Good Things

weekI won’t even attempt to put a timeframe on this post. I have not had a typical good things post in so long, I have forgotten how I had even had that habit. These are busy days, I know, but I can’t believe that they have been so busy that I can’t sit myself down and rattle off what has made me happy, impressed me, inspired me, or in some way or the other made me take positive notice. I need to do that. It revs my engine. It balances me. It makes me accountable. It makes me a better world citizen when I make myself be more aware of goodness.

So, I will do my best to bring the habit back into my life. Here, I give you a recap of some of the things that I have taken note of during the last several weeks. Maybe you have noticed some of these too!

ypl_woodson_Brown_Girl_DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – We had our annual Poetry Night Book Club last night. This is the night we all bring a poem or two to read aloud and say why we like it. My choice this year may have been my easiest choice ever. A few weeks ago I read Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award Winning Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline’s book tells the story of her life – all in verse! She was born in Ohio in the 1960s, but did her growing up in South Carolina and Brooklyn. The pieces that she put together in this book weave a beautiful story of her family and the time during our country’s history when being a brown girl could sometimes be dangerous. The book is marketed as a young reader, but I think there is no age limit to love this book. Here is just a snippet.

sometimes,

no words are needed

Deep winter and the night air is cold. So still,

it feels like the world goes on forever in the darkness

until you look up and the earth stops

in a ceiling of stars. My head against

my grandfather’s arm.,

a blanket around us as we sit on the front porch swing.

Its whine like a song.

You don’t need words

on a night like this. Just the warmth

of your grandfather’s arm, Just the silent promise

that the world as we know it

will always be here.

bugNew Art

Dan and I went down to the Brookside Art Fair last weekend and I was taken by the art of Kreg Yingst, an artist from Florida. He does super cool block prints that are music themed. There were several that I could have been very happy with, but I decided on one with a vintage bug and Beatles lyrics. Everytime I walk past it hanging in our dining room it makes me smile!

Rotary073368_2219861926312520772_nWaldo-Brookside Rotary – For a few years, Dan has wanted to start a Rotary Club in our neighborhood. While he loves his current Rotary Club, he had the feeling that there was a niche for an evening club in our area where there lots of new businesses and active neighbors. It is now a real thing. Through his work and the support of the Plaza Rotary over fifty people have committed to being a charter member of the new club. I am one of them. I have already met some wonderful people – all with a commitment to make our city, nation, and world a better place. It is a great thing to be a part of from the very beginning, and I hope that Dan knows what a wonderful thing he was instrumental in bringing about! If you are in the area, we would love to join us at 5:30 at The Well in Waldo.

EdEThe 100 Day Project – There is an Internet challenge that started back at the beginning of April called the 100 Day Project. The goal is to pick something that you want to try to do for 100 days and go for it and document it. In my quest to be a little more creative, I decided to do this, but I had a little trouble coming up with what it was that my challenge could be. I kind of wanted to draw, and I came up with the best solution for someone who wants to draw but needs a lot of help with it. My project is #100Daysof EdEmberley. Since April 5, I have been drawing and posting an Ed Emberley inspired drawing on my Instagram feed. It has been fun, and there are so many creative things coming out of this challenge. I think I can make it until July 14!

zucchiniZucchini Noodle Maker – In our continuing quest to eat more Paleo, Dan and I happened onto a new gadget that has made our list of great things. This little device when scraped across a zucchini created noodley pieces of zucchini that can substitute for pasta when paired with things like shrimp scampi or beef stroganoff. I could eat them every day!

As I was going through my logbook pages for the last several weeks, there are a number of little things that bear mentioning since they too were great! Things such as: visiting Powell Gardens on a beautiful Saturday in Spring, cleaning out my utensil drawers, watching the Kentucky Derby with juleps and friends, Birdie snuggling on Dan, buying tickets for Pitchfork festival in Chicago and Jason Isbell at the Ryman Theater, Season 1 of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Dan reading me Lake Isle of Innisfree in his William Butler Yeats voice, seeing the Drive By Truckers, peonies in bloom, them Royals!

That does it for this one. I hope there are many good things ahead for everyone!

