Sunday, December 28, 2008

This is Your Brain on Pregnancy Hormones

This Christmas, I found myself both enthused about celebrating, but without my usual perseverance. I'd start something and then it'd peter out. I chalked this up to the over-abundance of endorphins these days. It's hard to care too much about some things, somehow. Not that I am uncaring!! Just that I am feeling weirdly dreamier than usual, and that impacts my motivation.

Added on to the usual too-much-to-do of the season, I found myself more than usually willing to cut back on activities. Yes, I'd bake cookies, but not too many kinds. Yes, I'd decorate cookies with my niece, but if we only got an hour of quality time together, that was still good. Yes, I'll get tickets to the concert, but I won't worry about the other event that I can't find enough energy for, even though I had been looking forward to it for the previous 6 months (seriously, it happened). I'm actually happy with how things turned out, although some people are still lacking in Christmas cards, because you know... I just ran out of steam somehow.

This reminds me of this Summer, actually. I started several cool new projects in the Spring and early Summer, only to find myself... falling asleep and unable to concentrate. Gee, I wonder why that was. Everything started changing, and all the gnashing of teeth and berating and nagging myself to do some things was completely inadequate to giving me any actual energy for those things. It wasn't even that I didn't want to do those things; I just could not concentrate enough to care enough.

So a number of very fine things in my life fell by the wayside. Some things don't feel as interesting or as important as before. I've learned that - oh well - that's just the way it is now.

And now all the things I am trying to do in the next 6-8 weeks is suffering just as badly. I can see that there are some things that just won't get done. Maybe they will sometime in the next decade... or not! And no doubt, there will be other things that I will let fall in the next year because they won't be as important or urgent as being with my child.

I'm not idealizing the self-sacrifice inherent in the situation or imposed by a gauzy stereotype of motherhood. I'm simply acknowledging that my brain is not the same. I'd be more upset about it, but... gosh, when I'm not feeling strung out with anxiety about preparations, I'm still feeling floatyly unconcerned. I guess I'll run with it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

SWDB - Into the Holiday Season

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...December 21st, 2008

Outside my skies and sunshine, barking dogs, and holly berries.

Towards a daily rhythm...changing bed sheets, doing laundry, baking cookies, washing dishes.

I am thinking...that I have to wrap and deliver the gifts for my church's Share Your Christmas program. Among other things, I am giving a clock radio, a set of sheets, a couple of men's dress shirts for men and women in a transitional program, and at least two bags of non-perishable food items for homeless who have not yet started the transition back to life in a building. These are all practical requests and highly appreciated by the recipients. There were many more things on the list that I wanted to give, was tempted to take on, but I can't do them all! I am just happy that the bulk of our giving focuses first on the truly needy.

I am thankful for...the fact that we are not badly impacted by the economic crisis. We do feel the effects, yes, and we do have to be more careful with our spending these days, and even cut back on some things, but it doesn't feel dire. It could be much, much worse, and I am very thankful that we "live small" and can weather the stressors without serious pain.

From the kitchen...cookies baked and cookies decorated and cookies yet to come. Also some leftover stirfry and pasta in a delicious roasted-red-pepper sauce that I hope to recreate. Now to think of what to make for tonight's potluck...

I am wearing...fuzzy velour pants and a sweatshirt.

I am reading...A most excellent novel by Geoff Ryman: The King's Last Song. As The Independent says: portrays two different Cambodias, separated by 800 years, yet hauntingly interconnected. The story involves a precocious young relative of an ancient king, writings on gold, and modern characters, both natives and archeologists, who are trying to create a whole life not bound by the bloody past, and somehow succeeding but not. The characters draw you in!

Also reading The Baby Name Bible by Paula Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, an invaluable resource for us parents-to-be overwhelmed with choices.

I am creating...a plan for the next week.

I am hoping...that waiting to celebrate the larger family Christmas until mid-January does not rob the occasion of its fun. I am also hoping that the chocolate truffles that I so carefully accumulate for stocking presents survive the wait! Urrr, I don't know about that...

I am hearing...the furnace running, my husband walking through the house and rattling tools around, and A Charlie Brown Christmas album playing.

I am going to breathe deeply...and do my leg stretches. After waking up screaming with terrible leg cramps (trying to turn over), let's not have a repeat of that.

Around the house...piles of books and decorations and tins of cookies.

Bring beauty to my home...stringing some of my favorite glass ornaments along the mantle.
Christmas Bulbs-Mantle

One of my favorite things...getting together with my niece and sister to decorate cookies at Christmas time. It doesn't have to be all afternoon or be done perfectly to be a good time.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...bake gingerbread cookies, give cookies to neighbors, finish gift shopping, make more rice & lentils (good solid food amidst the sugar!), work in the garden, work on clearing the little room, start boxing up the corner of the kitchen that DH wants to renovate, take items to Goodwill, keep myself well fed and hydrated.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
A Fresh Palette

Sunday, December 14, 2008

SWDB 121408 - Finding Relaxation Amidst the Busyness

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...December 14th, 2008

Outside my Window...a winter garden, drywall dust, a flat of pansies, and the first winter Camellias blooming.

Towards a daily rhythm...keeping up with dishes as I cook and bake and cook and bake...

I am thinking...that's worth dropping some things from the schedule so that I can enjoy the remaining items. I still managed to do two of my three today, and added a quick batch of backing, so I feel good. Relaxed is good. It's also good to hang loose when other crazy things are going on around me.

I am thankful for...being generally healthy and not (thus far) catching any of the cold and illnesses going around. I've been very blessed this way!! I'm also thankful I got to see one of my traveling friends today. She's not scheduled to be back in the area before May, so this was really nice.

From the kitchen...the first batch of pizelles of the season, and a big pot of lentil and vegetable stew.

I am wearing...a purple-blue turtleneck and brown yoga pants and festive blue-purple and white earrings.

I am reading...Wind Readers, which I started earlier but hadn't finished.

I am creating...more space/order and more clutter/chaos, simultaneously! It gets worse before it gets better.

I am enjoy good soup and fellowship tonight.

I am hearing...Ella Fitzgerald singing A Swinging Christmas and Mr. Sweetie drilling into drywall.

I am going to breathe deeply...and ignore the pounding/sawing/drilling I hear from the other room. Not my project to worry about.

Around the house...the tree is up but not the lights.

Bring beauty to my home...colored lights and antique glass bulbs. Flower bulbs for the garden.

One of my favorite things...Christmas choral music. I was listening to the Vienna Boys Choir earlier and basking in the melodies and harmonies.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...dig in the garden (find the iris and move them!), make more cookies, address more cards, shop for presents, draw a diagram for the general (future) garden layout, and return library books.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
Pizzelle Shadows

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gratitude 1:365

1. Our roof doesn't leak. At one time it did, and then it stopped. I don't know why or how it fixed itself, but I'm glad.

2. Snuggly cats.

3. Four whole quilt squares completed.

4. A mother who cooks me lunch when I come over.

5. Enough ingredients to make several batches of cookies.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Clutter Decisions and STUFF

With all of the reorganization going on around here, I've been reflecting on WHY we find ourselves having to deal with so much stuff. In one of my favorites posts from the Get-It-Done-Guy, he touches on why we end up with so much stuff.

He writes:
Filing systems—paper or not—are notorious for things going in but never coming out. Just remember the final scene of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” They bury the Ark of the Covenant for all time by filing it in a government warehouse.

He adds:
If you’re under 18, you may be wondering what the fuss is. Give it ten years. As you find stuff that’s too valuable, too legal, too fun, or too incriminating to throw away, you’ll want to keep it. One time-honored way is by using a filing cabinet. And yes, even if you’re under 25, you’ll find you want to keep some things that can’t be scanned into the digital world. Besides, your online file folders are probably as scattered as most of the paper ones.

Hahahah! Yes!

For us, it's not just the files or the paper, although the volume of paper itself is pretty daunting. No, it's all the stuff that accumulates for a given project or stage in life. Those interests and passions that generate more material that seems important at the time, then quickly turns into less-important junk after we've moved on to other things. It's like an archaeological dig, sometimes, going through all the layers of our past lives. Poetry, videos, information and instruction, half-completed projects, bumper stickers, notes, maps, books, packages, commemorative pins, decorations, pieces of games, thirty years of drawings and paintings, old diplomas and trophies, screws and renovation materials, and even (oh god!) legislation.

