phone, computer, farm and garden will be a retreat that allows everything in my head to fall completely into place, and provides the rest and rejuvenation needed to tackle it all gleefully upon our return.
But, before we can go, we have to get the garden ready, sort and wash the camping gear, publish and distribute the July issue, launch the community market, and find a sitter for the chickens.
In the meantime, I have started some new projects. I’ve been beating my brain about eBooks since January, and have accomplished two of my 2010 goals: offering eSubscriptions, and offering past issues of Two-Lane Livin’ as eFiles. Seems like two fairly simple things, right? Well, I’ve been trying to figure the right way to go about it for six months. Right now, I’m putting up past issues beginning with Volume 1, Issue 1 – September 2007 issue, and I’m going to work my way to the present. So far, two issues are available, both of them no longer available in print. The eSubscriptions right now are handled through paypal and links provided by e-mail, but I’m hoping to automate this service soon.
But not until AFTER everything else.
Considering the rise in frustration and attitudes this week in my census crew, I would take a guess that we all need this holiday weekend. Of course, officials would rather we all worked but, they are willing to allow a little breathing room.
As for myself, I miss my life.
When a task demands that you be on call or available seven days a week, it is easy to neglect other things in your life. Gardens, pets, friends, family… Today, I am feeling a little resentful of the way the census has demanded my attention and time.
And frankly, no one can work seven days a week for three weeks or more and not get a little burnt out.
The government is a cold, flawed boss. Rules, regulations and policy — all of us are nothing more than temporary cogs in the wheels. No benefits, no over time, no mercy.
Of course, in my lifetime I’ve had other bosses that were the same, but I’ve also have employers who felt more like family than bosses.
Either way, there are some in my crew who look at the hay fields, and know it’s time to put up hay. Others, like me, look at their businesses and see the paperwork piling. Meanwhile, days of rain last week and hours in the field gave weeds in the garden a head start, and I wonder if I’ll ever get caught up with them, much less ahead.
Of course, the crew also includes the die-hard workers, who prefer to work on a holiday weekend, to milk the government pay for all it’s worth, or for lack of anything else to do. Meanwhile, there are those also who never really wanted to work in the first place.
Government pay is hard to find in Central West Virginia, and we are all very fortunate to be among the few chosen for these jobs. Even so, in many ways, I feel I have sold my soul for the almighty dollar. I’ve stockpiled coffee, cocoa, sugar, and other pantry staples, bought Frank two new pair of Levi’s, have set aside funds for new brakes on the GMC and a few other repairs. Our “tab” at the corner store is paid up (not that it ever gets far behind), and other than that — well, we really don’t need a whole lot.
A majority of our next year’s groceries are in the garden, or in the pantry already. No temporary job or government pay scale would purchase the bounty that our garden promises. A couple week’s pay could never benefit the farm the way a good harvest of hay will.
In many ways, I feel spoiled and lazy when I say I tire of this job. I feel, in many ways I’m “looking a gift horse in the mouth” and I don’t care. It’s odd. I’ve pretty much had a job as long as I can remember, before I was sixteen. in my life, I can remember perhaps a total of a year, or two, when I wasn’t employed. Now that I’m self employed, setting my own schedule, my own routine, I find it difficult to be at the beck and call of “a job.”
What a spoiled, spoiled creature I am.
So, even now that I am painfully aware that I am no longer enjoying my task, I cannot part from it. I am not a quitter by nature. The task isn’t finished, and I fund myself unable to separate myself until it is. It must be that West Virginia work ethic, something that only runs through about half of my crew. For those who do have the work ethic, for some, the choice must be made — to continue this temporary task for the government and risk serious set backs on the homefront and farm, or to forfeit the 40 hour paycheck in order to secure the harvest.
Which has greater value? The 40-hour paycheck or the season’s success? Which should be sacrificed? I feel confident that an urbanite’s answer would be much different than the regrets I am being offered by a crew member or two — the same regrets that sound in my mind as I frantically yank grasses from my lettuce bed, and pinch weeds from between the carrots.
Certainly, the head office in Detroit wouldn’t understand…
Frank and I just completed our first “academic” year as students in the WVUncovered classes at the school of journalism at WVU. The project is designed to teach community publications about new media, and two main classes were held to show and teach us about online video creation, and online photo slide shows.
Remember, we’re not a newspaper, in a classroom full of newspaper people. Online videos and slide show presentations really make sense for a newspaper, but what about us? Video of me running the rototiller? Feeding the hens? Harvesting the garden? Pictures of turkeys mating, deer grazing, geese fighting… Who’d want to see that?