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Last Week’s Good Things

photo (1)My sense is that I am still getting the feel of the new year. January is always like that. It isn’t like January 1 hits and you have your plan for the year all set. You are still in recovery stage from the holidays and it is cold and dark. Nevertheless, amidst some pretty terrible things that happened in our world, my days held good things and here were a few that I noted down last week.

garlandMaking Garlands – In an email message from Sam, he mentioned that he and Jean wondered if I would make some heart garlands for their wedding celebration party. A couple years ago, I had seen on Pinterest or somewhere where you took punchout hearts and string them on a ribbon to make a garland. I made them and sent one to Sam and Ali. Sweetly, I remember visiting Sam several months later and seeing it still hanging up. Now, he tells me it is hanging in their bedroom. Well, that made my own heart melty, and I set to making yards of garlands.

suitWedding Suit IMing – Another impending wedding good thing was that on Saturday Sam sent several instant messages and pictures while he was shopping for his wedding suit and accessories. Say what you will about how technology will be our downfall (some people say that, right?), but I am all for being able to instantly see my boy picking out wedding clothes hundreds of miles away.

#JeSuisCharlie – Speaking of technology, there was the #JeSuisCharlie flood that came after the awfulness in Paris. Being able to type a few characters on social media gave people across the world a means to connect; to say I’m with you; to say I care. It is small, but it is something. You wish for more joyful ways for the world to connect, but we are not always so lucky.

boseCooking and Listening to Music – A pleasure in my life is listening to music while I am in the kitchen. I have gotten a little more picky about how music sounds, andI so  appreciate it when the sound is quality. My listening caliber got a boost when Ali and Jose got us a sweet Bose wireless speaker for Christmas. Last Friday I was tooling around the kitchen making dinner, enjoying a glass of wine, and listening to some Jason Isbell. It was so beautiful I had to take a pause to soak it in.

deskGetting back to my desk – Last Friday was the first one in a long time where I got to sit down at my desk and do a little creative work. Our Christmas tree kind of blocked it for a few weeks, and then there was holiday dishevelment in general. When I sat down last Friday, I didn’t do much, but it was fun to just play around a little. I have some fun new markers, so I got to do some arty stuff with pretty colors. We bought this desk at a little neighborhood shop. It belonged to the owner’s mother and he was using his store to display and sell off a few of her things. Since we got it, it has moved around a little, but when it landed in our library room, it felt at home. It has never been declared my desk, but obviously I have taken it over. Sitting in its messy comfort is the definition of a good thing.

Keep your good things close!

Last Week’s Good Things

new yearThe first week of the new year has turned bitingly cold in the Midwest. If it was not redundant, I would sing good praises of fleece-lined leggings as a good thing as I am wearing them all of the time. Alas, since I try not to repeat myself in my noting of good things, I will just sneak them into the opening paragraph. Sneaky of me. I do love them that much. Aside from the leggings, here are other things that were good parts of last week.

things1. The game Things – Have you played this one? It is a wooden box full of cards – each with a different prompt for a category. There is stuff like, “things that make you burp” “things that bump in the night” … The dealer circulates among the players. The dealer picks a card, announces the category, and everyone has write on a piece of paper their entry into that category. Then the dealer has to guess who wrote what. The night before they left town last week, we played Things with friends and Ali and Jose. As usual, as the night goes on, (and perhaps the glasses of wine multiply), the entries became funnier and funnier. Themes arise that are oftentimes inappropriate, but quite amusing.

2. Fake calligraphy and Laurel wreath – while I want to be a pretty writer and a competent drawer, I am very much in the Ed Emberley club. I need step by step instructions on how to do things. Last week, I found The Postman’s Knock website. I have not delved too deeply into it yet, but, so far, she has taught me how to draw a multitude of laurel wreaths (of course, each time I need to return for instructions), and how to do fake calligraphy. Good indeed!

3. Dan’s enthusiasm for the new year – When someone you live with is enthusiastic about things, it is hard not to get the bug too. Dan woke up on January 1 raring to go. We even made a trip to Office Max for organizational supplies! I too am excited about a new start of the calendar and the potential the year holds, but being able to ride the enthusiasm with a partner is a great thing.

veggie4. New Eating Plan – This kind of goes with the one above, but as part of our new year plan, Dan and I have started a new eating routine that is kind of based on the Primal plan. Basically, it is low carbs, lots of protein, and don’t worry about fat. We do manage to fit some carbs in, but, so far, what we are eating has fit the plan pretty well. On New Year’s Day, I roasted up beets, carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips. We have enjoyed that bounty over the last several days. I hope that I will be saying at year’s end that I have stuck with this plan – other than for excursions off the grid for special occasions. I think there is sound logic behind it, it makes me feel better about what I am eating, the food tastes good – all good things!

hoboo5. My New Planner!! – There is really nothing better about a new year than a new planner. Am I right? One of my loves is all manner office supplies and papery goods. I follow several blogs that have as their content, what their planner looks like. My own blog almost always features a picture of what I call my Logbook. During the year, I read several reviews of the Hobonichi planner from Japan. The reviews note that  the paper is good and the design is great. There is only one distributor in the US that I could find, and I bought one a couple months ago. It turned out not to be the one that I expected (I was thinking that I was getting the bigger version), but I can deal with this. I am still working on how I document in the pages, but I do love it. Who knows! I might become one of those planner exposers.

