Last Week’s Good Things

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Last week’s good things were multiple, but here are a few of the more noteworthy ones. 

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Jason Isbell, Willie Nelson & Alison Krauss at Starlight – As I have noted before, Jason Isbell is one of my all time favorite musicians – maybe my favorite. My most recent opportunity to hear him was at Kansas City’s Starlight Theater – a beautiful outdoor theater in Swope Park. The sound that night was spectacular! Jason was the opener, so he only had six songs, but he was brilliant as usual. I have not listened to Alison Krauss much, so I didn’t know what to expect there. She has a lovely voice, a great stage presence, and her sharing the spotlight with her other bandmates is winning. Willie Nelson put on a great show. We had heard him a few years ago at Red Rocks. That night he was okay. At Starlight, he seemed to really bring it more and more as the night went on. The night ended with all of the performers on stage singing gospel songs and looking really happy. So was I!

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Keeping Positive – Our new office building is wonderful and to have most of our group in one place is the best! Last week, we had our first Division meeting and there were loads of good sentiments passed on by attendees. I was the recipient of some words that mean so much to me. There is a good vibe in the new building that is palpable. One thing being done is having everyone write on an index card what positive commitment they are making. These are hanging on the bulletin board in the breakroom. Seeing the number of cards grow each day is heart lifting!

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Jean’s beer – After her visit here with Sam, Jean sent Dan a bottle of special beer. It came with a very sweet note and explanation of the contents. Of course, this spoke to Dan in a big way and he reciprocated with a flowing thank you and commentary on hows and whys of beers. Then we actually drank the beer, and enjoyed it for what it was and how it came to us. The whole process – seriously good!

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Scanning Pictures for Ali and Jose’s Engagement Party – We couldn’t attend the engagement party that Ali’s New Orleans’ friends threw for them. What I got to do, however, is provide a photo history of Ali that they used. Sitting and looking through photo albums is the best history ever.

Dan and Pet Videos – Our morning routine during the week is early rising, Dan making breakfast, watching the news, reading the paper, and looking at our computers. Dan laughing at pet videos in the morning makes my morning.

I hope today and every day has many good things for you!

Bonus Good thing: Jason Isbell singing Cover Me Up at Starlight Theater

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

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!

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

last weekI don’t get “stressed-out” very often. In general, I am a low-key person who operates on an even keel. The downside of this is that I can be kind of boring, but it is how I like to be. It is how I am most comfortable. This week, there was one day that I came home from work feeling definitely stressed. The next day felt better, but I am definitely in a high intensity period where there are many things going on and I have lots of responsibilities. But I am working it through; I am counting on my team mates who are wonderful; I am reminding myself of work/life balance; and I am remembering all of the good things. I already have this week’s list going, but here are five things from last week.

First hummingbirdsDan researched the issue and found out that it is the male hummingbird that shows up first. Well, Mr. Hummingbird with a flaming red throat showed up at our feeder last week. I walked out the back door and saw the familiar frantic flight zip by me. I hoped that it was a hummingbird, but figured that it was only a crazy bug trying to fool me. But, it was real. Sitting on the patio reading, I heard the noise and there it was at one of the feeders. They are so pretty and fun to watch. I can’t wait for their wives and girlfriends get here!

orderDishwashing and Tidying Up – When I do get stressed, tidying up my surroundings is one way that settles me down. Even finishing up and looking at the colorful plates in the dish drying rack holds so much goodness – the order, the color, the memory of the food that filled those plates.

Finding new tidbits in my book researchYes, I am still working on that book. Last week I worked on the chapter focused on Marcia’s family and friends starting a fundraising group only months after leukemia took her life. This is really incredible. This was 1949! This was during a time that moving on was the most common way of dealing with grief. This family, along with their wonderful friends, coalesced and used Marcia’s story to begin to raise money for research to help find a cure for the disease that takes children’s lives. I found evidence of a contact that the family made only month’s after Marcia died. The contact was Sidney Wallach. In the 1930s and 40s, Mr. Wallach worked with Jewish causes in NYC. He led the American Jewish Committee and founded The Current Jewish Record Journal (which later became Commentary). In 1933 he published a pamphlet called “Hitler, Menace to Mankind,” which is pretty chilling. In the 1940s, it appears that he switched career paths and started focussing more on public relations for philanthropic causes. Using the items that I have been entrusted with as well as the amazing Internet, I filled in some more blanks of this great story. There is more to learn, but this was progress.

