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!

Last Week’s Good Things

Feb15Pickles! I need to get this blog post done before the name becomes obsolete! Just to put you in the right place, the last week that I am talking about is the week of February 15. I know! That seems like longer ago than a week to me too! Maybe it is the waning days of winter that seem to adjust the speed of time or something. Anyway, before it expires, here are a few of the good things that brightened my last week.

BirdieBirdie Arrives – Okay. I am going to cheat here a little bit. On February 20 a little girl arrived into this world who was anticipated to be adored to such a level that she would likely always have a sunshine aura around her. Birdie has a mom and dad who have waited so patiently for her and who will probably be some of the best parents a girl could have. She has grandmas and a grandpa who will be there for her always. She has aunts and an uncle ready to embrace her as a new part of their lives, and that just can’t help but make them better. She has cousins who will be friends and playmates. She has extended family that are all so excited to meet her and fall for her too. And she has people like Dan and me who, though we share no blood, we feel as much a part of her family as genetic boundaries allow. The cheating part of this is that even though Birdie arrived last week, I did not meet her until this week. And she is perfect, and she is loved well.

JasonAnother Gushy Review of Jason Isbell – On Tuesday we went to see Jason Isbell and his band play at the Uptown Theater. This was #6 Jason Isbell show for us. I would say it was probably the best yet. His band is so good, he was so engaged and seemed to be having so much fun. There was something else about seeing him this time. This is weird coming from someone who has never met the guy, but I felt so proud of him. When we first saw him in 2009 he was a different man from the one he is today. You see it in pictures from the time – talent out the wazoo, but hazy from drinking. On Tuesday, along with all of the fabulous musical moments, was his presence as a healthy and happy man. It has been his journey, but as a person who loves the music he makes and the persona that he shares with the world through social media, I feel like I have had some read into where he is now. He and the band encored with the Rolling Stones’ Can’t You Hear Me Knocking which was rocking good fun. After that, this part of his tour ended and he went home to be with his wife. A couple days later on Instagram he posted a picture of his hand on Amanda’s slightly rounded tummy. Happy and healthy.

A Saturday Walk – The weather has been super weird. One minute they say it will snow, but then it doesn’t. Last Thursday, I heard nothing about snow, but I left work (minus my boots) in a real dilly of a snowstorm that kept me crawling through the downtown streets, but as soon as I got a couple miles south the sun was shining and the inches of snow on my car looked very out of place. Weird. Last Saturday was supposed to be weathery, but it turned out to be beautiful. Dan and I are still working hard on getting our steps in, so we used the opportunity to take a walk to Waldo Pizza for lunch. We were extraordinarily good and had salad bar and no pizza. We rewarded our goodness by chasing our salad with one of the best deals in beer flights (and a great selection) in the city.

raylan-boydFinal Season of Justified Started – Raylan Givens is a bad ass, and Boyd Crowder is too. I will be sad when this program ends. In the meantime, I will savor every moment of this show and be so happy every time there is a scene where Raylan and Boyd talk to each other. It is tv brilliance.

Movie Night – We have not been very good with keeping our monthly movie date with our friends. This month, however, we got it done. It’s a good way to end the day to leave work and sit down with people that you want to catch up with and fill in the gaps since the last time you did that. We did that and then we went to see American Sniper (not a huge fan, but, oh, that Bradley Cooper!) and then we went and had some more catchup over a nightcap.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week as March rolls in!

Last Week’s Good Things

notebookThis is my thirty-first good things post during 2014. With these posts, I try to take time to reflect on the things that have crossed my life during the past days that have made me stop and notice how those things made me feel good or happy or better. The list has not been as consistent as I wanted, but it has always been on my mind as I go through each week.

Over the last weeks, here are a few of my good things:

IMG_2329Family time – Ali, Jose and Banjo arrived in Kansas City last week. Their presence in the house has been delightful. With both kids living miles away, any time that we get to spend with them is such a treat. We have eaten well, played some games, visited with loved ones, had a doggie heater in bed with us each night. It will be hard to have them drive away tomorrow, but so grateful that we got this week! 

