Reflecting on 2018’s challenges

Now that we’re two days into 2019 and I’ve once again forgotten to buy new calendars before the year change, it seems like a good time to reflect on the challenges of 2018.

In the pre-spring of 2018, my basement flooded because my sump pump stopped working correctly. I managed to repair it temporarily and get the water out of my basement, but then had to throw out a lot of items that had been on the basement floor. Considering that I hadn’t needed those items in the almost seventh years I’d lived in the house, I obviously didn’t need them.

Then my kitchen drain wasn’t draining properly and my attempts to snake it failed to clear the clog. Called a plumber and they discovered that my line to the septic tank was partially broken, thus things weren’t draining properly. So my issues cost much more than a simple snaking, but avoided problems in the future. Plus I got my sump pump replaced with a smaller, safer unit.

After that came a challenge I’d known was coming, getting the transmission on my Toyota Matrix replaced. That cost more than expected, but with a new clutch and transmission now it should last a good many more years.

Just when I thought I might be in the clear, the water pressure in my house took a significant dive. It turned out that the line from my well to the house was leaking. So once again, plumbers dug up my yard and fixed the problem and once again I faced a large and unexpected plumbing bill. But the upside is that I have great water flow and pressure now and know that my well gets plenty of water.

I got a brief reprieve from challenges until late summer when wasps suddenly started appearing in large numbers in my bedroom. I discovered they’d bored right through the wall and into my closet. I then had to spray my closet with Raid and plug the hole with expanding foam.

During that traumatic escapade, the Raid damaged items in my closet and it was then filled with dead wasps I needed to clean out. So I had to clean out and reorganized my closet and that’s something I’ve needed to do since I moved in. While I didn’t enjoy that experience in the least, I do like having a tidier closet that’s easy to store things in.

So while I wish that the challenges of 2018 hadn’t been quite so financially expensive, I certainly learned a lot and was forced to make long overdue changes. Sometimes the universe gets tired of sending me subtle hints that I miss and has to send bigger slaps upside the head. This year, I’m keeping my eyes open for those subtle hints in the hopes of avoiding any bigger issues that arise.

Advertisements

Feathered and furry, friends and family

swallow sunset

I imagine that compared to most people, my life seems pretty boring. It’s Friday night and I imagine most people have fun plans to go out with their friends while I’m sitting home writing up a blog before I get back to beading. I say “I imagine” because I don’t really know. What I do know is that I like my life and am pretty darn happy on a daily basis. Do I have my down days? Sure, everyone does but I always find the light eventually and remind myself how blessed I am.

I live in the country hills of Upstate NY. When I look west from my deck I have a lovely view across the valley and surrounding hills. I spend my days writing freelance blog posts for a variety of companies while being kept company by animals. I don’t just mean my dog Jazzmin and two cats Avi and Owl. I mean the birds, bunnies, woodchucks and deer that live around me. When I don’t have my girls, I talk to either myself or the animals. I don’t say a lot out loud really but I’m constantly thinking.

The feathered and furry creatures I watch on my property and near my house on a daily basis are the friends and family I see the most. As I sit at my desk I watch the male and female bluebirds make the rounds around my house going from front wire to side wire, to tree tops and back again getting worms and bugs for their newly hatched babies.

Male bluebird on my pear tree

Male bluebird on my pear tree

Male bluebird on the wire

Male bluebird on the wire

The tree swallows are swooping through the air all day long catching bugs for their babies and sometimes when one of them and the male bluebird sit upon the same wire, a brief and nasty bird fight ensues.

Tree swallow on the wire

Tree swallow on the wire

Swallow on the left, bluebird on the right. Shortly before the ruckus

Swallow on the left, bluebird on the right. Shortly before the ruckus

I hung two hummingbird feeders on the swing outside the window closest to my desk and the adorable swift-winged birds visit several times a day. Even when I’m typing away I hear their approach, their wings buzzing in a sound like an oversize bumblebee. I then stop my work and turn to watch one of them as he sips.

I have at least two ruby-throated hummingbirds and while they never drink at the same time, they visited today at the same time. One waited on the wire while the other drank.

One hummingbird on my swing frame, the other waiting on the wire

One hummingbird on my swing frame, the other waiting on the wire

I think they’re both males because they sometimes take off in furious flights, their long beaks reminiscent of swords and their face-offs reminding me of the beginning of fencing matches. One or both of them is even brave enough to visit the feeder when I’m standing out on the deck. I never knew they made little squeaking chirping noises until I was able to be this close to them. They truly are amazing creatures!

Hummingbird perched on my feeder

Hummingbird perched on my feeder

Hummingbird drinking

Hummingbird drinking

Hummingbird flying

Hummingbird flying

Hummingbird on the wire

Hummingbird on the wire

In the evening, I often see a bunny or two hopping around the yard. Yesterday a baby bunny hopped out from behind my shed and did some awkward hops before bravely venturing out further into the grass.

Resident bunny

Resident bunny

Another resident bunny

Another resident bunny

Babies are being born and hatching all around my property and I can hear the baby bluebirds chirping in the birdhouse at the back of my property all the way from my kitchen window. After dinner tonight I watched a mother robin and her baby hop around my back yard, the baby chirping as it followed its mother around and eagerly accepting the worms she yanked out of the ground for him.

Mama robin and her fledgling

Mama robin and her fledgling

This afternoon on my way into town, I saw two small brown animals playing around the yellow line in the road in front of me. As I drove closer, I realized they were baby woodchucks/groundhogs. There was no one else on the road so I stopped my car, put on my flashers and got out to shoo the little rascals out of the road. They didn’t move quickly but they did eventually get over into the grassy shoulder. When I tried to shoo them further into the tall grass, one of them actually ventured closer to me and I said to him “I’m not your mama, baby. Go find your mama.” I do wonder where their mother was…

The baby woodchuck/groundhog that came toward me

The baby woodchuck/groundhog that came toward me

I don’t think it’s a bad thing that I have so much interaction with the animals around me. Far too many humans have lost touch with nature and forgotten the fact that we’re all connected. I never forget our connection, I feel it every day and do my best to reflect the positive energy I receive from my feathered and furry friends and family. Beautiful things happen every day when you slow down, take a breath and open your eyes, ears, mind, heart and spirit.