And the thing that keeps me from moving on, aside from the nostalgia, is deciding what is no longer useful or deciding where it needs to go. Somebody might find this useful, so should I try to pass it on or just junk it? Or try to get some money back out of it? Freecycle and Craigs List, here I come. FlyLady, help!

My parents (no surprise there) are bad about passing on stuff that might be better thrown away. I'll never forget the day (some twelve years ago just after I had cleaned house) that my mom dropped off several boxes of childhood memorabilia including cards of congratulations from when I was born. It didn't even know those existed! I didn't need to know they existed! There the boxes sat for weeks in my otherwise clean living room, depressing the hell out of me. I found myself paralyzed by the need to decide of how much of this to keep. It's the all-holy family history, but the torch had been passed to me. Me with the house a third of the size of my parents', I should add. Me with half a house of my sisters and BIL's stuff stored in my basement. Me with clutter tendencies of my own. Me with several previous career/lives with accompanying materials.

I can't remember what happened to the last of those birth cards, but I do know that when my mom passed on a plaster hand-cast from my kindergarten years this Summer, I said, "That's cute" and tossed it in the trash. After all, I realized, no doubt I will have my own child's plaster hand-print in a few years, and I really, really, really don't need my own.

The decision-making can be hard, but I am slowly learning to be ruthless. Ruthless about tossing things, ruthless about refusing other people's cast-off stuff that they can't bear to get rid of. It makes me less-inclined to pass off my own junk, because, really, who wants it?! I need to make my own decisions (as hard as that is), and just do it and don't look back. And I don't want to deal with (throw away) other people's deferred decisions either. Thanks but no thanks.

It's not just that the decisions are many. I'm fighting against a lifetime of conditioning to Not Throw Anything Away. My Depression-era ancestors are still nagging me in the back of my psyche. Okay, there is merit in being thrifty, but not if all those things you save just in case take over your brain and your house. Saving for later use is one thing. Hoarding is quite another, but the line between the two is pretty damn thin. I know it's not just my family, either.

There is also the circumstantial stuff of Neglected Household Blending. Years of books and boxes that have not been sorted for the last nine years. College stuff that has not seen the light of day since it was shoved into the basement lo those many years ago. Stuff that we didn't have time to think about when we first moved and is now quietly moldering below. I guess we could categorize this as Stuff We Could Deal With Later that never found the later! There is no later; it's all junk now.

Then there is the holy Documentation Gene that gives some erroneous justification for keeping old stuff from the past. Thou shalt not throw away history. It starts with old family photographs, borderline-antique ancestral items, and then moves on to "notes from your grandmother when she was in college" and leftover antique-buttons-that-you-can-keep-for-years-for-no-reason-at-all. And...and... mileage from trips from when you were in junior high and recordings from when you were four years old and trying to tell a joke, or one of those times you graduated: four hours of music, speeches, programs, conversation and background noise. Good God! Stop it already!

I feel like I am in a 12-step program to declutter. You really have to live it every day, consistently, persistently making choices about what to keep in your life, what to throw away, what to refuse. And if the decisions are neglected for a while and the piles of junk and clutter start burning again, you have to gird yourself and dive back in with no regrets or recriminations.

It's so tempting, so easy, to put off the decisions. What to do with this or that. Whether it fits with your life purpose, whether it's truly useful or just a stand-in for some ambition or good intention. I don't know the answer. Or rather, I don't know the answer for me. But I know I can't keep accumulating stuff, whether it's stuff I buy or stuff that just moves in and stays. It's suffocating.

We have a small house. We need more storage, no doubt. But I'm saying these days, it's not that we need more storage; we need less stuff. The tidal wave of kid-stuff is about to begin. Save us!

ETA and Chaos

We have about two months before her expected arrival, and I am going nuts. There is way too much to do, and seemingly not enough time to do it in. This is not even including the part about "making the room look cute." This is clearing the space to make room. Complicating the usual preparation are all the projects and tasks we have been neglecting the last few years, both inside and outside the house.

So to organize anything, I have to drag out a bunch of junk to make space, and then figure how what/where to put the junk. In another box? In the trash? Sell it? But then I have to _____. And our basement is already full of random piles of Stuff-We-Will-Probably-Never-Use-Again. I consider it a success if we put the Junk-We-Can't-Get-Rid-Of on some shelving instead of on the concrete so that it looks *somewhat* organized. FlyLady would say that you can't organize clutter. Oh, SO TRUE! Most of it is clutter alright. I just don't have the mental energy to make those decisions right now and decide what goes and where it goes. The easy stuff goes into the trash or off to Goodwill or the thrift store. The hard stuff goes on a shelf.

So I have plans for neatening and organizing (and decluttering- yea!), and some things are getting done. But jeez, I forgot the part about how I have to make more of a mess before I can neaten up. If this post sounds repetitive and disorganized, uh, welcome to my head these days.

In addition, Mr. Sweetie has decided that he needs to do certain things to make the house look presentable for our upcoming house appraisal (don't ask), even though they have nothing to do with the ETA of our daughter. So we have new drop cloths and rearranging of various things (which stresses me out when he wants it done NOW), and oh, did I mention that one of my earrings dropped off the rack as he was moving it across the house? It's... somewhere. Hopefully not down the heating vent or into the basement. On the upside, our gutters are clean.

We hashed out some of our work strategies last night. We have different styles of getting things done, and sometimes thar be clashes. We often just step back and let each other have our project space, but it's more complicated when the projects involve both of our spaces. So let's establish a few key communication set-pieces to mesh our expectations and personal needs a little better. So far, so better.

But here's one project aside from the gutters that is actually proceeding: The hall/linen closet.

I forgot to take a before picture, but here's the after. And it's actually well-organized now, although it might not be obvious considering how full it is.
closet side
This includes things like sleeping bags, blankets, sheets, towels, spare fleece blankets and pillows, tissue, etc.

closet above closet below
Also things like games, several air mattresses, kitty litter, furnace air filters, hand warmers, light bulbs, medicine box, certain appliances, step stool, and oh yeah, coats and jackets as well. Theoretically, this is where the vacuum cleaner lives as well.

My secret here is that I did not take an entire day to tear my hair out over it and make myself crazy. I set my timer for 15 minutes FlyLady fashion and pulled out, sorted, and reorganized stuff for those 15 minutes. Then I took another 15 to put everything back in order and put rejected stuff into bags for Goodwill. Note I did not redo the *entire* closet; I only neatened to the point that I could find things. Or as the Get-It-Done-Guy says, file for retrieval! And I didn't kill myself doing it.

So now we want to have a house-project friend clean and paint the baby's room for us (also involving spackle and wallpaper border removal). It's not vital to gussy up the place, but it would be nice to have that done. And so in order to have her do that, I have to clear the room! Convenient, that. (Now if I could do the same thing to the office, I'd be estatic, but let's start with baby steps, here.)

Little Piles_6882

Here's another project that is actually proceeding: The sorting of the fabric.

The baby's room has had fabric in it for years. Years.
Little Room_6879
And other random stuff from previous careers, but yeah, mostly it's fabric.

It's even been taking up drawer space in the changing table!
Little Closet_6880

So my goal has been to sort all this stuff in some organized fashion so it's not just a Pile-O-Fabric. It can't go into the basement because Hellooo Mildew, and all the closets are taken, taken, I tell you! As are the corners. When my mother offered bigger boxes with the suggestion that we "just stack them in the corners," I had to tell her, "Mom! We don't have any corners left!" (Oh, did I mention that we have a rather small house?) So my current plan is to box it up by color and store it under the bed. This I can do.

Rather than buy yet more plastic boxes, I have been retrieving a set of my favorite sized box for the sorting. Certain boxes have piles of paperwork in them. Others are half filled with other projects. Over the course of a few weeks, I have consolidated and thrown out enough stuff to clear five whole boxes and possibly another two! Yea! That in itself is an accomplishment - fling, fling, fling!

So now commences the sorting. At some point, I will likely include the tossing as well. I doubt I can keep all of it. So far, so good.
Fabric Sorting

I have to keep these successful progressions in mind to hold off the panic attacks. If it weren't for the Do-Everything-for-15-Minutes-At-A-Time, I'd be sunk. At there are still times that I get overwhelmed with just Too Much To Do. I just hope I have some sanity left after the holidays. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Now With Fewer Buttons

It seems that everyone and her sister has or wants a GPS now. In one of the recent Sunday flyers, one store advertised no fewer than 6 versions, hoping that we'd all come in and buy one.

