What I am doing right now

News last modified 13 July 2024

A chill morning on a hot summer’s day. Blue and Corwin have returned to the overhang by the barn, a respite from the flies and biting insects that emerge at sunrise. Blue is asleep, with his legs, all joints and sharp edges, folded under his body. His long head is pulled by gravity, chin resting on his chest, his neck a majestic curve. Corwin stands nearby, tail swishing at the flies in a lazy rhythm. He too is sleeping, his lower lip slack.

The horses spend their summer days lolling under the overhang and their nights grazing in the dark, their sensate muzzles finding the greens they prefer better than any human eyesight could detect in the light. Hay is spread for them in the shade by the barn, but they are as likely to use it for a soft bed as they are to grab wispy mouthfuls.

This summer I start my mornings with a new-to-me tea of ginger and dandelion root. I like the zing of ginger contrasted with the slight bitterness from the dandelion root. I add a sundae spoon-sized dollop of honey from my dwindling supply, harvested from an Outer Banks beehive. I can taste a hint of saltiness from the Atlantic Ocean. The beekeeper handwrites the hive location on every bottle. Each beach hive has a different array of flora, adding a layer of complexity to the honey. I like knowing, really knowing, where it comes from. Every year I visit him at the Avon farmer’s market to purchase my year’s supply. He used to live in Vermont, so I bring him the flavor of the North in the form of maple syrup as a partial trade. We both crave tasting the sweetness of places we do not live.

Heading into my garden in mid-morning, I try to avoid criticizing myself for the jumble of green that is my garden this year. This tangle doesn’t comply with what I envisioned as I started seeds in late winter.

I came down with what was probably COVID in early May. My husband was traveling, so I did the best I could to manage the dogs, barn chores, and keeping our veggie starts alive in our makeshift greenhouse. I did the bare minimum of indexing, just enough to meet my deadlines. Other than that, I revisited the women of Sex and the City (all six seasons), slept, and tried to coddle my body and conserve my energy. As I turned the page of my monthly calendar to June, I was back to normal, a welcome surprise. Since then, I have heard from friends that either they or their spouse experienced a similar illness. The fatigue was overwhelming, and the congestion was painful and relentless. There were no body aches. But rest and Tylenol along with carefully chosen homeopathic remedies helped me get to the other side.

My garden shows the neglect of my weeks-long absence, though, and several crops did not get planted. I could not catch up with what is now a wild garden. But the garlic is just about ready to be harvested and dried. And my potato plants, seeded in mid-June, are bushy and lush. I’ve never seen them look this good. Every year the garden has wins and losses. This year, the losses were the vegetables never planted. But the potatoes look promising. Hope is eternal, and I will seed fall crops of peas, broccoli, and kale this weekend. It is not too late.

Just a few weeks ago I celebrated an anniversary—not my wedding anniversary. That is in the fall. I married my husband on the beach on the Outer Banks on an overcast, windy day in October over twenty years ago. My wedding was small, but this was an even smaller, almost nonexistent, celebration for just the dog—Jamie Tartt—and me. I sat on my favorite chair in the kitchen, his head on my lap, my hand on his head. We marked the day with a stretch of silence, me filled with gratitude for his steadfast presence over the past year.

Many years ago, I raised a Stabyhoun puppy named Fernie Rocket. She was delightful, and probably too much dog for a family with toddlers. But I loved her and she loved me. Jamie Tartt—yes named after the Ted Lasso character—is the same breed but an entirely different dog, but equally loveable. He decidedly embodies the title of the “stand-by-me” dog, which is the English translation of his Dutch dog breed name. He reminds me that we both need a walk every day, twice daily, preferably. And for both of us, tromping through the fields or into the woods is much better than traveling on the country roads. Heading to the barn and conversing with the mini donkey, Maxe, is also a suitable outing. I love Jamie and he loves me. I am grateful that I was chosen to share my life with this wonderful dog.

Soon, another, different type of anniversary will be here—the second anniversary of my mom’s death. I recently decided to use a purse she bought years ago—a brown suede shoulder bag with a patchwork of owls. It’s not my style, but it’s comfortable and feels just right on my shoulder. It’s surprisingly roomy, large enough to fit my wallet and smartphone, something that didn’t exist when this purse was made by hand. The odd thing is that this purse disappears all the time, seemingly swallowed by my house. I wonder if the energy of my mom lingers. She could never find her purse. And now I have difficulty finding mine, which is really hers. The irony is that she never truly used this purse, but I know she liked it. She kept it hung on the doorknob of her bedroom, close at hand, always in view. Now, when I use this purse, I carry her with me.

On the business front, I have been incubating a project for the past 5 years. First as a simple idea. Then it morphed into an overwhelming endeavor to be avoided, then moved forward in fits and starts. Over the past few months, I have thrown my weight behind the project to bring it to completion. I am proud (and slightly nervous) to present the Indexer Index website to the world. I hoped to create what I wished existed when I hung out my indexer shingle a decade ago—a place online where I could collaborate with other indexers instead of setting up my own digital space. Back then I wanted to focus on indexing, not writing copy. In the end, it turns out I am a writer, but that’s a story for another day.

Indexer Index is ready to be shaped by others. Rather than trying to avoid the bittersweetness that lingers around letting go of my image of the site, I will try to sit with the discomfort. After all, I specifically designed the website so it could be transformed by others. It doesn’t belong to just me any longer. I can see the parallel with raising kids; letting go is the right thing to do. Hopefully, I can sort through this feeling during my walks with Jamie Tartt. He’ll keep me moving forward.

On the horizon, besides the harvest from the garden, fall foliage rides on my horses, and this new business venture, goodbyes to my kids are looming. This fall, each will once again head off to a school far away, one to Germany and the other back to the Midwest. But first, we will spend time together at the beach. College friends of my kids will join us. I am looking forward to hosting everyone at our rented beach house. The empty beaches of the Outer Banks still beckon to me as they have for the past thirty years, along with the wide, star-studded night sky, brilliant with the light of the Milky Way.

I can’t help but observe the movement of the stars in the Hatteras Island sky—a reminder that we are traveling around the sun and through time. Moving. Moving. Moving. As farmers say in New England, “Don’t like the weather? Wait a minute.” If I’m uncomfortable where I am, I should close my eyes. When I open them, I won’t be where I was a moment ago. I’ll be in a new spot. I’m moving, moving, moving. I can resist this motion, or I can accept the wise nudge from Jamie Tartt—get moving! The bittersweet taste of resisting change can be transformed into the tang of kinetic energy. I will embrace moving towards fall.

* This page will change with the seasons, or with shifts in my life—it’s a once-in-a-while check-in, more like a wide-angle view.

At the bottom of this page in purple boxes, and on every page of this website, are vignettes of what I’m thinking and doing workwise from week to week, more or less. These are not archived. When I write a new vignette, the previous one is not preserved on the main pages of the site, except by links. For example, on the day I posted this “now” piece, here is what was on my mind. And you can find out what was on my desk, in my ears, and in my queue. They might reappear through a link once in a while but are no longer displayed on the website.

Like the “On my desk series” series, Now pages are not archived. Why? Because they are snapshots in time. The essence of the Now page is to capture what I’m up to right now, not to chronicle what I’ve done in the past. When a new Now page is published, the old one becomes “then” and is no longer relevant.

What was the inspiration for this “Now” page, and its fleeting nature? This post by Derek Sivers. I hope you’ll read it and add a Now page to your site, too. 

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