IMG_2262Gifts for friends – It is kind of weird to choose gifts that I gave as a good thing, but this was just so much fun to do. When I was thinking of what to give some workmates for the holidays, I had a thought. Why not see if I could find old postcards of downtown KC where our hospital now sits? It was so fun to rummage through boxes of old cards in antique shops and peruse eBay for matches to my search. Having multiple pictures of our town from many decades was so interesting to look through. Some of the cards had messages between family and friends during their travels through our city. These items of correspondence were precious enough to have been kept year after year until its owner let it go in some way or another – but not in the trash.

Holiday deliveries – They get a bad rap from some, but last week, brown trucks, white trucks and delivery vans pulled up to our house multiple times to deliver holiday gifts or cards to the house. Oftentimes, they made the extra effort to put packages safely on our back porch. I also stood in line to mail a package and, though the line was long, I was greeted warmly and assured that my delivery would be on time. To me, these services are fantastic, and those holiday cancellations were pretty awesomely cute!

midwifeCall the Midwife – It has been awhile since I have gotten pulled in to a television series. We seem to be watching fewer programs lately, and tend to turn the set on for random cooking shows or sports. Recently, however, we had more time and because of a remembered recommendation, we watched the first episode of Call the Midwife. This is a BBC series about a group of young midwives practicing in London in the late 1950s. It is wonderful! The characters are interestingly layered, the story lines are poignant and compelling, and it is pretty to look at. We are through Season 1 and into number 2 thanks to Netflix. Really good television!

IMG_2430Wedding Preparations – Over the last weeks we have talked with Sam about plans for his and Jean’s wedding coming together. I also got to sit with Ali last week and address and stamp invitations.

As 2014 winds down and we all tend to reflect back and hope forward, I continue to want to make catching good things a part of each day. Happy new year to anyone reading, and may your year ahead be great!

Last Week’s Good Things

backThe intensity of life continues, so it is more than great to think back on a few of last week’s good things.

Dirt DevilMother’s Day – When I was pregnant with Sam, Dan got me a cute Mother’s Day card with a scribbles all over it – aka baby signature. That was 29 mother’s days ago. This year, our two babies are miles away, but on Mother’s Day morning I got calls from both of them. The sounds of their voices is more than good. Having that start to my day, and then just spending a relaxing day around the house with Dan seemed like a good celebration. I do have a funny Mother’s Day bit to share. Needing something new for cleaning purposes, I ordered a small Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner from Amazon. Apparently, I forgot to tell Dan. Coupled with this, the kids both told us that they had gone in together to buy us a combined Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gift that would be arriving sometime. Coupled with this, next month, both kids will be home with their respective mates. Soooo …. yesterday, Dan came home from work and opened up the package that arrived – the Dirt Devil. He put 2 and 2 together and couldn’t believe those kids had the nerve of sending us a cleaning machine! When he called me to voice his incredulousness, I set him straight and family peace was restored.

peonyFirst peonies – Two weeks ago it was hummingbirds, last week it was peonies. We have the gift of having several very old peony bushes in our backyard. When they finally bloom, they are magnificent. The color; the scent – the best!

LooseWork Retreat – Since I started working at the hospital fourteen years ago, my department has grown and grown. We tend to have a retreat every three years, and it is during those that the extent of the growth can really be visualized. We gathered for our retreat last week at an incredibly beautiful historic Kansas City location. We spent the day hearing about the accomplishments and visions of each of the different areas of our Division, as well as of the hospital. We got to know each other better over some free time activities and lunch. The day ended with us taping a piece of paper on our back and writing good things on each other’s. The scene of one hundred people, kind of Conga lining as they wrote on each other’s paper, brought smiles.

Jack is Back – Raspy voiced, Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer is back for a new season of “24.” This show with its absurd, but compelling action is fun television.  

