To-Do Lists and Sunny Days

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My sketchbooks and to-do lists scattered about (much like my focus), but ready for the next sunny day.

Vashon Islanders and mayflies have something in common. When bestowed with one warmish sunny day, we emerge from our dens (and ponds, respectively) to consume the day as if it were our last. Unfortunate for mayflies, it is, but for islanders, we will live (in most cases and in spite of ourselves) to see another solar-charged day. And until that happens, we will nurse our self-inflicted injuries under the cover of clouds, and tend to our skinned knees, thrown backs, sunburned schnozes, nettle-stung ankles, and bramble-scratched brows. But make no mistake; we will not give up on the day until the final waning ray of sun retires well below the Olympics. Oh, and should a sunny day occur on the weekend, Lord have mercy.

big breakfastFirst order of business: make coffee and a hearty breakfast

For me, my sunny day activities begin post bird chirps, but prior to any buzz from the beehive. Primed with some high-octane joe, I grab pen and paper like a dutiful school boy with all the right answers, and begin drafting my plans for the day. While my to-do list may spill over to the next page, depending on diagrams and doodles, my pronounced and projected accomplishments are actually tempered a wee bit these days. Awareness is a gift with age, and my inner voice of reason is curiously spot-on, so I listen.

Sometimes breaks (and naps) are shared experiences.

Around the age of fifty, my body put in a personal request for the inclusion of nap time on my to-do list. It just appeared one day, after my “make lunch” entry. My mind seconded the motion, and reran several post-traumatic home-improvement flashbacks for good measure and to drive the point home. Such epiphanies along with age, personal reflection, achy joints and a high medical insurance deductible rouse several important realizations: chainsaws are for men who have never worn Topsiders, ladders are for lads with more cartilage than bones, and staple gun usage should fall under the guidelines of the Brady Bill. There is one machine that I’ve managed to remain at peace with, my riding mower, and that is thanks to federally-mandated safety standards that call for it to shutdown anytime I’m not on it.

moss and bricks and weedsItem #24: weeding (often ignored, but always on the list).

When I make my to-do list, I always ignore the math. Sure… I can weed whack the rockery, roto-till the garden, repair the chicken coop, walk the dogs, plant trees, go to the farmers market, clean the fountain and prune the raspberries, all before making a pie to bring to an evening potluck. If I did tally the time needed for the labors of my day, I’d be too overwhelmed to start a one. So, I say “hello” to denial and plug away like the day and my focus have no end.

Not all tasks are onerous.

Another thing I consider and am prepared for is the inevitable to-do list detour, brought on by drop-ins, broken equipment, the time and space continuum, and my mere status as a mortal. Just last week as I sprang forth from the porch ready to seize the day, I found my weed whacker without string, my tiller DOA, my mower suffering from the vapors, and my post pounder in hiding.
Moments like these make me alter my to-do list to include what others might see as flimsy excuses for tasks, silly fodder to check off as the day progresses. Well, yes that is exactly right. I add things like flush toilet, feed dogs, make ice tea, retrieve mail, and test the hammock. Quantity trumps quality some days, and knowing I got 20 things done fosters a sense of accomplishment, no matter how trite the task. (Yes, I’m a simple man.)

Item #26: weed whack–make that whack wearing long pants.

On a recent sunny Saturday, I was reviewing my list of actions items, weeding tools in hand, when I heard the crush of gravel down my drive. A gleaming chariot approached, driver and riders shrouded under the veil of tinted glass. Ultimate driving machine parked, the car doors opened to expose a boisterous crew of friends from Seattle, each carrying some goodie or libation as an offering. My picnic flash mob gushed over the beauty of Vashon, the dreamy ferry ride, and the progress I’ve made on the place. After a round of hearty hugs and hellos, one friend said, “I hope we’re not interrupting anything.” I assured him that the only thing on my to-do list was to enjoy the day, this very sunny day, with friends. And I’m happy to report, that’s just what I did, without incident, injury or a call to 911. As for my to-do list, I folded it, tucked it under my favorite refrigerator magnet, just so I’d know where to find it on our next sunny day, say in July or August.

No matter what’s on your to-do list, don’t forgot to take a little time to smell a couple of these along the way (rain or shine).

23 COMMENTS

  1. You know, I have now discovered an excellent cure for brambles…goats! Best of all, my ankles, and brows, suffer significantly fewer scratches now. And if you train them right, they insist on naps…in laps no less! They don’t make my to-do list any shorter, but I’m feeling more rested than I have recently. Although I don’t have a Boz and Gracie to encourage me toward a hammock. I must admit though, you have nicer friends than we do. Maybe we need to move Vashon Island to encourage ours to drop in more often? 😉 Sorry about the chlorophyll on the shins and socks, that looks awfully familiar!

