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

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 ?’s Good Things

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It has been almost a month since I posted! That is the worse performance I have had yet. There are definitely excuses to be submitted, but I think the better thing is to just to get on with it. To ground myself, I am going to take a look back at that month that was and pick out memorable good things. Onward!

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Kids Were Home – While right now, it already seems like it was ages ago, we did have both kids and their significant others under our roof – all at once – during the last month. That was a first that has happened, and I can’t wait for the next! Our little house had to compromise a little to accommodate everyone, but it worked. There were some first  meetings among them that were sweet. I had a day that we spent eating Oklahoma Joe’s and then wandering the zoo. We played games and we ate around Kansas City like nobody’s business. I have such sweet memories of the kids while they were growing up and all of the things we used to do together. This having adult children who live away from you is something that you adjust to, but is never completely easy. I like to be with them. I like to sit in the same room with them. I like to be more keyed into what is going on with them. I like to share meals with them. I like to get to know their partners better. When they leave, there is always still an achy heart. But they will be back!

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A Happy Announcement – So, during that time we had the kids home, something very happy happened. On our 32nd anniversary, Jose asked Ali to marry him and she said yes. Dan and I both are so happy for both of them. Seeing them so happy with each other, makes us confident that their decision to spend their lives together is a good one. This is another new phase of our lives, but what a wonderful one. 

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My New Office – Six years ago, my office got moved from inside the hospital to a trailer about a block away. Granted, it was a big trailer that held all of my very wonderful team members also, and my office did have a lovely view of downtown Kansas City. Nevertheless, it had its down sides. When we moved to the trailer, it was noted that it would be temporary. Temporary ended last month! I am now in a newly renovated building that houses most everyone in our department. My office is spacious with beautiful big tall windows. I am still in the midst of figuring out how to personalize it, but it is getting there. 

IMG_0989Making a new dish – Last weekend, as I emerged from everything that was going on, I decided that it was time to cook something new. When we were in Louisville last year, we went to Milkwood which is Chef Edward Lee’s restaurant. We tasted lots of dishes, all of which had wonderful flavors. Since then, I got his cookbook that is fun to look at, but which I had not cooked out of too much. Saturday I made his Rice Bowl With Beef, Onions, Collards, Fried Egg, and Corn Rémoulade. I am a pretty good cook, mainly because I pick good recipes and I follow directions well, but this may have been the best thing that I have every made. The Corn Rémoulade alone was so tasty. If I could have gotten away with it, I would have sat with a spoon and just eaten that like pudding. It was fun to prep this meal with all of the steps. It was fun to set the table and pour a wine. It was a very good thing to sit and share it with Dan – and, holy cow, was it delicious!

IMG_1004New Notebook – It seems appropriate that I got to start a new notebook during this time. Finishing off my last one, I looked back on its pages and appreciated all that it captured. When I think of all of the journals that I have kept through the years, I think this format makes me happiest. It kind of logs my life in both a reflective and positive way.

So, there it is. A new post. I am happy to be back!

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.

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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!

Last Week’s Good Things

weekI will say it again, because there are times that I need to remind myself of it. It is really important to do good things and see good things. Not doing so – especially during stressful weeks – makes for an imbalance. I am working on this week’s list, but last week had some very good things that need to be remembered.

Mother’s Day – Wowzer! Was Mother’s Day really just a week ago!? That is what my journal says. My Mother’s Day was very nice. After I lost my own mom, this became a day with very mixed emotions – a day that amplified the absence. But this Mom’s Day, early phone calls from both Sam and Ali made me focus on the being a mother side of Mother’s Day. When I became a mom, I thought I couldn’t love my babies more. I was wrong.

My Team – There is a lot going on at work. There is a big inspection that we are preparing for, we are getting ready to move, and our normal workload continues to expand and get more complicated. When the going gets tough, however, my teammates step up even more. They are awesome. They don’t complain. They offer help. They offer support. Being a part of that makes me proud.

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Jimi Hendrix on a postage stamp – Yeah, Jimi Hendrix. That is you on a US postage stamp. I bet you saw that coming.

Huber2 photo 1Huber the Tuber – We found this book at a used book store several years ago, and I hadn’t really looked at it since. Last week I picked it up and read it. Huber is a tubercle bacillus trying to just peacefully exist in a host lung. Things go to hell, however, when a bunch of other bacilli want to stir things up and take over. It is quite a riotous romp through the pulmonary system. The book was published in 1942. The author, Harry Wilmer, was a doctor who wrote and illustrated this book to help children understand tuberculosis. Like so many good pieces of children’s culture, there is a lot here for the adult. The caricatures that Wilmer draws reflect the day’s politics and society. It is a treasure!

pens Prismacolor Markers – I am a lover of pens and color. This pack of Prismacolor makers that I have are the best! It’s the little things that make me happy sometimes, you know? When I am writing something and all of a sudden I notice how nice the pen writes, how good the color looks, how the other colors are there just waiting to be used – how good is that?

Keep looking for those good things. I will too!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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?