The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie – I am trying to catch up on my New York Times reading and not being incredibly successful. However, last week I got through a Sunday Magazine that was a few weeks old. First of all, every week that publication puts out beautifully written, long pieces of journalism! That is a good thing in itself. The article that really got to me last week was an April 13 article by John Jeremiah SullivanThe Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie delves into finding the two women who recorded a rare but revered blues record in the early 1930s. The best thing about this piece is the trail that the author takes to investigate it and write it. It is really wonderful and the Times website  supplements what was published with additional audio and visual. It is good history writing.

I hope that your week brings you many good things! 

Last Week’s Good Things

weekThis was a week that began with snow on Monday and ended with shorts on Saturday. How confusing! I think that we are reaching the point where I can actually put away my winter clothes. That is a very good thing in itself, but here are a few others that were memorable during the week:

1. Accomplishments at work – Sometimes there are projects that you work on that you just get done solo. Other times, there are projects that require the input of lots of different people contributing lots of different pieces. Everyone has an important part, but, unfortunately, everyone doesn’t always understand how important their part is. This week I had a multi-part project that required input from a number of different people. I needed letters formatted, numbers calculated, careers summarized… It all came together and I was proud to be a part of it! And in the end, I got to celebrate over some very nice tequila.

God loves

2. JD McPherson at Knuckleheads – I had heard of JD McPherson, but had not really paid too much attention to him. A few of my friends, however, think that he is pretty awesome and had gotten tickets to go see him at Knuckleheads on Tuesday night. Since it was doable on our part, Dan and I went too. He is a very delightful performer, and the fact that lots of his family and friends were there was pretty great.  JD has kind of a blues, rockabilly style that is catchy and fun. What is most noticeable, however, is how much fun this guy has performing. Watching him from my seat, he had neon over him proclaiming “God loves you when you dance.” It seemed to fit very well for a midweek night in a roadhouse in the middle of America.

buda3. Grand Budapest Hotel – I have written before about how good friends and we have committed to a movie a month date. This week, when given the choices, I pounced on going to the Grand Budapest Hotel. Well, it turns out that our friends had already seen it, but were wanting/willing to see it again. Swoon. I fell in movie love. Not only is the movie as beautiful as I expected, but it is also super funny. What got me most, however, was how extremely kind this movie is. The sense of the movie is being a friend/confidant/mentor to others and seeing that relationship through. It is lovely.green

4. Green Flag – Saturday proved to be a great day in Kansas City. Dan and I worked in the yard and got things looking better. We planted some seeds, mowed some grass, and pulled some weeds. At the end of the day, Dan made the decision to fly the green flag. The green flag is our designated symbol that our patio is open for business and if anyone wants to stop by for beer, wine, soda, chat – we are ready. As it turned out, no one showed up. That left Dan and me. We sat outside playing music on our Iphones and trying to guess the artist. It was so fun!  Next time the green flag is out, come and join in!

5.  No Nighttime tv – Dan and I gave up watching mindless tv for Lent. This is not necessarily a religious thing, but it is meaningful. How much time do I spend looking at someone chopping food, or telling jokes, or solving a crime… that could be better spent doing something that means more to me. The end of our pledge is here. What happens now?

Happy new week to all of you. Thanks for reading my blog and I hope that all of you have lots of good things in your new week!!

Last Week’s Good Things!

 

Mar16

Days scurry by so quickly, and when you are dealing with weather where one day it seems to definitely be spring and the next, definitely winter, it is hard to tell time at all. That is not an excuse, but it is an explanation as to what so many of us are experiencing lately. Euphoria – spring is here!!! Despondence – it is still snowing!! Oh bother! There were still lots of good things!

Birdsongs in the Morning – Until it changes, I forget how quiet winter is. On those days when it snows overnight, and I walk outside in the morning, the peace and beauty of the winter morning is pretty awesome. But it is so quiet! Not so when springtime arrives! I am now waking to the sound of birds singing, and when I walk out to get the paper, it is a chorus of songs. That in your face reality of a nature transition is both a good thing for the week, and a beautiful transition. Next thing you know, the hummingbirds will be here!

