Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Looking Back Before Looking Ahead: The Year in Review

Most of us begin thinking about New Year's resolutions about this time of year, but we seldom look back to see what we accomplished in the past year or to remember the good times we had. We're pretty adept at remembering the bad stuff, but the good? Not so much.

I decided that I needed a look back at the year, to take time to savor what was. The older I get, the more fleeting the time is, and there is a certain urgency to get fullness from each day and each experience and memory. And I noticed some things that I will want to change in the coming year.

So here's some of my past year in photos:

Birds: They've become a big part of our life. This one we called Mr. Noisy because of his rackety voice! Red-Bellied Woodpecker. Our winter routines included plenty of birdfeeding and watching.

Booths: January also saw many completed furniture projects as winter weather kept us home and indoors.

Writing: Submitted a story for an anthology and published several poems on my Mountain Poet blog

Storytelling: began work on stories for the Summer Reading Program at state libraries.

Other: despite feeling heartsick at the recent presidential election, I decided the best thing to do was take action. So I went to Washington to be part of the Women's March. What an exhilarating, encouraging day that was! I came home and started a local group to take more direct action.

Sadly, I lost my friend of forty years, Lindsay, who went with me (and actually made it possible for me to fly to DC) to cancer in September. She lives on in my heart and memory.

Storytelling:  I had been wanting to visit the River Museum in Point Pleasant for a long time, and we finally made a trip there--it's only 40 miles away but we never made time for it before. This is the room where they train barge pilots. Pretty cool.

Home: February was also the month that Larry made me a banana split!

Home: The flowers were in bloom very early--this was taken March 9th. The whole year seemed off kilter temperature-wise.

Self-sufficiency: By the end of the month it was greening up quickly and we began planning the spring vegetable gardens.

 ...and the hens were laying more eggs than we could eat.

Home: Garden work was well underway in April. See the pile of bags of mulch? I had little to no storytelling during this time and I was glad to have the time to do garden work.

Self-sufficiency: April is also the best month for gathering ramps, those wild onion-garlic-y plants that grow in these mountains. Larry cut them up and I dried them in the dehydrator.

Self-sufficiency: by the end of the month, the spring veggies were growing well.

Self-sufficiency: Honey harvest happened on the last day of the month. This is about half of our yield.

Storytelling: My story The Cupboard was published in an anthology titled Easter Lilies.

Writing: almost met the NaPoWriMo challenge of writing a poem a day on my Mountain Poet blog. 24 poems in one month isn't too bad. Not to say they're all good poems, though!


Booths: Lots and lots of furniture projects were completed in May as we geared up for the annual Memorial Day flea market on the courthouse lawn.

Self-sufficiency: picking lettuce, onions, radishes, and greens from the garden.

Writing : attended a poetry retreat, and stopped by a favorite picnic area on the way. Spending a weekend with writers like Sherrell Wigal, Kirk Judd and Cheryl Miller is challenge, intimidation and inspiration. What a time we had. And what good stuff we wrote.

Storytelling: We visited the historic salt works in Kanawha county. Such field trips are all fodder for tales.

Family: the annual family reunion took place on the third weekend of the month. This is some of my children and their kids. Always a good time!

Storytelling: storytelling commenced in earnest, with a dozen performances in June.

This was ghost stories at Blackwater Falls; the water was high and the falls were full.

Storytelling: telling to a family reunion in the quaint Swiss village of Helvetia, WV.

Writing: June was also the WV Writers Conference. Here in a songwriting workshop with Mountain Stage host Larry Groce.

Storytelling: continued until mid-month, then it was research and practice time for the upcoming Inland Waterways Festival.

Storytelling in Weston, WV in July

Family: a quick trip to Florida for our youngest son's birthday, and to meet our newest granddaughter, his stepdaughter. What a love she is.

Self-sufficiency: lots of canning this month. Even got sauerkraut made.

Writing: My story Gracie's Cabin was published in the 2016-2017 edition of Traditions, the magazine of the Frank and Jane Tabor West Virginia Folklife Center.

