Five Green Acres Mary Jo + Andrew Borchardt Poynette, WI
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White Blank Page

White Blank Page
January 3, 2013 Mary Jo


The new year falls like a coat of fresh snow, obliterating past goals, unmet, laying the foundation for a regrouped effort.  Start fresh, it beckons, and every year without fail, I feel that message through to my bones.  Maybe it’s the crisp newness of a calendar’s pages, not yet creased by time’s plow and dirty fingers.  Maybe it’s the power of a benchmark – a place in time, every year, to call forth the ambitions not yet realized, to be bolstered by those achieved.  Maybe I just plumb ran out of cerebral space to house all the clutter.  Whatever the case, I’ve hit the ground running this year; the need to make plans and establish order on the Acres has garnered the full force of my focus.


Initially, I sought out a digital solution, maybe even one for the iPad – so portable it would be! (so tethered to the iPad I would be)  I wanted a plan I could visualize in a linear fashion.  I wanted to stack all of my projects within this linear grid and overcome my inherent lack of time-sense. This seems like a good year to take steps to prevent the annual May disaster that occurs when lambing, gardens, and chicks all converge to a head – how might thoughtful planning stagger these to a mortal’s pace?  A Gantt chart format was what I needed, I learned, “project management” were useful keywords.  I trialed a few options, fumbling around with the formats while at the same time trying to get a better sense of what I actually needed, how I would use it.


In the end, I realized that the visceral pleasure of taking a pen to paper was what I needed, the immediacy of making a list on paper, crossing it off, or not. I pulled out the fresh, albeit smallish Moleskine calendar I already had, the similarly-smallish Moleskine accordion-fold linear calendar, that I already had, the crisp new dotted grid book with tear-off sheets (for lists!) that I had forgotten I had, and the clever large format blank book, (with built-in metaphor!) that I had already made.


And then I proceeded to dump.  To release from the crowded confines of my brain all of those things that I want to put on the agenda for the future.  To-do lists for the present.  Important dates into the (yes, really smallish, but so portable?) calendar. Lists for the lists. I honed, again, the hack spreadsheet schedule I had made up months earlier, but had forgotten about weeks ago.  Do you do this too?  Some breaking point was reached back then, likely the “need more time to work” refrain mingled with the new “get a grip on this homeschooling gig” verse, some intense breaking point during which I vowed to make great, grave changes and get a handle on my time, some intense breaking point that generated a carefully-conceived schedule.  A plan.  Which I printed out at least 4 times (that’s 4 weeks) and even used loosely for about 3 of them.  Oh.  That plan.  I daresay it was nearly BRILLIANT! I shall dust it off and use it, immediately.


So I am, starting today tomorrow. (blogging scheduled for 7am, not 4:30pm)

For this all to work, it must be elastic.

A plan such as the carefully-conceived spreadsheet is a loose guideline, really, proving its worth on those days that I’m so paralyzed by the enormity of the tasks at hand to chart a course.  On those days, I don’t even know my own name.  On good days, though, I might just toss the whole thing out and go with the prevailing wisdom of the day.  Today was the perfect example of such a day, and damn, if it isn’t useful to be hit over the head with the irony of ditching the schedule labored over all morning, ditching it that very same day.  Schedules and lists, I realized hours ago, must be elastic enough to accommodate the needs of a peasant and a princess, a laundry basket trolley cart running between the kitchen and the living room, and the spontaneous tickle fights and good-hearted play that bond brothers to sisters.  If I can just remember that I have these tools, recall my current optimism in their actually working, then maybe the schedule can spring back into place tomorrow, or more likely, next week.  (because this holiday week is already shot, right?)

So I naively venture forth in this manner, all bright-eyed and optimistic about the future, deliberately suspending the knowledge that the luster will quickly fade and the snow will become old and crusty, stained with the soot of traffic.  I know how it works –  this holiday of planning is fleeting like all the rest, but when the sparkle becomes dingy, I plan on consoling myself with the next holiday in queue – the holiday of seeds and garden porn.

Fa la la la la.




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