My original intent for my LOA was to blog every single day, but that hasn’t happened. Then I meant to post an update of week 1, but I was just too drunk to get to it. But now as I am in the midst of week 2, I feel I have enough to report. I promised myself I would stop thinking about work at the end of the work day on May 31. And I did. It happened easily as I focused on the next three months and all I hoped to accomplish within this expansive–yet somehow tiny–window of time.

Today has been what I hope a typical day will look like. Up by 7, a walk in this gorgeous summer weather and a short work out (don’t laugh, it wasn’t pretty). This won’t happen every morning, but if I shoot for it every morning, then I should accomplish it at least half of the time. After a quick brekkie, I hopped in the car and drove to one of my current favorite coffee shops/writing spots where I spent a few hours, working on the supernatural novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2010. It’s fun and light and is a good counterpoint to working on the book about Ken’s and my journey over the last couple of years of his life–which has received the most amount of attention over the last week.

Chicago’s summer so far has been ah-MAH-zing with clear days ranging from the 70s-90s with little or no rain (unfortunately, as I would enjoy not watering the garden so copiously.) Speaking of the garden, my next destination after finishing up at the coffee shop was to head to Lowe’s to pick up some more seeds and a couple of hanging annuals for the garden. After that, I think I’m done and will just work on maintenance for the rest of the summer. The herbs I planted have taken hold and are growing like crazy. And the wild flower seeds I planted just a week ago are already sprouting through the dirt (or maybe it’s weeds. I have no idea.)

Being the complete master of my day and schedule feels incredibly freeing and heavy at the same time. Finding balance between productivity and fun (destination vs. journey, of course) has been an interesting exercise. It’s a feeling I hope everyone can experience at one time or another in their lives. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t considered how lucky I am to work for a company and with people who have so much heart to allow me to abandon my duties for three months to focus on myself and my passion for writing. Last night I spent the evening working on the novel and even at 1 a.m. was positively giddy–just that I could be up so late writing.

I had some super sad dreams last night about Ken. I thought about him today as I left home, wishing he was sharing this journey with me. Both of us not working and spending all day writing and gardening and cooking would have been an ideal for him–as it has become for me. And though know he is, indeed, on this journey with me, but I’m still getting used to the context.

I love how beads of water cling so beautifully to the petals of these day lilies (?)
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I thought I cut myself somehow, but realized I had been just “kissed” by one of the lilies.
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I planted two new potted plants (can’t remember their names) and added the hanging baskets of petunias (?). I scattered California poppies over a barren part of the garden. Ken and I, along with our friend Rebecca, took a drive to the real California poppy fields north of LA years ago. Ken and I both had an affection for them since then, so I decided to re-add them to the backyard landscape after a couple-year absence. Likewise, in keeping with tradition, we used to have sunflowers every year–which were great because they attracted yellow and red finches (Ken’s ornithological expertise at work). I have many memories of sitting in the backyard with him, marveling at the finches–a nice change from the robins we normally saw.

As I planted the sunflower seeds in a hard-to-reach area in the corner of the garden, I noticed a wasp or hornet or 9 lb. flying demon hovering low around the garden–mostly over the moist areas I’d watered. I watched him closely and didn’t make my move to stoop in the secluded corner until it had flown away. While planting each seed, I caught a glimpse of its shadow zipping in and out of my periphery like a skilled specter. Then as it zoomed around me, criss-crossing like a kamikaze attack. It was then when I heard the shrill screams of the six-year-old girl who lives next door–then realized there is no six-year-old girl who lives next door. It was me! Screaming and running around eschewing anything that might have landed on my person, preparing to bury a stinger into my flesh. It was like a hilarious exercise class–though I was pretty much ready to move in the heat of the moment.

Final result with the two new hanging pots and newly planted pots at the end. The empty spots will fill in with wild flowers (I’m told.)
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