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Whitman Illuminated – In December, I forwarded a blogpost to Dan about a new book being put out by fabulous Tin House. That was enough to make him pre-order the book. We had pretty much forgotten about it, so when it arrived last week, it was an incredible treat. It is one of the coolest books I have ever seen. Artist Allen Crawford has taken the words of Whitman’s Song of Myself and illustrated them so incredibly! Every page is stunning. 

KristieKristie Stremel and Joe’s Pet Project at The Record Bar – Thanks to friends, we went to The Record Bar on Saturday night to hear music. Joe’s Pet Project was playing when we got there, followed by Kristie Stremel who was backed by a great band. Both of these groups filled the room with fantastic rock and roll. Joe’s Pet Project had a kind of Dave Matthews’ vibe; Kristie is a true blue, girl rock and roller, of the best kind. She leads her band with energy and musical chops. Every musician seemed to be having such a good time making music. More music to add to my list.

Keep seeing good things.

Last Week’s Good Things

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There was one day last week that I had gotten home late and I put a Lean Cuisine in the microwave for my dinner. Dan called me right when I was about to start eating. He was in Florida and had just had dinner along the ocean. As I talked to him, I looked out the window and noticed it was snowing. That wasn’t cool, but, despite that unfortunate scenario, the week did hold some very good things.

Sharon Jones, Superstar – Saturday night we went into Lawrence for dinner and a concert. It was the first time I have been in Liberty Hall right along Mass Street in downtown Lawrence. It is a gem! The opening act, Valerie June, was really wonderful. So much so that J & M made plans to go to Springfield on Monday to see her again. And then there was Sharon Jones. This woman is a few months from finishing her treatment for pancreatic cancer and she has the almost bald head to show it. That woman put on one of the most amazing shows with more energy than I have mustered in several days combined. I can’t even choose what was my favorite, but this performance that I recorded on my phone (note: I am not good at this and I am short) is stellar. “Get Up and Get Out” refers typically to dude troubles. Saturday night she turned it around and it was cancer she was addressing herself to. Woman is amazing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R5NQR_v4Y8

Seven Habits – There is a group of us at work reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.Each month we do a chapter. Last week it was Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind. Stephen Covey, the book’s author describes how by being in control of our own mission, we can basically be a better person. He describes how when people let other people or things control them, they are in a tenuous position. However, if one is centered on principles, there is always guidance. This book was written more than twenty years ago and it is just timeless in its advice. It is a pleasure to visit this again and try to do more of the things I should have done other times I read it.

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Nighthawk article in the New Yorker – I have a habit of not reading The New Yorker intact. Every so often, I go through our piles and I pull out articles I want to read. I then staple those into articles and put them into yet, another pile. They are there to grab. Last week I picked up an article from 2012. Unfortunately, I can’t link to it, but it really was a treat to read. The essay was in the food issue amidst a variety of great food writing. Tony Earley was the writer – someone I knew from a book he read called Jim the Boy. The article describes  the writer going to college as a guy who never had to take care of himself. During an evolutionary journey, he learns to cook some basic things and to understand the satisfaction of that. There was one passage that I loved: “Belatedly, I understood that the sustenance contained in food you cook for yourself is almost biological, and that sometimes, what makes a fried-bologna-and-onion sandwich so delicious has nothing to do with the bologna or the onion.” That is the pleasure of cooking.

Family texting – With Dan out of town and Ali on vacation, there was a lot of mobile device communication going on. Every now and then, there would be a text chain that involved the whole family. Our chatter may not always be the most appropriate, but it almost always makes me laugh and appreciative of my luck to be part of this group.

Things that happened at work – I don’t talk about work too much on my blog, but good things do add up and I want to recognize them. Here were a few from this week! Some of my co-workers joined me in a volunteering for a new event that is happening. I walked down the hallway in the hospital, and there was a little guy in a helmet running in circles and chortling as if he was doing the most fun thing in the world. It was joyous to watch. “Good mornings” and “good nights” as people walk by my door or make an effort to pop their head in. Someone bringing good soap in. Being brought into discussions because they want my opinion. Sometimes it is the smallest thing that means the most.