Biero
Kansas City Bier Company
– As we get closer to realizing our own concept of making beer for the people, Kansas City Bier Company is up and running. It is weird that it is in a place where we once shopped for baby furniture, but that weirdness didn’t last for long. Dan and I went there on Saturday at about 2:00. The day was okay, but nothing great. The place was bustling! Most of the tables were filled with people who appeared to be hanging with groups and having fun. There are only snacks offered, so the draw is the beer and the atmosphere. It was very fun to see! We both had a flight of all of their German beers. We spent some time analyzing and comparing notes. We both left feeling happy for the founders; glad that we made the decision to go there for a visit, and full of some good German beer. Added bonus: they gave me a couple stickers!

Proud and excited – Several years ago, I read this book by one of my favorite authors, Tracy Kidder. It was called Mountains Beyond Mountains and it was about a doctor named Paul Farmer. Back in the 1990s (?), Dr. Farmer started to go to Haiti to treat people – in between his training to be a physician. It became a passion. His work created a program called Partners in Health. Paul Farmer is a rockstar do-gooder who still balances scholarly work with his philanthropy. Last week, my nephew messaged me that he has been chosen to spend a year working with Partners in Health before he goes to medical school. I am so excited for him and the people that he will encounter. They will be lucky!

Engage – I really try to make each day one where I can feel proud of myself for how I let it happen. I do believe that we usually have a choice. This is a little off topic, but while I was eating dinner tonight I was watching my beloved Not My Grandma’s Ravioli. Mo’s cooking partner tonight was a grandma who had spent months of her youth hiding from Nazi’s and having many of her family and friends murdered. She seemed like one of the happiest people you would want to meet. She personifies the fact that attitude depends on your willingness to step out and engage. This video that I came across this week reflected that!

Funny things that Dan Says – He makes me laugh. Last weekend I was doing something late in the afternoon. Dan was taking a little rest on the couch (as both of us are prone to do on weekends). Before he laid down we had talked about what we were going to do for the rest of the night. When I noticed that he was awake, I asked him what was going on. His response: “I am laying here watching floaters in my eyes until I get a cocktail.” Just typing this makes me laugh. That boy has my number.

Have a wonderful rest of your week everyone and make sure you notice the good things!

 

Last Week’s Good Things

Feb16

The Winter Olympics – My routine last week was wake up – go to work – go to the gym – come home – eat dinner – watch Olympics. I understand how the two weeks of winter sports may not be everyone’s favorite. One comment I heard was that figure skating was the only sport you really could see what people look like. The Winter Olympics believes in protecting the head! Despite the absurdity of some of it,  when you see people fly through the sky on boards or skis or plain, old skates – how is it anything but wondrous? When I watched the closing ceremony on Sunday, I got a little teary. Two more years.

 

bunnyGoogle Fiber (Guys) – On Friday we made the switch to Google Fiber. I don’t know how much this will mean to us. The tv stations are all in different positions and the remote is a different color. They did give us this cool tablet that can also serve as a remote. At the same time, we made the decision to try life without a telephone landline and go purely with our cell phones (which means I will need to start paying attention to that thing). The best thing about getting Google on Friday, however, was the technician crew. They said they would be there at 8 AM. They were. They were super friendly, efficient, complimentary to their product and their company. I received good teaching with good humor. I love good customer service and those guys brought it!

Cards in the Mail – This is the year when I use the postal service to its utmost. Who doesn’t love to get a piece of real mail? I come to it with the thought that my friends and family deserve the few minutes that it takes to write a note to them and put it in the mail. Apparently, I am not the only one with such thoughts. Each day last week I came home to cards of support and sympathy. I am so grateful for each one, and I am so lucky to have the dear people in my life that I do.