This, I really do not get. Why do we need these things? I know some people are directionally challenged. Years ago, one friend had one installed in her car to keep herself from going perpetually astray. It seemed to be a good solid piece of equipment. Most of us, however, can usually figure out how to get where we are going. So we don't *really* need one of these. Do we?

In addition, these days, we have umpteen versions to add to the one we don't really need. It's become the gadget of the era. Unfortunately, all the gadgets of the world cannot save some people from their confusion. Not naming any names, here, but some people put in some kind of information and get out, well, garbage. They are surprised, yes, surprised! when the GPS tells them to make a circle if they put in the wrong address.

It's not a magic machine. I suspect that all the buttons and functions have become overwhelmingly redundant, so that it takes just as much brain power (or more) to get the thing to work correctly as it would be to just figure out where you are going. But nooo, we apparently want (or think we want) all the features. It's like a cheap stereo, cell phone, or Mp3 player - covered in buttons and glitz with just as much (or less) practicality than a simple version. It's like (still not naming any names) buying yet another new cell phone because you can't figure out the old ones. The newest version is not necessarily going to help you figure it out any more easily.

Do they even make a simple version of the GPS any more? (I am writing rhetorically because I don't feel like taking my time to actually research this question.) I know they do make a simple version of a cell phone because we have one! (It makes phone calls and can receive text messages; that's it.) So maybe a basic GPS exists as well. I do know that most of the backpacking versions with elevation and land feature mapping are only good until a change in the weather after which you have to recalibrate the things all over again before you know where you are.

Why yes, they do make a simple version of a GPS, still. It's called a map. Map skills are good for life. We look at the maps and plot our path. Maybe we'll print something from maps on the web and actually *gasp* outline our route in highlighter pen.

My husband's version of a GPS is even simpler. I ride with him. He calls me "the system." The system says things like "This lane will end in half a mile" or "Don't turn left, turn right" or sometimes "Turn around! You missed your turn!" My husband thinks this is magic because he is sometimes directionally dyslexic, wanting to turn right when he's turned left hundreds of times.

If the system is on high alert, it'll say things like "You're following that guy a little closely" or "Watch out for that car!" Sometimes the system has to be dialed down a little so it doesn't say things like "The speed limit is now * 35 miles * per hour (and you're going 50)." But it does come in handy to alert for "Deer!" and "Cop car!"

Also, the system is wary of creating an unhealthy dependancy. The system is not above staying silent to allow for user learning. However it does come in handy. And it does not require onboard electronics.

I grant you this does not address the coolness factor of having an electronic toy with buttons and graphics. This also does not address people who travel for business and for whom having an onboard computer is actually a beneficial tool. Know know those UPS scanner computer they carry around? Coolness. But for the average person? Pffft!

When we are GPSed up to here, are we as a society going to lose our ability to plot our path across town? When we have this gadget to tell us the "best" route and where to turn, do we give up our ability to evaluate our choices and make spatial decisions? Our brains continually "map" our spatial environment and conceptual connections. If we don't use our brains, those connections atrophy. Use it or lose it, baby.

This system would say it's nice to have a reference, but it's not necessary to have someone hold your hand. So put down the GPS. You can figure out where you are, okay? It's all hardwired in your brain already. No buttons required.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Starting Off December - SWDB

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...December 2nd, 2008

Outside my Window...crinkled dried leaves, some of them nondescript brown, some of them (on the maple) dark red.

Towards a daily rhythm...making lists and checking off tasks. Tracking down those little details and clearing space for new projects. Working ahead on my preferred elements of Christmas.

I am thinking...about whether to take on a new student for the next few months. It would be enjoyable and reasonably lucrative, but possibly intense (every weekday). I don't think I have the energy and attention to manage 5 days a week with everything else going on.

I am thankful for...friends, friends and more friends. Friends who pass on cribs and give out smiles, and give me the benefit of their wisdom and experience. Friends who cook food for me or meet me for lunch. Friends who plan parties so that we can eat, sing, and make merry in the company of community.

From the kitchen...a big plate of broccoli and yellow squash with a little cheese. Also, some tuna noodle casserole - pure comfort food.

I am wearing...a purple "Planetary Peace" T-shirt and my brown yoga pants. Also my favorite black fleece pullover. And loose-fitting socks.

I am reading...three books at once: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (I love, love, love this book!), The Passion Dream Book by Whitney Otto (a cross-era mix of fact/fiction, story/history by the same author who wrote How to Make an American Quilt), and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, a novel by Marisha Pessl (on loan from my niece after she raved about it for a year). My cup runneth over! Also, I'm enjoying reading three strong writings by authors who happen to be women.

I am creating...another list of nutritional goals for the next couple months. I know I could do better. More protein, more veggies, and all that.

I am hoping...that my next 3-hour glycol test shows that my blood sugar is doing fine, thank you.

I am hearing...some wonderful tunes by FloorPlay, and a few French carols in my head.

I am going to breathe deeply...and try to not flinch when my daughter kicks me hard in a soft spot. She's exploring all the corners and trying to push out the walls, too. I'm also trying to find more patience for my perpetually needy cats.

Around the house...I've been digging into random corners and finding more things to either re-file in the basement or give away completely. Just today, I've found stuff in the bedroom, office, kitchen and living room to clear out.

Bring beauty to my home...I bought some pansies and violas (mini pansies) for the winter garden. In this area, pansies don't do well in the summer but they over-winter beautifully. This year, I have mostly purple and cream, deep purple, and orange. I also found some wonderful sherbert-colored ones mixing purple-blues and peach colors. I enjoy mixing warm and cool colors and I'm looking forward to having more color, period, in the garden.

One of my favorite things...planning to buy tickets for the annual Christmas choral concert coming up. Beautiful choral music makes it Christmas for me.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...mix up some batches of cookie dough, cut back old garden brush and make headway on the cards.

Here is some picture thoughts I am sharing with you...

Frost Line Reflections

Criss Crossing Frost Dark

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Settling Back in

for NaBloPoMo

So I'm back. This is after a couple days of long rides interspersed with regular walk-breaks. Today, we got started way early, and it rained all day, but we got home in the middle of the afternoon instead of rather late at night, so it was good. It was really good to be away, and it's good to be back now.

We came in in a drizzle, greeted the cats at length (they were happy to see us), and unloaded the entire car, including all the bits of trash that tend to accumulate and the second-hand toddler potty that makes flushing noises and plays music when you press the handle (ahh, don't you love it?!).

I always spend some time putting things away. The house was already mostly picked up before we left, but all the detritus of our trip can trip us up for days if I don't get right on it. I put away all the food bags, the cooler items, unpacked the toiletries, unpacked all my bag-o-stuff ranging from the cell phone charger to my neck pillow to that new book my niece is loaning me, and distributed various items where they belong. I haven't yet gotten to the clothes, but I will, and then there will be laundry.

I checked email (at least I'd been reading and deleting daily if not doing much correspondence), caught up a little on news. I went through the mail and extracted bills from junk, filed some forms.

Then I drank some juice and lay down for an hour.

Then I finally made myself sit down and listen to the answering machine.


I have the capability to listen to the machine from afar, but I rarely make the effort. So the messages, they do tend to pile up a little whenever we are gone for more than a day or two. Not that we get many messages, but that's just the way it works: we leave town for a couple days or a week, and mysteriously, people need to talk to us and leave long, involved messages for us to find later. Often, they are from one of our friends asking about something that will resolve itself well before we get home, or one of my sisters inviting us at the last minute to get together. Sometimes, it's one of my husband's many colleagues with either a Q or information about the upcoming week or checking in from the other side of the country.

Of all the messages tonight, they were all for me. Two doctor offices, one impassioned request to pick something up before we left for Thanksgiving (one of those in the too late category), and at least two requests from two different people about what may or may not prove to be the same gig. For next weekend. (Cue sound of screaming: aaaaiiiigh!!)

All of these people, I need to call back, and you know me: I don't like talking on the phone! And I also need to make decisions. The one doctor is easy enough - make an annual appointment. But should I offer to meet my sister in the next town over to transfer the item she wants? But what is my schedule like this week? (full and capricious) Should I turn down the one or possibly two last-minute gigs flat or ask about circumstances (if I get to work with some of my favorite musicians) even though I am feeling already stressed? (Mr Sweetie says yes.) Or is that already resolved since I obviously took more than a week to get back to them and they've made other plans? And what the hell does that one nurse want to talk to me about? Do I even want to know?? (I sometimes/often/always suspect bad news first because, well, it often is.) Aaaand does this mean I have to go back in for another test? Gawd, I sure hope not!!!!