Well, it appears that some folks do want to see that. To us, it’s just normal, hum drum, every day life.
But still, I still have reservations…
I may be able to publish a magazine, tend three gardens, take care of hens, learn about bees, work the census, create a board game, and maintain some level of consistent “micro blogging,” but — I’m not always on top of the house keeping….
Videos, photos, will show that…. To the WORLD…
I know, people in Thailand or Zimbabwe might not care if there’s chicken poop on the walkway or a pile of laundry to be folded and put away, but I really don’t want the whole world to see that, especially people I KNOW. My mother would die of shame.
But, nevertheless, Frank and I will be forging into the online video and photography scene. We’ve got big plans… Garden reports, chicken reports, weather reports, maybe some cooking tips, plenty of wildlife video.
I’m excited about it, and still a little nervous too. In many ways, instead of me reaching out and posting to you, “out there”, I feel like I’m inviting all of you into our humble home.
I hope you don’t mind that “lived in” look.
I just checked the date of my last entry, listed for January 31 of this year. Obviously, I have neglected the #1 rule of blogging — “Don’t neglect your blog.”
I’ve had trouble defining the purpose of this blog. Technically, according to “online marketing guidelines” it should lead readers somehow over to our business, Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine.
It should be a perfected presentation, written by a polished publisher, putting our best foot forward and emphasizing the value of our publication for advertisers. (White papers on local print publications, circulation, distribution, etc.)
In other words, this blog should technically be — work.
Well, it’s when I get that frame of mind that my blog entries simply become non-existent.
Forgive me if I don’t try to somehow sneak in a sales pitch. If I’m blogging to express myself, then work should not be included. I work all the time on other, well — more important things.
I have eight trays of seeds started indoors, and have the hot bed construction underway outside and more seeds to arrive in the mail within a few days. I’ve cleared the flower beds of debris and have started my spring mulching routine. Frank has promised a second raised bed inside the “big” garden fence for the herb garden. The small one near the house without fence did not deal well with the deer of winter.
This, of course, requires research on seed types, germination times, planting dates, soil requirements, etc. We’re not “winging it” with our garden any more, and it has become a science.
I’ve been gathering eggs again, and this year, have my official WV Egg Permit, which allows me to now legally trade a a dozen for a couple of dollars. Of course, now that I’m doing it legal, I am supposed to wash the eggs (which you really shouldn’t do) and had to design and print my own labels that cover all previous carton labeling with a big notice that says, “UNGRADED EGGS.” I also have to include the date I put the eggs in the carton.
Right now, we get about four dozen eggs a month. (Yup, that’s about $10) But, I’m getting two batches of hens later on in the season, so I might actually pay for their feed (and now, the labels).
Also, I’m planning to be “active” in the local farmer’s markets this year. I have some bulk herbs, and have planted several heirloom varieties of organic vegetable and herb seeds. I’ve always enjoyed my visits to the Calhoun Farmer’s Market, and the Gilmer Farmer’s Market is also being well received. I’ve been examining farmer’s markets for seven years now, so perhaps it’s time to get off the sidelines.
If you don’t follow me on facebook, then you aren’t aware that I totally rearranged the home office here, and that was a five day project that nearly exhausted me. (It is not uncommon, in the dark throes of February, for me to go manic with cabin fever and tackle some large task out of the blue. I typically get in over my head in such cases.)
But, I needed to do it because I’m also trying to get a local food co-op going for my community — a hyper-local, home delivery type thing that offers natural, certified organic and free trade items in bulk. These items can also be offered at the farmer’s markets in the summer, but through the winter will continue to serve the community.
Oh, and I also publish a magazine by the way. So, I’ve been working on ad design, page layout, editing, sales, online updating, and invoicing.And if I were a professional blogger, I’d somehow lead you to buy and ad right about
No. This blog will be work no more.
This is me.
I wear mud boots, work in my pajamas, and have dirt under my fingernails.
I work late, sleep late, and spend way too much time on facebook.
Today, I shoveled horse manure for a couple of hours before typesetting three articles and preparing to place our first food co-op order.
I’ve spent too many years of my life trying to pretend that I am a professional.
I am driven to learn, teach and create — and that’s something totally different.
It’s like professional… but, without the polish.
So be it.
Hey, this is Two-Lane Livin’. Thus shall be Two-Lane Bloggin’.