Anyway – those were a few of my good things last week. How about you?

Last Week’s Good Things

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Last week seems like a blur of many things, but here are some things that made me happy during it.

cook

Cook for Courage Event for Child Protection CenterThe Child Protection Center is a nonprofit agency where children who are suspected of having been abused can go to for an age-appropriate, safe, forensics interview. The work they do is pretty amazing, and, unfortunately, the need is large. Last year, they served over 750 children! For the first time, the agency put on a major event to raise funds for the center. Cook for Courage brought together six area chefs – each of them had to do their take on ribs and a side dish. A beautiful evening, held on a bridge!, where we got to eat delicious concoctions, while donating to a good cause, all adds up to a very good thing!

Dinner at EBTEBT is a restaurant that has been serving meals in Kansas City in the same place for many, many years. We had never been there, but we had in our minds that it might be the kind of place that could have molded jello on the menu. We put our preconceptions aside and made our way to EBT for dinner last week. Dan writes about the experience really well on his blog, but I have to include it on mine too. It was really a wonderful experience and the food was fantastic! The trendy and “Latest and greatest” is not always better. EBT exuded classic!

 

salad

From my garden – Hmmm. Lots of food centered things this week! Oh well, sometimes that is just the way it goes. On Friday, I made a salad for dinner. I grilled some chicken and I tossed it with lettuce, radishes, onions, avacado and cheese. What made me really happy about this, was that the lettuce and the radishes came from my garden! They were pretty and fresh, and it was delicious!

phantomThe Phantom TollboothDan and I got to go hear Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer talk several months ago. It felt like such an amazing gift to hear two giants in the world of children’s literature talk about creating The Phantom Tollbooth. The guilty part of it, however, is that I really don’t think that I ever read The Phantom Tollbooth. I thought maybe I did, but reading it last week, I could not remember that I had. Oh man! It is such a wonderful book and there were many, many memorable moments and lines. Because it was the 50th anniversary edition, the book included essays by a  number of writers and others saying what the book meant to them. Pure pleasure!

 

The end of my notebook – Last year I started keeping a different kind of journal than I ever have. I had found this great (de)composition book at a college bookstore. Using some ideas from Austin Kleon, I did a page-a-week format. There isn’t really a format, but it could include me trying a different kind of handwriting, drawing, lists, notes, to dos, good things to remember, ephemera pasted or taped in – really anything. I have loved keeping this up. It makes me happy just looking at it or opening up to any page. Unlike journals I have kept in the past, this doesn’t hold troubles, it holds happy things. This past week finished off (de)composition book #1. Book #2 is ready for action. I am ready for weeks ahead with much to be happy about.

Ready for a new week? Let’s go!

Scapes – My Dresser

I want to try something new on my blog this year, and this will be kind of weird. I love to look at pieces of other people’s lives. Where they live, how they live; what they do, how they do it. I especially love when this is done with images and creativity. Scapes is going to be my attempt to do something similar. It will be photos of some view in my life that I like, along with my attempt to creatively explain what it is and why I like it.

This first scape is my dresser. It sits in the corner of my bedroom, so when I am reading in bed it is my direct line of vision (this is a very small room, so little isn’t in my line of vision). I have always used the surface of my dresser to hold practical and fun/inspirational items. When I look at it, it makes me happy.

My creative attempt at explaining what some of the items are is below. As you can see, I have little talent for that kind of thing, but it is fun nonetheless.

dresser-1

Rulin’s Update

woody1November 1, 2013. Two months left in the year – sixty-one days. The good(?) thing about having a blog is that it can hold the writer accountable. In January, I posted my “rulin’s” for the year, just as Woody Guthrie once did. We are getting close to a point where a pass/fail can be declared, but two months offers opportunity to at least pay attention to some of these things and perhaps sprint towards success. So today, I am looking back at my intentions, recognizing those successes, and looking forward to what I might be able to salvage.