I hope anyone who reads this takes the time to find their own good things! They are out there!

Last Week’s Good Things

Jan14Last week was the first normal week I have had in a long time. Although I miss the holiday visitors, it felt good to get back into somewhat of a routine. In the midst of work and play, there were many good things. Here were a few of them.

  1. I got an IPhone – This seems hopelessly materialistic, but there is actually more to this story than the fact that I really do think this phone is pretty fun. I have had a number of issues with my previous phone’s service. I wasn’t getting service in my house – which is a little problematic for a communication device. So we changed carriers and we got new phones. The rest of the story is that I had to take care of some things with my previous carrier and they were apologetic for my issues and gracious in taking care of my needs. I am still glad that I have made the change, but the breakup was without drama.
  2. Impromptu lunch with friends – We got a note on Saturday asking if we could meet some friends in a couple hours for lunch. It was my first visit to Port Fonda in Westport. It was a sunny warm day after a week that had some ruggedly cold temperatures. For a couple hours, we sat around and had some good food, good drinks, and excellent catching up time. We run by our schedules so much. It is good to have time where you can just do what comes up.
  3. Healthcare experiences – Friday I had my third physical therapy appointment with Erin at Laughlin Performance & Physical Therapy. She has been working with me on some back issues. After the appointment and handing me my healthy back program, Erin told me that she didn’t have to see me again. If I had any more problems, I just needed to get back in touch with her. She impressed me so much. I expected that I would be seen to the extent that my insurance would allow it. Instead, she celebrated my progress and sent me on my way. From my PT appointment, I went to the dentist with a broken tooth. I wouldn’t call this a celebration, but it struck me that it was a pretty great thing that I can have this gross broken down tooth repaired to the extent that it can still be attached to my gums. So far so good!
  4. My work holiday party – My office saves the holiday party until after the fact. Saturday was the day. One of the doctors hosted and prepared for us many wonderful Mexican dishes. Everyone else brought a dessert or a beverage. The house was full with grouping taking the opportunity to have non-work chats. I felt really lucky to be a part of this. There is a camaraderie among everyone – no matter what their role it. People seem to really like each other. I still remember the day that I got my job and thinking how lucky I was. I still feel that way.
  5. Thai Coconut Curry Soup – Another cooking triumph! One of my favorite dishes when we go to a Thai restaurant is Tom Kha Gai which is a coconut chicken soup. Last week I made a recipe saved recipe that I am unsure of the source. Looking it over, I was hoping that it would replicate the taste that I love. It ruled. It had the heat, the freshness and the flavoring that I desired. The flaked coconut that I bought – even though it was a little pricey – toasted, and sprinkled on top of the soup …. so yummy. I mixed it up a little and used avacado rather than tomato. Thumbs up for this one!

 

Thai Chicken Coconut Curry Soup

  1. 4 cup chicken stock
  2. 5 clove garlic, peeled and chunked
  3. 2 inches ginger, peeled and chunked
  4. 1 Tablespoon thai green curry paste
  5. 2 tsp whole coriander seeds
  6. 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  7. ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
  8. ¾ cup cilantro, + 1/2 cup for garnish
  9. 1 cup unsweeetened coconut milk
  10. ¾ cup thinnly sliced shallots
  11. 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  12. 1 6 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1/4 inch strips
  13. 2 Tablespoon asian fish sauce
  14. 2 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  15. 2 tsp brown sugar
  16. 1 jalapeno, sliced in rings
  17. 1 small tomato , seeded and diced
  18. ½ cup shaved coconut, or unsweeteded coconut flakes toasted for garnish
1.

In a large pot over high heat, combine chicken stock, garlic, ginger, curry paste, coriander, cumin, peppercorns and cilantro. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain broth over a bowl through a fine mesh sieve; discard solids. return broth to pot. Add coconut milk, shallots, mushrooms and chicken. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until chicken is cooked through, 5-7 minutes.

2.

In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and jalapeno, if desired, stir until sugar is dissolved, the add mixture to soup. Garnish with tomato, coconut shavings, and cilantro; serve hot.

 I hope your week is a wonderful one with many good things!

