Good Things Recently

journalI am not going to pretend that this will be a timestamped archive of a particular period of good thing tracking. When I look at my calendar and see that next week will end the month of October, I am busted! I have let another month get by without really getting my act together. Sure, I have excuses, but none of them really amount to anything insurmountable.

But, I have collected some items that I would like to take some minutes to write about and remember. They reflect some of the last few weeks good things. I hope that as the days have gotten shorter, the trees have taken on brilliant colors, and World Series fever has come to a city that wondered if it ever would again – your days and weeks have brought many of your own good things!

YayA Little Road Trip to Celebrate a New Job

Dan has a new job helping a wonderful agency bring in dollars. The mission is one that means a great deal to him, and it means some very positive lifestyle changes that we are both incredibly happy about. To celebrate, we went to destination location, Bentonville, Arkansas! Seriously, it was a fantastic weekend road trip that we have wanted to do for a while. The attraction is an amazing art museum that is courtesy of one of the WalMart heirs. I am not a WalMart fan, but I am sure a fan of Crystal Bridges. This lovely glass structure sits amongst trees and water and nature trails. The galleries are full of an amazing collection of American art beautifully curated. The big draw for us was the special exhibit that is there through January – State of the Art. The concept is a team from the museum visited 1000 working artist studios across the country and picked 100 of them to include in the exhibit. The variety of media blew me away. There were interactive displays, videos, collages, toys, photographs, paintings …. It was visual fun, and a very great way to spend a morning. After the museum trip (which is free, by the way), we drove to Fayetteville to pursue my passion of visiting independent book stores. Nightbird is a charmer right in the downtown area. The little trip had multiple highlights. Being in Fayetteville on college football day meant we got to see grown men walking around with razorback hogs on top of their heads. Sitting next to our hotel was a Waffle House. Dan had his first and second experience at this iconic joint. We had some good food and bought some beers that we can’t find here. Yay Roadtrips!

Jean Got Her Ring – One morning there was a text message from Sam that the rings they had ordered were in and he was going to surprise Jean at work. The next thing, there was a picture of a hand with a beautiful ring. It was sweet to see the outpouring of likes and offers of congratulations when the engagement status got put up on their Facebooks. The happiness of good news spreading is a nice thing about social media.

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Royals – To be still writing about the Royals is something! This team has not only boosted the happiness level of this city, but they have charmed the socks off of countless the world over. There are good stories every day about something this team has done, or that others have done that make this more than just a baseball story. As I have already confessed, I am not a terribly active baseball fan, but right now I can name a good portion of the roster and I am even contemplating purchasing my first Royals t-shirt.

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Wordless! performance by Art Spiegelman + Phillip Johnston – I remember seeing the book, Maus for the first time and needing to buy it immediately. It was something so new, and I loved it. In it, Art Spiegelman told an amazing story via a comic book format. It had humor, but it also had tragedy and wickedness and sorrow. It became one of my favorite books ever, and it made me a fan of what was to become a whole new genre of literature. I saw on a blog that Speigelman was touring with a jazz ensemble and delivering a lecture about the advent of wordless books. Delightedly, I read that Kansas City was on the tour. I bought tickets and Dan and I went to the performance at the incredible Kauffman Center. It was fantastic, and the way that the images that Spiegelman highlighted were so well supplemented by the jazz of the Phillip Johnston group was crazy great!

I think I will just stop there, even though I have several more items that I have noted in my journal. Suffice it to say that I am feeling pretty lucky these days.

Last Week’s Good Things

weekoI am slightly late in getting this posted, but I am getting a little closer to my ideal posting schedule. Last week was a good one with some beautiful indications that autumn is upon us – my favorite season. There was even a night when we had to put an extra blanket on the bed. As the week went by, here are a few of the good things that caught my attention!

royaloRoyals Success – I would not be a good Kansas Citian if I did not put this in my Number 1 slot! The giddiness in this town is palpable. Everyone, everywhere is wearing their Royals gear that reflects team members from George Brett to Eric Hosmer. (Spoiler – last week, the Royals won their wildcard game – this week, they won their series against the Angels to put them into the American League championship series.) This is fun for my dear city!