Here were my 33 optimistic rulin’s followed by where I stand with each:

1. Finish writing my book. This is going to be the year.

Oh, what a sweet, optimistic thing I was back in January! Nope, not going to happen. But, I am really pleased with some of the progress that I made, advice I have been given, and even some new connections that I have made. I am hopeful that I am on a roll and that I will use my wonderful pool of advocates to maintain the push on me to get this done.

2.  I am going to drink more water. There, I said it.

I kind of think that I have done pretty well on this. I bought a new water bottle for work that I drain once a day. If not always successful, I am certainly more consistent.

3. My gym membership will be used more. I actually had some great momentum going at one time last year. I need to figure out how to gain that back.

Bad news on this one. I had the classic great run at the beginning of the year, but I have petered out terribly. Good news, I found my way back to the gym this week.

4. I will watch less television. Dan and I discussed last night that we would do at least one night a week television free.

We have not had a regular television free night, but it does happen. What I will say on this is that I have refused to pick up new television shows this year. I have my shows that get recorded and that we stay current on. What I tend to do, however, is turn on the television at night, just because. I am pretty sure that I can do better at this!

5. I am going to learn how to dance – my Christmas present from Dan.

We did this! We took our dance lessons and had fun doing it. Dancing – with any kind of expertise – takes practice. We have not done a good job at that, but there are still sixty-one days to make that better! 

6. I am going to fit into some of those clothes that I refuse to move out of my closet.

There are still sixty-one days to make this better…

7. I am going to spend time each morning at work, planning my day.

notebooks

When I do this, I am so grateful. I have tried different versions of planning tools this year. I found these wonderful composition books that I keep as a runner. One is for work, and one is for outside work. My work book has a weekly to-do list that I add to during the week and then transfer undone things to the new week. This has worked pretty well, as has using Wunderlist for master list keeping. I can definitely step up my game on this, but I judge this a partial success.

8. I am going to clean my office at work and keep it organized and inviting.

officeAgain, partial success. It looks like 2014 will see the opportunity to finally move out of our temporary trailer home and into a real building with most of the rest of our department. I am so eager for that to happen. In the meantime, my office continues to be a pretty nice location. I have a great view of the city skyline and I have embellished by walls with fun and colorful posters. Most recently, I strung ribbon near the ceiling and hung pretty postcards from the ribbon using fancy paperclips. Just walking into my office and seeing some of those images makes for a better experience. I am kind of psyched to decorate a new place!

9. I am going to re-up my Mug Club membership because going to lunch at 75th Street every Sunday with Dan is one of the things that makes me happiest.

mug

Perhaps the easiest thing on my list. Done.

10. I am going to learn how to draw Ali’s dog Banjo better so I can write stories about her.

I’ve worked on this, but I need to get back at it. I haven’t nailed her cuteness yet.

11. I am going to send fan mail (real postage stamped mail) once a week to someone I admire. I did this a couple years ago where I sent notes to authors of books I read. It was heartwarming how many wrote back and told me how much my note meant.

DSCF7127DSCF7129

I am doing this somewhat. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden got mail from Missouri, as did some authors. This is fun and I want to do better on. And I have some great postcards!

12. I will do what I can to make the possibility of us opening a brewpub one day a reality.

While I haven’t done a whole lot on this front, there have been some great conversations about this and potential for exciting things to be happening in the coming year.

13. I will be a better leader and employee by being more positive and creative.

One thing that I have tried to be this year is a transparent leader. I share what I know almost always. I am honest in my conversations and try to acknowledge when I am wrong and when I just don’t know the answer. I try to laugh and project a positive attitude. I am partnering with a co-worker in initiating some personal development activities for our co-workers. One of them is to show a couple TED talks over the noon hour. We had our first one recently and it went well. This week we start our SEVEN HABITS IN EIGHT MONTHS discussion group. I think that I have done okay on #13.

14. I want to video chat more with Sam and Ali.

We haven’t done this a lot, but we have done it more than we had. I like it very much!

15. Books – love them. I don’t really have to put it on my list because I will always read them, but I do want to read more! Good lord, there are so many wonderful books. Just yesterday, I got one in the mail that I had to order because Sam wrote me an email about how good it is.

My list will probably be shorter than last year, but I have had some winners this year. That book that Sam recommended was John Greene’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS which is a beautiful book about two adolescents falling in love while dealing with their own mortality. I just finished BILLY LYNN’s LONG HALFTIME WALK about Iraqi soldiers being “honored” at a Dallas Cowboys game. Excellent. 

