For me, 2018 was a year of doing. It was a difficult year, not unlike many people, but I still got shit done. Your Nurse Friday has trended towards nursing and entrepreneur based posts, so I thought I would start off 2019 with a review of what I learned in 2018. There was a lot, but here are some of the highlights.
I *almost* finished the greenhouse. In 2017 I started building a greenhouse in our yard, with the goal of having a Frankenstein-y greenhouse made of windows that I was planning to collect over the upcoming year. I did not have to wait that long, because after posting on freecycle.org, I was contacted by a retired scientist who was looking to replace all of the windows in his home and wanted to gift me all of his old ones.
After a brief physics lesson on why I could not load 2000 lbs of windows into my Honda CRV, three trips, and *only* two broken windows later, I suddenly had everything I needed to build my greenhouse! After roughly building a frame and creating the skeleton for the building, I started to “pin” my windows in place by putting them on the outside of the greenhouse and then “pinning” them to the boards by framing them with wood around the edges. I found the roof at home depot – corrugated pvc-type plastic that was clear enough to allow the sun to shine in, but tough enough to withstand the wind and hail of New Mexico.
I found what feels to be a bomb-proof door at our local second-hand store (bomb-proof because it weighs a ton), which has weathered the settling of the greenhouse well. I broke one window in the process of building the structure (a 2×4 fell over, hit me in the head, and then took out a pane) and replaced the entire back panel of windows after finding a massive window panel on Craigslist (it took two people to move it, but man was it a good deal!). My *almost* part of completing the greenhouse is due to three small eyebrow-style openings on one wall – I have a 2019 plan for these involving glass cutters and a lot of wine bottles…
I also learned how to raise and keep chickens. A good friend of mine coached me through buying the tiny chicks and getting a mini-incubator set up in my home. Once they were ready to move out, I found a great deal on a coop (again, on Craigslist), set the coop up and, of course, expanded it (because I just cannot seem to leave things the way they are). The chickens were successfully moved outside and adapted well to their new surroundings. I quickly realized that one chick was a bit more “glen than hen”, so he was moved to a new home in the country, where the addition of a rooster was much needed. And so the chicks grew into hens, who all became layers, and now we get 4-5 eggs per day, which makes for a great breakfast, every day of the week.
Poultry were not the only flying things I learned how to raise last year either – shortly after the chickens moved outside, I picked up a box of bees! A man brought an entire shipment of bees on the back of his trailer to a nearby town, so two hours later (and a nervous ride home), I very carefully (but not carefully enough) dumped my pound of bees into my top bar hive. A week later, I only had three bee-stings and managed to keep my queen alive and the hive intact.
I religiously tended to my box of bugs every week, ensuring they were building in the correct direction across the bars, checked for mites, and provided a little fountain of water so they would not get too dried out in our New Mexican heat (it was a very hot summer). I harvested a small amount of honey (“just a taste” in my most Winnie-the-Pooh-like voice) and some comb which I made into beeswax candles, with the goal of harvesting more honey in the spring.
Now that it is winter time, I watch the hive on warmer days and am relieved when I see a couple of bees tentatively doing a fly-by of their sun-dappled surroundings, so I look forward to what 2019 will bring for my hive.
For Christmas this year, not only did I manage to bake all of our traditional family sweets, but I also created several gifts for the holiday season. I found several World War II-era Japanese fishing floats (once again, on Craigslist – did I mention I love Craigslist?) with which to make dreamcatchers for my Mom and sister. After a bit of experimenting, a lot of twine, and some shots of whiskey, I managed to pull the dreamcatchers together, which turned out better than expected! Additionally, I used some inherited napkin holders to create a Christmas wreath for my Mom, which, when accompanied by some expertly twisted placemats and seasonal ribbon, did not turn out half bad either!
Other highlights of new things I did in 2018 include making bagels for the first time (check out MadeInMarrow.com for more food stories!), enjoying a ride in a hot air balloon over the Rio Grande (not as scary as I thought!), taking glass-blowing lessons, running two marathons, finally doing my first pull-ups (that’s a goal 7 years in the making), growing a massive amount of pumpkins, running seven miles around Stanley Park in the dark, started to tackle a Master’s degree in nursing, and created several new services to be offered by my home health agency.
There were also difficult times in 2018, some that I have talked about and others that I will not. At the end of the year, my paternal grandfather died, who was the first closely related of our small family to pass. “Pop” as myself, my sister, and my cousins all called him, was born on December 31, 1929, in Forestburg, AB and passed away on October 21, 2018, in Vernon, British Columbia. Forestburg, located in almost central Alberta, was only settled 24 years prior to Pop’s birth, and currently has a population less than 900, so I can’t imagine that Roger Gordon Ponton grew up in a bustling metropolitan area. But despite his humble beginnings, he went on to do seismic exploration on potential oil patches and would regale his granddaughters with tales of being dropped off by tiny planes in the middle of nowhere, building igloos, and setting up camp to be prepared for when the rest of the oil crew arrived. He later worked as a geophysical assistant in Calgary from the 1960s to the 1980s and finished his career by running his very own successful seismic brokerage data firm for almost two decades. He was a baseball player, a hockey player (we are Canadian, after all), and a curler (you know, with the brooms and stones?).
But above all, Pop was a doer. He built a cabin, he built on additions to his home, he built some beautiful decks, put up multiple sheds, and put together who knows how many bikes, swing sets, and various other toys for us girls. If he did not know how to do it, he figured it out, and always had a joking comeback ready in case his sometimes out-of-control granddaughters were acting up or being smart-alecks. He was quiet but funny and always had a black fingernail or bruised rib from an errant hammer swing or a misstep off the roof. Not only did I inherit my klutziness and over-zealous eyebrows from him, but I also feel that I inherited his DIY-ness and adaptable spirit.
2019 has started out rough – the last six days have been a doozy and it is easy to get derailed when you feel like you cannot catch a break. But one of Pop’s favorite sayings was, “you can’t score goals from the penalty box”, meaning, you can’t excel (or even participate) if you take yourself out of the game. 2018 was my year of doing, and I won’t let the first week of 2019 or those bad times from 2018 steal that momentum. So 2019 I will adapt, I will persist, and I will do. Because that is what Your Nurse Friday is all about and a lesson Pop would never stop teaching.