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon – Let me start by saying that I do not stay up late enough to watch the Tonight Show. But I do watch a news program in the morning that often plays clips from the previous night’s show. Jimmy Fallon makes me smile. He writes thank you notes. He seems gracious and kind and his jokes are silly. He has an adorable baby. And he does hilariously genius things like this:

Daily Texts – Spending time with my younger sister and her husband a couple weeks ago was really nice. Despite the sad reason that we were together, we shared many laughs together. That is what the Irish do. When I got home, I really missed her and I didn’t want to lose the connection that we nurtured again during our time together. So, since then, we have been texting each other at least once a day. Sometimes it is just a “good morning” or “have a good day,” but sometimes it is a little bit more. No matter what, it is a good part of my day.

I wish everyone a week full of many good things!

Last Week’s Good Things

Nov 17

This week brings us Thanksgiving. For a few different reasons, this past week was a challenging one to identify my good things. I am glad for Thanksgiving because I think that gives a good opportunity to regroup in thinking about how important it is to be attentive to the good things that are in our lives everyday. I wish all of my readers a happy Thanksgiving, and I hope that each of us finds many good things each day!

bread

Breakfast – Dan was sick this week, which meant that my breakfast service was put on hold. That could have been a disaster, but fortunately for me, we had the delicious Farm to Market/ Roasterie coffee limited run Black Russian Bread and over the top, Shatto butter. Each morning, I put a slice of this dark, rich bread in the toaster, and when it came out, spread it with the creamy tasty butter. The bread itself has coffee overtones combined with the typical richness of a dark bread. It is speckled with juicy raisins, that I am typically not a big fan of, but it works here. The butter is a product of Shatto dairy that has transformed how we think of dairy products in Kansas City. I remember the getting a bottle of cream from Shatto for a dessert that I was making. I can’t recall what the dessert was, but I sure do remember the cream. It was/is heavenly! Our loaf of bread is now gone and it is not expected to reappear again anytime soom. Lucky for me, Dan is better and he should be back on breakfast duty this week.

 

phillyReading Great non-fiction science – I finished The Philadelphia Chromosome this week. This is a book about the discovery of the genetic malfunction that is unique to people diagnosed with a certain kind of leukemia. Because of this discovery and the research that occurred because of it, a medication was developed that could curtail the chain reaction that created the out of control cancer. Jessica Wapner does an incredible job of explaining a very complicated story. I think for the first time, I understand what a kinase is and what kinase inhibitors do. As I was finishing up this book, I also picked up the latest Esquire and read an article in the latest issue of Esquire. Patient Zero tells the story of Stephanie Lee. Stephanie Lee was profiled in an earlier Esquire issue because of her Hurricane Katrina experience. This story deals with her being diagnosed with late stage liver cancer and being enrolled in a clinical trial in Memorial Sloan Kettering that may build a treatment specifically for her disease. This is amazing stuff, and when it is reported well, it does the reader such a great service.

Haircut, etc. – My hair is problematic. It is fine, kind of thin, and curly. It doesn’t grow fast, so my thought that I will just grow it long and make that my style doesn’t really work. Every six months or so, I go in to get my hair cut. I usually just go to a chain operation. Usually, I can’t see any reason to spend more money on this than the $15 that the shops offer. Saturday was my six month appointment. I told the woman that I wanted a shampoo and a haircut. The shampoo was the best. She spent 15 minutes washing my hair twice, putting in conditioner, and massaging my scalp!!! Oh dear god!

 

pretzel

Helping Dan Make Pretzels – For as long as I have known him, one of the things that Dan has enjoyed most in life has been hard pretzels. There was a brand that we ate in college that is the benchmark of all pretzels. No one has met the Gibble standard in all these years. Recently, however, I bought him a cookbook all about making pretzels. It has inspired him. Last week, he made a very nice version. Yesterday, I got to help him make his second attempt. This was the real deal. We had a boiling water bath containing lye. They were twisted. I salted them liberally. When the oven opened, they were brown and crispy. He thinks he is getting close. I think he nailed it!

