What I Did for My Summer Vacation

Well, my friends, it has been a long time. The constant tug I feel for spinning thoughts into poetry (of one kind or another) sometimes performs work of a different kind. This summer it generated letters with actual stamps, an ongoing gratitude list, and notes in my kitchen lab notebook when I am working on perfecting my gluten free scone recipe.

This has been a summer for creativity, for sure! I whacked my wonderful-horrible lilac hedge back until it begins to look like a grove.

Lilacs before.

Lilacs before…



Lilacs after sculpting

It shows a lot of promise. In three or four years the bare branches will fill in and I will be able to trim them back from their towering nine feet height. In May, if I can reach the spent blossoms and clip them, I prepare them to bloom profusely the following year. For me, the five days of lilac blossoms is the high-point of spring after a dreary winter.

Another transformation this summer came about when I read the book, the life-changing magic of tidying up; the Japanese are of decluttering and organizing, by Marie Kondo. This video is my favorite.  In one day I reduced and sorted all my clothes. Now I can get in my closet and drawers! It took me three weeks to go through 1700 books, but I did that too, saving several hundred but packing up 43 boxes to donate to the Five Colleges Book Sale in the spring. With deep satisfaction I work in my minimalist office. Kitchen tools are next, but already I experience more creativity because thousands of belongings are not clamoring for my attention. I thanked them for their service and sent them down the road in the green-and-white truck.

I never saw this one coming: lately I have taken a leafy byway into cake decorating. Ever since Molly had me make her chocolate stout cake and I made a second one gluten free (so I could have a slice), I have been playing with cakes. Recently I rediscovered The Wedding Cake Book, definitely one of my top ten cook books, and tried the Italian Meringue Buttercream. In spite of it being the hottest, most humid week of the summer, it worked (eventually) and I used it to cover a gluten-free zucchini cake, decorating it with the tools I had just bought.

This is my first experiment with decorating tips. It is white because I have no coloring yet!

This is my first experiment with decorating tips. 

Since Classical Conversations wrapped up in May I have also traveled, in various family configurations: Chattanooga for Molly’s graduation, St. Johnsbury for the practicum, Acadia for family camping adventure, the Poconos for the annual family reunion, and two trips to Rhode Island’s seashore. All of this by car. By pedal power I have pulled my heavy hybrid almost 500 miles.

And now that the school year has started I am working at the table with my teens. I have some wiggle room for these projects and creative moments. After six years of tutoring, this is the first in which I am “just a mother”. I attend in the back of the class on Tuesdays, marveling at another tutor’s approach, and sometimes I run some errands because I CAN! (That is me raising my voice in glee.)

So creative! So much energy! So much more sane!!

Lately I have been getting up about 5 a.m. again so I can play with a poetry prompt and then dig into my Bible study of Colossians before I get to the business of the day. If I let you read what I write you would say, “Terence, this is stupid stuff” but I have to start somewhere. A former student is  teaching the boys and me how to have a morning workout routine. Those six feeble pushups I do from my knees? Those are like my poems. Small beginnings.

What was the most significant thing about your summer this year? I would love to know. post in Comments below.

About lettersfromheartscontent

Mother of six, wife to a forester and educator, former homeschool teacher and tutor with Classical Conversations. Now retired from teaching music at a small Christian school. In my retirement I am quilting, decluttering, and calling country dances--contra dances and more for people in my community who want to get out again.
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2 Responses to What I Did for My Summer Vacation

  1. godsbooklover says:

    How thrilled I am for you!! The cake is gorgeous–I wish I was there to try a slice. You are at least the third person to mention THAT BOOK. And I have picked it up to read in the bookstore. Result: Lucy’s drawers and mine reorganized with shirts arranged on edge. I love seeing everything at once, arranging by color, etc. I reorganized my CD collection, giving quite a few away in the process, and put it where I can actually see and use it! And I am, slowly, culling my book collection.

    Meanwhile, began rehearsals for a world premiere musical in July, which made me feel as if I had no summer, per se. Lucy and I spent many delightful hours at the zoo, and in the library. She will start preschool in a week, and then I will have a few gleeful hours to spend in MY minimalist office (at all for One) or working on purging the rest of my house of its excess.

    You are an inspiration! Keep at it, my friend!


    • Nearly everyone I tell about kon mari has encountered it already. Wow. It tells me we really have a need here. I wonder why we take to this so passionately? I think it is the idea of doing one kind of thing at a time. And her animist-informed attitude of gratitude toward the service our outdated things have performed. It settles our doubts so we can throw them out.

      So glad you have that office at all for One! You are always working on something. It sounds like afO has grown in stature over the past few years. Lovely to see.

      I know you will enjoy those precious hours! Whee!


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