On What Makes a Good Day…


What qualifies as a good day? For me, what makes a good day at 58, is much different than it was at 48 or 38. It is actually closer to what it was when I was 8.

Last Saturday was a good day. I received my final grade for the biology class I had struggled through – a low A, but an A, nevertheless. Celebration was in order as we moved into spring break week.

It was 65 degrees and sunny, and Charles and I wanted to “carpe the diem” as much as possible. For us, outside was and always is, the best place to be.

Charles donned the new color-blind glasses that I bought him for his birthday, and we went to the farmer’s market. I found locally grown portabella and shitake mushrooms and picked up two nice blueberry bushes in bloom. We visited the local park where the daffodils blazed a yellow trail across the landscape and the bright red quince were just starting to flower. Charles was amazed at the first color on the redbuds, which he had never seen as anything but brown. I loved seeing him experience the spring in full color for the first time even though it has not fully sprung here. Winter 2023 seems to linger like an Okie on the front porch; it just can’t seem to close the conversation and leave.

We went to visit John who had just lost his mother to cancer. It was his wife, Patty’s birthday. We took them some fancy cupcakes to ensure her day was recognized and spent some time with them reminiscing about Mom. It was Charles’ idea for the cupcakes; I had thought to take her flowers. But he made the right call. This week, there were bound to be plenty of flowers in their home.

Seeing the flowering quince at the park, I was reminded that I wanted to find some for myself. Our German Shepherd puppy, Greta, ate the one I had ready for transplant last fall. I posted to social media asking if friends had any that I could get some clippings from. Robin did, and we went to get them. I got to see some of the chickens she had taken from me two years ago when we moved to the city and assured me I could have some of the babies once we got our new coops up. It was a good visit.

Susan offered us some landscaping rocks that she had no use for. This was an opportunity for me to visit with her and for Charles to see the new workshop her husband Dean had built. I later placed the rocks by the driveway with two goals: slowing erosion and keeping delivery drivers off the lawn.

That afternoon we pruned up the large cedars and blackjacks behind Charles’ workshop. The trees were due a trim – having never had one before. Our plan for this space is to put new chicken coops under the branches rather than just clear the trees altogether. The trees would supply great shade, but the lower branches had to go. We worked the remainder of the day until the north wind came through and rudely chased off all the sunshine and warmth.

I made a loaf of garlic rosemary sourdough bread. For dinner, I made one or our favorite dishes with the portabellas from the farmer’s market: vegetarian mushroom burgers, with caramelized onions, spinach, and Havarti cheese on seeded rolls. We finished it off with a new flavor of ice cream, white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, which was absolutely delicious.

Just before drifting easily off to sleep I said to Charles, “it was a good day.”

Sunday morning the north wind and clouds were still there, but I made two nearly perfect loaves of seeded bread. I say “nearly” because I forgot to egg wash on top, again.

I planted the blueberries, quince, and some forsythia. I started some vegetable seeds and transplanted three orchids into new larger pots. After lunch, we went out to finish up the clearing for the chicken habitat. Susan and Dean came by to get some extra scrap wood we had. Susan and I had another visit and Dean got to see Charles’ workshop. Dean accidentally drove over the new rocks and onto the lawn. No one can fuss at a spouse like a woman who has been married 40 years. I just laughed. That place on the property is a magnet for trucks with large tires. I gave Susan one of the bread loaves.

I found the post puller we misplaced (and had since replaced); in plain sight, of course. Now if the same could happen for my missing hand rake. I noticed that one of the dwarf irises I planted has come up and bloomed, my daffodils are exploding along the frontage, and the phlox has gotten really comfortable in the side rock garden. My winter crop is still alive.

“It was a good weekend,” I said as I turned out the light Sunday night.

Monday morning, a colleague asked if I’d had a good weekend. I replied, “I did!” She asked what was so good about it. I recounted the details, and there was a brief pause as if she was waiting for me to finish. She stuttered, “Oh, that’s it! Wow, yes, it sounds like a really … really… good weekend. All that cooking and outdoors and manual labor and death and stuff… just … perfect. The colorblind glasses, though, that’s pretty cool.”

Tuesday evening after work, I decided to deal with two of our unopened moving boxes. The boxes contained some of our art; pictures and things that we haven’t put up yet. There is limited wall space in our new home, so I have to be selective in what I hang. It is hard, because I love it all, but don’t have room. Leaving it in boxes in the attic for our kids to deal with makes zero sense. I tossed all broken frames and divided the keeps versus the donates. I broke down the two boxes with complete satisfaction at the empty space they left. Charles was away on a work trip, so dinner was a bowl of that raspberry cheesecake ice cream.

Wednesday morning a colleague asked me if I’d had a good evening. I said “Oh, yes, a very good evening. Thank you.” He asked what was so good about it. I hesitated a second before saying, “I unpacked two moving boxes.” He blinked, “Did you find a $20 at the bottom or something?”

I realize that what delights me now doesn’t always translate to others as delightful. The activities of my weekend and evening obviously seemed like nothing to my two young colleagues. Nothing memorable, nothing extraordinary, nothing to write about – yet, here I am. But, for this one-time Type A workaholic with stress levels in the danger zone, my nothings are more extraordinary than most somethings. I am reminded of that line from the movie Office Space, “I did nothing and it was everything I hoped it would be.” I can relate.

In our current culture, the tendency is to compare our lives to those of our “friends” and use that as a measuring stick. A trip to Hawaii, buying a new car, arrival of a grandchild, 10 more pounds down on the scale; all reasons to celebrate, of course. “Busy” seems to be a measure of a person’s worth somehow. But, I prefer a place where, like this morning, there is no demand on my time and my calendar is not full of prescheduled events. I have activities to choose from (change the linens, empty another moving box, grocery shopping), but none are urgent. There are no deadlines. The banana bread is probably the most critical thing on my list today, as last week’s bananas are getting blacker by the minute. But I could also just put them in the compost and read a book instead.

Charles is installing a new garage door opener on his workshop. I’m thinking about spaghetti squash for dinner. A second friend offered up another pile of landscaping rocks that we will pick up tomorrow.

Would you look at that? Excellent odds for two good weekends in a row!

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