So I suddenly have all these decisions and speculations to disturb my transition back to my usual life. Rats. Maybe if I put them all on my list for tomorrow, they will become neat and orderly items under "post office - stamps" and "pay bills" and "rake leaves" and "laundry!"

I am hoping for breathing room. Grumpf, grumpf.

And oh, yeah, hi. This is my last post of the month for November NaBloPoMo. It was fun. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Thankful Day

for NaBloPoMo

My niece and nephews are old enough to hold actual conversations with. They told me all about their recent lives, teased each other about people who may actually like them, made pumpkin bread, taught me how to play "rock star," and passed out pie. Awesome! Then the youngest started screaming and havoc and stuff. Not enough tryptophan, I tell you. We all nap now, and when we awake, we'll have more pie and a game. Back to the awesome.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Traveling Retreat

for NaBloPoMo

Things to do in a hotel room for x hours.
A recreation

Figure out how to turn on the heat. Rearrange chair. Take 2 minute nap with feet up.

Look at the bathroom layout and check out all the free toiletries. Try out the hand lotion.

See whether the hotel has an exercise room/pool.

Debate whether the swimming pool is even open. Decide that, if it's this cold outside, probably not.

Eat some cheese and crackers. Eat some truffles. Eat an apple and some walnuts.

Test all the pillows. Bounce on the bed. Look for another blanket. Nap.

Read a new book. Debate whether to start addressing Christmas cards.

Figure out how to access free wireless internet.

Check email. Try to remember all your passwords. Check Facebook. Check Twitter. Check Flickr. Post for NaBloPoMo. Check world news.

Scroll through lots of excruciatingly bad television in search of intelligent life.

Watch three episodes of "Third Rock From the Sun" in a row.

Look for Tina Fey credits.

Google Tina Fey on free internet access. Realize that all this time, that you were confusing "Third Rock" with "Thirty Rock."

Finish reading the paper.

Nap. Snuggle. Carry on.

Find intelligent life on TV and decide to eat some cereal.

Think about grading papers.

Drink more water. Turn down heat.

Fret over swollen ankles. Prop up feet.

Take a long shower. Test all the free toiletries. Do yoga. Drink more water.

Listen to clock radio.

Clean coat where burrito sauce dripped.

Rearrange clothing in luggage.

Talk about the route/schedule for tomorrow.

Look at the clock.

Read more on the book.

Comb hair. Fret about how dry it is. Turn down heat.

Get ice. Drink juice. Rearrange food in cooler.

Check weather report. Notice that it's still cold. Tuck in fleece lap blanket.

Arrange pillows. Nap.

Pause to let child kick you (again).

Eat another snack. Drink water. Read. Check email.

Wonder where the last 10 hours went. Decide it doesn't matter.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

From the Road

for NaBloPoMo

Nice things along the way:

Reclined naps with pillow to cushion the bounciness of the road.

Black cows against snow-dusted hillsides.

Homemade ice cream in bitterly cold weather.

Walkable down towns.

Fleece lap warmers.

Getting off early in the day so we can get in early in the day.

Early vacation.

A clean kitchen to come home to.

Truffles for the road.

More relaxation than stress.

Free wireless access.

It's lovely.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Working Ahead From Behind

for NaBloPoMo

Yeah, I always work ahead. That's why I post for NaBloPoMo early. Always. Not. :)

However, I have started to get a jump on the holidays. FlyLady keeps us cruising through November doing everything in bite-sized increments early so that it's not such a grind at the end. Me, I'm a big fan of Christmas cards. I love getting those end-of-year letters. I love the glitter and glow. So even though I have not even thought much (yet) about the exact shape of the holidays, I feel happy to have my list compiled, my addresses mostly ready, the boxes ready to go. I am already compiling ingredients for this year's pizelles. I am already plotting to decorate cookies again with my niece. It'll be a most wonderful time of the year.

But first, I travel into the wilds of the midwest where internet may be spotty. At some point this weekend or next week, my NaBloPoMo effort will sputter to a halt under the lack of computer connection. So we shall see. But I will have real-life connection, and sometimes that's unbloggable.

Wishing you all good connections and Happy Turkey Day, early.

Cards Angles CU

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One of those days on the go

for NaBloPoMo

Here's where I look at the clock and say to myself, "Oh, crap!" Only half an hour to make my post.

Today I've been preoccupied with other things besides all the wonderful writing ideas in my head. For instance, I woke up this morning feeling like I was coming down with a cold. Snuffly and drippy with a side order of bleeding dry (?) nose. Yet I was not sure of what to eat OR does myself with given my upcoming test, so... I ate a little (non-sweetened) bran flake cereal, drank a little (non-contraindicated) herbal tea and went back to bed.

I dragged myself awake two hours later, got myself presentable for the public, and went off for my latest OB appointment wherein my doctor told me that *this* time she sounded like a girl (ha! unlike three months ago), experimentally shoved my uterus around (cool!), measured me (just right for my gestation) and pronounced me good to go.

Oh, did I mention that this was the day that I drank the super-sweet Glucola stuff? The nurse came in with two bottles, and just as I was about to ask her how much of it I had to drink, she told me my dose was only *half* a bottle, but that I had to drink it down within two minutes from start to finish. Internets, why do you scare me so? The stuff was not bad. I repeat: tolerable! I've eaten pie that was sweeter! And then I felt fine, just fine. Mr. Sweetie was the one who was famished and begged my granola bar to offset his lack of lunch. And I was just fine. Of course, I had a modest lunch beforehand, so I was not chugging the stuff on an empty stomach. What the internets did not tell me was that I wasn't allowed to even drink any water in the hour following. Yikes.

Then after the timed blood draw, we were on our was to nosh on a proper lunch, both of us. And the counter lady knew immediately about the Glucola! I was just amazed that she picked up on my condition under all my fleece. She said: Girl, pleeease! You're rockin'! And then she told us about her oldest baby, who is 17 years and 6 feet, and still asking her advice about college admissions.

Devoured a grilled cheese and some delish "gypsy soup" (tomatoes, chickpeas, and squash), and THEN drove over to the next city/suburb to make headway on my errands. Some approved cold medicine (just in case), Christmas truffles (for family stockings), and some fab Christmas cards (starting my pre Xmas list). Looove that tastefully-accented-with-glitter look!

And then home to reconvene with Mr. Sweetie and head in the *other* direction of the region for our first childbirth class. Six couples, all on their first children, three of us due within the same week (yes!), and most of us willing to admit our trepidations. The instructor said she cut and chopped the curriculum to make sure we spent part of every class on the vital stuff, not necessarily spending two whole hours on a single topic that would bore us or overwhelm us. Mr. Sweetie got a "coach point" right away and when asked if he even knew there were going to be coach points (and what they were), he said, No, but we want them! Lots of humor. It was good. All the Dads were all clearly cool people. Still getting to know the other Moms. The instructor tossed us "golden nipples" (chocolate kisses with almonds) for coming up with advantages for breast-feeding. Learning plus chocolate! Plus protein and color illustrations. We can see that there is a definite bias towards the natural childbirth in the class, but not annoyingly so. That's what it's all about anyway. We are all there to learn.

And no! I'm still! Awake! Or maybe it's the brownie! See? It's my OMG-I-don't-have-time-to-write-a-NaBloPoMo-post kind of day. Off to bed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The next viewing starts at 10:45

for NaBloPoMo

I have been entertained by the belly the last several months. I take pictures of myself every so often, just to document the progression and expansion. Different scenes, different angles, new art.

My mother takes pictures of me every month to show off when she visits relatives. (I can only presume that they are reasonably attractive.)

My in-laws are chomping at the bit to see me next week as they haven't laid eyes on the belly yet, or hands on it, either.

My one friend eyes it like it might bite her. Oh Mah Gawd, look at that thing.

Another friend waves at the belly and talks to it. Hi baby!

My sister emailed me today to say she was wondering how big I was getting these days. She hasn't seen me for several months, so I sent her a bunch of my pics.

This is one of my favorite pics of the belly so far, even though it's a month out of date already.

Belly + Cat 23c HC

The cats are, of course, oblivious to the belly.

People sometimes want to feel the belly too, and I'm surprised at how little that's bothered me. Or maybe everyone seeking a belly rub thus far has been affectionate and respectful instead of attempting a surprise lunge, so I'm okay with that. Do not lunge or slap at the belly, thanks.

I saw some pictures of myself from last weekend, though, and I am not amused.