 

tremeTreme, Season 3 – If you have not experienced the series Treme, you are missing something. Season 3 recently was released and we watched the first 4 episodes this week. Treme takes place in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Because of that, it makes it an easy program for us to like. We can say “we’ve been there!” “I recognize that”… in every episode. The thing is, there is so much more. Whether you know, and/or love New Orleans, there is much here to bring you in. For one, there is amazing music. This is American music. Think about what that means, and it will lead you to the melodies that you will hear on the streets of New Orleans. I am very much enjoying having the characters of Treme back!

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.

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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

Oct20Because of travel, this week was quite discombobulated. We got back into town on Wednesday. I went to work on Thursday – which was a day full of meetings followed by cooking dinner at Ronald McDonald House. Friday, I kept as my regular day off because I knew I needed a day to get many of the projects done before Ali and Jose come for their visit this week. Going into the new week, I feel like I am back on track and kind of caught up. In the midst of the confusion giving way to order, here is my shortened list of good things!

A Gloomy, Cold Autumn Day – I know that sounds less than good, but when you get to spend said “gloomy, cold, autumn day” in your warm, cozy house, it is a very good thing. Friday started out dreary and then proceeded to bring it on big time for the rest of the day. It was cold enough that at one point I looked at the temperature inside of the house and it was 58 degrees. That was enough to prompt me to turn on the furnace for the first time  this season. The boiler kicked on (also a very good thing!), and the steam heat started filling the rooms. Outside it was gray and misty. Inside it was warm and the chaos of an untended house was being put back in order. By the end of the day, the house was clean. In the freezer I found some spaghetti sauce with smoked sausage. I got that out, and when Dan came home, I heated that up and boiled some delicious Italian pasta that, I think, was Casarecce (I threw away the bag without paying attention). The sauce was thick and rich, and I tossed the just al dente noodles into it. The noodles soaked up some of the sauce and made for a pretty spectacular pantry meal. A glass of red wine. Good company. Wonderful food. Our house. Great gloomy, cold, autumn day.

pansyPansies – I wanted to brighten up our front step and some of the flower containers that have petered out with lack of end-of-the-summer attention. One of my favorite flowers is the pansy. They come in so many beautiful colors and some of them have that distinctive little face. On Saturday, we went to the garden center and I bought a flat of dark purple pansies. At home, I planted them around the house. Some went in with other things. Some went in an empty space in the ground. Some got their own container. They already have perked up the surroundings. Going out to get the paper this morning, just seeing them made me happy. What also makes me happy is knowing that these pansies are winter beasts! Almost always, a pansy planted in the fall will continue to grow and survive the winter here. When the first warmth of spring comes, there they will be again!

CC-Show_My-Grandmothers-Ravioli_s602x60My Grandmother’s Ravioli – Usually, I can take or leave Mo Rocca. I watch some of his stuff on the Cooking Channel or The Food Network, but it is usually due to not having anything better to watch. Yesterday, I was skirting through my go-to channels and I landed on the Cooking Channel’s My Grandmother’s Ravioli. The premise of this show is that Mo Rocca’s Grandma was a great cook and made epic meals, but, he never learned from her how to make them himself. In each episode, he visits some grandparent and spends time cooking with them. The episode I landed on was Mo cooking with Clara Corrado. Clara is 94, lives in Philadelphia and has a set of great grandson triplets who are all in the military. Part of the show was Mo and Clara making Care Packages for them. The repartee between the two was totally charming. The viewer finds out that Clara likes Korean shows and she invited Mo up to her bedroom to watch some videos. There is dancing and some singing. There is good natured teasing and some touching memories recollected. Mo totally seems like he is enjoying the experience. The episode sold me and I went on to watch three more episodes. One was an African American woman in South Carolina who took Mo to church with her and he sang with her in the choir. One was a body-builder grandpa in Florida who was standing in for his dad, who was supposed to be the one featured on the show. Sadly, he passed away shortly before the filming. This is by no means intellectually stimulating time spent, but showing such fun interactions around food and family met my requirements for good television.

It looks like it is going to be a beautiful autumn week here in the Midwest. I am excited for my girl to be coming home for a few days and getting to meet Jose. Already there is goodness around the week ahead!