Last (Couple) Week’s Good Things

bookLast week came and went without me taking time to do a post. Sure it is a busy time of year, but I can’t really blame that. I just didn’t get it done. I prefer to think that I will not let that happen with any regularity, but with end of the year goings-on, I am not promising that I won’t again falter.

Here are some things that have brightened the shortened days of the last two weeks.

 

  1. Holiday time outings – Seasonal activities are fun! When the kids were little, we would do a monthly family calendar that we put together on a calendar program, printed it out on our dot-matrix printer, and hung it up on the wall. December was my favorite month to plan. A few times over the last few weeks, seasonal activities filled my Google calendar. One night, we met Jim and Micaela and Pierpont’s in Union Station for drinks and appetizers before going to the Extreme Screen showing of Christmas Vacation. It very much put me in the holiday mood. Union Station is glorious anyway, but when you decorate it up with lights and holly, it is stunning. Pierpont’s is as classic a cocktail experience that you can have. The bar is glorious and the atmosphere speaks Kansas City. The movie was kind of a hoot. I think I have seen bits and pieces of this over the years, but never the whole thing. Seeing Chevy Chase goofiness on a very large screen was funny.

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    My other holiday outing like this was going to the Quality Hill Playhouse with Barb to hear their annual “Christmas in Song” production. We both agreed that our husbands would not cotton to this kind of thing, so it was sans them. Again, it just was one of those experiences when you are with a group of people who clearly are enjoying themselves, listening to talented singers performing songs about the season, that you cannot help but feel the spirit of the season.

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2.  People Going out of their Way to be Friendly – You hear how so many people get grumpy during the holidays, but I really don’t see that. I really do see people going out of their way to be kind and friendly and generous during this time of year. There have been a few examples that really stick out for me. I went to the drive-thru bank to make a deposit. I was putting my papers in the tube and I glanced over at the tellers station. She gave me a smile and a wave and pointed at a sign that was up on her window: “I’m sorry. I have lost my voice, but have a wonderful holiday.  :-).” Because I procrastinated, I needed to send a package to Sam and Jean via two day shipping. I took it into the Fed Ex shop and I had an amusing conversation with the clerk about firearms – we were kind of sympatico in our beliefs. After he told me what it would cost to send the box, he made an attempt to get it into one of their boxes so it would be less. The DHL guy who came to the door to deliver a package was happy and friendly, even though I can only imagine what craziness his days are like. Maybe I am noticing it more, but it feels nicer out there.

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3. Putting Up our Christmas Tree – I had a little bit of trouble getting inspired to get the holiday decorations out and festooned. We didn’t get our tree until last weekend. There is something, however, about opening the box of ornaments and putting them on the tree that sparks happiness. There was the hat that they put on Sam’s head right after he was born. There was Ali’s little ballerina ornament. The Campbell Kids ornament that  could be Sam and Ali. We have Little Mermaid, Bernard and Bianca, Harry Potter. Recently, we buy ornaments when we travel: a Pinocchio from Venice, a bat from Cooperstown, a Danish doll from the funny Windmill in Iowa, a bourbon barrel from Louisville. It’s a beauty.

4. Kindle Daily Deals and Eleanor & Park – My preferred method of reading continues to be on paper. but Amazon’s power plays during this holiday has gotten me reading on my Ipad. Everyday, I receive an email with daily deals from their Kindle catalogue. Earlier this month, they offered several Young Adult books. Included was a book that I have been eager to read – Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. a $2.99 One-click, and it was mine. One gray day, I hunkered down and finished up the book that I had been reading and I opened up Eleanor & Park. A few hours later I emerged a fan of this book and author. Rowell tells the story of two high school students who find in each other a loving relationship that one can only hope for during difficult teenage years. They accept each other for the people they are. Park learns how to work through the challenges of peer pressure. Eleanor learns how to trust and accept love. The book’s style is told in alternating Eleanor/Park chapters. This book also inspired a email exchange between Sam and me that I enjoyed. I have several more purchases waiting on my Ipad. Good way to spend a couple dollars.

5. Sick Days – I wrote before of some back problems that I was having. I ended up staying home one day to rest it. I don’t take many sick days, but really! How lucky are those of us who can stay home from work to heal and know that our job is safe.