16. Magazine – love them too! I have not done a good job keeping up with the wonderful print magazines that come into our house each month. I will do better.

Still trying

17. Computer – love my computer too, but I spend too much time with it and not enough time with rulin #15 and #16.

Have not done well at this at all. Sixty-one days to do better!

18. Last year I bought the Hugh Acheson cook book and that became my adventure cook book for the year. I didn’t do great with it, but I did okay. I got Girl and Her Pig for  Christmas this year. That’s my rulin there.

Miserable failure on this. I have not cooked anything from this delightful book. This will happen.

19. The Italy documentation will be completed. I haven’t updated on this, I know, but I will. I am actually doing okay, but I need it on the list to keep me moving.

italy album

While I am not finished, the beautiful album that we brought back is complete, other than some captions. It makes me so happy when I pick it up and move through the page. I have to decide what to do with the left-over photos and other momentos that we brought back. I thought at one time to do an album just of the meals we ate. That may still be an option. Just writing this makes me want to gather everything and look at it. Oh Italy – what a dream come true!

20. Be a better gardener. I planted basil last summer and did not make a single jar of pesto. I think one thing that I need to do is figure out a good watering system.

Not for lack of trying, I had a horrible year for basil. I planted it three times and only towards the end of summer did I really have any plants. I think it may have been a soil issue. The marigold seeds that I thought I planted turned out to be pot marigolds that were very different from my beloved marigolds. They were pretty, but not what I want. Successes were lettuce that was used in salads, lemongrass that was delicious in a few meals, and I have a great stand of chives.

21. Keep a journal better.

Oct20

Those fun composition books have really worked here. I keep a weekly running page that I have been photographing and using as the header for my “Good Things” post. I also have been writing pretty regularly in my 5-year daily diary.

22. Do the crossword puzzle every day. It keeps your brain fresh!

Not too bad here. One of the things that I do at work is copy off the daily NYT crossword and put it in the kitchen for people to fill in while they are heating up their lunch. I keep a copy for myself. I don’t always get to it, but pretty often.

23. See my friends more, and be better about setting up times.

I will never be perfect at this, but I think I have done okay here. Always can do better.

24. More movies. This is one of those things that I really do think that if I put it down, it will make me go see more movies than if I didn’t.

Sixty-one days to see some of those movies that I really want to see. I need to prepare for Oscar!

25. More live music. Ditto rulin #24

2013-04-03 21.12.25

Not great, but not horrible here. We saw some great shows this year. Sallie Ford playing with Thao and the Get Down Stay Downs was super fun. Jim and Micaela getting in the photobooth with Sallie continues to make me laugh. I got to see my man, Jason Isbell and the super delightful, They Might be Giants. We went to hear wonderful Bob Walkenhorst a couple times (should go more), and music at BB’s Lawnside. Already have tickets to see solo Jeff Tweedy next month.

26. Keep up with my Newbery Challenge.

This is my gym reading. When gyming goes by the wayside, so does Newbery. Two months to pick it up.

27. Pick two music albums each month that I really get to know.

I would say that I have done okay on this. I have tried to highlight some albums on my blog that I do get to know. One of the things that I have done lately is to email the artists to tell them that I have done that. It has been sweet to see how many email me back to thank me and tell me that they like my blog.

28. Make a photo album of 100 pictures from 2012, and put the 100 photos from 2011 that I ordered last year into an album.

2012 album

Success. Again, I need to add some words.

29. Take more pictures.

Success

30. Figure out how to start an Etsy shop. We have some ideas that we have been kicking around and doing some stuff on. Time to get real.

I bought a book about how to do it. Hmm. Probably there is more to it. 🙂

31. Get the attic organized. I made such progress when we got to fill the dumpster, time to make it right.

There are sixty-one days in which I can make good on this.

32. Bring my guitar out of hiding and play it again.

It is out of hiding and I pick it up every now and then. I think I need to restart lessons. That can be a whole new rulin in 2014.

33. Keep Deliberate Obfuscation active and fun for me.

This has definitely been a success. It is weird how fulfilling it is to check my stats and see that people are actually reading. 

 

The 304 days that happened before today have been almost all good for me. I have high hopes for the remaining days of this year, and I am already getting excited about some rulins for 2014. Who else is doing some reflecting as we hit this countdown of the last days of this year?

Last Week’s Good Things

It was pretty easy to come up with a list this week, even if we did have to say good-bye to Ali and Banjo again. Here are some of the things that made it a good week for me.

