The Midwest has been locked in a deep freeze for the past few days and will continue to be for the next several. This is a good time to snuggle in the warmth of the house with a hot cup of tea and reflect on the changes and adventures of the past year.
Leaving the office on the last day. Walls empty. Bulletin board empty. Most of the paperwork gone. Lots of memories.
The most dramatic change for me this year was my decision to retire last spring. Leaving a job that I loved, my wonderful work family, and in the middle of an exciting new building project which had been on my wish list for a decade was difficult. The hardest part was making the decision. However, City Council approved the funding for our part of the building, the Library referendum passed, donors made huge commitments, and an energetic and intelligent young replacement was found. I was able to walk out the door with a light heart knowing that Jasper Arts would be in good hands.
This left more time to pursue my own interests or get back to them.
First and foremost was my painting. Although I’ve been a professional artist for over thirty years, job demands and time constraints meant there was less time for creative pursuits. I never gave up my art but now I am able to devote as much time as I want to it, which is generally several hours every day.
My studio is the old summer kitchen surrounded by herbs, flowers and giant maple trees.
My schedule is pretty much my own. I can get up when I want but that’s usually pretty early. Hard to break that 5:30 a.m. habit. Now I can linger over that second cup of tea and my commute is only 30 feet from the back door.
I have been catching up on ten years of projects (how often does one really need to clean out the attic?) Satisfying but not usually on top of the To Do list.
Gardening is another passion. This year I was able to get outside before the heat of the day instead of dealing with chores at the end of the day. Very nice.
My bike is tuned up. I used to ride 100 miles a week and hope to get up there again this coming year.
Reading, of course, is always high on my agenda and I have eclectic tastes. No more business or fundraising books! Yay!
A short nap after lunch is always a nice thing to insert into the middle of the day. (Apologies to those of you who can’t take advantage of this.)
Plein air painting of Among the Mangroves, Florida Keys 2017
My husband and I took our first winter vacation in thirty years this year. Couldn’t do that when the kids were young and in school, then later when I was working because winter is the busy season for the performing arts.
The Huntress I – oil on canvas, 20 x 20, Kit Miracle
Our charming granddaughter was also able to spend much of the summer with us. She loves the beach (of beautiful Lake Patoka nearby), anything to do with nature or bugs or animals, painting and crafting with grandma, and is game for just about any adventure.
At the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh
We traveled back to Pennsylvania to visit relatives. While there I took her to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh where she could see real dinosaur bones up close. She was elated.
And my husband and I took a fall trip back to Massachusetts to visit relatives. We visited the iconic Rockport sea town and stopped off at Stockbridge on our way back. We also took a detour to Niagara on our return. It’s big…and loud!
There were family barbecues, day trips to interesting places, some plein air painting, and just time to kick back next to the fire pit and enjoy the day. What could be better?
So, goodbye to 2017. It was a good year. Now I’m making plans for 2018.