MMMichael and Molly – Watching the Royals win with our friends, Michael and Molly was quite a treat – even though they were Oakland fans. Dan, J, M and I met Michael and Molly in the most memorable of ways. We met them during a morning tour of the Templeton Rye Distillery in Nebraska. They came from Des Moines; we came from Kansas City. After the tour, we connected over an opportunity to get to know the product a little better. Among the six of us there, we found friendship that has now led to visits to each other’s homes. This week, they made their way to KC! How very good that was!

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Baby Girl – When I was pregnant with both Sam and Ali, I think I had one sonogram between them. I don’y remember that it told us much more than that I had something going on in there. Many changes have occurred since those days. Sonograms happen more regularly, and the machines and technicians are pretty advanced. With this has come a new phenomena – a gender reveal. Last week, we got to join in a celebration in learning that our dearest J&M will be bringing a little girl into the world next spring. We all found out when we sprayed an unmarked can of silly string – and it was pink. We can’t wait to meet her.

New Jobs – Sam was excited to start a new job last week as the Beverage Manager at Ma Peche in NY. He sounds so excited about what he will learn and the great mentors available for him. Both he and Jean are in new positions as this year winds down. It has been a big year for both of them, and I am eager to see their continued career growth and personal growth. The other new job is Dan’s! He found out that he will be working at SAFEHOME in Johnson County, Kansas helping to bring dollars to a shelter for abused women. This opportunity presented itself and just seems like a wonderful fit for everyone.

flagA Successful Audit – Every three years at my work, some of our research is audited. That means that people come to our site, and look through all of our records to make sure that things happened the way that they were meant to happen. Preparing for an audit means many hours of combing through a medical record and pulling out the evidence. Paper flags are used in abundance! This is audit year, and our auditors were on site last Monday and Tuesday. When one hears the word audit, it does not sound pleasant. Our two days, could barely have been more pleasant. Our auditors were good listeners and teachers. Our preparations was exemplary and I think that, to a person, our group was proud of what we did and how we did it. I know I was so proud of everyone.

What a nice week that was.

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!

 

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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!

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.

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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?

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

Jim Henson’s Imagination

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I came late to the Sesame Street party. Sesame Street premiered in 1969. By then I was already aware of letters, numbers, but I think the real reason I didn’t watch Sesame Street was because we did not have access to public television where I grew up. When Sam was born, however, I went there. I got to Sesame Street and I loved it there. Who wouldn’t? It was friendly and fun and there were good songs and silliness and all sorts of cool people who would show up. Not many parents would deny that a benefit of becoming a parent is getting to share in the joy of Sesame Street.

I just finished reading/looking at iMAGiNATiON ILLUSTRATED: The Jim Henson Journal. This is in that category of books that I find irresistible. Jim Henson’s journal was not a diary of thoughts and feelings. Starting in 1954, Jim would take his yearly appointment book and transcribe into his journal the highlights. He noted what puppets he was building. He logged commercials he was working on, people he met, his marriage, the birth of his children, their birthday parties, vacations, each car he bought. With this chronology, Karen Falk built a book of words and images that captures what a wonder this man was.

Before he died unexpectedly at 53, Jim Henson did crazy amazing things. His first television foray debuted in 1955. Sam and Friends (good name) was a five minute late night puppet comedy fest, that included an astute green frog.

Sam and Friends led Jim and his expanding group of puppeteers to gigs on the Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. And then came Sesame Street. As huge of a following this little program was getting, Jim didn’t only want be a part of children’s entertainment. He continued to work on other projects that would expand his fan base and admirers considerably.

He made a documentary about the youth experience in 1968.

He made some interesting experimental television productions.

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In 1975 when Saturday Night Live debuted, his The Land of Gorch characters brought Henson to the young and hip.

From 1976 until 1981 The Muppet Show entertained. I remember many an evening at 1 Jackson Place in Schenectady gathering around the television to watch. For college kids, this was a schedule we could keep.

It really is never-ending what this man did in the time that he was given. And he just seemed to be so joyful. The last photograph in the book is a picture of Jim and Kermit where they both have huge smiles on their faces. The happiness in that picture really touched me, but when I went to see if I could find that particular image, I noticed that almost every photo of Jim Henson showed that same joy.

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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!