I wish each of you reading a wonderful holiday season. Thanks for giving me the gift of your attention. While I like writing this, when someone tells me that they enjoy what I write, it makes my day! Thanks to all!

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

I have had a really nice week. It was one of those week’s that I have thought more than once what a lucky person I am. On Saturday, I got to talk to both kids who both sound really happy. Just that could make a week. As it was, there were a number of other things too. These are five of them:

1. Lift Every Voice – There has been much in the media this week about the celebration around the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s Dream Speech. One morning this week, something that I was watching had a clip of a performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing – the African American National Anthem. The words of the song were originally a poem written to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday and introduce Booker T. Washington. Hearing the song made me immediately recall the many elementary school programs where Sam and Ali and their classmates would sing this song. Those of us in the audience would be welcomed to sing along. Sadly, I don’t have a video of one of those performances, but I found one on Youtube that has the same spirit – complete with the hand motions that made every song better!

2. Thank You NotesDonorsChoose.org is an on-line mechanism for teachers to seek funding for the things they need for their classrooms and students. If you know a teacher, you know that they spend a good piece of their own money to buy things that help them do their job and take care of their students. I know that almost every weekend, Ali is running an errand to get something that she needs for the week ahead. Last year, Ali did a DonorsChoose campaign to get her classroom some very basic supplies: bathroom passes, bins, an electric pencil sharpener, pouches for supplies, and a laminator. Just with these items, she was able to organize her classroom better and create more learning opportunities. This week we got thank you letters from her class. They are all quite precious, but this is one of my favorites! I can’t wait to see what Ms. Ryan’s class has on its wish list this year! If you have a chance, go to the site. I’m sure you will find someplace to put that extra $10 you had this week.halls-1

3. My Job – There are some weeks when I am writing this blog post up, one of my motivations is bringing to mind the good things so I don’t dwell on the not so good things. Admittedly, my job can fall into that latter category at times. But it is never because I don’t like my job. I really do love what I do, and I have been so lucky to be given the chance to do things that I find exciting and challenging. There are times that my job is very stressful and the things that I have to do are not fun.This week, however, I had little to grouse about and much to enjoy. I got to have some really great conversations with people that created new energy and enthusiasm. I saw people step up to new challenges with excitement and energy. I heard about new work that is being done that can potentially lead to better outcomes for the children that we take care of. Every week will not be as good as this week, but that some weeks are as good as this past one, makes me grateful.

4. Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival – Last year was the first official year for the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival in Kansas City. The resurgence of spirits over the past few years has made events such as this more common across the US. The model is the iconic Tales of the Cocktail held each year in New Orleans. Founded by Ryan Maybee, Doug Frost, and Brandon Cummins, this 5 day event is a good thing in my book. Last year we went to one seminar; this year we made it to two. On Friday, we went to a discussion among Ryan, Jim Meehan (who runs PDT in NYC which is perhaps the coolest bar I have ever been in) and Angus WInchester (an “Ambassador” for Tanqueray Gin). They spent two hours giving advice on opening your own bar. Listening to such personable people, who have obvious passion for what they do, was fun and informative. They made it moreso by serving a Meehan and a Maybee inspired cocktail during the presentation. Saturday we attended the seminar on new innovators of American whiskey. Fittingly, the event was held in famous Prohibition era boss, Tom Pendergast’s office space. F Paul Pacult and Sean Ludford provided a fascinating historical retrospective of American whiskey making. We then tasted ten different craft spirits that are now being produced in the United State. Some day I will write more about this topic, but I will leave it by saying that this was a very good thing. Both events were $15 a ticket and were executed well with fabulous volunteers. Hats off to everyone and I can’t wait until next year.Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 10.13.54 AM

5. New Yorker Cartoons – A few years ago, I got a form letter form Bob Mankoff that charmed the socks off of me. He was looking for people to buy a book of New Yorker cartoons that he was editing. He sold me with charm and humor that seemed to speak directly to me. This week, I came across a posting of Bob Mankoff’s favorite New Yorker cartoons and a link to his TED talk on the anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon. I thank Mr. Mankoff for going through those 1000 ideas every week to choose the fifteen cartoons that will end up in the magazine and more often than not, make me happy.