  1. An Ali Day

I switched my day off this week so I could spend the day with Ali. Unfortunately, Dan had to to go to work, much to Banjo’s dismay.

Image 3We had a very fun day that started out with a trip to Costco and then to Bob Jones shoes – where the mannequins kept scaring us, but we were still able to buy some shoes.

Image 4We went to one of Ali’s favorite lunch stops – The Drop – where she always gets their bruschetta. After lunch, there was more shopping and we capped off the afternoon by getting manicure/pedicures. This was a first for me, but I was assured that I would not be tickled, it would not be awkward, and that I would enjoy it. It was totally a nice experience and I can say that my feet have never felt as pampered. The woman and man who took care of us gave Ali a hard time for living so far away and leaving so soon. I liked them. We capped off the day with dinner at Lidia’s. It was hard to see such a fun little visit end, but we made the most of the short time she was here!Image 5 2.Khaki Dance

I was reading an article that mentioned this Internet phenomena song, Hot Cheetos and Takis. It was one of those things that I bent down the corner of the page to remind myself to go and take a look. Y.N.RichKids are part of an afterschool and summer enrichment program in Minneapolis. The Hot Cheetos song got posted last summer and got all sorts of love – including over 7 million views to date. Goodness me, it made me smile, but this other song that the same kids do made me ecstatic! I just sat there for the whole five minutes with a gleeful smile on my face. 

3. A Reading Saturday

Dan had a meeting on Saturday so I was home alone and did not really have anything scheduled until dinner time. I started working on my vacation album (see #4), and then I picked up our book club book and started reading. At about 6:30, when it was time to go over to a friend’s house for dinner, I turned the last page. It has been a long time since I have spent almost a full day reading. It was purely wonderful. Image 1

4. Starting my Vacation Album

Since doing my Italy photo album (which is still not quite finished), I am bound to the commitment of making real photo albums of yearly photos and special events. This week, I got my prints back from our Roadtrip vacation, and I pulled together all of the this and thats I collected along the way. Now it comes down to taking the time to sit with it all and get it in the book and in place. So far I have gotten us out of town, to Dayton, staying in Jamestown, and meeting up with Sam and Jean in Cooperstown. It is looking pretty good.Image

5. Riesling

Sam has been all about Riesling this summer. I have not had much Riesling lately, so we went ahead and bought a couple bottles recently. The two that were recommended to us by the guy at Gomer’s were dry and very nice. A chilled glass of this at the end of a summer day is a very good thing. Image 2

How Do You Start A Year Right?

woody1The wonderful list above was posted a couple years ago on Boing Boing and it is popping up again as we start a new year. The 33 rulin’s were penned by Woody Guthrie sixty-one years ago. It is a mighty fine list.

New year’s resolutions were pretty simple and private things pre-Internet. Like Woody, you may have written them down, or shared them with another over your New Year’s Hoppin John. That was about it. Today, there is so much on-line guidance about how to get yourself on track. There are so many nifty tools available to track your progress/failures. Like a lot of people, I definitely want to make sure that my year is set up for good things, and that my failures of last year won’t be repeated. But what is the best way to do that?

I must divulge that I give myself a little slack in getting my act together for the new year. You may notice that It is January 4th and I am really just getting serious about this. But it is okay. I have a January birthday! I have decided that my new year’s resolutions need to be made by my birthday. If procrastination is one of my vices, I don’t have to be mad at myself until January 18th rolls around and I am still resolution-free. If I get this blog post done today I am winning!

Last year I started this blog as a writing exercise and an accountability thing. While I have not followed through on some of the things that I claimed I would do, I did post fifty-two times last year. I am proud of that; I have very much enjoyed it. There seem to be a few people who read this, and it gets me to write. There really isn’t a good reason that this shouldn’t be my place to set my goals. It is public enough that I feel sheepish when I really drop the ball, but I don’t have to worry that the few people who do read this will rise up against me and call me a fraud should I not drink my 32 ounces of water every day.

So let’s get this done. What is it that I want out of this year and myself? What would be my 33 Rulin’s?