I thought I'd get away with looking "great" the whole time. That's what people keep telling me: I "look great." But this week, I've started putting on additional layers.

My reaction: Noooooooo!

My arms are getting fat, my chin is fat, my hips are yet larger, my *back* is getting plumper. Gack! I didn't even know that was possible.

I even saw a bit of video of myself, and I move like a thick waisted linebacker. Gracefully, but yes, a linebacker. Is this what Twyla Tharp wanted to document when she was expecting her own child? It certainly has its own style.

It's an adjustment. It's already been a physical adjustment; now it's an ego adjustment. Argh, argh, argh. This doesn't even look like me, not my usual self. My self image is still in shock.

But then I look again at the Tharp video. She drew upon that memory and visual documentation to inspire a new work of dance Baker's Dozen.

I'm thinking that although it's a shock to see my latest self, maybe I should embrace that. Make it like a new work of dance. A new work for unusual times. A new work for *rare* times. Because how often will this happen to me again? Not likely ever.

So, okay, Twyla, lead me on. Because this schlumpy linebacker doesn't know what to think of herself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bucket Lists and Everyday Goals

for NaBloPoMo

I saw some posts recently that referenced the "bucket list," from the movie of the same name. The basic idea is: What do you want to do or accomplish before you die? (This sometimes includes the additional pressure of: If you only had x amount of time to live. OR by my x birthday.) I'm a little cynical about this, given that I don't have the money to pursue high-flown pursuits, and that I don't feel the need to see every last wonder of the world. But I do have some ideas.

But first, I've been interested to notice that I've already accomplished some things on OTHER people's lists.

Things I've done from other people's bucket lists:

Had my picture taken at the Grand Canyon.
Spent a month in the Southern U.S. (This is a given since I already live here.)
Gone a day without the Internet.
Hiked the Rocky Mountains.
Volunteered with a political campaign.
Seen The Nutcracker.
Gone skinny dipping at a public pool, lake, or beach.
Gone Christmas carolling.
Spent a whole day reading a great novel.
Forgiven my parents.

I actually find this a more interesting endeavor than making my own list. I spent some time trolling for more, but most of what I found is *advice* on making a list, not people's lists in particular.

Then I thought of some things that I've already done in my life that could belong on a bucket list had I only thought of such a concept earlier. This could be called

Things that I'll look back on as having experienced before I die:

Given a eulogy.
Backpacked (hiked) to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back.
Hiked in the Rockies.
Experienced alpine tundra.
Learned how to swear in a foreign language.
Flown as a passenger in a small plane.
Gone on a blind date.
Learned how to take a compliment.
Sat on a jury.
Fell deeply in love -- helplessly and unconditionally.
Stayed out all night dancing and went to work the next day without much sleep.
Grew a garden.
Created my Family Tree.
Climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
Learned to drive a stick shift.
Learned to speak another language. (Several other languages to various degrees.)
Got married.
Saw Michelangelo's David and several of his Pietás in person.
Climbed to the top of St. Peter's Dome in Rome.
Made a music video.
Drove 4000+ miles across country by myself.
Danced naked under the moon at the Winter Equinox (only once!).
Walked a labyrinth.
Completed the Iron Dancer circuit.
Got an academic award.
Fired my own load of pottery (with glazes that I mixed myself) in a gas kiln.
Watched an orb spider spin their web for 45 minutes.

There are some other things I'll also be glad to have experienced, but I think that might be a different post. Then there are

Things I really need to have on my bucket list:

Write the novel I know I have inside me. (Write and publish a book.)
Shower in a waterfall.
Ask for a raise.
Learn to play a musical instrument with some degree of skill.
Teach someone illiterate to read.
Write down my personal mission statement, follow it, and revise it from time to time.
Sing a great song in front of an audience.
Drive across America from coast to coast.
Write my will.
Sleep under the stars. (this might have happened already)
Overcome my fear of failure.
Overcome my fear of success.
Attend one really huge rock concert.
Create my own web site.
Make myself spend a half-day at a concentration camp and swear never to forget.
Look into my child's eyes, see myself, and smile.
Perform in a play.
Watch my child graduate from college.
Get my Masters.
Get a tattoo.
Get rid of clutter and keep only what matters most.
Make a pilgrimage.
Visit Alsace and see the village of my ancestors.
Make Creme Brulée.
Stand up for people whose rights are denied.
Spend a year living in another country.
Learn to prune a tree.
Let go of old pieces of my past.
Become independently wealthy and start foundations to make people's lives better.
Learn to spell, already.
Make more pottery.
Raise my child.

Now what remains is to make a serious list from scratch.

My dilemma is that I'm either too lofty and high-faluting in my ambitions or too mundane. I could set a goal for things that I want to accomplish by the time I'm 50, but it's too depressing that I'm already into middle-age compared to many bloggers.

Actually, I've learned to be happy with with my life so far. I've learned to accept that I will never be the fabulously talented person accomplishing grand things. Before ya'll scream at me that it isn't so, I'll remind you that grand goals have a way of paralyzing me. It's not that I don't have my goals, but life has a way of making other plans, and the grand dreams are not necessarily the same things that actually make me happy with my life. Dreams are good, but let's see what is actually within the realm of possibility. I don't plan to live with regret.

So let me have my lofty and mundane things. I plan to savor all of my days. I'm not planning to set myself up to bemoan that I never made it to the Taj Mahal or Paris, especially if I have no great ambition to go to either.

You could argue that the whole point of the Bucket List is to live your life now, and I would agree.

So let me place bare feet on green grass.
I want to to eat fruits and vegetables in season every year.
To savor everything.
To laugh often and much.
To hold my child.
To sing with joy and enthusiasm.

Let me see the American West/South-West periodically and hike about, and I'll be happy. Why wait for Paris to feel you have lived your life?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Real World & the Facebook World of Community

for NaBloPoMo

I used to be a huge letter writer in terms of number of correspondents, in frequency, and in volume. Lots of paper and stamps. Those were the days!

Then when I finally got email and more and more of my friends and contacts got it too, that basically killed paper-based correspondence for me. And it was so quick and easy and immediate in a way that even a message on an answering machine was not. Either I was too distracted by the convenience of email or my co-writers were, and so the letter gradually died out. I know... sad. I still sometimes write to people who do not do well by email, but email has become my primary means.

Whereas I used to drop a note or call, or write a long letter, or send a card by snail mail, I now drop a note or a lengthy missive by email. I have to admit I'm not so good with the cards-aspect online because it seems so overly complicated. I never did get into e-cards, and most of the time, I am impatient with cutesy sendings unless there is some personal note or information attached. (Although I will admit to throwing a virtual cheesecake at someone via SuperPoke.)

Anyway, there are a lot of people who I keep up with primarily online or by email. I don't call friends much. I don't actually socialize much outside of lunch with a small number of friends or certain regular group activities like church or dancing. I'm actually rather shy and quick to be overwhelmed by too much socialization. So dropping people a quick note via one of my virtual means is a way of keeping in touch and/or not letting people fall too far out of touch without getting stressed by over-exposure.

So for me, the digital communication really works. I've learned to roll with email quite happily.

Flickr was my first big online community, comprised almost entirely of people I knew only through photo-sharing. I didn't even set out to find a community there; because the photos came first, the social aspect grew up around that organically. We start with a common interest and find other people with similar personal styles or photography/life interests. Sometimes a person simply has interesting things to say, and so we start a conversation. I love seeing life around the country and around the globe. I do feel more connected around the world, more invested in the world at large because I've come to know people from other places.

In this last year, I've entered the world of Facebook and MySpace and Twitter and even LinkedIn, nudged by various RL friends. Each of these venues or social media hubs serves a particular focus and group of contacts (work, dance, calling, social, bloggy contacts, etc), and I've had to figure out to what degree I want to share or participate in each one, and what level of investment is just enough but not too much.

Facebook has been particularly interesting to me because it collects myriad contacts from around my area, some of whom are only distant connections in my primary circles, such as people who I know on sight or who are friends of friends who then become my friends too. It's an extension of my real-life world, with overlapping and ever-expanding circles of who I happen to know. In my mid-sized town, it's fun to have a small town experience of frequently running into people I know or people I come to realize I wish I knew! So too on the web.

One young man characterized Facebook friending as just a way to say, "I know you!" and that's often the size of it. However, often, I feel a greater connection with somebody I hear from or about regularly through these venues. So for instance, some of the young people who I see at dances, I know better through Facebook. We sometimes wave at each other or engage in the conversation that we don't always get in a large group. And I enjoy that a lot. It adds to the friendly atmosphere of the larger community. Although, true, I sometimes draw the line at people who for some reason I'm reluctant to share with in real life.