  2. I love lists! I can spend all day making them… sometimes I even DO some of the things on them, but only because I love crossing things off my lists too 🙂
    I also love the idea of a picnic-flashmob… XO

  3. Tom, that picture of you post weed-wacking is suspicious in its knee-down view. I wonder what neck-up might look like? Do your safety-glasses need pressure washing? Thanks for the sunny day savoir faire. We’re working hard to eliminate all weed-wacking edges and areas-doesn’t come easy. Perhaps a goat….

  4. What a sweet entry.
    I for one thank the rainy days that force your hand, indoors, so you can write these lovely blogs that make me teary eyed. Heck if it was sunny more than one or two days a year I’d be stuck reading the Beachcomber!

  5. Just spied that fabulous old-fashioned wire fencing – wondering if you bought a huge role….I did find that online…..but nothing less than 150′ ! Just needed 20′ so opted for the very stout 4″ concrete reinforcement. But that wire is perfect for your hacienda.

    • Hi Sheryl, Thanks for noticing. I searched the high heavens for the that double-loop ornamental fencing. Seems it’s fallen out of favor; how could that be? I did buy a large role up in Marysville, and trucked it back. Putting up a fence is oddly difficult. Who knew?
      Tamara and Sue, thanks for the kind words.
      Sandra, the top half was even scarier, my glasses looked like I dropped them in a bowl of pesto.
      CVF, keen observations all, but I don’t know, you’re farm looks idyllic to me. I visit your blog to live vicariously through your posts. As for goats, Boz the bulldog, thinks anything with four legs is a bull. He makes no distinction in the hoof department. And like this old dog, I think he may be un-trainable.
      Janet, check this off your list: Tom enjoyed your comment and visit!

  6. Loved this post. I’m so glad you have sense enough to take naps AND know when to give up a list of chores for some fun with friends.

  7. Tom – I agree with Tamara! What a delightful post – and so glad you had a great flash mob picnic to interrupt your day. What better interruption is there? By the way, we had the one sunny day too…and if we are really lucky, maybe we will have another in July or August. Hope lives eternal!

  8. Eloquently put. I am a list person too… do I follow it to a t? Nope. Such is life. I usually give myself a couple of years to get to things…
    Although, the first thing on that list as you’ve so rightfully put, is to enjoy your days. ♥

  9. Great post Tom. Once again you’ve brought a smile or 10 never mind a full blown belly laugh or 2. Your breakfast looks darned tasty and as for the rose …well ! Hope lots of sunny days head your way pdq and if they don’t, you make your own anyway. You certainly provide plenty to the rest of us on your blog.

  10. Thanks Luke, yep I love breakfast. That morning two fried eggs, atop bacon-bedazzled bread, and little homemade mustard sauce, then I crown the whole thing with shaved Parmesan. There’s also a fresh fig in there somewhere and some chunky apple sauce. See why I love breakfast?

  11. Oh, how I love being interrupted during the day by friends! (especially friends bearing libations!). And as for lists — mine always spill over into the next day. I just keep adding to it.

  12. After gardening for 3 full days I now have the sore aching back to go with my weedless garden. Thank you for reminding me that this 52 year old gal just might be ready for some help – or a semi-weedy garden. I’ll take your advice to heart – right after I go hang my new hammock!

  13. Hi Tom. Stumbled across your blog which I have been enjoying for hours now it seems, for the sun has slipped behind the neighbor’s trellises, and I seem to be craving bacon and eggs and fresh fruit for supper. I envy your life since I come from country stock. Now that I’ve retired (from teaching high school English), I am finally returning to tradition and making jams and pickled peaches to give to friends at Christmas in my small tract home in Fresno. I was thinking that your red fleshed peach would look wonderful in jars, but haven’t seen them locally. Do they produce in the central valley or is it just to hot here for them to mature slowly? Many thanks for the afternoon’s entertainment. I hope to return often.

    • Hi Andi, thanks for your visit and very kind words. As for the red fleshed peaches, you may check with your local farm stands and ask them about “vineyard peaches.” That is what some people call them. California is peach tree heaven so I’d think you’d be able to find them, though it may take some effort. You could always plant an “Indian Free” peach for your own backyard harvest. Good Luck and may I ask, are you from the South? I haven’t had a pickled peach since I left South Carolina and/or Virginia. Would love it if you care to share your recipe.

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