Home: we finally got around to cleaning out buildings! What a great purge that was!

Storytelling: Inland Waterways Festival kicked off the month on the first weekend. The biennial event is something I look forward to, and am so pleased to have been part of each festival since its inception 8 years ago.

Booths: Lots of furniture work as we tried to get a little ahead of the curve.

Self-sufficiency: Canning continued in full swing, and I was grateful for a break in storytelling so I could take full advantage of all the garden and orchard goodness pouring in.

Home: The solar eclipse happened! We watched it from home. It was amazing.

Home: Well sort of--we left for Ireland for 8 fantastic, memory-filled days. Yes, it rained but who cared? Not us.

With Carmel, our airbnb host who has since become a good friend. We will definitely be back to her house--she has stories, warmth, humor, and such a welcome that no one will be a stranger at her home.

Storytelling: I was a featured performer at the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair, telling stories the German, Celtic and American traditions.

Family: we enjoyed a visit with our oldest son and his family just before leaving for Ireland.

Storytelling: back to a heavy storytelling schedule, here at a CEO group and talking with a 101-year-old lady.

Storytelling: at Jackson's Mill for the WV Storytelling Festival with WV Poet Laureate Marc Harshman and storytellers Adam Booth and Ilene Evans.

Writing: My story The Omen was published in the anthology These Haunted Hills by JCP Press.

Home: storyteller friends Megan Hicks of Philadelphia and Robin Bady of Brooklyn, NY came by for a visit on their way to a conference. What a good time we had!

Writing: wrote a blog post for Inspiration for Writers blog on the intersection of storytelling and written stories.

Writing: submitted my last article for Two Lane Livin' as that publication ceased with the December issue. I wrote for them for 10 years, and it was a privilege to be part of that very successful monthly journal of West Virginia rural life. I will miss it very much.


Family: we had apple butter and fruitcake to make! My sons and some of their children came to help with the apple butter,

and sisters, cousin, granddaughters and our aunt came together at my house to make fruitcakes.

Storytelling: I was busy this month researching and practicing for the Christmas Carols presentations, and performed the first two the week after Thanksgiving.

 Booths: we were back to painting furniture and working on booths.

Storytelling: I presented a dozen Christmas carols programs, and had such a great time doing them. The last one was a little different, with a focus on the plants of the season and the stories, folklore/superstitions and carols about them. I also did a couple for children, and it was all just a lot of fun. Cannot wait for next year's programs, when I will be adding new carols, new stories, and even more folklore.

Storytelling: spent a marathon five hours on day this past week in a recording session. I hope there is enough good material for two new CDs. Fingers crossed! That project will continue next year.

Writing: I attended the book launch for the new anthology Voices on Unity: Coming Together, Falling Apart from Mountain State Press. I read a bit from my story Fruitcake, that was included in this book.

Home: And then it was Christmas, and all was merry and bright.

So that's some of the highlights from the past year. I am sure I missed some important things, as it was a full and busy year. It is good to look back, though, and to realize that while there are things I wanted to do that did not get done, the good things--family time, friends, writing, storytelling, gardens--are all here in spades.

Now to think of the coming year and what I want to see happen...

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Joy@aVintageGreen said...

A full and wonderful year Sue. Glad you wrote this post. Hugs.

Diane Tarantini said...

I love this post, Sue. Wow! Did you do a lot of great stuff!! You inspire me! I want to tell more stories, grow more food, and maybe even learn how to can!! I hope 2018 is a wonderful year for you and Larry:)

Granny Sue said...

Thank you, Joy! It was a good year.

Granny Sue said...

Diane, it didn't seem as busy as past years, so I was surprised when I looked back through the photos and realized that quite a lot happened. There were some not-so-good things too, especially the loss of several friends. That was hard, and made me realize again how uncertain our time here actually is. Wishing you a very good year ahead.

Steve Arnold said...

You lead a very interesting life.

Granny Sue said...

It is, Steve! Retirement is busier than when I worked full time. And I love it.

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