Facebook allows me to keep up with people who have dropped out of or who aren't able to attend group events where I might otherwise see them. So I can still keep up with the woman who has been out with a chronic illness for months, or the new mother who barely surfaces, or the friends and family who live on the other side of the country from me. I like it! It doesn't require a big social investment, but yet it really adds to the social connection. I can see it among the conversations among my various friends. This so-called social media simply adds to the connections that twine in all directions. I even have a facebook app that demos this graphically... the friend wheel that shows the threads between one's friends. It gets impressively dense at times.

The reason I started thinking about this was an unusual perceptual shift I experienced last weekend. I came into the dance late, and as always, I had a sense of all the people I know there among the hundreds present. Even if I don't talk to every single one of them every weekend, I know them and something about them, even if it's only the way they hold in a swing, or the way they give a greeting. Sometimes I just know they are going through a tough spot. Sometimes I just know I am happy to see them.

What I noticed this time as I looked around was the extra layer of things that I know about each person through social media, the extra *sense* I had of people around me. In the back of my head, I know which person has politics drastically different than my own, which people are recovering from colds, which person just got a new car/puppy/child/piece of furniture and which person has been feeling frustrated with work, or feeling happy with a recent accomplishment, or just plain dragged out from their week.

Granted, this is all self-reported, so the particulars may or may not be accurate, only to the level that person has chosen to share or "broadcast." Yet there is that extra layer of information binding us together through a group knowledge. And I had a sense of the people *missing* from the immediate scene too. Where are Stormi and Peter? Did another friend show up tonight? So-n-so is probably still wiped out from their cold/big project... Even if they are not present in the flesh, I feel them as part of the social network.

It is possible that we know a little too much about someone else. I've sometimes learned way too much about a person's social-political-religious views, and it definitely colors the way I think of them, although I try to see past any differences. Or sometimes I hear way too much about a person's reactions, judgements, or outlook on life, and sometimes I'm not much impressed (but that's just me). Another friend calls facebook "electronic gossip," and that's often true! But this could be said of real-life interaction as well. The electronic social media just give us another layer of knowledge and interaction.

It seems that our social media expands our horizons to include people we are not in frequent contact with. I wonder at which point we develop that "future shock" that Alvin Toffler wrote about, what I think of as the incoming tide of information overwhelming our senses and our ability to take it all in and then somehow, respond or integrate with what we already know.

Grammar Girl recently talked about how her view of the world is changing, how she sometimes felt news more vividly because she heard so much more information from her various Twitter contacts around the world/country. She noticed that it wasn't that there were more tragedies or whatever, only that she was hearing more, from more directions. More commonalities float around than we usually see directly in front of us.

Gathering information from all directions can be exhilarating! But if the news sometimes gets a little too much for us to take in and have to respond to, when does the social circles become overwhelming? I already know tons of people in real life, both closely and tangentially, but with the social media pushing the bits of up-to-date information, more knowledge about each other, more interaction, more need for response, at what point does that become too much? I do know that sometimes I step back from the web and regroup either in real life or in my own home, just to re-ground in the present. We do have the power to step back when we need to. And I do believe we should maintain that power as a right of personal boundaries.

But this week, it's been just enough. I could almost *see* it, this ever-expanding web of awareness and connections. ooOOoo! (Pardon me while I have a spiritual moment of awe!) If we are not all One, we are certainly part of the interdependent web of life and human connection. That's what I call radiating the dance. The Facebook world is just another medium for that.

Now excuse me while I go check on the status of my peeps!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Your Daily Post Here

A few things I did today:
for NaBloPoMo

Caught up on sleep. Woke up at various times as Mr. Sweetie called me at various junctures in his journey. I'm almost tempted to take the next road trip with him, but you know how well that's been going recently... i.e. not comfortably.

Reviewed my last gig. I tend run over the teaching of specific dances in my mind, even when I'm half asleep. It's like running a movie clip again, noticing and reviewing all the little details.

Ate more cheesy-egg-pasta-broccoli casserole.

Read a few blogs. Among others, I dug through several back-months of dooce's daily photo feature. I like the little story vignettes she offers with each image.

Watched old Michael Jackson music videos on YouTube and was transported back in time. I noticed that his dancing was rather lame, I mean, undeveloped in the early ones until he really got his unique dancing style going. Of course, the earlier music videos did not take advantage of real storylines and visual construction other than some visual fluff. The later videos are much more effective and accomplished. Somebody got himself a good director.

Contemplated trimming my hair. Put it off another day.

Wondered why some people have not out-grown being passive aggressive assholes even at their advanced age. And why I need to suffer them.

Snuggled cats.

Squirted cats.

Folded clean laundry, brought it upstairs and put it away.

Attempted to start cleaning off one of my desks. Hey, it's a start! I can even see the surface again! Woot!

Helped Mr. Sweetie check off all the parts and packages of the cabinets he brought home today to confirm that we have everything we think we have. A good match between his muscle and determination and my organizational tendencies. Alpha-coded by cabinet (e.g. corner wall and 18" base) and piled according to whether they are wall or base cabinets. Lots of bases, shelves, drawers, drawer dampers, hinges and doors. They only thing missing was the knobs. Oops! It's okay, honey, we can always get knobs later.

Reveled in the new chair and pillow combo. And leeeeean back!

Forgot to report on last week's class. Oh. Yeah.

Played semi-mindless games. For those times that I don't have a full attention span to spare.

Knocked out a NaBloPoMo post in __ minutes flat!

Remembered too late that I have memes at my disposal. Oh, well!

I'll be baaaack tomorrow!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

When You'd Rather Dance Than Write

for NaBloPoMo

I've got few words today, or rather, I'm saving them for calling a dance tonight. So... I have a little dancing for you. A square, not a contra dance, but hey, it's hard to beat live music and happy dancers!

Okay, okay, I'll add a little contra. Still *more* happy dancers!

Dance, be well, be happy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rainy Days and Quilts - SWDB

The Simple Woman's Daybook
for NaBloPoMo

For Today...Friday, November 14th

Outside my's a gray, gray afternoon. Rain is coming down.

Towards a daily rhythm...putting through more laundry, sweeping the floor, clearing space, putting things away.

I am thinking...How cool it is to see my husband's gradual transformation as father-to-be. For months, the anticipation has been mostly abstract. These days, he's really struck by my belly (it makes it that more real for both of us), and interested in learning more about everything. I haven't wanted to push him to learn more - I'm usually the one who reads up on child and pregnancy-related things, feels the kicks, buys baby clothes, etc - but with periodic nudges, he's started reading birthing stories and taking classes with me, and becoming much more engaged in both the informational and the emotional side of things. He also goes about with a goofy smile on his face, and when I ask him what's going on, he says, "I'm just happy." I'll tell you what I am happy about too. When he says "our daughter."
How different than a few years ago, when the sadness of being childless hung over us.

I am thankful for...times to snuggle and not be so busy.

From the kitchen...catfish awaits!

I am wearing...a cat on my lap! And fuzzy striped socks. And a dance dress that fits a little more snugly than it did.

I am reading...I just finished Six-Pound Walleye, another great crime mystery by Elizabeth Gunn. Unlike the last one I read (set in the summer heat of Tucson), this is set in the winter cold of Minnesota. This story is a fairly slim book, but thoroughly engrossing. A speedy reader like myself can get through it in a day if no other responsibilities intrude. I am definitely looking for more of her novels. Maybe I'll save them for Jan-Feb when I am in the endless waiting phase. :)

I also just started reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I've heard good things about this book (she and her family spend a year trying to eat/grow local food), and really admire her as an author, but had not made the effort to track it down. My mother gave it to me as a late birthday present, and now that I have it in my hands, I'm tasting BK's prose and looking forward to savoring he whole thing.

I also recently read a short but interesting interview with Gene Nichol, constitutional law professor at UNC and the new director of that university's Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. He says things with a clarity and seemingly unusual common sense. I'm looking forward to hearing more from him.

I am creating...another dance program! Based on older programs, but I can't help tweaking it for my current purposes.

I am make enough headway on the big quilt that I will be nearly finished by February! After a four-week hiatus from meeting with my mother, it's time to get back to work and knock out some more squares. I am also hoping to sort and pack away some of the fabric clogging up the little room.

