2011: A Wonderful Life

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Here’s a look back on 2011, a really great year for my family and me. Bubba started a new job a year ago and every day we’re thankful that he has a job he enjoys. This year I got to go to Houston with my mom and my cousin to watch our VCU Rams play in the Final Four. My daughter graduated high school, started college (go Rams!), got a job, and is really making a wonderful life of her own.

I traveled to San Francisco and Arizona for work and writing and visiting. Home is definitely here in Richmond with our family and friends. Home is wherever and whenever I’m with my West Coast family, too. I also spent some great days with Judith and dear friends in Oak Island, NC.

Bubba and I worked lots of good hours in our garden and good hours planning our garden for 2012. After three years of cultivating a purple leaf coneflower border, we’re about there. Now for the Baptisia! Oh, and also, I want a Lewis and Clark garden. I’m not sure how this will work out. Maybe I’ll fill our entire garden space with plants introduced by the Corps of Discovery.

2011 was a really awesome writing year. I finally realized that I love the research and reflection every bit as much as the creating and editing. I finished up my manuscript for a new book that will come out in 2012 called Come August, Come Freedom about the blacksmith, Gabriel. More than any other, this book changed who I am and who I hope to be. I also wrote my first short story since 5th grade – about the river, of course. And visited so many schools! One highlight was participating in Longwood University’s Summer Literacy Institute, where I met some great writers and lots of inspiring librarians. Oh, and in the fall, reading with some rockin’ amazing women at artist Susan Singer’s Beyond Barbie series. And writing with middle school students at Carver and Midlo, mmmm-mmmm, mighty fun!

Last year I enjoyed writing retreats at Richmond Hill with poet, Cheryl Pallant and at The Porches, with good friends. Two enchanting spaces conducive to creating and quieting. When I couldn’t get away, writing with Valley Haggard was its own mini weekly writing retreat.

We moved our horses to Campbell Springs Farm, like, a day before Hurricane Irene! Albert and Latte have settled in nicely. We found a silver lining of living without power for nine days post-Irene: evenings of ice cream and conversation with Bubba’s parents, a tradition we’ll continue until McDonald’s stops selling $1 caramel sundaes.

There wasn’t anything wildly spectacular about 2011 except for everything about it. All the regular, every day moments that make life good: fixing tacos with my goddaughter, working cows with three handsome men, sharing meals and manuscripts with my beautiful friends, looking for bufflehead and bald eagle on the river, watching a cicada molt, cooking with Judith and Bub, revising and revising with my dog and a fire, taking our sweet nephew to his first bball game. And even on days of sorrow or uncertainty, smelling Grammy’s roses or my Winter Daphne and remembering Shelley. If Winter’s here, can spring be far behind?

My plan for 2012? More.

 2012 Plan

My plan for 2012

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