  1. Finish writing my book. This is going to be the year.
  2. I am going to drink more water. There, I said it.
  3. My gym membership will be used more. I actually had some great momentum going at one time last year. I need to figure out how to gain that back.
  4. I will watch less television. Dan and I discussed last night that we would do at least one night a week television free.
  5. I am going to learn how to dance – my Christmas present from Dan.
  6. I am going to fit into some of those clothes that I refuse to move out of my closet.
  7. I am going to spend time each morning at work, planning my day.
  8. I am going to clean my office at work and keep it organized and inviting.
  9. I am going to re-up my Mug Club membership because going to lunch at 75th Street every Sunday with Dan is one of the things that makes me happiest.
  10. I am going to learn how to draw Ali’s dog Banjo better so I can write stories about her.
  11. I am going to send fan mail (real postage stamped mail) once a week to someone I admire. I did this a couple years ago where I sent notes to authors of books I read. It was heartwarming how many wrote back and told me how much my note meant.
  12. I will do what I can to make the possibility of us opening a brewpub one day a reality.
  13. I will be a better leader and employee by being more positive and creative.
  14. I want to video chat more with Sam and Ali.
  15. Books – love them. I don’t really have to put it on my list because I will always read them, but I do want to read more! Good lord, there are so many wonderful books. Just yesterday, I got one in the mail that I had to order because Sam wrote me an email about how good it is.
  16. Magazine – love them too! I have not done a good job keeping up with the wonderful print magazines that come into our house each month. I will do better.
  17. Computer – love my computer too, but I spend too much time with it and not enough time with rulin #15 and #16.
  18. Last year I bought the Hugh Acheson cook book and that became my adventure cook book for the year. I didn’t do great with it, but I did okay. I got Girl and Her Pig for  Christmas this year. That’s my rulin there.
  19. The Italy documentation will be completed. I haven’t updated on this, I know, but I will. I am actually doing okay, but I need it on the list to keep me moving.
  20. Be a better gardener. I planted basil last summer and did not make a single jar of pesto. I think one thing that I need to do is figure out a good watering system.
  21. Keep a journal better.
  22. Do the crossword puzzle every day. It keeps your brain fresh!
  23. See my friends more, and be better about setting up times.
  24. More movies. This is one of those things that I really do think that if I put it down, it will make me go see more movies than if I didn’t.
  25. More live music. Ditto rulin #24
  26. Keep up with my Newbery Challenge.
  27. Pick two music albums each month that I really get to know.
  28. Make a photo album of 100 pictures from 2012, and put the 100 photos from 2011 that I ordered last year into an album.
  29. Take more pictures.
  30. Figure out how to start an Etsy shop. We have some ideas that we have been kicking around and doing some stuff on. Time to get real.
  31. Get the attic organized. I made such progress when we got to fill the dumpster, time to make it right.
  32. Bring my guitar out of hiding and play it again.
  33. Keep Deliberate Obfuscation active and fun for me.

Happy new year all! 33 is a lot of rulins, but I am pretty sure that I can keep on task. Nothing here is impossible, and all of it will make it a better year. How are your rulin’s coming along?

Italian Chronicles

It is hard to figure out where to start. After 16 days away from home, I do feel like I have returned a changed person, but I haven’t processed things enough to understand fully what those changes are, or how they will manifest themselves.

I’ve returned from that trip of a lifetime – an Italian adventure that took us to several locales and allowed us to experience extraordinary sights, sounds, tastes, and emotions. I have about 1500 pictures that I need to spend time with to annotate – before it all becomes a blur of beauty. I have bags of paper ephemera that I need to review and figure out where they will be saved. And, this time I want to do it right.

So maybe I will start there. How do you preserve memories? I have always considered myself a person who journals, but I have nothing saved that I worked on as a child, teenager, or college student. I think the earliest evidence that I have are some day-by-day diaries that I started keeping when Dan was in law school – maybe even when I was pregnant. Since then, my journal keeping has waxed and waned, but I have always loved the time spent with whatever that current journal may be.

I have photo albums – some kind of in order – many haphazardly arranged – most not well labelled. Now I can recall most of the content of each, but there are those pictures that make me scratch my head a little. What will they mean someday to Sam and Ali – or their kids? Now, most of my pictures are on-line – stored in my IPhoto or uploaded into an on-line service where I can select who to share with. Last year, I decided to make copies of 100 photos of things that happened that year, and put them into an album to catalog the year’s event. The pictures are still in the envelope with the nice album purchased for that reason. I need to get that done too.

There is this blog. I have enjoyed my efforts here. I think that this forum has given me another type of opportunity to catalog things that matter to me. The fact that some people read it regularly or just happen upon it when they are searching something random, makes it a different kind of record. Deciding what is both of interest to me, and honestly hoping it will be of interest to others, can be a challenge. The reason behind starting the blog was personal, but the public nature of it is not lost.