I am hearing...a steady rain falling, water dripping and gurgling through the gutters, car tires hissing by on the wet streets, and Natalie Merchant's TigerLily.

I am going to breathe deeply...and not be distracted by old situations from the past.

Around the house...a coffee table adrift with images for my students. A cat overspilling his box.

Bring beauty to my home...thinking of paint colors. Stick with the lavender of the main bedroom or go towards that leafy green I've been wanting?

One of my favorite things...old quilts and their inspirations.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...another program, another dance, getting cabinet specs together, getting my head together.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Old Quilt Patterns

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Projection 1 - Celebrity

for NaBloPoMo

Every so often, things remind me of other things that I want to explore.

The general theme here for the sake of cohesion is projection.

By projection, I mean the way we assume things about other people based not only on what little scrap of them we actually know, but what is inside us interpreting that small bit of information. It's a big deal in the psychology world. It's rampant in everyday life!

So, projection is especially noticeable when you have someone who you see a lot of but don't actually know much about.

You can observe them doing what they do, and you can even observe things about them that lead you to conclude who they are and what they are like. But we don't (or very rarely) know what another person is truly like. We have to extrapolate based on our own experiences. And there's where it gets tricky. Because we are not inside their heads! If anything, we are all inside our own heads. And our heads are saying things like: OMG, she is amazingly awesome! Isn't it wonderful? Or: He is really messed up. I can't stand the way he gets that look on his face as if he is too superior to breathe the same air as me.

So most of us do not record or notice things outside of ourselves dispassionately. We are always subscribing motives and reasons, though this is mostly subconscious. I know Buddhists try to observe *themselves* thinking, and that can be an interesting way of noticing ones own internal dialogue of judging. Even scientists have to train themselves to be objective, and even then, they acknowledge that they cannot remove all bias from their observations.

Anyway, back to the celebrity.

When we see someone out there in public, projection kicks in big time. Maybe that "celebrity" is just getting more attention than the average bear, maybe a lot of people really like and admire them. Maybe they write a really popular blog, maybe they are even on stage performing in some way. For whatever reason, you are seeing more of them and they are putting themselves out there... except it's still only a very small slice of who they really are! The public persona (even if that persona includes "being real" or "open") is an awfully small piece to base our judgements on.

So we look at that semi- or hugely-famous person and think a number of things:

Admiration - I'd love to be like her. Her writing style is amazing, her kids are so well-raised, she always looks so put together, she seems so self-confident and friendly. Gosh, she's really cool! Hi!

Jealousy - Her writing style is amazing, she has it all together. What does she do that makes her so special? Everything comes easy for her. She doesn't even appreciate how lucky she is! Gah! I can't stand the sight of her!

Loathing - She's such a snot. Thinks she knows it all. Thinks she's so hot. How dare she act like she has all the answers? So immature. So insecure. So brainless and cruel. She needs to grow up and get a clue. You don't treat people like that. Ugh! I can't stand the thought of her! Get her off my screen!

Interest & Intrigue - That's interesting. I like the way she thinks. I don't agree with that one thing, but I can see where she's coming from. I wonder what she has to say about ___.

[Feel free to add to the list!]

All of our own feelings of self-admiration, self-insecurity, self-loathing, and self-interest come out in our judgements. Also, all of our desires to see people as good, worthy, feel-good human beings come out, our desire to hang on to the fun and wonderful qualities we crave.

The celebrities we love, we admire as possessing aspects that remind us of qualities we'd want for ourselves. The celebrities we loathe reminds us of parts of ourselves we'd rather forget. It's much easier to put it all out there so that they can carry it for us, rather than owning our own shining and dark aspects.

It's awkward to be the fan girl or fan boy sometimes... That part of the celebrity who is So Cool draws us in... and we know we are acting a little star-struck, but we can't help it. We want them to like us. We want to be like them. We want them to pay attention to us so some of that glowing quality rubs off on us.

Or to be around someone who pushes our buttons? Whoo-boy! Our distain knows no boundaries. "Who died and made them God?" We'll throw any kind of disparagement at them to keep them away from us. Ugh!

And when one is on the other side? It can be a little uncomfortable then too. People see what they gravitate towards, whether they need to feel good or superior or whatever. Other people do not see the complexity that is the celebrity's whole self. One gets held to an impossible standard, often to the disappointment and disillusionment of the fans. "I am so disappointed that she wasn't as wonderful as I thought!" The halo or horns affect creates a glow that makes it hard to appreciate the full complexity of a person. Sometimes the glow makes it hard to get to the real person, the real person, the real life behind the celebrity.

And sometimes as a celebrity of any sort, one would like to be free of the incessant attachment/detachment of others projecting their bits of personal stuff onto ones persona. It can be hard to live with, fighting past the glow or the glares.

And that's all I can say about that before my NaBloPoMo daily deadline gives out for the day. :)

Happy Projection Contemplation!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another Day, Another NaBloPoMoDayBook

The Simple Woman's Daybook
for NaBloPoMo

For Today...Wednesday, November 12th

Outside my's chillier than it looks. North Carolina has copious and frequent sunshine, but the presence thereof has little bearing on the actual temperature.

Towards a daily rhythm...taking out the trash and recycling.

I am thinking...of whether I can get away with eating ice cream tonight.

I am thankful professionals who care enough to explain things with patience and compassion. And a trip cancelled, giving us a little more breathing room in the schedule.

From the veggies! With a little sprinkle of cheese on top. Yum for vegetables!

White Chedder Black Pepper

I am wearing...maternity jeans and a stretchy lime green top with black fleece and clear-color earrings.

I am reading...I just finally finished In the Company of Others by Julie E. Czerneda. Great read! I've got my eye on a couple of mysteries next. I'm also reading various child-care things and my usual list of blogs. NaBloPoMo gives me regular doses of my favorites!

I am creating...more handouts for my students.

I am acquire a few more pieces of necessary furniture without spending an arm and a leg. I am hoping to make headway on clearing the little room so that it can be buffed and painted. I am hoping that I have enough energy to dance tomorrow!

I am windchimes gently donging.

I am going to breathe deeply...and drink more water.

Around the semi-annual polishing of silver. My favorites are a set of dessert forks and a set of demi-tasse spoons used for eating ice cream. Even though they get a lot of use, they still need some polish now and then.

Bring beauty to my home...A painting by my young niece. Blues and purple and greens and other colors.

One of my favorite things...A surprise package from my sister. In addition to some commemorative Obama stickers, she sent fuzzy socks, truffles, and both a painting and scribble-collection from my niece. Yea! Surprise packages are so much fun!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...finishing a dance program, quilting with my Mom, catching up on both decluttering and resting, writing back to my sister and various other friends, buying things like cat food and trash cans.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

From the Thriftstore

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trash Talking the Inaugural

for NaBloPoMo

I was listening to a local radio station recently and was surprised by a nasty remark. Well, true, this is a F0X station, but I only listen to the music--I turn it off when the news comes on. I just didn't expect this kind of snide remark from the DJ.

A propo of nothing, he says that if you were planning to go to the inauguration on Jan 20th that you were out of luck. Apparently, hotel rooms for that week are nearly sold out and people are being forced to look for lodging in Virginia and Maryland. Yup, that's accurate.

Then he says, so fakely sincerely, "I'm glad Obama will be our next president. Really I am. But is this really the kind of money we need to be spending right now? ... I'm just sayin'. "

You're "just sayin'"? Just sayin'???!!! Just what the hell are you trying to insinuate? That they are going to spend too much money? For an inauguration? Do you have figures to show for that?

I went g00gling for figures, and got nothing except some tickets going for $29,000-40,000.

The Times Online says that: "The Fairmont Hotel is offering an "eco-inaugural" package, which includes four nights in a suite filled with organic materials, a ball gown from an organic designer and the use of a hybrid car. It costs $40,000."
Okay, so that's a whole glitzy package, not a governmental expense.

Chicago Breaking News notes that " is offering tickets to the inaugural parade at prices between $495 and $1,815." although somebody at Yahoo Answers notes that: tickets to the inauguration are free as well as the parade you just need to write your local senate representative and request them.

CBN also reports that A total of 240,000 tickets have been printed for the swearing-in ceremony and that Tickets will be distributed to members of Congress the week before the inauguration and will require in-person pickup, according to the JCCIC

CBN goes on to note that: the Web site today for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which said tickets to the 56th inaugural ceremonies will be distributed by Congress, and that no Web site or ticket outlet has any inaugural swearing-in tickets to sell, "regardless of what they may claim."

