Friday, December 27, 2013

End of a Year

Hello, Friends.

I look back at the history of this blog and ponder "what happened?"  I used to write every day, sometimes more than once.  I had hundreds of photos to share, adventures to post, and curious moments to ponder.  What happened?

Moving to Michigan was the big "thing" that happened.  Now, you might think "hey - a whole new place to explore!" and I surely did think the same.  But moving from a life surrounded by wilderness (literally) to a place that is so developed and overrun by the influences of humanity has left me feeling as barren as the landscape.

At work I spend most of my day staring at a computer screen (have I mentioned the "mouse elbow" I developed nearly a year ago and after two agonizing shots of cortisone and three months of physical therapy remains nearly as painful as it was before all that?), and with a half-hour commute each way between home and the office (where I often put in 10 hours a day), I don't have a lot of time to spend at home exploring.

The passing of Toby also had a profound impact.  Since the end of March, when I said my final goodbye, I have not gone for a single walk that wasn't work-related (and even those are few and far between)!  I've become a sofa curmudgeon!

The afore-mentioned arm problem meant no gardening to speak of:  couldn't dig or weed.  In fact, this year's carrot crop is still in the ground, rotting, because I could not harvest it.  And the weeds took over the veg garden - I have robust crops of grasses, pigweed, ground cherries and more.  The peas and beans died on the vines.  Had a great onion crop, but I don't have a good place to store them, so they either froze on the back porch or have started to sprout in the laundry room.  You'd think an old farm house with a root cellar would have ideal root storage capabilities, but when the guys put in the insulation, it resulted in a warmed up root cellar and a jammed door.  End result:  root cellar is no longer functional as such.

The arm, which was healing after the first round of PT, suffered a relapse when I did the October paddle.  It is from this trip that the arm has never recovered, and the PT stopped working.  Prognosis:  no more paddling!  ACK!  Something will have to be done.

To make up for the lack of a dog in my life, I began volunteering at the local humane society this fall.  I started off cleaning kennels (arm objected and therapist said "no more"), but have graduated to dog walker.  I go, when I can, to walk and work with many of the needy pups who are looking for their forever homes.  I don't go nearly enough, although I did put in three days already this week!  If you follow my Facebook pages, you will have "met" several of the dogs I help take care of.

Frustrations at work and with my arm built up to a head this month.  At the suggestion of a friend I went and had a Reiki session, and it has sent me off in a new direction...or revisiting an old direction.  My poor spirit, like my beans, has been withering in the vine.  I'm now making an effort to feed and heal my spirit, and maybe my arm will follow in its wake!

So, a complex year draws to a close.  I fully intended to do a winter solstice celebration this year, to cleanse the pains of the old year and welcome the new...but I fell asleep on the sofa!  Still, I can transfer the intentions of that night to the upcoming turn of the calendar year.

And Adirondacks, beware!  I'm planning to come back in 2014 - at the very least leading an eco-tour from here!  No more just sitting here and wishing I was there; this year I'm going to go back, even if it is just for a visit.

Happy New Year, everyone. 


  1. Dear Ellen,
    I wish you well for 2014 and a trip to the Dacks will do your soul good. I feel lost whenever I miss a visit to that wonderful space....some people can pass right through them or never know they exist. But for me, the mountains, lakes and vistas uplift my spirit and soothe my being.
    Continue to write when you can.....we will enjoy your contributions as you see fit to post them.
    Stephanie M

  2. I'm so sorry for your several losses this year. I had the great good fortune to live in Saranac Lake for 3 years before my job was "centralized" to Albany. I really pined for the big woods of the Adirondacks - the 2nd or 3rd growth of the Helderbergs (outside Albany) just can't compare. So I hope you get a chance to follow your heart in 2014! Take care of yourself.

  3. Oh, dear Ellen, I am so sorry to learn of so many frustrations you are encountering! i agree that a good dose of the ADKs could be just what the doctor neglected to order. You must plan to stay with us in Saratoga for at least a part of your visit.

  4. Thank you, Stephanie. I am looking forward to a great year. Perhaps someday our paths will cross in the mountains.

  5. Ellen,
    Have you thought about giving yourself a low-impact "project" to recharge your interest in the outdoors? Something like keeping a personal list of all the wildflowers or birds at the nature center, or maybe photographing the same? Do you belong to the local Audubon club in Jackson? (Some of their outing might give you a reason to get out more.) Maybe it's time to attend a conference or workshop to inspire you - I will be going to three in March in the Lansing area that always fire up my enthusiasm (The Quiet Water Symposium, Wildflower Association of Michigan, and Michigan Science Teachers Association). Good luck and Happy New Year!

    -Mike LeValley

    1. Thanks, Mike. Yes - there are all sorts of things I COULD do. And yes, I'm volunteering at the QWS, and will be at the WAM conference, as well as the Stewardship Network Conference. I've tackled some new creative endeavors, which helps. Need to get some health issues tended before I can do too much else: back spasms, stiff neck, and "mouse elbow" all leave one an immobile lump! Working on the first two, and may have to go to surgery for the latter. If I can get that taken care of, I will be able to garden again, and do archery and paddling!

  6. I was sure I entered a comment here last week, but it somehow disappeared! Dear Ellen, I am so sorry to learn of your difficulties. Here's hoping you get your painful conditions healed so you can once again live life to the fullest. Have you at least been able to do your exquisite quilting? I agree that a trip to the ADKs is just what the doctor ordered, and I hope you know you will always have a place to stay with me.

  7. Ellen, sorry to hear you have been down. I know especially how hard it can be to get over the passing of a beloved pet. Hope 2014 is kind to you, Sheri

    1. Thank you, Sheri! We are off to a rip-roaring start! :)