I honestly am thinking this through as I write this. I pledge to myself, that during  the next few months, I will use my blog as my conscience.  It will see me through my record-keeping, and, I hope, will also share some experiences and memories of the wonderful trip with anyone who cares to read.

Several weeks before we left, I bought a soft-covered Moleskine notebook where I jotted down some things that I wanted to do and taped in some maps that I thought may be useful. While we were gone, I spent some time journaling in that book about what had gone on each day. I still have plenty of blank pages in that book that I need to fill  in and I have lots of precious receipts, business cards, labels and what not that I want to include in there.

One of the last things that we bought while we were traveling was a beautiful photo album. I had seen it one day when we were strolling around Florence. I wanted it, but figured it was too expensive. By the time that I was about a block away, I decided that I had to have it. We went back a couple days later and it is now ours. It was made by a woman who learned the craft of book making from her parents. It is my plan to make it something that anyone who ever looks at it will understand what this trip was and meant.

Among the things that I want to capture:

  • Getting stranded in the maze of streets in Venice as the city started to flood and every direction to our way home seemed impassable until we finally found one – at which point, Dan had to dash into an open cafe to buy a bottle of “wine to go” so we could celebrate
  • Needing to learn how to read maps again because none of us had cell phones to help us find our way.
  • The hearty manner in which Italian men say Buongiorno! in the morning.
  • Sitting on the Campo in Siena watching an elderly couple walk arm and arm across the expanse.

Whether it is weekly or less often, I promise myself to chronicle my chronicles. I will share images (because one of the things that I love is to look at other people’s journals). I will share some stories. For what it is worth, I may give some advice for anyone hoping or planning to do something similar. I do love this blog! As a person who loves assignments and accountability, this is the best!

My Olympic Memories

The summer of 1972 I was twelve years old and about to enter the seventh grade. That would be a big lifestyle change as it meant moving from the comfort of little Sinclairville Elementary to Cassadaga Valley High School. In a way, it was my last summer of childhood, before moving on to the grown up world of the high school building.

That summer, I discovered Olympic love. It was quite the year for that. I did not come by my Olympic love without precedent. Even though I have always been the chubby kid, I do love the sports. There are some that I cotton to better than others, but I can watch and enjoy most any of them.

ABC was the place to watch the Olympics back then. Jim McKay, with his yellow blazer, was the nice gentleman that introduced us to the games each night. I think from day 1 of the games, I was hooked. Looking at pictures, I have vague recollections of the opening ceremony. The American team entered to the tune of “When the Saints Come Marching In” with snappy red blazers and white skirts for the women (and a nice purse) and white blazers and red pants for the men. 7,113 athletes from 121 countries participated in 193 events in 23 sports.

The German’s chose “The Happy Games” as their slogan, hoping to build a whole new persona for the country that had last hosted the games during the Nazi regime in 1936.

The opening ceremony was on August 26 and closed on September 10. Each night I would watch the days offering, and each day I would read the recaps in the newspapers, cut out the articles and every picture, and paste them into a scrapbook. I think I got supplemental material from the Life magazine that came to our house.

The scrapbook came to hold some amazing stories. Of course there was that tremendously good looking Mark Spitz winning seven gold medals. No one thought that would ever happen again.

For me and millions of others, the other major star was Olga Korbut.  She was darling and strong. Her performance on the uneven parallel bars was a revelation – how could anyone possibly do the things that she could do?  As it turns out, her Korbut Flip where she kind of stands on the high bar and throws herself backward is illegal now. The big thing about Olga Korbut was how cute and smiley she was. This was a person from the Soviet Union getting all kinds of love, and making the Americans forget about our own cutie, Cathy Rigby. It was all sorts of melting the fear of the Soviets for a few days.

On September 5, the happy games came to a halt when terrorists took members of the Israeli team hostage. It lasted for 18 hours and in the end, all of the hostages were dead. It was horrible and shocking. There was discussion about what to do with the games after that. They ended up going on, but it was different. In a sense, making it through was a competition in itself.

When the Olympics ended, the scrapbook ended. My parents thought it was something. I was proud of it too. I don’t remember if it was my idea or not, but I sent my scrapbook to the United States Olympic Committee. A few weeks later, I received a letter in the mail. It was from the director of communications telling me that they had received my “most interesting scrapbook.” They were sending me a book commemorating the 1972 games and one of the athlete exchange pins. The letter ended with him letting me know that my scrapbook would be placed in the official archives of the US Olympic Committee “as a fine example of what young Olympian enthusiasts can do.” That was a great mail day for me. I still have that letter … in a scrapbook.