And in fact, the JCCIC website states that "Any website or ticket broker claiming that they have inaugural tickets is simply not telling the truth." Howard Gantman, staff director for the JCCIC also states that "We urge the public to view any offers of tickets for sale with great skepticism."

So, all the big numbers being floated out there are not even about the cost that the government will pay to hold the inauguration, just what individuals wanting to attend or possibly participate might have to be willing to shell out. Everyone wants to be there for the rock star inaugural, and no wonder! It'll be incredibly exciting and historic! If someone gave me a ticket, I might go, except I'd be paying big bucks for a hotel, apparently, since my pregnant self would require a real bed.

But back to this spending issue. I have yet to find anything that tells me what the government itself will pay for a standard inauguration. Yeah, they are guaranteed to be glitzy affairs. It's a big deal, after all. But let's put this pseudo concern for spending in perspective.

One day in Iraq costs us "about $435 million" according to Raw Story. One. Day. Current numbers here. That's just mind-boggling.

So if we are really concerned about spending too much money as a country, shouldn't we look at that huge sucking noise first? To quote the DJ, do we really need to be spending that kind of money right now? And meanwhile why do we go on denying basic health, safety, and educational benefits to veterans? Shame! And this after the insane bailout to CEOs who then go on fancy retreats after we pulled their collective asses out of the fire? Shame again!

After all that, this DJ has the gall to insinuate that somehow the Obamas are spendthrifts? Costing us too much money!? ZOMG! Can you say concern troll?

That's not news, that's trash talk. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NaBloPoMo - symptomatic edition

for NaBloPoMo

It's a good thing this sneaks up on me gradually. Otherwise, I'd be incapacitated! I appreciate my ability to adapt and adjust. A few things I've had to adjust to:

Not standing up for long periods. This used to bother my hips terribly, but I stopped wearing my heeled clogs, and that helped. Still, if I stand for a long time, it starts to get to me. I've gotten better at going ahead and sitting down before I feel too much stress.

Waddling or walking like a duck. The week before Halloween, I noticed that I was listing from side to side as I walked down my hallway. DH said, "Maybe we shouldn't watch that movie about the Penguins." Ha. So of course, I had to go as a penguin this year. I had the belly AND the walk. There were a number of people, though, who couldn't tell if the belly was real or part of the costume. heehee!

Godmother and Penguin
That's your "fairy freakin godmother" on the right.
(Just a friend, NOT DH.)

I can't eat large meals. This one is because, as I said, my digestive system is confined to a sub-compact area. So the stomach is now under my left breast and god knows where my bowels are. This means that any meal larger than my fists starts killing me within 45 minutes after consumption. There is no room, people! This isn't heartburn per se, just a certain amount of ongoing pain. Sometimes my stomach starts growling before the indigestion has passed, and that's the weirdest of all. But I'm all like: send something else down the pipes!

I can't quite bend over any more. That has been hard for a while. I have to tie my shoelaces sideways because straight on? Nope, not gonna happen! But now I can't lean over in the car, even. I flail my arms in the direction I'm trying to reach, as if it's going to help. The belly, it's already in my way.

I have a hard time turning over in bed. I don't have the abdominal maneuverability that I am used to, so I have to inch my hips over and turn, inch my hips over and turn a little more, until I can flop to the other side. I've actually gotten pretty good at this. As a side symptom, my hips hurt if I lie for too long on one side. Darn those ligaments. :)

Okay, so this is totally boring, I'm sure. Hopefully I'll have something more interesting to write about (or at least more wittily) tomorrow.

Ugh, ugh, grunt, urg. Just let me turn over...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chewing on Cabinetry

Oh hi. It's still NaBloPoMo, isn't it? Oh, that's right: I haven't posted anything for today yet, have I? Well, let's get to it, then.

Today was supposed to be the grand odyssey to pick up a couple of cabinets. You see, we discovered that to have our contractor to do the things we wanted done in the kitchen and elsewhere would run us, oh, about the cost of our new car. We swiftly and regretfully concluded that that was a no-go. Rats, anyway.

After some gnashing of teeth, Mr. Sweetie came up with the idea that we would redo the kitchen cabinets ourselves, but in stages. We'd start with a couple of cabinets and work out the kinks in the assembly and installation, thereby saving ourselves time, money, excessive renovation mess, and larger mishaps. This actually makes a lot of sense, especially if we start with the corner that currently has non-permanent storage.

We'd install one corner's worth of cabinets, transfer the stuff in the existing cabinets into the new and then tear out the old to install the rest of the new cabinets, again in stages. This is much what my church did 15 years ago as we were expanding into a larger sanctuary - build a new building to temporarily house church offices along with childcare/religious education classes while the older building was torn down and built anew. (We also had a smaller space that would serve as sanctuary while all this was going on.)

The trick now is *getting* the stuff we need without spending an arm and a leg on shipping and then finding the time to acquire what we need. This has turned into an issue; many of our weekends are taken already. How did we get so busy?

Mr. Sweetie came up with this great idea to wing our way over to the Ikea today and pick up a few cabinets and even the chair we're lusting after. See, once again, we were supposed to be in at least the same state as our target Ikea, and hey, what's another 4 hours to drive over? While we're already in the same state and all. As we have been busy preparing for this and that, we said: yeah! That sounds stressful but doable! And we threw our kitchen folder into the car on our way out of town.

Flash forward to this morning. We wake up super early, have a great breakfast and visit with our hosts, and hie our tails up the road in the opposite direction of home.

As we drive, we chat. DH wants to replace the flimsy backs with a sturdier construction. First time I've heard about this. My objections are several, namely that he is *already* planning to build his own bases *and* seal the raw edges *and* all of this was on the recommendation of our not-to-be contractor, who (you notice) is not actually undertaking the picky details of this project!! This is what I call mission creep. This is what I call the overly-engineered do-it-yourself project from hell.

So we argue about this until DH says he won't argue about it, so we agree to not argue about this, only sharing our concerns and reassurances about the do-ability of this line of attack. (ha!) The air thus cleared we continue up the highway.

And then I take a look at the package dimensions which I had conveniently compiled and printed out earlier. Each individual cabinet comes flat-packed in anywhere from three to nine separate packages. And each package's dimensions are up for grabs. One is something like 52 by 32 by 2 inches and weighs 64 pounds. Another is something like 23 by 18 by 1.5 inches and weighs 5 pounds. The list goes on ad confusiom. The question then arises as to whether our new car has the capacity to actually hold any significant amount of packages, especially cabinets *plus* this new chair we have had our eye on. It (the new car, not the chair) is much bigger than our old car, but we have neglected to actually measure the interior before we left for the weekend. Have I mentioned that we were rather busy?!

And by the way, is this going to be worth the hassle of driving these many hours to and from to pick up what may or may not fit and may or may not suffice AND which may drive me bonkers since I can't quite bend over any more and suffer from near-perpetual indigestion due to my GI tract being scrunched into a sub-compact space? You can see where this is going.

So what with all the questions, we decide that we need to collect a little more information before continuing. At the last place we can easily turn homeward, we stop to find a store that will sell us a measuring tape on a Sunday morning so that we can measure the car capacity and assess whether this is just a fool's errand, or whether it's worth adding another 7 hours of travel onto our day. After much measuring, we discover that a few cabinets will definitely fit, but whether the chair plus cabinets will fit is uncertain.

There are still too many uncertainties we haven't sorted out. In addition, Mr. Sweetie says he doesn't want this to turn into a slog for me as we have hours to go and I *still* have this digestive pain and am highly uncomfortable. There's no denying that it would be a slog.

We slowly and regretably conclude that this trip is not to be, at least not for today. So we turn homeward by a slightly different but more direct route, and it *still* takes us another few hours to get home.

So now the plan is for DH to take a day trip and do the trip alone without our extra baggage in back and without my extra pregnant self needing to eat and pee every hour and feeling miserable on the road. But when?? Have I mentioned that we are rather busy? Working and traveling hither and yon and the next thing you know, it's Christmas season. It's possible to have the items shipped to us, but that would get damn expensive. The chair alone would practically double in price were it shipped! Our car gets better gas mileage than that, so clearly picking it up is the way to go. But when?

This project is grinding our teeth down. It's doable, but WHEN? It's not just time versus money (although that's clearly an issue), it's time AND money with a side of aggravation. We'll clearly have to spend a little of each. Le Sigh.

Lalala! I am now going to think happy thoughts and work on clearing our the baby's room so that *someone else* can paint it. Don't mind the teeth marks.