Living My Life in a Timely Manner


Sometimes I wish I could return to the time of my childhood when there seemed to be so much more of it: The long golden days of summer, the wonderful week of school vacation, the stretch of the weekend as I got home from school on Friday. It seemed to me that there was plenty of time to get everything I wished to do done. My days stretched out to be filled with my imagined adventures, the books I loved to read, and my toys.

I don’t remember feeling pressed for time as a child.  I’m sure the grownups were however that didn’t communicate itself to me. I do remember how long it took me to learn to tie my shoes. I was three, or maybe four and my fingers didn’t work as well as they might have. I can still see my small shoes as I bent over them, fumbling with the laces until I got it right. Time wasn’t something I thought about. It wasn’t my job to do that. As an adult, however, it has become so.

One dear friend has accused me of being “time challenged.” She was politely informing me that I was usually late, or at least perhaps often so. I confess it’s true that before leaving my home I may do a few things that seem necessary to me with the result that I leave at the last minute and may actually get where I’m going a little late. This annoys my husband so I work to improve.

You think after the many years we’ve been married he’d know I am apt to shave things close to the bone when it comes to time. He prefers to get to performances, lectures, appointments or church at least a half hour early. He says it’s because in his teen years he was a reporter and liked to get to events early because it was more interesting then and the habit stuck. He says he also likes to get a good choice of seats, which I admit is a good reason.

However the way I see it, that half hour could have been put to so much better use. It always seems to me that there are many things I could have gotten done at home before leaving, while instead I must sit in a waiting room,  pew or theater seat twiddling my thumbs as people come and go, the choir rehearses or I watch the ads on the movie screen. Being on time requires a certain amount of self-discipline, to be sure, and it is also polite. However arriving at a party or someone’s home half a hour early may be inconvenient to the host or hostess.

Because I find it fascinating as a subject, I’ve written a lot of poetry about time. I find it to be a strange accordion, expanding and contracting according to its own rules. Sometimes I look at the clock and think I have a whole hour to get everything done. Then I look again what seems to me fifteen minutes later, only to discover forty five have passed and I didn’t get half of what I planned finished. Perhaps time does challenge me, still, it’s a learning process and I do enjoy learning.


Want an autographed copy of my new book Up To My Neck In Lemons? Send me a check for $15 Postage included, to P.O. Box 171, North Grafton, MA 01536,  and learn about lemons–actual, poetical and metaphorical. Make your life’s lemons into lemonade and enjoy my book a sip or so at a time.

Gazing Back, Looking Forward

Waters Farm View 3  Having lived in the town of Grafton for more than twenty five years, I can both remember how things were and see how they have changed. Often as I drive the streets of this town I am aware of places that were once bare of buildings and are now well populated. It is an interesting feeling: In my minds eye I see trees that once shaded sidewalks now vanished, succumbed to blight or old age; I note houses once one color that are now another. I have memories of roads where I used to walk that were near where I once lived. The past and the present mingle in my mind as I pass through the familiar places.

Janus, the Roman god for whom January was named was honored as the guardian of doorways. He is pictured with two faces, one looking forward, one back. It is interesting to note that they are joined. The past, the present and the future are not separate. Looking back on the year now past gives me perspective as well as a sense of continuity, as does looking forward. As I get older the past, the present and the future blend even more into one. I occasionally need to sort things out and the New year is a good time for this.

There is much that I have accomplished over the past year: columns written, manuscript readied for publication, countless meals prepared, recipes tried, new friends made. Some projects I planned did not turn out as I had anticipated; others turned out to be even better than I thought they would. There have also been significant losses for me this year: friends I treasured that have moved on either in this life or to the next. I still feel connected to them, yet they are receding into the past. I am also pleased to have made progress in changing certain negative habits and building others that are more positive.

It is my hope to keep learning and growing for all of the years I have to live in this lifetime. Because I believe this is important to my quality of life, I work at constantly recreating myself. Toward that end I like to try different things I haven’t done. It is also important to me to review and to renew those I have done in the past. If something doesn’t work for me, I’ll set it aside and move on, yet I may return to try it again. Among other planned projects I want to get back into drawing, illustrating one of my earlier tales. I also have a bunch of sorting to do, and a book of poems to put together.

Perhaps this is the year I will finally go through those notebooks I have been keeping from many years past and mine them for gems I have forgotten or left behind. Certainly I know I will write new stories and new columns, and surely publish at least one new book as well. As I look back and forward, for that which is helpful that remains from the past I say thank you, and for that which was stressful and is now over, I say the same. Having looked back with gratitude, I now look forward with optimism and the knowledge that a new year awaits.

Robin’s Garden, by Tasha Halpert

More leeks for copyMy late son Robin was a gardener by nature. He loved plants and grew them with joy. Whatever he chose to plant grew well for him. He loved growing his own vegetables and harvesting them to cook for himself. As do the Native American peoples, he believed in giving back to the earth whatever was taken from it. Toward that end when he harvested his vegetables he would always give back something to the ground where they were planted.

He helped me with my garden when I had one, however my gardening days are now over and I no longer have the physical space to grow seeds and plants. Nevertheless, each spring I grow something in his memory. I call it Robin’s memorial garden. I create it not with seeds but with recycled carrot tops. I always have carrots in my refrigerator. Carrots are one of my staples.

My vegetable drawer is never without a package of organic carrots–you never know when you’ll need one for soup, salad or just a vegetable for a meal. In the spring, when I take them out, the tops often have sprouted just a bit. These sprouts are my cue to begin Robin’s annual memorial garden. I cut about a half to three quarters of an inch or so off the top of each sprouted carrot and place it in a shallow dish on my kitchen counter.

There they will get some light. After a while green feathery tops appear. These will grow until they have exhausted the nourishment left in the carrot. This is what I call Robin’s garden. Sometimes the carrot stubs grow little roots. I have read that if I were to plant them–which I have not done, they might grow another carrot. I watch with pleasure the little green sprouts grow and think of my son and his green thumb.

While he is no longer growing anything on Earth, his life has inspired wonderful growth here, both for me and for his sister, my daughter Laura. She has done and continues to do valuable work to bring awareness of and assistance to those with traumatic brain injury. In life, Robin sustained a number of concussions as a result of his enthusiastic pursuit of ice hockey. Today my daughter has not only written extensively about traumatic brain injury she has also worked as an advocate to be of help to those with this condition.

In the year after he died I decided to create a body of work in his memory. He loved poetry. As a memorial to him, I began a deliberate focus for myself on what I call the poetic eye: a way of looking at life from a poetic perspective. Since his death I have written many hundreds of poems. This work is also dedicated to him. I know that there are others who have been inspired by him as well. He goes on living in their efforts. While I regret deeply that he is no longer on earth, I celebrate his life with my remembrance and with these little carrot tops that I grow each spring.